At the Ophthalmologist’s

Ophthalmologist’s Office, Santa Monica. July 2014

Here for my annual eye exam, I noticed this still life. I particularly like the cement block, the fire extinguisher and the coat rack.


Waiting for the Optician (or someone like him)

Friedman Optical, Culver City. March 2014

When I was working full time for a major post-production facility, one of the benefits was full medical insurance including optical. The photo is of the last time I visited this optician with my insurance for my free eye exam and pair of glasses. With the loss of my ‘vision’ insurance, I now see an ophthalmologist for my eye-care needs which is covered by my current medical insurance. I buy the glasses and the packs of contacts at Costco.

I began wearing glasses at age 10 when I realized that by squinting, the writing on the blackboard at school became clearer. In high school I sported old fashioned wire rimmed spectacles with rose-tinted lenses. I looked like a cross between Jerry Garcia and John Lenon. Later I graduated to soft contact lenses which gave me my peripheral vision back, it was nearly as much a revelation as when I put on glasses for the first time and the world snapped into clear focus.

For the past many years I have worn “disposable” lenses which advertise the ability to sleep with them in. One of the things I hated about contact lenses, in fact the only downside, is having to take them out and fuss with them. In the early days, we would have to remove them nightly, put them into a special appliance and disinfect them by heating. What a royal pain.

Now, with this latest breakthrough in optical science, I could go for weeks without having to touch them; my ophthalmologist was horrified to learn that. She has gradually convinced me to take them out every couple of days to clean and disinfect with a new all-in-one solution. No heat necessary.


Oil Change

Right next to the WLA carwash is a Jiffy Lube. I had a coupon for both so I dedicated the afternoon to car care. Located on Sepulveda Blvd., this is outside my normal rounds. I think I was out and about doing errands and decided to pull in for a wash and a change.

What struck me about this particular waiting room was the utter bleakness. No frills, just a blank TV and a soda machine. Dimly lit, smelling faintly of used motor oil, it is one of the least attractive places I have waited. The patio wasn’t much better – dusty and reeking of cigarette smoke. I usually go elsewhere for both wash and oil change, but the lure of the coupon was irresistible.

As is often the case, I couldn’t decide which photo to post; which one do you like?

Kaiser Medical Center, WLA

I had taken my mom to Kaiser for some tests before a minor procedure she was having. While she waited, I prowled the halls looking for some of the multitude of waiting areas found in any hospital. These are two of the most interesting photos.

The West LA medical center is huge. Several buildings cluster around a central courtyard: the main hospital, medical offices, gift shop, cafeteria, parking structure – all the usual suspects. More buildings lurk behind the main wing. It serves thousands of people daily many of whom will wait in these rooms, or ones just like them.

A Little Housekeeping

Terrenea Health Club, Palos Verdes. April 2014

With the last three posts, starting with Hillside, we have entered the second gallery of photos, December 29, 2013 through the end of 2014. During that year, even though we struggled with the aftermath of Jake’s passing, I continued the Project. It took on new meaning as a sort of homage to him as he was the inspiration for it in the first place, so I carried on. Fewer doctor’s offices, more discovery of waiting spaces everywhere else.

It seems logical to break the pictures into galleries of years. Don’t know why, it just does. I haven’t posted all the photos from the first gallery, you can visit the Photographs page if you want to see more. Likewise, I won’t be posting every picture in the library, it would take more than a year of posting every day to include them all. If there are any photos that you particularly like or strike a chord with you, please leave a comment.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Dumpling Quest


When Empress Pavilion closed, we were distraught. We embarked on a quest to find a replacement for our beloved Dim Sum lunch. Fortunately, there is a multitude of dim sum restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area, and our search took us from Redondo Beach to Monterey Park, from West Los Angeles to Glendale. NBC in Monterey park was high on the list for a while, but they have a limited number of chicken dumplings, and when they changed the recipe of T’s favorite purple sweet potato dumpling, that was the final nail. Din Tai Fung is famous for it’s soup dumplings, the xiao long bao, but they are made with pork, so we couldn’t eat them. There is a place in West LA we tried, ROC (via a Groupon) which makes a chicken Xiao Long Bao. It was good at first, they have a stir-fried rice noodle dish that is delicious, but faded after the first few visits. We tried a couple of venerable places in Chinatown, one in Redondo Beach that had gotten good review by Jonathan Gold, but time and again we returned to Ocean Seafood, another Chinatown institution.

