1809: September 2018 Photography

September 2018 Photography

Not Dystopia: Is this dystopia? No, it’s Melrose Avenue. ~ Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Rock Walk: What a drag it is getting old. That’s how the 1966 Stones song opened, but Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are old men now, and the doctor did say get out there and take walks every day. So a walk down the Sunset Strip here, from the Roxy and the Whisky, seemed like a good idea. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards spent a lot of time here, long ago. But this is a place for young men. Old men just photograph it, again and again, as if it’s a foreign country. It is a foreign country now. ~ Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Play of Light: Hollywood doesn’t change. But the light keeps changing, making the old seem mysterious, in a new sort of way – and the September light is best for that. ~ Monday, September 24, 2018

At the Equinox: Summer ended on Saturday, September 22, 2018, with the autumnal equinox, at 6:54 PM here in Los Angeles – not that anyone noticed. This was what was in bloom all along Sunset Boulevard in the afternoon just as “summer” was about to end. Summer never ends here. ~ Saturday, September 22, 2018

That Other Place: Echo Park on a Friday afternoon is another world. The surreal pink Goodwill Store is strange enough, but the rest is a mix of Honduras and the new urban hip. Perhaps this is the multicultural future. ~ Friday, September 21, 2018

All Orange Again: The Vista Theater, 4473 Sunset Boulevard, out east where Hollywood Boulevard begins, needed a new coat of bright orange paint. It was designed by Lewis A. Smith and opened on October 16, 1923, with Baby Peggy in “Tips” along with live vaudeville acts on stage. Six years later it was showing the new talkies and it just kept going. Ed Wood – voted the worst director of all time again and again, mainly for “Plan 9 from Outer Space” in 1956 – had an office in this building. But the Vista was getting shabby. The new coat of bright orange paint makes it 1923 again. “It pays to look good” – that’s what it says at Rudy’s Barber Shop next door – and further down Sunset there’s the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. The world needs Upright Citizens again too. ~ Thursday, September 20, 2018

Telling Stories: The streets do tell stories. This is Sunset Boulevard at Gardner, the middle of Guitar Row, where all the rock guys get their gear, with its odd shops and art galleries. There are stories to tell here. Draw people in. ~ Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Geometry as Therapy: A little urban geometry clears the head. It was time to revisit the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on Wilshire Boulevard. Renzo Piano provides the basic geometry, in Chinese red. It’s oddly comforting – and so is watching the construction next door – Renzo Piano’s new museum for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences – with its odd giant sphere. None of it makes any sense. That’s fine. That’s what’s comforting. ~ Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Rethinking Hollywood: There’s Hollywood as it is – just another place, really – and then there’s how the local street artists see Hollywood all around them. Their view is darker. ~ Monday, September 17, 2018

Between Seasons: Los Angeles gardens caught between seasons – looking subdued and formal on one street – still full of summer’s explosive colors on the next. ~ Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hollywood 1907: Wattles Mansion – “the only remaining intact example of the once plentiful Hollywood estates from the period preceding the film industry, when Hollywood was primarily agricultural and was a wintering home for wealthy Easterners and Midwesterners” – built in 1907 by the Omaha banker Gurdon Wattles, as a winter home. He hired local architects Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey to design a Mission Revival residence for him, but it would be more than that. There would be a Japanese garden, an Italian Rose garden, a formal Spanish garden, a palm court and orchards. It became one of Hollywood’s first tourist attractions, but then some damned fool invented “moving pictures” and Hollywood changed forever. The family sold the residence and grounds to the City of Los Angeles in 1965 and now it’s just a reminder of a different time – open to the forgetful public. ~ Friday, September 14, 2018

Scenes from a Mall: Beverly Center, the giant high-end mall from the days, long ago, when America was a mall culture, has a new skin, and a new look, that catches the light nicely. It doesn’t matter. Malls are half-empty now. Many are gone. America moved on. Beverly Center is just spooky now. So is the neighborhood. It’s full of oddities – and in the middle of it all there’s the dramatic new Gindi Maimonides Academy with its bold colors and odd angles. Maimonides was that medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most influential Torah scholars of the time, so he’s here to balance things out – but that’s impossible. ~ Thursday, September 13, 2018

