New Photography

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January 2021 Photography

Even More Roses: These shouldn’t be. These are Los Angeles roses when the rest of America is buried in snow. ~ Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Wild West: Yes, it’s wild out here. This is what’s in bloom in Los Angeles in the middle of winter. ~ Saturday, January 16, 2021

Ghost Light: Hollywood and Vine on a winter afternoon in this year of the plague. Hollywood is a ghost town now. But the light has never been better. ~ Friday, January 15, 2021

Now Pink: Sunset Las Palmas Studios was built by Charlie Chaplin’s studio manager, John Jasper, in 1919, as Jasper Studios. Then it became Metropolitan Pictures. Harold Lloyd rented the studio in 1925 and Howard Hughes shot the silent version of Hells Angels here 1929 and then it grew into General Services Studios. In 1980, Francis Ford Coppola bought the whole place for his American Zoetrope company and sold all of it in 1983 when that didn’t work out. Then it became Hollywood Center Studios and got bigger and bigger, and in 2017 Hudson Capital purchased the whole campus and renamed it Sunset Las Palmas Studios. Everyone uses this place. In 1951, Stage 2 became the first home to I Love Lucy, and from 1951 to 1953, it was the home of Desilu Productions, owned by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. CBS used the place for Petticoat Junction and Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies. The Lone Ranger was produced on the lot. And now they’ve painted the old core studios bright pink. Why not? ~ Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Split: This is where Hollywood begins, that intersection in Silver Lake where Hollywood Boulevard begins, where it splits off from Sunset Boulevard at the old movie palace, near the Tiki bar, both now closed, where everything is now closed, and quite strange. ~ Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Villa Carlotta: Villa Carlotta is the villa and botanical garden in Tremezzo on Lake Como in Northern Italy. Villa Carlotta is the Spanish Colonial apartment building on Franklin Avenue in Franklin Village, just below Griffith Park, here in Hollywood. It was built in 1926 for the widow of Thomas Ince and designed by Arthur E. Harvey, who also designed the elaborate Château Élysée across the street, now the Scientology Celebrity Center – but Edward G. Robinson once lived at this Villa Carlotta. So did Marion Davies. So did William Saroyan. So did David O. Selznick. Louella Parsons wrote her gossip column from her two-story apartment here. That was long ago, but there are ghosts. ~ Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Off Broadway: The city is empty. There was an open parking space on Second at Broadway. Up on the hill, Frank Gehry’s long delayed Grand Avenue Project, an odd twenty story hotel and thirty-nine story residential tower due in 2022 or so, is coming along nicely, if somewhat oddly. And below it’s the new (2016) United States Courthouse, another big glass box from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill – but a magnificent big glass box – and there are those winter shadows across the street. The city is better empty. ~ Monday, January 11, 2021

That Glow: The winter light really does make Los Angeles’ gardens glow. That makes winter all better. ~ Saturday, January 9, 2021

Winter on Wilshire: This is winter on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, just trees and a glass. And that’s enough. ~ Friday, January 8, 2021

The Auction House: All better now. The plaster detailing on the Italianate but quite British auction house, Bonham’s, that has been down on the corner on Sunset Boulevard since the days of silent movies, has been restored to perfection. It’s a Norma Desmond thing. So is the sky. ~ Thursday, January 7, 2021

Telling Stories: The streets tell stories. This is Sunset Boulevard at Gardner, just around the corner. The stories here are ambiguous. ~ Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Royal Trees: Hancock Park, just off Wilshire Boulevard, was developed in the 1920s an enclave for the rich. Their mansions still stand. This is the land of old money, with the Official Residence of the British Consul General on June Street in a home designed by Wallace Neff that was completed in 1928. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, stayed there in July 2011 on their first visit to the United States after their wedding. Nat King Cole was first black resident of Hancock Park. It’s a royal place. It has royal trees. ~ Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Strip Lighting: A winter urban light show, a short drive down the Sunset Strip from the Roxy to the Directors Guild. Los Angeles is shut down, but the light is still amazing. ~ Monday, January 4, 2021

The Constant Garden: So, another year begins. In the gardens the roses and all the rest don’t care. They just go on, and that’s a comfort. ~ Saturday, January 2, 2021

First Light: The first light on the first day of the new year in Los Angeles was extraordinary. Perhaps it will be a good year. ~ Friday, January 1, 2021

December 2020 Photography

The Last Echoes: So this is how it ends. The last day of the year at Echo Park Lake, with the birds. ~ Thursday, December 31, 2020

The End Trees: The trees at the end if the world – but not really. This is on top of the hill out back. A short drive up through Laurel Canyon – Joni Mitchell and all that – turn left on Mulholland Drive – like in the David Lynch movie – and there’s a “scenic overlook” with these trees. They’re just trees at the end of the year. Or maybe this is the end of the world. ~ Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Tickled Pink: A day of heavy rain did wash Hollywood clean. Santa Monica Boulevard at Cole Avenue in the flats south of Hollywood, old buildings built by the Technicolor Corporation long ago, now restored, catch the fresh sun. The Art Deco building on the corner is now very pink. Technicolor is long gone from this neighborhood, but the memory lingers on. And the light was good. ~ Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Year-End Roses: This was an awful year. But the all year long the Los Angeles roses were just fine. These are the last of them for the year, sitting pretty on the last weekend of an odd year. ~ Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Final Close-Ups: This is how the year ends in the local gardens, a few daisies, the usual hibiscus, but wait! Lantana! Yucca! Yucca! Yucca! ~ Saturday, December 26, 2020

