Huell Howser, best known as the host of California Gold, passed away today. He was 67. I hope he's up there swimming in the Neptune pool. (previously)
Aria was an art movie/promotional stunt put out by Virgin Media in 1987 with famous directors providing a music-video take on various opera pieces. ( A full review by That Opera Chick). Of particular note is Julien Temple's (Of Earth Girls Are Easy fame) adaptation of Verdi's Rigoletto as a zany, cartoonish, ecstasy-fueled and very 80s farce set at the infamous Madonna Inn. Watch the whole delirious sequence here.
Anyone who has spent any time at all on the Western side of San Francisco is familiar with the name Sutro. Being the 24th mayor of the City was actually one of his smaller and lesser-known accomplishments. Born in Prussia in 1830, he first made a name for himself with The Sutro Tunnel, which was used to drain water from underneath the Comstock Lode, improving working conditions and lowering the mine's operating costs. He sold his interest in the company he founded and left for San Francisco, where he built himself a mansion, among other things... [more inside]
The Inside Story Of Pong - On Nov. 29, 1972, a crude table-tennis arcade game in a garish orange cabinet was delivered to bars and pizza parlors around California, and a multi-billion-dollar industry was born. Here's how that happened, direct from the freaks and geeks who invented a culture and paved the way for today's tech moguls.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Huell Howser is retiring. Best known for his public television show, California's Gold and his boundless enthusiasm, Mr. Howser is "retiring from filming new shows or making appearances."
Up through Los Angeles came a bubblin' crude: Southern California was the Kuwait of the Jazz Age, turning a religious piano teacher into an oil baroness
"In 1925, California supplied [much] of the world’s oil (Google quickview, original PDF) and much of it came from pumps in the Southland (quickview, PDF). To date, around 9 billion barrels of oil have been produced in the Los Angeles area. There are still over 30,000 active wells here pumping around 230 million barrels of oil a year, making Los Angeles County the second most productive oil county in California (although the quality of the oil here is somewhat low by today’s standards). There are 55 known oil fields in the Los Angeles area and 11 of them are located in a very urban context. This setting makes the oil extraction process in Los Angeles unique." Things to do in LA: Urban Oil Wells In Los Angeles, Part I and Part II. [more inside]
Why did Prop 37, the GMO labeling bill, fail? Ernest Miller of KCET argues that it wasn't money, but message. [more inside]
Among the ballot initiatives up for consideration on Tuesday is California's Proposition 34, which would eliminate the death penalty in favor of life imprisonment without parole. If successful, this measure would make California the 18th state to abolish capital punishment, following Connecticut's April 2012 abolition. It would also apply retroactively to the 727 people currently on death row in the state, the most of any state in the country by nearly 100%. While support has been increasing for Prop 34, as many as 17% of California voters remain undecided. [more inside]
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
Travel: My Father’s Color Images of Southern California in the 1940′s. Pretty much what it says on the tin. Some nice color snaps. The main reason I posted this is I can't stop looking at this shot of the Universal Studios' back lot.
California has become the first state in the country to ban the so-called "reparative" ex-gay therapy for people under the age of 18 years old. "This bill bans non-scientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery," Brown said in a statement to The San Francisco Chronicle. [more inside]
The SCI-Arc Media Archive features 600+ video lectures on modern architecture and design, with an emphasis on Southern California.
Director and/or star of many of the greatest films ever made including The Great Dictator (2:05:16) [Globe scene and the eternally goosebump providing Final speech], The Immigrant (20:01), The Gold Rush (1:11:49), City Lights (1:22:40), Modern Times (1:27:01), and Monsieur Verdoux (1:59:03), Charlie Chaplin's movies have entered the public domain in most countries. Below the fold is an annotated list of all 82 of his official short and feature films in chronological order, as well as several more, with links to where you can watch them; it's not like you had work to do right? [more inside]
The Breaking Bad Art Project is on exhibit at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles through August 26. [more inside]
"Abused people go one or two ways: They either self-destruct or make a difference, you feel me? I’m gonna make a difference."
