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Bike Every (Satur)Day In May: Black Dahlia/West Adams Ride

May 26, 2010 in Biking in LA, Entertainment, History, LA, Vintage

Well the first four are behind us: 10 Bridges, then Watts Happening, then the Frank Lloyd Wride, followed by last week’s 70-mile Two Rivers trek to Seal Beach and back.  But there’s one more Saturday left in May and I’ve saved what I hope is the best for last. Full of history and mystery, the Black Dahlia/West Adams Ride will feature landmarks of triumph and tragedy as we work our way back in time and across town:

We’ll head out from Silver Lake to the Biltmore Hotel, the last place Elizabeth Short was seen alive. From there here’s some of what we’ll bike to and see:

  • Stimson Residence
  • St. Vincent de Paul Church
  • Chester Place/Doheny Mansion
  • 2nd Church of Christ Scientist
  • Jackie Robinson’s 1947 Residence
  • Diamond Widow Murder Site
  • Leimert Park Site where Elizabeth Short’s remains were found
  • Black Panther Mural
  • Marquis Residence (“Six Feet Under” House)
  • Medal of Honor Recipient Walt Ehler’s Post-War Residence
  • Marvin Gaye Murder Site
  • Rindge Residence
  • Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery

After visiting the cemetery there’s a change in itinerary. Originally I was planning to go grab a lunch of my favorite tacos at the awesome El Parian in Pico-Union before heading back to Silver Lake, but since Bike Town Beta (some more info here) is taking place that afternoon in the neighborhood surrounding Pan-Pacific Park, I’m  heading over there instead and see what’s up with that.

As usual, we will gather Saturday morning at SilverSun Plaza (Sunset Boulevard & Parkman Avenue, Silver Lake) for a 10 a.m. departure. The route (mapped here) between Silver Lake and Pan-Pacific Park is about 23 miles. If I had to guess I’d say it’s going to take somewhere between four to five hours to cover all those places along the way. Hope you can join me.

Classic Eats Blog-A-Thon Update

May 13, 2010 in Classic Eats, Food & Drink, History, Twitter, Vintage

As you already know and have put into your calendars, next Saturday and Sunday, May 22/23, is the Very Special Classic Eats Blog-a-thon at Canter’s Deli and Bakery.

Your humble* LA Metbloggers are going to take turns at a booth at Canter’s, blogging about the people, the ambiance, the kibitizing, and the noshing. We will get a 24 hour view of a piece Los Angeles, via Canter’s. Starting at noon on Saturday and ending at noon on Sunday, we’ll see the weekend lunchers, the early bird-specialers, the post movie noshers, the “What’s open after 10?” crowd, the post-club hangover avoiders, the pre-dawn transition crowd, the Sunday breakfast, then Sunday brunch crowd.

We are also blogging for a good cause. We want to raise $1000 in cash and 200 canned food items for the LA Foodbank. For every $1 donated, the LA Foodbank is able to acquire and distribute 4 meals. $1 = 4 meals. $1 = 5 pounds of food. (And you thought a dollar didn’t go very far these days.) Please stop by the Metblog table and drop whatever you can into the collection jar. Canter’s will also donate all their leftover bakery goods on Sunday.

Canter’s is old school, in case you weren’t aware. They originally opened in the 40’s in Boyle Heights then headed west to Fairfax after WWII where they have been ever since. Canter’s is still old school and doesn’t have wifi or internet of any kind. But we are not letting that stop us because Verizon very kindly donated a set of Mifi Mobile Hotspots to us to achieve our blog-a-thon dream. For 24 hours, you can enjoy free internet access with us at Canter’s. That’s a worth a buck in the Foodbank donation jar, right?

Free wifi, donations for a good cause, amazing food — there are no excuses for you not to be there!

*I know, “mostly” humble.

Bike Every (Satur)Day In May: The Frank Lloyd Wride

May 12, 2010 in Biking in LA, History, Hollywood, LA, Vintage

If you were with me on last Saturday’s “Watts Happening” ride you were a treasured part of something pretty damn awesome if I do say so myself. And I do.  Trust me when I say that I went a little crazy putting in a fair amount of effort  researching Google skimming to pull together info for the places we visited. And trust me when I say everyone in attendance was very patient and appreciative of my longwindiness. If you don’t believe me you can read my copious notes cribbed from the internest.

