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Man Hands, Festivus, and Newman: Remembering Seinfeld

Saturday, May 14 2022 by

Hello, Jerry!

For nine glorious years, the ensemble cast of Seinfeld entertained audiences, with the banality of daily life expressed with humor and antics. Described as “a show about nothing” it quickly became an integral part of American culture, which persists to this day. On May 14, 1998, the last episode of the series aired, but Jerry, Elaine, Cramer, and Newman are still as relevant as ever.

Let’s take a look at some of the best places from the show, and the people who brought it all together.

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry brought the show to life, fictionalizing his own life as a comedian in New York City. By the end of the series, he was making more than $100,000 per episode, and the payoff has continued. With reruns, and services like Netflix and Hulu paying hundreds of millions of dollars for rights to stream the show, Jerry is richer now than when the show wrapped. Estimates place his wealth around one billion dollars!

NYC Apartment

Like his on-screen counterpart, Jerry Seinfeld lives in New York City. But the real Jerry lives in the elite Beresford building, right next to Central Park on the Upper West Side. Units in the building sell for $10-20 million.

Jerry Seinfeld's House (Birds Eye)
Jerry Seinfeld's House

East Hamptons Residence

Jerry also owns a residence in the East Hampsons, where he and his family spend time out of the city. He bought the home from Billy Joel for $30 million in 2000. It also has a 22-car garage, which is essential for the car collector. The mansion boasts every luxury, including a coffee maker that costs $17,000! That’s a whole different brew than what you get at Monk’s.

Jerry Seinfeld's House (Google Maps)
Jerry Seinfeld's House

Larry David’s Pacific Palisades, CA Residence

Larry David worked with Jerry to produce and develop the show, and has been financially blessed as well. Like Jerry, he owns several properties, but the Pacific Palisades residence is his main home. With an estimated net worth around $500 million, he can afford to live anywhere!

Larry David's House (Google Maps)
Larry David's House

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s California Residence

Julia played one of the most annoying, and beloved, women on television with her character Elaine Benes. Bad dancer, oblivious friend, selfish partner, and yet so funny! She has gone on to star in several other television shows and holds the record for most Emmys for a woman in a leading role. And she’s turned a tidy profit, with a net worth around $250 million.

She has a few residences, but calls one in the LA area home. She has always been very private about her family and home life, but we know that she’s focused on environmentally-friendly development.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus' House (Google Maps)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus' House

People love Seinfeld as much these days as ever, as shown by the $500 million Netflix recently paid to have exclusive streaming rights! The sites from the show are still as popular, too.

Television Show Apartment

Funnily enough, the apartment used for the street views in the show for nearly a decade is just down the street from Jerry Seinfeld’s actual residence, and is a popular attraction for pedestrian tourists checking out NYC according to Seinfeld.

The "Seinfeld" Apartment (Birds Eye)
The "Seinfeld" Apartment

Tom’s Restaurant/Monk’s Cafe

Tom’s Restaurant, a real-life diner in New York City serves as the exterior of Monk’s Cafe. It’s been around, serving (mediocre) food for more than 100 years, kept alive in recent years perhaps by its reputation as a Seinfeld diner.

Tom's Restaurant (Birds Eye)
Tom's Restaurant

Soup Nazi

The episode featuring the “soup Nazi” was based at least somewhat in reality. There is in fact a man who makes superb soups in NYC, named Al Yeganeh. Like the character, he was also very particular about ordering and getting food. He closed his shop for a few years, but opened back up in 2010.

Al's Soup Kitchen International (StreetView)
Al's Soup Kitchen International

From “yada, yada, yada” to “man hands” and “Hello, Newman” the verbal and visual gifts of Seinfeld just keep on giving. To remember the legacy of the show, you can rewatch some of your favorite episodes, quote your favorite lines, or celebrate a spontaneous Festivus, for the rest of us.

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Happy Mother's Day

Sunday, May 8 2022 by

Today is Mother’s Day, the day we celebrate and honor the women who birthed us, raised us, and influenced us for good. As we as look back at all the women who had a motherly influence, it’s hard to deny the role that television moms played in shaping us.

Let’s check in on some of our favorite showtime moms (and don’t forget to check in with your own moms and all the women who cared for you!)

Mandy Moore, Pasadena, CA

Mandy Moore started out as a teenage singer, and successfully transitioned to acting as she hit her 20s. But her recent breakout role has been as a mother on the hit NBC television show This Is Us. For the last six years, the show has been bringing us to tears each week as we see the progression of the Pearson family.

Mandy bought a mid-century modern home in Pasadena, California in 2017. The $2.6 million home has as much to offer outside as it does inside, with amazing views, a pool, gorgeous landscaping, and plenty of room for her two dogs to roam.

Mandy Moore's House (Google Maps)
Mandy Moore's House

Donna Reed, Palm Springs, CA

Donna Reed is one of Hollywood’s enduring stars, in part for playing the strong, kind housewife Donna Stone on The Donna Reed Show. She played the role, slightly provocative in her independence, for nearly a decade in the 1950s and 1960s.

Donna owned several homes in the LA area during her career, including this home in Palm Springs, which she owned from 1966-1970. Neighbors in her exclusive community included Liberace, Alan Ladd, and Kirk Douglas. These days, the community has mountain trails, a children’s museum, community pools, and more. A perfect place to raise a family, even Donna Reed would agree.

