Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Handful of Excellent Reasons to Visit Palm Springs

Located in the Southern California’s Coachella Valley, Palm Springs offers nature lovers access to a wide range of exciting opportunities, from the celebrated Joshua Tree National Park to Indian Canyons, which contains miles of hiking trails with breathtaking vistas and a 60-foot waterfall. People can also hire off-road tour companies to explore the San Andreas Fault or ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which boasts the largest rotating tramcar in the world.

Film lovers also have several reasons to visit Palm Springs, which has hosted the Palm Springs International Film Festival every January since 1989. Additionally, several smaller festivals occur over the course of the year, including the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, ShortFest, and the Festival of Native Film & Culture.

Attracting several artists and art appreciators, the Backstreet Art District features local galleries that do an open house complete with wine and snacks once monthly. People may also want to see the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, which displays an impressive art collection with pieces by Rodin and Giacometti.

Finally, shoppers will find countless opportunities for excellent thrift store shopping, as well as several major outlet malls.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Some of the United States’ Most Underrated National Monuments

The United States National Park System maintains more than 50 national monuments throughout the country. These monuments often go ignored as crowds flock instead to national parks, but many of these protected areas offer incredible sights.

The Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction, Colorado, for example, offers an amazing look at deep canyons and towering sandstone formations. Visitors can follow the trails of explorer John Otto and see golden eagles and coyotes in addition to the beautiful landscape.

Another underrated attraction is White Sands National Monument in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Here, visitors can walk on sand that is so white that it resembles snow. Exploring the dunes is an experience unlike any other in the U.S.

The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in eastern Oregon will delight visitors who are interested in paleontology. The area contains fossils of both plants and animals that date back between 7 and 44 million years.

Cedar Breaks National Monument in southern Utah includes a three-mile natural amphitheater with unbelievable vistas dotted by ancient bristlecone pines -- some over 1,000 years old. Visitors can also enjoy challenging day hikes. The best time to visit is during the summer, since snow can largely cover the monument between October and May.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

William Friedkin - From Poverty to Hollywood Acclaim


Born to a low-income family in an impoverished area of Chicago, William Friedkin went on to become one of the star directors of 1970s American cinema. After graduating from high school, he began working in the mailroom of the local WGN TV station. It was during this time that he first saw Citizen Kane, the cinematic masterpiece that spurred his directorial ambitions. 

Early Life

Friedkin moved into live television directing and documentary filmmaking and led the development of more than 2,000 television programs throughout the 1950s, first garnering acclaim for his 1962 documentary, The People vs. Paul Crump. The film earned numerous festival accolades and ultimately resulted in the reversal of Paul Crump’s death sentence. This success caught the attention of David L. Wolper, a producer, who offered Friedkin his first Hollywood job. 


After heading west, Friedkin struggled to find his footing with his first fiction films, but he finally found success by returning to his roots as a documentarian. In 1971, he released his adaptation of the best-selling true crime novel The French Connection, an action thriller that earned critical acclaim and had a significant impact on the style of future cop movies. The French Connection received eight Academy Award nominations and took home five Oscars, including a Best Director trophy for Friedkin, leading author William Peter Blatty to recruit Friedkin to direct the adaptation of his popular supernatural thriller, The Exorcist. After overcoming obstacles related to the film’s budget and schedule, Friedkin released The Exorcist in 1973, drawing 10 Oscar nominations, thrilling audiences across the country, and solidifying his esteemed position in the history of American cinema.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pug Nation LA to Host Fourth Annual Strut Your Mutt Walk and 5K

Pug Nation Rescue of Los Angeles rescues abandoned, abused, and otherwise displaced pugs throughout LA, offering sanctuary and striving to match each dog with a loving home. Each month, the organization holds multiple adoption fairs throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area. It also hosts annual events such as Strut Your Mutt, a fundraising dog walk that benefits local shelters.

In 2014, Strut Your Mutt drew approximately 2,500 human participants and 1,400 canine companions, raising nearly $625,000 for LA’s homeless animals. On Saturday, October 10, 2015, Pug Nation LA will aim to top last year’s attendance with its fourth annual Strut Your Mutt walk at Exposition Park. In addition to a leisurely stroll through the park, which includes landmarks such as the California Science Center and the Los Angeles Coliseum, this year’s event will feature a 5K run, in which people can participate with or without their four-legged friends. Attendees can begin registering as early as 7 am, and both the walk and 5K run will kick off at 9 am.