An Escape: The North Harper Avenue Historic District just off the Sunset Strip. Turn left at the strip club with the giant neon sign – Live Nude Girls – and suddenly it’s a different world. And it’s very quiet. And a bit strange. But in a nice way. ~ Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Compelling Pictures: Just one block. But one block is enough. This is Cahuenga and Selma in the middle of Hollywood. Just point and shoot. Cool stuff. Compelling stuff. The new film and video production company on the corner is Compelling Pictures. Of course it is. ~ Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Pink This Year: This has not been a good year and now it’s ending with Southern California in crisis, the hospitals filled with the dying and Christmas pretty much cancelled. Everything’s wrong. So why not a surreal Pink Christmas this year? ~ Monday, December 21, 2020

The Late Roses: Los Angeles roses one week before Christmas. Save the best for last. ~ Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Season: Poinsettia in everyone’s garden, bright red bougainvillea everywhere, no snow, but it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, in Los Angeles. ~ Saturday, December 19, 2020

Turquoise Boulevard: The winter light was good. Bullocks Wilshire, 3050 Wilshire Boulevard, is the landmark Art Deco building from 1929, from Los Angeles architects John and Donald Parkinson, a luxury department store for more than sixty years and now a private law school, and restored to its turquoise copper glory. It does light up the boulevard, as does the anonymous midcentury office building across the street, painted turquoise to match it. It’s a good color. ~ Friday, December 18, 2020

Into the Darkness: No sun this day, a good day to dive into the darkness, so, at that odd Art Deco building on Hollywood Boulevard, turn left onto Whitley Avenue and suddenly it’s 1923 again, with that nightmare Italianate fantasy apartment building, and then the dark French-Norman one, and then the brutal concrete one, with those odd women. This was the place to be in the twenties, and now it’s the darkest place in Hollywood. ~ Thursday, December 17, 2020

Bright Desolation: Another afternoon here on the Sunset Strip – no one around – the sightlines open – the light was good. California has been shut down, and here, in the heart of Hollywood, that ends in quiet but total desolation. It’s bright and vibrant, but this is a graveyard. This is the last of the Sunset Strip. ~ Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Danger: “One person was killed and another hospitalized after a shooting Tuesday afternoon on Melrose Avenue in the Fairfax district, police said. Both victims, identified as men in their early to mid-20s, were standing near Melrose and Stanley avenues when the gunman, also a man in his mid-20s, approached them on foot and fired multiple times. The block where the shooting occurred is a popular shopping destination, with a Starbucks, Urban Outfitters and several other businesses.” – But there was an open parking space next to the police tape, and there was the street art. This is life out here. ~ Tuesday, December 15, 2020

High Skies: Suddenly the winds were howling, all day, and just as suddenly the sky turned strange. This was Sunset Boulevard at Western Avenue over to Sunset and Vine. ~ Monday, December 14, 2020

The Dark Roses: The local roses got dark in a Bruegel sort of way. That’s how one knows that it’s winter out here in the land of endless summer. ~ Saturday, December 12, 2020

The Enhanced Ordinary: The usual suspects in the local gardens turn unusual, close up and in tight. So, pay attention. ~ Saturday, December 12, 2020

The Remaining Light: Almost all the galleries in the arts district all along North La Brea Avenue have gone under. They’re empty shells now. Only the gallery selling art lighting seems to have survived. The light survives. The avenue glows. ~ Friday, December 11, 2020

Painting Those Walls: This is the land of giant hand-painted display advertising, whole walls of it, and they were at it again down on Melrose on that wall across the street from Fairfax High School. Start with the flowers and one face. Something will come of this – but here all the walls are painted, one way or another. The messages are mixed. ~ Thursday, December 10, 2020

Spaced Out: Sometimes the empty streets of Los Angeles look like the streets of some strange alien planet. This is Sunset Boulevard at Bronson. Or it’s the set of a science fiction movie. ~ Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Still Golden: Gold – Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills – Christmas – this year much is closed and no one is around, but the rich will have their Christmas. ~ Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Stay at Home: There’s a new stay-at-home order. Stay at home for the rest of the year. On Hollywood Boulevard, the Frolic Room at the Pantages Theater has closed. The theater itself has gone dark. It’s locked up tight. And the sun did not come out this day. This is going to be a strange Christmas. ~ Monday, December 7, 2020

The Winter Roses: So, December begins. But the roses never end. And the lighting is even better now. ~ Saturday, December 5, 2020

Boulevard Blooms: Sunset Boulevard as the holiday season begins. But it’s always a holiday of some sort here in Hollywood. ~ Saturday, December 5, 2020

Chasing Geese: The usual suspects. Using the telephoto lens down at Echo Park Lake. Wasting a perfectly good afternoon with the birds. Or this was a necessary escape. People have messed up this world. These guys didn’t. They’re better company. ~ Friday, December 4, 2020

Pandemic Paramount: Down the street at Paramount Pictures. It was quiet down there. It was too quiet. It’s the pandemic. But damn, the light was good. ~ Thursday, December 3, 2020

