1905: May 2019 Photography

May 2019 Photography

Blue Terra Cotta: It was time for another visit – the place is addictive  – the Wiltern Theater and Pellissier Building, 3780 Wilshire Boulevard at Western Avenue – Stiles O. Clements and G. Albert Lansburgh, 1931 – shabby now, but still evocative of Los Angeles long ago, the lost city that once was. ~ Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sunset Boulevard Dazzle: The British marine artist Norman Wilkinson invented Dazzle Camouflage – dazzle painting – for the British Admiralty in World War I – complex patterns of huge geometric shapes in contrasting colors, interrupting and intersecting each other, covering an entire ship. British warships weren’t hidden at all but it became impossible to estimate a target’s range, speed, and heading – the eye was fooled. It worked brilliantly. Picasso claimed that he and Cubists had invented the whole thing but suddenly that didn’t matter. Someone invented radar and dazzle painting was over – but the idea lives on, here on Sunset Boulevard. And it’s not just the Lamborghini. The whole boulevard fools the eye. The whole boulevard dazzles the eye. ~ Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Streets: Sometimes the streets of Los Angeles are just too disturbing. Who are these people? And what are these animals? ~ Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Up Top: After a weekend of rain the storms were gone, leaving Los Angeles and Hollywood washed clean, with the last of the clouds slowly drifting out to sea. That’s the kind of day to drive over to the Griffith Observatory – the one that’s in all the movies – and catch the transition, from up top, over Hollywood and over Los Angeles. The transition back to brutal sunshine is always spooky. ~ Monday, May 27, 2019

Roses and Beyond: Summer is coming. This is the last Saturday in May, the local gardens doing their summer thing already. ~ Saturday, May 25, 2019

Nap Time: The ducks and geese at Echo Park Lake took the afternoon off. They decided to nap next to the lotus blossoms, the right thing to do on a fine May afternoon. ~ Friday, May 24, 2019

Faces on Walls: The odd Mayan office building from the late twenties on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake used to be red. Now it’s white. Now those Mayan faces really jump out, to frighten the traffic speeding by. And a mile west, there’s a new neon cat on a restaurant wall, with additional cats. Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake is a peculiar place. ~ Friday, May 24, 2019

Lizard Skies: “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

Off the Pacific: 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

Hollywood Evolved: 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

The Promised Garden: All the renovation is over. Beverly Gardens Park all along Santa Monica Boulevard is open again and the rose gardens were worth the wait. These are impressive roses, as promised, and the Butterfly Iris at the edges sets thing off nicely. Cool. ~ Saturday, May 18, 2019

Catching the Light: Workmen installing glass – the new Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Museum on Wilshire – to capture the unique Los Angeles light under the new glass dome. But all the buildings on this corner – Wilshire and Fairfax – were designed to capture the special light out here. ~ Friday, May 17, 2019

Caught in the Mountains: From the top of the hill out back – from Mulholland Drive – heavy rain at dawn – then rain all morning – and then the rain stopped. But the clouds stayed. They got caught in the local mountains and lingered on. Los Angeles in the middle of May is not supposed to look like this. Los Angeles in the middle of May should look like this. The local mountains should be mysterious. ~ Thursday, May 16, 2019

By Design: The La Cienega Design Quarter, La Cienega Boulevard between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Place, is mostly impossibly expensive interior design stores, shopped by celebrities and connoisseurs. This is no place for civilians. But it’s a fine place to stroll around. The exteriors are fascinating too. ~ Wednesday, May 15, 2019

1927 on Melrose Avenue: The Hollywood Melrose Hotel, 5150-70 Melrose Avenue, once known as the Melrose Arms, and for a time the Monte Cristo Island Apartments, is a hotel again, now the Hollywood Historic Hotel. It is historic. It’s from 1927 – the architect is S. Charles Lee and it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a bit spooky, but so is that part of Melrose, the 1927 part of Melrose Avenue, just down the street from Paramount Pictures. ~ Tuesday, May 14, 2019

1955 on the Strip: That 1955 Thunderbird is still parked on the Sunset Strip, a mystery from the past on a dreary Monday morning. The Sunset Strip is a mysterious place in the cold light of day. ~ Monday, May 13, 2019

May Gifts: The local gardens on Mother’s Day weekend – there are amazing flowers for her everywhere. ~ Saturday, May 11, 2019

Office Space: Everyone has seen the local congressman here on national television week after week. He’s chair of the House Intelligence Committee. He makes trouble for Donald Trump. Trump mocks him. They do go at it – but out here he’s just the local congressman – with a field office in the old Central Casting building on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue – from 1928 – from S. Charles Lee – and now in the middle of Little Armenia, at the edge of Thai Town. And the old Central Casting building is next door to what was once Falcon Studios – the fencing school started by a silent film actor who became an Olympic fencer and then taught Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn and all the rest how to fence, or to look like they were fencing. This is an odd little corner of Hollywood, but where else would a feisty Hollywood congressman put his office? ~ Friday, May 10, 2019

Unfinished Business: Los Angeles’ June Gloom arrived early. This particular May afternoon was dark and dreary with a hint of rain on the way. Down on Melrose Avenue the street artists and the commercial artists were trying to finish up before the skies opened up. It was an odd scene. ~ Thursday, May 9, 2019

Packing It In: Rochester, New York, wouldn’t do, and it was the sixties, so Nick Metropolis headed for Hollywood. He’d be a rock star, but that didn’t work out, nor did the acting thing. He started selling old junk on the corners to make ends meet – and that worked. Nick Metropolis Collectibles, on the corner of First Street and La Brea – a prop shop to the studios, or the oddest of curio shops, or Hollywood’s junkyard, depending on your point of view – was a stunning success. Major studios could find just the right oddity here for an odd scene. Hollywood stars bought their household irony here – but times change and Nick is in his seventies now and the rent jumped up. The neighborhood was changing – high-end boutiques, hip new absurdly expensive restaurants and third-wave coffee shops. It was time to pack it in. The sale signs are up – “Going out of Business” – and this is what’s left. No one knows what will happen to that odd mural out back. ~ Tuesday, May 7, 2019

In Black and White: A trip to the past, to the thirties, when everything was in black and white – Highland Avenue south of Santa Monica Boulevard – but out here the sky is always an amazing blue – and the world was never really black and white. ~ Monday, May 6, 2019

The May Explosion: Suddenly it’s summer in Los Angeles. The streets exploded with roses everywhere, and more that roses. ~ Saturday, May 4, 2019

May Day in the Streets: Forget the flowers and the May Pole. May Day in the streets out here was meant to be unsettling, and it was. ~ Wednesday, May 1, 2019

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