Following the walk and run, participants will have the chance to enjoy a dog-themed festival featuring a variety of attractions. Dog owners and their companions can take part in a number of pet-friendly activities, compete in pet contests, have their photos taken, and enjoy delicious refreshments.                            

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sidney Lumet - Delving into Human Conscience

Sidney Lumet was an important figure in American cinema who took a unique approach to filmmaking, seeking not only to entertain audiences but also to encourage them to examine their own consciences. Many of his films, such as 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, and Network, deal with issues of conscience and morality and have inspired countless audiences to consider their themes. In fact, US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has credited 12 Angry Men, which revolves around a single jury member’s efforts to convince his fellow jurors of a defendant’s innocence, as a significant influence on her career in law.

Released in 1957, 12 Angry Men was Lumet’s first motion picture, but the acclaimed director entered the entertainment industry much earlier. Born in Philadelphia in 1924 to an actor father and dancer mother, he appeared in several Broadway and off-Broadway productions throughout his childhood and adolescence, and his love for New York shone through in the settings of many of his films.

Lumet transitioned from a career in television directing to work on 12 Angry Men, which garnered three Academy Award nominations and the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear. He went on to direct such widely renowned films as Network, a satire of the American media that earned 10 Academy Award nominations and secured four wins, and Dog Day Afternoon, a complex crime drama featuring Al Pacino in a groundbreaking role.

Throughout his extensive career, Sidney Lumet created over 40 films, directed such noteworthy actors as Sean Connery, Marlon Brando, and Katharine Hepburn, and earned more than 40 Academy Award nominations. Despite this, Lumet did not receive an Oscar until 2005, when he received an honorary Academy Award. He died in 2011 at his Manhattan home, leaving a truly impressive cinematic legacy to be enjoyed by audiences for decades to come.                          

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

President Obama Establishes Three New National Monuments in Western US

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mission and History of the Tailwaggers Foundation

From its headquarters in Los Angeles, California, The Tailwaggers Foundation works to provide lifesaving veterinary care for animals in need. The nonprofit group offers financial support to qualified animal rescue organizations, which often spend as much as 50 percent of their funding on medical treatment. With The foundation’s assistance, these groups can focus their efforts on finding loving, permanent homes for the animals in their care.

Both the name and mission of The Tailwaggers Foundation honor The Tailwaggers Club, a British charity founded in 1928. Serving as both a pet registry and an animal welfare advocate, the organization grew to serve nearly one million canine members by the end of its first year. Actress Bette Davis helped to bring The Tailwaggers Club into the American public eye through her work as president of its Southern California branch. From 1929 on, she raised awareness for animal welfare, hosting fundraising events that garnered the support of such prominent figures as Walt Disney and Howard Hughes. Her efforts even led to press coverage from publications including LIFE magazine.

The charity remained active until 1960, when it was acquired by Spillers Pet Food, which created the Tailwaggers Club Trust to administer the nonprofit’s assets. Inspired by the “old Hollywood” camaraderie and unified community service of The Tailwaggers Club, The Tailwaggers Foundation continues to champion the cause of animal welfare in the 21st century.                            

Monday, July 6, 2015

2nd Annual Waggy Awards Shine a Spotlight on Animal Welfare Advocates

On the evening of Sunday, February 8, 2015, The Tailwaggers Foundation hosted its 2nd Annual Waggy Awards in Hollywood, California. The organization, which provides funding to nonprofit animal rescues to facilitate crucial veterinary care, welcomed supporters, animal lovers, and special celebrity guests to the Taglyan Complex for an elegant evening highlighting leaders in animal advocacy. The Waggy Awards not only serve as a yearly awareness and fundraising event for The Tailwaggers Foundation, but they also present an opportunity for the nonprofit to honor individuals who fight for animal welfare around the world.

The event offered attendees a chance to mingle with four-legged guests, beginning at 5 p.m. with a cocktail reception and animal rescue meet and greet. At 7 p.m., The Tailwaggers Foundation began its awards program, presenting its annual Waggy Award to California Congressman Adam B. Schiff for his tireless advocacy in the legislative sphere. Congressman Schiff has delivered impassioned statements on the House floor in favor of the ethical treatment of marine mammals, and he spearheaded an amendment to the FY15 Agriculture Appropriations bills that bolstered regulations regarding captive cetaceans. The foundation also honored Oscar-nominated actress Linda Blair, who strives to prevent animal abuse and neglect via the public education and animal rescue initiatives of the Linda Blair World Heart Foundation.

