October 21, 2014

Returning To The Big Screen!

The Greatest Science Fiction Film Of All Time: 2001: A Space Odyssey has been digitally remastered and will open November 28 in the UK at a British Film Institute film festival. Go back and watch the original 1977 version (or whatever version of the original you can find) of Star Wars. If you were around in 1977, you will recall that its special effects blew us away. Now they look cheezily obvious. Then go watch 2001 which was made before most of you were born: 1969 1968! It still works. It still takes your breath away when it jumps to Jupiter space. And at the end you still don't know WTF was going on*. That's good cinema!

Appropriately enough, they've brought the trailer up to the standards of 2014:

HAL is still so sorry he couldn't open that podbay door.

*it's just a lengthy attempt to direct blame away from the opposable thumb and put it on some "space aliens."

permalink | October 21, 2014 at 03:37 PM | Comments (3)

October 14, 2014

It was 37 years ago today

It was October 14, 1977, in Des Moines. I, along with a couple of guys from Grinnell, Iowa, had carpooled to Des Moines to join the picket lines outside the auditorium where Bryant was speaking. This was my first time doing anything publicly political. Didn't hear about the pie thing until much later. This was before the internet, ya know.

Also on this day in history:

  • 1979: the first national gay rights march on Washington, DC. Demands included repeal of sodomy laws, approval of a proposed expansion of the Civil Rights Act to cover sexual orientation, an end to discrimination in child custody cases, ending the ban on gays in the military and ending discrimination in the civil service and among government contractors.
  • 1987: Congress approved (94-2) a provision that would restrict the use of almost $1 billion in federal funds for AIDS education to materials that encouraged abstinence rather than actually telling people how to have safer sex. It was the first major effort the federal government was making to fight AIDS, and it was nearly strangled in its crib (the legislation, not AIDS). The provision was declared unconstitutional in 1992. The number of AIDS cases in the U.S. doubled during that time.

permalink | October 14, 2014 at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2014

First American Aerial Photo

The first aerial photo shot in the U.S. was by James Wallace Black, and it was of central Boston on October 13, 1860. The photo is now in the possession of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the Gilman Collection.
Boston 1860 by James Wallace Black

(Here's a link to a version that I edited to adjust contrast and sharpness a little which might assist in picking out smaller details.)

The significant landmark that's easy to pick out is Old South Meeting House.

After the Boston Massacre in 1770, yearly anniversary meetings were held at the church until 1775 featuring speakers such as John Hancock and Dr. Joseph Warren. In 1773 5,000 people met in the Meeting House to debate British taxation, and after the meeting a group raided a nearby tea ship in what became known as the Boston Tea Party.

Old South Meeting House still stands at the same spot, very little altered since 1860 - since 1773, for that matter.
Boston from Google Earth
This is from roughly the same viewpoint as the 1860 photo. You can just barely see the steeple on Old South.

permalink | October 13, 2014 at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)

October 6, 2014

East Los Angeles

Yesterday's CicLAvia extended much further into East Los Angeles than it (or I) had ever been, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to start at the east end and walk as far as I could.

Ciclavia October 2014 Eastern Map 1
My route
which was about 9 miles (RT).

The next CicLAvia is December 7, 2014. I believe they are trying to put together a route in San Fernando Valley for sometime next year.

Anthony Quinn Public Library - East Los Angeles (0720)
Anthony Quinn Public Library
. Anthony Quinn lived in East L.A. as a child.

Belvedere Park - East Los Angeles (0752)
Belvedere Park
, the eastern terminus of yesterday's CicLAvia.

Bobby & Cesar
A mural with "Bobby & Cesar"
based on this photo.

CicLAvia - East Los Angeles (0722)

Evergreen Cemetery (0739)
Evergreen Cemetery
. Perhaps the most well known celebrity buried here is Eddie Anderson. The cemetery is racially segregated, but never barred any race. It's also where Joseph Winchester Robinson is buried. He came from Waltham, Massachusetts, and founded the "Boston Store" which became Robinson's and then Robinson's May. George Ralphs (founder of the supermarket chain) is buried here as well.

Metro Atlantic Station (0753)
Atlantic Station
, the eastern end of Metro's Gold Line.

