1907: July 2019 Photography

July 2019 Photography

Almost Finished: Sometimes the journey is better than the destination. They’re almost finished with the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures at the museum complex on Wilshire Boulevard, with its giant glass globe that will be its theater, designed by Renzo Piano. Cool. But the drama was in its construction – the best show in town for almost a year. Watching this being put together was better than any Hollywood movie. And this is the closing scene of that movie. Soon things will be dull down there once again – but there’s always that mysterious big rock out back. ~ Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Magic for Humans: Melrose Avenue with all its street art does look magical, or perhaps just strange, but this is the block where they’ll be doing a location shoot for a new television reality show, Magic for Humans. That’s what’s here. ~ Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Hollywood Housing: The Ravenswood on Rossmore Avenue in Hancock Park – designed by the architect Max Maltzman and built by Paramount Pictures in 1930. Mae West moved into Apartment 611 when she got to Hollywood in 1932 – the apartment had been reserved for her by Paramount. She liked it so much she never left. She lived here until her death in 1980 – and just down the street, the El Royale – 1929, designed by William Douglas Lee – Clark Gable and Loretta Young lived here. William Faulkner lived here when he was in town writing screenplays with Fitzgerald and Hemingway. George Raft lived in one of the penthouses, and since then Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Uma Thurman, Jack Black, Ellen Page, and Josh Brolin have lived at the El Royale. This is Hollywood housing. ~ Monday, July 29, 2019

California Heat: In a late July heat wave in Los Angeles, that which thrives – roses, cactus of all sorts, and the usual hibiscus – and that’s summer here. ~ Saturday, July 27, 2019

Keeping Hollywood: Restoration work at the Television Center, the Art Deco complex from the early thirties that takes up a whole city block between Santa Monica Boulevard and Romaine Street, at Cole, in the flats just south of Hollywood, but this wasn’t always the Television Center.  From 1930 to 1975 this was the Hollywood home of Technicolor. All the three-stripe Technicolor films were processed 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. The Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation was founded in Boston in 1915 by three scientists from the MIT – thus the “Tech” in the company’s name – but Technicolor is now a division of the French company Technicolor SA and housed in a big glass skyscraper up on Sunset Boulevard at Gower. This, however, is how things used to be. And no matter who occupies this space now, this is how things will be. ~ Friday, July 26, 2019

Big Money: Something has changed. Maybe it was Donald Trump, but somehow extreme wealth became a bit of an embarrassment. And flaunting extreme wealth is becoming shameful. No sensible person does that. No good person does that. And that means that Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills may soon disappear. This may be the last of it, Rodeo Drive on a muggy summer afternoon. ~ Thursday, July 25, 2019

Thick and Heavy: It was ninety-five and sunny in Hollywood – but humid – thick and heavy “monsoon” breezes up from the Baja. That meant thunderstorms out in the desert, out over the Mojave, to the northeast. That was the view from Hollywood today, from Olive Hill and the Frank Lloyd Wright Hollyhock House up there – violence in the distance. But nothing will happen here. ~ Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Splitting the Sun: The summer sun can be too brutal. So split it up. The redwood craftsman-style pergola in Palisades Park in Santa Monica will do that. It was built in 1912 and left to decay until it was dismantled piece by piece in 1984 and restored on a concrete foundation at the north end of the park, with the best view of the Pacific in the city. The restoration was worth the trouble. The geometry is amazing, as are the shadows it casts. And it does tame the brutal sun. ~ Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Modern Love: The street art tells the story. Love isn’t easy these days. ~ Monday, July 22, 2019

Here on Earth: A summer garden in Los Angeles on the fiftieth anniversary of the first moon landing that changed everything – but it didn’t change anything in any garden on earth. The gardens here bloom as they always have. Nothing changes. That’s a comfort. ~ Saturday, July 20, 2019

Gritty on Grand: “Hot town, summer in the city / Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty / Been down, isn’t it a pity / Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city / All around, people looking half dead / Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head” – but it’s only Grand Avenue in Los Angeles, from First Street down to the skyscrapers on Bunker Hill. The Los Angeles Times just declared these blocks the new center of everything, the real center of the city now, with the fancy new museums and Frank Gehry’s swoopy Disney Hall, the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. But it’s still gritty on a hot summer afternoon. ~ Friday, July 19, 2019

The Sunset Crowd: The new skyscraper on the northwest corner of Sunset Boulevard and Bronson is pleasingly geometric, and nearly finished, and already spoken for. Netflix has rented every square foot. Netflix is taking over this corner of Hollywood. They bought and expanded the old Sunset-Bronson Studios, the original home of Warner Brothers and then Gene Autry’s KTLA television station – the decommissioned tower remains as a curiosity – and built their own skyscraper-headquarters towering over everything. Things change. What was gets crowed out by what’s new. ~ Friday, July 19, 2019

High Contrast: It was a good day to sit quietly in the shade at the little pocket-park on Burton Way at Rexford Drive in Beverly Hills, across the street from the courthouse. The visuals are good – lots of dramatic public art and the oddest of palm trees. It’s an area of high contrast. ~ Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Lotus Festival: Every year it’s the same thing – odd food and live music and ethnic dances and dragon-boat races – at the Los Angeles Lotus Festival at Echo Park Lake, with the largest lotus bed in the United States. This is about the people and culture of the islands of Asia and the Pacific – loud and crowded and a lot of fun – this year on July 14 and 15, Bastille Day weekend. But the Lotus is a Zen thing. This was Tuesday, July 16, 2019 – without the crowds. This was more like it. ~ Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Painting the Town: Meanwhile, in East Hollywood, where Little Armenia ends and Thai Town begins, someone has painted the town, or at least painted the plywood at a boarded-up abandoned hardware store. This defines the place well enough. ~ Monday, July 15, 2019

