116 years ago, bicycle superhighways were the future of California transit. The notion that anyone could profit from charging tolls on such a system seems insane now, but a wealthy businessman and an ex-governor conceived of elevated wooden platforms for bikers that would connect LA to the surrounding suburbs, and they even cleared and built the first section. [more inside]
"The Snake" on Mulholland Highway is a notoriously twisty stretch of road near Los Angeles, especially popular with motorcyclists. So many crashes happen at "Edwards Corner" that photographers camp out to film them. The results can be terrifying, or oddly mesmerizing.
Keepintime started as a simple idea, to bring some of the most revered and notable L.A. session drummers together for a photo shoot, then have them talk about the recordings that were famous to hip-hop DJs and producers, with some top LA beat jugglers. From that effort in 2002 came the short film, Keepintime: Talking Drums and Whispering Vinyl (2 parts on YouTube). The short documentary toured around, and in 2002, along with the screening, some of the drummers and DJs put on a live improvised show in Los Angeles. From that 2 hour show, a 45 minute film was made: Keepintime - A Live Recording. Later that year, after screening the short film in England, the Keepintime crew were invited to Brasil, to team up with Brasilian percussionists of renown, and make a beat record. They also put on an epic live show. That whole enterprise was made into an almost two-hour long documentary, Brasilintime. More information on the artists inside. [more inside]
A growing new real estate market. Many homeowners are frightened by the prospect of transitional housing in their neighborhoods. But the operators of sober living facilities argue that the homes don't violate zoning regulations because the Americans with Disabilities Act includes recovering addicts.
In the summer of 1965, riots broke out in the Watts neighborhood of southern Los Angeles. Over a six-day period, 34 people were killed, 1,032 injured and over 3,438 arrests were made. In 1966, LIFE magazine revisited the site of the worst riots America had ever seen in its history. The photo essay depicting the region’s ‘fearsome street gangs’ however, turned out more like a fashion shoot for dapper style… [more inside]
R/C cameraman Robert Mcintosh takes you soaring high above Santa Monica, Venice, and San Francisco. Float through the air as you glide along the beach and up through the spokes of the Ferris wheel over the Santa Monica Pier. Then head a mile or two south and get a bird's eye view of Venice's Muscle Beach. When your head has stopped spinning you can take in San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge or get away from it all (including the ground) out at at Vasquez Rocks. [more inside]
Auxiliofaux is the photography Tumblr of Richard Auxilio, a Los Angeles-based photog whose current project is symmetrical double exposures.
Last week a debate erupted in the US comedy community between stand-up comedians (like Kurt Metzger and Mike Lawrence) and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater about the fact that at none of their three theaters pay any of their performers (including UCBEast in New York, which often has Saturday Night Stand-up shows). Other comics such as Chris Gethard eloquently came to their defense. This week two of the founders Matt Besser and Matt Walsh released an episode of Besser's pocast Improv for Humans that goes into details about the club's philosophy, including why they have never taken any money from founding and running the theater. [more inside]
Magnus Walker and his wife talk about everything. About building exquisite 911s and giving them their own subtle differences - and why he won't do commissions. About moving from London to Los Angeles. About urban renewal and sewing. About big hammers, leather, race car driving, dreadlocks, and "that sensory overload type of thing." [Vimeo, 32:34] [more inside]
In 1980, director David Jove created New Wave Theatre, an L.A.-based music show showcasing live performances by California hardcore punk rock bands. [more inside]
Today is the 85th birthday of Hall of Fame baseball announcer Vin Scully. He will be returning next year for his unprecedented 64th season calling games for the Dodgers, in a career reaching back to the team's Brooklyn days and their move to Los Angeles in 1958. The New York Yankees tried to pry him away in the 1960s, but he remained with the team and has become an LA institution. In the 21st Century, he has inspired blog names and tattoos and even dabbled in the online world himself during a game last season -- as an experiment, he asked fans to get a topic trending on Twitter about Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis, "a nice boy." Later in the broadcast he announced sheepishly that Ellis was trending across the U.S. This coming Monday, he will be taking over the team's Twitter feed to answer questions -- tag your tweets #askvin. [more inside]
Lets Swim To Work! "Centuries of boat traffic, heavy industry, sewage runoff and toxic dumping have ingrained in us the idea that urban waterways are not places for people. Even as cities have rushed to the water’s edge over the past couple of decades, building elaborate waterfront parks and esplanades, few have taken the next logical step: encouraging residents to dive in." [more inside]
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]
Time-lapse video of space shuttle Endeavour's journey through Los Angeles from the Los Angeles Times.
