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 -

Monday, 12 June 2006
Wheels Are Turning
Topic: Geometric Shapes

Wheels Are Turning

Wheels, Travel Town Museum, Griffith Park, Los Angeles
Wheels are turning. The Just Above Sunset computer is real dead, and the shop has just transferred the files from the old computer to a new external hard drive to plug into the laptop, which now becomes the new Just Above Sunset server. Now it's getting things set up and settled down.

But all of the photography files have been recovered, including those taken Monday, May 29, 2006, at the Travel Town Museum, an outdoor transportation museum on the other side of Griffith Park, beside Forest Lawn, across the bone-dry Los Angeles River from Warner Brothers and Disney studios - the Burbank side of the park. The focus there is the history of railroad transportation in the western United States from 1880 to the 1930s. The place opened on December 14, 1952, and now has fourteen steam locomotives and twenty-six other pieces of rolling stock. The website is here, with history of how the museum came to be there here, and a list of what's on display here.

And here are some wheels. Now back to systems work.

Wheels, Travel Town Museum, Griffith Park, Los Angeles

Posted by Alan at 8:17 PM PDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink

Sunday, 11 June 2006
Topic: Technical Exercises


An exercise in framing and perspective - Hollywood Boulevard, Monday, 4 June 2006, mid-afternoon, looking west through the June haze, the marine layer finally starting to burn off - the march of the lampposts, the tourists, the traffic - just another day -

 Hollywood Boulevard, Monday, 4 June 2006, mid-afternoon, looking west

Posted by Alan at 5:30 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Saturday, 10 June 2006
Landmarks: Things Not To Do In Los Angeles
Topic: Landmarks

Landmarks: Things Not To Do In Los Angeles

One thing not to do when visiting Hollywood is stop here for an Oki Dog. It looks harmless and a bit picturesque, so very California, and it's famous in a way. When Oki Dog was at Santa Monica and Vista it was the place in the late seventies for the punk rock crowd, near the clubs and where the big names in the bands stuffed their faces just before dawn after the last set. It was legend. It's been moved west to Fairfax, north of Melrose. And now it's just scary. See the text below the picture.

Oki Dog on Fairfax

There is a site devoted to America's hot dog stands, and about Oki Dog they offer this (and more) -

Hands down, the weirdest hot dog in LA

Occasionally, you run across a concept that is so alien, so removed from anything you've ever experienced before, that you just don't know what to think about it. Oki Dog is that sort of place. Using the standards we normally apply to rate hot dog stands, Oki wouldn't even register a single dewclaw of a dog on our Dog Rating scale. The dogmeat is chewy and bland, the chili is very cheap, and the atmosphere is akin to eating in a grimy gas station restroom in the middle of the Mohave Desert. This place is a "dive among dives." But we have to admit, we kinda like the place. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

... Oki Dog used to be on Santa Monica Boulevard at Vista, right in the middle of "Boystown," where shirtless young gentlemen can be found on every corner "looking for rides." Since it was close to the Hollywood nightclubs and always open late, it developed quite a following among the punk rock movement. Skinheads, longhairs and mohawks could be seen sitting side by side on the stools chowing down on greasy burritos at all hours of the day and night. It was a real happening place back in the late 70s. We don't really know why, but it never occurred to us to stop in and try the place back then.

Well, the neighbors complained about the unruly mob that hung out there, so the City Council banished Oki Dog to a small hut off the strip on Fairfax. A more respectable chain restaurant with pre-fab food and lots of security guards took Oki's spot on Santa Monica and Vista. If Oki Dog could be said to be on the skids before, this development put it face down in the gutter. Today, many ex-Punks who went on to become accountants and lawyers have fond memories of late nights at Oki Dog. As they drive by their old hangout in their shiny new Beemers or Audi station wagons, they roll their windows up tight, lock the doors and shed a quiet tear for what used to be. But the amazing thing is, Oki Dog isn't just a memory. It still exists. The hut is just the same, albeit a bit more battered around the edges. The food hasn't changed - it was always battered around the edges. The battered people who eat there haven't changed much either. Oki Dog LIVES!
It should be noted the whole area, from where it used to stand to the new location, is both heavily Jewish and the heart of the Russian immigrant community here, so pastrami burritos are a specialty - fried pastrami, sautéed cabbage, onions and peppers, mustard and pickles, and a healthy dose of Oki chili. And Oki chili seems to be whatever canned stuff they can find discounted by any restaurant supply wholesaler.

