Looking Back

Early November in Southern California, from 2015 to 2020, from the archives –

November Empty (45 images): Early November, a weekday afternoon at Palisades Park on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica – breezy, in the sixties – and no one is around. The beach below is empty. This is a world without people. California is better that way. ~ Monday, November 9, 2015

Luminaries of Pantheism (25 images): This is new – “Luminaries of Pantheism” by Levi Ponce (design by Peter Moriarty) – South Venice Boulevard between Speedway and Ocean Front Walk. It’s Albert Einstein, Alan Watts, Baruch Spinoza, Terence McKenna, Carl Jung, Carl Sagan, Emily Dickinson, Nikola Tesla, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ralph Waldo Emerson, W. E. B. Du Bois, Henry David Thoreau, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Rumi, Adi Shankara, and Lao Tzu – together at last. Abbot Kinney – the man who created Venice, California – is just around the corner. So is Charlie Chaplin. He’s always butting in. But they’re all luminaries. ~ Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Burnside Avenue (40 images): Burnside Avenue between Wilshire Boulevard and Sixth Street – a bit of Los Angeles’ past, specifically the late twenties and early thirties – and yes, people out here used to live like this. It was an age of odd elegance. It’s been preserved. ~ Monday, November 7, 2016

Troubled Skies (30 images): In troubled times even the skies are troubled. The skies over the Sunset Strip, Saturday, November 12, 2016

Complicated Metal (40 images): New at the Beverly Hills Municipal Courthouse on Burton Way – “World on Its Hind Legs” – William Kentridge (1955 -) – the South African artist from Johannesburg who also studied mime and theater in Paris in the eighties. It’s complicated, and it’s next to the very orange “Sisyphus, 1985” – Alexander Liberman (1912-1999) – one of his scaled compositions constructed from discarded tank drums, boiler heads, giant pipes, and steel beams. That’s been there on Burton Way for a few years. It’s also complicated – but things are always complicated at the courthouse. ~ Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Beverly Hills Glass (30 images): The future is here. It’s a bit off-putting. This is the west end of Beverly Hills – big glass medical offices and banks – an intimidating place. ~ Friday, November 10, 2017

In a New Light (30 images): It’s the same old Hollywood – the Chinese Theater, the El Capitan, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and whatnot – but the camera is new. The old Nikon died. The new one is pretty nifty, and it puts things in a new light, as does the oddly-angled long November sunlight. Things do look a bit different now. ~ Friday, November 2, 2018

Levitated (30 images): Gravity is overrated. Behind the Los Angeles County Museum of Art there’s “Levitated Mass” by Michael Heizer – a 456-foot-long slot with a 340-ton granite megalith trucked in from the desert balanced over it. Gravity doesn’t matter, and a few feet from the big rock, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Oscar people, are turning the old May Company department store on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax into Los Angeles’ first actual movie museum – adding a new spherical theater out back. The only way to build that is to defy gravity too. Wilshire and Fairfax is a curious place. ~ Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Distant Smoke (35 images): This one was serious. Malibu was under a mandatory evacuation order at dawn – all of Malibu. The massive fire that had started inland, at the Ventura County line, had raced to the sea overnight. The coast was closed. Highways were closed. Malibu was burning to the ground. This is the fire from the other side of the Santa Monica Bay – from Palos Verdes – from a safe distance. But it still seemed like the end of the world. ~ Friday, November 9, 2018

City Haze (50 images): The white haze off the Pacific softens the city – Grand Avenue, Bunker Hill, Los Angeles – and the two minimalist red-glass cubes are Larry Bell’s “Bill and Coo at MOCA’s Nest” – new at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) there on Grand. Bell has been part of the California Light and Space movement since the sixties, experimenting with surface treatments on glass that manipulate light, reflections and shadows. These cubes belong here. The light is good. ~ Thursday, November 7, 2019

Peace and Love (40 images): Ringo Starr has lived out here in Beverly Hills for years, with his wife of nearly forty years, Barbara Bach, the Bond Girl from “The Spy Who Loved Me” – and for two years he’s been trying to give this Peace and Love hand, his hand, by sculptor Jeremy Morrelli, to the city. The city’s now-disbanded Fine Art Commission rejected the gift in September 2017 – this wasn’t really art – but two years later the city decided an eight hundred pound polished steel monument of Ringo’s hand making a peace sign was art after all, so here it is, six days after they cut the ribbon, next to the lotus pools across the street from City Hall and just down the street from Robert Merrell Gage’s noble American Indian in the fountain on the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards – a Noble Savage in touch with nature in an odd way now. It’s all good. ~ Friday, November 8, 2019

Sweet Air (35 images): Something changed. Sunset Boulevard from the Directors Guild building on west down the Sunset Strip to the edge of Beverly Hills – the smoke is gone. There’s light rain on the way soon, or not. This is Southern California. But the air was sweet this day. ~ Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Dark Side (35 images): The first rain in six months is on the way. The day gets darker and darker, and this brings out the mysterious dark side of the Sunset Strip. ~ Friday, November 6, 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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