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Author Archive


“Now I wanna dance, I wanna win. I want that trophy, so dance good…”

Mia Wallace & Vincent Vega Rockin’ the House at JackRabbit Slim’s ~ Pulp Fiction !

In a role originally meant for the actor Michael Madsen, John Travolta breaks out his Trademark Disco Moves perfected in films like “Saturday Night Fever” & “Urban Cowboy”, to take Home the Gold, albeit on a Very Roundabout Random Route to get there… Check Out this great article in Vanity Fair featuring the entire cast along with Pulp Fiction’s Director ~ Quentin Tarantino


The Incomparable Electric Violet Icon ~ Elizabeth Taylor

Her Star Shined Brighter Onscreen & Off than All of Hollywood in her Heyday ~

Elizabeth Taylor was perhaps in Retrospect, the Most Glamorous & Easily one of the Most Accomplished of all Actors ever to live. She Lived a Life Larger than any Role she ever Fulfilled…

A Real-Life California Cleopatra

In a Career Spanning 60 Years ~ Ms. Taylor outlived nearly All her Leading Men Onscreen & Off, having been Linked either on Film or in Life with the Likes of Conrad ‘Nicky’ Hilton, Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Rock Hudson, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Michael Todd, Eddie Fisher, George Hamilton & Michael Jackson- 2 Great Friends and in a Definition of BIG LOVE

The Seemingly BulletProof Richard Burton ~

The Love of Her Life

There have & will be Thousands of Words Written About her Then, Now & Always. Elizabeth Taylor Truly Transcended Fame, Hollywood Royalty, Scandal, Tragedy & Triumph. She Defined an Era & There will Never be Another like her ~ The One & Only Violet Icon

Ms. Taylor ~

A Giant

Among Actors & A True Humanitarian

We’ll Miss you Velvet

L.A. Urban Visionaries ~ A Fading Muralist Art Form 1969-2011

Isle of California • L.A. Fine Art Squad, 1971-1972

In 1970, Los Angeles in many ways as compared to Today, was still kind of a Small Town. 2 L.A. Artists, living founder & still Active Artist Victor Henderson and now deceased co-founder Terry Schoonhoven created the L.A. Fine Art Squad.

In a largely Pre-Gangsta & Grafitti Era, the word Tagger hadn’t been invented yet. These two artists Divided & Conquered Los Angeles with their Epic in Grandeur, Realism and Scale- Urban Murals on the Streets of Los Angeles. In that time, Los Angeles was having a sort of Renaissance Redux and the Rare Ability to Poke Fun at itself.

The film, Shampoo from 1975 and starring Reigning TinselTown Real-Life Lothario Warren Beatty, the Understated Eroticism of Ms. Julie Christie (LOVE her Table Manners), the Overstated & Ultra 70′s Ms. Goldie Hawn and a very Mrs. Robinson-Like Lee Grant. Take your pick George, you Lucky Guy…In a thinly disguised screenplay based on Real Life Hollywood Swingers like hairdressers Jon Peters & Doomed by the Manson Family – Jay Sebring, Shampoo is a brilliant look at 70′s Hollywood Life itself, much the same as Sunset Boulevard had done some Twenty years before. With this Mentality in Mind, The L.A. Fine Art Squad was Born.

Victor Henderson and Terry Schoonhoven began their collaboration in 1969 with the mural, Brooks Street Painting, on the back wall of Henderson’s Venice studio. A portrait of his one-time girlfriend, who lived upstairs.

The house, a few blocks from the Venice Boardwalk has been replaced by condominiums, the mural, as many of the Fine Art Squad’s later works, did not survive, as we shall see.

Schoonhoven & Henderson as a Mural Team were now Clearly Inspired, and from their Humble Beginnings of Brooks Street, came the Dawn of the Seventies SuperGraphics Era. The Newly Christened L.A. Fine Art Squad added 2 New Members, Jim Frazen and Leonard Koren, students of Schoonhoven’s. The Squad nowgeared up Big Time & tackled the 15,000 square foot exterior of the groovy Climax Nightclub, on La Cienega Boulevard…

Beverly Hills Siddhartha ~ A Name that Reeks of 70′s Warholian & Rock N’Roll Culture

Beverly Hills Siddhartha • 1969. LAFAS Completely Covered the 15,000 square foot exterior of the Climax Nightclub in Beverly Hills,. In a time & place that arguably spawns the Birth of the Disco Era. As art,  The LA. Fine Arts Squad took a stand against the Staid Studio Standard of ‘contained’ art in a room or gallery and Poking Fun at & For the Community – Art for All and For the Times. Aware of Hollywood Excess, Adult Absurdity and Current California Culture, their art Paved the Way for Future Environmental & Performance Artists who went on to become Much Bigger Success Stories & Shameless Self-Promoters ~ a la Christo.

