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.

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Visitors from February 28, 2006, 10:00 am Pacific Time to date -

Friday, 26 May 2006
An Odd Hollywood Star
Topic: Landmarks

An Odd Hollywood Star

The Miles Davis star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Friday, May 26, 2006, and Miles Davis would have been eighty today. This is his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on his birthday. It's on south side of the street, just west of Sycamore. The local jazz station, KJZZ out of Cal State Long Beach, was playing his music all day.

The Wikipedia has most everything you might want to know about Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 - September 28, 1991), at least the highlights, here, including this detail -
Miles Davis was born into a relatively wealthy African-American family living in Alton, Illinois. His father, Miles Henry Davis, was a dentist, and in 1927 the family moved to a white neighborhood in East St. Louis. They also owned a substantial ranch, and Davis learned to ride horses as a boy.

Davis's mother, Cleota, wanted Davis to learn the violin - she was a capable blues pianist, but kept this hidden from her son, feeling that "negro" music was not sufficiently genteel. At the age of nine, one of Davis's father's friends gave him his first trumpet, but he did not start learning to play seriously until the age of thirteen, when his father gave him a new trumpet and arranged lessons with local trumpeter Elwood Buchanan and, later, a man named Mone Peterson. Against the fashion of the time, Buchanan stressed the importance of playing without vibrato, and Davis would carry his clear signature tone throughout his career.

Clark Terry was another important early influence and friend of Davis's. By the age of sixteen, Davis was a member of the musician's union and working professionally when not at high school. At seventeen, he spent a year playing in bandleader Eddie Randle's "Blue Devils". During this time, Sonny Stitt tried to persuade him to join the Tiny Bradshaw band then passing through town, but Cleota insisted that he finish his final year of high school.

In 1944, the Billy Eckstine band visited St. Louis. Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were members of the band, and Davis was taken on as third trumpet for a couple of weeks because of the illness of Buddy Anderson. When Eckstine's band left Davis behind to complete the tour, the trumpeter's parents were still keen for him to continue formal academic studies.

... In 1944 Davis moved to New York City, ostensibly to take up a scholarship at the Juilliard School of Music. In reality, however, he neglected his studies and immediately set about tracking down Charlie Parker.
And the rest is history.

The connection to Hollywood? He was married to actress Cicely Tyson in 1981 and they were divorced in 1988. And Davis was the very first subject of a Playboy magazine interview - the interviewer was Alex Haley. Playboy's Heffner lives out here of course. The Playboy Jazz Festival hits the Hollywood Bowl in a few weeks. A Hollywood sidewalk star will do nicely.

Previously in these pages see Something for a Hot Day in Los Angeles, from last July, a discussion Louis Malle's first film, "Elevator to the Gallows" - with its Miles Davis score. And two years earlier, this on that film score, now available on CD -
The album is rather fine. Moody, "cool" and spare late fifties jazz. It holds up well. It's a lot freer and less mannered than the stuff on the album that is so famous. It's better, and sounds just fine now. Odd that when I hear it I know this is what is known as the "West Coast Sound," born here in Los Angeles with The Birth of the Cool album. Recorded in Paris for a French film, this might just as well have been recorded at the old Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach.
Cool. And note that for the birthday there's a new four-CD boxed set available, Miles Davis - The Legendary Prestige Quintet Recordings. From the mid-fifties you get Davis with John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. All recorded by Rudy Van Gelder at Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, digitally remastered in from the original analog masters, with bonus CD of eight previously unavailable radio and television audio performances - two tunes from The Tonight Show With Steve Allen among others. The cover art is by Davis - the painting "New York by Night" - and you five complete transcriptions of Davis' solos. Buy it? Just a thought.

The Hollywood Boulevard palm trees looking down on the Miles Davis star.

Palm trees with reflections, Hollywood Boulevard at North Sycamore

And Marilyn Monroe is showing off for him.

Small statue of Marilyn Monroe on the Hollywood plinth - the traffic island at Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea

Posted by Alan at 5:57 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006 6:03 PM PDT
Friday, 21 April 2006
At the Walt Disney Concert Hall Garden
Topic: Landmarks

At the Walt Disney Concert Hall Garden

Flowering tree at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Garden, downtown Los AngelesThe Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, taking up the whole block bounded by Hope Street, Grand Avenue, 1st and 2nd Streets, is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. It's a Frank Gehry building and around the time it opened, on October 23, 2003, there were a few photos and reviews of the thing in these pages here. From January of this year you'll find a long shot of the building, in its context, here (bottom of the page). The Los Angeles Philharmonic used to perform at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion across the street, a dead hall with lousy acoustics, and everyone says this one is not only better, it's wonderful. Reviews of the exterior are mixed.

The place looks a bit like Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, which is covered in titanium (see this). The Los Angeles building, designed first but completed later, is covered in stainless steel.

That was a problem -
After the construction, additional expenses were incurred to correct the design flaw caused by the concert hall's unique choice of polished stainless steel covering concave surfaces. Residents of the neighboring condominiums suffered significant glare caused by the sunlight that was reflected in the manner similar to a parabolic mirror. The sunlight made the rooms of some nearby condominiums unbearably hot, and caused the air-conditioning costs of these residents to sky-rocket. Also during certain points of a sunny day the reflective surfaces caused the temperature of some adjacent sidewalks to rise to almost 140 degrees Fahrenheit. After complaints from neighboring buildings and residents the county government stepped in and asked Disney to come up with a solution, their response was a computer analysis of the building's structure, after the offending surfaces were identified, they were sanded to reduce glare in 2005.
And that makes it an odd place to have a pocket park, but they have one, the small Walt Disney Concert Hall Garden, on the east side of the building. What grows there are species that thrive in full, brutal sun. Anything else would get cooked dead - even after dulling the reflective steel panels it's viciously hot there.

