Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Food Sherpas in Los Angeles

You know they're there . . .

I've blogged about them before . . .

They've been on local TV . . .

But now they're in the NY Times!

I'm talking about Melting Pot Food Tours, of course. Lisa and Diane Scalia started this company five years ago, escorting groups down 3rd Street between Farmers Market and the Beverly Center, with stops to sample the wares at tea shops, Joan's on Third, The Little Next Door, a culinary book store that is gone, Travelers' Bookcase, etc. etc.--and that's not even mentioning the shops in Farmers Market, like Pampa, where we sampled Argentinian meats, then other shops for homemade donuts, monkey bread, gourmet olives, and more.

So . . .as all successful businesses do, they've expanded.

And gotten press, and a trendy name: Food Sherpas.

Melting Pot's Thai Town Tour, led by Chef Jet Tila, is what made the NY Times (along with tours in Paris, Istanbul, Rome, and San Francisco by other entrepreneurs).  But Melting Pot still tours the Third Street/Farmers Market area every weekend, and there are also tours in Old Town Pasadena (at left, enjoying authentic gelato), and the East Los Angeles "Latin Flavors Tour,"  that features old-style (LA's 1st tortilla factory and family owned eateries) and new (health-conscious pupuseria).

You can also meet Diane Scalia (in the picture above), at her "day job" (though it's actually an evening gig) at the Bar Comida at Chez Melange in Redondo Beach, where she serves up both traditional and some innvative tapas. (Her Green Gazpacho is to die for!)

And yes, she's a dear friend, and I'm very happy to post about her success!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ye Olde Long Beach Photo and Call for Papers

OK, this isn't so much about a call for papers as it is an oppor- tunity to show this really cool oblique aerial photo-graph that accom-panied the call for papers. I believe this is the Traffic Circle, but the land around it is so empty I can't even guess at the year. And look at all the oil rigs at the top of the picture!

But, if you're into the academic study/conference of the growth of the city: Next April--2014--Long Beach will host its 3rd annual Community Studies Conference. The theme for this conference is the city's neighborhoods, past and present.

The deadline to submit a proposal for a paper is February 15, 2014, and you can download the form and get more information here, at the Historical Society.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hollywood Hills Mosaic Home

"I never bought a tile," says Geogr Ehling.  No, in the 44 years he's been working on his house (46 now), he has used tiles that he found in dumpsters and garbage bins outside of tile import businesses, and he's covered his whole house in them.

At least, that's what he claims  in this YouTube video---one of many videos on the mosaic house he's been working on since he moved in, in 1967. And who would argue with him?

He cut the tile himself and used every bit of it. Every teeny tiny bit, and some of the sections he designed are intricate and delicate, while others are very bold. Some are modern, others imitative of ancient art.

George was a stuntman in what he calls the "Hollywood on the Tiber" days--he was in Barrabas, The Barbarians, and more. He also lived in Europe for years--he was a pro wrestler there in the 1930s--where he saw lots of Roman and modern mosaics and picked up a few techniques. But mostly, it sounds like he improvised. And by now he could probably give lessons.

The mosaics--which cover every inch of the 1927 house--are enhanced by bits of statuary and molds that George picked up from the studios. Lion's heads, for example,  and cherubs and bearded men.

George's place is a private home, but he sometimes opens it to tours. This Patch article from 2012 describes one of 35 people, each paying $5 to walk through the home--including, I assume, the private bathroom that Harrison Ford, then a carpenter, helped him build.

That's the bathroom ceiling at right. Although the same shot is in the video above, I "borrow" this picture from the California Home Design website, which did an article on George and his masterwork two years ago.

For a little more personal information on George, his wife, and their musician son Otto, check the Here in the Hills blog.

An amazing point about the house--other than the sheer volume of work entailed in it--is the variety of patterns George has incorporated. Quilters will recognize some of those to the right, but there are also basket-weave type designs that don't show up until you get really close. There are optical illusions, rose-window-like medallions, and meander patters, as well as river rock mosaics. And there are some very classical Roman style pictures too, which you can see at the end of an earlier Here in the Hills post.

