Archive for October, 2009

MATINEE – Tim Burton’s VINCENT (1982)

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HALLOWEEN – CreepyLA.com

halloweenLooking for some local spookiness to celebrate? Creepy LA is your best guide to all things Halloween in Los Angeles. Period!

The site is filled with cool stuff and features haunting events and new content year-round, not just for two weeks in October (including a map of Haunted Los Angeles!), so check it out! FYI, since this is CreepyLA‘s busy season, the server may be slow. Just try again later. It’s the right address.

Creepy LA

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ODDITY – The Late, Great, Tower of Pallets Monument

Even the National Enquirer was taken aback after the city of Los Angeles designated Daniel Van Meter’s Tower of Wooden Pallets a historical landmark. A photo spread of the Sherman Oaks structure was accompanied by a headline that said, “No kidding! This pile of junk is a historic monument!”

Robert Winter, a former member of the Cultural Heritage Commission, joked later that the 1978 vote might have been influenced by fumes emanating from the pallets, which were discards from a brewery.

“Maybe we were drunk,” said Winter, a prominent architectural historian. (SOURCE)

Photo Credit: BigOrangeLandmarks.comDaniel Van Meter began construction of the 22-foot-tall structure in 1951 using 2,000 wooden pallets tossed out by a local brewery. The slatted wood was stacked like bricks and placed in a circle with a radius of about 22 feet wide. According to Van Meter, the tower, his own personal sanctuary, was built around the grave of a child buried in 1869.

“I have a place where it is quiet, despite the apartments, the noise of the boulevard and the hum and screeches of the rat race on the freeway 200 feet away,” he said.

At night, Van Meter said, he climbs to the top of the tower and looks at the moon and the stars. “To me, this is a spiritual place.” (SOURCE)

The tower was bulldozed in 2006 and in January 2009 the 2.5 acre property was sold by Dan’s heirs for $4.5 million. Construction began almost immediately on a new apartment building in its place, just as Van Meter predicted almost forty years ago while lobbying for his tower’s landmark status:

“… in a few years this piece of the good earth may be covered by apartments for the storing of surplus people. In the meantime, pray, let this strange structure be, let it continue to be a haven of rest for an individual – that endangered species – who once knew how sweet was our Valley.” (SOURCE)

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SERIES – Harry Golden: L.A. and Religion

PART FOUR: Excerpted from “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” by Harry Golden, circa 1960. harry_small

“On the old frontier there were fortune tellers by the dozens. In Los Angeles, by actual count, there are one hundred and twenty-eight different religious sects, all of them going strong. Rosicrucian crosses line the hillside, and there are neon lights which proclaim the tabernacles of dozens of obscure sects and fellowships.  There are also innumerable faith healers. Los Angeles is the only place in the world where a Jewish convert urges you to become a Buddhist. In addition there are thousands of people in Los Angeles who talk to the dead. Tables rock and furniture is shifted mysteriously and ectoplasm suddenly materializes. For spiritualists as well as for healers the world over, Los Angeles is the happy hunting ground.”

THOUGHTS: Some things haven’t changed.

COMING SOON… PART FIVE: Harry Golden on LA’s Cemeteries

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IMAGERY – Looking Forward to Halloween, 1961

Attention is called to the forthcoming Halloween carnivals by youthful Denker Playground patrons, left to right, first row, Ladonna Rice, 10 years old, and Yolanda Rice, 9; second row, Robert Cathcart, 11, left, and Walter Hobbs, 10, right; and back row, Denise Thomas, 11, left, and Sheila Dabney, 10, right.

©USC Digital Film ArchiveThe USC Digital Archive contains tens of thousands of great images of historic Los Angeles, but some of my personal favorites are featured in the LA Examiner archive, where this image resides.

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SERIES – Harry Golden: Real Estate

PART THREE: Excerpted from “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” by Harry Golden, circa 1960. harry_small

“What this frontier (Los Angeles) substitutes for the six-shooter is the real-estate advertisement. All of the daily papers carry from twenty to thirty pages of classified realty. This is the greatest mobility in all history within a single community. A welder from Akron moves into a $14,000 house and a month later finds he can sell it for $17,000, which he does, and finds himself a second home to live in for $15,000. He probably even has a charge account at all the newspapers’ classified advertising departments – “For Rent,” “For Sale,” “Want to Buy.” Six hundred people come into the city every day. The welder has no trouble.”

THOUGHTS: Okay, so clearly 1960 was a LONG TIME AGO.

COMING SOON… PART FOUR: Harry Golden on LA and Religion

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COMING SOON: CRAZY GIDEON CONDOS!!!!!!

