Monday, June 30, 2008

Hollywood & Vine 1963

Drove through California's Central Valley, and yes, the fires are bad and everyplace north of the Angeles Forest is gray and dismal.

Being away for a few days, I have little to post about, EXCEPT:

This wonderfully detailed photo from Please check out the original for a good look. The theatre marquee reads Auntie Mame (a 1958 picture) and a line under that has Peter O'Toole's name--but the rest is beyond me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bids for TImes Building

So in the midst of a chilled real estate market, Mr. Zell is putting the Los Angeles Times building on the block.

Boo. Hiss. If anyone's interested.

The real reason for this post is to link to the photo essay that accompanies the Los Angeles Times story. Most of the pictures are of the Tribune building & Wrigley Field, yet it's on the Los Angeles Times site. Is that not adding insult to injury? Doesn't it imply that the Zell organization was too cheap to construct two photo essays, one for Chicago and one for LA, and just piggy-backed LA onto an essay assembled for another market?

Sad, sad. Boo, hiss. But the first picture is stunning.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Historic Photographs of LA Freeway Construction

Jeff Gates, one of the artists included in the photography exhibit "This Side of Paradise" at the Huntington Library & Gardens, has a website full of pictures including:

as well as essays and commentary. Here's a sample: this is the set of Speed, the movie filmed on the 105 just before it opened. And look--there's already been a tagger at work! Or was it a set decorator?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This Side of Paradise at Huntington

If a review's goal is to convince people to go to a show, the Los Angeles Times succeeded. Their review of a photography exhibit at the Huntington had me screaming "I'm there!" before I could email a link.

Photography inside and out, from the West Hall to the Boone Gallery, covering photographs of Los Angeles from 1862 onward, with pictures from Carleton Watkins to Maynard Parker. . . the exhibit lasts until mid-September. Read what the Huntington itself has to say about it here.

250 historic photographs of Los Angeles on exhibit in a beautiful garden setting. And you can have high tea there too. Life is beautiful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hermosa Beach in World War II

Within a few hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941--by 4 pm that Sunday afternoon--barbed wire was going up along the beaches of Southern California, and machine guns were in place in the sand. Wish I had a picture of that! Apparently, the Army or civil defense agencies were convinced that a Japanese fleet was en route to the mainland and could appear at any moment.

C. Scott Littleton, who was 8 years old at the time, remembers this in his memoir 2500 Strand: Growing up in Hermosa Beach, California during World War II. The book title was his address; the closest machine gun emplacement was at the foot of 25th Street in Hermosa. It disappeared after a few days.

The barbed wire stayed longer. Littleton recalls gunfire between 8 and 10 pm every night. A piece of debris or worthless old rowboat would be towed out to sea, searchlights would fasten on it, and the GIs used it as target practice.

Remember the "Battle of Los Angeles"--the basis for the movie 1941 ? Something set off the alarms around 3 am, a couple of months after Pearl Harbor, and sent the city into a panic. Littleton followed his parents outside to see what the machine gunners were shooting at and saw planes in the sky. An attack by Imperial Japan? Not even. It appears that a plane was shot down near Vermont and 180th--but it was probably an American plane with an American pilot, defending the homeland.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Busch Gardens, Pasadena

A photo spread of Busch Gardens--in Friday the 13th's Los Angeles Times Business section--shows both the original gardens in Pasadena, and the amusement park Busch Gardens that opened in the 1960s in Van Nuys.

This picture is from the Pasadena Gardens website; not part of the Times display and article.

Adophus Busch was a German immigrant who married the boss's daughter in 1861. (And his brother Ulrich married another daughter at the same double ceremony.) His father-in-law was Eberhard Anheuser, and thus Anheuser-Busch was born. Busch, who made the company a national, modern business, liked to live large. He started with a 4-acre ravine in Pasadena in 1904, along with a mansion on Orange Grove, and kept adding more land. Once his hired gardener Robert Gordon Fraser worked his magic, Busch opened 14-acre upper garden to the public in 1906. Nice guy.

Then he started the lower gardens, which opened in 1909. Free access to everyone, seven days a week. Some of the fountain still work, btw.

Busch then bought "The Annex," an 11-acre parcel with a mansion and deer park, and held his gala 50th wedding anniversary party there. Busch died in 1913, and the Annex was razed in 1928. But the gardens stayed open. Hollywood movies filmed there, including (according to the Times) Citizen Kane.

Busch's family offered the entire thing to the city of Pasadena, which passed (ouch! But the issue was maintenance) So the lovely gardens were broken up and the land sold in parcels.

Bits of it are still around though, like the Old Mill at Stoneridge and Madeline. This old picture is from a website dedicated to the Gardens, with lots of old colored postcards.