And this last picture is from that blog, which you should visit because the blogger has close up shots of may of these sections, so that you can see the workmanship involved.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

CBS Studio Center

So, Studio City . . . besides mosaics, what else you got?

Duh. The name is Studio City. So here are some pictures of CBS Studio Center.

This is part of New York Street. Every studio has a NY Street, right? But I am assured by someone who knows--well, actually, someone who knows someone who met someone who knows--that one of these two fire escapes was in the final scene of Pretty Woman. Yup, one of these two is is the one Richard Gere climbed up to get to Julia Roberts.

I'm told.

CBS Studio Center, btw, was founded in 1928 by Mack Sennett of Keystone Kops fame. He'd been making movies for 15 years and needed a bigger studio, so he bought this former lettuce ranch bounded by the LA River.

Sadly, Sennett declared bankruptcy during the Depression and other companies rented, then bought the studio complex--an outfit made up of about five different film companies, which collectively called itself Republic Pictures.

The picture to the left is there simply because I like the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I have no idea what the big LIPS were used for at the CBS Studio Center.

Republic Pictures made lots and lots of Westerns, then they wound down in the late 1950s and the studios became rental property again.

In 1962, CBS was looking for a studio lot on which to film about four hours a day of local programming. They rented the center for five years and put a CBS sign up, then in 1967 they bought the place outright.

One TV show filmed there (among many dozens, maybe hundreds) was Gilligan's Island, and this is the Gilligan's Island lagoon. It was built in 1964, after filming a couple of episodes of the series at Malibu and Zuma beach proved problematic, because of fog.

According to this article in the Los Angeles Times, the lagoon was paved over in 1995--thirty years after the series. Bob Denver recalled that they couldn't shoot in the lagoon until after 9 am, because of the noise of rush hour traffic from the nearby freeway. The huts and other parts f the island were constructed on sound stages.

You cannot tour CBS Studio Center outright, the way you can some other studios. You might get in as an audience member, if you want to see The Talk or a few other shows filmed. You might also be lucky enough to be invited as a guest to a wedding or luncheon or meeting there. Carla's Cafe, the on-site commissary and caterer, does special events and has fabulous food so you'll be lucky on two counts.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Back to Studio City and Chase Bank Mosaics

The San Fernando Valley has its share of former Home Savings and Loan buildings, most of them now Chase Banks. And this one, in Studio City at the corner of Laurel Canyon and Ventura Blvd., designed by Millard Sheets, selects particular images leading to the city's existance: a Franciscan preaches to California's original inhabitants, Vaqueros work the ranches in the area, the Gold Rush brings Americans and statehood, and the movie industry gives the city its name.


CBS, once Max Sennett Studios, is only a few blocks away, after all. It was established in 1928, when Sennett was already a major producer and Chaplin a megastar. Sennett went bk in the Depression, and the place became Republic Studios. . .I'm digressing, I know. The point is, when this bank was erected in 1970, the nearby studio would  have been Mary Tyler Moore Studios.

Technically, I've blogged about this branch before--but it's been two years, and this is a new pictures that I took myself.

Along with the second photo, a mosaic marker, again a couple of blocks away but in the other direction, on Ventura Place. I believe this marker was put up in 2012 by the Studio City Beautification Committee, which also landscaped the triangle of ground around it.

As you can see on their website, the SCBC is also working to improve several parks, establish pocket parks, beautify the L.A. River bank that cuts through the town, plant trees, and all sorts of stuff--all with money raised themselves.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Can't get away from mosaics . . .

. . . not that I want to.

But seriously.

And I don't even want to know what other mall shoppers thought of the crazy lady taking pictures of the restroom door.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Oympic Fantasy Mural

Today's mosaic harkens back to the 33rd Olympiad, right here in Los Angeles in 1984. Who remembers that?

I do, I do! And not for the athletics so much as the cultural events, like seeing Derek Jacobi play Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. And for the absolute lack of traffic on the freeways, in spite of dire warnings to the contrary. But I digress.

Guillermo Wagner Granizo created the Olympic Fantasy mural/mosaic to commemorate the event. It's painted square tiles, so whether it's a mural or a mosaic is blurry but what the heck. It's recently been cleaned and restored and looks beautiful.