Donna Reed's House (former) (Birds Eye)
Donna Reed's House (former)

Florence Henderson, Marina del Ray, CA

America’s favorite mom, Carol Brady, was played for five years by Florence Henderson, from 1969-1974. She lived in this Marina del Ray house from 2000 until her death on Thanksgiving in 2006.

The home was a great purchase for Florence and her husband, who had actually been living on  a boat in the marina! The home has 3,200 square feet, a pool, large library, and close access to the marina. The house sold in 2017 for about $2.25 million.

Florence Henderson's House (Former) (Birds Eye)
Florence Henderson's House (Former)

Lucille Ball, Beverly Hills, CA

If mothers lead by example, Lucille Ball was a mother to all women who aspire to great things. She was on of the first characters who appeared visibly pregnant on television. She even built the show plot around her actual pregnancy!

Her personal life was somewhat reflective of her on-screen persona, as she was among the first female Hollywood executives, maintained control over her career and finances, and was a strong example to other women.

Lucille owned several homes in the Los Angeles area, but this one on North Roxbury Drive is a fan favorite. Neighbors included Jimmy Stewart, Rosemary Clooney, and Jack Benny. She would even hand out Halloween candy to the neighborhood children!

Lucille Ball's House (Former) (StreetView)
Lucille Ball's House (Former)

Allison Janney, Studio City, CA

With a long and varied Hollywood career, Allison Janney has found success in many roles and personas, most recently as the mom hoping to make amends with her adult daughter in Mom. The show ran for nine seasons before going off the air, giving Allison another two Emmys to go with the four she earned on West Wing.

Allison bought a freshly renovated home in Studio City in 2014. It set her back about $3.25 million, but the gorgeous 5,000 square foot home has lots to offer, with five bedrooms and five bathrooms, as well as a pool, and lots of trees for privacy.

Allison Janney's House (Google Maps)
Allison Janney's House

Doris Roberts, Los Angeles, CA

Perhaps an example of what not to do as a mother, and mother-in-law, Doris Roberts’ character Marie on the long-running show Everybody Loves Raymond is still a beloved figure from American television. Doris Roberts portrayed perfectly a loving mother who knows no boundaries and never holds her tongue, and in the end is always reminded that love is the most important thing.

Doris was an incredible actress with a career that spanned more than 60 years. She was a long-time resident of LA, and owned a gorgeous 1920s Spanish-style mansion in Hollywood Hills. After her death in 2016, the house was renovated and put on the market for about $2.5 million. It was a great deal for a Hollywood house, with more than 3,700 square feet, three bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, and even a “speakeasy” room.

But what really makes the house unique is one of its former residents–James Dean!

Doris Roberts' House (former) (Birds Eye)
Doris Roberts' House (former)

These awesome women prove that anyone can set a good example for kids, so on this day when we honor women in our lives, take a few minutes to call, text, or email those who made you a better person. Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

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May the Fourth Be with You

Wednesday, May 4 2022 by

May the 4th be with you!

A fun riff on the famous Star Wars quote “May the Force be with you,” which was said to Luke Skywalker as he set off on a mission of a lifetime has turned into a global unofficial holiday where people around the world celebrate their love of all things Star Wars by dressing up, rewatching their favorite movies, and reveling in all things Jedi.

Let’s take a look at where some of the original cast and crew live now that they’ve hung up their blasters, light sabers, and robes.

George Lucas

Without George Lucas, Star Wars would not be the global phenomenon it is today. He was only paid about $150,000, less than a million dollars in today’s money, for the first film. Instead, he chose to earn licensing fees and other merchandise compensation. That choice, plus some good directing on the Indiana Jones movies, has made George Lucas worth more than $6 billion!

Skywalker Ranch, Marin County, CA

With all that money, he can afford to live in luxury, and he does. He owns several properties around the world, including more than 4,700 acres of prime land in Marin County, California. He uses the area as a residence and movie ranch. It has cost him at least $100 million, and he’s only developed about 15 acres, due to push back from the community.

It has an olive tree grove, bee colony, fitness center, pool, and even a gift shop. But the place isn’t open to the public, it’s designed for filmmakers, writers and other storymakers, as a place where they can perfect their craft.

George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch (Birds Eye)
George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch

Home in San Anselmo, CA

Since the 1970s, George has lived in San Anselmo, California. He originally bought one home, featured here, and has since expanded his real estate portfolio to own the entire neighborhood!

George Lucas' house (Google Maps)
George Lucas' house

Mark Hamill’s Home in Malibu, CA

Luke Skywalker found the Force in the original Star Wars trilogy, kicking off Star Wars mania. He has largely stayed out of the limelight since his massive success as Luke, but he has done voice acting, and made a few cameos in subsequent Star Wars plots.

Mark lives with his dental hygienist wife in Malibu, which he attributes to his happy marriage. Staying away from the Hollywood scene has allowed their family to grow and thrive without the everday pressure of fame and fortune.

Their home has about 5,000 square feet, with five bedrooms and six bathrooms, and is just a short jaunt to the beach that Malibu is famous for.

Mark Hamill's House (Birds Eye)
Mark Hamill's House

Carrie Fisher’s Home in Beverly Hills, CA

At just 21, Carrie Fisher burst onto the scene as Princess Leia, a gorgeous, spirited rebel fighter. And in so doing, she became a household face for a generation. She was the daughter of Hollywood celebrities Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, and mother to actress Billie Lourd. Before Carrie passed away in 2016, the two had the opportunity to work together on The Force Awakens, and Billie was able to play her mother’s character Princess Leia in a flashback scene in a later film.