'In 2002, five years before journalist Chauncey Bailey was murdered by members of Your Black Muslim Bakery, (Previously) a woman identified only as Jane Doe No. 1 stepped forward to report decades of sexual abuse, welfare fraud and violence by the bakery's leader, Yusuf Bey Sr. She was prepared to hand over to Oakland police DNA from her three children -- evidence that Bey had impregnated her, the first time when she was 12. This was a risky move, but the woman had powerful motivation: her daughter, then 18, had alerted her that Bey was trying to abuse her -- his own child. Now, Jane Doe No. 1 has decided she no longer wants to be nameless. Her name is Kowana Banks and she is the first of Bey's victims to speak publicly.' Video interview. Transcript. (Via) This post recounts experiences of rape and sexual abuse. Topics may be disturbing to some readers. [more inside]
Throughout the west, prospectors and settlers clashed with native people, diminishing the populations of tribes greatly reduced by disease. By the 1850s, it was believed that all Native Americans were "civilized," before those in the young field of anthropology were able to record first-hand accounts of native people in their own elements. In 1853, a lone native woman was found on a remote island off the coast of southern California, but she contracted dysentery and died after she had been on the mainland for only seven weeks. Then in 1911, a bedragled native man was found in a farmer's slaughter house corral in rural Northern California. He was the last of his people, and he lived to share a glimpse of an ancient way of life, in his five years spent living amongst anthropologists, doctors, and linguists. He was Ishi, the last Yahi (Snagfilm; also on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Instant). [more inside]
Scientology's international headquarters - known as Gold Base - is located on a 500-acre parcel of land south of San Jacinto, California. It "has a number of unusually strong security measures, including razor-tipped fences, motion sensors, snipers nests and a large number of regular and infrared CCTV cameras." It also houses a detention center for executives referred to as "The Hole". (previously) [more inside]
Over the last few months, a few cities around the United States have experienced their own, unique, fiscal crisis: bankruptcy. [more inside]
Requiem for an Occupation: The New York Times visits Oakland, California, "the last refuge of radical America." Previously and previouslier. [more inside]
Last Saturday Anaheim police shot Manuel Diaz as he fled from questioning. Neighborhood residents approached the police and recorded the scene of the shooting. As tempers rose, the police attempted to control the situation. This did not go well. On Sunday, many people joined a protest at the Anaheim police department held weekly since 2010. On the same day, Anaheim police shot and killed Joel Acevedo, during an arrest for a stolen car. Further protests at the Anaheim City Council meeting on Tuesday turned violent with some protestors throwing rocks and smashing windows. [more inside]
It's been a big week for high speed rail proponents and infrastructure hawks. This week, the California Legislature approved startup funds for the $68 billion high-speed line linking San Diego to San Francisco and Sacramento and points in between. Today, Amtrak unvelied its $151 billion plan (PDF) for the Northeast Corridor. Both will take decades to complete. Detractors worry about exploding costs and operating losses, while supporters stress jobs, mobility, and international competitiveness. Europe and Japan have lapped us a few times over. However, those who want to do this quickly and cheaply might want to take a lesson from once-ambitious China.
Since 2009, a thread on the Skyscraper Page forums has been dedicated to trawling for old photos and stories of Los Angeles, mostly from the LA Public Library and USC Archives. Thousands of posts have accumulated into a fascinating portrait of the city. [more inside]
In November "The Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act", will be on the California ballot. [more inside]
A food truck takes Paris. Lovely NYT video about 'Cantina California', an upscale food truck in France.
Out of Cash - The End of the Nation’s Largest Redevelopment Program (and a major source of California’s local funding sources). [more inside]
WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing covered a range of cultural issues and was widely known for its innovative use of graphic art. Started as a simple one-man operation that included artwork and text solicited from friends and acquaintances, the production, team, and circulation of the magazine would grow over the years. Its content also evolved to cover a wider expanse of stories that captured a smart and artsy Los Angeles attitude that was emerging at the same time as punk, but with its own distinct aesthetic. The magazine’s energetic creativity and flair for the absurd would remain a constant. As design problems arose, solutions were often improvised on the spot, creating a quirky and prescient editorial sensibility that remains one of WET's most enduring legacies. Its layout and design helped to catalyze the graphic styles (NSFW) later known as New Wave and Postmodern.
"Nooses spotted at Cal State San Bernardino" An art project garners attention and sparks debate, as reported in the San Bernardino Sun today:
A trio of nooses spotted Friday at Cal State San Bernardino drew some attention on the serene campus, and it wasn't all positive.[more inside]
Fishbowl, live cam at the Blue Cavern, Aquarium of the Pacific. Live cams at explore.org: Moon jellyfish | tropical reef live cam. [more inside]
Moscow of 1931 is a collection of hand-tinted lantern slides by Branson DeCou, an American photographer and travelogue lecturer who traveled the world for 30 years before his death in 1941. You can view more of the DeCou corpus online at the Branson Decou Archive at the University of California, Santa Cruz where they've been attempting to sort, preserve, identify and digitize 10,000 DeCou slides received in 1971, a gift referred to the university chancellor by photographer Ansel Adams. [more inside]
“It is startlingly loud,” he warns, “and it's loud enough that you can actually feel the sound wave going through your torso.” On East Brother Island in California, lightstation keeper Peter Berkhout is caretaker to one of the last working vintage foghorns in the United States.
