*UPDATE* Wende Museum

Inconspicuously located in Culver City at the 1949 National Guard Armory building, is the Wende (pronounced “venda”) Museum.

Garden Egg Chair, 1968, Peter Ghyczy

For those not acquainted with the The Wende:

 Examining the history of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union can be fraught with political and personal bias, and the complex, often contradictory stories that underlie the Museum’s artifacts may provoke uncomfortable questions. The Museum’s location in Culver City, California, provides independence and critical distance from current political debates in Europe, and also facilitates the questioning of preconceived ideas about our past and present. Moreover, the Museum’s physical remoteness from Central and Eastern Europe has enabled it to attract significant artifacts and collections that might otherwise have been destroyed as a result of emotional and political reactions. – Wende Museum

Growing up in the United States, we are blindly sheltered from any true political strife: war, brainwashing, and public executions are things we have been fortunate to have avoided.

Immersing yourself in such powerful relics is to observe a life you’ll (hopefully) never experience.

                      Stasi’s stalking tools

As you walk in, you are greeted by a gift shop on the left, and the product of the Monday Demonstrations on Lenin to the right.

This is what protesting looks like

As you enter the general space, the walls are succinctly curated with the current revolving exhibitions. The two latest installations that adorned the space were: “Promote, Tolerate, Ban: Art and Culture in Cold War Hungary”, which is a collaborative initiative with the Getty Research Institute, and “Socialist Flower Power: Soviet Hippie Culture”.

Clothing from “Socialist Flower Power”

 

A piece from “Promote, Tolerate, Ban”

In the two alley ways that run parallel, there are enough books, furniture, clothing, toys, and other household items to keep you intrigued and satiated for hours.

           Google translate can’t keep up.

 

    This probably doesn’t have the ‘Gram on it.

 

                  Definitely not fast fashion

 

              Checkpoint Charlie curiosity fix

 

I wonder if they made one of him in pajamas.

 

The Wende is one of Culver City’s best kept secrets, but with your help, it won’t be for much longer.

 

The Wende Museum 

10808 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230

Hours of Enjoyment:

Friday:  10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Being vegetarian for over 20 years, most people assume that I would be against taxidermy. Unbeknownst to my nearest, I have a slight affliction towards post-mortem animal sculptures. Mostly the blame lies towards my upbringing: I was raised by outdoorsmen, hunting and fishing types that would up-cycle their kills. My uncle had his basement turned into a natural history museum exhibit. From woodland creature pelts, to moose legged lamps, one could really learn a lot about the animals of the upper midwest.

He would've really brightened up my living room.

There’s always room more lil helpers like him.

While I was dog sitting this weekend in the San Fernando Valley, I was blinded by the bounty of this oddities shop on Magnolia Blvd. Careening my sleigh to the first available spot, I hurried myself in. I was greeted immediately by one of the owners, Erick, who was busily cleaning and arranging new product. Right away, he offered his assistance, since I was eyeing up his taxidermy rodent selection very hungrily. He also mentioned that all the animals that were available for purchase all died from natural causes. I appreciated that, since I felt a little crappy about my lusting for a top-hatted mouse, that was next to skulls of various creatures, bottled insects, a bat, and all sorts of curiosities. They also display a sign stating that all wildlife was ethically sourced, so you needn’t feel guilt when your coin purse starts doing all the talking.

Eye see you.

Eye see you.

Erick also dropped an interesting tidbit: they offer a taxidermy class, if any are interested in making their own animal militia. They also can help you put your dusty Ouija boards to use, as they offer occasional seances.

She was a huge fan of beef jerky.

What do you say about a leathery mermaid?

In the very back of this multi-roomed emporium, I met a lovely mermaid with a mildly shrunken head. I’m thinking she might make an excellent centerpiece during the holidays. Besides the lovely maiden of the sea, stacks of lonely Ouija boards, bearded lady t-shirts, movie posters, vintage comics and old cameras, and hell, even wax busts of no-name dames.

If you ever want to give me a gift, this is it.

If you ever want to give me a gift, this is it.

If you ever find yourself roaming Burbank in need of a turtle skeleton, or squirrel eyes, maybe even some Star Wars comics, please do yourself the biggest favor and visit the wonderfully macabre, Bearded Lady. Your shelves and dreams will never be empty again.

 

Bearded Lady Vintage and Oddities

3005 W Magnolia Blvd
Burbank, California

(323) 696.5219

Hours: Tues – Sat: 10am – 7pm/Sun – Mon: 12pm – 7pm

Online Store: https://squareup.com/market/beardedladyvintage

 

Located in a tourist-laden part of Santa Monica, the 113 year-old Camera Obscura perches nonchalantly on the cliffs. A short jaunt from the famous pier, the 50s type font on the camera’s housing begs you to take a gander.

You can scope out climbing trees for afterwards.

You can scope out climbing trees for afterwards.

One of three left in California, Robert F. Jones constructed the camera in 1898, and gave it to the city in 1907. For 50 years, the camera delighted beach goers and peeping toms on Santa Monica beach. By 1955, it was relocated to the nearby Senior Recreation Center.

A-ha!!!

A-ha!!!

The Camera obscura dates back to the ancient Greek era, as it was one of the earliest optical inventions. Scholars believe that these types of “cameras” were utilized by Renaissance painters like Leonardo Da Vinci to project live images onto the canvases to assist them in painting. By the Victorian and Edwardian times, it had become a popular attraction in the US, and across the pond.

Peeping Lauren.

Peeping Lauren.

I was rather pleased to see a diverse blend of persons queuing up for their opportunity to view the beach through a Renaissance lens. We have come so far when photography is involved, yet we sometimes forget what novel inventions we have left behind. The camera obscura is free, and all you have to do is wait your turn once you sign in. Once you’re in, they give you the key, and you can spend a large chunk of time spinning the wheel, exploring the beach of Santa Monica, or the car culture on the other side. A fun side adventure for all ages. Bring grandpa along, so he can prattle off tales of how this was the only camera he had as a boy, while his great-grandchildren struggle for a grainy snapshot with their iPhone 6’s.

Ahoy, thar be peeping toms ahead!!

Ahoy, thar be lookie loos ahead!!

 

Camera Obscura

Senior Recreation Center

1450 Ocean Blvd.

Santa Monica, CA 90401

Hours: Mon-Fri 9am – 2pm Sat 11am – 4pm

Phone: (310) 458-8644