But that was last Saturday and with next Saturday rapidly approaching we will be venturing forth on the Frank Lloyd Wride, featuring bike-bys of the four Hollywood residences Wright built between 1921 -1924: Hollyhock, Ennis, Freeman and Storer houses. Along the way we’ll be stopping at Frank’s son Lloyd Wright’s Sowden House (1926), and paying a visit to the Monastery of the Angels for anyone who’s always wanted to get a loaf of the nuns’ famous pumpkin bread. After the ride, anyone who wants to join me at Musso & Frank’s for brunch (flannel cakes!) is totally welcome. Distance is 18 miles with some short but relatively steep climbs so geared bikes are highly recommended (tentative route map is here).

Trust me when I say I’m not going anywhere near as crazy with the factoids this week, in part because I’m honored that members of the architecturally astute cycling group Bikehaus will be in attendance (including my friend Mike Kwan who’s celebrating his birthday that day!). And since those folks know their architectural shizzle and I’m just at best a Wright fanboy with a hooligan’s defensive adoration but nothing more than a cursory level of knowledge about the man and his manses I’m more than likely just gonna STFU then blather.

We shall gather at SilverSun Plaza, the stripmall at Sunset and Parkman Avenue in Silver Lake, for a 10 a.m. departure.

Saturday at Pehrspace: Dresses!!

May 7, 2010 in Art, Events, Music, Shopping, Vintage

If you’re looking for something fun to do tomorrow (ie: Saturday) night, Pehrspace, that neat little performance space that always has quirky and amazing stuff going on, is hosting the Dress Show.  Curator Dawn Anderson asked several of her local artist friends, including people working in fashion, advertising, music, and acting, as well as the visual arts, to create dresses out of beautiful, eclectic and unconventional materials.  I sent Dawn a quick email and asked her what kinds of dresses will be on display – she told me that there are dresses made out of bamboo and rope, out of onion and garlic skins, and that many of the pieces are multimedia and interactive.  DJ Mike Bell from Lymbyc Systym will be spinning during the show, and later, the bands Hot TV and Moses Campbell will play sets.  Pehrspace is really wonderful – if you’ve never been, you should go, because they showcase a lot of new, local bands, and bring in cool artists, and are non-profit and awesome!  It’s one of my favorite places to hear music.

As an unrepentant fashionophile, I am particularly excited to check out the Dress Show, and I also thought this would be a great moment to talk LA dress shops!  So, dear, readers, where are your favorite places to go dress shopping in Los Angeles?  I tend towards vintage shops myself – I love, love, love Ragg Mopp Vintage in Silver Lake (because they always magically have wonderful things in my size) and I’ve been known to wander between the racks at Golyester on La Brea, mostly just coveting things because they tend to be slightly out of my budget.  And I love digging through the racks on Sunday afternoons at the Melrose trading post, and since I’m known to be marginally handy with a sewing machine, when I’m feeling crafty I scour the fashion district for fabric on the cheap.  What are your favorite frock shops?

The Dress Show runs from 7pm to Midnight, on Saturday May 8th, at Pehrspace (325 Glendale Blvd., 90026), and admission is free so you have no excuse!

Classic Eats #10: Westside!

April 19, 2010 in Classic Eats, Food & Drink, History, Twitter, Vintage, West Side

The voter turnout was not very high, but a decision, with 51% of the vote, has been made! We will hit the Westside this Saturday, April 24. Here’s the plan:

5:00pm at Johnnie’s Pastrami for some outdoor lounging near their firepit, some meaty meat sandwiches and apparently chili cheese fries to melt for. (I’ll be saving up my weight watchers points for the rest of the week!) If you recently tried the pastrami at Langer’s, then you can make an official comparison.

6:30 or 7 we will mosey over to the Apple Pan for dessert. The Apple Pan will be a tad tricky as it is not a small place and seating will be hard to come by. We may need to order “to-go” and eat our pie on the sidewalk outside. No matter what, it will be a great time!

Important Fact for both establishments: they take CASH ONLY!

Johnnie’s Pastrami
4017 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230

Apple Pan
10801 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90064

See you on Saturday!

LA Plays Itself in the Movies: It’s a Bikini World

April 18, 2010 in Filmmaking/Filmmakers, Vintage

(This post is part of the LA Plays Itself in the Movies Series – thanks again to Julia for her organizational skills!)

There was no way I was going to make it through this series without covering a beach party movie. Los Angeles made the beach party movie genre happen. And if it weren’t for beach party movies, the world would probably be a much, much less wonderful place. Or at least my world would be a much, much less wonderful place, because it seems my appetite for 1960s campiness knows no bounds.