Old Medicine: The Beverly Professional Building on the corner of Camden Drive and Brighton Way in Beverly Hills, 1926, Spanish Baroque Revival with Churrigueresque detailing, including the traditional symbol of medicine, the Caduceus of Mercury, and it has a goddess too. It was built as a medical office building and it still is a medical office building. But this is old medicine. ~ Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Icons of Darkness: Forget that “rich Corinthian leather” in the long-forgotten Chrysler Cordoba, and forget Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The theater seating inside the Ricardo Montalbán Theater on Vine Street, the Montalbán, has been removed for Icons of Darkness, an exhibition from the largest private collection of sci-fi, horror and fantasy memorabilia in the world, and the place looks scary. And the opening has been delayed indefinitely. The coronavirus pandemic is scarier. The place is locked tight. But that’s okay – this end of Hollywood is scary enough. ~ Tuesday, December 1, 2020

November 2020 Photography

Dead Quiet: California has been shut down again. The Sunset Strip feels like a graveyard. The Rainbow Room and the Roxy may never reopen. They may disappear forever, but they haven’t disappeared yet. They’re just dead quiet at the moment. ~ Monday, November 30, 2020

The Roses Persist: Yes, Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is on the way, but that doesn’t matter. There are always roses in the neighborhood. This is Southern California. ~ Saturday, November 28, 2020

Color Saturation: The skies cleared. The bright angled autumn sun backlit everything in the gardens. The colors jumped out. ~ Saturday, November 28, 2020

Bright Emptiness: Black Friday 2020 in the year of the killer pandemic – no one was shopping – little remained open. It was a bright empty afternoon on the Boulevard of Abandoned Art Galleries, Beverly Boulevard in West Los Angeles. ~ Friday, November 27, 2020

Shadow Work: Black shadows on the white walls of the Wilshire Theater, originally the Fox Wilshire when it opened on September 19, 1930. The architect was S. Charles Lee. On November 4, 1953, it was Marilyn Monroe arriving on the red carpet here for the premiere of “How to Marry a Millionaire.” Now it’s the Saban Theater and it’s gone quiet at the moment. There’s only its reflection in the glass of the nicely rounded skyscraper on the southeast corner of Wilshire and La Cienega next door, once the world headquarters of Larry Flynt Enterprises. The light was good this day. ~ Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Misplaced Concreteness: Industrial geometry old and new, Romaine and Sycamore by the CEMEX plant – ready-mix concrete moving out in giant mixer trucks all day long. In Alfred North Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World, the fallacy of misplaced concreteness is central to his analysis, a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction is treated as if it were a concrete real event or physical entity. So, what is this Mexican concrete plant doing here? ~ Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Outside the Box: Think outside the box. This is a quiet afternoon at Melrose and Ogden, where everything is outside the box. ~ Monday, November 23, 2020

Rose Glow: Late autumn sunlight comes in at a low angle in Los Angeles and makes the local roses glow. ~ Saturday, November 21, 2020

A Close Look: This is what Hollywood looks like in late autumn, if you look closely. The local gardens are ironic. ~ Saturday, November 21, 2020

South of Pink: The block down the street from Pink’s Hot Dogs, on North La Brea at Melrose, isn’t pink at all. It’s severe black and white Art Deco, with an abandoned pastel movie theater from the thirties, next to the giant colored cubes of Torath Emeth Academy. And there’s Spider Man too. It’s very Los Angeles. ~ Friday, November 20, 2020

Just About Everything: Just one block – Wilshire Boulevard at Ardmore, at the edge of Koreatown – one block west of the site of the former Ambassador Hotel where Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June 1968 – but that was long ago and now this place is urban hip and a curious mix of just about everything. ~ Thursday, November 19, 2020

Quiet Hollywood: 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

Quite Twisted: 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

Lighting Tricks: 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

Monet Roses: Claude Monet painted water lilies. But had he painted roses, which he didn’t, they would have looked like this, Los Angeles roses on his birthday. ~ Saturday, November

November Reds: Los Angeles gardens turn red in this month, loosely red. There are all sorts of shades here. ~ Saturday, November 14, 2020

By Design: There’s Autumn in New York, glittering crowds and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel, that sort of thing. And then there’s autumn at the Pacific Design Center. ~ Friday, November 13, 2020

Hollywood Rides: These are the rides of the one percent, on the streets of Hollywood, for now. By the time the coronavirus pandemic finally fades away, if it does, these won’t matter much at all. The world will have changed. But for now, they do catch the light nicely. ~ Thursday, November 12, 2020

California November: This is California in November. It’s a walk in the park. It’s a walk in a Beverly Hills park. ~ Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Light Fantastic: It was 1894 – the “Sidewalks of New York” – “Boys and girls together, me and Mamie O’Rourke / Tripped the light fantastic / On the sidewalks of New York.” But the light was fantastic out here on the sidewalks of Los Angeles all these years later. And it was pretty trippy too. ~ Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Raymond Chandler Square: The Security Pacific Bank Building at 6383 Hollywood Boulevard, at Cahuenga, from 1921, by the father and son architects John and Donald B. Parkinson. This is also known as the Cahuenga Building. Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) was the creator of the cynical private investigator Phillip Marlowe, with his office here, high over Hollywood Boulevard. Chandler’s first Marlowe novel was The Big Sleep (1939) but most people remember the Howard Hawks movie (1946) with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Hawks had William Faulkner help with the screenplay. Faulkner decided he hated Hollywood and never returned. This is Raymond Chandler Square. It is an odd place. ~ Monday, November 9, 2020

A Victory Garden: Everyone was in the streets, celebrating the election of a new president, and at the side of the street, a victory garden. Look. Things will get better. ~ Saturday, November 7, 2020