In Japanese, oki means big. And the place seems to be a nod to the many Japanese out here from Okinawa. But the connection is tenuous at best, as noted here -
The dish in question is the eponymous Oki Dog. It is massive and terrible to behold. Start with two hot dogs, boiled into rubbery submission, a corpse of a corpse. Add perfect squares of shining American cheese, and bury them in predigested-looking canned chili. Then, the pastrami. A slab of gristly pink pastrami joins the grease mound, and everything is wrapped in a massive tortilla, a tortilla upon which the face of Jesus will never appear. The face of Elvis, perhaps, but not Jesus.

If someone could maneuver a punch down your throat and into your stomach, the experience would be something like eating an Oki Dog, provided your assailant's fist was sufficiently salted. The bundle of fat and low-grade protein simultaneously satisfies all appetite while insulting all aesthetics.
And that's putting it kindly.

As for a "real" Oki Dog, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin offers you this -
The Oki Dog is apropos of nothing. A non sequitur. The sum of incongruent parts that add up to Okinawan audacity.

An Oki Dog begins with a hot dog (any type, but red is aesthetically best), a dollop of chili (must be from Zippy's, founded by the Okinawan Higa family), a few slices of shoyu pork (this is what truly makes it Okinawan), shredded lettuce (iceberg, for crunch), wrapped in a flour tortilla (for ease of transport).

And as if all that's not enough: "It would taste good with mayonnaise, but that spoils too quickly," says Isaac Hokama, one of those responsible for bringing the Oki Dog to Hawaii.

Consider it an example of four-part fusion: American/Mexican/Tex-Mexican/Okinawan. Or consider it inexplicable.
Of course that sound a little better.

But the legend of the place lives on. There is a Japanese-based post-punk garage band named Oki Dog, and they chose their name in homage to the West Hollywood hot dog stand that used to be. If you like that sort of music you can listen to one of their cuts here, but that's not recommended.

When the band appeared in London they were described this way - "Oki Dog are an eclectic Noah's Ark of a band: a Pakistani drummer (Kemikal Ali), guitarists from England and Germany (Flip X and Kennedy), a Spanish bass player (Hugo Santacruz) and fronted by a cheeky Chinese lass called Grace. They're a good looking band, oozing artfully crafted cool, who play an energetic, punky Rock Pop, full of sexy licks and catchy riffs."

Yeah, sure. They are the sonic counterpart of the signature Oki Dog, the musical equivalent of the perhaps the worst cheap junk food yet devised.

But all this is Hollywood, after all.

Posted by Alan at 3:13 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Saturday, 10 June 2006 3:17 PM PDT
Friday, 9 June 2006
Oddities: Fooling the Eye in Hollywood
Topic: Insider Stuff

Oddities: Fooling the Eye in Hollywood

Palace Costume, 835 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles - storefront details
This in an interesting film industry supplier just down the hill, a company that rents vintage clothing to the entertainment industry, and not open to the public at all - but it always catches your eye as you drive by.

The place is Palace Costume and Prop Company, 835 North Fairfax Avenue - founded in 1970 after starting out as a vintage clothing store down on Melrose Avenue.

From the Los Angeles Business Journal, October 26, 1998, this -
Melody Barnett's costumes have been featured in thousands of television shows and movies, and studio costume designers rave about her store's huge selection and excellent customer service. On a recent afternoon, the phone at her Palace Costume & Prop Co. was ringing off the hook as a steady stream of costume designers and stylists came into the store.