These shots are from Thursday, April 20, late morning. More will follow in this Sunday's Just Above Sunset. This is just a taste.

This is spring in Los Angeles.


A coral tree - Erythrina x sykesii - native to Australia, so they like this place.

Coral tree - Erythrina x sykesii - at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Garden, downtown Los Angeles

Here's a shady spot -

Interior walkway at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Garden, downtown Los Angeles

Posted by Alan at 4:47 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Saturday, 22 April 2006 1:44 PM PDT
Thursday, 20 April 2006
America and China: Los Angeles' Chinatown
Topic: Landmarks

America and China: Los Angeles' Chinatown

Dragon at the entrance to Los Angeles' ChinatownPresident Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao met in Washington on Thursday, April 20, 2006. It didn't go that well, as noted below.

As they were meeting this was the scene in Los Angeles' Chinatown, starting with the dragon at the gate.

By the way, this is the "new" Chinatown, as the original one was torn down in the thirties to make way for Union Station. This one opened on June 25, 1938, with some touches provided by Cecile B. DeMille himself - full details here. This one has become mixed - Vietnamese and others moving in. The bulk of the Chinese in Los Angeles are out east, in Monterey Park.

Regarding events in Washington, from the Associated Press, China Mistakenly Called By Taiwan's Name -
The meeting between President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao began with a gaffe Thursday when an announcer referred to China by the formal name of Taiwan, which China considers a rebellious province.

As Bush and Hu stood at attention outside the White House, an announcer said, "Ladies and gentlemen, the national anthem of the Republic of China, followed by the national anthem of the United States of America."

"Republic of China" is the formal name of the island 100 miles off the Chinese mainland. China is known formally as the People's Republic of China.

Taiwan is a most delicate issue for China. Beijing claims sovereignty over the self-governing island, which split from the mainland in 1949 as civil war ended on the mainland.

The losing nationalists fled the communists and established their rump state on the island and for many years claimed to be the rightful government of all China. Recent Taiwan governments have spoken of trying for formal independence, which China has said repeatedly might be met by military force.

And then the other matter, explained here by the BBC's Jonathan Beale -
... Okay, this was not the official state visit that the Chinese government had wanted, but when President Hu arrived in Washington DC he still received a 21-gun salute, a guard of honor and marching bands - all witnessed by every senior figure of the Bush administration.

But it then all unraveled. The Chinese may have been willing to overlook the foul-up as their National Anthem was introduced as that of "the Republic of China" - the other name for Taiwan - the part of China that has rebelled and broken away from the mainland and sought security from the United States.

But to have their president's speech interrupted by not just a protester, but one from the banned quasi-religious group Falun Gong, would have been difficult to swallow.

In Beijing, television screens showing the BBC and CNN went to black as the cameras focused on Wang Wenyi shouting out "President Hu, your days are numbered".

President Bush apologized to his Chinese guest for this unfortunate incident - but it showed the gulf that remains between these two countries.
No kidding. But everything was fine in Los Angeles.

Lanterns in Los Angeles' Chinatown

Rooftops in Los Angeles' Chinatown

The answer to the issue of our more than two billion dollar trade deficit with China -

Sincere Imports, Los Angeles' Chinatown

One of the problems Chinese President Hu Jintao might have with Los Angeles' Chinatown -

Statue of Sun Yat-Sen, Los Angeles' Chinatown

But no place is wonderful, as you by these signs on the fence at the elementary school on College Avenue in the middle of our Chinatown. Choose your language.

Signs on the fence at the elementary school on College Avenue, Los Angeles' Chinatown

Posted by Alan at 7:19 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2006 7:27 PM PDT
Saturday, 15 April 2006
Topic: Landmarks


The Hollywood Cross, overlooking Cahuenga Boulevard, from Mulholland Drive

Easter is tomorrow morning. There will be a sunrise service at the Hollywood Bowl, the first in a few years. Those services were suspended while they rebuilt the thing one more time, but that's done now.

This is the concrete cross on the hill overlooking the Bowl, as seen April 13th from Mulholland Drive.

So Hollywood is not filled with venial, materialistic, godless folks, who only pay lip service to religion to sell movie tickets. Well, there are plenty of those, but there are churches, and plenty of pious people. It's just hard to tell them apart sometimes.

Posted by Alan at 5:53 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Saturday, 15 April 2006 5:56 PM PDT
Tuesday, 14 March 2006
Hollywood Places
Topic: Landmarks

Hollywood Places

Tuesday, March 14th, late afternoon, running errands in the neighborhood, had the camera along, and pulled over for a quick shot of Chicago West - down on Melrose Avenue, the Second City studios, stages and offices. Yeah, they're the Chicago outfit that fed Saturday Night Live the likes of the late John Belushi, who died up the hill at the Chateau Marmont from the drugs. This is the Hollywood branch. No stars today. Just another storefront and parking lot.

Second City on Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

The parking lot belongs to "The Improv" next door, thus the faces.

Next door is the "The Improv" - the big comedy club in Los Angeles. Everyone has played the Improv, as it's been here since 1974 - Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen, Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman, Bill Cosby, Chevy Chase, Milton Berle, Dudley Moore, Lily Tomlin, Jay Leno, Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Drew Carey, Joan Rivers, David Steinberg, the Smothers Brothers, George Carlin, Steve Allen, Redd Foxx, David Brenner, Richard Lewis, Dick Cavett, Freddy Prinze, Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Klein, Phyllis Diller, Marty Feldman, Martin Mull, David Spade... and even Liza Minnelli. Before they became "stars" Debra Winger and Karen Black worked as waitresses here. Or so it says here.

Posted by Alan at 5:45 PM PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006 6:01 PM PST

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