swas-ti-ka (Sanskrit svastikah, sign of good luck) conducive to well-being
Why do Nazis have to ruin everything?
The swastika is an ancient symbol used by the Hindus, Buddhists, Mayans, Hopis, Navajos, and many other cultures and religions. In countries like Nepal, the swastika is alive and well, and visible on everything from temples, yak bells, and cooking oil containers.
Hitler adopted the symbol that they called the Hakenkreuz or "hooked cross" in 1920 possibly from Schoenerer, an Austrian anti-Semitic politician, who most likely hijacked it from the Aryan people that settled in Iran and Northern India.
I did a report in high school about Tibet, back in the day when homework was all done by hand. My history professor was a WWII vet, and I hadn't yet learned how to exercise good judgement. For my assignment, I drew the Potala Palace and peppered it with Tibetan Buddhist symbols such as the swastika. The next day, I came to class and saw my project had been vandalized with red "x" marks on it and the word "Nazi" scrawled on my poster. I recognized the handwriting and asked my instructor why he wrote on my poster; insisting that the symbol was Buddhist, not Nazi. He denied his handiwork, and I realized not only that my teacher was a little bit cuckoo, but that I wasn't going to change his mind, and he would always see the swastika as a symbol of hatred instead of good luck.
Speaking of Nazis, have I got a LA adventure for you...
Beyond the affluent neighborhood of Pacific Palisades, deep in the Santa Monica Mountains of California, lie the remnants of a mysterious 50 acre parcel known as the Murphy Ranch.
In 1933, a mining fortune heiress named Winona Stephens, AKA "Jessie Murphy", who may or may not have had a husband named Norman, purchased the land from cowboy humorist Will Rogers. She then became enchanted with Herr Schmidt, an American Nazi with magical powers. He coaxed her into spending over $4 million to create a secluded complex where they and 50 others could ride out the war until the Third Reich was victorious.
Some of the buildings now in shambles were designed by Capitol Records Building architect Welton Becket. (I can't properly identify all the buildings, such as the old diesel power plant, bomb shelter and giant meat locker, but the 375,000 gallon concrete water tank and stables are easy to spot).
To complete his fascist Utopia, Herr Schmidt planned to create a 22-bedroom mansion with five libraries, a gym, workshop, pool, and several dining rooms, and consulted with the architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Paul Williams. Alas, it was never built.
The grounds were patrolled by armed guards called the Silver Shirts (the crazy commune version of Hitler's Brown Shirts), and the neighbors were frequently treated to nighttime military drills and gunfire.
As the story goes, the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, the collective was invaded by law enforcement officials. Despite the barbed, possibly electric fences and Silver Shirts patrolling the grounds, arrests were made, people were taken to interrogation camps, and Herr Schmidt was never heard from again.
After the Nazis disbanded, it became an artist's colony with artists such as Andrew Wyeth and author Henry Miller who may have lived there. In the '70s, there was a fire, and it was sold to Parks and Recreation. Now, it's part of Topanga State Park, which is awaiting the funds so it can be bulldozed over and made into a picnic area. The End.
There were several write-ups about this tale in the LA Times archives, so it has to be true, right?
How to get there -
Two and 1/2 ways to visit the Murphy Ranch
The Sissyboomer Way:
N: 34.06124 W:118.50330
You know when there's that much graffiti, it can't be a difficult place to get to. In fact, I defy you to find one inch of the main building without spray paint. I went today again and almost choked on the fumes.
Off of Sunset Blvd, East of Will Rogers State Park, take Capri to end. Park in the neighborhood, and check the signs. Hike up Capri, past the yellow Camp Josepho barrier until you see an goth iron Nazi-fence. There's a hole in the wall, and you can enter that way. Down the driveway, the trail forks; go left for the Murphy Ranch, or right for the Boyscout Camp Josepho.
More Challenging Way to the Ranch:
This route begins at the Will Rogers State Park, $6 parking
Trailhead behind visitor's center. Follow the Inspiration Point loop trail. Don't take the trail on the right up to the Inspiration Point "summit", but instead continue onto the Backbone Trail. After you cross a footbridge, hike less than a mile to a vague, bushy, unmarked trail on the right that drops steeply into the canyon. It's not very well maintained, and may resemble a rain ditch more than a trail, the farther you descend. This may be an ankle-twisting scramble back up in the darkness, so make sure you allow plenty of time while exploring the buildings. When you reach the canyon floor, you'll see a Backbone Trail marker. Turn right towards the barn (left goes to the Boyscout camp), and continue on the trail for more ruins. After you've finished, turn around and head back from whence you came.
I know the Sierra Club frowns upon car shuttles, but another option is to follow the Murphy Ranch's winding driveway to the top where the Iron Gate is, turn right on the paved road, and hike to another vehicle you've parked at the Capri trailhead. This will take you about 3 hours depending how long you loiter at the Ranch.
P.S. I don't recommend hiking beside the speeding traffic on Sunset back to Will Rogers like we did the 1st time. I kept insisting, "See, it IS a loop!"
Check out the routes on Sparkpeople.com's Fitness Maps
Click here for the Sissyboomer route
Click here for the more challenging route