Mexican Veterans Memorial - East Los Angeles (0725)
Mexican-American Veterans Memorial

Mexican Veterans Memorial - East Los Angeles (0726)

Streetlight on Cesar Chavez Blvd (0729)
A streetlight on Cesar Chavez Boulevard alongside Evergreen Cemetery

Three Sisters - Cesar Chavez Blvd (0730)
Three Sisters of East Los Angeles

See the rest of my photos here.

permalink | October 6, 2014 at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

October 1, 2014

Gable/Lombard House On The Market

The house at 222 W. Chino Drive in Palm Springs is on the market asking $2.195 million. Real estate listing here. Built in 1925, it was a "getaway" for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.

permalink | October 1, 2014 at 04:17 PM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2014

Historical Society Soup Supper, October

Soup Supper Oct 2014

permalink | September 28, 2014 at 09:42 AM | Comments (1)

September 26, 2014

Owens Valley - 1940

Owens Valley 1940 from the film Brigham Young

In the 1940 Darryl Zanuck film Brigham Young, the Owens Valley in California played the role of the Salt Lake Valley in Utah as Brigham Young first saw it and announced "This is the place." The film showed Brigham Young (played by Dean Jagger who himself was baptized a Mormon in 1972) striding across this grand view of the Valley shot from the Sierra mountains above Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills, but I've edited it to remove the church leader from the scene.

Dean Jagger playing Brigham Young in the Sierra above Lone Pine
Dean Jagger as Brigham Young looking down on Owens Valley from the Sierra

Owens Valley 1940 from the film Brigham Young (2)
The other Mormons taking a gander

The movie itself is a moderately fictionalized version of the trek from Nauvoo to Utah which received the full endorsement of the Church of Latter Day Saints. From listening to the commentary on the DVD, I learned this expensive film was considered a Really Big Thing at the time, comparable to The Grapes of Wrath, but it lost money and over the years lost its fame. I think I probably heard about it during my visit to the Lone Pine Film History Museum.

Zanuck intended the persecution of the Mormons to be seen as a metaphor for the German persecution of the Jews (this was 1940). Apparently most people understood it that way too, even though the film had to be bit light-handed in suggesting that metaphor, since it simultaneously suggested the non-Mormon Americans were in the role of the Nazis. Early in the film Brigham Young delivers a fictional speech in which he expounds on the freedoms guaranteed by the first amendment from a 1930s point of view. In the 1840s it was yet to be settled whether the Bill of Rights applied to the states as well as the federal government.

The film includes scenes of the cricket invasion and seemingly miraculous appearance of the seagulls. Those scenes were shot in Nevada during a genuine cricket invasion where seagulls really did show up to complete the verisimilitude! In the commentary on the DVD it is said that the gulls did not show up until after the official church liaison to the production prayed over the day's shooting.

The film used some other beautifully mountainous area of the west to represent Council Bluffs, Iowa, and the area that would become Omaha some day. I'm not going to bother with that. I'm sure it brought much amusement to the residents of that area during the dark days of the early 1940s.

permalink | September 26, 2014 at 10:31 AM | Comments (3)

August 20, 2014

Look What Just Washed Up

Self in Boston early 1980s by Rob Meyer
A photo of myself at Government Center in Boston
, very early 1980s, shared by Rob Meyers who still lives in Massachusetts.

permalink | August 20, 2014 at 08:59 AM | Comments (5)

August 13, 2014

Clarke Estate

Irving Gill was an early 20th century modern architect. The homes he designed looked pretty much like this...with one notable exception, the only one not in southern California. That one is Wildacre in Newport, Rhode Island which looks much more Newport, Rhode Island, than southern California.

The Clarke Estate in Santa Fe Springs, completed in 1921, is one of his designs.

Clarke Estate (2)

Clarke Estate (0242)

Clarke Estate (0239)

Clarke Estate (0255)

Clarke Estate (0258)

Clarke Estate (0262A)

Clarke Estate (0235)

More photos of the Clarke Estate.

permalink | August 13, 2014 at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2014

Sunset Strip History

L.A. Public Library map guy Glen Creason uses maps to give us a little history of the evolution of Sunset Strip.

permalink | August 12, 2014 at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2014

Pueblo del Rio

Pueblo del Rio is a low income housing project in South L.A. that is an example of mid-century modern architecture. It's just outside of the City of Vernon. Richard Neutra was one of the people who contributed to its design.