Following the hour-long awards ceremony, guests concluded the night with an after-party featuring a live DJ. During the party, The Tailwaggers Foundation announced the winners of its silent auction, which benefited the organization’s lifesaving efforts.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation to Host Fundraiser Run on September 13

On Sunday, September 13, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) will partner with New Balance to host its 2015 5K & 10K Run and Kids Fun Run. Sponsored by the Honda Dealers of Southern California, the event will benefit the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, which seeks to enrich the community through initiatives in sports and recreation, education and literacy, and health and wellness.

The day will kick off with the 10K run at 7:30 a.m., followed by the 5K race at 9:00 and the Kids Fun Run at 10:30. The races will take runners through Downtown Los Angeles, including a scenic tour of Elysian Park, and will conclude with a cool-down lap around the Dodger Stadium warning track.

Runners will have the opportunity to meet a number of legendary Dodgers on race day, and participants can register to fundraise in support of the LADF. By bringing in at least $100 in support from friends and family members, runners become eligible for prizes including an LADF shirt and bag, an autographed baseball and jersey, and the chance to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.

Registration will remain open until LADF reaches a cap of 5,000 5K runners, 1,000 10K runners, and 500 Kids Fun Run participants. Additionally, the first 2,000 5K and 10K registrants will receive a voucher for a free Dodgers ticket.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

REPOST: Why New York's Expensive Real Estate Is Going Crazy

Buildings nowadays are reaching new heights, literally and figuratively. Learn more about the super tall New York skyscrapers from this Gizmodo article below.

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Traditionally, space in skyscrapers has been the preserve of too-big-to-fail corporations and law firms with triple-barrelled names. But, as you probably realize if you’ve taken a turn round Central Park lately, the latest and greatest supertalls don’t house hedge funds — they house a different kind of wealth altogether.

In this month’s New York Review Of Books, Martin Filler has a thorough examination of the trend in skyscraper apartment blocks, and the factors behind the remarkable takeoff in building height and price. He argues that a combination of super-rich individuals — the 0.01% — and conservative condo boards are making wannabe buyers look to new buildings, and the inexorable increase in land value in Manhattan is driving those new constructions ever higher.

The super-skinny, supertall trend has been facilitated by engineering advancements, which can cram a 1,400 foot building onto a footprint a quarter of a football field big, thanks to some seriously impressive technology. But it also comes at a cost to the rest of us.

432 Park Avenue’s most noticeable architectural feat is its uniform profile, which rises without deviation to the full height — crucially, without the tapering seen in most skyscrapers. That tapering is thanks to a regulation introduced in 1916 to allow sunlight to filter into an overgrown Manhattan. But the small footprint of 432 means the law doesn’t apply to it, so the building is free to cast a shadow across half the city.

Economists have long noticed that skyscraper booms are inevitably followed by economic bust — so much so there’s an entire index named after the concept. Whether New York’s supertall boom is a harbinger of recession remains to be seen. But either way, Filler makes a compelling case that condos in the sky are a product of different factors altogether — and we’d be wise to pay attention.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

House-hunting fails: How to avoid them

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There are many things that can go wrong when you're house-hunting but there are ways to ensure you don't commit mistakes. Having awareness and keeping an open mind are some of the things you have to have when scouting for your new home. The following are common house-hunting mistakes and how to avoid them:

Going beyond your budget

Falling in love with a house you can't afford is heartbreaking. The easiest remedy for that is only to look at houses within your price range. Going over your budget will be a huge financial burden on you in the future. You may not be able to buy your dream house, but you can build one slowly but surely from the house you can afford.

Putting limits on your options

Thinking that the first house you've seen is the perfect house will limit your options. Make sure that you visit other available houses, too, before deciding which one is the right one for you. This is especially important if the house you found is over your budget and you assume that nothing could be better. Exhaust all your options before making a decision.

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Overlooking flaws

Ignoring leaks or other potential problems in the house is a bad move. Don't assume that you can get it fixed or that you can do it yourself. Be realistic. If the house you want has a major damage, check if the repair costs would still fit your budget. If not, move on.

Rushing into a purchase or being too slow.

You can't rush an important decision like buying a house. Don't be desperate if it's taking you a while to find the right home. Weigh the pros and cons of every potential purchase and don't rush to make offers. Likewise, don't be too slow lest you want to lose the house of your dreams. Finding the right balance between thinking it through and making quick decisions is key.