Hollywood Front Yard: It’s summer, in the middle of a heat wave, and Hollywood front yards look like this. This is Sunset Square, between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard, at the base of Nichols Canyon. ~ Saturday, July 13, 2019

A Local Nightmare: In the middle of a July heat wave everything looks frightening – Beverly Hills City Hall, 1932, William J. Gage and Harry G. Koerner in the Spanish Revival Churrigueresque style, after the architect and sculptor, José Benito de Churriguera (1665–1725) – this is the extreme, expressive and florid decorative detailing of the late seventeenth century. Now on a hot summer day in Los Angeles it induces madness. ~ Friday, July 12, 2019

Summer Abstracts: A giant mirrored egg at the crafts museum on Wilshire Boulevard, the arches at the Beverly Hills Civic Center, the geometry of palm trees – this is summer in Los Angeles. ~ Friday, July 12, 2019

The Serpentine Pavilion: The Guardian (UK) on 16 June 2019 – “When José Selgas and Lucía Cano unveiled their striking translucent wavy tunnel pavilion at London’s Serpentine Gallery in 2015 it was variously described as a psychedelic pupa, a trippy womb, a rainbow wormhole and – perhaps key to its runaway success – an Instagrammer’s paradise. Now it has gone trippy in a whole new sense, because it is being moved across the ocean to Los Angeles, where it is being reconstructed piece by piece for a summer of cultural happenings and intense community conversations. Even trippier, perhaps, is the fact that its landing spot is a public park next to the La Brea Tar Pits, where mammoths, saber-toothed cats and other fearsome prehistoric creatures once roamed, only to sink for posterity into a black, goopy swamp and leave their fossilized bones for scientists to dig up and pore over.” And here it is – the Second Home Serpentine Pavilion. ~ Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Furtive: Diva Dog is back, being furtive. That means something is up. The local street art is getting even more mysterious. ~ Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Once Upon a Time: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” – the new Quentin Tarantino movie starring Brad Pitt – or, across the street, right in the middle of the Sunset Strip, the Sunset Tower Hotel, designed in 1929 by Leland A. Bryant and  opened in 1931, the Art Deco home of Hollywood celebrities, including John Wayne and Howard Hughes. In their guide to Los Angeles architecture, David Gebhard and Robert Winter say that “this tower is a first class monument of the Zig Zag Moderne and is as much an emblem of Hollywood as the Hollywood sign.” Perhaps so – it is decorated with plaster friezes of plants, animals, zeppelins, mythological creatures and Adam and Eve. In 1947, Truman Capote wrote in a letter to a friend, “I am living in a very posh establishment, the Sunset Tower, which, or so the local gentry tell me, is where every scandal that ever happened happened.” That would be once upon a time in Hollywood too. ~ Monday, July 8, 2019

Born on the Fourth: This year the Fourth of July was on a Thursday, and by Saturday the gardens all around Los Angeles looked like this. These were born on the Fourth of July. ~ Saturday, July 6, 2019

Living in Color: Los Angeles is not subtle. The streets of Los Angeles are not subtle. Street artists have made sure of that. They have saturated the city with intense colors. And this is just one block. This is Melrose Avenue between Poinsettia and Fuller and the alley out back. Out front it’s the Groundlings Theater, all improvisation all the time. But that’s Los Angeles too, making it up on the spot, in living color. ~ Friday, July 5, 2019

All the Colors: The Fourth of July should be red, white and blue. But there were other colors this year. There’s the Pacific Design Center – 8687 Melrose Avenue at San Vicente – the work of Cesar Pelli, the Argentinean-born architect who likes color. This one is in three parts – Center Blue opened in 1975 and was immediately called the Blue Whale. It really is enormous.  Center Green opened in 1988 just behind it. Center Red was announced in April 2006 and was finished in late 2011 – and that was enough. The campus is oddly witty. It’s the in-your-face bold primary colors. And it was worth photographing once again, as an alternative to those other Fourth of July colors. ~ Thursday, July 4, 2019

Hollywood Overhead: Morning coffee on the small balcony out back, keeping an eye on the skies over Laurel Canyon – late afternoon, Los Angeles from Mulholland Drive, high above the Hollywood Bowl, looking south across the Bowl and Hollywood and that ribbon of freeway. The drama is overhead. ~ Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Sky High July: The sun is back. Columbia Square, 6121 Sunset Boulevard, all glass and angles, from House and Robertson Architects and Rios Clementi Hale Studios, surrounding the original 1938 Bauhaus CBS Studios by the Swiss-born architect William Lescaze – and the Hollywood Palladium next door that opened on September 23, 1940, with a concert by Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, designed by Gordon Kaufmann. It was time to photograph them again. It’s all good. ~ Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Media Message: Marshall McLuhan said that the medium is the message – the nature of a medium is more important than the meaning or content of the message – and this the Hollywood Media District – Highland Avenue south of Sunset Boulevard – art galleries and small movie production companies and street art and urban hipsters. The place is visually startling. The meaning of it all is a mystery. ~ Monday, July 1, 2019