Pueblo Del Rio (0224)

Palms (0222)

Pueblo Del Rio
Google map

More photos here.

permalink | August 10, 2014 at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 8, 2014

"Close to you"

Apartments Built By Richard & Karen Carpenters (0288)
An apartment building in Downey built by Karen and Richard Carpenter
. Another one across the street was named for another of their songs. This building also commemorates one of their less popular tunes: Deliveries In Rear."

permalink | August 8, 2014 at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

August 6, 2014

Hacienda Riviera

The Hacienda Riviera is on the market and today a real estate agent was kind enough to let a couple of representatives of the DHS Historical Society go in and take a look. A caretaker has been living there, so it's in pretty good shape (and the pool looks beautiful!), but it would need lot of work before it could be operated legally as a spa again. The Historical Society has a brochure from 1957 that lists the Hacienda Riviera, but we don't have anything to pinpoint when it was built and opened.

Hacienda Riviera (2440)

Hacienda Riviera - Very Hot Mineral Water (2397)
Hot water flowing

Hacienda Riviera (2390)

Hacienda Riviera (2418)
There is a rumor that Steve McQueen used to stay here
. The caretaker said he saw him and Ali McGraw there at least twice. If Steve McQueen actually did stay there, this would have been his room.

Hacienda Riviera (2406)

Hacienda Riviera (2403)
There's a commercial kitchen in that building
(next to the Steve McQueen apartment). They sold food not only to the guests, but through a window to the street.

Hacienda Riviera (2425)
The healing pool with a seating ledge all the way around

Hacienda Riviera - a cabana room
There are very few guest rooms, but there are a lot of these little cabana rooms
that have no electricity or plumbing. Just a room to put your stuff in.

Hacienda Riviera (2360)
This area used to be an open air patio
. The ceiling is the roof. It's hot in summer and probably cold in winter. But look how big it is. You could put multiple generations of your family in here.

Hacienda Riviera - Sauna (2364)
One of two dry saunas
. Notice the translucent panels that make up the ceiling. The outside temperature got up to only 103° today, but this room was as hot (possibly hotter) as any dry sauna - well maybe not as hot as a Finnish sauna, but hot! It was hard to believe the heater was turned off. I did jiggle the switch to double check.

Many more photos here.

permalink | August 6, 2014 at 08:13 PM | Comments (3)

August 4, 2014

Service Station Roof

Pikitos 100% Hand Car Wash (0227)
Spotted this "flying roof" (or whatever the technical term is) in Los Angeles
. It's like the one that used to be at Palm and Estrella:
Palm Drive & Estrella gas station

permalink | August 4, 2014 at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

It Was 100 Years Ago Today

That Germany invaded neutral Belgium. Germany had already occupied Lichtenstein (which was also neutral), but that didn't create as much brouhaha.

Completely by coincidence, I'm reading The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman which I picked up because, like most average Americans of my generation who are not history majors, I wasn't taught much about World War I because history books just needed to touch on it in order to establish the basis for all the calamities that beset us through the rest of the 20th century right up to Iraq and Syria today. We heard about Sarajevo, skipped to the Americans declaring war, then skipped right to Versailles.

The Guns of August focuses on only the period from late July to September in 1914, the time during which multiple nations combined to produce one of the greatest clusterfucks of all history. Immense ignorance, bigotry, and prejudice combined with rigid 19th century views on warfare and new technology in a grand exercise of utter pointlessness.

