February 28, 2017
Amargosa Opera House & Death Valley Junction
I was camping with Great Outdoors at Tecopa Hot Springs this past weekend. One day we took a little drive up to Death Valley Junction to see the Amargosa Opera House. My first visit there. Read all about the opera house and hotel here. Marta Becket died January 30, 2017, at age 92.
December 26, 2016
Petersen Automotive Museum
1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic. Design created by Jean Bugatti, son of the founder of Bugatti, Ettor Bugatti. In the SC variant, "The 'S' stood for 'Surbaissé' ('Lowered') and the 'C' for 'Compresseur' (a supercharger introduced by Bugatti as a result of customer's desire for increased power)." The body is aluminum. Only four of these were built. One disappeared in France during World War II. Another was hit by a train (!) but has been completely restored. This particular 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic was brought to New York City in 1946. The owner drove it from there to Los Angeles. Some time in or after 2003 it was bought by Peter Mullin for a figure greater than $30 million. The fourth vehicle is owned by Ralph Lauren, who paid $40 million for his.
1939 Bugatti Type 57C by Vanvooren. This vehicle was a gift from the nation of France to Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, Prince of Persia, on the occasion of his wedding to Egypt's Princess Fawzia in 1959.
1939 Fiat 508C Balilla converted for CNG. This is said to have been the very first vehicle powered by compressed natural gas.
1948 Cadillac Sedanette Cadzzilla by Hot Rods By Boyd. This unique customization was commissioned by Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top.
1948 Davis Divan. This is a three-wheeled convertible made by Davis Motorcar Company in Van Nuys in the late 1940s. There were 13 of these made, and 12 of them still exist. The design was based on an earlier three-wheeled car called "The Californian." Later, Gary Davis designed the 3-wheeled Dodge 'Em bumper car which is now ubiquitous in carnivals everywhere. He eventually retired to Palm Springs where he died in 1973.
1955 Chevrolet Biscayne XP-37. This vehicle was created by General Motors to show off its new 265 cubic-inch "Turbo Fire" V8 engine.
1955 Mercury D-528 Concept. The bulging "fins" are functional...and hinged. One is for the spare tire, the other holds the gas tank. This car had Ford's first reverse-sloping retractable rear window. "'Beldone' was a stage name selected by Paramount Pictures for the car's appearance in the 1964 Jerry Lewis movie, 'The Patsy', not an official Ford designation."
Here's a room in the Petersen museum where the unifying theme seems to be "shiny silver." Far to the back, not really visible in this photo, is a shiny gold car.
The chassis of a 2015 Tesla Model S P85D. Below is one with its clothes on.
Evidence of Petersen's attempt to class up its act. This restaurant (in the museum) used to be a Johnny Rocket's. Now it's a Drago.
November 21, 2016
The L.A. Cultural Heritage Commission visited Hotel Cecil on Main Street. The lobby is quite nice. They also took us up to the 14th floor to see a couple of typical rooms. Most rooms do not have baths, so there are shared toilets and showers on each floor. All of the rooms are small; about 11' by 17'. We saw one room that had no bath and it was pretty small, but included a small flat screen TV and a clock radio that included a mount for an iPod (the old Apple connection, not Lightning). Then they showed us a room with a bath. It was still 11' x 17', so they just used almost all the open floor space to put a bathroom (shower, toilet, sink) in there. There was about 18 inches of clearance on either side of the bed, and if there was any furniture besides the bed, I can't recall it. The hotel is now doing business as "Stay On Main." The rooms are very plain,
Catalina Swimwear Building
On a tour with the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission. Here's the Wikipedia article for Catalina Swimwear.
The building is live/work lofts. That's one of the Commissioners front and lower center.
A bit of newer stuff was pulled off to reveal some of the original facade, which will be restore.
Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission
On Thursday morning last week I attended a 9 AM meeting of the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission in LA City Hall. They had two things on their agenda that morning: first was to consider designating the Bob and Dolores Hope Estate in Toluca Lake as a monument; second was to go visit and tour Hotel Cecil and the Catalina Swimwear Building. It was the second thing that I came for, but the Bob Hope house issue was very interesting.
Above is the Google Earth view of the estate.
Below is what the public could see from the street.
The place is owned by the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. First the staff made its presentation with a slide show and talk all about how ultra famous Bob Hope was. Under Los Angeles law there are two different bases that can justify declaring something a monument. One basis is the usual: great cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. The second is that it was the home of a celebrity. The Bob Hope house was proposed (by a city council member) due solely to the celebrity status. Staff admits it has no cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. In discussion the Commissioners said that in L.A. they obviously are not going to declare every residence of every celebrity a monument or they would consume a significant portion of the housing market. But they agreed that Bob Hope was just about the most famous person in the world.
After the staff report the Foundation got up to make their comments. They were daughter Linda Hope and a couple of other people, one of whom may have been an attorney. They told us quite a different story than staff told. Right off the bat, Linda Hope said they had the wrong address. The correct address is 10346 Moorpark Street. Staff had supplied the address as 10350 Moorpark Street. No points for staff there. Then she went on to explain that while staff had described the house as French Chateau style, only the original house was French Chateau and that Dolores Hope had almost continually added wings and additions so that now the house was some sort hodge-podge of no significance. She also disputed their description of the grounds which staff said included a "one-hole par 3 golf 'course'." Linda Hope said it was only a small decorative thing that could not really be used for golf.
