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 -


Tuesday, 23 May 2006
Kermit the Frog at Charlie Chaplin's Place
Topic: Insider Stuff

Kermit the Frog at Charlie Chaplin's Place

Kermit the Frog at The Jim Henson Company, at the former Charlie Chaplin Studios on La Brea in Los Angeles
Kermit the Frog can be found at Charlie Chaplin Studios, on the northeast corner of La Brea and De Longpre Avenues, just south of Sunset Boulevard. Chaplin built his own Hollywood studio in 1918, and that's what this was until 1953. Then it became Kling Studios and they produced the old Superman television series with George Reeves. Red Skelton used the sound stages for his CBS variety show when CBS followed Kling as the owners of the place, and they filmed the Perry Mason series with Raymond Burr here. Then it became the home of A&M Records and Tijuana Brass Enterprises. A&M Records was formed in 1962 by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, and their first choice for a name was Carnival Records, but after two singles they got in trouble as another label had already taken the Carnival name. Oops. A&M Records is now down in Santa Monica, part of they Universal Music Group, with a catalog that includes the Carpenters, the Police, Barry White and Sheryl Crow. And Alpert has his jazz club, the Vibrato Grill high above Bel Air, up Mulholland Drive way.

The old Charlie Chaplin Studios is currently the home of The Jim Henson Company, as in the Muppets, as in Kermit the Frog. In 1969 the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board named the studio a historical cultural monument, and that explains why Kermit the Frog is on the roof dressed as Charlie Chaplin's tramp, sort of. It's a nod to history.

The history here, the Chaplin films - A Dog's Life (1918), and Pay Day (1922), and longer films, Shoulder Arms (1918) and The Pilgrim (1923), and the silent feature films, The Kid (1921), A Woman of Paris (1923), The Gold Rush (1925), and The Circus (1928). And there was City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936). Modern Times was the first film where Chaplin's voice is heard (in the nonsense song at the end). He wasn't big on the sound thing. But there was "The Great Dictator" (1940) - Chaplin played a fascist dictator who looked a lot like Hitler. Chaplin and Hitler were born only four days apart, but had different sorts of careers of course. All those films came from here.

You will find a bit on the Jim Henson Company here, being told it was founded in 1958 by puppeteer Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. The company is now run by his son Brian and daughter Lisa, who serve as co-chairs and co-CEOs. The company's units include Jim Henson Pictures, Jim Henson Television, Jim Henson Records, and Jim Henson's Creature Shop. That's what's here now. Kermit the Frog was the mascot for the Jim Henson Company until the sale of the Muppet characters (just the rights to use the characters) to the Walt Disney Company, but Disney seems to have no problem with Kermit in this non-Disney context. It's history.

The Jim Henson Company, at the former Charlie Chaplin Studios on La Brea in Los Angeles



The Jim Henson Company, at the former Charlie Chaplin Studios on La Brea in Los Angeles



The neighborhood? Across the street there's a strip joint, and above it a billboard for the current hot movie - Tom and Audrey (shown here), in Paris, hot on the trail of the clues to the real story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene and what the Catholic Church really doesn't want you to know (aside from the priests and the young boys). Jesus had children? It's hack suspense fiction - it's Agatha Christie fused with dark suspicions of the Catholic Church (or so says Andrew Sullivan), but this is really odd product placement.

Billboard of The Da Vinci Code on La Brea in Los Angeles



Music Footnotes

When A&M Records was active at this site, a popular French singer, Mylène Farmer, recorded an album here - Anamorphosée (1995). Farmer is one of those sex kitten types, and perfect for Hollywood. She was born to French parents in Pierrefonds, in Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, and they took her back to France when she was eight. But she spends time out here as she likes it out here. You see, her birth name is Mylène Gautier, but she chose her stage name Farmer in homage to Frances Farmer, of all people. That's so Hollywood. Hardly anyone in America has ever heard of Mylène Farmer of course.

The number seven song in France in 1996 was from this La Brea studio album, Anamorphosée. It was called "California." The music video is amazing (you can watch it here) - all the exteriors shot on the Sunset Strip, within a few blocks of the desk where these words are being written. There's an opening shot of the Coconut Teaser, at Sunset and Laurel Canyon, and that's gone now, but all of the rest is still out there, just down the street. It's very edgy. It's very arty (or very pretentious, if you prefer). It's very sexy. It very LA. And it's quite French.

From the lyrics -

Sex appeal, c'est Sunset
C'est Marlboro qui me sourit
Mon amour, mon moi, je
Sais qu'il existe
La chaleur de l'abandon
C'est comme une symphonie

C'est sexy le ciel de Californie
Sous ma peau j'ai L.A. en overdose
So sexy le spleen d'un road movie
Dans l'rétro ma vie qui s'anamorphose
You get the idea. C'est sexy le ciel de Californie, except for Kermit the Frog up there.

And as for what Herb Alpert is up to these days, see this. The recording genius, and perhaps the worst trumpet player ever to make a hit record (he was awful), is joining the tragically hip and doing a remix album -
Herb Alpert wasn't too jazzed when he heard about a remix of his classic "Whipped Cream and Other Delights" album - until he tasted some of the new cuts.

He liked what he heard, and the trumpeter and music-industry pacesetter threw his weight behind the new version of the toe-tapping, genre-bending album that featured Grammy-winner "A Taste of Honey" and "Whipped Cream," and other food-oriented treats.
God help us all - a club remix of "Tijuana Taxi" is not what we need.