In 1994, Carrie spent $13 million on a mansion in Beverly Hills, where she stayed for the remainder of her life. Carrie’s unique personality shines in the house, unique paint, design and decor in each room, and oodles of Star Wars baubles on display. She left her home, as well as her $25 million fortune, to Billie.

Carrie Fisher's House (Birds Eye)
Carrie Fisher's House

Debbie Reynold’s Home in Beverly Hills, CA

In 2000, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, bought a house next door for $1 million. When Debbie passed away a day after Carrie passed, much of her $85 million estate, including her home, passed to Billie, making Billie one of the wealthiest young celebrities in Hollywood.

Debbie Reynolds' House (Birds Eye)
Debbie Reynolds' House

Billie ended up renovating her childhood home, and modifying the landscaping to connect the two homes and create a 3.5 acre estate.

Harrison Ford, Jackson Hole, WY

Harrison Ford has been in the acting industry for more than 50 years, but left the red carpet, party lifestyle behind when he moved to a ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming 35 years ago. And he and his wife Calista Flockhart seem to be happier for that choice.

Harrison is a licensed rescue pilot, and has saved people in the mountainous terrain around his ranch. His property spans 800 acres, much of which has been turned into a nature reserve. While he’s worth more than $300 million and is one of highest grossing actors of all time, he still does his own laundry and dishes. Pretty cool for a man who’s played interstellar superpilot, whip-snapping archeologist, international plot-solving CIA analyst, and even president of the USA, in his very successful career.

Harrison Ford's House (Google Maps)
Harrison Ford's House

On this day celebrating the best movie franchise (or at least most successful), let loose and have a light saber battle, watch your favorite movies, and or whatever makes you happy. May the Force be with you.

 

 

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Let's Celebrate Arbor Day!

Friday, Apr 29 2022 by

“I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree…”

So begins the famous poem by Joyce Kilmer paying homage to the simple beauty of nature’s wonderful shade-giving, air-cleaning, botanical marvel. In honor of national Arbor Day in the US, let’s take a look at some of the most amazing forests and trees around the world.

Daintree Rain Forest, Queensland, Australia

The Daintree Rain Forest in Australia is the oldest tropical rain forest in the world, and part of the largest rain forest on the continent. The area is unique in that the canopy extends to bright white sandy beaches, or sometimes right to the water’s edge. It also has breathtaking peaks and valleys, making it an area of incredibly diverse geology as well as biology.

Daintree River National Park (StreetView)
Daintree River National Park

Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

The baobab tree is a remarkable and unique tree, dominated by its thick trunk that swells with rainwater, and topped with short, leafy tops. These trees can live up to two or three thousand years After decades of being subjected to deforestation as humans take over more and more land, these trees are now protected and promoted in several countries where they are native.

Several species are unique to Madagascar, and the country has recently promoted ecotourism around the trees. The Avenue of the Baobabs is a long dirt road lined with the breathtaking and unique trees reaching 100 feet high. It’s a spectacle to behold, indeed.

Baobabs trees (StreetView)
Baobabs trees

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, which borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was named in part because of the challenging topography of the area, and because of the thick growth that makes it an ideal habitat for some of  the protected species in the forests, including the endangered mountain gorilla.

The forest has incredible biodiversity, from ancient plant life to butterfly species not seen anywhere else, to more than 300 types of birds. Those lucky enough to travel to this region will be richly rewarded for their efforts.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (StreetView)
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Angel Oak Tree, South Carolina, USA

The Angel Oak Tree in Charleston, South Carolina, is a famous tree estimated to be around 400-500 years old. It’s at least 65 feet tall, and the branches extend at least 200 feet, creating a breathtaking and peaceful atmosphere. The tree is protected under local ordinance, and is a major tourist attraction for the region.

As it has stood for centuries, it has witnessed much of the history that shaped America. Legends say that the spirits of former enslaved people stay in or near the tree, and appear around the tree as angels, hence the name.

Angel Oak (StreetView)
Angel Oak

Aokigahara, or Sea of Trees, Japan

The Sea of Trees on the northern side of Japan’s Mount Fuji, is one of the most famous forests in Japan. Fertilized by the ash from Mount Fuji, it has areas of dense, lush, and peaceful growth.

However, the forest is famous both for having a varied and beautiful forest landscape, and for being a popular place for people to go to attempt self-harm. The forest has such a strong reputation that there are signs at the entrance encouraging people to seek help, and crews regularly check for people in need of help.

In recent years, several movies and short films have been made about the forest, which unfortunately promotes the forest’s more unsavory reputation.

Aokigahara - Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees (StreetView)
Aokigahara - Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees

Black Forest, Germany

The Black Forest in Germany and Switzerland is so famous, there’s even a cake named after it! The forest is a favorite destination for hikers from all across Europe. Beautiful trees, mountain lakes, deep valleys, it’s a gorgeous landscape that leaves everyone who visits refreshed and renewed.

The region has a strong culture, with traditional dress, foods, and crafts related to life in the mountains and forests. The clock makers of the region are especially famous for their cuckoo clocks, which have been carved from wood from the nearby trees for hundreds of years.