Worse, she said, was that there was no way the Los Angeles public could access the house. In the '90s the Hopes had considered making it into a museum, but quickly learned that since it was in a quiet upscale residential area with narrow streets, there was no way it could be a museum open to the public. So the Hopes' final instructions were to use the estate to help fund the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. The intention of the trustees was to sell it. The place had been sitting on the market for ages but not long ago the first decent offer was submitted. That was when the city council member asked that the Cultural Heritage Commission consider the property. The decent offer was immediately withdrawn.
Linda Hope listed all of the memorials to Bob Hope that are scattered over the Los Angeles area. She said each and every one of those was more significant to the legacy of Bob and Dolores Hope than the estate. Later, Commissioners said they were surprised by the list, not realizing there were already so many memorials; so obviously staff didn't do that research either.
A couple of residents got up to also speak against the designation, but the essence of their arguments was that Toluca Lake is a beautiful, quiet community and any kind of monument there would bring traffic, noise and lower property values. The President of the Commission interrupted both of those commenters (!) to tell them that was of absolutely no concern to this Commission.
One Commissioner suggested giving monument status to only the hedge and gate in front of the house, because those were the only things the public would ever see. I was pretty sure that was a joke, but the President went ahead and explained how impractical that would be.
Finally, a Commissioner made the motion to deny monument status and that was approved 5-0. The decision now goes to city council, since it had originated there and city council could overrule this decision.
The meeting was adjourned and we headed out on our field trip.
March 7, 2016
California County History
Here's an interesting interactive map that displays the history of county lines in California. I only know the southern counties well, so that's what I paid attention to.
- 1850 - San Diego County was HUGE!
- 1851 - Los Angeles and Mariposa Counties get big chunks of San Diego County.
- 1852 - Tulare County carved out of Mariposa County.
- 1853 - San Bernardino County carved out of Los Angeles County.
- 1866 - Kern County created from pieces of Los Angeles and Tulare Counties. Inyo County is carved out of Tulare County.
- 1872 - Ventura County carved out of Santa Barbara County. Boundaries adjusted between San Bernardino, Inyo, Kern, Tulare, San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties to give us that nice straight line running from the Pacific to Nevada. Is that the defining line between northern and southern California?
- 1889 - Orange County carved out of Los Angeles County.
- 1893 - Chunks of San Bernardino and San Diego Counties taken to create Riverside County.
- 1907 - Imperial County carved out of San Diego County.
February 20, 2016
Great Los Angeles Walk Photos
I winnowed my photos from the Great LA Walk (November 21, 2015) down to the 1,930 best ones that you can see here. Blut I think the easiest way to see them is via this video slideshow which is only a little more than half an hour long, if you watch all of it. Most of the photos are from my GoPro, but I shot some with my pocket camera.
January 18, 2016
There's an exhibit of historic photos at the LA Public Library on the subject of the Emancipation Proclamation, the March on Washington, and the 53 years since the march.
At Inkwell Beach in 1931. Inkwell Beach was the 200 yards of Santa Monica Beach where blacks were allowed to hang out. Here's a Google satellite view showing the location today. It's where lifeguard stand 20 is.
Visiting city hall in 1963. Check out the stylish eyeglasses!
"Dr. Josie Bain, the southern area superintendent of Los Angeles City Schools makes remarks during the groundbreaking for Loren Miller Elementary School on West 77th Street, near Hoover Street, in 1969." Sure, but check out the hairdo! I think she may have a radar antenna up there.
November 8, 2015
I went on a tour of Rockhaven Sanitarium for women in Glendale yesterday. It was founded by Agnes Richards, a nurse, in 1923 at a time when there were as many as 20 sanitariums in the area. It was operated by Agnes Richards until 1967, when she turned it over to her granddaughter Patricia Traviss who continued to operate it until 2001, when it was sold to a nursing home chain. Five years later it was closed when it became obvious that meeting ADA standards would be financially impossible. The City of Glendale bought it in 2008. Since then the city has done little with the site, not having the money to renovate it nor the will to just get rid of it.
It was a place for women with mild to moderate "nervous disorders," and featured none of the tortures that one would normally see in an insane asylum of that time. It's two most famous residents were Billie Burke and Gladys Pearl Monroe Baker, the mother of Marilyn Monroe.
The docents told of some spooky happenings at the place. A face seen behind a curtain that was pulled back from a window on the second floor of a building that was empty; small objects (a rosary, a valentine card, for example) simply appearing where it had never been before. The contents of the site were well documented when the city bought it. Even though old photos of the place show a piano, no piano is listed in the city's inventory. One day, when the docents opened the garage where they have stored statuary and other vulnerable items, there was the piano. I could believe the small things were pranks played by one of the docents, but the appearance of the piano is quite a stretch. How many ghosts does it take to move a piano?