I really could have written about any beach party movie here – Beach Blanket Bingo, or any of the other Frankie and Annette movies would work, but instead, I want to spread the gospel of It’s a Bikini World, one of the most awesome and most LA-centric beach party movies. It’s also one of the hardest to find, because it’s not available on DVD, so be warned, I am crafting my commentary from memory, as the one and only time I saw this movie was about a year ago at a screening at the Egyptian. I therefore refuse to be held responsible for factual inaccuracies.

It’s a Bikini World stars Deborah Walley (who is totally the most underrated actress of the 1960s, and also is the best Gidget) as Delilah Dawes, which would obviously be my burlesque name if I were burlesque-dancing inclined. Delilah catches the eye of surfing rapscallion Mike Samson (played by Tommy Kirk) who decides to get in her pants. But Delilah will have nothing to do with him, so he disguises himself as his (imaginary) twin brother so that he can woo her. Meanwhile, local impresario Daddy (played by Sid Haig of House of 1000 Corpses infamy) is staging a giant race to advertise his new line of skateboards (seriously) and when she hears that Mike is entering the race, Delilah decides to enter, too, just to show him what’s what. Also, Delilah is wearing various ridiculous brightly colored bikinis during all of this.
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LA Plays Itself In The Movies: Double Indemnity (1944)

April 17, 2010 in Downtown, Entertainment, Fictional LA, Filmmaking/Filmmakers, Hollywood, Movies, Vintage

(This post is part of LA Plays Itself In The Movies, organized so awesomely by Julia)

“How could I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle.”

— Walter Neff

For one of the last films in this LA Metblogs series, let’s look at one of the first to document the decadence and decay of the Los Angeles dream: Double Indemnity. Directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, it stars Fred MacMurray as insurance agent Walter Neff and Barbara Stanwyck as femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson, along with Edward G. Robinson as Neff’s best friend and claims investigating coworker Barton Keyes.

As a kid raised on TV reruns in the 1970s I got to know MacMurray mostly as Steve Douglas the even-keeled and level-headed, father to those three sons of TV’s long-running My Three Sons, Same with Stanwyck, who was familiar to me as Victoria Barkley the widowed, wealthy and strong-willed matriarch in the series The Big Valley. So when I finally got around to growing up and seeing them as the unholy alliance that drives this classic, I was quite delightfully taken aback to see them so different in such deliciously devious roles in so devilishly dark a film.

Threaded together via MacMurray’s flashback voice-over, Double Indemnity matches Stanwyck’s predatory housewife with MacMurray’s congenial everyman. Together they connive and scheme a murder of her husband for purposes of desire and dough, but ultimately are doomed in large part to the dogged detective work of Keyes, remarkably portrayed by Robinson.

“Murder’s never perfect. Always comes apart sooner or later, and when two people are involved it’s usually sooner. Now we know the Dietrichson dame is in it and a somebody else. Pretty soon, we’ll know who that somebody is. He’ll show. He’s got to show. Sometime, somewhere, they’ve got to meet. Their emotions are all kicked up. Whether it’s love or hate doesn’t matter; they can’t keep away from each other.”

— Barton Keyes

What’s never doomed is the wicked smart dialogue, as evidenced after the jump in one of my favorite exchanges between the dynamically deviant duo when they first meet (and dig on the awesome — and first — use of a noir staple: light through the venetian blinds):

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Photographic History Of LA Street Lamps

April 2, 2010 in History, Twitter, Utilities, Vintage

While looking for images of Los Angeles to use for a different post, I ran across The George A. Eslinger Street Lighting Photo Gallery on the City of LA website. Have you ever looked up to see what kind of art was lighting your evening commute? You might now.

On the site you can see images of some of the first street lights used in LA and combo pics of original poles and lights and their updated, more modern replacements. There other street lighting department images, things like crews replacing poles from the early 1900’s and today, fleets of repair trucks then and now, light poles used on bridges and historic night views of LA.

From the main gallery page:

This gallery is a tribute  to George A. Eslinger, former Director of the Bureau of Street Lighting.  Through his dedication, leadership and vision he was responsible for spearheading the implementation of  information technology solutions to make significant operational improvements in the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting.

The George A. Eslinger Street Lighting Photo Gallery

Click on through to see more images from the site.

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Holy crap! Larry Niven! Harry Turtledove! Ray Bradbury! OK, maybe not Ray Bradbury.