Nordschwarzwaldturm (Google Maps)
Nordschwarzwaldturm

This day dedicated to trees gives us the perfect opportunity to appreciate the beauty and life-giving resources of trees from around the world. Happy Arbor Day!

 

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Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare

Saturday, Apr 23 2022 by

While the Bard was born 457 years ago today, his works are as popular as ever, with plays being performed on stages large and small, from the local high school to Royal Shakespeare productions.

Today, let’s celebrate the world’s most famous playwright by looking at his life, and legacy.

Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

While April 23 is celebrated as William Shakespeare’s birthday, we don’t know for sure that this is the day he was born. The official record only notes his baptism on April 26. Generally, babies were baptized when they were three days old, so it would make sense he was born on April 23. Saying he was born on this date holds additional appeal, as it’s also the day he died, 52 years later.

His birthplace is now a small museum, where visitors can see where the writer grew up with his many siblings and learn about his father’s business endeavors, which were conducted one one side of the building.

Shakespeare's Birthplace (StreetView)
Shakespeare's Birthplace

King Edward XI School, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

Shakespeare probably attended school just down the street at a well-regarded grammar school, where he learned Latin, the English alphabet, and religious studies.

It’s presumed he attended school here because he came from a wealthy family, and it was the only school in the area. Boys of his age and station have attended this school for hundreds of years.

The school, still in use, has embraced its reputation as being “Shakespeare’s School” and celebrates his birthday with a procession from the school to Shakespeare’s grave, where students lay a wreath.

King Edward the Sixth "Shakespeare's" School (StreetView)
King Edward the Sixth "Shakespeare's" School

Royal Shakespeare Theater, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

Shakespeare’s hometown really loves being known as the birthplace of the Bard. Several theaters, performing arts centers, and historical places are dedicated to their most famous son. There are also countless restaurants, stores, and gift shops that capitalize on Shakespeare’s name.

The Royal Shakespeare Theater, managed and run by the Royal Shakespeare Company, officially opened in 2011, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip overseeing the festivities. The new theater can hold 1,000 people, and hosts about 20 performances per year.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre (StreetView)
Royal Shakespeare Theatre

William Shakespeare’s Grave, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

Shakespeare moved to London when he was in his late 20s, but retired in Stratford-upon-Avon after a successful career. He passed away on his 52nd birthday, perhaps after a heavy drinking session with friends that resulted in a fever.

He was buried in the town church, and his resting place has since become an important place for visitors to see when they come to the town to learn more about and pay respects to the famous wordsmith. The slab covering his body has a sternly-worded warning against moving his body, so his bones were left undisturbed when the chapel was recently renovated.

William Shakespeare's Grave (StreetView)
William Shakespeare's Grave

Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, London, UK

Shakespeare grew in success in London as a playwright, and eventually had a troop of performers who put on his works. They built a theater, which was named the Globe Theater. The original caught fire during a performance of Henry VIII in 1613. It was rebuilt in 1614, but closed down a few decades later.

A recreation of the theater was built in 1997 near the original theater’s location. Like in Shakespeare’s days, patrons can pay a smaller admission fee to stand and watch the play, rather than sit in a seat.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (Birds Eye)
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Juliet Balcony, Verona, Italy

While there’s no evidence that Shakespeare ever visited Italy, several of his most famous plays are staged there, usually in Verona. One of the most famous scenes in all of theater was staged by Shakespeare on a balcony in Verona, between two “star-crossed lovers” in Romeo and Juliet.

Over the years, a balcony on a private entrance has become famous as the “Juliet Balcony”. While it’s a private residence, visitors love to stop by and imagine the passion that was felt those many years ago.

Famous balcony of Juliet at Villa Capuleti in Verona. (Birds Eye)
Famous balcony of Juliet at Villa Capuleti in Verona.

Kronborg Castle, Denmark

While Romeo and Juliet may be the most famous love story, Hamlet is likely the most famous play ever written. Period. Kronborg Castle is largely agreed to be the model for Elsinore, the castle in Hamlet. It’s likely that a troop of actors who had toured the castle described it to the Bard, who then wove those details into the famous tragedy.

Kronborg Castle (Google Maps)
Kronborg Castle

Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., USA

While Shakespeare was an Englishman, the largest repository of his works, as well as contemporary literature, is actually in Washington, D.C. at the privately-owned Folger Shakespeare Library. It holds hundreds of folios, or first edition volumes of works, including poems, plays, and other works.

A theater associated with the library puts on several Shakespeare and Shakespeare-related performances.

The library has become a wonderful place to study, learn more about, and enjoy Shakespeare’s work.

Folger Shakespeare Library and Theater (Google Maps)
Folger Shakespeare Library and Theater

Shakespeare’s work is so readily available, from the famous Leonardo Dicaprio/Claire Danes Romeo and Juliet, to zombie movie Warm Bodies based on the same play, or even the Lion King, based on Hamlet. It’s simply amazing to see how much Shakespeare still influences the arts today. Happy Birthday, William.

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Cuba, a Small Island with Lots to Offer!

Monday, Apr 18 2022 by

The little island about 90 miles south of Florida is a beautiful, culturally rich country that many in the United States know very little about.

While most of the world can visit Cuba anytime, the neighbor to the north has strict and fluctuating travel restrictions preventing most Americans from visiting the island paradise. For them, this virtual tour will have to do.