These photos show the difference in energy between an empty waiting area and the same room filled with people. In both, the first shot is while we were waiting, the second one of vacant chairs is after lunch, as we were leaving.

Rite Aid Pharmacy

Two different stores. Two different cities. Two different dates. Same furniture. Rite Aid was Jake’s pharmacy of choice. He was staying in San Juan Capistrano in August, and moved to Palm Springs in September. I had the good fortune to accompany him in both locations for the med run. Not much else to say other than they were both clean, well-lit, gave you an opportunity to check your blood pressure while waiting, and both very un-crowded. By this time of the year, between all our family members, we had exceeded our out of pocket expense limit, so the meds were free for several months. Thanks Blue Shield, we got our money’s worth that year.

Cedars Sinai Emergency Room

Late in July, while we were having lunch, Jake complained about pain in his legs and  back. It became so severe we ended up in the emergency room late that afternoon and into the evening. Once he was seen, tests proved inconclusive, and in the interest of caution, they admitted him to the hospital pending more tests by the neurosurgeon. After a couple of days, they couldn’t find anything specifically wrong with him other than his chronic disk issues, and discharged him. But during his brief sojourn we had ample time to explore the vast and varied waiting areas in the hospital. The top three are of the emergency room proper and an adjoining area. The bottom two are late the next night as we were leaving the hospital. The photograph at the bottom right pretty much sums up the entire hospital waiting experience. A long lonely dimly lit corridor stretching into the distance, a solitary figure hunched over his phone waiting for …

Before the Beginning

USC Medical Center, Downtown LA. June 14, 2012 9:16 AM

I was going through the photos and came across this one I had forgotten about. It actually pre-dates the entire Project by almost a year. I had just acquired the Hipstamatic application and was playing around with it while we waited for Jake to have one of the very first evaluations of his back issues. This is with one of the double exposure ‘paks’ the original Hipstamatic offered in addition to the basic kit – the Salvador lens and Dream Canvas film. It was a one-off, in that I didn’t really pursue the idea of “waiting” nor did I start to photograph the spaces in earnest until the following year. Kinda of like asking what was the universe like before the big bang. Well, here is a glimpse. So you could say the seeds for the Project were planted on this day, but would lie dormant for 9 months only to burst into bloom the following spring. Poetic, huh?

Great Western Steak and Hoagie

Great Western Steak and Hoagie Company, Venice. June 2013

The Great Western Steak and Hoagie Company is a little stand on the corner of Lincoln and Superba in Venice. It has been there for more than 40 years serving up a Los Angeles version of Philadelphia’s legendary sandwich. Housed in a former Tail O’ the Pup façade with the hot dog ends removed, it resembles a giant hoagie bun. The original brown “bun” has been painted recently, sea blue with scenes of Venice beach life, and is barely recognizable. It has changed hands many times over the years but the food has remained remarkably consistent. They still cook the thinly shaved meat on the same flat grill, flanked by heaps of onions, mushrooms and peppers and topped with a slice of melting cheese. The whole hot mess is scooped into a long doughy roll and splashed with a ladle of “pizza sauce” before being wrapped in paper, slipped into a brown bag and handed over the formica counter. The array of gallon jars of pickled cherry and hot sport peppers on the counter has been expanded to include Giardiniera (pickled vegetables), fluorescent green dill pickle slices, and fresh grilled serrano peppers. I don’t eat there any more, but enjoyed many of the steaming sandwiches in years past when I lived around the corner. Venice Arts, where I teach photography is just up the street and I pass by the GWSHC occasionally on my way from parking my car nearby. I peered in one day for nostalgia’s sake and discovered what may be the most rudimentary and least glamorous waiting area in the entire Waiting Room Project.