MOVE INTO ONE OR YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR HEAD!!!! 

 

PREVIOUSLY:  RIP Crazy Gideon’s – Gideon is Retiring after 35+ years

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FOCUS – Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

**SUPPORT SMALL, LOCAL BUSINESSES!!!** 

WHAT: Galco’s Old World Grocery 
WHERE: 5702 York Blvd, Highland Park (323) 255-7115 
DETAILS: Galco’s purveyance of vintage sodas and candies is clearly a labor of love for owner John Nese. He took over the business from his father, who originally ran the Highland Park market as a grocery store. With 174 rave reviews on Yelp, John’s enthusiasm is definitely contagious… so go there and drink up the fun! Literally.  :)
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FLASHBACK – Bono Pisses Off the LAPD

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*CLICK ON THE SQUARE IMAGE BELOW TO LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY*


Where: The roof top of the Republic Liquor Store, corner of 7th and Main, Downtown
When:
3pm Friday, March 27, 1987
What:
A rumor spread throughout the city that the band U2 was about to shoot a live music video on a rooftop Downtown. Coincidentally, many 20-somethings suffered flu-like symptoms and left work early that day.

Details: U2′s Joshua Tree album was released on March 9th, 1987 to an immediate buzz. Irish director Meiert Avis was hired to rush a video for the third single and the chosen song, “Where The Streets Have No Name,” was to set be performed live to playback. For dramatic effect they chose to film on an unexpected and very public location – the roof of a Skid Row liquor store in the middle of a workday.

(more…)

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HiddenLA Invites YOU!

spooktacularWHAT: Charles Phoenix presents The Bob Baker Halloween Spooktacular! For  you Facebookers, see our event invitation here.

WHEN: This Thursday night, October 29th, at 8pm! All ages, but it might be late on a school night for little ones.

WHERE: The Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. 1st Street, Los Angeles 90026

COST: Normally I might look into getting a HiddenLA discount, but Bob Baker’s theater has been in dire jeopardy and his business needs every penny of our support or it will cease to exist. $35 per ticket – purchase them online. Includes Bob’s show, kitsch expert Charles Phoenix, cake, ice cream, plenty of entertainment and Halloween spirit… just all sorts of goodness!

DETAILS: I’d love to get some of our HiddenLA fans together, and what better way to do it than by rallying people to support two of our most iconic, hardworking and fun-loving locals… Charles Phoenix and Bob Baker! ***PLUS THERE WILL BE CAKE AND ICE CREAM!!! YESSSS!!!!***

Let’s assemble a small gang to attend this special *Halloweenie* event THIS THURSDAY NIGHT! It’ll be a treat. I’d love to meet you! From the official Bob Baker invitation:charles

“Charles Phoenix presents HALLOWEEN at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Thursday October 29 and Friday October 30 at 8pm. Tickets $35 available at www.charlesphoenix.com

A Halloween Puppet Show Spooktacular featuring dozens of amazing vintage hand-made marionettes. Your host, Charles Phoenix, tells the story of Bob’s colorful life and career with vintage slides and classic film and tv clips. Cake and ice cream in the party room will follow the performance of Spooktacular and an appearance by the Master himself!”

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HAPPY SUNDAY – Go outside and look at birds!

“Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles,
watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.”

David Letterman

bird watching Click on image to view a larger version.

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VIDEO – Golden Eras of L.A.

This video explores the “epicenter of kitsch” is hosted by Charles Phoenix, Billy Shire and architectural historian John English.

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FLASHBACK – Streetcar Conducting 101, circa 1914

Most of the footage in this Pacific Electric instructional video was shot in then-barren Culver City, El Monte and Glendale. It’s so amazing to realize just how many things have changed in one hundred years. It also cracks me up when the “discourteous conductor” yells that he’s not a mind reader. YouTube Preview Image

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SERIES – Harry Golden: LA’s Heritage Clubs

PART TWO: Excerpted from “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” by Harry Golden, circa 1960.
harry_small

“In Los Angeles there are thousands of fraternal organizations and societies based upon places of origin. There is the Minneapolis Canasta Club, the Iowa Society, the Friends of the Mid-West, the Lower East Side Association, the Oregon Friendly Social Club.

In this, the newcomers to California are following the pattern of America’s immigrants from Europe, who organized themselves into fraternal societies of people from the same town or area.

One of the real reasons for so many societies was the fact that a fraternity could have only one president, one secretary, and one treasurer, and there was always the need for another organization. History hasn’t changed much since those days. Many of our organizations today are broken down into five or six separate groups – Mr. and Mrs. clubs, adult study groups, auxiliaries, and of course “youth.” And each organization has a staff of officers, banquets and social functions.