Within 2 Years new owners would buy the Climax & in true Seventies Stucco over it Fashion, painted out the entire work and exterior in a Bold Stroke of pure blank white. And so…The Fine Arts Squad Marched On to an Increasingly Tongue in Cheek Drummer. Based on a report from 1949 that it had actually Snowed in Venice, the Squad carried out its Next Mission on the Venice Boardwalk. The aptly named ~

Venice in Snow 1970

Photos of the Fine Art Squad works, like the works themselves, are rare. Two of the only existing 70′s era snapshots of the mural (stitched together here) failed to even show the entire work, as evidenced by the missing ‘R’ of the MARKET above.

And, True to Form – who cares it’s just L.A. cement-it-over Urban Renewal-style -Venice in Snow, which stills exists today, has been permanently obscured by a newer building erected directly in front of it on the miniscule plot of land shown. Only in L.A., by Strange Fate the mural is one of the only Fine Art Squad works preserved for years to come, but of course no one can see it. Perhaps sensing this very California Fatalist Feeling, L.A. Fine Art Squad would next create perhaps their Most Recognizable Work ~ one that is Truly Synonymous with L.A. itself .

The Catalyst of 2011 Current World Events and the Impending Doom of THE BIG ONE ~ Itself a California Icon, are what makes Isle of California 1970-1972 one of our most Legitimate Urban Artworks

Down the Road in Zuma Beach at the Same Seventies Time another L.A. Poet Laureate Artiste expressed much the Same Sentiment on his Classic California album Time Fades Away, Neil Young ~

LA ~ City of the Stars….

And Indeed even in L.A. City of the Stars….Time Fades Away

L.A. Fine Art Squad carried on their work with a Series of increasingly Surrealist Trompe L’oleil works, mainly in and around Venice. Their murals perhaps never reached again the Epic Timeless Irony as Isle of California conveyed.

Terry Schoonhoven then set off & worked primarily as an individual and rendered the surrounding Venice neighborhood in a Mirror-image Reflection of the Urban View opposite, almost M.C. Escher-Gone to California Style. His St. Charles mural, on Speedway Avenue in Venice at 50 feet high x 100 feet long is his most Enduring Solo Work ~

Like many of their works were destined, The L.A. Fine Art Squad were Fading & Fast Becoming Extinct. New Emerging California Muralists adopted their Witty Slice of Life Style and emulated the Nutty Venice Neighborhood with Increasing Verve & Skill.

A Prime Example of the Fine Art Squad’s Influence on Funky Faux Futurists is Brandelli’s Brig 1973 ~ a Self-Portrait of Artist Art Mortimer, painting himself painting Former 1930′s Boxer, Babe & Betty Brandelli and their bar which lives on in Venice to this day, The Brig.

From the Origins of L.A. Fine Art Squad Emerged The Messiah of All L.A.Muralists ~Kent Twitchell

Artist/Illustrator/Muralist Extraordinaire Kent Twitchell is Easily The Most Prolific Picasso of all L.A. Muralists. Nearly his entire life has contained a Constant Form of Illustrative Expression. Twitchell arrived in Los Angeles in 1968, just at the founding of the L.A. Fine Art Squad and Los Angeles as a World Epicenter of the New Muralists. Pop Culture expressed in the Art & Music scenes were exploding just as Twitchell arrived. From his First Large-scale work -

Bride & Groom 1972 ~

Twitchell as an L.A. transplant Immediately Conveyed his understanding for Diverse & Angeleno Culture ~ con Respecto

The Mural has existed for nearly 40 years in the Heart of Downtown L.A. on the side of Victor Clothing Co., on Broadway. In a very Telling photo, Angeleno Locale Chicano Grafitti permeates the entire Urban Existence of Los Angeles and is Truly a Legitimate Cultural Art Form in its own right. The fact this mural is un-tagged, albeit the walls all around it, shows a Mutual Cross-Cultural respect not only in Subject Matter by Twitchell, but by the Community as well.

