Friday, July 20, 2012


This past month I’ve been privileged to teach two English classes on the Cal Lutheran University campus. It’s part of a program called Upward Bound, which helps high school students, from various parts of Los Angeles, needing that extra leg up. The kids are terrific and it’s been an extremely rewarding experience.
            Yesterday, my teaching assistant and I were permitted to “tag along” as our students, who are also taking a class in Chinese culture, were brought to Chinatown by their two instructors.
            I haven’t been to L.A.’s Chinatown in ages and going by bus rather than having to drive was a particular treat for me. (I’ve always enjoyed bus and train rides --- allows one time to space out).
            When we arrived, we went immediately to a temple. Here, we approached the alter (laden with offerings such as meat and fresh fruit) and partook in a custom involving sticks, stones, and luck.  Fortunately, the number I chose was a lucky one (at least that’s the interpretation I received).
            From there we did some shopping at a nearby plaza and visited a local grocery store. There were an assortment of teas, dried shrimp, and just about anything you’d expect to find at an Asian market.
            We dined at a restaurant called Empress Pavilion where apparently President Clinton and President Bush both dined (at different times I’m assuming).
            The food was ordered for us by our knowledgeable teachers, Christina and Debbie, and it was a feast: numerous appetizers, main courses, and side dishes (noodles, dim sum, lemon chicken, shrimp etc.)
            We shopped a little more and then it was time to return to our ‘normal lives’.
            As I looked around at women walking by,  carrying umbrellas to shield them from the sun, I was reminded how diverse Los Angeles is.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for joining me on Rhodes Less Traveled.


Monday, July 16, 2012


This weekend was a particularly busy one for me and I neglected to write a blog.  I am still pressed for time but my obsessive nature won't allow me to just skip writing one even for one week.

This, then, will be brief.  I merely want to mention the wonderful time I had this past weekend. I brought my daughter's future in-laws and her fiance, as my guests, to the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley.  For those who have never been there I strongly recommend it.  The exhibit itself is fantastic, the docents are knowledgeable, and the view is absolutely spectacular. (Regardless of your political persuasion, it's a trip worth taking).

Aside from the ongoing Reagan exhibit, there is always an adjunct exhibit (Among the exhibits I've seen are: dresses worn by former First Ladies, exercise equipment used by various presidents, a Harley motorcycle exhibit, and the entire collection of the works of Norman Rockwell). Every Christmas, Christmas trees are displayed. Formerly, they represented various countries; more recently they've started displaying Christmas trees that represent decades in America's history.

The adjunct exhibit we attended this weekend was one promoted by Disney fans;  on display was an amazing array of Disney memorabilia: props, costumes, animation --- anything that would tempt a Disneyphile (and who amongst us is not)?

The Disney exhibit will be running through next April so put it on your calendar.  Aside from a walk through Air Force One, make sure to visit the gift shop where one can find a huge assortment of jelly beans, President Reagan's favorite candy.

Thanks for joining me on Rhodes Less Traveled,


Saturday, July 7, 2012


“The Fishin’ Hole”, the whistled theme song of The Andy Griffith Show, is arguably one of the most recognizable television themes of all time.  Like the show itself, the theme, written by Earle Hagen, Everett Sloan, and Herbert Spencer, is easy going and breezy.
            With the passing of the much loved and admired Andy Griffith earlier this week, I began to reflect on the appeal of Mayberry, the imaginary town where the show was set.
            Mayberry, North Carolina was situated in close proximity to Raleigh; it was at least within easy driving distance.  Griffith played country-wise, Sheriff Andy Taylor, whose sensible outlook on life was in direct contrast to his excitable, know-it-all, deputy, Barney Fife (played to perfection by Don Knotts).  Rounding out the ensemble were characters we felt we knew, such as: Aunt Bea, Floyd the Barber, Otis the town drunk, and the Pyle cousins, Gomer and Goober.  Andy’s son Opie (played by future director, Ron Howard) literally grew up on the show.
            So what was its appeal?
            My mother loved The Andy Griffith Show.  Born and raised in New York City, she greatly appreciated the depiction of small town Southern living, circa the early 60’s. Of course, we watched the show through rose tinted glasses:  there was no racism in Mayberry (truth be told, there appeared to be few blacks living there).  If a resident suffered from cancer we were unaware of it; the worst illness spoken of was a slight touch of bursitis.  And the crime rate in Mayberry was nearly non-existent, so much so that the sheriff didn’t even carry a gun (though Barney did keep a single bullet in his pocket in case of an ‘emergency’).
            This begs the question, was it wrong to portray a town like Mayberry in such an idealized fashion?  One could say that it was no worse than creating fantasies of the typical American family with shows such as Leave It to Beaver, and Father Knows Best.
            We turned a cultural corner in the late sixties and early seventies and comedy became ‘realer’ with shows such as All in the Family and Maude, but at the same time shows  became more cynical. Like a bucket of water being suddenly dumped over our collective heads, we were more or less forced to abandon our innocence.
            Perhaps this is why The Andy Griffith Show holds a place in the hearts of so many, as does its star, the late Andy Griffith.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend. Thanks for joining me on RHODES LESS TRAVELED.