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.

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

Thursday, 18 May 2006
Wretched Excess: Another Ferrari in Malibu
Topic: Oddities

Wretched Excess: Another Ferrari in Malibu

Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, the stretch of highway where that crazy Swedish guy wrecked his rare Ferrari Enzo - high gas prices
Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, the stretch of highway where that crazy Swedish guy wrecked his rare Ferrari Enzo, snapping off a telephone pole at 162 mph and walking away from it all with just a cut lip. He's been arrested - the Ferrari wasn't really his, he was in the country illegally, he had an unregistered gun in the car, his electronic games company is bankrupt and all sorts of creditors are after him, and he already has a criminal record, having spent time in jail in Europe for fraud and such, before he became the CEO of the electronics thing.

He seemed to think coming to California and pretending he was cool, rich and successful would make it all better. This is where people reinvent themselves, after all. But he drove a bit too fast. It's kind of classic. They write songs about such things, like the Eagles' classic "Life in the Fast Lane" - the words of that number (here) will do nicely.

This is Thursday, May 18, 2006 - late morning with fog off the Pacific a few hundred feet to the left. Note the gas prices here a few feet from Malibu Colony where all the stars live. Business was fine, thank you. It doesn't matter.

Below, across the street at Malibu Creek Plaza, there was this parked by the local Starbucks - a Ferrari 456M. These were produced from 1992 through late 2003, and this may be one of the last, with its front-mounted 436-horsepower 5.5-liter V-12 (no mid-engine crap here), a top speed of 186 mph, and one of the better Pininfarina bodies. The original retail price was just shy of two hundred thirty thousand.

Ferrari 456M parked at coffee shop in Malibu

Contrasts - palm trees reflected in the glass, the Just Above Sunset staff Mini, and a surfboard.

Ferrari 456M parked at coffee shop in Malibu

Note - they do have brakes. You can slow down, and even stop.

Ferrari 456M parked at coffee shop in Malibu, wheel detail

Posted by Alan at 4:47 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006 4:49 PM PDT
Wednesday, 17 May 2006
Orange in the Shadows
Topic: Technical Exercises

Orange in the Shadows

In the shadows at Will Rogers Memorial Park on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills, at the north end of Rodeo Drive, just across the street from the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Polo Lounge – an exercise in low light. Tuesday May 16, 2006.

Orange blooms in the shadows at Will Rogers Memorial Park on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills

Posted by Alan at 10:10 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Tuesday, 16 May 2006
Hollywood Nympheas
Topic: Light and Shadow

Hollywood Nymphéas

Nelumbo nucifera, Will Rogers Memorial Park on Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills From The Independent (UK), May 17, 2006, this from Marina Bradbury in Paris -
Claude Monet's water lilies, among the most celebrated paintings of the Impressionist movement, will be revealed in their original glory when the Orangerie museum in the Paris Tuileries gardens reopens today. Created especially for the museum, the monumental work, entitled Nymphéas, has been hidden from the public eye for six years, during extensive renovations. The giant frieze, made up of eight separate paintings which together stretch almost 600 feet around the gallery, has not been seen in the way the artist intended for more than 40 years.
There are no Monet water lilies here, and our default Giverny will have to be Will Rogers Memorial Park on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills, at the north end of Rodeo Drive. just across the street from the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Polo Lounge and all that. The visuals are similar, except the water lilies we get floating here are a slightly different subspecies of what Monet was painting, lotus blossoms, and the reflections in the water are, here, of palm trees. It'll do. Air France has two or three flights a day from LAX to Paris, non-stop, but these lotus pools are just a short drive down Sunset Boulevard.

What you're looking at, in terms of scientific classification -

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Proteales
Family: Nelumbonaceae
Genus: Nelumbo
Species: N. nucifera
Binomial name - Nelumbo nucifera

Notes -
Nelumbo nucifera is known by a number of common names, including Sacred Lotus, Red Lotus, Indian Lotus Bean of India and Sacred Water-lily. Botanically, Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) is sometimes known by its former names, Nelumbium speciosum (Willd.), or Nymphaea nelumbo. This plant is an aquatic perennial. In ancient times it was common along the banks of the River Nile in Egypt along with the closely related Sacred Blue Lotus of the Nile (Nymphaea caerulea); and the flowers, fruit and sepals of both were widely depicted as architectural motifs where sacred images were called for. The Pharoic Egyptians venerated the Lotus and used it in worship. From Egypt it was carried to Assyria and became widely planted throughout Persia, India and China. It may also have been locally indigenous throughout Indo-China but there is doubt about this. In 1787 it was first brought into horticulture in Western Europe as a stove-house water-lily under the patronage of Sir Joseph Banks and can be seen in modern botanical garden collections where heating is provided. Today it is rare or extinct in the wild in Africa but widely naturalized in southern Asia and Australia, where it is commonly cultivated in water gardens. It is the National Flower of India.
"One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water." - Bhagavad Gita 5.10

Ironically, the lotus pools are in the same little park where, on April 7, 1998, George Michael (who sang with the quite forgettable group Wham!) was arrested for performing a lewd act in front of an undercover Beverly Hills cop in the park's public restrooms, a cute little stucco structure with a red tile roof.

Nelumbo nucifera, Will Rogers Memorial Park on Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills

Nelumbo nucifera, Will Rogers Memorial Park on Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills

Nelumbo nucifera, Will Rogers Memorial Park on Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills

Further notes on the park here, saying you should not get this park confused with Will Rogers State Historic Park, six miles west and also on Sunset, Will Rodgers' old ranch. This one is five acres, and that one is enormous, with polo fields you might have seen in "Pretty Woman" and other films. The little park with the lotus pools was a five-acre gift from the Beverly Hills Hotel, in 1915, so the land that became the City of Beverly Hills' first park had been part of the hotel's front lawn. Will Rodgers lived a block away and in the mid-twenties, before he moved down the road to his ranch, he was, informally, the honorary mayor of Beverly Hills. Everybody liked him. After he died the city named this small park after him, even though he had moved out in 1927. No hard feelings.
Will Rogers Memorial Park on Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills
Trivia from the link -

Actor Michael Caine tells of seeing John Wayne land in a helicopter in this park, then watching the Duke head across the street to the Beverly Hills Hotel - while wearing his cowboy duds! (Caine was surprised that John Wayne recognized him, but apparently he had just seen Caine's hit movie, "Alfie.")

This is the park where rock singer Rod Stewart proposed to his wife, model Rachel Hunter back in 1990. They were later married at the nearby Good Shepherd Church.
Good Shepherd is six blocks south and the last time it was in the news was the Frank Sinatra funeral there. Whatever. It doesn't matter.

Posted by Alan at 8:07 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006 8:20 PM PDT
Monday, 15 May 2006
Pink, Blue, Green, Red
Topic: Insider Stuff

Pink, Blue, Green, Red

Southern California colors - Hollywood Center Studios on Las Palmas a few blocks north of Melrose Avenue on Thursday May 11, late morning. This is down in "the flats," the mixed-use industrial area with Paramount and lots of sound and post-production shops, and Kodak and auto repair shops and small restaurants and strip malls and low, fifties-style apartment buildings, and grit. Hollywood Center Studios is a minor Hollywood studio, not affiliated with any particular motion picture company - these guys rent out the back lot and twelve sound stages to whoever has the cash for movies, television, music videos and whatnot. It was built in 1919 - Howard Hughes shot "Hell's Angels" (1929, silent) here, with Jean Harlow in her first movie role. Mae West and Harold Lloyd made many of their films here. There's more detail below this shot. The photograph is more an exercise in framing and color than in history.

Hollywood Center Studios on Las Palmas a few blocks north of Melrose Avenue on Thursday May 11, late morning

The website "Seeing Stars" has more detail here -

Other early movies shot here included "Pennies From Heaven" (1936, with Bing Crosby), "The Thief Of Baghdad" (1940), "The Jungle Book" (1942 with Sabu), and "Angel On My Shoulder" (1946, with Paul Muni). Shirley Temple had her film debut at this studio.

In the 1930's, it was known as General Service Studios, and produced countless b-movies and independent films. in the late 40's Cagney Productions (Jimmy, and his brother William), owned a large part of the studio.

In 1951, the studio turned to television. The first two years of "I Love Lucy" shows were shot here on Stage 2 (before Lucy & Desi moved Desilu studios over to RKO and moved the show over to Ren-Mar). In fact, the studio's sandwich shop next door to Stage 2 is called the "Babalu Cafe." The "Burns & Allen" show was also filmed here.

More recently, the studio was the scene of a noble failure, as Francis Ford Coppola (the director of "The Godfather" and "Apocalypse Now") began his ill fated Zoetrope Studio here. Alas, Zoetrope didn't last long; when Coppola's first new release, "One From the Heart," bombed at the box office in 1982, he lost the studio. (Although Zoetrope still exists as a production and post-production company in San Francisco, and online at

As a rental studio, numerous classic TV series were shot there, including "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Green Acres," "Petticoat Junction," "Mr. Ed," "The Bob Cummings Show," "Ozzie & Harriet," "Our Miss Brooks," "The Addams Family," "The Lone Ranger," "Baretta," "The Rockford Files"... and more recently, "The Cosby Show," "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Boy Meets World" and "Soul Train." "

"The Burns and Allen Show" was also shot there, and George Burns had an office at the studio which he visited almost every day until he died (at age 100). In fact, the Burns office is still there.

Modern films shot here include: "The Shaggy Dog" (with Tim Allen), "Cursed" (with Christina Ricci), "The X-Men," "Bad Santa," "Zoolander," "Dumb And Dumberer," "What Dreams May Come" (with Robin Williams), "Scream 2," "The Out of Towners" (with Steve Martin), "A Walk in the Clouds" (with Keanu Reeves), "Con Air" (with Nicolas Cage), "When Harry Met Sally" (with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan), "The Running Man" (with Arnold Schwarzenegger), "Frances" (with Jessica Lange), "Shampoo" (with Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn), "Save the Tiger" (with Jack Lemmon), "The Player" (with Tim Robbins), "The Karate Kid" and 1997's "Spawn."
There are no public tours. This is a working studio in an ugly part of town - think Steubenville with palm trees. It's not tourist territory.

On the other hand, if you need stage space, and rigging and lighting, and union grips and gaffers and such, for your own next major film, television show or music video, the Hollywood Center Studios website is here. They'll be glad to accommodate you. The site also lists all the films made on site, starting with "Smiling All The Way" in 1920 through the 2005 remake of "The Shaggy Dog" (the long list is here). The list of television productions is here and includes everything from Sky King to the show with the talking horse, Mister Ed - and the Mel Brooks series Get Smart. Very odd.

Hollywood Center Studios on Las Palmas a few blocks north of Melrose Avenue on Thursday May 11, late morning

Posted by Alan at 6:21 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006 6:27 PM PDT
Sunday, 14 May 2006
The Green Gumball
Topic: Oddities

The Green Gumball

Uno Gomes Cerqueira's Ferrari F430 from the 2006 Gumball 3000 rallyThis will easily get you from a dead stop to sixty in under four seconds, if you have at least 178,906 dollars (before taxes, registration and licensing fees, any options you choose and a chat with your insurance company). You're looking at the intake system of a mid-engine Ferrari F430, their hottest production model now that the Enzo is no more (they built only four hundred of those and they go for a million now, so you rarely see one of them, save for when some fool crashes one in Malibu or you catch a glimpse of Nicholas Cage driving his on the Beverly Hills part of Sunset, a few miles west).

This Ferrari F430 was just sitting in the street just off Melrose Avenue, on Fuller, Thursday May 11th, by the open-air auto repair shop, Ted's Imported Car Service, where there seemed to be a new yellow Lamborghini disassembled for some reason. This is Los Angeles, after all.

But this poison-green Ferrari on the street obviously needed Ted's help. It had been beat to hell and various bits of trim and some body parts had been taped in place with yellow duct tape, and the windshield and forward parts were pitted. It looked tired.

What happened? The racing number on the side - 45 - tells the tale. The Portuguese owner, Uno Gomes Cerqueira, had just driven it three thousand hard miles in six days in the latest version of "Cannonball Run," the rally, of sorts, that is run on public roads and is know as Gumball 3000.

That would be this -
In 1933 legendary motorcycle racer Mister Baker, had crossed the United States coast-to-coast in 54 hours, earning him the nickname Cannonball. He had had an annual race ever since 1914 (when he needed 11 days), and bettered his time ever since. In the 1970s motor journalist Brock Yates of Car and Driver magazine had started the "Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash" in honor of Cannonball. The first race was held on April 1, 1971, and first prize was a Gumball dispenser. The first race was won by Yates and Dan Gurney, former race driver for Formula One and Le Mans, who drove a Ferrari. They needed about 35 hours from New York to L.A. These events inspired the 1976 movies "Gumball Rally" and "Cannonball," as well as sequels such as "Cannonball Run," "Cannonball Run 2," etc. The original Gumball race was finally canceled in 1979.

Drawing inspiration from the 1970s race, the movies and "Smokey and the Bandit," Maximillion Cooper started the modern edition of the game in the summer of 1999 as the Gumball 3000 road rally. Gumball 3000 has since gained the reputation as road race for the modern era and has captured attention. With celebrity participation the public have been bought closer to the race by witnessing it on everything from MTV to reading about it in Vanity Fair.
So where had this F430 been this time to get so beat up? That information would be here - April 30 start in London and get to Belgium, then May 1 to Vienna, then Budapest the next day, and Belgrade the day after, then the cars are all flown of Southeast Asia and on May 5 race from Phuket to Bangkok, ending up at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel there, and then the cars are flown to Utah, to Salt Lake City, where everyone attends "the red carpet Premiere of Mission Impossible III" and the next morning revs up drives like hell to Las Vegas for a private "Snoop Dog" concert, then off to Death Valley and finally, May 7, the dash to the finish line, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. All that was followed by a dinner at the Beverly Hilton and a party at the Playboy Mansion up the hill, where one of the DJ's was the famous porn star Ron Jeremy.

This adds a whole new dimension, or many, to the "idle rich" thing. The "Spirit Trophy" was won by Team 15 - they crashed their Rolls Royce Phantom in Serbia and rode in cabs for the rest of the rally. Others just dodge the police and drive like hell. A few years ago some of us saw the drivers the police had actually caught on the 10 freeway in Covina - they didn't look very worried, and the cars were cool. We all slowed down and checked it out.

This Ferrari F430 on Melrose, after this year's three thousand miles on three continents, finished in the middle of the pack, but ahead of the guys in the cab. Now it needs work.

Uno Gomes Cerqueira's Ferrari F430 from the 2006 Gumball 3000 rally

Uno Gomes Cerqueira's Ferrari F430 from the 2006 Gumball 3000 rally

Uno Gomes Cerqueira's Ferrari F430 from the 2006 Gumball 3000 rally

Uno Gomes Cerqueira's Ferrari F430 from the 2006 Gumball 3000 rally

Posted by Alan at 7:37 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Sunday, 14 May 2006 7:42 PM PDT

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