The Dark Side: 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

Sweet Air: 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

While Waiting: This year’s Election Day never ended. Nothing was decided. They were still counting votes the next day, and the street was waiting to see who’d be president now. The concerned constituents are an odd lot. ~ Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A Bit Unnerving: The Chateau Marmont on the Sunset Strip, modeled loosely on the Château d’Amboise, a royal retreat in the Loire Valley, has been a Hollywood institution since 1929. Everyone has stayed here, and worked here, and some of them died here. John Belushi died of a drug overdose in Bungalow 3 on March 5, 1982, and the famous photographer Helmut Newton died here on January 23, 2004, after crashing his car pulling out of the driveway. That makes this block of the Sunset Strip a bit unnerving. ~ Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Plastic People: The coronavirus pandemic is only getting worse. The streets are empty. There’s no one around. But that doesn’t matter in Beverly Hills. Those odd plastic people are still there, frozen in place forever. And the brilliant colors all around are lively enough. It’s all artificial, but it is rather pleasant. ~ Monday, November 2, 2020

October 2020 Photography

Extraordinary Light: They’re just the usual roses, the same roses that bloom every Saturday all around Los Angeles, all year long. But the light suddenly changed and made everything translucent. Late autumn can be like that out here. This can be a fine place. ~ Saturday, October 31, 2020

Spooky Blooms: Look at this. Halloween morning in the local gardens actually is a bit spooky. And a full moon will follow. ~ Saturday, October 31, 2020

Dead White: The painted white palm trees are a bit of conceptual art from Vincent Lamouroux, the French artist who painted the old Sunset Pacific Motel on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, and all the trees and bushes around it, a blank dead white, to disrupt the vibrant “commercial landscape” that surrounds it – a public art piece called Projection. That was back in 2015, and then everyone moved on to other matters. But the dead white motel and the white palms are still there, at Sunset and Bates Avenue. Think of it as the Bates Motel, as in the movie Psycho. ~ Friday, October 30, 2020

Painting This Town: Everything is a promotion for something or other. That’s why someone is always painting this end of Los Angeles. Of course, these days, no one is buying anything, but that’s okay. The visuals are great anyway. ~ Thursday, October 29, 2020

Another Hollywood Ghost: Had he lived, which he didn’t, Nat King Cole would have been one hundred years old, last year. Here he haunts the windows at Capitol Records on Vine Street. This is where he recorded almost everything. His ghost has been in the windows for a year now. Things get spooky in Hollywood. ~ Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Not Technicolor: This is the Television Center, 6311 Romaine Street – 1930, an Art Deco landmark that from 1930 to 1975 was the Hollywood home of Technicolor. All of their films were processed in the labs here, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938) to The Godfather, Part II (1974) – the last American film to use the Technicolor dye process. But the technology changed and Technicolor is now a division of the French company Technicolor SA and housed in a new glass box on Sunset Boulevard at Gower, and now this Art Deco landmark is filled with independent television production companies and high-tech soundstages. But it’s still dramatic. And television production obviously requires a whole lot of electricity. ~ Tuesday, October 27, 2020

A Los Angeles Morning: This is early morning at Echo Park Lake, with the city in the distance. That’s where the action is. But it’s serene here. ~ Monday, October 26, 2020

Autumn Roses: Roses just after dawn on an autumn morning in Hollywood make Southern California look like a seventeenth-century still life. ~ Saturday, October 24, 2020

Autumn Darkness: There was no sun. The local gardens didn’t need sun. They create their own light. ~ Saturday, October 24, 2020

This Particular Dream: Perhaps the Hollywood Dream, whatever that really was, is over now. The town is dead. The coronavirus killed it. And this is Cosmo Street and a bit of Cahuenga Boulevard right in the middle of Hollywood on a dark and empty afternoon. The dream has gone dark. ~  Friday, October 23, 2020

The Real City: Too much sunshine can be deceptive. This is Los Angeles on a rare dark day. Now it looks like a real city. Los Angeles is actually a dark place. ~ Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Dark Now: The Craft and Folk Art Museum on Wilshire Boulevard, across the street from the La Brea Tar Pits, changed its name to the Craft Contemporary. The museum’s board of directors decided that the old name had “an association to something very old and very dusty” and they wanted to be rooted in the “now” – and then the coronavirus pandemic shut down all the museums and the place went dark. This is the now. ~ Tuesday, October 20, 2020

These Escher Streets: Los Angeles has turned into an M. C. Escher lithograph. This is the empty Wilshire Courtyard office complex on what was once called the Miracle Mile. Now it’s a surreal geometric maze. ~ Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Justice Corner: RBG down on the corner today, with Shepard Fairey and a few friends, and so on. This must be the justice corner. ~ Monday, October 19, 2020

Even More Roses: There always mores roses in Hollywood. These are seriously dramatic. ~ Saturday, October 17, 2020

In the Corners: There are odd things in the corners in Los Angeles’ gardens these days. ~ Saturday, October 17, 2020

Rich Geometry: Sometimes simple geometry is a comfort. The Beverly Hills Civic Center will do – not a rich person in sight – not a person in sight. That helps. ~ Friday, October 16, 2020

