2006: June 2020 Photography

June 2020 Photography

Telling Stories: There’s that woman with the blue lips and green skin in the alley behind Shorty’s Barbershop down on Fairfax. She’s been there forever. But the dramatic “Say Their Names” wall next door is new. So are the doves down on Melrose Avenue. Everyone is always telling their stories out here. ~ Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Skies Downtown: The clouds were good this day – Los Angeles City Hall, designed by John Parkinson, John C. Austin, and Albert C. Martin, Sr., completed in 1928 – and the Los Angeles Times Building designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann. The building won a gold medal at the 1937 Paris Exposition. It’s now vacant. The Los Angeles Times downsized and moved out – and the new headquarters of the Los Police Department, across the street from City Hall – 2009, designed by the architectural firm Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall (DMJM) – lots of glass – and a few more urban items. It was a good day downtown. ~ Monday, June 29, 2020

Twenty-Five Roses: June should end with roses. And so it did. ~ Saturday, June 27, 2020

That Summer Light: One week into summer and the new sunlight in the local gardens, with its deep shadows, makes everything nicely dramatic. ~ Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Shape of Things: Just a corner in West Hollywood near that dive bar where Janis Joplin gulped down two stiff screwdrivers and then drove back to her apartment and overdosed and died one evening long ago – this is now the shape of things there, enhanced for emphasis. This corner of the world is still strange. ~ Friday, June 26, 2020

Old Windows: These are windows on the past – the Ravenswood – the apartment building on Rossmore Avenue in Hancock Park designed by 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 across the street there’s the Hermione – a recent pale imitation of the Ravenswood next door to Chateau Rossmore, the Norman-French complex designed by Milton J. Black in 1934 – with its statue of Eve and her apple. Paramount Pictures is a few blocks to the east. Hollywood used to be glamorous. ~ Thursday, June 25, 2020

Just the Sky: This is not good. The weather app on the iPhone said “Unhealthy Air Quality for Sensitive Groups” – one step below “Unhealthy Air Quality for All Residents” – one step below “We’re All Gonna Die!” Breathing was difficult. It was a good day to stay home. But the crap in the air did make the sky oddly magnificent. ~ Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Grown Shabby: It’s been a few years and the Shepard Fairey mural at the old Mack Sennett Studios is looking a bit shabby. This place, at 1215 Bates Avenue at Effie Street in Silver Lake, is Hollywood’s oldest continually operating movie studio, now used for music videos and commercials, and by the major studios now and then when they need a bit more stage space. Mabel Normand and Charlie Chaplin and W. C. Fields got their start here. This was built in 1912 for Mabel Normand, Sennett’s girlfriend. But most famously this was the home of the Keystone Film Company and those bumbling Keystone Cops from 1912 to 1917 – and now they’re back, for real, but not funny at all. Just watch the news. ~ Tuesday, June 23, 2020

These Streets: Guitar Row, Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood – where every rock band since before the Laurel Canyon days bought their gear, where they had their blown-out amps repaired and all the rest. There are whole stores full of nothing but drum kits. And of course when Phil Spector built his Wall of Sound he bought his “bricks” here. Sunset Sound is just down the street, the recording studio where everyone from the Beach Boys to Prince recorded their major albums. But this is the heart of it all. This is where one buys the tools of one’s trade. And it does have an odd feel to it. ~ Monday, June 22, 2020

Dark Roses: The local gardens are more subtle on an overcast day. The roses are certainly more subtle. ~ Saturday, June 20, 2020

Low Light: June is when Los Angeles isn’t Los Angeles. Day after day, the sun won’t come out until late afternoon, and then it disappears again. But the local gardens are actually better in low light. ~ Saturday, June 20, 2020

A Day of Color: Juneteenth at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Boulevard, where Los Feliz meets Silver Lake, because the day was all about color, in all sorts of ways. ~ Friday, June 19, 2020

Silent and Dark: Much of Santa Monica is still shut down. That odd virus rages on. Everyone who can stay home stays home. And the Black Lives Matter protests have moved on to other places. The city is quiet. The only sounds are hammers tapping in the distance, scattered rebuilding from all the initial looting mixed with a bit of arson. And then there’s the June Gloom – days and days of cloudy overcast skies that may or may not clear up by late afternoon – sometimes the deep June marine layer just will not lift. This all adds up. Santa Monica is silent and dark, and a bit wild. ~ Thursday, June 18, 2020

Sailing Away: Otis Redding started writing the lyrics to that song while sitting on the deck of a rented houseboat up in Sausalito – “Sitting in the morning sun, I’ll be sitting when the evening comes, watching the ships roll in, and I watch ’em roll away again. I’m just sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time.” That was late 1967 and this is now – wasting time at the mole at the end of the Marina Peninsula, watching Los Angeles folks sail away even if just for the day. ~ Thursday, June 18, 2020

