Monday, November 30, 2009

Mosaic Monday--Claremont

I'm cheating; these pictures were taken a couple of years ago and went with another blog post about Millard Sheets' Centennial. But as I have made the jump from Penniless-Writer to Working-and-Writing-When-I-Can, time is short.

This mosaic of Cleopatra and Isis is one of several Shakespeare scenes that decorate the Garrison Theater in Claremont, now owned by Scripps College. It was built in 1963, but refurbished, enlarged, and tricked out with fabulous acoustics less than ten years ago. Sheets created the mosaics for the original building in his Claremont Studio.

Here's another of the mosaics--the duel between Tybalt and Romeo. That's the sky and surrounding trees reflected off the Italian marble facade and the mosaic. Claremont, after all, is the city of trees & PhD's, or so they say, and the theater's in a beautiful area, with a patio roof that shades the building and frames the reflection.

Scripps, btw, is still the Women's College of Claremont. How quaint! It was founded in the 1920s by a woman--Ellen Browning Scripps--and shares facilities and classes with the other Claremont Colleges.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mosaic Mondays

WELL, why not?

Mosaics are beautiful, though most fall into two categories: religious art, and Millard Sheets's work. There are some exceptions, and I'll try to find them. Every Monday. . . unless I forget.

This picture is found on the facade of St. Lawrence Martyr School in Redondo Beach. The parish dates back to 1956, I think, and the church was dedicated in 1957. The school followed shortly after, and I believe this mosaic was part of the original construction. It shows St. Lawrence, a third century martyr who died during the persecution of Roman Emperor Valerian, distributing alms to the poor.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sometimes Vintage Bars Really ARE Vintage

Marbella, JazzMatazz, Bar Chloe, The Kress. . . these and other retro bars were featured in a Friday the 13th article in the Los Angeles Times about . . . well, retro bars. Specifically, pre-WWII retro bars, as well as bars that have theme nights--like the upcoming December 5th Repeal Day. Lots of lounges will celebrate the 76th anniversary of the end of Prohibition on that day with costumes and vintage drinks.

Some of these retro venues, though, have a legitimate claim to history. One that caught my attention--mainly because of the Times' gorgeous photographs--is the Marbella, which was once the Montmartre Cafe on Hollywood Blvd. between Highland and McCadden. The picture to the right is not dated, but the one below, showing the interior, was taken in 1930. (both were found at the LA Library's online collection).

Eddie Brandstatter opened the Montmartre Cafe in early 1923, and a year later celebrated its first anniversary with a gala event and over 150 film and stage stars. Vince Rose led the Montmartre Band in those days (Mel Pedesky filled in when Vince and the band toured), and every Wednesday was Bohemian night--all the artistes, musicians, and actors visited to see vaudeville dance acts. "Flapper Night" on Fridays brought the tourists in--later, Friday nights were dedicated to screenwriters. Brandstatter even printed in his ads: "SEE--colorful Hollywood nite life with the movie stars at play."

Here's a July 25 list of the films stars who'd made reservations for the cafe that night (yes, they announced them in advance): Dorothy Devore, Vola Vale, Shannon Day, June Marlowe, Lois Wilson, Helen Lynch, Viola Dana, Lefty Flynn, Rex Lease, Alice Day, Edna Mae Cooper, Cocille Evans, William Eugene and Tom Moore. Alice Calhoun was to give away the dance trophy to the contest winners.

Only a few weeks later, though, the police raided the Montmartre and other watering holes of the film set--remember, this was during Prohibition. The police found no liquor and only two people were arrested. Pola Negri and Ernst Lubitsch were honored guests a few nights later.

It really was the hot spot of the day, but by 1932, Eddie Brandstetter hit hard times. The Montmartre Cafe was auctioned off to pay his bills, and he stood trial for grand theft--accused of making off with the drapes, artwork, and even a marble nude statue that had once adorned his cafe. He was found guilty on some (not all) counts of theft and was given two years' probation. He ended his own life a few years later (1940) and his obituary credits him as being the owner of Sardi's in New York at one point!

His beautiful and storied club became the "New Montmartre Cafe." A November 28, 1935 article in the Times announces the OPENING of the new, new Montmartre Cocktail Lounge and Restaurant soon. Don't know what happened then, but the Montmartre has resurfaced as the Marbella, restored to glory and available for events.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fretting in '42

Here's a "this day in non-history" featurette:

The November 8, 1942 edition of the Los Angeles Times ran the headline:

"Children's Lessened Library Use Deplored"

(I know it's juvenile, but certain words make me snicker. Deplore, whilst, appall--I guess I heard the nuns use them in fits of righteous anger once too often.)

This story fretted that children were visiting Los Angeles' libraries less frequently than the previous year. Yes, there was a war going on, the article acknowledges, but Miss Gladys English of the library felt that now, more than ever, children needed the diversion of reading! She was "considerably concerned."

Under new rulings made by the public schools, children must now go directly home from school. Before Pearl Harbor, many of them dropped into the nearest branch immediately after school and spent an hour or so in reading... Another rule makes it impossible for them to now come in classes or groups" to the library--on field trips, to hear stories or see exhibits.

OK, snickering aside, that really is deplorable. Were there really such rules? Gas was on the verge of being rationed, the article points out, but I was not able to learn anything more about these restrictions. Were the school authorities worried about bombs? Air raids? Were libraries considered unsafe?

Here are some of the restricted little darlings, a picture I found at today's Los Angeles Public Library photo collection of a first grade class at Joaquin Miller School in Burbank...cause what's a post without a picture?