1808: August 2018 Photography

August 2018 Photography

New Light: The subject isn’t Hollywood. The subject is light – the light at one of the busiest intersections in Hollywood – Sunset Boulevard at Bronson. There’s nothing new. The light is new – on the walls and tower of that television studio – on the geometric glass of the Metropolitan Lofts. The new Netflix studios are all lit up too, and Netflix has switched on the LED sculpture out front. Next door, from the twenties, the Sunset Bronson Studios’ formal Colonial façade is now bathed in odd late summer light. Even the abandoned apartment building from the twenties, across the street, is lit in a new way. Nothing much changes in Hollywood, but the light always changes. ~ Friday, August 31, 2018

Long Light Again: Late summer here on North Laurel Avenue, here in Hollywood… the light is getting long again. The light changes at the end of summer. Nothing else does. ~ Thursday, August 30, 2018

From America: The new mural in the parking lot says “Greetings from America” – America is not what it once was. But it is what it is – angry and odd. In front of the fancy shoe store there’s a perfect Porsche Speedster, a 550 Spyder just like the one James Dean was driving in 1955 when he slammed into the side of an old Ford truck up in Salinas. He died instantly. That’s America too. And there’s all the vibrant color everywhere. That’s America too – so greetings to all. ~ Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Alternative Reality: Sometimes the real thing just won’t do. A series of highly-stylized lotus blossoms at the lotus pool at Beverly Gardens Park, across the street from Beverly Hills City Hall – a temporary art installation – quite fake – quite impressive. The lotus pool has been there since 1907 and this was the last day of the gloriously fake lotus blossoms. It will be back to reality tomorrow. But the giant fake tulips – “Hymn of Life: Tulips” (2007) by Yayoi Kusama – are now a permanent fixture next to that lotus pool. Reality just won’t do in Beverly Hills. ~ Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Egyptian Cats: Cats were considered sacred in ancient Egyptian society, a symbol of grace and poise. The cat goddess Bastet was the deity representing protection, fertility, and motherhood. As a revered animal some cats received the same ritual mummification after death as pharaohs and queens – so of course someone just added the appropriate cats at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. Hollywood is a dark and mysterious place, and it’s not just the cats. ~ Monday, August 27, 2018

The Survivors: August has been brutal in Los Angeles. This is what survived in the local gardens. ~ Saturday, August 25, 2018

Sweet Dreams: It was just another summer afternoon on Ocean Front Walk in Venice Beach – two guys with a boom-box wailing away at the 1983 Eurythmics hit “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” on their heavily-amplified cellos. The two Eurythmics were Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart. She was the one with the close-cropped orange-colored hair, in a man’s suit, brandishing a cane. She sang the refrain. “Who am I to disagree?”  She and the song do fit Venice Beach, with its own odd sweet dreams. They are what they are. Who are you to disagree? ~ Friday, August 24, 2018

Summer Abstracts: Summer is Los Angeles is dry and brutally hot and miserable. It’s better in the abstract – the basketball courts in Venice Beach. ~ Friday, August 24, 2018

Bamboo: Wait. What’s this? It’s a new large-scale interactive bamboo installation by the Japanese artist Akio Hizume, at the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum on Wilshire Boulevard, as if that place couldn’t get any stranger. It got stranger, but this is cool. This museum needed something intensely Japanese. ~ Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Everyday Objects: A cat, a chair, a table lamp, a few lightbulbs – everyday objects aren’t everyday objects at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, where Elton John holds his Oscar Party each year. Everything in that neighborhood has been enhanced. That may be why Elton John loves the place. ~ Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Summer Smoke: California is on fire. The worst fires are up north, the worst fires that California has ever seen. The smoke has reached Washington and Baltimore. The massive fires in Southern California are in Riverside County, far south of Los Angeles – but the smoke has reached Los Angeles, and Hollywood. The skies are stunning. Breathing is difficult. It’s summer in California. ~ Monday, August 20, 2018

Cactus and Roses: Some things are supposed to be here – Los Angeles never had water. Some things were never supposed to be here – they need water. Two local gardens – one full of indigenous cactus – one full of roses – only possible because Los Angeles grabbed most of the water in the west. Los Angeles is a mix of what’s natural and what really shouldn’t be here at all. That works. ~ Saturday, August 18, 2018

Boulevard Colors: Someone decided that Wilshire Boulevard had become too staid – a new eye-catching pop-art parking garage attached to a sleek new glass high rise. Wilshire Boulevard did need a blast of violent color – but this is directly across the street from the 1929 Bullocks Wilshire department store – now a law school – from a time long ago when subtle color was all the rage. Some of us miss those days. Blasts of violent color are exhausting. ~ Friday, August 17, 2018

Culture Clash: Local street art at odds with itself – a street artist putting the finishing touches on a new “Girl Power” mural – in a neighborhood already filled with stylized sexpots and thugs – and there are those odd local shops. Rebellion takes many forms. ~ Thursday, August 16, 2018