The SCI-Arc Media Archive features 600+ video lectures on modern architecture and design, with an emphasis on Southern California.
In 1952, a gray male tabby cat appeared at the door of Room 8 at Elysian Heights Elementary School in Echo Park. He stayed throughout the school year, left at summer vacation -- and came back on the first day of class in September. He became the school's cat, and his name was Room 8. Room 8 was featured in LOOK Magazine and the Weekly Reader, had a children's book written about him, and lived until 1968. One former student said, "I never liked Room 8 because he sat on my homework." The Wikipedia entry. Room 8's grave. The Room 8 Memorial Cat Foundation (a no-kill shelter).
In honor of the 100th birthday of iconoclastic composer John Cage (previously), NPR asked 33 musicians about the effect Cage has had on their art. The Los Angeles Times has a tour of Cage's travels and experiences in his native city. MeFi's own speicus has a long and excellent essay up at newmusicbox.org about the performer-composer relationship Cage shared with pianist David Tudor (who premiered, among other Cage works, 4'33"). And if you've always wanted to play prepared piano and lack an instrument you want to fill with nuts and bolts, there's an app for that.
When is a private space a public space? When it's a Privately Owned Public Space (POPS). In accordance with the planning codes of some cities, owners or builders of buildings are mandated to provide members of the general public access to spaces which include rooftop gardens, courtyards, and plazas. [more inside]
The Breaking Bad Art Project is on exhibit at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles through August 26. [more inside]
28 years ago this summer, Leo Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream" suddenly found it had competition for the title of The Olympic Theme. Composer John Williams was commissioned to create a new fanfare, and "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" was the result, with the Fanfare portion being played at every medal ceremony in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. But that wasn't the only music created for those Olympic Games... [more inside]
'Los Angeles is home to the nation’s adult novelty business, which is dominated by the Big Four: Topco, California Exotics, Pipedream, and Doc Johnson. Successful niches—leather, men’s masturbators that resemble flashlights—are mined by smaller companies, but as with any industry, owning the market is everything, and Doc Johnson is the Procter & Gamble of sex toys. ' - LA Magazine profiles Doc Johnson(NSFW) [more inside]
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]
Driving down the street in LA, you may notice coffee shops, gas stations or motels with bright primary colors, sweeping lines, bold angles and a retrofuture feel: Googie - Architecture of the Space Age [more inside]
The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup on Monday night. This morning, a local radio station (KSPN 710 AM) had on the team's hall-of-fame announcer Bob Miller to be interviewed and take calls. A certain special caller turned out to be another hall-of-famer -- long-time Los Angeles Dodgers baseball announcer, Vin Scully, who has been with his team for over 60 years. The audio is special. [more inside]
Empire of the Bun: Today, burgers. Tomorrow, the world. The casual-dining revolution of Adam Fleischman and his Umami Group. 'In 2009, with $40,000 in his pocket from selling his stake in BottleRock, Fleischman decided to open a restaurant centered on the umami flavor. He knew that an umami-focused menu would attract a burgeoning breed of foodies who had been weaned on the Food Network and had developed a sort of teenybopper crush on the heady flavors of pork, organ meats, West Coast IPAs, and superripe cheeses.' [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.
Filmmaker Nirvan Mullick (previously) makes the day of the nine-year-old proprietor of Caine's Arcade.
