I thought the theme was fun, and the puzzle played pretty easy overall, but the bottom tier had some POOP in it. Well, for me anyway. I got completely stuck on the TO_O/O_AI cross. I was not aware of OJAI. My tourism tends to be in a more easterly direction. But my history knowledge was not easterly enough, as I was also unfamiliar with Mr. TOJO.
Also in that neck of the woods, I thought 52D. Former Cleveland Orchestra conductor George (SZELL) was a little much, especially when a person had to know there was another whole category of nurses (LPNS). If there's one thing that doing the NYTX puzzle makes clear to me, is that there's a lot I don't know.