Many homeowners in the area have taken great care with the pergolas and paths that were once part of the gardens. A CD of photographs is available from the website in the the previous paragraph--just scroll to the end of the page.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Miracle Mile (1988) Relook

Remember Miracle Mile, with Anthony Edwards in the cool blue suit? After 20 years, it's still cool in a nostalgic sort of way. The movie wears well too.

In the first 10 minutes, we see the Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits--the building, murals, fossil lab, statues--the Marie Callendars next door (in the movie, it's got a lobster tank), the Santa Monica Pier and carousel, the Pan Pacific Auditorium, the May Co. building (LACMA East), Park La Brea, and finally to Johnie's Coffee Shop, which we enter just as a man is saying "This used to be Romeo's."

And then Tasha Yar beams in!

The whole movie is shot around Wilshire and Fairfax; it's wonderful and unexpected and apocalyptic. Well, I liked it.

It's Los Angeles history, circa 1988. That's the best I can do today because the dog ate my Proquest files.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tony's on the Pier

The Redondo Beach pier has been home to Tony's Fish Market since 1969.

Tony's Fish Market was the 2nd restaurant started by Tony Trutanich. The first was Tony's on the Pier, which began in 1952 and is still there. But Tony's Fish Market--New Tony's--will close at the end of the month and re-open as a different eatery, with new owners. Turtanich's family will keep Tony's on the Pier.

Less than two months ago, on April 12, the Daily Breeze reported on the unveiling of a bronze bust of Tony Trutanich, who died in 2007. This picture is from that story. I used to see him when I worked on the pier a Long Time Ago--it's a very good likeness.

Here's my Tony story. When I was high school age, I worked in one of his restaurants. One afternoon, he had me help him change the grease in a deep fat fryer. I knew no more about that then I did about particle physics, so I just followed his instructions.

At the end, he lifted the new grease and poured it into the fryer. But the opening at the bottom of the tank had not been closed, so the new grease poured through and went all over the kitchen floor!

It was a mess, and we were both hopping around so's not to get it on our shoes. Tony was cussing a blue streak. I must have looked terrified because in the middle of the chaos he said, "My mistake! You did exactly what I told you. Don't worry, it's all my fault!"

He was a very type-A person and I'd never want to cross him. But he was also a good, fair, hard-working man.

The Pantry of Death

The Ambassador Hotel Ballroom on the night Robert Kennedy won the California Primary in 1968. A note on the back fo this photo speculates whether one figure in the "left center area" is Sirhan Sirhan.

This extraordinary picture is from the LAPL's online collection. It was published by the Herald Examiner in 1988, on the 20th anniversary of RFK's assassination.

The picture was taken by Bob Shultz.

This thumbnail photo of the pantry of the Ambassador, where Kennedy died, accompanies Patt Morrison's column from the Los Angeles Times of June 5, 2008. Title: "Where History Turned." According to Morrison, here's what's preserved of the Ambassador Hotel pantry where Bobby Kennedy was shot to death by Sirhan Sirhan, 40 years ago:
"sample pieces--2-foot-diameter cores of floor, walls and ceiling, along with doors, electrical panels and the biggest piece, the ice machine behind which Sirhan Sirhan stood, waiting to open fire. It's all on 30 pallets, shrink-wrapped and stored in a secure, undisclosed location, waiting for a special commission and the school board to decide what historical institution might deserve them."

A quick history of the hotel precedes the passage, offering some explanation of why the site was not preserved--as (Morrison points out) the Texas Book Depository or Ford Theatre was.

Of course, those sites languished for years too, as unappreciated and dismal reminders of violence. The difference, it seems to me, is that Dallas and 19th-century DC were not hot real estate markets in the way Wilshire Blvd is. The sites could sit, until people formed groups dedicated to preserving history.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Babe Ruth in Brea

Not LA County but close enough. Babe Ruth played Walter Johnson on a diamond in Brea, near what is now Lambert Road and Brea Blvd. What's more, according to the Los Angeles Times story, (with fabulous vintage pictures)he hit two home runs, one over 550 feet. He also pitched.

Happened on Halloween, 1924. Sez so in the Times. At an exhibition game organized by the Elks Club, on land owned by Union Oil. The Brea Museum and Heritage Center has signed pictures and a baseball to prove it.

Chris Epting, author of Roadside Baseball, has a video showing the pictures of Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, and others at that game--Go to (look around the website--he's also got pictures of the Coliseum).

Apparently Johnson lived near Brea and attended Fullerton Union High School. Just before that exhibition game, he'd led his Washington Senators to victory in the World Series, at age 36. That game, btw, drew 15,000 spectators. Brea's population at the time was about 1500.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday afternoon shopping

OK, so it has little to do with history. But if you look closely at the sign, you'll see that this sparkling Rolls is parked outside a Cost Plus.

Clearly, decorating with rattan and imported batik really allows one to bank the bucks, huh?

Only in California.