Cuba (Google Maps)
Cuba

Havana

The capital of Cuba, Havana, is the largest city on the island. It was founded around 1519 and has been occupied since then. The architecture reflects the history of the city, providing five hundred years of history through the buildings of the city. Havana is the biggest and most dynamic city on the island, any visitor will certainly want to spend a lot of time here.

Havana street and El Capitolio (StreetView)
Havana street and El Capitolio

The Capitol Building was built in 1929, long before the current communist regime came to power, when it was long used for other purposes. The architecture and design are intricate, and have been maintained by the current government, even though it is not an official governing building.

Capitol of Cuba (Google Maps)
Capitol of Cuba

Old Havana

Old Havana is one of the city’s gems. It is the oldest part of the city, located on the water. It has beautiful promenades, historical architecture, fortresses, cathedrals and culture any visitor should not miss.

Old Havana (Google Maps)
Old Havana

Paseo del Prado

Dividing Old Havana and Central Havana is the Paseo del Prado. Like its namesake in Madrid, the promenade is lined with important and beautiful buildings, and is a perfect place for a relaxing afternoon stroll.
Paseo del Prado - Havana (StreetView)
Paseo del Prado - Havana

Castello del Principe

This old fortress was built in the days of pirating and international disputes, but was used as a prison right up until the Cuban Revolution, and housed early  pro-communist revolutionaries. It has since become a national monument to honor the revolutionaries who inspired the current government.

Castillo del Principe (Google Maps)
Castillo del Principe

Havana Cathedral

In the heart of Old Havana lies a Cuban treasure: Havana Cathedral. The Baroque structure is one of the oldest cathedrals in the western hemisphere.

Havana Cathedral (StreetView)
Havana Cathedral

Old Partagas Cigar Factory

Cuban cigars have a reputation for being the best in the world, and the Old Partagas Cigar Factory has been making them for over 160 years. Visitors can tour the working factory and site, but plan ahead because it is one of the most popular tourist sites in Havana.

Old Partagás Factory (cigars) (StreetView)
Old Partagás Factory (cigars)

El Malecon

El Malecon is a promenade and boardwalk that provides both a buffer for buildings against the ocean and a wonderful place for friends and lovers to take an evening walk after dinner and before heading out to enjoy Havana’s vibrant nightlife.

Cruising the Malecon in an old red convertible (StreetView)
Cruising the Malecon in an old red convertible

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base

Unless you’re in the US military, you can’t visit Guantanamo Bay, but the site is one of the most famous, and controversial, locations on the island. The US government has long leased the land from the Cuban government, but since the communist revolution, the government has balked at the foreign military’s presence and refuses the payment as a token protest.

Guantanamo Bay (Google Maps)
Guantanamo Bay

The military base is the site of the contentious Camp Delta, where the US government holds detainees captured during the “War on Terror”. Originally intended to be temporary, these prisoners are essentially permanent residents of Guantanamo Bay.

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If you’re an American, you better hurry and visit Cuba soon because the administration is reversing recent policies that opened relations between the two countries. If you live anywhere else, what are you waiting for?

 

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Deep Dive into History: Apollo 13

Monday, Apr 11 2022 by

After President Kennedy’s challenge to send Americans to the moon, the entire country was caught up in the space race, and Americans were the first to reach the moon on July 16, 1969. In less than a year, there was a second successful trip, and a third planned.

The Apollo 13 mission never made it to the moon, but the expedition that launched on April 11, 1970, captivated the attention of America as it suffered catastrophic damage and the crew and ground support worked to bring the spacecraft back to earth.

On the anniversary of the expedition, let’s look back at the events and locations of that heroic mission.

Mission Control, Houston, Texas

“Houston, we have a problem” is one of the most popular modern-day catchphrases. Jim Lovell was talking from outer space to Mission Control at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, when he uttered this phrase (actually he said, “Houston, we’ve had a problem” but it was slightly muffled on the intercom).

After a routine fuel test resulted in catastrophic damage to the spacecraft, Lovell, Fred Haise, and John Swigert had to abort their plans to walk on the moon and instead just hope they could return to earth. The three highly-trained astronauts worked with the ground crew to figure out exactly how the crew could use gravity, inertia, and the little remaining fuel they had to make it home to earth.

It was from this Mission Control building in Houston that countless engineers, scientists, and mathematicians worked tirelessly for five days to ensure the crew returned safely to earth. The building is still used for NASA and space-related work.

Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center (Birds Eye)
Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center

Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The mission launched from NASA’s Operational Launch site, which was later renamed the Kennedy Space Center for the man who inspired and supported the pursuit of spaceflight. Here, visitors could watch the launch from a safe distance, far from the massive heat and flames from the burning fuel that launched the craft into space.

Kennedy Space Center (StreetView)
Kennedy Space Center

Cape Kennedy Shuttle Launch Complex, Florida

It’s from this area that Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launches took off. The complex has dozens of launch sites, and Apollo 13 was set up on LC 39-A. This launch site is still used. In fact, SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rockets regularly from the exact same pad that launched Apollo 13.

Visitors to the Kennedy Space Center can also see rocket launches. If you want to see a rocket up close (about seven miles away for safety), this is the place!

Cape Kennedy Shuttle Launch Complex (Google Maps)
Cape Kennedy Shuttle Launch Complex

Saturn V Rocket, Huntsville, Alabama

The astronauts were launched into space by the massive force of the Saturn V (five) rockets, the engineering marvel that changed the world. Much of the research and development for the rocket were conducted at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL.