Twitchell’s Immediate Grasp of the Diverse L.A. Neighborhoods & Culture, his huge Illustrative Skill nonwithstanding and his Longevity in the Medium are what has made him THE L.A. Muralist to this day. His ability to choose Offbeat Characters in California Culture that Strike a Chord with Angelenos is uncanny, the Mural even overshadowing the fame of the subject and reinforcing the Un-obvious, as in Twitchell’s next mural of actor Strother Martin at Fountain Avenue & Kingsley Drive in Hollywood ~

Strother Martin Monument 1971

In 1970 in Twitchell’s work around town, his reputation was building & he clearly did not Have a Failure to Communicate..

“I painted only a black and white face of Strother at first. Word got around and he drove over to see it. Then he called me and we became friends. As I was painting the afghan he agreed to pose for me and I added the figure on the left…” Kent Twitchell

Twitchell’s Next Work proved to Be Brilliant not so much in Subject Matter, but perhaps his awareness that in L.A., everything is about location Location LOCATION…

The Freeway Lady 1974

No Angeleno who has Been Around Town for any length of time has not seen & felt the presence of The Freeway Lady. She watched over California Travellers on the 101 Freeway in Downtown L.A. for years, like an Aging Our Lady of Guadeloupe. Twitchell has this to say about her ~

“I am told this was America’s first freeway mural. I painted it in 1974 to honor my grandmother who lived in Hollywood. I chose actress Lillian Bronson as my model and we remained friends. She overlooked the Hollywood Freeway for 12 years and was suddenly destroyed. I am now painting her again, thanks to the Valley Institute of Visual Art (VIVA). A new front afghan was created by members of the Crochet Guild of Sacramento. The flying afghan streamer is being created by Peggy Baxter of Long Beach. The new mural will be on the west wall of the VIVA gallery at 13261 Moorpark at Fulton in Sherman Oaks . . . . Update: VIVA was prevented from putting the mural up and now it may possibly be painted on the campus of Valley College, visible to the public streets outside.”

His Work & Ethos show a repeated Sensitivity to the Surrounding Environment and ability to Reach the Hearts of Hardened L.A. City Dwellers through his Astute Choice of Freeway-Close Commercial Canvases to Paint. Perhaps this is what makes Kent Twitchell’s Legacy as one of California’s most Enduring Artists, much like that of one of his Most Famous Subjects ~

Ed Ruscha Monument 1980

“I Painted it to Honor All California Artists” Kent Twitchell

In True Jaded Faded California Fashion, Twitchell’s 6-story tall Hill Street L.A. work suffered the Fate of many works by L.A. Fine Art Squad so many years before, as Ed Ruscha Monument Mysteriously Just Disappeared one day in 2006…

Twitchell was able to sue & gain a substantial Million-Dollar plus settlement as to the loss of his Iconic Homage to all us California Artists. He has gone on to Create several other Noteworthy Works and indeed remains a living Active California Cultural Treasure to this day. Urban Graffiti for 30 years now has become a Valid Art Form as well…Case in Point ~ Elusive English Artist Banksy arriving on the L.A. Art Scene just in Time for the 2011 Academy Awards, with a Decidedly Reminiscent Wit, Message and Look of Early Pop Art. All Valid & Legit & Honored as an Innovative Modern Artist ~

Charlie Burn 2011

Thanksy Banksy for Comin’ to Town ~ but us California Creators Been There Done That ~

Ed Ruscha • Burning Gas Station 1966

“The spray paint vandalism was at the core of the end of the mural movement. L.A. started the murals in the late 60s with those of us who thought of ourselves as hippies and it travelled around the world, helped by the media attention unusual things in L.A. get. Ironically LA has now become the one place where murals cannot survive. Most of the murals that were painted over were done so because they were covered with graffiti. Efforts to clean the tagging eventually compromised the paint surface and the perception was that the paint was not lasting. Today perception is more powerful/influential than truth and people began thinking of murals as ugly graffiti-laden walls that would have been better left unpainted. Spray paint vandalism and the murals have now been tainted with the same understandable discrimination and the days of the late 60s through the mid 80s are a memory for those of us who were there. The “Mural Capital of the World” has become the” Graffiti Capital of the World” and LA has officially outlawed murals along with building-sized commercial ads. That doesn’t stop the taggers of course. It’s a strange new world. You are absolutely right though. We thought that we were in Florence. That’s why we put so much into our paintings. We thought the world was good and that people just all wanted to be nice.”