The Immediate Neighborhood: Just down the street – Villa d’Este (1355 Laurel Avenue) – “Italian villas in rural Tuscany inspired architect brothers F. Pierpont Davis and Walter S. Davis when they designed the complex in 1928.”  Romanesque Villa (1928) – “In 1928, Michael and Isaac Mann commissioned Leland Bryant to design an apartment building at the corner of Harper and Fountain Avenues. Bryant combined Spanish Colonial Revival and Churrigueresque, the style named after the 18th century Spanish architect, Jose Churriguera, who used lavish ornamentation in his designs. It was at this building that the infamous ‘triangle’ between Marlene Dietrich and Josef and Riza Von Sternberg took place and led eventually to the divorce of the Von Sternbergs.” Bryant built the Norman-French apartments across the street too. And then just a gate – Villa Primavera (1923) at 1300-08 North Harper Avenue – the Spanish style courtyard apartment building designed and built by Arthur and Nina Zwebell. Katherine Hepburn and James Dean both rented here. It was also used in “In a Lonely Place” (1950) directed by Nicolas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart as a serial killer screenwriter, who lived right here. That’s the neighborhood. ~ Thursday, October 15, 2020

Absurdly Colorful: They said no pictures at the body shop down on Melrose Avenue where they were working on a brand-new Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Someone had wrecked their new four hundred-thousand-dollar SUV – lots of body damage – probably some ditzy sixteen-year-old girl from Beverly Hills High School. It happens. But no pictures – so it was pictures of their amazing metallic wall instead. And then it was time to look around. This is an absurdly colorful neighborhood. ~ Wednesday, October 14, 2020

High Contrast: Hollywood is always dramatic – that old municipal building, now a Department of Water and Power warehouse and garage, across the street from Sunset-Gower Studios, now pretty much shut down – the light was wonderful. ~ Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Mad Lab: There will be no Halloween this year, but there is that neon skeleton on Sunset Boulevard near Vine. Yes, it’s just a hip coffee shop, but it will do. This block is spooky. There’s that strange striped wall to the right, and to the left, there’s the 1924 Hollywood Athletic Club. Women were prohibited above the first floor. W. C. Fields was known to have wrapped his mistress, Carlotta Monti, in a rug and smuggled her upstairs. That was the real Mad Lab. But that’s all shadows now. That’s Halloween this year. ~ Monday, October 12, 2020

Dark Roses: Sometimes there’s a dark day, even in Southern California. Things change. The roses look baroque. ~ Saturday, October 10, 2020

Brilliant at Breakfast: This is the morning mix in the gardens here, just off Sunset Boulevard, just after dawn. No one is around. This is the way to start the day, even in October. ~ Saturday, October 10, 2020

On Grand Now: Frank Gehry’s swoopy Walt Disney Concert Hall that fills the block between Grand and Hope Street always looks new, even if it opened on October 24, 2003, and his long delayed Grand Avenue Project, across the street at First and Grand, an odd twenty story hotel and thirty-nine story residential tower, with terraced shops and whatnot, due in 2022 or so, is coming along nicely, if somewhat oddly. The Broad is the contemporary art museum on the other corner, with its honeycomb concrete-and-steel outer structure, the “veil” that wraps around the actual box of a museum, all of it designed by the firm of Diller Scofidio and Renfro. That opened on September 20, 2015, but the pandemic has closed it. Still, downtown Los Angeles goes on – just checking to be sure of that. ~ Friday, October 9, 2020

Fading Away: No one is making movies now. No one may make movies ever again. Hollywood may be over. This is the corner of Wilcox Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, abandoned Art Deco buildings and the empty Warner Pacific Theater with its dead radio towers, and the 1983 “You Are the Star” mural by New Mexico artist Thomas Suriya. That’s been vandalized and restored, as good as new, again and again. It’s rather famous. But it won’t be restored again, not now. It’s on the west wall of the Attie Building – 1931, H. A. Minton – with its red windows. That’s been empty for years too. This is where the stars fade away. ~ Thursday, October 8, 2020

Dancing in the Park: It was another day of Hazardous Air Quality (for Sensitive Groups) and breathing was difficult. It was time to head out in the clapped-out old car, still with working air-conditioning, off toward downtown on Sunset Boulevard. And there was Echo Park Lake. And there was a parking space. And there were these people having a fine old time making a dance video of some kind. They seemed happy. That would do. But it’s a jungle out there. ~ Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Quiet Past: Los Angeles used to be a different place. This is Sycamore and First Street, down in the Wilshire District, where it’s always long ago. Go ahead, slip into the past. It’s a quiet place. ~ Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Hollywood Haze: After three weeks of smoke in the air, from the massive distant fires, the haze in Hollywood lifted a bit, here and there, leaving strange skies and odd empty streets below. ~ Monday, October 5, 2020

The Roses: Every Saturday it’s roses. Los Angeles is endless roses. That helps in troubled times. What else is there? ~ Saturday, October 3, 2020

Hot Color: October is autumn everywhere else. In the gardens of Los Angeles, October is an explosion of hot color in the middle of a heat wave. ~ Saturday, October 3, 2020

Esoteric: Brutal heat and bad air, but there’s great color down on Melrose Avenue, all new, so Los Angeles isn’t all that bad, a little surreal, but not all that bad. ~ Friday, October 2, 2020

In Sunset Park: Will Rogers Memorial Park, 9650 Sunset Boulevard, across the street from the Beverly Hills Hotel, constructed in 1912 and dedicated in 1915, the first public park in Beverly Hills. Charlie Chaplin filmed a few scenes here. So did Laurel and Hardy. This was Sunset Park until 1952 when it was renamed the Will Rogers Memorial Park in honor of Rogers, the first Honorary Mayor of Beverly Hills from 1926 to 1928, who rather liked the place. On April 7, 1998, George Michael was arrested for committing a “lewd act” by Marcelo Rodriguez, a plainclothes officer of the Beverly Hills Police Department, in the restrooms here. That was quite the scandal. But that doesn’t matter now. This is a good place to sit quietly on a hot day and chat with the turtles. ~ Thursday, October 1, 2020

