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 second week of September looked, out here, from 2015 to 2020, from the archives.

Double Deco (30 images): A return to the Art Deco center of Los Angeles – the Wilshire Professional Building, 3875 Wilshire Boulevard, Arthur E. Harvey, 1929 – and the Wiltern Theater and Pellissier Building, 3780 Wilshire Boulevard at Western Avenue – Stiles O. Clements and G. Albert Lansburgh, 1931. They never get old. They get shabbier, but they never get old. They’re a photographer’s delight. ~ Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Thunderheads (35 images): It was hot as hell in Hollywood – well over one hundred at noon – and something was brewing off in the distance – thunderheads building out over the Mojave – storms on the way. But those never make it to the city. We just get the visual high drama. Hey, it’s Hollywood. ~ Wednesday, September 9, 2015

California Inclined (38 images): The California Incline in Santa Monica has been rebuilt. It just reopened. It was originally a walkway, the Sunset Trail at the end of California Avenue, cut through the bluffs in 1896 to provide beach access to the locals. The roadway was built in 1930, a steep extension of California Avenue that fed traffic down to Pacific Coast Highway and on out to Malibu. Before the Santa Monica freeway was completed in the early fifties this was the only way for those in Los Angeles to drive up the coast – but it hadn’t been touched since 1930 and was crumbing away. Now it’s better than new, and above it all there’s Palisades Park. ~ Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Setting the Scene (32 images): “The Big Sleep” is that 1946 Howard Hawks film noir, the first film version of Raymond Chandler’s 1939 novel. Humphrey Bogart is the cynical private detective, Philip Marlowe, and Lauren Bacall is Vivian Rutledge, his sexy mysterious client. William Faulkner wrote the screenplay, along with Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman, but it never made much sense. That didn’t matter. The movie was dark and moody and complex, and set in Hollywood, which still looks much the same. Here, starting at the “Cahuenga Building” where Marlowe had his office, is Hollywood still looking all noir-in-the-sunshine. ~ Friday, September 9, 2016

That Old Jail (30 images): The former Venice Division of the Los Angeles Police Department at 685 Venice Boulevard – an active jail from 1929 until the early seventies – now an arts center – a mural/digital lab, home to vast collection of murals and public art – but it’s still a jail – the coolest of jails. The art center people made sure of that. ~ Friday, September 8, 2017

Wilshire White (25 images): The Wilshire Theater, 8440 Wilshire Boulevard, at the east end of Beverly Hills, originally the “Fox Wilshire” when it opened on September 19, 1930, and now the Saban Theater – from the architect S. Charles Lee – and it is very white, and severe and whimsical at the same time. This is an odd corner of Los Angeles. John Wayne sits on his horse next door. And there that’s strange moth on that white wall. ~ Friday, September 8, 2017

Rosh Hashanah (35 images): Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, ended on the evening of September 11 this year, and this was the place to be – B’nai David Judea – 8906 Pico Boulevard here in Los Angeles. This was once the Fox Stadium Theater, designed in the late twenties by Carl and Robert Boller. It opened in 1931 and had seating arranged in stadium style, raised stepped sections without an overhanging balcony – new at the time – but it closed on September 5, 1961, and in March 1965 it became a synagogue. In 2004 and 2005, the B’nai David congregation undertook a massive renovation project that made the place even better – an Art Deco masterpiece. Here it is on Rosh Hashanah. It never looked better. And next door, at the Art Deco “glatt kosher” market, there’s round challah bread to symbolize the cycle of the year. It’s all good. ~ Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hollywood 1907 (30 images): Wattles Mansion – “the only remaining intact example of the once plentiful Hollywood estates from the period preceding the film industry, when Hollywood was primarily agricultural and was a wintering home for wealthy Easterners and Midwesterners” – built in 1907 by the Omaha banker Gurdon Wattles, as a winter home. He hired local architects Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey to design a Mission Revival residence for him, but it would be more than that. There would be a Japanese garden, an Italian rose garden, a formal Spanish garden, a palm court and orchards. It became one of Hollywood’s first tourist attractions, but then some damned fool invented “moving pictures” and Hollywood changed forever. The family sold the residence and grounds to the City of Los Angeles in 1965 and now it’s just a reminder of a different time – open to the forgetful public. ~ Friday, September 14, 2018

The Sharpest Colors (50 images): This is where the colors are so vivid, and the lines and shapes so sharp, and the contrast so high, that they hurt – the graphics at the Soap Plant / Wacko / La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Boulevard, where Los Feliz meets Silver Lake. Just standing here would make anyone jumpy. Some things are just too sharp. And some parts of Los Angeles are a bit scary. ~ Friday, September 13, 2019

The Empty Plaza (30 images): Sunset Plaza on the Sunset Strip is empty all day now, every day. A raging pandemic will do that. But this stretch of the Sunset Strip is still ridiculously photogenic. ~ Wednesday, September 9, 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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