I can just see the old gents of the “Zegeefska Chevra” stroking their beards in wonder at the “Tuesday Ladies of Flatbush” playing canasta in a vestry room of the San Fernando Valley.

The very composition of the City of Los Angeles has banished one form of bigotry. No one ever sneers, “Why don’t you go back where you came from?” because if anyone took this to heart, the whole joint would empty overnight and the only ones left would be a few bemused Indians.”

THOUGHTS: Seems our vast array of domestic heritage societies, canasta clubs and social vestry rooms faded into the shadows over the last fifty years. (But what the frickity frack is a “Zegeefska Chevra”!!!??? Does anyone here know what he’s talking about?) I actually don’t think we’ve become such a melting pot that people don’t congregate towards finding comfort in heritage the way they used to, though. By the warm reaction to my North Dakota post, I know that people do still light up when they find something here that reminds them of home… but it seems like where you’re from isn’t always worn as a lifelong badge of bonding the way it once was. Long Beach is no longer ground zero for people from Iowa and Minneapolis (it was once called Iowa By The Sea for a reason), and it’s no longer common knowledge that Pasadena was actually a colony settlement of people solely from Indiana. Our modern-day Indians are less bemused, too.

After thinking about it a bit, I realized that perhaps the key reason we don’t have all of these clubs has nothing to do with anti-socialism or lack of civic pride, though. A lot has changed since the Camelot of 1960 when this article was written and John F. Kennedy had just been elected President. Truth is, contrary to the image this article describes… people aren’t fighting each other to be the President of much of anything any more. In 1960 that title was the highest and proudest aspiration you could aim for, but the shine has long since worn off the turd of power. Clubs always need leaders, and not only is leading is a lot of work, but it always involves politics. Our perceptions have changed a lot since 1960: perhaps we’ve seen for ourselves that being President can be kind of a crappy, thankless job we might not want to take on. But I could be wrong.

COMING SOON… PART THREE: Harry Golden on LA’s Real Estate of the 1960s

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RESOURCE – Walking in LA

YouTube Preview Image First off, will people ever stop quoting this song? Yeah, it was catchy. But Dear World, please take a second to LOOK AT THE PEOPLE IN THIS VIDEO. They wore clothing made out of tinfoil, for Chrissakes! (And while we’re at it… what was with the blackjack dealer visor?) Seriously, Dale Bozzio in the 80′s doesn’t exactly represent today’s average Angeleno and their pedestrian habits.

People DO walk here. There are great walking maps all over the web to prove it. And if you’re a fan of foot traffic, here’s a handy web tool: Walk Score. The site claims “Almost every city has walkable neighborhoods where it’s possible to live a car-lite lifestyle,” and as walking goes we actually have better weather and more to do than most places.

According to Walk Score, only 16% of Angelenos live in totally car-dependent neighborhoods, which are mainly residentially-locked places like Bel Air and Pacific Palisades. Walk Score‘s list of LA’s most walkable neighborhood is here, but you can plug in any address and the site will grade it based upon what’s within walking distance. Categories listed are: Grocery Stores, Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Bars, Movie Theaters, Schools, Parks, Libraries, Bookstores, Fitnes, Drug Stores, Hardware Stores and Clothing and Music. It actually listed things in my neighborhood I was totally oblivious to. Try it out… and from now on, if you are one of those people who “never walks in LA,” don’t blame it on some old song. Just admit that you’re either lazy or have simply forgotten how to relax enough to stop being in a hurry to get everywhere.

Oh, and one more thing… if you’re wearing clothing made out of tinfoil? For all concerned it’s probably best to continue to remain indoors if you don’t mind. Well, unless you’re wearing this… because of course that makes total sense.

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SERIES – Harry Golden on LA Smog & Sprawl

PART ONE: Excerpted from “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” by Harry Golden, circa 1960. harry_small

“The City of Los Angeles lies in the flat part of a huge saucer. The Indians, who prowled and hunted in this saucer long before the arrival of the white men, called it, “the place of everlasting smoke.” Long after they had broken up their hunting camps, the smoke from their fires would hang over the saucer. Today Los Angeles is enveloped by a smog from the factories which makes the eyes sting and produces a rasping cough. Eventually, however, they will dissipate this smog – as soon as Los Angelenos muster the courage to stand up to the oil and rubber industries which produce it. Right now these industries pay over a hundred million dollars in taxes, but the day is fast coming when the citizens of the city will no longer tolerate this blemish, a hundred million or not.