March 19, 2010 in Announcements, Books, Events, People, The Valley, Vintage

I’m a big fan of the Mystery and Imagination Bookstore in Glendale. It’s a great place to get quality used copies of just about every type of genre fiction. It’s where I’ve been getting my original Ballantine copies of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter novels*, and, along with the Brand Bookshop across the street, is one of my favorite places in the city to disappear for several hours.

So you can imagine the degree to which I peed my pants when Mystery and Imagination sent me an email a few minutes ago (I’m on their email list) alerting me that they won’t be open on Sunday because they’ll be selling books at the Black Ace Books 31st Annual Vintage Paperback Collectors’ Show and Sale. The cool part: The event will be chock full of science fiction and fantasy authors, who will be signing their books (at no charge).

I’m excited about Larry Niven, author of the Ringworld series (which, for you video game fans out there, gave some inspiration to Halo). Also present will be alternate-history guru Harry Turtledove, a host of Cthulhu Mythos writers**, and many, many more. Here’s a complete list. (Sadly, Ray Bradbury apparently had to cancel, as did Frederik Pohl, who co-wrote The Space Merchants, one of my favorite SF books of all time.)

Here are the details:

31st Annual Vintage Paperback Collectors’ Show and Sale

Sunday, March 21, 9 AM to 5:30 PM

Guest House Inn Convention Center

10621 Sepulveda Blvd

Mission Hills, CA 91345

Admission $5

* Sadly, Burroughs will not be at this weekend’s event, as he has been dead for six decades. However, Richard Lupoff will be there, and he’s a highly-regarded Burroughs scholar, as well as one of the contributors to Philip Jose Farmer’s Dungeon series, which I’m a huge enough geek to love.

** What’s the collective noun for Cthulhu Mythos writers? I’m thinking “fhtagn.” If you get this joke, you are hereby invited to my birthday party. Or, actually, that might be a terrible idea. Forget I said anything.

Really great neon at Sepulveda and Washington

February 25, 2010 in LA, Vintage

The intersection of Sepulveda and Washington Place in Culver City is a treasure trove of really great neon and I drive past it all the time and marvel at it. In addition to  the amazing sign (and sandwiches!) at Johnnie’s, there are a few motels on the eastern side of the street that have signage that I’m totally in love with. Two in particular – Deano’s and the Half Moon Motel – look like they probably offer some of the city’s sketchiest accomodation, but I’d rather not think about it. Instead, their totally amazing signs make me think of the 1950s and 1960s when Southern California was undergoing all kinds of development, and was ground zero for people wanting to get away from

the cold and snow to get a little piece of a place where it’s sunny all the time. These motels kind of fade into the landscape now, but I bet that when they were first built and the area was less developed, that neon stood out like a beacon. I can imagine that if I had just arrived in town searching for my 1950s-style Californian dream, fresh out of LAX, not knowing a soul, I’d totally decide to crash at the Half Moon Motel because of that smiling, friendly, neon moon.

More History Fun w/ LA’s Lizard People

February 9, 2010 in LA, Maps, Vintage

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Sorry for the giant image (which you can clickify to embiggen) but I think you’ll agree it’s worth it. BoingBoing just posted a link to a scan of a 1934 Los Angeles Times article about the lizard people who live under the city which was found on Vokoban’s flickr stream. We’ve covered the lizard people before, but this new (old) map should make them much easier to find yourself.

Bye bye Goody’s, one-time source of Really Great Neon and Really Great Pie

February 3, 2010 in Food & Drink, Vintage

Last week, via LA Observed, I learned of the tragic demise of Goody’s, a super charming (ie: cheap and bad for you) greasy spoon in San Gabriel.  I’ve eaten at Goody’s all of once, but it was by far one of the most memorable meals in my life:  we were driving from Galco’s Soda Pop Stop to Bahooka (both important parts of a perfect Sunday afternoon) when we noticed the totally sweet neon sign at Goody’s (even though the neon wasn’t actually lit) and decided that we needed to stop there for dinner on the merits of their signage alone (I will admit that most of my dining choices are made via this particular method).  And I ordered the chicken pot pie and (I tend to exaggerate this part of the story, but whatever,) it was giant, and came with a loaf of bread, and a salad, and mashed potatoes, and I think also soup and, really, the details aren’t important here, because the bottom line is that it was the largest pile of old people food I have ever seen and it only cost, like, seven dollars.  And it was even tasty!P1010157

So, in memory of Goody’s, and their totally sweet neon sign, I want to inaugurate a new series, which I am calling Really Great Neon, and which will chronicle all of the really great neon signs that I (and hopefully my fellow metrobloggers) notice in my travels around this fair city of ours.

