Facades of Four Sorts
Topic: Historic Hollywood
The mysterious door at 6763 Hollywood Boulevard, a well preserved, two-story Classic Revival building. In the twenties, the Montmartre Café, a popular nightclub, was up on the second floor, and next door was the Embassy Club, a fashionable private club that catered to Hollywood's elite back then. It's all locked up now. Those days are long gone. The star in the sidewalk there, in the Walk of Fame, reads Jascha Heifetz.
Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987) was, they say, the greatest violinist of the 20th Century. So he gets his star in the sidewalk in Hollywood.
Heifetz was born in Vilna in Lithuania, then a part of Russia. But he's really a local. Yeah, when he was twelve he met Fritz Kreisler for the first time in a Berlin private home with all the big gun violinists of the day, and the story goes that when Kreisler finished accompanying Heifetz at the piano (the Mendelssohn Concerto), Kreisler said to them all, "Now we can all break our fiddles across our knees." And there was the first time Heifetz played in the United States - October 27, 1917, Carnegie Hall. Violinist Mischa Elman in the audience complained - "Phew, it’s hot in here." Leopold Godowsky, in the next seat, smiled and said "not for pianists." Heifetz became an American citizen in 1925 and ended up out here. When he told Harpo Marx (a great admirer) that he had been earning his living as a musician since the age of seven, Harpo quipped, "and I suppose before that you were just a bum." Harpo Marx did speak, after all. Hollywood in its Golden Age must have been a strange place.
Heifetz taught the violin out here, first at UCLA then at the University of Southern California, with his buddy Gregor Piatigorsky. And as late as the 1980s he held classes in his private studio in his home in Beverly Hills. He died at the Cedar-Sinai Medical Center down the hill from here - after brain surgery as a result of a fall and loss of consciousness at the Beverly Hills place.
And he has his star in the sidewalk.
Behind the building is the not very mysterious back door to the Stella Adler Theater and the Stella Adler Academy of Acting, the parking lot entrance. It's very brash. You can find a list of those who have studied with Stella Adler here - it's not just these two. (For a front view click here, a shot from mid-January.)
Some walls have no history, but they're cool - one block north of the others, the Yucca Street Community Center, Cherokee at Yucca.
A blue wall, Cherokee at Hollywood Boulevard, providing irony…
Welcome to the Hotel California
Topic: Light and Shadow
A hotel entrance, North Cahuenga Boulevard, one block south of Hollywood Boulevard, the center of everything - a shot full of visual ironies the Eagles were covering musically.
Welcome to the Hotel California
And around the corner in Hollywood Boulevard, welcome to Hollywood...
On Friday, October 13, more than two weeks before Halloween and six weeks before Thanksgiving, the Christmas tree thing is up on the top of the Capitol Records Building on Vine, just up the street from Hollywood Boulevard. One gets used to this sort of thing - someone is no doubt producing a "Christmas in Hollywood" special and needed an aerial shot at twilight. Producing an hour of television takes time and if they plan to get everything out of post-production and in the can by early December at the latest… well, they'd be working now. I'll keep an eye out for elves taking a smoke break outside the Paramount lot, or down the street at the Sunset-Gower Studios.
Topic: Color Studies
Your mood effects what you see. Friday the 13th in Hollywood opened with low clouds that broke up late morning in the damp light breeze off the Pacific, pushing in from the other end of Sunset Boulevard, ten miles west, where Sunset ends at Pacific Coast Highway at the south end of Malibu. Then the big billowy cumulus built up, sliding over toward the mountains between us and the Mojave Desert, where they sat, getting darker. Then the sky got darker here, with the low, hairy leading-edge black scudding things drifting in, and it started to smell like rain, somewhere. The first rain of the fall is on the way - seventy percent chance, or so they say. This may be the first rain in six months - but no one checks the records. Did it rain last spring sometime? No one remembers. Rain is not what happens in Southern California, except in the thirties film noir things, or on old radio episodes of Dragnet from the early fifties. But it's back.
Friday the 13th on Hollywood Boulevard, passing through while running a few errands, the place was looking very noir, or very Friday the 13th - everything passing out of light and shadow.
At Hollywood and Vine, at Iguana Vintage Clothing, Humphrey Bogart, as Rick in Casablanca, was still looking down on the street - standing behind the glass and poison green neon, holding one of the cigarettes that killed him. He's been there for years, cynical, seeing nothing.
He's looking down on a very red wall these days, and at Bloodshot. And below him to the right is a black wall that seems to tell a story - but the story is obscure, the meanings hidden. Very noir.
Topic: Color Studies
Two color studies - the Santa Monica pier, Wednesday, October 11, 2006 -
The geometry of green -
Red - and it doesn't scare the kids. They ride it.