~ Kent Twitchell, 2010

L.A. Times- Feb 17, 2011 • Urban Outfitters, who have made a few bucks off the work of street artist Banksy through the years, now allegedly want his “Crayola Shooter” piece, on the wall behind their Westwood store, to be painted over.

Make Art Not War ~ Cheers, Federico

Simon Rodia at work on his 30 Year Art Project ~ The Watts Towers, 1951

Happy Valentine’s Day California !

Federico de California is One Year Old Today ~ Happy New Year 2011 California Style !!

Dora at Malibu ~ 1962

'62 Orange Dora

The Most Iconic California Surfer ~ Miki Dora at Malibu. Everything he Stood For represents the Very Essence of our Legend

Catalina SwimWear & An Emerging California Coastal Couture • 1907 -

At the Turn of the 20th Century, California Couture had Little Identity ~ an Emerging Beach & Coastal Sportswear Couture was beginning to Evolve with Influences from Europe & Hawai’i. The Matson Lines Steamships Would Soon Run Regularly from The Hawai’ian Islands to California, Bringing Culture and Couture Ideas Back & Forth Between on the West Coast. Well-Heeled Travellers able to Visit the European Beaches of the Day were introduced to the

French ‘Maillot‘, by Izod ~ A New Ladies ‘Tank’ style one-piece Swimsuit first seen on the Shores of Le Riviera ~

The Earliest Maillots were of Wool ~ and often covered with a Second Layer of Fabric for Even More Fun in the Sun, no doubt on a Hot Summer Day creating the Added Benefit of Reducing Mademoiselle’s Figure under 2 layers of Wet Wool. Add Surf & Sand to that Combination and the Poor Beach Girl of the Day would Daresay be a Trifle Uncomfortable while Making the Scene at Le Plage. However like All Good Ideas, Designers stuck with the Concept, rapidly Paring Down the Look and Streamlining Cuts to Suit Ladies and Men alike, in a Classic Tank/Trunk that would Stay in Style through the Roaring Twenties ~

Perhaps no one was More Responsible for Creating a Look that would Evolve into the Coastal California Style of Today than George Hoyningen-Heune, one of the Earliest Modern Fashion Photographers. A Russian Immigrant who would become the Chief Photographer of French Vogue, 1n 1925. His Classic Images of European Bathers and Swimwear of the Early Nineteen-Twenties and ‘Thirties would go on to Influence SwimWear Designers Everywhere, and Inspire Modern Day Designers Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Photographers Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts and many others with his Suave, Cool Timeless Images… These Would have All have Direct Effect on California Couture Style ~

In 1907, Australian Swimming Star Annette Kellerman Travelled on American Tour as an “Underwater Ballerina” – a Predecessor to Synchronized Swimming. Ms. Kellerman wore a Swimsuit with exposed arms, legs and Somewhat Low in the Back, thereby finding herself temporarily Busted in Boston for Excessive Exposure. And As Often when Something Initially Seen as Racy Behaviour becomes Trend, people like John C. Bentz, Proprietor of Sweaters & Undergarments maker Bentz Knitting Mills in California took notice and Had a Brainstorm ~ To use the Appropriately French term as its Origins would Imply…

Voila ! The Catalina SwimSuit was Created ~

Initially John Bentz re-named his Company Pacific Knitting Mills in 1912, to Reflect & Capitalize on the New SwimWear Trend in California. His Earliest Wool Suits were Almost Unisex, with Tank Top-like Uppers and short Breeches. Indeed on the Early Suits, many of which were All Black, he No Doubt thought after Mr. Henry Ford who stated about his still-new Model ‘T’,

“You can have any color you want…


Early Catalina ~ Pacific Knitting Mills ‘Catalina’ Tank Suit with Iconic Flying Fish Logo

…as long as it’s Black.” ~

During the Roaring Twenties in Southern California, being Prohibition and All, a New Paradise Playground began to Take Shape 26 Miles Across the Sea on Catalina Island. Fun-Seeking Folk would Fire Up their Chris-Crafts and Set Sail to visit Gambling Boats & Rum-Runners lying offshore of the L.A. Metropolis Night…

