Sunset Strip Images
Topic: Light and Shadow
These are just studies in composition, or maybe they're social commentary. There was an open parking space on the Sunset Strip, just across the street from the Chateau Marmont, and that place is famous - in 1982 John Belushi died of a drug overdose in one of its garden bungalows, Jim Morrison of The Doors used up what he called the eighth of his nine lives falling out of a window there, James Dean hopped in through a window to audition for Rebel Without a Cause (and the director and cast stayed there during the shoot), Led Zeppelin rode their motorcycles through the lobby one evening to cheering guests (some modest damage that night), and fashion photographer Helmut Newton died when his car crashed exiting the hotel driveway. The parking space was right where his SUV came to rest. But nothing was happing this day, Tuesday, September 26.
On the other hand, the camera was in the car and the light was good, so it was three dimes in the parking meter and a few shots, to give you a feel for this neighborhood. This is three short blocks from home. The first shot - behind a new club being built at Harper Avenue, a look at an Emporio Armani billboard to the left of the Chateau Marmont, a study in angles and color. The second shot - the Gucci billboard to the east, for a flavor of the pretension out here. The third shot is for the contrasts - the parking space was in front National Lampoon, but the magazine essentially exists today only as a logo and a trademark for licensing purposes, as it faded in the mid-seventies when key staffers when off to work for Saturday Night Live. Oh well. There was a new Bentley and fancy Porsche out front.
Topic: Historic Hollywood
That's the Art Deco Sunset Tower Hotel up there on the Sunset Strip (8358 Sunset Boulevard), back to its original name after being the Argyle for a bit - 1929, architect Leland A. Bryant. It's very famous, in a good number of films, and once home to Howard Hughes, John Wayne, Paulette Goddard, Zasu Pitts, and that famous gangster with the great name, Bugsy Siegel. It seems everyone lived there. The link will tell you more. A few other photos of the building are here and here, and in the January 2006 issue of Travel and Leisure there's a feature article here (PDF format) that's says it is one of the best hotels in the world, or may be.
The building may be worth a full photo shoot one day, inside and out, but that's been done by others and getting permission from the PR folks is always a hassle. We'll see. For now, this is how it looked late in the afternoon, September 24, 2006, from Franklin Avenue, with a ratty Faux Norman place in the foreground. The shot sort of captures the late twenties mix of fakery you found out here in those days. The fakery has changed since those days, but not that much - drive through Beverly Hills and look at the new MacMansions.
Note this screen-grab from the Sunset Tower Hotel site - the man got it right -
More mixed mode just off Hollywood Boulevard - amusing angles, pigeons and a lamppost -
Things To Do On A Sunday Afternoon In Hollywood
Topic: Unusual Events
Things To Do On A Sunday Afternoon In Hollywood
Sunday in Hollywood - slept in, as production of the weekly magazine-format Just Above Sunset ran late. So it was lots of black coffee and plowing through the Sunday Los Angeles Times, run a few errands, and then walk down the hill for a photo shoot.
Downhill - a few steps down to Sunset Boulevard, one block down to Franklin, and one block down to Santa Monica Boulevard. That's Historic Route 66 - just like in the 1946 Booby Troop song - get your kicks on Route 66 and all that. There's a sign that says so - "Historic Route 66" - just so you know.
The day's kicks were a few blocks west at Barneys Beanery - the Second Annual Route 66 Highway of Dreams Charity Car Show - ninety vintage cars and celebrity classics, exhibits, food, festivities and a car competition, as they promised. George Barris - the "Kustom King" - was this year's Honorary Chairmen, but I missed him. No matter - I've covered his cars before, twice actually.
And I've photographed and commented on Barneys Beanery before (see the last photo on this page) - on October 4, 1970, Janis Joplin sat at her favorite booth, thirty-four, and downed two screwdrivers before heading up to the Landmark Hotel (gone now). She died there later that evening.
But the cars were great - took a hundred shots and the best will appear in next Sunday's weekly. There was a very cool 1938 Peugeot 402 Eclipse DeCapotable with a retractable hardtop - just like the little Benz SLK I used to own (not really). It won Best in Show. The European machines were impressive - a pristine 1956 Benz 300SL Gull Wing Coupe (very red), a perfect 1954 Jaguar XK120 Fixed Head Coupe (egg shaped and egg white), and there were the two blonds in the 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO - but the Ferrari turned out to be a reproduction, built on a Datsun 240Z with Ferrari parts. Well, the girls were trying their best to do the Paris Hilton thing, but that wasn't working out either. The American machines were great - old Packard monsters and custom rods and all. There was even a 1962 Amphicar - the little convertible your drive into the water and then use as a boat. It was turquoise and the twin propellers under the rear bumper were white. Cute.
But there was the Janis Joplin vibe, and the best cars were parked in the shade under Emser Tile - the building used in Lethal Weapon for the scene where the businessman wants to commit suicide and Mel Gibson goes all crazy and jumps off the roof with him. They're handcuffed together. Yipes. I walked home to my place, a few doors from where F. Scott Fitzgerald drank himself to death while working on The Last Tycoon. It was his birthday. It seemed best to hide and process the photos.
Here are some of them, starting with the Peugeot, followed by the 1956 Benz 300SL Gull Wing Coupe, then the 1954 Jaguar XK120 Fixed Head Coupe.
Coming tomorrow in the new issue of the online magazine Just Above Sunset, a photo study of one of the oddest apartment buildings you'll ever see - "El Bordello Alexandra" at 20 Westminster, Venice Beach. There's this web page where a local tries to explain the place.
Below are two of the fifteen shots that week be posted tomorrow. It's a giggle.
Topic: Color Studies
Noted on the ocean front walk, the "boardwalk" in Venice Beach (there are no boards), Thursday, 21 September -