September 2020 Photography

Hot Walls: The neighborhood in late September just before another extreme heat advisory forced everyone indoors, and just before the air got so thick that the Air Quality Management District issued its own run-and-hide warning again – sit in the dark and try not to breathe too much – just another day in paradise. But the street art never stops. And these are pretty hot walls. ~ Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Abandoned Art: 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

Dawn Blooms: The smoke has been awful. The heat has been awful. And neither will end soon, if ever. But there are those few hours of cool morning mist before Los Angeles becomes unbearable once again. That’s when the local gardens are subtle and inviting, like this. ~ Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Piano Corner: 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

Old Heroism: The mural next door works. American architecture used to be heroic. This is the heroic California Bank branch, 1929, by John and Donald B. Parkinson, at 5620 Hollywood Boulevard. It has that attitude. America can do anything. There is nothing to fear but fear itself, a useful attitude as the Great Depression deepened. But this bank was abandoned soon enough. Warner Brothers slapped a temporary marquee on it and pretended it was a movie palace in 1997 in “L.A. Confidential” – everyone was corrupt and nasty in that movie. Now it’s a “collision center” – they repair wrecked cars in there. But it’s still heroic. The rest of the neighborhood, East Hollywood where Little Armenia meets Thai Town, isn’t. It’s mysterious. ~ Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Three Walls: There’s the new “Love” wall on Beverly Boulevard. There’s that cactus wall next door. There’s the odd glass wall across the street. And there’s Andy Warhol. This is West Los Angeles. ~ Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Fifty Shades Clearer: The fires are still raging everywhere but the wind shifted. The smoke is gone. After two weeks of thick haze and the constant smell of that smoke in the air, all of Los Angeles is visible again. And the gardens are back. They made it through this. All is well. ~ Saturday, September 19, 2020

I’m suspending the photography until the smoke clears.

Softened Light: The smoke was thick all day from the fires everywhere. The air was unbreathable. That made for a day of diffused light. The softened light made the local gardens rather mysterious. ~ September 12, 2020

Smoked Cactus: Hollywood smelled of smoke at dawn and the morning got darker and darker, not lighter. The whole Los Angeles basin filled with smoke from the fires out east and the sky turned dull orange. The air was thick. Breathing was difficult. And it looked like this – the cactus garden in Beverly Hills, looking like the end of the world. ~ Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Empty Plaza: 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

These Dark Days: Hollywood was filled with smoke, not sunshine. All of California seemed to be on fire. But that only makes things more interesting – a new tattoo parlor just off Hollywood Boulevard, the odd façades from long ago, and the Hillview Hollywood built in 1917 by Jesse Lasky, the co-founder of Paramount Pictures, and his brother-in-law Samuel Goldwyn, the co-founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. At the time this was Hollywood’s only apartment building 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. Clara Bow found her first home at the Hillview in 1923 – but the building was eventually abandoned. It was a tear-down, and then a group of investors restored and completely redid the place in 2005, and went bankrupt, and then others jumped in. It was back in 2015 – and now it’s dead again – the Covid pandemic did it in – but Alfredo de Batuc’s 1990 mural “A Tribute to Dolores del Rio” next door has just been restored. She’s not dead yet. But Hollywood is. ~ Tuesday, September 8, 2020

That Dome: At the center of Hollywood, the Cinerama dome on Sunset Boulevard, across the street from the campus of Los Angeles Film School, around the corner from the CNN studios at Larry King Square, all looking quite odd now that Hollywood has been shut down, perhaps forever. ~ Monday, September 7, 2020

Just Too Hot: These are Los Angeles roses in the middle of a heat wave, over one hundred in the shade just before noon. It’s too hot for humans. They persist. They’re doing just fine. ~ Saturday, September 5, 2020

More Hidden Gems: There are curious things hidden in the local gardens on a quiet Saturday morning here in Los Angeles. ~ Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Heat Light: “State of emergency declared as California faces historic heat, possible power outages…” And the Air Quality Index was at 218 and rising – “Very Unhealthy” – don’t breathe that stuff out there. So it was time to drive around and take pictures of nothing at all, of just the light and heat. But that’s really something. ~ Friday, September 4, 2020

Prehistoric Los Angeles: They’re still digging up Wooly Mammoths and Saber-Toothed Tigers down the hill at the La Brea Tar Pits. And they built a nifty new museum next to the excavation pits, with their research facilities in the basement, where they try to reconstruct what they just found. The friezes at the museum are stunning, but this is still a working scientific site. It seems that prehistoric Los Angeles is down there, just three miles from up here in Hollywood. ~ Thursday, September 3, 2020

Can’t Be Stopped: This sort of thing can’t be stopped. Hollywood’s “Can’t Be Stopped” crew was one of the most influential and recognizable graffiti crews in the early eighties, when the initials CBS popped up everywhere. They’re still around, but now no one can be stopped. No one can stop the street art now. ~ Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Reaching Back: The Italianate “luxury” apartment building from the late twenties on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and North Stanley Avenue, surrounded by Craftsman bungalows from a decade earlier, each with a lush garden now – with a new glass McMansion wedged in here and there. Before the bungalows, and long before there was a movie industry, this was all orange groves, and Hollywood Boulevard was a dirt road named Prospect Avenue until 1910, when the town of Hollywood, created by H. J. Whitley, was annexed by the City of Los Angeles. Things change. ~ Tuesday, September 1, 2020