Because Los Angeles will one day have 25 million people. It is inevitable. Even now it is the phenomenon of mid-twentieth-century America. It has been described as two hundred suburbs in search of a city, but this is only because Los Angeles is the new frontier. The reason writers have not made literature out of this fantastic city is that they associate the frontier with the wide-open spaces, Tonto, and the six-shooter. They have not yet realized that there is an urban frontier, too. Los Angeles in 1960 is the perfect symbol of the urbanization of our civilization.”

THOUGHTS: Unfortunately, even though we did fight to get those World War II era factories to stop pumping smoke into the air… we still live in a smoke crater with some big ozone issues. But as far as the quality of air particulates we’re breathing, the people of Pittsburgh, Cincinnatti, Birmingham and Detroit have it worse than we do. So do the people of Fresno and Bakersfield, for that matter. Truth is, the air quality in Los Angeles today is actually significantly better than it was in the 1960s. And thank God, our population is nowhere near 25 million people yet! I cringe at the thought.

People around America *still* love to use that “suburbs in search of a city” quote about L.A. Fact is, the phrase was originally coined by Dorothy Parker – but she said Los Angeles was only 72 suburbs in search of a city. (We’ve grown since then.) As any local knows… it doesn’t even seem a reasonable goal to reduce the vastness of what Los Angeles offers down to something that fits the stereotype of a single-minded metropolis, though. Rather, Los Angeles often feels more like a small world with many different countries nested inside of it. There are a variety of independent heartbeats here… not just one. Many of us love that about it, but in some ways, perhaps that’s our problem. That vastness is what makes Los Angeles still seem like a barbaric, untamable frontier to people from more easily digested and categorized places, which in turn makes it a far cry from a “perfect symbol of urbanization of civilization.” By sheer size, it seems too overwhelming to be palatable. Such opinions probably won’t be changing any time soon, but a few more Dorothy Parker quotes come to mind: I don’t care what anybody says about me as long as it isn’t trueand “I shall stay the way I am because I do not give a damn.” :)

Coming Soon… PART TWO: Harry Golden on LA’s Heritage Clubs

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GAME – The LA Phil? There’s an app for that!

laphilIn an effort to bring some lighthearted fun to the symphony’s image, The LA Philharmonic has taken a cue from the popularity of Guitar Hero and Rock Band… and created their own simple online game and iphone application! Bravo!

TEST OUT YOUR CONDUCTING SKILLS HERE.

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SERIES – Intro: Harry Golden on Los Angeles

enjoy, enjoy!I have a love for thrift store books. I’ve discovered the most amazing, unexpected things through them.

“Enjoy, Enjoy!” by author, humorist, publisher, ex-convict, buddy of Carl Sandburg and civil rights proponent Harry Golden (1902–1981) was this weekend’s found treasure. I wasn’t familiar with Harry Golden before, but wow… I wish I knew the guy for his openly sarcastic stance towards bigots alone. As a Jew living in racist South Carolina in the 60s, he came up with various methods to fight racism with humor… one being his proposition that if black people were to be called colored, white people should in turn be referred to as “colorless” (as in, “This is Joe, my colorless friend”). Also…

“Golden’s various schemes for solving the racial problem in America were most memorable. Observing that white Southerners were loathe to sit with African Americans on buses or in restaurants, but noting that whites often stood in line with African Americans at grocery stores and other places, Golden called on the public school to remove all chairs from their classrooms. This “Vertical Negro Plan” would thereby overcome Southern reservations about sitting in the same room with the other race.”

Heh.

But I digress. Starting tomorrow I’ll be sharing some of Harry Golden’s 50 year old impressions of Los Angeles with you. What’s amazing is how in so many ways his insights were so brilliant. But in other ways, he makes it clear that Los Angeles in 1960 was a very, very different place with very different priorities… for better and for worse. I hope you find it as interesting as I did. :)

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EVENT – Fast Times at Cafe Cordiale

Fast Times at Acoustic CordialeWHAT: A very special Fast Times at Ridgemont High-themed night featuring totally rad special guests and performers.
WHEN:
October 21, 2009, 8:45-11:55pm
WHERE: Cafe Cordiale , 14015 Ventura Blvd
PRICE: No cover, but reservations highly recommended (call 818 789-1985), as it may sell out. Dinner served till 10:30pm. And no, they don’t serve pizza. Sorry.

DETAILS: All ages. Free parking. Hosted by Donovan Lyman. Guest lineup includes, but is not limited to:

And don’t forget… no shirt, no shoes, no dice.