Sleepy Avalon Harbor in 1912

…Beckoning them with the Illegal Pleasures of the Day. Soon Catalina Isle became a Destination for Debauchery, as Chicago Chewing Gum Baron & Cubs Owner William P.Wrigley now owned & developed the Island, after buying it Lock Stock & Barrel at a Fire Sale Price years before after a devastating wildfire scorched Catalina. The Town of Avalon became a Home Away from Home to Hollywood Heroes & Well-Off California Carousers ~

Big Band music was broadcast live from the Avalon Ballroom in the Casino Modeled after Monte Carlo to a Nationwide Audience. Flying Fish Cavorted in the Channel & Glass-Bottom Boats Cruised the Harbor. Hollywood HeavyWeights like Charlie Chaplin, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Orson Welles and John Wayne came to Fish, Drink, Dance & Romance ~

Hooray for Hollywood ~ The Catalina Airline Clipper & Brand-New Avalon Ballroom, 1930s

Seeing All of This Go Down as a Marketing Opportunity, Pacific Knitting Mills Maestro John Bentz changed the name of his growing SwimWear Company after his best-selling swimsuit, ‘The Catalina’. Of Course Now it was time to develop a New Line of Sleeker, Sexier Suits to Show Off more Skin than Ever Before, Hollywood Style ~

Early Pin-Up ~ Esquire Magazine, 1936

Ooh La La ~ Now we’re Getting Someplace, Catalina 1941

As World War II Heated Up ~ Catalina Took Off Big Time when  California Created the Pin-Up for All those Soldiers in Far-Away lands…

… And They sent photos back from Exotic Outposts like Waikiki, wearing ‘Aloha Shirts’ & Inspiring a

New ‘California Tropical’ Look ~

As Catalina SwimWear Cruised into the Fifties, John Bentz Scored another California Coup ~ Catalina became a Sponsor for the Miss America Beauty Paegant, Supplying Suits and Inventing another Great California Tradition in the Process ~

The SwimSuit Competition…

Here She Comes Miss America 1950 ~ Wish They All could beat California Girls

Now the Old Knitter John Bentz & Catalina were Really in Business ~ All of America Saw his Swimsuits on Some Seriously Hot Tamales Right in their Living Rooms on this new Thing called Television. And if That wasn’t enough for All Us OverHeated California Boys, Hollywood Really Got in on the Act ~

Stunning 40′s Starlet Janet Leigh in Catalina ~ enough to Drive Any Guy Psycho

And on the Beaches of California, Now Catalina was Everywhere, On Every Girl ~


Not Yet Marilyn • Norma Jean in Catalina ~ Federico Needs Resuscitation

Then Once Again the Ever-Enterprising French Got Busy & A Guy named Louis Reard Turned Up the Heat on SwimWear with His Explosive Invention named after a Bit of Cold War Atomic Testing on a Little-Known Island called the

Bikini Atoll ~


Tres’ Chic Bardot au Bikini ~ Cote D’Azur 1950

California’s Conservative Catalina was Caught a Bit Off Balance along with the Rest of the World by the Bikini in 1946. Originally Banned in Several Countries and even Scorned by the Pope Himself & The Vatican, the Bikini Became a Much Bigger Explosion than the original Atomic Blast it was named for. Guys like Bond, James Bond & his Beauties helped out Along the Way as well to Permanently Put the Bikini on the Map ~

If you had to be Stranded on a Desert Island with One Person who would you Choose?

Catalina Stoically Stuck by the One-Piece Maillot, having created a Classic California SwimWear Icon with it for Many Years, and though The Bikini certainly was a Bit More Revealing and Therefore Became Preferred by a Whole New Generation of California Girls, it takes a Certain Kind of Lady to Look Equally Muy Caliente in the Maillot ~ Thereby supporting the Theory that Sometimes ~

Less is More ~

Elizabeth Taylor ~ Suddenly Last Summer, 1957

Whatever One’s Preference in California SwimSuit Style, We can thank Catalina SwimWear for Being One of the First Ones, bringing European and South Seas Style to the California Coast, Pioneering a Multi-Billion Dollar Swim and Surfwear Industry Worldwide, Way Before the QuikSilver’s, Roxy’s, Brazilian Bossa Nova & even the Victoria’s Secrets of the World…

