The Best of “Ask Chris”: How to Bum a Ride on the Goodyear Blimp

This month we are running some of our favorite questions and answers from our very own Chris Nichols, including one from his first column in December 2006

Is it true that cottages on Griffith Park Boulevard were built by Walt Disney?

Storybook architecture swept through L.A. in the 1920s, and the bungalow court near Hyperion you’re referring to was created in 1931 by one of the masters, designer-builder Ben Sherwood. Back then, Walt Disney Studios was housed three doors away, where the Silver Lake Gelson’s is located. According to Dave Smith, founder of the Walt Disney Archives, director Hamilton Luske and animators Dick Lundy, Lee Morehouse, and Fred Moore were all residents of the court. Almost all of the men were working at the studio when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937, and, according to Smith, “Everyone at the studio was working on Snow White.” The dwarfs’ cottage in the film does strongly resemble the cottages on Griffith Park, so it looks as if the animators might have taken their home to work with them.

Q: Do we really import sand for our local beaches?

A: The California coastline has been getting regular touch-ups for decades. Beach sand has eternally washed in and out with the seasons, but starting in the 1930s, river damming and channeling nearly eliminated those fluvial supplies. The county, the state, and the Army Corps of Engineers have stepped in to suction sand from the sea floor and deposit it onshore, deepening harbor channels and creating those postcard-perfect wide beaches that keep the tourists coming. Some California beaches have had this treatment at least once, and some receive help every year. That sand you’re lounging on at Dockweiler Beach, for example, once lined the harbor at Marina del Rey two miles north.

Q: I’ve heard that restaurants with no alcohol license that allow people to bring in their own booze are committing a crime. Is thistrue?

A: Like speeding and jaywalking, BYOB is against the law, but everyone does it. The restaurateur without a type 41 or type 47 liquor license who lets you uncork that bottle of pinot noir is indeed in violation of Section 23300 of the California Business and Professions Code and risks a $1,000 fine and/or a year in county jail. That rarely happens; when it does, it’s usually because a competing restaurant owner has ratted them out. So it’s unlikely you’ll send your favorite restaurant owner to the slammer.

Q: How can I bum a ride on the Goodyear blimp?

A: The 192-foot-long airship has hovered over the city since 1920, when Goodyear had a factory on Central Avenue. Conceived as a mode of industrial transport, the impractical ride was a far better PR stunt. Since 1966, the blimp’s home has been a field off the 405, in Carson, where the company offers non-employee excursions through charity auctions. Every year, Goodyear hosts a Toys for Tots benefit with a flight for five as the prize.

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This story is featured in the November 2022 issue of Los Angeles

Los Angeles magazine, November 2022 cover