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JAVA – What Coffeehouse Would Jesus Go To?

The other day I spent my lunch hour at Centinela Feed buying dog food. I knew I needed coffee to get through the rest of the day and spotted a really interesting looking place called The Coffee Connection that I’d never noticed before. I pulled over immediately to check it out. It just had to be done.

coffee connectionI opened the thick wooden door and was shocked. The beautiful patio and warm wood interior and stained glass windows reminded me a bit of one of my very favorite coffeehouses in town, 18th Street in Santa Monica. But there was a huge difference between The Coffee Connection and any coffee house I’ve ever been in before. IT WAS FREAKISHLY SILENT. There were eight occupied tables, but no sound whatsoever… I had an immediate flashback of the dark ages when I was regularly shushed in libraries (and I’ll admit, that memory made me a bit uncomfortable at first). I whispered my order to the girl at the counter and asked her how long they’d been in business. She said 7 years. I asked if it was always this quiet and she replied that it usually was, and that there’s ample parking lots and no line in the morning “so that’s really good.” (Although it’s probably not good if a coffeehouse wants to make a profit and stay in business.) As I walked to my car, eager to return to the crazy loudness of my desk, I sipped my latte. Gotta say, it was very tasty.

Once I turned the street corner, I realized why the vibe of this coffeehouse was a little different. The Coffee Connection on Centinela (no relation to Jennifer’s Coffee Connection in Studio City, btw), is affiliated with the Vineyard Christian Church next door. As the late, great, Michael Jackson might’ve called it… I was drinking some Jesus Java.

And it was good.

THE COFFEE CONNECTION View Google Map
HOURS: Monday – Friday:  6:30am – 9pm, Saturday:  7am – 5pm, Sunday: Closed
PROS: Ample church parking. Reasonably priced/tasty organic and fair trade coffee. Free Wifi and access to electric outlets. Friendly service. Clean bathrooms. Open early and late. Daily newspapers free to read, some food, great selection of teas, and I’ve heard they offer a free computer if you don’t have your own. Great place to focus on work, reading the Bible or to just hang out, especially if you’re antisocial and don’t like chitchat much.
CONS: Well, there’s the uncomfortable silence. And apparently there were Prop 8 posters in the window during election time which cut down a lot of their customer base. But I can’t deny it’s a great room and good coffee… so that’s all the negative I can say (which might be enough for some).

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BENEFIT – The Magical Toyland of Bernie Shine

mickey THE WORTHY CAUSE: Raising funds for Wells Bring Hope, a charity which saves lives by drilling wells to bring safe water to rural villages in Niger, West Africa.
WHAT: Hors d’oeuvres, wine, lots of incredible stuff to look at, a silent auction and a zillion more surprises. This event is being held in the private home of Bernard Shine – founder of the incredibly awesome Shine Gallery in Farmers Market and owner of one of the world’s largest private collections of 1930s Mickey Mouse and Disney memorabilia. Former DA Gil Garcetti will also be exhibiting images from his new book of moving and beautiful photographs, Water Is Key: A Better Future for Africa.
WHEN: This Friday, October 16th, 7pm 
COST: $125 tax deductible

The October 7th cutoff date for reservations has been extended, you so can still attend but space is limited! To RSVP by phone, contact Kristina at 310 274-3105. By e-mail, contact KarolaKRietz@yahoo.com. YouTube Preview Image

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FLASHBACK – The Wonder City of the West, 1935

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Between 1930 and 1954, James A. Fitzpatrick traveled the world creating cultural time capsules. For decades, his Traveltalks short documentaries were shown before feature films in theaters. This Los Angeles episode was the 14th in the series. I love the imagery in this video, but I’m left wondering… I often notice people in old movies and tv calling the city “Los Angle-less” and “Los Angle-leez.” I wonder when “Los Anjuliss” took over as the standard way to say it. Feels like I haven’t heard many people using other pronunciations much. Not in a long time. Have you?

A big thanks to Chris Nichols for turning me on to this! :)

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YAY! – We’ve been honorably mentioned!

WebAs I mentioned to our followers on Facebook and whatnot, while I’m in the middle of looking to expand this site I had to walk away from regularly posting for a bit due to a (paying) job opportunity I had to focus on. Now that the job’s running pretty smoothly (knock on wood), I promised I’d be back as of October 11th. So here I am!

And meanwhile, little did I know… despite a lull in posting history I just found out that HiddenLA has won an Honorable Mention for Best Blog Design in the Creativity 39 Global Design Awards! WOOOOO HOOOOOO!

Not bad for a girl who’d never designed a blog in her life, eh? :)

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