The closet window through which Marilyn Monroe's mother escaped using rope made from bed sheets. She had a much larger window in her room that would have been much easier to go through. The drop from the closet window to the ground below was about 6 feet. IOW, she was a drama queen.
The Rose house existed on the site before Richards created the sanitarium. She had it lifted and turned to face into the inner courtyard of the sanitarium.
October 23, 2015
I finally found the grave of Eldridge Cleaver. Before today I knew only the general area where he was buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena. But the description in this book helped quite a bit. Then this photo made it pretty easy. To assist anyone else looking for his grave, here are the coordinates: N34° 11.070' W118° 08.724' and a map:
October 19, 2015
The Gamble House
October 16, 2015
Angelus Rosedale Cemetery
A few photos from Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.
July 29, 2015
The Way It Was
The most noticeable difference to me is the lack of people. This was before they settled on the clockface layout of the city. It shows Burners at a couple of the hot springs, but they can't do that anymore.
July 1, 2015
To Refresh Your Memory Of Same-Sex Marriage Rights Growth
June 27, 2015
Frank Kameny In Labor Hall Of Honor
Frank Kameny filed the first civil rights appeal based on homosexuality with his employer, the U.S. Civil Service in 1957. He lost. He went on to become a co-founder of the Mattachine Society. In 1965 he organized the first gay protest at the White House. He was the first openly gay candidate for Congress in 1971.
"In 1975, his long search for a gay service member with an impeccable record to initiate a challenge to the military's ban on homosexuals culminated in protege Leonard Matlovich, a Technical Sergeant in the United States Air Force with 11 years of unblemished service and a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, purposely outing himself to his commanding officer on March 6, 1975."
Kameny died in 2011.
And this week he was inducted into the Department Of Labor's Hall of Honor. The Hall of Honor is intended as a "showcase highlighting the life-changing contributions that a unique group of people have made on the American way of work."
June 25, 2015
National Park Service Backs Away From Confederate Flag Sales
A press release today:
National Parks Pull Confederate Flag Sales Items
WASHINGTON – Confederate Battle Flag sales items are being removed from national park bookstores and gift shops.
"We strive to tell the complete story of America," National Park Service Director Jonathan B. J arvis said of the agency's reputation for telling difficult parts of our history. "All sales items in parks are evaluated based on educational value and their connection to the park. Any stand-alone depictions of Confederate flags have no place in park stores."
Jarvis said the murders of nine church members at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, which is near Fort Sumter National Monument, galvanized a national discussion that includes symbols and relics from our nation's past such as the Confederate Battle Flag.
"As that discussion spread across the country," Jarvis said, "one of our largest cooperating associations, Eastern National, began to voluntarily remove from the park stores that it manages any items that depict a Confederate flag as its primary feature. I've asked other cooperating associations, partners and concession providers to withdraw from sale items that solely depict a Confederate flag."
In the telling of the historical story, Confederate flags have a place in books, exhibits, reenactments, and interpretive programs. Books, DVDs, and other educational and interpretive media where the Confederate flag image is depicted in its historical context may remain as sales items as long as the image cannot be physically detached. Confederate flags include the Stainless Banner, the Third National Confederate Flag, and the Confederate Battle Flag.
Jarvis said, "All superintendents and program managers will personally evaluate which sales items fit this description, have educational value, and are appropriate for the site."
June 6, 2015
Empire Of Liberty
I've just finished Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 by James S. Wood which is both thorough and well written. My knowledge of the details of that period when we went from being 13 former British colonies to the point where we graduated into the adulthood of nations is scanty because, you know, every public school teacher is in a hurry to get the students from the Revolution to the Civil War. The War of 1812 got short shrift in my school.
I think the most useful thing I got out of it is the confidence to laugh like a jackass the next time I hear some Tea Partier (or Justice Scalia) refer to "our forefathers" and what they thought. To know what our forefathers thought, you first have to ask which forefather and which day of the week. All of them changed their position on just about every issue at some point, including religion (or the lack thereof). The only thing you can say for sure is that Jefferson was never a Federalist and Washington was never a Republican. Beyond that, there no soundbites for the forefathers.
May 28, 2015
Homo Sapiens Migration
May 4, 2015
The Committee [for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts] negotiated with the city to allow for an engineering test to establish the safety of the structures and avoid demolition of the structures.
The test took place on October 10, 1959. For the test, steel cable was attached to each Tower and a crane was used to exert lateral force all connected to a 'load-force' meter. The crane was unable to topple or even shift the Towers with the forces applied, and the test was concluded when the crane experienced mechanical failure. Bud Goldstone and Edward Farrell were the engineer and architect leading the team. The stress test registered 10,000 lbs. The Towers are anchored less than 2 feet (0.61 m) in the ground, and have been highlighted in Architectural textbooks, and have changed the way some structures are designed for stability and endurance.
The tour commences. $7, IIRC.
They're down a dead end residential street that has parking only on one side (despite what you may see here). You drive to the end of 107th Street, turn around, and parallel park. There is a small parking lot if you proceed north of 107th on Graham.
April 22, 2015
At The World Trade Center
515 years compressed into 52 seconds on the elevator to the top of 1 World Trade Center revealing an architectural history of American urban development: