Southern California Photography by Alan Pavlik, editor and publisher of Just Above Sunset
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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik

If you use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me

These were shot with a Nikon D70 - using lens (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto, or after 5 June 2006, (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0

The original large-format raw files are available upon request.

Contact the Editor

Visitors from February 28, 2006, 10:00 am Pacific Time to date -

Saturday, 8 April 2006
After They're Dead
Topic: Historic Hollywood

After They're Dead

 The Keeper of the Watch - Hollywood Forever Memorial Park, Los Angeles CaliforniaA few sites of interest out here, like this (right), "The Keeper of the Watch" at the Hollywood Forever cemetery down on Santa Monica Boulevard, just behind Paramount Studios. This is at the complex of monuments related to the Los Angeles Times - the first being the grave of Harrison Gray Otis. Otis started the paper. Next to that, the tomb of his son-in-law, Harry Chandler, who ran the paper until his death in 1944, and Otis' daughter Marion Otis Chandler, and next that a massive monument to the victims of "The Crime of the Century" - the twenty who died when the Times was bombed in October 1910.

Otis hated unions and ran an "open shop" - his workers would never band together and pressure him for anything. Unions were evil. And Otis made a lot of enemies scoffing at the "rights" of the working class. The price was the Times building leveled by a bomb, and the dead.

See this, drawn mainly from Graham Adams Jr., Age of Industrial Violence, 1910 York: Columbia University Press, 1966 -
On 1 October 1910 the Los Angeles Times building exploded under mysterious circumstances. The blast was felt throughout the area. One survivor said, "Frames and timbers flew in all directions. The force of the thing was indescribable." Employees of the Times tried to escape the flames, and some jumped from windows without safety nets below. A few hours later, nothing remained but smoldering debris. Twenty people died in the explosion.

Harrison Gray Otis, the antiunion publisher of the Times, blamed organized labor and dubbed it "The Crime of the Century."

Organized labor responded by blaming Otis, asking, "Are his own hands clean?" AFL president Samuel Gompers disavowed union participation in the tragedy, arguing that urban terrorism would actually hurt labor's cause.

Famous detective, William J. Burns was hired to investigate the blast. He played a hunch and was led to the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers (BSIW), located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Burns suspected that the union's secretary, John J. McNamara, had directed the attack. The detective set up a trap in a Detroit hotel on 12 April 1912 and arrested McNamara, his brother James, and another accomplice named Ortie McManigal. In McNamara's suitcase Burns found guns and six lock mechanisms similar to those used in Los Angeles.

On 12 July both brothers pleaded not guilty and set off a chaotic atmosphere in the courtroom. Clarence Darrow, one of America's most famous lawyers, represented the McNamara brothers, although reluctantly, because he felt the prosecution's case was. solid. After the first month the attorneys had selected only eight jurors and showed no signs of hurrying the process. On 1 December 1912 the defendants dramatically reversed their pleas. James pleaded guilty to the Los Angeles explosion, while John answered to a lesser charge in a separate bombing. Darrow explained the decision: "It was our only chance... It was in an effort to save J. B. McNamara's life that we took the action."

Judge Bordwell, reacting to the public's outrage, sentenced James McNamara to life imprisonment and John to fifteen years of hard labor.

The McNamara case led to heavy financial losses and declines in membership for all Los Angeles unions. The public backlash hurt the AFL, and Samuel Gompers received criticism for supporting the brothers. Not only had the McNamara's blown up a building and taken lives, they also destroyed the labor movement in Los Angeles.
And it never really recovered out here. (Heck, the two had also blown up the Llewellyn Iron works in Los Angeles on Christmas day of the same year - they weren't nice men.)

The unions didn't really recover until Ronald Reagan started his anti-communist thing after World War II. In 1947 the Screen Actors Guild asked him to mediate between a few industry unions. He butted heads with Herb Sorrell, the head of the Conference of Studio Unions, who made no bones about his views on workers' rights, views that to some seemed communist. Reagan didn't like the guy. In 1947 the Screen Actors Guild elected Reagan their president, the first of his five consecutive terms, and then he testifies as a friendly witness before Joseph McCarthy's House Committee on Un-American Activities - and then the "Hollywood Ten" are off to prison and quite a few writers and directors are blacklisted, not to work in Hollywood for many decades. Harrison Gray Otis no doubt smiled from the great beyond.

Below, the militant eagle on the top of the monument to the victims of "The Crime of the Century" -

Eagle on the top of the monument to the victims of 'The Crime of the Century,' Hollywood Forever Memorial Park, Los Angeles California

Directly across the alley from all this, a weeping figure.

Weeping figure, Hollywood Forever Memorial Park, Los Angeles California

Photographs - April 6, 2006

Posted by Alan at 3:02 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Saturday, 8 April 2006 3:07 PM PDT
Friday, 7 April 2006
The Industry in One Block: Melrose at Bronson
Topic: Historic Hollywood

The Industry in One Block: Melrose at Bronson

Raleigh Studios, Melrose Avenue and Bronson, Hollywood CaliforniaOn the right, light and shadow on the new façade of Raleigh Studios, at the corner of Melrose Avenue and Bronson in Hollywood, in the scruffy flats below Hollywood Boulevard, below Sunset Boulevard too, a long block south of even Santa Monica Boulevard. In a mixed industrial and residential area, Raleigh Studios isn't open to the public. There's work to do here, and this is the longest continuously operating studio in the country, having stared operations in 1915 with a Mary Pickford production. With the talkies Raleigh Studios had one of the world's first soundstages - with a glass top so light could enter without disrupting sound recording. It's changed ownership many times, and lots of people called it home at one time or another - Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Walt Disney and Bette Davis (the interiors for her creepy, second-rate Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? were filmed here).

These days it's mostly television, commercials and independent films at Raleigh Studios. This is the home of the old television series - Superman, Gunsmoke and Perry Mason. But here you see some famous films were made here - "In the Heat of the Night" (1967 Best Picture), "The Best Year of Our Lives" (1946 Best Picture), and "A Start is Born" (the first one, 1937, with Janet Gaynor).

It's a curious place, and, behind the streamlined new glass building in front, the old bungalows are still there, from the early days, with regular folks just going to work in a strange industry.

Raleigh Studios, bungalows on Bronson Avenue, Hollywood California align=
Across the street is the more famous Paramount Studios that started back in 1913 in a rented horse barn up the hill near Sunset and Vine. Paramount moved down here in 1926, into an existing studio built in 1917 - then just got bigger and bigger. They absorbed the old RKO studios next door and now the studio and lots cover many acres, and five thousand people work here. And they offer a two-hour walking tour, if you're into such things - "The Sheik" with Rudolph Valentino (1921) was filmed here, and the two major versions of "The Ten Commandments," and all the Star Trek shows and movies. You might find some of that interesting. Their website is here, and here you'll find a complete history of the studio and a list of the hundreds of famous films made here.

This, below, is the Bronson Gate, just across the street from the older Raleigh Studios, with regular folks just going to work. This is the gate they had to reinforce after a mob of overly enthusiastic female fans of Rudolph Valentino overwhelmed security and climbed over the original unfortified gate (nearby statues honoring that fellow here). Trivia? Many years ago a young actor, one Charles Buchinski, decided to take his stage name from this gate, and became the more marketable Charles Bronson. Amusing.

Paramount Studios, Bronson Gate, Melrose Avenue, Hollywood California

Further up the block is the more frequently photographed Melrose gate. Yeah, yeah. A stock shot.

Paramount Studios, Melrose Gate, Melrose Avenue, Hollywood California

These photographs are from Thursday, April 6, 2006, just before noon.

Posted by Alan at 5:55 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006 11:19 PM PDT
Thursday, 6 April 2006
Morbid Hollywood
Topic: Historic Hollywood

Morbid Hollywood

Figure at Hollywood Forever Memorial Park, Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood CaliforniaThursday, April 6th, was a photo excursion - off to document Hollywood stuff, Paramount Studios down on Melrose, and more of old Hollywood, the dead celebrities at Hollywood Forever Memorial Park. There really is such a place, honest - it's a massive cemetery behind Paramount's back lot. Those photos will be along in these pages tomorrow and beyond. Douglas Fairbanks and Junior's thing is quite impressive, as is Cecil B. DeMille's site, but then he founded Paramount so that makes sense. I missed Mel Blanc, Don Adams and Peter Lorre. There was too much to cover. And there were botanicals to shot on the grounds. Then there was the process of editing the eighty shots - discarding the silly and out of focus, and modifying what was cool for web posting.

One odd thing is the Asian section of the place, which explains the item on the right.

Hearse - Hollywood Forever Memorial Park, Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood California

Hollywood Forever Memorial Park, Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood California, with Paramount Studios back lot, looking south

Posted by Alan at 11:27 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Thursday, 6 April 2006 11:30 PM PDT
Wednesday, 5 April 2006
Getting Along
Topic: The Movies

Getting Along

Gull on statue of Saber-Toothed Tiger, La Brea Tar Pits, Wilshire Boulevard, Los AngelesLos Angeles is a diverse place, where it's live and let live, and you disregard differences. The recent Oscar-winning movie Crash had it all wrong. Best Picture? We're not at each other's throats, full of not very suppressed racial and ethnic distrust. Most everyone is just doing what they do - off to work, home to the family, shopping for groceries and all the rest. We even talk to each other. But "message movies" need settings, and for this one Los Angeles was good enough (see the county's demographic profile in the tables here).