Kermit the Frog at The Jim Henson Company, at the former Charlie Chaplin Studios on La Brea in Los Angeles


Posted by Alan at 7:55 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006 8:08 PM PDT
Monday, 22 May 2006
Things That Aren't What They Seem, or Are
Topic: Oddities

Things That Aren't What They Seem, or Are

Rocket Science Laboratories, 8441 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069 - the only signage
A reality television production company - Rocket Science Laboratories gave us the reality shows Joe Millionaire, Temptation Island, and My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé. They've got this little sign by the door, but no other indication they're inside. This is the only sign. It's very mysterious. But in 2003 the company entered a multi-year overall production deal with the FOX Broadcasting Company. Rocket Science Laboratories was founded by partners Jean-Michel Michenaud and Chris Cowan, who, given what they named their company, obviously have a sense of humor. What they do is not exactly rocket science, as they say. In fact, it's somewhat the opposite, and has made them rich. They seem to enjoy the joke.

They're just down the street, on Santa Monica Boulevard, next to Barney's Beanery, where one night Janis Joplin had a few drinks (two screwdrivers) before she went up the hill to the old Landmark Theater, played a few sets, and died. She was not a rocket scientist herself.

Rocket Science Laboratories
8441 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
__

Next?

Stephanie Mata has this store around the corner from the Groundlings Theater on Melrose Avenue. And it's true. The LA Weekly says this about her -
With 20 years of coddling VIPs, hard-assing too-cool-to-pay-a-cover scenesters and managing everything from crowd control to the cash box at Hollywood's most rockin' nightclubs, Stephanie Mata, who currently works the Viper Room and Key Club, knows all when it comes to the dynamics of the door. The store owner (she's got a by-appointment-only shop below her Melrose apartment called the Never Open Store)/mother/door diva supreme has manned the entrances of some legendary joints over the years, including metal haven the Cathouse, the retro-à-gogo 1970 and the Pretty Ugly Club, to name a few. And though the locales have changed, the stuff coming out of people's mouths definitely has not. "The worst possible thing you can say at the door, and people always do, is 'I know so-and-so...' or 'I'm friends with so-and-so?' If I hear that, I usually let 'em have it." Mata says, even if it is a friend, "no one gets in for free all the time at my door," and she has no qualms about asking pals to kick down when necessary. After all, "clubs are there to make money," she says. Toting her ever-present clipboard, Mata is one of the few women you'll actually see out in the trenches (as opposed to inside the club, sheltered in a booth or behind a table), and her straightforward, no-bullshit approach commands respect, often striking fear into the hearts of even the burliest male club-hoppers. Still, even those who've endured her wrath seem to respect her sharp-witted and vivacious demeanor, traits that have surely helped her stay in the biz for so long. "All I have is my personality," she says. "But I come from the school of 'the customer is always wrong,' so I'm really not cut out for a traditional job. I'll probably end up the world's only 100-year-old door girl."
Her store reflects her personality, doesn't it?

Stephanie Mata's Never Open Store, just off Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles


Playa del Rey, late April. Well, duh!

Hidden traffic sign, Playa del Rey, late April



Posted by Alan at 6:59 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006 7:10 PM PDT
Sunday, 21 May 2006
Sad News

Sad News

Faithful companion and partner for more than seven years, Harriet-the-Cat passed away this morning, Sunday, May 21, 2006. One hopes there are fresh shrimp in cat heaven. A good cat. The best.

Harriet-the-Cat


Posted by Alan at 3:18 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Saturday, 20 May 2006
At a distance...
Topic: Technical Exercises

At a distance...

More experimentation with the telephotos lens and fast shutter settings - Venice California, Thursday, May 18, 2006, early afternoon - low light due to moderate ground fog and the persistent marine layer.

Bird Study - Venice California, Thursday, May 18, 2006, early afternoon



Bird Study - Venice California, Thursday, May 18, 2006, early afternoon



Bird Study - Venice California, Thursday, May 18, 2006, early afternoon



Posted by Alan at 7:49 AM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Friday, 19 May 2006
Egrets in Context

Egrets in Context

Egret, Venice California, May 18, 2006
"An egret is any of several herons, most of which are white or buff, and several of which develop fine plumes during the breeding season. Many egrets are members of the genera Egretta or Ardea which contain other species named as herons rather than egrets. The distinction between a heron and an egret is rather vague, and depends more on appearance than biology.

"Several of the egrets have been moved around from one genus to another in recent years: the Great Egret, for example, was traditionally classified as either a member of Casmoderius, Egretta or Ardea.

"In the 19th and early part of the 20th century, some of the world's egret species were endangered by relentless hunting, since hat makers in Europe and the United States demanded massive numbers of egret plumes and breeding birds were killed in locations all around the world.

"Several Egretta species, including the Eastern Reef Egret, the Reddish Egret and the Western Reef Egret have two distinct colors, one of which is entirely white. Little Blue Heron has an all-white juvenile plumage" - or so it says here.

These appear to be egrets, in the muck of an old silted-in canal in Venice California, Thursday, May 18, 2006, early afternoon. Which sort they are is a mystery, but they provided a chance to experiment with the telephoto lens and various shutter speeds.


Egret, Venice California, May 18, 2006



Egret, Venice California, May 18, 2006



Egret, Venice California, May 18, 2006



Nosey neighbor -

Egret, Venice California, May 18, 2006


Posted by Alan at 7:26 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006 7:30 PM PDT

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