On the 30th anniversary of the project, a full-scale replica was put on display outside the Center. The 363-foot rocket is still on display, garnering visits from space history buffs from around the world.

Saturn V rocket (Google Maps)
Saturn V rocket

Saturn V Rocket, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

An original rocket, not a replica, is on display at the Kennedy Space Center. Visitors can walk under the massive rocket and get a feel for just how much work, and energy, went into getting astronauts safely to the moon and back.

Saturn V rocket (StreetView)
Saturn V rocket

Command and Service Module on Display, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

After the astronauts realized they had a problem, they worked with the ground crew at Mission Control to find a way to survive the unthinkable. They quickly moved from the larger command module into the tiny lunar module, which was designed only for two people to take a short trip to and from the moon. Instead, the three men spent five days in the cold, cramped container as they worked to come home.

Looking at this Apollo-designed module helps people visualize just how risky the endeavor was, and how much the men endured in outer space.

Apollo Command/Service Module (StreetView)
Apollo Command/Service Module

USS New Orleans

Before the days of space shuttles, astronauts were launched on top of rockets, situated in spacecraft. They had enough fuel and power to navigate in outer space and launch a return to earth. Using calculations and careful planning, the crew would be able to predict their landing location. Navy ships would wait in the area to retrieve the heroic space travelers. After flying more than half a million miles to the moon and back, they could predict their landing within two miles!

The Apollo 13 crew, after surviving a five-day ordeal, splashed down into the Pacific Ocean, and was picked up by the USS Iwo Jima. On site for support was the USS New Orleans. This ship picked up the crew from Apollo 14, and was used in the movie Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks.

USS New Orleans (LPH-11) amphibious assault ship (Birds Eye)
USS New Orleans (LPH-11) amphibious assault ship

Home of Astronaut Jim Lovell, Chicago, Illinois

Jim Lovell was already an experienced astronaut when he was assigned to command the Apollo 13 mission. He and two others were the first men to ever reach the moon. They circled the moon on the Apollo 8 mission, in preparation for the Apollo 11 space landing. He also flew on two Gemini missions.

Jim’s calm demeanor and ability to lead the crew helped them return safely to earth. After retiring from NASA, Jim and his family eventually moved to Lake Forest, on the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois. Now 93, Jim still lives in Illinois, for at least part of the year.

In 1994, Jim wrote a book that was quickly turned into the captivating film Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton. This film helped revitalize interest in space exploration, and reminded people everywhere of what the astronauts went through on their harrowing journey through space.

Jim Lovell's House (Birds Eye)
Jim Lovell's House

Tonight, perhaps you can look at the moon and stars, and reflect on what a wonder it must be to leave earth. Take a moment to appreciate all that Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise, as well as the countless men and women on the ground, went through, and how fortunate they were to make it back to tell their tale.

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Eddie Murphy!

Sunday, Apr 3 2022 by

Today, one of the funniest men in Hollywood is having a birthday, so there’s sure to be lots of laughs as his loved ones celebrate Eddie Murphy turning 61 today. Let’s look at where Eddie might be celebrating, and some important sites and friends in his life.

Mansion in Beverly Hills, California

The $200 million Eddie has to his name has gone to lots of properties, including this $20 million Beverly Hills estate where he lives with his fiancee and their child. The 18,000 square foot mansion has ten bedrooms and seventeen bathrooms! It also has a tennis court, massive swimming pool, hot tub, barbecue pit, and even an underground vault.

He paid $10 million for the place in 2003, and has done massive renovations and upgrades. It’s in an extremely private neighborhood, and has landscaping and design features to add privacy for the extremely successful actor and his family.

Eddie Murphy's House (Birds Eye)
Eddie Murphy's House

House in Granite Bay, California

Over the years, Eddie has had several relationships, and has ten kids. His longest relationship was with Nicole Murphy, and the two had five kids together, before divorcing in 2006.

Nicole ended up with this massive $18 million mansion in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay. The lakeside property has 12,600 square feet, sits on 5 acres, and has gorgeous landscaping and amazing views of the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains. After their divorce, Nicole sold the house for about $6 million. It’s now in the hands of a tech billionaire and estimated to be worth $12 million.

Eddie Murphy's House (former) (Google Maps)
Eddie Murphy's House (former)

Private Island, Bahamas

Eddie grew up in the projects in Brooklyn, and has worked incredibly hard to be where he is today. He’s keenly aware of how far he’s come, and calls all his luxuries and amenities “gravy” in a charmed life. Charmed, indeed, as he owns his own private island in the Bahamas.

In 2007, he paid about $15 million for Rooster Cay, close to the capital of Nassau. This isn’t even the first island he owned; he used to own a smaller island nearby. Must be nice to be so rich you can even upgrade your private islands!

Eddie Murphy's island (Bing Maps)
Eddie Murphy's island

Richard Pryor’s Home, Northridge, CA

Eddie Murphy has long listed comedian Richard Pryor, who died in 2005, as his strongest influence. The Black comedian came to fame in the 1970s, and never shied away from tough subjects in his comedy. He has been listed as an inspiration to many comedians, especially Black comedians, who admire the work he did in paving the way for those who came after him.

Richard lived in this LA-area house during the height of his fame, and infamy. While living here, Richard accidentally set himself on fire, and was rescued by the police. It sold for $2.5 million in 2017 to former NFL player Rashard Mendenhall.