Summer in the City: There’s Hollywood. There’s Venice Beach and Malibu. And then there’s downtown Los Angeles on a blazing hot summer afternoon. This is the new hot spot in Los Angeles – South Figueroa at Olympic with the Staples Center and the Grammy Museum and the Ritz-Carlton and all the new luxury high-rise condos – but it’s still California. The streets are full of surprises. ~ Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Present Past: An Art Deco restoration on Wilshire Boulevard at Catalina, finally ready for occupancy, in a neighborhood where the past is the present – just look around. It’s always the late twenties here. ~ Tuesday, August 14, 2018

That Place: Directly across the street from the site of the old Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard, where Bobby Kennedy was shot dead fifty years ago this summer – the posters are a nice touch. But the old hotel is gone, replaced by a new city high school. And there are new skyscrapers. Los Angeles moves on. ~ Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Thirty-Five Summers: Thirty-five ways of looking at summer in Los Angeles – a garden in West Hollywood – Saturday, August 11, 2018

At the Courthouse: In front of every courthouse in every sleepy town in the Deep South there’s a statue of some obscure Confederate general looking heroic – a statement about justice there. In front of the rather drab midcentury modern Superior Court of Beverly Hills there’s this. The orange piece is “Sisyphus, 1985” – Alexander Liberman (1912-1999) – and the black and white piece with the red circle is “World on Its Hind Legs” – William Kentridge (1955-) – a statement about justice here. ~ Thursday, August 9, 2018

At the Library: Beverly Hills is a strange place. The Beverly Hills Public Library – reading is adventure. ~ Thursday, August 9, 2018

Sirius Colors: These are the dog days of summer out here. That’s when Sirius – that’s the “dog star” – rises and sets with the sun, when Sirius is in conjunction with the sun. The Romans thought that this one star’s heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and uncomfortable weather from twenty days before the conjunction to twenty days after. Those were the “dog days” – named after the star – and these are strange days. The heat is unbearable but the colors are wonderful – and the dogs are mean. ~ Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Elbow Room: Everyone gets a lot of elbow room in Hollywood. Whatever turns you on – that’s the rule. No, wait – there are no rules – and the Elbow Room is a new club on Cahuenga sandwiched among all the tattoo parlors. ~ Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Building Faith: The Vermont Gurdwara – the Hollywood Sikh Temple – 1966 North Vermont Avenue – “The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include faith and meditation on the name of the one creator, divine unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service, striving for social justice for the benefit and prosperity of all, and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder’s life.” Just up the street, the Our Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Community – 2060 North Vermont Avenue – a community that believes in the same thing. The architecture is wildly different. Nothing else is. ~ Monday, August 6, 2018

Opening in August: The record-breaking August heat wave doesn’t matter. All sorts of things are always opening up in the local gardens. ~ Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Rest of the World: There’s always a way to escape the August heat – to escape Los Angeles. There’s the Crossroads of the World on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood – America’s first outdoor shopping mall, designed by Robert V. Derrah in 1936 – a giant ocean liner surrounded by various world villages – or an approximation of that. Of course it’s all fantasy, but it will do. The whole world is there, or an approximation of the rest of the world. It’s an escape. The heat was brutal. The smog was thick. It was time for another visit. It was time to walk around something somewhat like the rest of the world again. ~ Friday, August 3, 2018

Hot Hollywood Metal: The absurdly rich provide good visuals – rare exotic cars at a body shop on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood – the Bugatti needs a new rear wing – the iridescent purple foil warp on the Rolls is blistering. Of course it’s surreal. It’s Hollywood – and next to the body shop there’s that watch repair shop with those neon hammers destroying time itself. None of it makes sense. But it is a visual treat. ~ Thursday, August 2, 2018

Good Wood: When the world gets to be too much, and the summer heat gets to be too much, drive to the far end of the continent. That would be Palisades Park in Santa Monica. There, on the last cliff over the Pacific, there’s a Japanese lath house. Sit in the shade. Watch the shadows. The geometry of the place is calming. This is good wood. ~ Wednesday, August 1, 2018

In Bay City: In Raymond Chandler’s cynical noir novels, Santa Monica, in the thirties and early forties, was Bay City, a corrupt, crime-ridden town, with water taxis from the Pier to gambling ships anchored in the Bay, and too much new money sloshing around, and far too much brutal sunshine. He knew. He lived in Santa Monica at the time. Chandler’s world-weary detective Philip Marlowe – in “Farewell My Lovely” – set here – said that in a big city like Los Angeles gangsters can only buy selected cops and politicians – a piece of the city – but in Bay City they could buy the whole town. It was a place where anything could happen and it looked like this – the mysterious Sovereign, from the thirties, on Washington Avenue. ~ Wednesday, August 1, 2018