A Simple Wall
Topic: Light and Shadow
A Simple Wall
Sunset Plaza on the Sunset Strip at Sunset - July 3rd - long light on a French-looking façade - across the street from Mel's Drive-In -
See L'Étranger in a Strange Land
Michel Houellebecq's Weekend in L.A.
Brendan Bernhard, LA Weekly, issue of June 23, 2005
Bernhard interviews the notorious French writer Houellebecq, on Houellebecq's first visit to Los Angeles, while the author is "smoking a cigarette at a sidewalk table at Mel's Diner on Sunset Boulevard." We learn he's trying the Santa Fe Chicken Salad, but gives up on it and opts instead for a quadruple espresso. How French. Mel's is a faux "American Graffiti" kind of tourist trap, with bad food and no carhops at all (they have valet parking, of course). This is what he saw across the street. Was he homesick?
Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, has his automotive shots - the "Fiat 500 of the Week" on the streets of Paris. Things are different out here. Sitting in front of the French sidewalk bistro at Sunset Plaza, a 1992 Vector W8 twinturbo - six hundred twenty-five horsepower, with its Kevlar, carbon-fiber, and fiberglass body - a local product, built down in Wilmington, at the harbor. Hollywood note - a red W8 made a rare appearance in the 1993 movie Rising Sun - Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes and the Japanese and all that. The Vector is a bit over the top - the car's first customer was Andre Agassi. Vector intended to follow the W8 with the Vector WX-3 and Vector WX-3R, but series production never got off the ground. Production of the W8 ended in 1993, when the company was purchased by Megatech, and pretty much disappeared. No more Vectors. More on the car here and the company here. Amusing.
A stretch limo pulls in front -
Across the street, a bit of a contrast -
They take movies seriously down in Culver City, and just across the street from old MGM studios - home to The Wizard of Oz and An American in Paris and all the rest, but now Sony-Columbia - at the Veterans Memorial Building there's this stainless steel thing in the reflecting pool out front - "Filmstrip USA" by Natalie Krol. It was installed in 1981, the year after they renovated the brutal 1950 building behind it. That's still ugly, but at least it is now neat and clean - anonymous fifties public buildings aren't very interesting.
The sculpture, or whatever this thing is, is amusing. Stainless steel film stock?
But this is, after all, The Heart of Screenland -
So this work makes sense, of course.
Hundreds of movies have been produced on the lots of Culver City's studios, including The Wizard of Oz, The Thin Man, Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, Rebecca, the Tarzan series, and the original King Kong. In fact, the Yellow brick road from The Wizard of Oz is still inside the lot on Stage 27 of Sony Studios. More recent films made in Culver City include Grease, Raging Bull, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, City Slickers, Air Force One, Wag the Dog and Contact. Television shows made on Culver City sets have included Las Vegas, Mad About You, Lassie, Batman, The Andy Griffith Show and Jeopardy!.
John Travolta's "Stranded at the Drive-In" sequence in Grease was filmed at the Studio Drive-In on the corner of Jefferson and Sepulveda. It served as a set for many other films, including Pee-wee's Big Adventure.
... Culver City's streets may be familiar to many movie-goers. They have been featured in countless films and television shows. Since much of the architecture of the residential areas of the town has not changed in decades, the nostalgic sitcom The Wonder Years set many of its outdoor scenes in the timeless neighborhoods of Culver City. The 1970's show CHiPs also featured many chase scenes through the streets. The Nicholas Cage film Matchstick Men included scenes made at Veterans Memorial Park (which was also featured in the opening scenes of the sitcom Valerie / Valerie's Family / The Hogan Family).
The history of the town is beginning to be recognized. The Aviator, a 2004 film about Howard Hughes, featured several mentions of Culver City in connection with Hughes. The Hughes aircraft plant had a Culver City mailing address but was actually in the adjacent Los Angeles neighborhood of Westchester at a site now called Playa Vista.
Personal Note - lived in Culver City in the early eighties, saw a bad movie or two at that Studio Drive-In with the wife, but it's now gone and there are overpriced little houses where it stood, and at the time worked at Hughes down in Playa Vista, and listened to my father-in-law when he visited from the Pentagon tell tales of being part of the Citizen Kane production way back when (he went to high school with Orson Welles) - very odd -