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5 posts tagged with losangeles by matteo.
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"If I allow the fact that I am a Negro to checkmate my will to do, now, I will inevitably form the habit of being defeated".

The Jackie Robinson of architecture. An orphaned African American boy from downtown Los Angeles, Paul Revere Williams wanted to be an architect, and when he mentioned his career goal the high school guidance counselor ”stared at me with as much astonishment as he would have had I proposed a rocket flight to Mars... Whoever heard of a Negro being an architect?”. Therefore, Williams learned to read and draw upside down -- he knew that white clients would not sit next to him -- graduated from USC and in 1924 became the first certified African American architect west of the Mississippi. In a 50-year long extraordinary career, he designed landmarks like the Theme restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport (with Welton Becket), the LA County Courthouse, the Hollywood YMCA, Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, restored the Beverly Hills Hotel. Some of his most interesting buildings, like the La Concha Motel in Las Vegas have either been razed to the ground or, like the "Batman house", aka 160 S San Rafael mansion in Pasadena, have been destroyed by fire. Now, Williams' historic Morris Landau House has been cut into 21 separate pieces and sits in a Santa Clarita storage yard, rotting away. More inside.
posted by matteo on Jul 2, 2006 - 25 comments

Through All the Lousy Luck

I first read "Ask the Dust" in 1971 when I was doing research for "Chinatown". I was concerned about the way people really sounded when they talked, and I was dissatisfied with everything else I had read that was written during the '30s. I wanted the real thing, as Henry James would say. When I picked up Fante's "Ask the Dust," I just knew that was the way those kids talked to each other—the rhythms, cadences, racism.
Robert Towne on adapting John Fante's novel for the big screen. More inside.
posted by matteo on Mar 4, 2006 - 17 comments

"He suggests living is language".

The Language of Saxophones At 55, L.A. musician and poet Kamau Daáood is finally beginning to acknowledge the possibility of his own place in local letters with his debut book of poetry, The Language of Saxophones, a 30-plus-year retrospective published by City Lights. Though he’s recorded a solo CD and read nationally and internationally, Daáood had never seen fit to collect his material in a book. Until now. “I never liked the idea of poetry sitting on a shelf somewhere, lost in all those book spines”.
posted by matteo on Apr 17, 2005 - 2 comments

John Lautner's Chemosphere: part Jetsons, part Bond and vintage L.A. Modern.

The most modern home built in the world. "From the outside it looks like a spaceship you cannot enter. But if you go inside, it feels very cozy… very Zen and calming. Maybe because you are floating above the city, in the sky". John Lautner's Chemosphere residence is the product of a fortuitous union of architect, client, time and place. Leonard Malin was a young aerospace engineer in late-1950s L.A. whose father-in-law had just given him a plot north of Mulholland Drive, near Laurel Canyon. The only catch: at roughly 45 degrees, the slope was all but unbuildable. Lautner sketched a bold vertical line, a cross, and a curve above it. "Draw it up," he told his assistant. Now publisher Benedikt Taschen owns Chemosphere (NSFW), and after 20 years of neglect the house has been beautifully restored (.pdf) by Frank Escher.
posted by matteo on Apr 7, 2005 - 24 comments

Hubert Selby, Jr (1928-2004)

"Hubert Selby died often. But he always came back, smiling that beautiful smile of his, and those blue eyes of his... This time he will not be back. My saints have always come from hell, and now, with his passing, there are no more saints". Selby is the author of Last Exit to Brooklyn, (tried for obscenity in England and supported by, among many others, Samuel Beckett and Anthony Burgess), Requiem For a Dream, Song of the Silent Snow. He is being eulogized in the USA and UK, but also, massively (I've just watched a fantastic TV special) in France, where he is much more popular than in his native land (Selby's death was the cover story -- plus pages 2, 3 and 4 -- in the daily Libération today -- .pdf file): Dernière sortie vers la rédemption, L'extase de la dévastation. What makes all this kind of ironic -- in a very Selbyesque way -- is that Selby himself used to say, "I started to die 36 hours before I was born..." (more inside)
posted by matteo on Apr 28, 2004 - 16 comments

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