The Saturday Botanicals

JUST ABOVE SUNSET – as a commentary site – has gone dark, at least for now. For now, there’s just occasional photography, and each Saturday that would be botanical photography.

Extravagant Roses (30 images): Things are picking up. The local rose gardens are now exploding with new blooms. This is getting out of hand. ~ Saturday, May 20, 2023

Dusty Miller (30 images): Those giant white African daisies – Osteospermum – and silver ragwort – Jacobaea maritima – sometimes called dusty miller – and little blue Linum lewisii – Lewis flax, blue flax, or prairie flax – whatever. Spring in Los Angeles. ~ Saturday, May 20, 2023

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Looking Back

The third week of May here in Southern California, from 2015 to 2020, from the archives –

Southern California Abstracts (45 images): It was one of those David Hockney days out here. Hockney is that British fellow who created all those serenely empty existential-despair-in-the-brilliant-sunshine Southern California swimming-pool paintings that are so famous. He lived out here on and off for thirty years, up the hill out back in Nichols Canyon. He may be considered one of the most influential British artists of the twentieth century, but he captured the essence of Southern California. This is the pool here in the courtyard of the low-rise mid-century apartment building just off the Sunset Strip. It’s pure Hockney. ~ Monday, May 18, 2015

Permanent Urban Light (25 images): Chris Burden, the artist who created the now iconic “Urban Light” display outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art – all those antique city lampposts – died on May 10, 2015, at his Topanga Canyon home, of melanoma. He was 69 – perhaps too much sunlight really is bad for you. But his light was urban. This is his corner now – that he shares with Rodin and the skyscrapers – at Wilshire and Fairfax. ~ Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spooky Spanish (25 images): Hidden behind the glass skyscrapers and giant billboards on Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile, on the side streets, rather spooky old Spanish Revival apartment buildings from the late twenties – Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wilshire Formal (25 images): The Dominguez Wilshire Building, 5410 Wilshire Boulevard – 1930, by Morgan, Walls, and Clement – originally the Myer Siegel Department Store – has just gone severely black and white. That improves it. It’s quite formal now. Desmond’s, originally Desmond’s Hancock Park Store, 5514 Wilshire Boulevard – 1928, by architect Gilbert S. Underwood – remains its original dismal dull sepia. It’s just frightening. And across the street there’s that old bank building with the eagles – newly spiffed up. That’s now the Korea Center – but it’s all amazing Art Deco down there. ~ Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ghost Town (35 images): They say that the ghost of Montgomery Clift roams the hallways of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel late at night, playing the trumpet, like he did as the doomed soldier in “From Here to Eternity” – but the Chinese Theater across the street is just as spooky. All of Hollywood is spooky on an unstable Friday afternoon in May. Even the tourists seem bewildered. ~ Friday, May 20, 2016

Beach Freak (25 images): Southern California inside out – because that captures the feel of the place better – a wonderfully strange place. ~ Friday, May 19, 2017

Playing in the Mud (27 images): The hidden lagoon in Playa Del Rey is pretty much a mud hole now – the drought isn’t over – but the birds don’t mind. The egrets play in the mud, and the gulls and ducks and pigeons keep them company. ~ Friday, May 19, 2017

The Lotus Eaters (32 images): Odysseus gets blown off course and ends up in the land of the Lotus Eaters – “who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying without thinking further of their return; nevertheless, though they wept bitterly I forced them back to the ships and made them fast under the benches. Then I told the rest to go on board at once, lest any of them should taste of the lotus and leave off wanting to get home, so they took their places and smote the grey sea with their oars.” Los Angeles has such a place. It’s Echo Park Lake. Taste of the lotus and leave off wanting to get home. ~ Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Subtle May Gray (35 images): May Gray – Ocean Park – low-altitude stratus clouds form over the cold water of the California Current, and the even colder Catalina eddy, and spread overnight into the coastal regions, and all day it’s overcast skies and sometimes fog – but never rain. The sun may or may not come out in late afternoon, for a moment. This goes on all month and then it’s more of the same – June Gloom – but it’s all quite photogenic. ~ Friday, May 18, 2018

Morning Lotus (35 images): Early morning in Echo Park – the quiet time before the rest of Los Angeles wakes up – there are the Lotus beds, and the waterfowl, not a bit concerned with the traffic picking up out on Sunset Boulevard. The sun will blast the clouds away in a few hours. Los Angeles will wake up. That’s a shame. ~ Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Americana (25 images): Screaming Eagle – Pico Boulevard at Crest Drive – West Los Angeles – Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Hollywood Evolved (45 images): Howard Hughes purchased 7000 Romaine Street in 1927 – an Art Deco building between Orange and Sycamore that had been a bakery and then the home of Multicolor, an early color film lab. He was getting into movies, but he oversaw the Hughes Tool Company along with his film work and later his airline from this building. This was his headquarters for everything. Hughes’s most famous film, Hell’s Angels, starring Jean Harlow, was filmed at the Metropolitan Studio just down the street, but the film was edited at the Romaine headquarters. Joan Didion wrote about the place in Slouching Toward Bethlehem – Part 1, Life Styles in the Golden Land: 7000 Romaine, Los Angeles 38 – but things have changed. It’s now a fashion design gallery – Just One Eye – surrounded by new glass towers – home to small new independent film production companies. The neighborhood has evolved. There’s even a new mural down there about that. ~ Monday, May 20, 2019

Off the Pacific (35 images): Palisades Park, Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, the last cliff high over the Pacific, Malibu to the right – a stiff (and cold) breeze off the Pacific – and the skies were odd. Everything was a bit odd, but in a good way. A stiff breeze off the Pacific clears the mind. ~ Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Lizard Skies (30 images): “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is the thirty-fifth film in the Godzilla franchise, and the third Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio – by Legendary Pictures, the Chinese-owned media company in Burbank that co-produces and co-finances films with Warner Brothers, next door in Burbank. Principal photography began in June 2017 in Atlanta and wrapped in September 2017 and they wrapped postproduction – CGI and whatnot – just now. The red-carpet premiere was at Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard on May 18 and now it’s all marketing, all the time. This is the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard – 1963, Walter S. Beckett and Associates – a geodesic dome (design licensed from R. Buckminster Fuller) – now with a giant inflatable lizard on top. What? That’s Hollywood. It was a day of lizard skies at Sunset and Vine. ~ Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Distant Beach (45 images): California is slowly opening again. The beaches are open, but the beach parking lots aren’t, and there are new rules – face masks and social distancing, and keep moving, no picnics and no sunbathing. It’s all a bit surreal, but there was roadside parking all along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and at Topanga State Beach too. This is the Pacific Coast now, as seen from a distance. ~ Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Shooting Stars (35 images): All the clubs on the Sunset Strip are closed. The stars used to come out and play here each night, since the thirties, trailed by all those photographers. That may be over now, but now there’s a new paparazzi mural in progress on the Sunset Strip, at the tall glass bank building with its HBO supergraphics on east and west walls, across the street from the Roxy at Hammond Street. It’s a reminder of what is gone now. ~ Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Left Behind (30 images): This is Hollywood and Vine on a quiet Friday afternoon, with one hundred thousand dead from the pandemic and the economy in ruins. None of this matters now, as if it ever mattered. ~ Friday, May 22, 2020

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