About 2 miles into the park... things start to get strange. A forbidding padlocked wrought-iron gate, surrounded by a low lying stone wall sits nestled on the edge of the trail.... Strange rusted debris starts to appear on the side of the paths. What looks like an old water filtration system, broken pieces of farm equipment, half buried sinks, strange concrete slabs with graffiti . A lovely little steam appears and makes delightful background noises, lizards and birds scatter about your feet. And then you see it. A burned-out overgrown concrete building completely covered with graffiti. Cartoon of Hitler? Check. Declaration of undying teenage love? Check.... The bunker of the building is exposed and filled with trash; a metal cage sits menacingly in the corner, and outside a series of stone steps wind up to what seems to have once been a sustenance garden. The steps then continue all the way to the top of the canyon (3,000 steps in all) and ghosts of America Nazis patrolling the wilds fill your head. Baby, we aren't at the Grove anymore... We are at the Los Angeles Nazi Compound! Well, it's actually the ruins of a small community built by Nazi sympathizers, in the hills outside of greater Los Angeles. [more inside]
Plenty of people collect Disneyana, the toys, books, animation cels, and theme-park souvenirs. Then there are those fans who collect information and details on the Disney parks themselves, collecting official park maps or drawing up their own ride blueprints, assembling the design history behind the attractions, and even collecting vintage tickets and ticket books. Yesterland (previously: 1, 2, 3) is an ever-growing collection of Disneyland history, and has an updated collection of links to similar fan sites and Imagineering blogs, which is a whole collection of rabbit holes of nostalgia and behind-the-scense information. So grab a riding crop and pretend like it's the 60s all over again!
Americans love Hawaii and hate California. A new PPP poll asks respondents which states they like and dislike, resulting in favorability ratings for all 50 states. Full results, including crosstabs, here. (.pdf) Sorry, Illinois! Nice work, Colorado!
"Each of us remains a staunch Republican conservative, but our perspectives on the death penalty have changed.... Each of us, independently, has concluded that the death penalty isn't working for California." The authors of California's Death Penalty Act of 1978, which expanded use of the death penalty in the state, have publicly endorsed the SAFE Initiative to abolish capital punishment in California. (Previously)
California rejects top rate tax increase, removes all state funding for CA libraries. Funding cut for "literacy programs, InterLibrary Loans, and miscellaneous expenses such as librarian training programs and books." Library Journal goes into more of the technicalities.
Does California need the high-speed rail project? The New York Times published six opinion pieces debating the merits of the $90 billion high-speed rail plan that would connect Los Angeles to San Francisco. Streetsblog has a summary of the six opinions. [more inside]
Jo Mora was a California (by way of Uruguay and Boston) painter, sculptor, author, photographer and, most notably, map-maker. He sculpted the many figures on the Monterey County Courthouse and designed the chapel in the Carmel mission. He spent three years living with and photographing the Navajo and Hopi in Arizona. He authored and illustrated a number of children's books. Of all his many talents, Mora was probably best known for his unique maps ("cartes" as he called them) of the West. He created incredibly detailed maps, interesting, funny and maybe anachronistically racial, of California, Yosemite and Yellowstone. Music fans will recognize Mora's work from the Byrds' 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo (full carte here).
ink&paper A short film about the last paper shop, and the last letterpress, in Los Angeles. "There are days go by that there can be absolutely no business at all."
Of the hundreds of species of palm trees you might find in southern California, only one is native to the state, and that shaggy specimen is naturally found around springs and arroyos in the desert southwest, not lined along beach community parks and streets. How did a desert tree become an icon of fruitful turn of the twentieth century Los Angeles, the former garden city? KCET writer Nathan Masters provides a brief history of palm trees in southern California. [more inside]
Growing Is Forever they whispered.
This morning, the California Supreme Court announced that the proponents of Prop 8 have standing to defend it. The full decision is here (.pdf). [more inside]
"Just to see all the creatures on a wave is wild." Local coverage of the sixth annual BCLA Annual Halloween Costume Surf Contest in Newport Beach, CA. [more inside]
During the cold war Wartburg and Skoda exported cars from the Eastern Bloc to the United States. An action that was . . . controversial. One dealership received both love and hate mail.
Michael Lewis' newest piece of financial disaster tourism came out a few days ago, relating his take on California's Bond problems. Some think that he didn't interview the right experts in the field and that the lesson of the city of Vallejo have already been internalized by city managers. Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy code, governing municipal bankruptcies has been used less than 600 times since 1937. This means that the case law is still relatively undeveloped. Only in 2009 did it become clear that municipalities could void union contracts for public workers. [more inside]