Evangelical Echoes: Jesus met George Floyd at Echo Park Lake today, just around the corner from Angelus Temple of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, built for America’s very first celebrity evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson. She was a strong supporter of William Jennings Bryan during the 1925 Scopes Trial. Bryan and McPherson had worked together in the Angelus Temple and believed Darwinism had undermined students’ morality. They both wanted to stop people from teaching that nonsense. She sent Bryan a telegram saying all ten thousand members of her Angelus temple and her millions of radio church members “send grateful appreciation of your lion-hearted championship of the Bible against evolution and throw our hats in the ring with you.” And she organized “an all-night prayer service, a massive church meeting preceded by a Bible parade through Los Angeles.” Good times! And now on the same corner there was this. But the lotus blossoms and ducks and geese make up for all the oddity here. ~ Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Frankly Los Angeles: Finally under construction, Frank Gehry’s long delayed Grand Avenue Project, at First and Grand, an odd twenty story hotel and thirty-nine story residential tower, and terraced shops and whatnot, due in 2022 or so. It’s directly across the street from his swoopy Walt Disney Concert Hall that fills the block between Grand and Hope Street. That always looks new, even if it opened on October 24, 2003 – and yes, this is Frank Gehry’s town. ~ Monday, June 15, 2020

Not Quite Summer: Summer begins next weekend. That’s the solstice. These are early. Roses, Los Angeles, Saturday, June 13, 2020

Getting Close: June gardens here are best close up. ~ Saturday, June 13, 2020

At the Roxy: Yes, the Roxy is still closed. But they left a message. The whole Sunset Strip is sending a message. These are strange times. ~ Friday, June 12, 2020

End Night Lane: Red, green, yellow – these were lined up at the sushi pick-up at Sunset Plaza at noon – actually just parked there locked and abandoned. This was mysterious. These are night cars. ~ Friday, June 12, 2020

Visualize Unity: George Floyd, a forty-six-year-old black man, died May 25 in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, had his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. As he lay on his stomach, Floyd pleaded: “I can’t breathe.” On Tuesday, June 9, Floyd was buried next to his mother in Houston, where he was raised. This isn’t over. Something has to change. The streets still show that. ~ Thursday, June 11, 2020

A New Hollywood: One hundred year of glamour is useless now. The coronavirus pandemic shut down the movie industry, which may never recover. And the economy collapsed. And then the people took to the streets all around the world. Black lives do matter. It was time to end the constant brutality. No one else should have to die. Hollywood hardly mattered any longer, but the massive protest marches here now start at Hollywood and Vine – Bob Hope Square. The irony is obvious. This iconic intersection had to change. So it did. It’s an art gallery now, for the times. This intersection will never be the same. Hollywood will never be the same. ~ Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Emptied Out: Twenty thousand people marched through Hollywood on Sunday evening, a river of people that stretched for miles. The nation was fed up. Too many had died. Black lives matter. There had been two weeks of this, and there would be more to come. But on Monday the streets were empty. Hollywood had emptied out for the day. This was even more unsettling. This seemed ominous. ~ Monday, June 8, 2020

The June Roses: The first Saturday in June started off a bit dark and gloomy. The local roses were neither. ~ Saturday, June 6, 2020

Endless Variations: Who knew there were so many varieties of hibiscus? It seems there are endless variations of everything. ~ Saturday, June 6, 2020

Quite Clear Now: This is home. This was down on the corner here just after noon – Sunset Boulevard at North Laurel Avenue – the start of the day’s protest march over to Sunset and Vine. Too many have died. This was the eleventh day of these marches, but the anger had changed. The marches keep getting bigger and bigger. The people had now realized their power and rejoiced in that power. Everyone stopped to dance before they headed out. This is the same corner where, on November 12, 1966, the Sunset Strip riots started. “For What It’s Worth” – that song by Stephen Stills and the newly formed Buffalo Springfield – was about that night. Stephen Stills was living just up the hill in Laurel Canyon at the time. There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. But that was long ago. This was Friday, June 5, 2020, and everything was quite clear.

The Aftermath: The new mural of the late George Floyd down on Melrose Avenue on the day of the massive memorial service for him in Minneapolis, with the appropriate nearby flowers for him too. But his murder set the nation on fire, and on Melrose every business of every kind was looted. Many of them were burnt to the ground. Melrose Avenue was legendary. Melrose Avenue was cool beyond hip. Now it smells like smoke. Now it’s gone. Now it looks like this. ~ Thursday, June 4, 2020

A Useful Wall: Big chunks of Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard were closed – hard closures with barricades. The Sunset Strip was sealed off at both ends, and Melrose Avenue is now wall-to-wall National Guard troops, dressed like those Imperial Stormtroopers from the Star Wars movies, standing beside their giant armored personnel carriers – lots of those. And a full moon was rising outside the window. Another LAPD helicopter and two news copters were doing orbits three blocks to the east, with the sound of sirens in the distance, and there was this wall down on La Brea earlier in the afternoon. The wall explains these things. ~ Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Expect little if any new photography for a bit. Most everything on Sunset Boulevard and in the middle of Hollywood has been boarded up or is being boarded now. Melrose and Fairfax are both shut down. Everything is being shut down. The curfew in Beverly Hills now starts at 1:00 – in the afternoon. It may be the same in Santa Monica, and much of downtown Los Angeles is off-limits too. It seems best to stay home at the moment. The peaceful protests that suddenly turn into riots happen far too often, and too nearby. But at some point the looting will end. No more of Southern California will be burned down. Expect new photography then. ~ Monday, June 1, 2020