Saturday, April 19, 2008

Shorpy, the 100-Year-Old Photo Blog

If you like history, especially history since the Civil War--the kind of cultural, nostalgic history that can be captured in photographs--check out Shorpy. Members post wonderful pictures from all over the country, like this one.

The caption reads:
October 1942. "Office employee Annette del Sur publicizing salvage campaign in yard of Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California. The earrings and hair ornaments are fashioned from aluminum turnings." View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

On Shorpy, you can search through categories like Kids, Civil War, Factories, etc. You can even sign up to have links to the best new photos emailed to you once a day.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Neutra House and Education Fundraising

The Clock is Ticking for Neutra House,” warns the Los Angeles Times in an April 17 story. Raymond Neutra, the son of architect Richard Neutra is hosting fundraisers to raise a million dollars for the Silver Lake house, officially called the Neutra VDL Research House II.

In the 1960s, his father and brother Dion used the house as a residence and office. Here's the Times photo gallery; this link may be more long-lasting than the story.

The money is needed for repairs; the house is deteriorating. This picture ran with the Times story. Neutra VDL Research House II has termites and asbestos, too.

The owner, Cal Poly Pomona Foundation, cannot pay for these urgent and long-term fixes. Most immediately, $30,000 is needed by October just to cover insurance, utilities, and upkeep.

In the same issue of the Times, we read “Hardship Predicted for Students.” Because of budget cuts, college funding may be slashed by 10%, leaving thousands of students OUT of the state college and university systems.

If you had a million dollars and wanted to donate to a worthy cause, which would you choose? Our mid-20th century architectural heritage is crumbling as we speak, but how does that compare to the lives enriched by education, and what those graduates could accomplish?

Makes me almost glad I’m not a millionaire.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Acres of Books

Acres of Books in Long Beach may be closing. (This picture is from their website.) After a total of 74 years in business, the property where the store has sat since the 1960s has been sold to Long Beach's Redevelopment Agency.

Is it mean to wonder if maybe it's time? A musty bookstore with hidden treasures may be every bibliophiles' private fantasy, but how many of us actually go and shop there?

We change. At least, I've changed. I get my books through Amazon and other streamlined sites (virtual or real). I want cheap prices (which Acres of Books certainly has), but convenience and speed are factors, too.

A long drive holds no appeal. Browsing the dimly-lit canyons of books, wondering what treasures lie on the highest shelves, doesn't whet my appetite. To be blunt, I know what book I want, and like Veruca Salt I want it now! Besides, the dust and cat hair trigger allergies

The first visit to Acres of Books was memorable and fun. The last--not so much. If I've become a Philistine, I suspect I'm not alone. If the fans of Acres of Books were truly supporting the business and going there to shop, would the store be in danger of closing? Relocating, maybe, but closing?

Acres of Books seemed like a little time machine, transporting us to a more relaxed era. The Los Angeles Times reports that Acres of Books actually holds 6 1/2 miles of shelves, and I believe them. Everyone knows the store and loves it and in a perfect world all the places we love--even fleetingly--would remain accessible. But in a market-driven world, it's not the places we love but the places where we spend our money that survive.

Heartless. But while some sites are worth fighting to preserve, others have a good run and their time passes.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Awards

Starting Monday, April 7, the Los Angeles Times will present an online tour of the winners of the Los Angeles Conservancy's Preservation Awards for 2008. The awards are given for historic preservation and restoration, and there'll be a big ceremony on May 8th.

The 9 winners, announced in late March, include:

The LAObserved blog reprinted the press release that names all awardees. The following pictures of the Eastern Columbia Lofts, Claremont Packing House and Maltman Bungalows, are all from the respective websites.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools

For the ultimate in localized citizen journalism, check out Los Wikiless Timespedia. Here's how it's described:

LA Times Switches to All-Wiki Format in 11th-Hour Battle for Life

"In a desperate attempt to stop the involuntary leakage of its readership, the slightly less-old gray lady has tried the Depends of new media, embracing a technology that almost spelt its d-e-a-t-h in bright blue hyperlinked Arial. . . .

"If you see an article you don't like or don't agree with, just change it. Then if the next person doesn't like that, they can change it back. We call it an editocracy."

OK, it has less to do with the past than the future, so it isn't really a history story. It's still funny, and history is pretty much relative, depending on your point of view, right?

If you disagree, I'll just call you a sockpuppet anyway.