Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Los Angeles' Colorful History: Movies, Zoot Suits, Dam Collapse, Concrete Beauty

I've come across such nifty things lately.

On February 25th, Zocalo Public Square and Metro Art screen The Third Man, Orson Welles' 1949 noir film, at the Historic Ticketing Hall at Union Station. That's right, movie night at Union Station! I've looked all over the announcement, and I'm pretty sure the event is free, though they ask for RSVPs.

Did you know that LACMA has scored a genuine Zoot Suit? For reals? Not an electric blue movie imitation, or a neon yellow snappy ensemble with a feathered hat. No, this Zoot Suit has stripes and the color is actually rather tame: beige. Beige does not fly in the face of authority, you might think, but when you see the cut, the miles of extra baggy material, you will be convinced. Beige makes a killer Zoot Suit.

The story of how LACMA acquired the suit, which will be part of its Reigning Men exhibit (300 years of men's fashion) starting April 10, is told with pictures, and I can't wait to see the real thing.

If you love L.A.'s history, you probably know all about the St. Francis Dam disaster of 1928, right? It killed over 400 people and destroyed William Mulholland, who'd built the dam. And if you don't know about it or want to learn more, you can take advantage of a couple of programs:

  • First, the free one: on February 27 at 2 PM, the Old Town Newhall Library hosts a talk with John Wilkman, who's written a book titled Floodpath about the St. Francis Dam collapse. Wilkman is a documentarian as well, and you can watch his 4-minute video describing the catastrophe here.

  • How about a talk and a TOUR? The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society offers that on March 12: a lecture and a guided tour of the dam site. It starts with a talk at the Saugus Train Station in Heritage Junction at 11 AM, followed by a bus trip and hike in San Francisquito Canyon. The cost is $35. This is an annual event, and March 12 is the 88th anniversary of the disaster that sent a 180-foot wall of water into the Santa Clarita Valley, sweeping away everything in its path.

LACMA is also in the news for being gifted with an amazing house, the John Lautner-designed Sheats-Goldstein home, recognizable as the not-very-humble abode of Jackie Treehorn in The Great Lebowski.  Read about it in Christopher Hawthorne's article for the Los Angeles Times, which has links to more photos (big, beautiful photos!) of John Lautner's work.

You can also enjoy this 2013 Forbes article on the place, written by the friend-of-all-writers (through  his site UPOD), David Hochman. (If you write articles, you should know the man and UPOD; trust me.)

Or . . . . visit the CurbedLA page on the house, for more facts, pictures, and an interview with James Goldstein, who has owned the house since 1972 and is now donating it to LACMA.

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