Richard Pryor's House (former) (Google Maps)
Richard Pryor's House (former)

Dave Chappelle’s Home in Yellow Springs, OH

Eddie has influenced comedy over the course of his career, and several comedians list him as having a major impact on their desire to become a comedian, style, or ability to succeed. Dave Chappelle, one of the most famous comedians these days, knows he owes a lot to Eddie Murphy.

Dave has been on top of the game, and famously walked away. He found happiness in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where the locals didn’t mind his fame, and he was able to live a normal life.

The 39 acre property has a 3,000 square foot home, and quite a bit of privacy. Dave has been buying up other properties in the area, and remains very involved in local politics, even with his Netflix specials these days.

Dave Chappelle's House (Birds Eye)
Dave Chappelle's House

Kevin Hart’s Mansion, Calabasas, CA

Kevin Hart has cited Eddie Murphy as a role model, and Kevin has certainly done well for himself following Eddie’s example. The famous comedic actor has amassed a fortune to rival Eddie, and has an amazing 42-acre estate in the high-end LA area of Calabasas. He paid $1.4 million for the first 26 acres of land, and built a custom mansion on the property. He more recently acquired the lot next door.

The outdoor amenities are amazing, including a basketball court, massive pool and spa, and huge cabana. Indoors, there are plenty of bedrooms, a home gym, master suite with multiple closets, and more.

Kevin Hart House (Google Maps)
Kevin Hart House

No matter where Eddie is today, he’s sure to be celebrating his birthday. And with ten kids, he’s sure to be surrounded by family and loved ones wishing him a happy birthday. So, we can add our voices to the chorus and wish the influential and groundbreaking comedian a happy birthday!

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Deep Dive into History: The Day President Reagan Was Shot

Wednesday, Mar 30 2022 by

Ronald Reagan was born in the small Illinois town of Tampico, and rose to fame as a leading actor during the golden age of Hollywood. But fame and fortune on the silver screen was only his first act. He went on to become the 40th president of the United States, and has left a legacy long after his eight years in office.

On March 30, 1981, a delusional man attempted to kill the new president. But due to luck, quick thinking by the Secret Service, and some heroic citizens, the president was hit but not killed.

In honor of the last time a president has been attacked, let’s take a look at Ronald Reagan’s life.

Birthplace, Tampico, Illinois

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in an apartment above a tavern in the small town of Tampico. His parents were poor, but must have been inspirational to their two boys, because Ronald became a famous actor, governor and president, and Neil became a successful advertising executive.

The building, now called the Graham Building, is a national historical site, and you can visit, if you happen to find yourself in the tiny town of less than 1,000 people.

Birthplace of Ronald Reagan (StreetView)
Birthplace of Ronald Reagan

Childhood Home, Dixon, Illinois

When he was young, the family moved to Dixon, Illinois for better job prospects. They lived here for about three years; not a long time, but with such a transient family, it felt like a long time to the young boy. President Reagan has reflected on the home and the time spent there as some of the best of his childhood. The boys had plenty of adventures, including raising rabbits.

The home is open for visitors from April to October each year.

Ronald Reagan's Boyhood Home (Google Maps)
Ronald Reagan's Boyhood Home

Rancho del Cielo, Santa Barbara, California

Nicknamed the “Western White House” while he was president, Ronald and Nancy bought the property in 1974 for about $2.6 million in today’s dollars. They bought the home as Ronald’s term as Governor of California was wrapping up, and turned it into a wonderful vacation home for the close-knit family.

They enjoyed spending time at the ranch, with its 1,500 square foot home, horse stables, and a lake. As president, he hosted foreign leaders and dignitaries, as well as signed legislation into law.

Regan developed Alzheimer’s after his second term as president, and he stopped visiting after 1995. Later, it was sold to the Young America Foundation, and they allow students and guests to visit, but it is closed to the public.

Ronald Reagan Ranch (Google Maps)
Ronald Reagan Ranch

Last Home, Bel Air, California

After serving two terms as president, Ronald and Nancy retired back to California. They bought the house from friends for about $2.5 million, and it was the perfect place to retire.

On June 5, 2004, Ronald Reagan passed away after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. The home sold in 2016 for $15 million dollars to a former Hollywood agent and Reagan supporter. The home was demolished in 2020.

Ronald & Nancy Reagan's House (Former) (Birds Eye)
Ronald & Nancy Reagan's House (Former)

Site of Attempted Assassination, Washington, D.C.

Shortly after taking office, President Reagan went to the Washington Hilton for a speaking engagement. As he was leaving, deranged John Hinckley, Jr. shot at the president. Hinckley thought he was proving his love for Jodie Foster by shooting the president.

Immediately, Press Secretary Brady was hit and severely wounded. A Secret Service agent and DC police officer were also wounded. Another agent forced Reagan down and into the waiting limo. At the same time, bystanders near Hinckley realized he was the shooter and tackled him, limiting his ability to continue shooting. Hinckley was eventually convicted of the shooting, and placed in a hospital until 2016. He now lives with his mother under supervision.

Site of the assassination attempt on President Reagan (StreetView)
Site of the assassination attempt on President Reagan

George Washington University Hospital, Washington, D.C.

In spite of security’s best efforts, Reagan was shot as a bullet ricocheted off the car and into his torso. The limo rushed him to George Washington University Hospital, where he was quickly treated for shock and the bullet wound.

