Tag Archives: travel

The Magical and Endangered Species of Puppetry – Saving Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater

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(photo by stephanie ellison)

“You still reach them with imagination; you still reach them with love,” Baker said. “It was through imagination with many a young person that we got airplanes, telephones, motion pictures, you name it — it came through imagination first.” – Bob Baker

A vibrant imagination needs a good work out too, and soon there might be one less place in Los Angeles to exercise it.

The bad economy and new technologies have endangered a special nook in Downtown Los Angeles. Hidden away near an overpass sits a white block building, Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater, with a 50 year history of producing magic out of wood and strings.

Bob Baker started his marionette theater in 1953. Now registered as a historical landmark by the city of Los Angeles, it’s the longest running puppet theater in the US. Over the past decade, with the passing of business partner, Alton Wood, the digital advancements in movie effects, and the lack of public school funds for group field trips, the puppets are in serious trouble of abandonment.

Bob Baker, now close to 90 years old, is selling the theater, but not without putting up a fight to save both his theater and puppetry school.

According to the LA Times:

The total listing price for the five lots located on the corner of Glendale and First streets is listed at $2.05 million on Loopnet. This includes two vacant lots, the theater, storage and the corner parking lot.

Baker said he hopes that someone purchases the land with a lease-back option. Since the listing has been posted, Baker said they’ve already received calls from a few interested buyers. Baker’s also open to taking on an associate partner, or any other arrangements that could keep the theater in business, he said.

While you might not be able to afford purchasing a 2 million dollar theater, you can still make a charitable donation to keep Bob Baker’s Marionettes alive, at “Network for Good”.

Marionettes are completely fascinating – inanimate cartoons brought to life by faceless puppeteers, perhaps this is also the reason puppets can be irksome and down-right creepy, but in a fantastic, Roald Dahl kind of way. From a 300 year old Punch and Judy show, to Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, or a more recent portrayal in Being John Malkovitch,  Marionettes give us a mythic and rich perspective on the world we’ve crafted and been crafted by, both the good and the bad. It’s a microcosm for all the world is and can be.

And it all happens to be housed in a time-capsule theater, hidden near an overpass, in Downtown Los Angeles, made with wood, and moved by strings. And while adults can appreciate Bob Baker’s Marionettes, only children can unlock its secrets through their own budding imagination.

Create a lifetime memory for a child, and workout your imagination by seeing the show this weekend and supporting Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater.

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Just want to get away from it all

MABA in Augusta, MO

MABA in Augusta, MO

But can’t afford a spa?

Everyday we are logged on, synched up, plugged in, downloading, uploaded, online, tuned in, check out…deep inhale. News and information buzzes all around, lists of to dos pile up and become endlessly long…kids to camp, meetings to make, repair person to call,  doctor appointments to schedule…and throw in a couple loads of laundry while we’re at it.

Our lifestyles can easily become ridiculous. It’s all we can do sometimes to find those 15 minutes a day to give ourselves, let alone an hour for working out or yoga or whatever.

And let’s face it, a week away on a deserted island is a pipe dream. Even a weekend away at a spa somewhere for a little r & r is laughable.

What’s a stress case to do?

Consider the monastic getaway.

Hold up. Let’s stop and address all concerned – From those with a strong religious background, to the agnostic, and even aetheist friends – on a few important points here.

“Retreating” could offer the following:  1. Simple room and board to people of all backgrounds and denominations or lack there of. 2. complete solitude 3.peace and relaxation. 4. praying and/or meditation are optional and not required. 5. Schedules are not given. Your time is your own. 6. Usually costs are based on what you can donate or afford.

A monastic retreat offers perspective and balance…old school style.

Spirituality may or may not be something you aspire to, but there are few adverse to a little peace of mind and quiet away from the everyday rat race. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to run away for some solitude and self care. You may even learn something from those whose lives are lived simply and with such love for humanity.

There are monasteries, abbeys, and retreat houses throughout the US and the world. Here are a few samples:

Conception Abbey, Conception, MO

Mid America Buddhist Association, Augusta, MO

The Monastery of Christ in the Dessert in Abiqiu, NM

Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Berkshire Hills of MA

Valermo Retreat, San Gabriel Mountains, Valyermo, CA

The Raj, Fairfield, IA ( This one is significantly more expensive, and yes it IS a spa, however it seemed important to showcase an ayurvedic option as well).

Christ in the Desert Monastery, Albiqu, NM

Christ in the Desert Monastery, Albiqu, NM