"It's very accessible. I can't think of any other place in L.A. that's like Palace Costume where you call just walk in once you're on account and not have to make an appointment or give them your first child," said costume designer Mark Bridges, who has worked in the industry for 15 years.

... The offerings include more than half a million pieces of distinctive clothing - racks and racks of men's jackets and shirts, women's fur coats and exotic costumes and jewelry from Africa, China and India.

In fact, Barnett's collections have adorned the bodies of the beautiful and famous in thousands of television shows and movies, including "Austin Powers," "Chinatown," "Forrest Gump" and "What's Love Got To Do With It."

... "Every film with a period piece in it probably utilizes Palace Costume," said Tom Bronson, director of the costume department at Burbank-based Walt Disney Studios. "Her clothes are in great shape. Some people think she's overprotective of her clothes. If shoots run longer than expected she will charge more and she should. It's her livelihood and it's extremely difficult to replace or even find an authentic piece of vintage clothing."

Years of amassing everything from Victorian dresses to '80s power suits have required Barnett to keep expanding her space, adding about 1,000 square feet to the shop every year.

... Rather than put unsightly iron gates across the building's exterior. Barnett had a wooden/stucco facade constructed that features hand-painted characters in period costumes.
And that's what you see here.

It's very odd, next to a nursing home, across the street from a seedy hot dog stand, and in a neighborhood where most everyone speaks Russian. On the other hand, the site says Palace provided some of the some of the costumes for Lasse Hallström's Chocolat (2000, Miramax), so Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp might have been wearing what was rented here. And that was a classy film, or wanted to be.

Of course places not open to the public should offer the public something, and in this case the public is offered eye candy.

Palace Costume, 835 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles - storefront details

Palace Costume, 835 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles - storefront details

Palace Costume, 835 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles - storefront details

Palace Costume, 835 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles - storefront details

Palace Costume, 835 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles - storefront details

Photos - Friday, June 9, 2006

Posted by Alan at 7:10 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Friday, 9 June 2006 7:18 PM PDT
Thursday, 8 June 2006
Architectural Detail and Hollywood History
Topic: Historic Hollywood

Architectural Detail and Hollywood History

Lamppost at the Hollywood Guaranty Building, 6331 Hollywood Boulevard at Ivar
To the right, a lamppost at the Hollywood Guaranty Building, 6331 Hollywood Boulevard at Ivar, a twelve-story 1923 Beaux Arts office building by the architects John C. Austin and Frederick M. Ashley.

Charlie Chaplin and Cecil B. De Mille invested in this building and the gossip columnist Hedda Hopper worked here. Charlie Chaplin, Al Jolson and Cecil B. De Mille all once had their offices in this building. The Bank of America owned it for a time, and the building was sold in 1988 to the Church of Scientology in a straight cash transaction. It's now the executive offices for the international operations of those folks.

The building is dull. The lamppost is cool.

Below, details of the Security Pacific Bank Building at 6383 Hollywood Boulevard, at Cahuenga, from 1921 by the architects John and Donald B. Parkinson - also know as the Cahuenga Building, Philip Marlowe's office in Raymond Chandlers The Long Goodbye. It's part of Raymond Chandler Square, previously covered in these pages here. The building has interesting detail.

Details of the Security Pacific Bank Building at 6383 Hollywood Boulevard, at Cahuenga, from 1921 by the architects John and Donald B. Parkinson

Details of the Security Pacific Bank Building at 6383 Hollywood Boulevard, at Cahuenga, from 1921 by the architects John and Donald B. Parkinson

Details of the Security Pacific Bank Building at 6383 Hollywood Boulevard, at Cahuenga, from 1921 by the architects John and Donald B. Parkinson

Details of the Security Pacific Bank Building at 6383 Hollywood Boulevard, at Cahuenga, from 1921 by the architects John and Donald B. Parkinson

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, 1313 North Vine at Fountain, built in 1947-48 as a radio and television studio facility and designed by Claude Beelman and his associate, Herman Spackler, and recently restored by Offenhauser/Mekeel Architects. It's amusing.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, 1313 North Vine at Fountain

Notes -

The Academy's Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study was dedicated in honor of Mary Pickford, the legendary silent film actress, in 2002. In addition to the 286-seat Dunn Theater, the building houses several Academy departments, including the offices and collections of the Academy Film Archive and the Science and Technology Council.

