Looking Back

This is how the last week of September looked, out here, from 2015 to 2020, from the archives.

Hush Now (33 images): It’s back – the Hillview Hollywood, on Hollywood Boulevard at Hudson. This was Hollywood’s first “artist’s” high-rise, built in 1917 by Jesse L. Lasky, the co-founder of Paramount Pictures, and his brother-in-law Samuel Goldwyn, co-founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. At the time this was one of Hollywood’s only apartment buildings willing to rent to aspiring actors – they were a suspicious lot – but that only made this “the” place to be. The basement housed a rehearsal space until Rudolph Valentino turned it into a speakeasy – and that’s now an exclusive club called Hush. Charlie Chaplin was once a proprietor of the Hillview. Clara Bow found her first home at the Hillview in 1923 – but it was eventually abandoned, and there was structural damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. It was a tear-down, but group of investors restored and completely redid the Hillview in 2005. They went bankrupt, but others jumped in. The Hillview Hollywood is back. Dolores Del Rio is still in the alley. Mary Martin is still across the street. All is well, but next door, behind the vegan restaurant with the dragons, the Warner Pacific Theater is still waiting. No one’s restored that yet. ~ Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Skating Through Venice (26 images): Venice Beach in late September – the young are active. This is the Southern California everyone imagines. It’s real enough. ~ Thursday, September 24, 2015

Downtown Walls (28 Images): Unusual city walls – “Justice” on the wall of the Superior Court building on Hill Street, and across the street a new glass skyscraper, looking mysterious – and in the background there’s the famous 1928 City Hall, to balance things out. But at the top of the hill, there’s the frieze at the Mark Taper Forum, the oddest wall in Los Angeles. ~ Friday, September 23, 2016

A Darker Malibu (28 images): Malibu isn’t supposed to look like this. Pacific Coast Highway, late September – a storm off Baja, hundreds of miles south, has sent dark monsoonal clouds streaming in. The place has gone quiet. The local surfers think evil thoughts. ~ Monday, September 19, 2016

Hot Clouds (25 images): Late September heatwave – 104 in the shade for the third day in a row – sit quietly – moving about is painful. Watch the sky. There’s mystery enough up there. ~ Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Urban Clouds (30 images): The skies at Sunset Boulevard and Bronson – in the reflective glass of the Metropolitan Lofts, and across the street at play on the exterior of the new Netflix skyscraper, looming over the old Sunset-Gower Studios, the first home of Warner Brothers – odd September clouds everywhere. ~ Tuesday, September 19, 2017

High Ice (30 images): Sometimes Hollywood looks like the end of the word. It did on the last Monday in September this year – strange clouds – ice at 35,000 feet over Echo Park – and the city, far away, looking apocalyptic, as seen from the Sunset Strip. On the other side of Sunset Boulevard, a new whimsical Hollywood mural puts a brave face on things. It doesn’t help. Maybe it is the end of the world. It’s this end of America. ~ Monday, September 25, 2017

Ceaselessly Into The Past (30 images): Drive south from Hollywood and Vine. Vine crosses Sunset Boulevard, then Santa Monica Boulevard, then Melrose Avenue, and then plunges deep into the past. There’s the giant Art Deco Ravenswood, and the flamboyantly rococo Spanish Revival El Royale, two luxury apartment building from thirties, when Hollywood was awash in new money. That’s when F. Scott Fitzgerald was living in Hollywood – here on Laurel Avenue, actually – and there’s that last line from his Gatsby novel – “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Hollywood is like that. The past is just down the street. ~ Friday, September 29, 2017

The Play of Light: (30 images): Hollywood doesn’t change. But the light keeps changing, making the old seem mysterious, in a new sort of way – and the September light is best for that. ~ Monday, September 24, 2018

A Rock Walk (30 images): What a drag it is getting old. That’s how the 1966 Stones song opened, but Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are old men now, and the doctor did say get out there and take walks every day. So a walk down the Sunset Strip here, from the Roxy and the Whisky, seemed like a good idea. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards spent a lot of time here, long ago. But this is a place for young men. Old men just photograph it, again and again, as if it’s a foreign country. It is a foreign country now. ~ Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Maritime Matters (50 images): This is the other Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro, on the main shipping channel at the Port of Los Angeles, with the Fire Boats ready and waiting next to the Battleship Iowa. But this is a working port with no use for history. Still, the history is everywhere. ~ Friday, September 27, 2019

That Old Light (35 images): Point Fermin Light – the lighthouse next to Angel’s Gate, the entrance to the Port of Los Angeles – high on the rocky cliffs – built in 1874 with lumber from California redwoods – designed by Paul J. Pelz, a civil engineer for the United States Lighthouse Board and from 1872 to 1877 its chief draftsman. He would go on to be the main architect of the Library of Congress in Washington, but he was really a lighthouse guy. The actual light here was extinguished in 1941 because of Pearl Harbor. It would be a beacon for enemy planes and ships. And then it wasn’t necessary. Radar would keep ships from slamming into the rocks below, and then GPS was even better. But the building was too impressive to tear down. In 1972 Point Fermin Light was added to the National Register of Historic Places and made new again, or old again. ~ Friday, September 27, 2019

The Piano Corner (45 images): There’s an odd Art Deco building on Wilshire Boulevard at Robertson in Beverly Hills. It’s a bit of a nightmare, and across the street from the Steinway showroom, now with one bright red grand piano in the window, next to a big purple one. Someone’s into surrealism. But this corner is like that – all curved glass with the big bronze “Pablo at the Beach” (2013) by Guy Dill on the corner there. Life here is a visual treat. ~ Thursday, September 24, 2020

Abandoned Art (45 images): Ethos Contemporary Art, the beyond-hip art gallery on Highland Avenue just south of Hollywood, went under. They reopened in a small space in downtown Los Angeles, but they left this on Highland, a reminder of the days before the pandemic. And the LGBT center across the street, with its wall of giant eyes, is empty now – the building is for lease. Only one gallery is left here now. And it’s a little scary. ~ Monday, September 28, 2020

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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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