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Friday, February 6, 2015

REPOST: Canada Top Global Investor in U.S. Commercial Properties in 2014

 The U.S. commercial real estate market saw the influx of foreign investors in 2014. The World Property Journal reveals the biggest direct investor in the article below.

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According to CBRE, Canada is the unrivaled global investor in U.S. real estate with nearly $10 billion of direct investments in 2014, ahead of Norway, China, Japan and Germany.

Global direct investment in U.S. real estate totaled $41 billion in 2014, about 11% of all investment in U.S. property assets. This represents a 6% increase in global investment when compared to 2013.

Canada was the lead global buyer of U.S. real estate last year with 26% of direct foreign investment - $9.7 billion. Canadian investors have already transacted a significant $2.75 billion in U.S. real estate as of mid-January 2015. Canadian real estate investment in the U.S. was one of the largest cross-border capital flows in the world in 2014 after U.S.-to-U.K. and Hong Kong-to-China capital flows.

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Norway was the second largest global investor in U.S. real estate in 2014 with 11% of direct foreign investment--$4.4 billion and a 120% increase year-over-year. China and Japan reached total investment levels in the U.S. of $3.8 billion (+6%) and $3.5 billion (+397%), respectively, each representing 9% of the global total. German buyers transacted $2.9 billion (+5%) in U.S. real estate, representing 7% of the global total.

"While we have seen rapidly rising Chinese global investment and oil-rich countries in the Middle East or Norway increasing their allocations to global real estate, Canadian buyers continue to dominate foreign investment in the U.S. and should remain on the radar screens of American investors and owners of U.S. real estate," said Chris Ludeman, Global President, CBRE Capital Markets.

"Canadians, other global investors and Americans share the same challenge--finding attractive opportunities with reasonable pricing that can produce a favorable risk-adjusted return. That said, we expect the investment climate to remain brisk and U.S. volumes will continue rising in 2015."

The U.S. is by far the largest destination for Canadian global capital. Of the $22 billion that Canada invested outside of its borders in 2014, 44% went to the U.S. The next highest shares--17% and 14%--went to Australia and the U.K., respectively. It should be noted that the U.S. market share of Canadian global investment dropped below its 2007-14 average of 48% in 2014.

"Canadian investors find U.S. real estate attractive for many of the same reasons that other countries do. The U.S. offers opportunities for value creation, healthy cash flows and favorable risk-adjusted returns," said Ross Moore, CBRE's Director of Research for Canada. "The level of Canadian investment is highly correlated with the health of the American economy and exchange rates, but the overriding motivation is that Canadian institutional investors need to look beyond their borders to find product and achieve greater diversification."

Canadian investment is more geographically widespread across the U.S. than other global capital. This should not be surprising given the magnitude of Canadian investment, its high degree of familiarity with U.S. markets beyond the gateway cities, and the relatively low cost and time commitment for Canadian investment professionals to travel to U.S. markets.

For all property types combined, as with total global capital flows into the U.S., New York is the leading destination for Canadian real estate capital, followed by Boston and Broward County in Florida, which made the list due to a significant hotel acquisition. Seattle is somewhat unusual for global capital, but not unusual for Canadian capital given its proximity to Canada and, in particular, Vancouver.
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Jeff Yarbrough is a top real estate professional from West Hollywood, California.

Friday, January 9, 2015

California housing market: Affordability rate decreasing

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High income earners may have no problem finding a home and settling comfortably in California. Middle- and low-income earners, meanwhile, may have to settle for less than what they want in a home to be able to afford it.

According to a report from, a mortgage research firm, buyers need to have an annual take home salary of about $97,000 to reasonably afford a median-priced home in the Los Angeles and Orange counties. In the third quarter of 2014, a buyer would have been able to purchase a typical house at $10,000 less, indicating a rapid increase in home prices.

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Federal data show that higher home prices have driven hundreds of thousands of low- and middle-income workers to other states. California has been losing residents to other parts of the country since the 1990s and more than half of the most expensive real estate markets in the US are found in California.

This trend highlights a challenge to the economy: keeping workers of moderate means in some of the nation’s most expensive housing markets. For cities like Los Angeles, being able to attract the tech industry and its high income earners is well and good but its leaders also need to make sure that the city is supporting a housing and transportation infrastructure for middle- and low-income earners who contribute to the local economy.

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Jeff Yarbrough is a top-producing licensed realtor who has knowledge of all of Los Angeles’ most desirable neighborhoods.