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 -

Tuesday, 13 June 2006
Jacaranda Time
Topic: Color Studies

Jacaranda Time

Jacaranda in bloom, North Hayworth Avenue, between Sunset Boulevard and Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles
Here the weather has turned into "Jacaranda Time" - that period from mid-May to late June when the purple jacaranda trees bloom everywhere.

That would be this -
Jacaranda is a neotropical genus in the family Bignoniaceae. Its members range in size from subshrubs to large trees.

As is often the case with plants, the genus name is also used as the common name for cultivated varieties. The most often seen is the Blue Jacaranda, Jacaranda mimosifolia (syn. J. acutifolia). This is widely grown for its ornamental value.
And more specifically this -
The Blue Jacaranda, more often known simply as the "Jacaranda", is a sub-tropical tree native to South America that has been widely planted elsewhere because of its beautiful and long-lasting blue flowers. Older sources give it the systematic name Jacaranda acutifolia, but it is nowadays more usually classified as Jacaranda mimosifolia. It is also known as the Black Poui, or as the fern tree. In scientific usage, the name "Jacaranda" refers to the genus Jacaranda, which has many other members, but in horticultural and everyday usage, it nearly always means the Blue Jacaranda.

… Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa is popularly and poetically known as Jacaranda City or Jakarandastad in Afrikaans because of the huge number of the trees which turn the city blue when they flower in the spring. The name Jakarandastad is frequently used in Afrikaans songs, such Staan Op by Kurt Darren.

People in Australia sing a Christmas song about Jacaranda trees, as the blooms are only seen in summer time - as the song explains, "When the bloom of the jacaranda tree is here, Christmas time is near."

Argentine writer Alejandro Dolina in his book "Crónicas del Ángel Gris" ("Chronicles of the Gray Angel") refers the legend of a massive jacaranda tree planted in Plaza Flores (Flores Square) in Buenos Aires which was able to whistle Tango songs on demand.
These Jacaranda, one block south of Sunset Boulevard on Hayworth just before Fountain Avenue, weren't whistling any tangos, but then no one asked. And this a quiet street, just below the big Directors Guild of America headquarters - you can hardly hear the traffic up on Sunset at all.

At the end of the street, at Fountain, this Art Deco vaguely French apartment building from the forties is being restored. They have a vacancy. That might be cool - old Hollywood and all that.

Jacaranda in bloom, North Hayworth Avenue, between Sunset Boulevard and Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles

Jacaranda in bloom, North Hayworth Avenue, between Sunset Boulevard and Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles

Posted by Alan at 6:51 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Tuesday, 13 June 2006 10:34 PM PDT
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

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