August 2020 Photography

Hollywood Style: The end of summer in the year the pandemic shut down everything, and Hollywood is now dead. Hollywood will not recover. This is Hollywood Boulevard at Cherokee. The streets are empty and silent. There’s only the past. ~ Monday, August 31, 2020

A Blast of Roses: These are insistent. That last roses of August will not be ignored. ~ Saturday, August 29, 2020

Summer High: Everything in bloom all across Los Angeles in high summer would make anyone high. In the sixties they’d call this psychedelic. Out here it’s just summer. ~ Saturday, August 29, 2020

Entirely Abstract: Don’t expect a statement or a story or history or any deep inner meaning. This is one block of Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood on sunny summer afternoon, in the abstract. Sometimes the abstract is more than enough. This block just feels kind of cool, for some reason, or for no reason at all. ~ Friday, August 28, 2020

Distant Drums: Stopped at a light just down the street on Sunset Boulevard and a fantastic drum solo from the second floor of the building on the right tickled the air. This is Guitar Row where all the rock stars buy their gear, or have it repaired, and there are private studios above the shops. Roll down the window. This guy was damned good, whoever he was. And that must be his big black motorcycle out front. That’s a rock star’s ride. This is a rock star’s neighborhood. Everything is startling, even the details of the old Italianate auction house on the corner. Bid on Jean Harlow’s old jewelry. And that guy kept drumming away. ~ Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Seville Tower: 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

Set in Stone: The late Millard Sheets was an architect, illustrator, muralist, printmaker, and he juried art exhibitions, and in 1954 he was appointed Director of Otis Art Institute. Back in the thirties he was one of fifteen artists chosen to paint murals in the Department of the Interior in Washington and he served on the executive committee of the Public Works Arts Project, the first New Deal art project. And years later, in 1952, he met Howard Ahmanson, the somewhat eccentric multimillionaire, who asked him if he’d be interested in designing a few buildings on Wilshire Boulevard for him. He was interested and beginning in 1952 designed mosaics for the offices of Ahmanson’s Home Savings of America throughout California, fifty of them, and of course he designed most of the buildings too. This is the mosaic mural at Sunset and Vine for the new bank building that replaced NBC’s 1938 Radio City. Sheets’ mural here is site-specific. This is Hollywood so there’s Greta Garbo and Bette Davis and Gary Cooper and all the rest. The bull in the fountain out front is by Paul Howard Manship, the sculptor who created the iconic big gold Prometheus in Rockefeller Center, just around the corner from Radio City Music Hall. The bull has been here since 1938, left over from this coast’s Radio City, now surrounded by more and more new glass towers. But some things in Hollywood are set in stone. ~ Tuesday, August 25, 2020

These Dog Days: It’s August, the dog days of summer. That’s when Sirius the “dog star” rises with the sun and then sets with the sun. During late July, Sirius is in conjunction with the sun. Roman astronomers had the notion that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and nasty and thoroughly uncomfortable weather. They named this period, from twenty days before the conjunction to twenty days after, the “dog days” after the Dog Star, Sirius. And it’s that time again. Look! Dogs! This is an odd time of year. ~ Monday, August 24, 2020

The Saturday Roses: These need no explanation. It’s August. It’s hot as hell. Roses, Los Angeles, Saturday, August 22, 2020.

Quiet Gardens: There are curious things hidden in the garden shadows here in Hollywood. ~ Saturday, August 22, 2020

No Fairy Tale: August has been brutal, too damned hot to do much of anything, and now dark and steamy all day. So was the Sunset Strip. One of the billboards above it all said “This Is No Fairy Tale.” That’s about right. ~ Friday, August 21, 2020

Coffee with Bernie: On the day Joe Biden accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination as their presidential candidate, with a rip-roaring acceptance speech, coffee with Bernie Sanders seemed like a good idea, at Bernie’s Coffee Shop down on Wilshire Boulevard by the new spherical museum. This used to be Johnny’s Coffee Shop, a bit of kitsch from the late fifties, but it’s been Bernie’s place for years. There’s always hope, even on this strange corner. ~ Thursday, August 20, 2020

City One Hundred: When it’s one hundred in the shade Los Angeles is empty, and the sightlines are clear. There’s the Hotel Figueroa that was opened on August 14, 1926, by the YWCA as a safe haven for unaccompanied female travelers, who were prohibited from checking into most hotels without a male chaperone – Italian Renaissance Revival by local architect Lester Hibbard. Now it’s just hip. Across the street it’s the Friday Morning Club, designed by architects Allison and Allison, built in 1923. The Friday Morning Club was founded by the abolitionist and suffragist Caroline Severance in 1891. She was a good friend of Susan B. Anthony and this was the club’s headquarters, a place for self-improvement and study of the arts, literature and culture, and the political and social advancement of women. William Butler Yeats gave a reading here once, and then it turned into the Variety Arts Center. And down the street it’s the new Grammy Museum. The rest is glass. And no one was around. ~ Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Save Our Stages: The Troubadour down on Santa Monica Boulevard is closed. It’s shut up tight. That’s where Elton John, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, the Eagles, the Byrds, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Van Morrison, Buffalo Springfield, and others, established themselves – next door to Dan Tana’s where Frank Sinatra used to hang out and where the Eagles wrote “Lyin’ Eyes” – but there’s a new “Save Our Stages” mural on the plywood encasing the Troubadour. There’s hope. There’s pending legislation, the Save Our Stages Act introduced in the Senate in July, to provide Small Business Administration grants to music venues and theaters and other venues that rely on crowds in order to operate, to tide them over until crowds are possible again. That may save the Troubadour. Until then, everything is visual. ~ Monday, August 17, 2020

