Of Valley Girls, Hoobastank, and Dirk Diggler
August 11, 2017 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Two longreads from "Valley Week" at Curbed LA:
How ’80s pop culture typecast the Valley (Chris Eggersten): The region was overlooked in movies and music for years until Frank Zappa and ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ came along
The rise of ‘three-car garage rock’ (Jennifer Swann): How the tony suburbs of the West Valley launched early 2000s alternative rock
Bonus 1: ‘Boogie Nights’ filming locations, mapped
Bonus 2: Bing Crosby - San Fernando Valley
posted by Room 641-A (8 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Yes!!! I grew up in the valley. I was born in Panorama City. I have lived in Northridge, Reseda, and Burbank. I graduated high school in the 80s and hung out at the Reseda Country Club. If I remember correctly, and that is unlikely, there was a hair salon across the street that had multiple dozens of mutilated Barbies with mohawks hanging from the ceiling where you could get your hair buzzed and dyed with Manic Panic. Wish I could remember its name.

When I was younger, I definitely hung out at the mall. Don Ricardo's in the Northridge mall was dark and weird and everything was covered in a 1/2 pound of cheese. Tempo Records on Reseda was pretty much my go-to for music.

The one thing all of these articles have wrong though, is that they focus so heavily on white SFV. The valley has always in my memory been more Latinx than white. You could find a pupuseria anywhere and there was always good Oaxacan food. Mexican markets were widespread and we ate grilled nopales and mole and drank horchata. Car culture was a huge part of the scene and cruising was illegal but super fun on Saturday nights.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:01 AM on August 11 [10 favorites]

I don't begrudge anyone their pleasures at revisiting the Valley, but I gotta say the article is weird to read from the perspective of anywhere other than New York, California, and maybe Texas since pretty much everywhere else in the US isn't so much "overlooked" compared to those places, but almost completely non-existent.

Still, that isn't to say there isn't some pleasures to be had in doing a round up of its media history. I still love the movie Valley Girl for one, and now, thanks to the post, I also have a nifty new Bing song I hadn't heard before. (I'm a big fan of Bing, which should obviously tell you I'm not related to him.)
posted by gusottertrout at 8:30 AM on August 11

Is Hoobastank Jamiroquai? I have always wondered. PS That "Boogie Nights" list is quality stuff, cheers.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:05 AM on August 11

Since it would be a huge addition to the story, I can see why it downplays the entire concept of The Rise of the Mall through the 70s (and in some places earlier), but there is a lot of meat there in the history of retail.

I don't know if there were changes in the professional landscape that drove people into the suburbs, it's a little too far past WWII and I don't associate population growth with the end of Vietnam, but there was an encroachment of the mall on the public as an activity in itself, of shopping as an avocation, where it wasn't before.

The story glosses over this in passing, talking about how hot it is in the valley and that's why they hung out at the mall, but what did their parents do, and what happened to that? Not that it was better, but it's not like mall culture just sprung fully formed from the ground in 1981.
posted by rhizome at 9:11 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]

Someone really should put together a map of L.A. as described in Zappa lyrics, but in the meantime I found this 1966 map of Freak Out! Hot Spots, by Zappa himself published in the LA Free Press.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:23 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]

RobotVoodooPower - that is an amazing find!!! Also amazing, at least for L.A., that some of those places, including the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station, Barney's Beanery, the Troubadour, The Whisky, Canter's Deli (of course) are still there. Also, the Tropicana Motel is now the WeHo Ramada and Ben Frank's is now Mel's Drive In, but the buildings are basically still the same.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:58 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]

An underappreciated aspect of LA car culture is that it is very helpful for architectural preservation. As long as a building's coolness justifies a fair price premium, a developer can find a cheaper less cool building a quarter or half mile away to tear down to put up something new -- and that's been true long before landmarking was a thing. When walkability to mass transit or other buildings matter, you have to be much more aggressive in turning over the real estate to contemporary forms.
posted by MattD at 12:14 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]

Nothing could make me feel older. My family moved into the San Fernando Valley literally on the day JFK was assassinated (I was notified over the school PR system during my first day; at first I thought they were talking about the Student Body President and thought "tough school"). We were a couple blocks from Ralph Williams Ford, the first car dealer Johnny Carson made jokes about before the rise of Cal Worthington, and when the value of real estate on Ventura Blvd. rose high enough, Ralph sold out part of the lot to people who built the first 10-story office building in the area... with a 4-story unrestricted parking structure in back where the ramps were prime for bicycle action. Meanwhile, to go to The Mall, you had to go nearly 5 miles (with your parents) to Topanga Plaza, which had Wallich's Music City with the record listening booths, Pickwick Books (where my parents let me spend money) and a food court overlooking an ice-skating rink. The Galleria of Zappa fame was not constructed until the year I went off to college, and it was barely outside my bicycle range, having the 405/San Diego Freeway between me and it. Like I said, I feel so old.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:46 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]

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