Happy birthday to Nancy Bea Hefley, the LA Dodgers stadium organist since 1988!
The Los Angeles band named X. The one that performed "Los Angeles" , "Your Phone's Off The Hook But You're Not", "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene", "We're Desperate", "White Girl", and "Breathless". The one with John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom, and D.J. Bonebrake in it. [more inside]
LACMA is currently hosting "In Wonderland", a retrospective of Surrealist art by female artists from Mexico and the United States. This is a great chance to check out some under-appreciated artists, who were often overshadowed by their male counterparts. [more inside]
Apparently Moby has started a blog about architecture in Los Angeles.
"Planning to make a joke on Twitter about bombing something? You might want to reconsider: According to a report from Britain, two tourists were detained and denied entry into the U.S. recently after they joked about destroying America and digging up Marilyn Monroe. That the Homeland Security Dept. and other authorities—including the FBI—are monitoring such social media as Twitter and Facebook isn’t surprising. That these authorities are willing to detain people based on what is clearly a harmless joke, however, raises questions about what the impact of all that monitoring will be."* [more inside]
Dengue Fever is an L.A. band that fuses Cambodian pop music with psychedelic rock. They have a youtube channel where you can find highlights such as a live acoustic version of their song Uku as well as a clip from the 2007 documentary Sleepwalking Through The Mekong. NPR has an interview with them in 2008 and a review of their second album Escape From Dragon House. Peter Gabriel is a fan.
“I truly believe that when men and women think about parking, their mental capacity reverts to the reptilian cortex of the brain,”
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]
On Monday, the Occupy Wall Street movement disrupted ports in its West Coast Port Blockade. [more inside]
"Imagine 12 men in a dorm all in diapers and sitting in their own feces," he says. "It smelled like a combination of what people had for lunch that day and pus from people's open wounds. I've been in a wheelchair now for three years, and the jail is by far the worst place I've ever seen for a disabled person." -- L.A. Weekly on "Wheelchair Hell" in the L.A. County Men's Jail
Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times celebrated the 130th anniversary of its first issue, and marked the occasion with 130 photos from Los Angeles history, as well as a gallery of historic front pages.
Although [Michael] Mann has said he was inspired by a true story from Chicago in the late 1960s, the film is no gritty realist number about desperate thievery. Rather, HEAT is a high-gloss creature of its time, utilizing the classic "duel between cop and robber"... to thematize lifestyle issues in the mid-1990s. Specifically I argue that, for all its slickness and emphasis on style and personality, HEAT is a film about work and its increasing personal costs. For the characters in HEAT, work provides excitement* and challenge, but it ultimately excludes any emotional life outside of the demands of the job. *That's the shootout scene
Homicide detectives who have reopened an investigation into the death of Natalie Wood after three decades said on Friday that the film star's husband, actor Robert Wagner, was not considered a suspect. [more inside]
After 25 years I revisited To Live and Die In L.A. (1985), William Friedkin's cynical, fatalistic, hardboiled and high-energy crime noir about corruption and survival in the city of no angels. The script is literate, the characters are believable, the performances are brutally honest, the unpredictable twists keep coming, the action never stops, and the car chase is shot for real without any fake process. (spoilers)
Alex Cox: REPO MAN was made as a "negative pickup" by Universal at the time when Bob Rehme was head of the studio. At the time, the big deal over there was STREETS OF FIRE, and nobody really noticed our film [8 MB PDF] at all. Which was lucky for us, since Bob Rehme had "green-lighted" a film which was quite unusual by studio standards. (previously)
For millennia, man has yearned to block the sun (with black plastic balls). If an un-covered public water reservoir contains bromide, sunlight will combine the bromide with the chlorine used for reducing bacteria -- thus poisoning the water with carcinogenic bromate. Blocking the sunlight is the answer, but building a permanent cover for a huge reservoir is very costly. The solution for LA-area reservoirs, a few years ago: cover the entire water surface with millions of floating "bird balls", in effect turning the reservoir into a 10+ acre ball pit. [more inside]