Top O’ Topanga

High above the San Fernando Valley, home of Valley Girls, most of the world’s pornography business, 2.9 million people and the 1994 Northridge earthquake is a L.A. Park known as Top O’ Topanga.  The nine acre park is a popular spot to view sunsets and provides spectacular views of the Santa Monica Mountain, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the Santa Susana mountains in the far distance.  Topanga is a name that means “crazy people” and it refers to the early settlers who used to run around naked and grow sunflowers on the mountain.  (Kongo just made that up).  Topanga is…

Roman Monkey Garden Tour

So, a few blogs ago Kongo let it slip out that he was now a docent at the Getty Villa in Malibu.  The Villa is part of the Getty Museum complex in Los Angeles.  The Villa houses the Getty’s collection of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan artifacts and the architecture is designed after a real Roman villa discovered beneath 100 feet of volcanic material in Herculaneum on the Bay of Naples in Italy.  Herculaneum along with Pompeii and a few other Roman towns were completely buried when Mt. Vesuvius blew its top on August 24 in A.D. 79. Anyway, back to…

Liver Reading for Dummies

Just when you thought it was safe to visit a museum, the Getty Villa in Malibu, California turned a bunch of Haruspices loose on an unsuspecting public.  A Haruspex, in case your mind has temporarily gone blank, is a person trained to divine the will of the gods in entrails — particularly sheep entrails.  In other words, a Haruspex is a liver reader.  (Kongo knows you knew that, right?)  Indeed, the word haruspex is a combination of two pretty old words:  haru, which means entrails and spec, which means to observe or to look at.  (spectacles — get it?)  You should remember these terms…

Monkey Docent

For the past few months the monkey has been pretty busy and hasn’t posted much on his blog.  It’s not that he’s a lazy monkey (well maybe a little lazy).  Instead he’s been cramming his simian head with facts and figures about ancient Rome.  He’s now a site docent at the Getty Villa in Malibu.  Yup, that’s d-o-c-e-n-t as in cultured monkey, Roman monkey, and well, scholarly monkey. Kongo has learned the ins and outs of Corinthian columns, Ionic columns, and doric columns.  He knows why acanthus leaves grace Corinthian capitals and can discourse on the nature of compluviums and…

Topanga Canyon Boulevard

There is something pretty funky north of L.A.  We’re talking about Topanga Canyon Blvd.,  an 11-mile stretch of winding canyon roads through the Santa Monica mountains between Pacific Coast Highway and the Ventura Freeway.  Flying pigs.  Indians on horseback.  Pirate girls.  Chinese soldiers. Throw in some mystic coffee shops, roadside bonsai and wind chime stands and a range of houses that go from shacks perched on the side of the hill to mansions and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect.  For those of a certain age think Woodstock. Just about anything goes in Topanga.  In fact,…

Adobe Monkey

Kongo visited Reyes Adobe in Agoura Hills this week with #1 granddaughter’s fourth grade class.  The Reyes Adobe house, built in 1850, was originally part of the Rancho Las Virgenes (still an exit on U.S. 101) Spanish land grant.  After the Mexican War and the Treaty of Guadalupe in 1848 the United States recognized the original land claims — sort of.  A descendant of the original grantee, Maria Antonia Machado de Reyes was eventually granted about 8,000 acres after several petitions to the government. Kongo found this fascinating because Mrs. Kongo’s maiden name is Machado and the ever calculating monkey was…