Looking Back

The second full week of November in Southern California, from 2015 to 2020, from the archives –

Hollywood Moments (30 images): Just another quiet weekday afternoon here it Hollywood – still trying to get a feel for this place after all these years – and that’s difficult. But the light is good. ~ Thursday, November 12, 2015

High-Contrast Hollywood (30 images): A brilliant day on Hollywood Boulevard – an impossibly blue sky and that long November light that makes everything pop out. Everything’s in high contrast and a bit dramatic, but this is Hollywood after all. ~ Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Calculus of Los Angeles: (28 images): Those marginalized Hispanic kids, the children of immigrants here legally or illegally, could learn calculus. “Los Angeles Teachers” – Hector Ponce, 1997 – on the northeast corner of Wilshire and Alvarado, facing MacArthur Park. Edward James Olmos played their math teacher, Jaime Escalante, in the 1988 film Stand and Deliver, the story of how Jaime Escalante, at Garfield High in East Los Angeles, got those kids through AP Calculus. They aced the AP test. The Educational Testing Service was sure they had cheated and made them take the test again. They aced the test again – every one of them. Never underestimate what can bloom in the neighborhoods. ~ Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Carrying On (33 images): The election is over. The counterculture lost, but the street art carries on, as enigmatic as ever. ~ Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Bit Retro (36 images): This end of Los Angeles looking a bit retro – at La Brea and First, a chopped and channeled shiny black retro gangster low-rider parked amid the Art Deco buildings from the late twenties, just down the street from Nick Metropolis’ outdoor prop shop with its collection of debris from the past – and there’s appropriate street art too. ~ Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hidden on Sunset (37 images): The obscure blocks of Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, between the massive Church of the Blessed Sacrament and the once-famous Hollywood Athletic Club, now vacant – where one finds all sorts of curious details – the old wrought iron and the new glass towers – and the street art around the Sound Factory, the recording studio that gave the nation Prince and the Beach Boys and all the rest. The neighborhood is anchored by the Crossroads of the World, the whimsical shopping center from the thirties. There are a lot of curious things hidden here. ~ Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mulholland Drive November (30 images): No one knew what to make of David Lunch’s 2001 movie “Mulholland Drive” – one critic called it “offense against narrative order, an intoxicating liberation from sense, with moments of feeling all the more powerful for seeming to emerge from the murky night world of the unconscious.” The actual Mulholland Drive, high above Hollywood, is like that in November. ~ Friday, November 17, 2017

The End of the World (35 images): Malibu was still evacuated. Malibu was still burning. Everything up the coast to the next county was still burning. Santa Monica Bay was filled with smoke after five days of this. It looked like the end of the world. Maybe it was. ~ Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Wright Again (35 images): It was that time again, time to return to Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1919 Hollyhock House on Olive Hill at the east end of Hollywood Boulevard – because the light had changed. Hollywood had filled with smoke from all the massive fires to the north, and the skies were slowly clearing, but there was still mystery in the air. It was time for some Hollywood drama. ~ Thursday, November 15, 2018

California Fire (30 images): There were sirens at dawn and the low thumping of helicopters – another fire in the hills – this one right out back just off Laurel Canyon – something to watch from the kitchen window with the morning coffee. It wasn’t much. It was all over in an hour – but sometimes it does feel like the end of the world out here. The sky over the Sunset Strip later in the day did look apocalyptic, as if all of Southern California was on fire all the time – and maybe it is. ~ Friday, November 16, 2018

Old Cool Now Gone (40 images): There is no “77 Sunset Strip” – that was just a television detective show that ran from 1958 to 1964. Private detective Stuart (“Stu”) Bailey (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) was a former government secret agent. Jeff Spencer (Roger Smith) was a former government agent too, and a non-practicing attorney. They worked out of stylish offices at 77 Sunset Boulevard, Suites 101 and 102 – on the south side of the Strip next door to Dean Martin’s real-life lounge, Dino’s Lodge – at 8524 Sunset Boulevard. Warner Brothers chose a better sounding number – and added a teen heartthrob, the very cool Gerald Lloyd “Kookie” Kookson III (Edd Byrnes), the rock and roll-loving, wisecracking, hair-combing hipster and aspiring private eye who worked as the valet parking attendant at Dino’s, the club next door – torn down in the seventies. Now the whole block is high-end shops and fancy new condos. But there’s a plaque in the sidewalk. This place used to be cool. ~ Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Pico Sky (40 images): B’nai David Judea – 8906 Pico Boulevard here in Los Angeles – formerly the Fox Stadium Theater, designed in the late twenties by Carl and Robert Boller, opened in 1931 and closed on September 5, 1961, and in March 1965 it became a synagogue. And in 2004 and 2005, the B’nai David congregation undertook a massive renovation project that made the place even better – an Art Deco showcase – but really, the clouds were good this day. That’s what this is about – the sky – and also that giant All-American Screaming Eagle around the corner, and that new proudly lesbian Wonder Woman. This corner of Los Angeles was too cool not to stop and take it all in. ~ Thursday, November 14, 2019

Lighting Tricks (45 images): This is Hollywood. Sometimes the light is so good that every shot is a trick shot, and it was one of those late autumn days. This is Viacom-CBS on Sunset Boulevard at Gower, lit wonderfully. ~ Monday, November 16, 2020

Quite Twisted (35 images): North Orange Grove Avenue just off Sunset Boulevard, just around the corner here. Yes, Hollywood has tree-lined streets. They’re just a bit strange. And they’re even stranger in late autumn. ~ Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Quiet Hollywood (35 images): The neighborhood was looking all Edward Hopper empty.  This was Sunset Boulevard between Formosa Avenue and Poinsettia Place. Hollywood should be lively. Maybe it’s the pandemic. ~ Wednesday, November 18, 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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