Looking Back

As before, new photography has become difficult. The only thing new will be the Saturday botanical galleries, at least for a bit longer. But here is how the last week of August looked, out here, from 2015 to 2020, from the archives.

Summer Spheres (54 images): The lake in MacArthur Park has been covered in twenty-five-hundred hand-painted giant spheres – fish and flowers. “The Spheres of MacArthur Park” is a project of the non-profit group Portraits of Hope, which specializes in large-scale urban arts projects – the Massey organization. This project was first conceived in 2008 and had been destined for Europe, but after Ed Massey and his brother, Bernie, drove down Wilshire Boulevard and saw the park last year, they thought the project would work well for Los Angeles. Their nonprofit Portraits of Hope is devoted to creating public art installations that serve as creative therapy for children with disabilities and those in hospitals coping with cancer, burn trauma, head injuries and so on. The kids painted the spheres, and this is pretty cool. It makes the summer better – but in 2010, the Masseys, who are native Angelinos, launched their “Summer of Color” – for five months they directed the efforts of children and adult volunteers as they painted the walls and roofs of lifeguard towers along the thirty-one miles of beaches from Ventura to San Pedro. One of their first projects in Los Angeles was the 1997 painting of an oil derrick, located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School on Olympic Boulevard. The derrick’s ninety-two panels were covered with images of the four seasons. Someone has to improve Los Angeles. ~ Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lost in Hollywood (30 images): A quiet Friday afternoon in late August in Hollywood, taking note of the forgotten background, the odd buildings and alleys that were always there, lost in the noise. ~ Friday, August 26, 2016

Under the Freeway (43 images): Hidden Hollywood – the murals hidden deep under the Hollywood Freeway on Franklin Avenue, on the walls of Hollywood Self-Storage, the warehouses where the locals stash all the useless stuff that they don’t want in their homes anymore, but stuff that they really cannot let go. This is also what Hollywood cannot let go, its history – something to notice on Franklin, from the windows of the shiny new cars as they zip on up the freeway ramp, heading for other places. ~ Tuesday, August 29, 2017

New Light (40 images): The subject isn’t Hollywood. The subject is light – the light at one of the busiest intersections in Hollywood – Sunset Boulevard at Bronson. There’s nothing new. The light is new – on the walls and tower of that television studio – on the geometric glass of the Metropolitan Lofts. The new Netflix studios are all lit up too, and Netflix has switched on the LED sculpture out front. Next door, from the twenties, the Sunset Bronson Studios’ formal colonial façade is now bathed in odd late summer light. Even the abandoned apartment building from the twenties, across the street, is lit in a new way. Nothing much changes in Hollywood, but the light always changes. ~ Friday, August 31, 2018

The Glass Inferno (40 images): Los Angeles, from Grand to Hope – that would be from Grand Avenue to Hope Street. It’s summer in the city. “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” Remember your Dante. ~ Monday, August 26, 2019

The Seville Tower (40 images): The La Giralda Tower at the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – 333 South La Cienega Boulevard at Olympic – is modeled after La Giralda, the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville, in Spain. The first two-thirds of that is a former minaret from the Moorish period, with the top third serious Spanish Renaissance detailing. El Cid won. He did drive out the Moors. Here architect Arthur Taylor offers a precise replica of that tower, from 1927, but his sits on top of a Mission-style building, red tile roofs and low arches, which looks like it came from a Roy Rogers movie. All of this was originally the City of Beverly Hills Water Treatment Plant Number 1 – abandoned in 1976 when Beverly Hills began to purchase its water from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District. In March 1988 the City of Beverly Hills accepted a proposal by the Academy that the abandoned waterworks be restored to house their library and film archives, and this opened in January 1991. It’s named after Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. – the first president of the Academy. The Academy Film Archive is here, the most complete film archive in the world, along with just about every screenplay and book on film ever written, and there’s the Cecil B. DeMille Reading Room with all the biographical files. The lobby is named after Bob Hope. But really, it’s all about the tower. ~ Wednesday, August 26, 2020

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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