Thank you, Professor Dan Lambert, for the picture above.

As for those tiles--all 2, 232 of them, each was painted and glazed separately. Granizo had 12 weeks to make the artwork, without even a sketch to start with. The finished mural is 93 feet wide by 24 feet tall.

The artwork is at Cal State Los Angeles, on the west side of the PE Building, where the Judo competition was held in '84. And the mural was there then, having been commissioned by the Olympic Organizing Committee in advance. Only not too far in advance--remember that the artist had to complete it in 12 weeks! This picture of the mural "in situ" comes from an article on the Cal State LA website.

There's a fantastic off-sized photo of it here, on Flickr.

You can also follow pictures of the mural being re-installed on a special Facebook page.

Here is another tile mural by the late Mr. Granizo, a picture called "Campus" in the Student Union basement, shown at right; it was installed in 1979. He died in 1997.

Want more? There's an incredible online collection of his work titled "An Autobiography in Pictures" at the University of Pennsylvania, of all places. Garfiled Library. Many of the panels are public pieces of art in Granizo's home of Benecia, CA. Our Olympic Fantasy is number 108 of 116. And they are all beautiful and worth looking at--just give yourself time. Like an hour.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

MGM in 1962

Shorpy displayed this photo, which originally ran in Look Magazine, of a scene being shot in Culver City for the Dr. Kildare TV show. That's Richard Chamberlain standing to the right, and the photo was taken by Earl Theisen.

The Shorpy on the back of the Dodge Dart had to have been Photoshop'd in--but look, it even has a reflection!

This other photo (on the left) showing the car from the front got a lot of comments: several folks id'd the camera as an Arriflex 2C, a mobile, handheld camera developed in Germany and used by Leni Riefenstahl--a fascinating bit of trivia. In the smaller photo, Chamberlain is driving.

An astute commentator (on Shorpy) said the location was on Culver Blvd., just inside the Menton Gate. The place is now Sony studios, of course, but the buildings haven't changed much. Big tree is definitely gone (hey, this was 51 years ago!) but I think some of the buildings are the same.

In fact, if you look at this Google maps location, I think you'll see that the brick building inside the lot just to the right of the tree shows up-the second story anyway, and the taller building beyond it is visible.

If I'm oriented correctly, that means a big ol' parking garage now covers the left side of this studio street. and the water tower would be just behind and to the right of the top picture.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Studio City Mosaic House

I've been reading about this house for a couple of years so it was a treat to actually see it myself.

No point in being cagey about the address: 4233 Rhodes Avenue, Studio City. The address is part of the artwork, after all. And please click on the pictures to make them bigger--the entire effect is quite wonderful.

A mix of mosaic and sculpture, as you can see. With a heavy influence of Native American themes.

More pictures can be seen on the Travels with Two blog, which covered the house in 2009, giving a lot of the area's history as well.


And there are public documents on line indicating that in 2007, an effort was made by neighbor(s) to force the homeowner, Karl Johnson, to remove "encroachments" on the public parkway in front of his home. Since the photos accompanying those documents show the parkway looking exactly as it does now, I'm guessing that everyone decided the artwork was far more fun to look at than a plain old patch of ivy, and that a few people slowing their cars or parking to take pictures was not that big a problem.

Or, maybe Mr. Johnson went down and got some extra permits that made everyone happy. Who knows?

I have to confess that the picture at right is from the Travels with Two blog. I had a picture of this same blanketed figure which mysteriously disappeared from this blog, and I cannot reload it right now. So I borrow.

I particularly like the photo below, which shows the second story of the house. There, just as you might see at a country inn, is a quilt airing out over the railing. Only the quilt is a mosaic.

Which is pretty much true of any patched quilt. They are mosaics of fabric.

The flowers below, stand out by the curb, not far from the blanketed person above. The column at left is set back a bit, by the driveway.

Trees cover most views of the house, and I suspect there are many more mosaics around. I stayed by the street, which--unless Mr. Johnson is outside and invites you to come closer--is what any considerate person should do, right? I mean, this is his home.