I haven't finished the book, but I'm to the point where the Germans are just 40km outside of Paris. The only clear heads in the entire book are: Winston Churchill, King Albert I and the Belgians. Everybody else (and I mean everybody) went into the war with their heads up their asses, kept them there, and wondered why their shots always missed. The Russians - the effing Russians - had the biggest army in the world, but they had no plans for supplying the army and no plans for troop transport once they got outside the mother country's borders. So they went as far as they could walk and then got wiped out by the Germans. France appreciated the effort.

permalink | August 4, 2014 at 09:57 AM | Comments (1)

July 21, 2014


July 21:

  • 1588 - The English fleet first engaged the Spanish Armada.
  • 1846 - Mormons founded the first English-language settlement in California in San Joaquin Valley.
  • 1898 - Spain ceded Guam to USA.
  • 1899 - Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park Illinois.
  • 1925 - John Scopes found guilty of teaching Darwinism.
  • 1930 - US Veterans Administration formed.
  • 1948 - Cat Stevens and Garry Trudeau were born.
  • 1951 - Robin Williams was born in Chicago.
  • 1949 - Senate ratified North Atlantic Treaty by a vote of 82-13.
  • 1952 - 7.8 earthquake in Kern County California, 14 killed.
  • 1959 - Boston Red Sox become the last major league team to acquire a black player.
  • 1976 - First outbreak of "Legionnaire's Disease" killed 29 in Philadelphia.
  • 1989 - Greg LeMond won the Tour de France.

permalink | July 21, 2014 at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2014

July 20


  • 1881 - Sitting Bull, surrendered to US federal troops.
  • 1944 - President Roosevelt was nominated for an unprecedented fourth term at Democratic convention.
  • 1944 - US invaded Guam.
  • 1944 - Assassination attempt against Hitler at Wolf's Lair.
  • 1968 - Iron Butterfly's "In-a-gadda-da-vida" hit the charts at #117.
  • 1969 - Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin Jr. from Apollo 11 walked on the moon.
  • 1976 - First Martian landing: US Viking 1 at Chryse Planitia.

permalink | July 20, 2014 at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2014

After Serving Time In Kansas, Californian Coming Home

David Smith, who grew up in San Diego County and got his BS in forestry/developmental studies at UC Berkeley, will become the new Superintendent for Joshua Tree National Park in September, after serving his time as Superintendent of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas.

Here's a TEDx talk given by Superintendent Smith. Not only is he a really good speaker, but he seems especially aware of the fact that National Parks do not attract Hispanic people or black people...at least not at the rate they attract middle-class white people, he says. His talk includes real life experiences in Mecca (California) and Joshua Tree N.P. He had worked at Joshua Tree N.P. for four years before he saw a black person visiting there. Kids in Mecca had never even heard of a "national park."

permalink | July 19, 2014 at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2014

July 17

  • 1717 - Handel's "Water Music" premieres on the river Thames in London.
  • 1821 - Spain cedes Florida to US.
  • 1850 - Harvard Observatory takes 1st photograph of a star (Vega, not Suzanne).
  • 1861 - US Congress authorizes paper money.
  • 1862 - US Army authorized to accept blacks as laborers.
  • 1867 - First US dental school, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, established.
  • 1917 - British Royal family changes its name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor.
  • 1944 - Two ammunition ships explode at Port Chicago, California kills 322.
  • 1945 - Potsdam Conference (Truman, Stalin, Churchill) holds first meeting.
  • 1948 - Proclamation of constitution of Republic of Korea.
  • 1954 - Construction begins on Disneyland.
  • 1955 - Disneyland televises its grand opening in Anaheim, California (one year to build?!).
  • 1959 - Tibet abolishes serfdom.
  • 1967 - Monkees perform at Forest Hills, New York, Jimi Hendrix is opening act.
  • 1981 - Lobby walkways at Kansas City's Hyatt Regency collapse 114 die, 200 injured.
  • 1998 - Russia buries Tsar Nicholas II & family, 80 years after they died.

permalink | July 17, 2014 at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2014

July 16

Today in history:

  • 1769 - Father Junipero Serra founds Mission San Diego, first mission in California.
  • 1861 - Battle of Bull Run is fought.
  • 1918 - A Bolshevik firing squad at Ekaterinburg, Siberia, executes Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family.
  • 1935 - First automatic parking meter in US installed (Oklahoma City)
  • 1945 - First test detonation of an atomic bomb, Trinity Site, Alamogordo, New Mexico andCruiser Indianapolis leaves San Francisco with atom bomb.
  • 1951 - "Catcher in Rye" by J. D. Salinger published.
  • 1969 - Apollo 11 launched.
  • 1999 - John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette are killed in a plane crash off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.<./li>

permalink | July 16, 2014 at 07:20 PM | Comments (0)