Helping Keep Us Californians Looking & Feeling Fab Along the Way ~

¡ VIVA McQUEEN ! ~ “I Live for Myself & I Answer to Nobody” • 1930 -1980

L.A. Commuter Steve McQueen ~ RHD Jaquar XKSS, 1963

A MotorSport Icon 30 Years On Today,

Steve McQueen was a Racer First

& an Actor Second ~

Prepping for a Desert Race in the Mojave with the Ekins Boys ~ 1964

His Early Life & Career Closely Resembled that of His Contemporary, James Dean. Both were from Indiana, Steve McQueen born in 1930 and Dean one year later. They both had unstable childhoods, no doubt shaping their Early Formative Rebel Tendencies. McQueen & Dean like him would both Migrate to New York, Restlessly Searching for a Creative Freedom that would ultimately propel them Both to Iconic Timeless Stardom. And Both of Them would Embrace a Need for Speed ~ However that is Where the Parallels End, as Time would prove McQueen the Far More Gifted in MotorSport ~

Lotus 11 owner McQueen in the Pits ~ Santa Barbara Road Races, 1959

What Defines True Style ?

The Thing was….he Really didn’t Care. I would see him from Time to Time. At Saddleback Park, with his Husqvarna 400, and his son Chad, my age. Pretty much just another couple guys out to Traverse the same Trails & Track just like Me & My Dad 10 feet away in the Same Dirt Parking Lot. At the Now Gone Forever Ascot Park in Gardena, racing with a bunch of other Guys in some immediately to be Forgotten Dune Buggy Heat Race. The Same Guy who was STEVE McQUEEN on the BIG SCREEN was just another guy Shooting the Shit in the Pit, relaxed and Laid-Back California Style in his Personal Life…

McQueen & 2 Puch Factory Works MotoCross Team riders ~ Saddleback Park, 1973

He had a Great Lady in his Life as well, his wife Neile. She had been a Successful New York Stage and minor Screen Actor when they met in the ‘Fifties, and as they say,

Behind Every Great Man is a Woman ~

She Nurtured him, Smoothed his Bruised Bank Account & Ego when he was Starting out, bought him Bikes, Paid his Rent, didn’t Hassle Him for Being Steve. Looked the Other Way for a Long Time. And it Paid Off for Many Years, at least until his Star got So Bright it Eclipsed them Together ~ a Lesson in there, Somewhere…

The McQueens Decompress at Home ~ Palm Springs, mid 1960s

Lovely McQueen Ladies ~ Steve & Neile McQ Road Trip with their Stunning ’63 Ferrari Lusso, Carmel 1967

In so Many Ways what often makes an Icon is not the Star Machine, The Media, the Hype. Certain People just Know How to Live ~ to Get the Most Out of Life, to Go Balls Out as they say and Keep it in their Minds that

You Only Go Around Once ~

In It to Win It ~ McQueen & Husqvarna 400WR • Elsinore Grand Prix, 1970

& Work to Live, not Live to Work ~


And So he Lived his Life ~

Working to Live rather than the Other Way ‘Round, which in The End perhaps is Really All that Matters. I was Lucky Enough to have Grown Up in a California Lifestyle in an Epic Era Exposed to MotorSport, Riding that Same Husqvarna ~ with an Endless Thanks to & having Lost My Own Main Man & Mentor for whom these Stories are Dedicated, to the same Mesthelioma that killed McQueen. His Legacy and Today have a Special Personal Meaning to me. There are men and there are Men.

You Only Get One Shot ~

Keep the Hammer Down.

Big Brother, Cellular Technology & Social Media Invade California ~ 1946

Dick Tracy & Wrist Radio ~ Now with Android GPS , IM & Unlimited Text

In the Fall of 1946 ~ All Was Quiet in the Los Angeles Sleepy Hamlet Suburb of Mar Vista…

Dateline : Los Angeles, 1946 • (F deC Science & Technology Dept.)

After Enduring 4 Years of Seemingly Endless War & Toil Overseas in the Armed Services, Aircraft Factories and Shipyards, Los Angelenos were Sleeping In. After All, They Deserved It. Times were Good. What with the Local L.A. Economy Flush after a Never-Ending Stream of Defense Contracts, a Down-Winding Military Machine after a Monstrous WorldWide Buildup & Murderous Mayhem, G.I. Bills & Bobs were literally Paving the Way for a Whole New Suburbia Soon to Come and A Baby Boom on its way. Californians were Chilled Out…

But Not Everyone. Some were Still Hard at Work, Experimenting and Analyzing…Being Quiet Out There

Captured Nazi WWII 'Flying Wing' being 'analyzed', preceding the U.S. F-117 'Stealth Fighter' by 50 years. Muroc AFB 1946