If it hadn’t been for the quick thinking by the people assigned to protect the president, as well as bystanders, the president’s term, and life, would likely have been cut tragically short.

George Washington University Hospital (Google Maps)
George Washington University Hospital

Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California

As with all recent presidents, Ronald Reagan established a presidential library to house his official papers and other presidential records, as well as honor and promote his legacy.

The library opened in 1991, and serves as a wonderful educational experience for those wishing to learn more about the 40th’s president’s life, as well as his administration.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (Google Maps)
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Presidential Library Oval Office

The library has several displays highlighting the president’s term, including a full-scale reproduction of the Oval Office.

The White House Oval Office replica, Presidential desk (StreetView)
The White House Oval Office replica, Presidential desk

Reagan and Gorbachev Statue

The library focuses on highlights from the administration, including the monumental meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev of the Soviet Union.

Statue of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev (StreetView)
Statue of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev

Grave Site, Simi Valley, California

After a seven-day long funeral service which included laying in state in the U.S. Capitol and a funeral service at the National Cathedral, Ronald Reagan was interred at his presidential library in Simi Valley. Visitors are able to pay tribute to the groundbreaking president at the site.

Gravesite of President Ronald W. Reagan (Birds Eye)
Gravesite of President Ronald W. Reagan

These are just a few places that are important to the life and legacy of Ronald Reagan. If he had not survived the shot that fateful day, who knows if the Soviet Union would have fallen when it did and the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe changed to democratic countries. From his career in Hollywood, to his service as governor in California, to his two terms as president, he did it all, and left a powerful reputation that lasts to this day.

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Happy Birthday, William Shatner!

Tuesday, Mar 22 2022 by

Ninety one years ago today, on March 22, 1931, William Shatner was born in Montreal, Canada.

In honor of the captain who boldly went where no man has gone before, let’s take a look at Shatner’s career in Hollywood, and some of the people he’s worked with along the way.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, Southern California

Shatner came to Hollywood in the late 1950s, and started appearing in television and movies, though without a big break for more than a decade. In 1966, he was cast as Captain James Kirk in the original Star Trek series. Filming the intergalactic series led to the crew working in some fun and funky locations, including Vasquez Rocks just north of Los Angeles.

These rocks were once a favorite place for bandits and outlaws to hide, but have in more recent years become a popular place to film television and movie scenes, including several Star Trek episodes.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park (Google Maps)
Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

Longtime Home, Los Angeles

While Shatner starred in Star Trek for three seasons, the show cancelled and Shatner struggled to find work for years. In fact, at one point he lost his house and had to live out of a trailer. It wasn’t until fans got into the show during reruns and Shatner starred in Star Trek movies that he started to earn more money.

But eventually the money did come. Now, Shatner is worth about $100 million! In 1975, he bought a 4,000 square foot home in Studio City, which has four bedrooms and four bathrooms, and a pool, too.

William Shatner's House (Birds Eye)
William Shatner's House

Property Next Door

Shatner also bought the property next door, which is a 1,600 square foot home. Shatner and his ex-wife loved to entertain and host fun parties, so perhaps it was a place for staff to live, or to let friends stay the night if they needed a place to crash.

William Shatner's House (Birds Eye)
William Shatner's House

Blue Origins Hangar, West Texas

With a reputation of “going where no one has gone before” it made sense that Shatner would want to travel to space as soon as the chance came. And in October 2021, he was able to fly as a guest on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins spacecraft.

While it’s reported Shatner flew for free, others have paid as much as $28 million for a seat on the rocket that launches 100 kilometers into space, giving passengers about three minutes of weightlessness in space before returning to earth. For an 11 minute trip, that’s $2.5 million per minute, or $42,000 per second!

Blue Origin spacecraft hangar and launchpad (Google Maps)
Blue Origin spacecraft hangar and launchpad

Leonard Nimoy’s Home, Los Angeles, California

Shatner wasn’t the only Star Trek actor to experience belated success. Leonard Nimoy, who played the serious and stoic Spock in the series and subsequent films, was a great actor who never forgot his Boston roots.

He owned property in Florida, Tahoe, and southern California, but towards the end of his life, he downsized to his private home in Los Angeles. The actor, worth $45 million when he passed away in 2015, maintained an active role in the Star Trek world, like Shatner, and also like Shatner, he enjoyed the belated financial reward from his hard work.

Leonard Nimoy's House (former) (Birds Eye)
Leonard Nimoy's House (former)

Patrick Stewart’s Park Slope Home, New York, New York

While William Shatner was the OG captain in the original Star Trek series, Patrick Stewart reinvented the role of captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise for Star Trek: The Next Generation and subsequent film and franchise roles. He was originally a famous stage actor, and had a great reputation in theater before being labeled as an “unknown British actor” when he got the role as Captain Picard.

He and his wife own several properties in England, but they love their Park Slope town house which they bought in 2012 for about $2.5 million. The converted carriage house has three bedrooms, and a 1,200 square foot patio with fire pit, a real luxury in New York. But with $70 million to his name, he can afford all the amenities.

Sir Patrick Stewart's House (Google Maps)
Sir Patrick Stewart's House

Over the last 91 years, William Shatner’s career and success have carried him far–even to outer space! While it’s probably going to be hard to find a gift for the man who has left earth’s orbit, a thoughtful “Happy Birthday” will suffice. So, Happy Birthday!

 

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