Executive Glass: Viacom has taken over the new Columbia Square on Sunset Boulevard. That makes sense. The old Columbia Square on this site was the home of CBS’s west coast radio and television operations from 1938 to 2007, and Viacom was spun off from CBS – and now Viacom owns CBS, and Paramount Pictures, and half of the cable entertainment networks. Viacom was coming home to where it all started – but to a new home that’s all glass and odd angles. This place is full of millionaire media executives again, but this time they work in a giant glass maze. ~ Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Rosh Hashanah: Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, ended on the evening of September 11 this year, and this was the place to be – B’nai David Judea – 8906 Pico Boulevard here in Los Angeles. This was once the Fox Stadium Theater, designed in the late twenties by Carl and Robert Boller. It opened in 1931 and had seating arranged in stadium style, raised stepped sections without an overhanging balcony – new at the time – but it closed on September 5, 1961, and in March 1965 it became a synagogue. In 2004 and 2005, the B’nai David congregation undertook a massive renovation project that made the place even better – an Art Deco masterpiece. Here it is on Rosh Hashanah. It never looked better. And next door, at the Art Deco “glatt kosher” market, there’s round challah bread to symbolize the cycle of the year. It’s all good. ~ Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Women on Walls: The culture is changing. There are strong women on walls these days. There are mysterious women on walls these days. There are dangerous women on walls these days. Even the walls are dangerous. ~ Monday, September 10, 2018

September Close Up: September all along Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood – look closely – the gardens have changed. This is autumn in Los Angeles ~ Saturday, September 8, 2018

Bone Dry: Mulholland Drive, far above Hollywood and lush Beverly Hills, and far above the leafy suburbs of the San Fernando Valley on the other side of the ridge, is dry as a bone – as it should be. This is Southern California untouched. ~ Friday, September 7, 2018

El Centro Now: Hollywood is being eaten up – what’s left of Old Hollywood is being hidden by new glass towers and block after block of new hip low geometric residential complexes. This is Hollywood Boulevard from Hollywood and Vine to El Centro. The only thing left from the past is the Pantages Theater. The rest only pretends to be Hollywood. ~ Thursday, September 6, 2018

Native: Radio Recorders, on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Orange Avenue, was built in 1929 by the Victor Talking Machine Company and completed after the acquisition of Victor by RCA on March 15, 1929, making it the oldest recording studio in Hollywood. Everything seemed to be recorded here – Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife,” Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” the Beach Boys’ “Help Me, Rhonda,” Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Elvis Presley singing “Love Me Tender” – but after changing hands a few times – RCA had moved on – in 2008 it finally closed. Radio Recorders is now “Native” – a very hip new art gallery and exhibit space. It’s covered with big bold words. There are pink butterflies across the street. It’s very cool. But there’s no music. ~ Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Self-Referential Photography: This is the best place to get the best shots – the Nikon building on Wilshire Boulevard. The old Nikon was made for this – odd angles and mysterious light. All the skyscrapers on this short stretch of Wilshire, between Museum Row and Beverly Hills, were ready for their close-ups. The old Nikon was ready too. ~ Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Future: Everyone wants to know what the future holds. A giant new mural on Melrose Avenue suggests happy chaos – but it’s actually an advertisement for a new sports drink. This suggests the future is the fusion of subversive street art and corporate advertising. The one will be indistinguishable from the other. They’ll be one and the same. Playful subversion becomes just one more corporate marketing tool. Street artists become well-paid corporate shills. But there’s another vision of the future just down the street. The future is surreal giant flowers. ~ Monday, September 3, 2018

One September: Another September begins in Los Angeles and the local gardens begin to look a bit autumnal – but in a Los Angeles sort of way. ~ Saturday, September 1, 2018