? It is the oldest surviving structure in Hollywood that was originally designed specifically with television in mind.

Cadillac dealer Don Lee got into broadcasting to stay competitive with his friend Earle C. Anthony, a Packard dealer, who bought radio station KFI as a method of appealing to his customers. Lee bought KRFC in San Francisco and KHJ in Los Angeles, ultimately building the chain to 12 west coast stations. On Wednesday, November 5, 1930, Don Lee station KHJ and Paramount station KNX broadcast the third annual Academy Awards on Lee's Pacific Coast network.

Lee began dabbling in television in 1930 by hiring Harry Lubcke, a laid-off assistant to Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of television. Lubcke set up a station on the top floor of Don Lee's Cadillac headquarters at Seventh and Bixel streets. The station used the call letters W6XAO. Since tv receivers didn't exist yet, Lubcke designed and provided free schematics to electronics enthusiasts in the Los Angeles area to build their own. After 100 or so had built receivers, W6XAO, Channel 1, began to broadcast an hour a day, six days a week.

Though named for him, Lee, who had died 14 years earlier, never saw this building.

The building was the original home of Los Angeles Channel 2, which is now KCBS-TV, through the 1950s.

It was the studio for Johnny Carson's earliest mid-'50s television appearances before "The Tonight Show," including "Carson's Cellar" and "The New Johnny Carson Show."

It was the original home, from 1964 through 1971, of California Community Television, which grew into PBS station KCET.

It was the home of KHJ-TV in the 1950s.

It was ABC's headquarters for the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics and the home of many ABC television shows.

Among other shows broadcast from 1313 North Vine Street were: Queen for a Day, Heart's Desire, What's the Name of That Song?, Don Lee Music Hall, My Friend Irma, Jimmy Wakely Show, Bill Stulla Show, Oxydol Show, Your Claim to Fame, Joey Bishop Show, Barney Miller, Dating Game, Newlywed Game and The Andersonville Trial.
Ah but for real Hollywood history you can't the Knickerbocker Hotel, 1714 North Ivar Avenue, just off Hollywood Boulevard, built in the early twenties. It has a cool history, first a luxury apartment building, then a hotel, now apartments for seniors, almost all of them Russian. In the old days Rudolph Valentino hung out at the hotel bar, and liked to tango there. Harry Houdini made a deal with his wife Bess that if he died before she did he would try to contact her from the great beyond. On Halloween 1926, exactly one year after he died, she conducted a séance on the roof of the Knickerbocker, but he, or his spirit or whatever, didn't show. She tried that each Halloween up on the roof for the next ten years. No good. Oh well.

And then there's D.W. Griffith. He died of a stroke on July 21, 1948 under the crystal chandelier in the lobby. And that strange actress Frances Farmer was arrested here in 1942, dragged from her room, and that ended in her lobotomy and all. They made a film about it. The word is William Faulkner and Meta Carpenter, a script girl at Fox, began their eighteen-year affair here. Marilyn Monroe honeymooned here with Joe Dimaggio in January of 1954, and Elvis Presley stayed in suite 1016 back in 1956 while he was shooting "Love Me Tender." Who else lived here? Frank Sinatra, Barbara Stanwyck, Lana Turner, Mae West, Laurel and Hardy, Larry Fine of the Three Stooges, and Cecil B. DeMille. And William Frawley, who played Fred Mertz on "I Love Lucy," lived here for decades and on March 3, 1966, died of a heart attack on the sidewalk in front of the place.

Knickerbocker Hotel, 1714 North Ivar Avenue, just off Hollywood Boulevard

Quite a place. You can't get in now, even to see the chandelier in the lobby. History is over. The building has been "repurposed."

Posted by Alan at 8:23 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006 8:49 PM PDT

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