Increasing Intensity: An array of August roses here in Los Angeles should be displayed in order of increasing intensity. So here they are. ~ Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Jungle Out There: Another extreme heat advisory and it’s a jungle out there, here in Hollywood. ~ Saturday, August 15, 2020

All Everything: There are urgent sociopolitical messages at the corner of Melrose and Laurel in West Los Angeles, and also that mural in the manner of Joan Miró who joined the Surrealist group in Paris in 1924 and hung out with the Dada crowd, around the corner from a bit of thirties Bauhaus and whatnot. So this corner is right now, and also someplace else, from long ago. This is a bit overwhelming. Los Angeles is perpetually overloaded. ~ Friday, August 14, 2020

Net Sunlight: The light at La Cienega on the Sunset Strip – the new glass towers and strung between them “Dream Catcher” (2016) – Janet Echelman. She was named an Architectural Digest 2012 Innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces” and this is what she does – machine-woven polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) suspended between skyscrapers. It shifts and ripples. Perhaps it catches dreams. It did catch the odd summer light this day. ~ Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Best Color: This is Hollywood Boulevard at Schrader – fresh paint just behind the new Hustler Hollywood store just up the street from the Gay and Lesbian Center and other oddities – and the bluest of skies. This is a rather peculiar corner of Hollywood. But the colors were perfect this day. ~ Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Light on Light: These are the art galleries on Melrose Avenue at Orange Drive in bright summer sunshine, with deep shadows. The rows of curved lamps make all of this even more dramatic. They provide commentary. Summer in Los Angeles can be startling. The light is startling. ~ Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Art of Elysium: The Hollywood Palladium opened on September 23, 1940, with a concert by Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. The Hollywood Palladium went dark this spring. It was the pandemic. But now, the Art of Elysium, a local nonprofit arts group, has commissioned a new “socially distant public art installation” by Shepard Fairey, filling all the windows along Sunset Boulevard. Art of Elysium founder Jennifer Howell – “August 2020 marks 23 years of the Art of Elysium’s mission and programs that are all centered around bringing the healing power of art to those who need it the most. At this moment in time, the world is in great need and in celebrating our anniversary we wanted to create a moment to honor exactly where we are. My personal belief is that art can change the society for the better much quicker than any politician or policies have been able to. Art unites. Art inspires. Art calls to action the people. Art allows us to transcend. It is an honor to have Shepard and his creativity mark 23 years of this mission.” So here it is. ~ Monday, August 10, 2020

Curbside Roses: No one walks in Los Angeles. Everyone should. There are amazing roses on every street, even on a blazing hot August afternoon. ~ Saturday, August 8, 2020

In the Shadows: The summer sun is brutal. The summer shadows are deep and cool. That’s where the lilies hide. That’s where everything hides. ~ Saturday, August 8, 2020

Late Light: The late afternoon light on Sunset Boulevard was too good to ignore. This is Sunset Boulevard two blocks west of Sunset and Vine, the old part of town, old Hollywood, with some new mixed in. ~ Friday, August 7, 2020

For Rita: The Hayworth Theatre, the performing arts center at 2511 Wilshire Boulevard, with three auditoriums and large ballroom used for rehearsals, classes, and special events, was designed in 1927 by Stiles O. Clements of the firm Morgan, Walls and Clements. Like his El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, this is extreme Spanish Colonial Revival, also called Churrigueresque. It originally opened as the Masque Theatre, a playhouse. In 1950 the building was renovated by architect Dwight Gibbs and became the Vagabond, a first-run movie theater that went out business in 1985, and then the site was occupied by an evangelical church. In 1983, the theater was restored by the Rita Hayworth Theatre Company, who renamed the space based on someone saying that it was once housed a dance studio for the family of Rita Hayworth. Maybe it did. Earlier, in 1969, the corner of the building became La Fonda de Los Camperos, a very high-end mariachi dinner theater. The whole place was designated as a cultural-historic landmark by the city of Los Angeles in 1983, and in 2013 all of this was purchased by Jenji Kohan, the creator of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” and Showtime’s “Weeds” – and with her partner Christopher Noxon the two have been renovating and restoring everything. Yep, this place is amazing, but so is the neighborhood. ~ Thursday, August 6, 2020

Pacific Design: Sometimes the background becomes the foreground. The Pacific Design Center and the West Hollywood Public Library across the street are the background in the neighborhood. The locals walk by. Commuters drive by. No one pays attention to the background. No one is surprised by what is here any longer. But pause. Look. This is an extraordinary corner. ~ Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Get Used To It: Things didn’t get better. Things were always this way. We simply got used to it. And the street art really didn’t change. ~ Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Emptied Out: Hollywood is best when no one’s around. The empty office buildings on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, on a silent and empty summer afternoon, prove that. ~ Monday, August 3, 2020

Hot Roses: Get ’em while they’re hot! Get your cool roses in a Los Angeles garden on a blistering hot summer afternoon! ~ Saturday, August 1, 2020

August Heat: The month opened with a heat wave, and fires in the hills, and drama in the local gardens. ~ Saturday, August 1, 2020


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