The Goody’s sign is a perfect inaugural example of Really Great Neon:  the typeface is fantastic with that boomerang-shaped G, and the distorted rectangular shape of the sign looks really great against the piece with the circular cut outs.  Really, only awesome things could happen in a place with a sign like this.  I hope that somehow the sign gets saved after the restaurant closes – the streetscape just couldn’t possibly be the same without it.

Vintage Fashion Expo This Weekend

February 3, 2010 in Announcements, Events, Fashion, Vintage

Vintage Fashion Expo PressThe only sentence I love more than “Half-Priced Penis Puppetry” is “Vintage Fashion Expo this weekend,” so can you imagine my absolute delight having the rare opportunity to utter both of these magical sentences in the same week?

If you are like me, then you have a swanky Mad Men themed party to attend in a couple of weeks, and if you know me, then you know with utmost certainty that I have been searching for the perfect outfit every day for the past two weeks, scanning etsy, modcloth and every vintage clothing shop within walking distance of my apartment. Sadly, nothing has caught my attention yet, but I am hoping that is all about to change when the Vintage Fashion Expo hits Santa Monica this weekend.

Taking temporary residence at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium February 6 and 7, the Vintage Fashion Expo will present more than 85 vintage dealers offering the best in vintage clothing and accessories for men and women. The expo will feature women’s hats, gloves, purses, dresses, shoes, costume and estate jewelry, men’s vintage shoes, ties, hats and suits and more. You will also find great vintage eyewear for men and women.

Early admission is $20 and begins Saturday from 9:00 – 10:30 am. Regular admission is $10 and begins Read the rest of this entry →

Classic Eats #8 Old School New Year: Keep Voting!

January 9, 2010 in Announcements, Classic Eats, Food & Drink, History, Twitter, Vintage

classiceatsSaturday January 23rd is Classic Eats #8 and the polls have been open for almost a week now. So far Downtown Deli Smack Down is ahead  with the Hollywood Resolution Buster coming in second. Voting will remain open until Monday, January 18th! If you haven’t voted yet, please do so. If you have, tell your friends to come along and vote!

Click here to vote!

The start times will be determined by the locations chosen. We usually start around 5pm to A) beat the crowds and B) give you time to head out to other Saturday night activities afterward. If Langer’s V. Cole’s wins, we will start even earlier because Langer’s closes at 4pm.

Click past the jump to read all about our candidates.

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LA City Hall’s Lindbergh Beacon Shines Again!

December 10, 2009 in Downtown, History, LA, Vintage

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Tipped off last night by our blogger Jason Burns, who was in turn tipped off by a tweet from City Councilman Eric Garcetti, I made a point of snapping a few pictures last night as the rarely-lit Lindbergh Beacon shone over Downtown.

It was a little difficult to find an authoritative online source for info on the Beacon, but apparently the intensely-bright light with a lighthouse-style rotation was installed originally in 1928, named after the decade’s big celeb (flyboy Charles Lindbergh) and switched on by President Calvin Coolidge himself from a remote control situated in the White House. The web site aerofiles.com then explains that

“…its original purpose soon became outmoded by advanced air navigation technology. The beacon was eventually turned off, removed in the early 1940s, and it quietly disappeared—no one seemed to know for sure where it went. Then, by chance, in the early 1990s it was discovered at a city warehouse, where it was regarded as an odd piece of junk, but members of the Project Restoration group recognized its historical value, and rescued the relic. Funded by the city’s Cultural Affairs Dept, the beacon underwent electrical rewiring and metal restoration for subsequent return to the top of City Hall in 2001. Project Restore held an initial rededication ceremony for the restored Lindbergh Beacon on April 22, 1992 in the LAX terminal, where it was relit in demonstration after its then 50-year absence.”

Apparently the thing is now only lit rarely, so it was a real treat to see it going last night! Sorry for the crappy picture; I had pulled over into a restricted section of Spring Street & was endeavoring to take the photo out the car window without stepping out into the cold, or into a traffic citation. Flickr has a better collection here (but be aware that another Lindbergh Beacon resides in Chicago atop the former Playboy Magazine building).

Here you can watch a very brief video by KPCC’s John Rabe taken from the top of the tower, which contains the tiniest shot of the back of the beacon (I think), and Rabe saying “Take a good look ’cause I’m not coming back up here again.”

If any City Nerds, Map Nerds, or Nerds of other stripes know more about the Beacon & can provide us links to further information I’d be indebted to said Nerds.