We do get along, taking seriously what has to be taken seriously, and ignoring the rest. The Oscar-winning movie was made by a Canadian. What does he know?

Note this gull, down on Wilshire at the La Brea Tar Pits. He knows real threats from fake Hollywood crap, set up to scare the rubes. (Photo from July 10, 2005.)

And what about this scene in "Thai Town" - Hollywood Boulevard at Western Avenue, captured on July 23, 2003 - where the fellow walking is unconcerned about the mixed message regarding cuisine. Whatever.

Thai restaurant with giant hot dog, Hollywood Boulevard at Western Avenue, Los Angeles

Posted by Alan at 6:13 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Tuesday, 4 April 2006
Laurel Canyon: Rock's Answer to Jazz Age Paris
Topic: Historic Hollywood

Laurel Canyon: Rock's Answer to Jazz Age Paris

Palm Tree in the fog and rain, Laurel Canyon, Hollywood side, Tuesday, April 4, 2006The Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, April 4, 2006 tells the tale -
An Alaska storm slammed into Southern California this morning, packing steady rains, knotting traffic and making for a dreadful morning commute. The rains are not expected to diminish until Wednesday, forecasters said.

... Despite the rain, Laurel Canyon Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills was reopened after being closed over the weekend when a rain-drenched hillside began to slide.

Crews installed concrete barriers Sunday to protect against mud and debris flows that could be brought on by the rain.

Bartling said other areas of concern would include the areas of last year's Topanga, Foothill and Harvard fires. Because the burn areas lack ground cover, they are more prone to breaking up and becoming mudslides when soaked.

Sam Padilla, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said all stations near the burn areas are equipped with sandbags if residents need them.
The Times also has a photo gallery here, but this is Laurel Canyon here, where the news copters were low overhead at dusk last night, taking shots of the hillside below, and back again at dawn for the same.

And at dawn on the television a sweet young thing was doing a remote from the corner. Best to watch her on television, as it was raining hard. No point in walking up to the corner to see her talk. You'd just get soaked. But she was explaining that the house below had been red-tagged a year ago when the hillside started to slide away (see a shot of that here from January 9, 2005). The owners moved out long ago. More rain and it may get buried, or slide down into the canyon and block the road. This is across the road from the little house where Jim Morrison of the doors lived for a time.

A bit of history -
Laurel Canyon gained its greatest fame in the 1960s as a countercultural enclave. When Joni Mitchell sang about "the ladies of the canyon," she was referring to Laurel Canyon. Jim Morrison lived behind the 1919 Canyon Country Store, whose Sister Mary Michael-style painted sign indicates that the area hasn't completely lost its Haight-on-the-Hill ways.

… During Hollywood's glory years, many notables, including Orson Welles and Errol Flynn, lived in the canyon. Urban legend has it that another former resident, Harry Houdini, still haunts the remains of his estate, visible on the right just before Lookout Mountain as you drive north.
And due for publication in May, Michael Walker's Laurel Canyon : The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood, with this from Publishers Weekly -
Beginning in the mid-1960s, a string of successful rock bands emerged out of Laurel Canyon, a neighborhood of Los Angeles tucked away in the hills north of Sunset Boulevard. From the success of bands like the Byrds and the Mamas and the Papas, and singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Jimmy Webb, Walker proposes Laurel Canyon as rock's answer to Jazz Age Paris. It's a plausible concept, but one he stumbles to elaborate past the length of a magazine feature. The journalist, who lives in Laurel Canyon, delivers strong material on some of the musicians he cites, particularly in early chapters about Crosby, Stills & Nash and Frank Zappa, but offers little about other equally significant acts. Instead, he pads the story with lengthy sections on groupies and the music scene in other parts of the city, the Altamont concert (which was hundreds of miles away) and a digression on the history of cocaine. Furthermore, his enthusiasm for the Laurel Canyon legend leads to shaky critical pronouncements. If "the folk stars of the early 1960s were the first rock stars," for example, then what was Elvis?
Whatever. Rock's answer to Jazz Age Paris? What was the question?

It's an odd place to live.

The house in question.

House red-tagged in the fog and rain, Laurel Canyon, Hollywood side, Tuesday, April 4, 2006

The fog above, rolling in at dusk.

The fog and rain, Laurel Canyon, Hollywood side, Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Looking the other way, Los Angeles, low ceiling...

Los Angeles as seen Laurel Canyon, Hollywood side, Tuesday, April 4, 2006 (from the roof at Laurel Avenue at Selma)

Posted by Alan at 7:34 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006 7:40 PM PDT

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