Muroc AFB ~ Birthplace of Stealth Technology • Rosamond Dry Lake, Mojave 1940′s

What’s he building in there?
What the hell is he building
In there?
He has subscriptions to those
Magazines… He never
Waves when he goes by
He’s hiding something from
The rest of us… He’s all
To himself… I think I know
Why… He took down the
Tire swing from the Peppertree
He has no children of his
Own you see… He has no dog
And he has no friends and
His lawn is dying… and
What about all those packages
He sends. What’s he building in there?
With that hook light
On the stairs. What’s he building
In there… I’ll tell you one thing
He’s not building a playhouse for
The children what’s he building
In there?

Tom Waits • “What’s he Building in There ?” 1989

Double Agent ~

Beautiful but Deadly Mata Hari

During World War I, the Netherlands remained neutral. As a Dutch subject, Margaretha Zelle was thus able to cross national borders freely. To avoid the battlefields, she travelled between France and the Netherlands via Spain and Britain, and her movements inevitably attracted attention. She was a courtesan to many high-ranking allied military officers during this time.[citation needed] On one occasion, when interviewed by British intelligence officers, she admitted to working as an agent for French military intelligence, although the latter would not confirm her story. It is unclear if she lied on this occasion, believing the story made her sound more intriguing, or if French authorities were using her in such a way, but would not acknowledge her due to the embarrassment and international backlash it could cause.

In January 1917, the German military attaché in Madrid transmitted radio messages to Berlin describing the helpful activities of a German spy, code-named H-21. French intelligence agents intercepted the messages and, from the information they contained, identified H-21 as Mata Hari. Unusually, the messages were in a code that German intelligence knew had already been broken by the French, leaving some historians to suspect that the messages were contrived.

The Equally Exotic Garbo as Mata Hari ~ 1931

On 13 February 1917, Mata Hari was arrested in her room at the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris. She was put on trial, accused of spying for Germany and consequently causing the deaths of at least 50,000 soldiers. She was found guilty and was executed by firing squad on 15 October 1917, at the age of 41.

The facts of the case remain vague, because the official case documents regarding the execution were sealed for 100 years, although, in 1985, biographer Russell Warren Howe managed to convince the French Minister of National Defense to break open the file, about 32 years early. It was revealed that Mata Hari was innocent of her charges of espionage ~

Howard Hughes ~ The Original California Big Brother… He’s Got The Goods on You.

Legendary Lurker Howard Hughes surely Goes Down as the Ultimate California Big Brother, Spying on Everyone in (and Out of) Sight, including The Guys who were ‘Supposed’ to be Doing the Spying, the FBI and early predecessor to the CIA, Office of Strategic Services, the OSS. In fact, they were Unwittingly Paying Him to Do So. Hughes’ XF-11 was a Reconnaissance- Spy Plane. The Twin-boom, high wing Monoplane Designed by Big Brother HH and manufactured by (who else?) Hughes Aircraft Company in Culver City. Because of the A-Bomb, the need was ‘Greater than Ever’ to know what other countries were Up To. The United States Government contracted Howard Hughes to build a High-Altitude Spy Plane that could go above radar with a special camera using newly developed fine grain film. In True California Stranger than Fiction Fashion ~ HH Managed to spend all that Big Government Contract Money only to Crash Into a Lovely Pair of Spanish Revival Homes in Beverly Hills.

Setting the Neighbourhood Ablaze, California Style… in Beverly Hills.

Crash of the XF 11- Nice One Howard, Welcome to My Beverly Hills Nightmare.

In Typical Hughesian No Harm No Foul Logic ~ The Ever-Elusive Mr. Hughes simply Escaped to The Confines of his Creepy Concrete Deco Compound & Secret Starlet Laboratory at 7000 Romaine Street in Los Angeleez, to Continue his Secret Spying Ways on Everyone, Especially Every Sweet Young Thing that Crossed his Creepy Crescent Heights at Sunset Path….

I Hear Ya Knockin’, But You Can’t Come in ~

Howard Hughes' HeadQuarters & House of Horrors ~ 7000 Romaine Street, L.A.

Hmmm…Lots of Electronics & Phony Telephonics Going On in there. As We Have All Come to Know , Thanks to Mssrs. DeCaprio & Scorcese, The Aviator Hughes was Up to All Kinds of Shady Shenanigans, Hollywood Style. And he Taught A Lot of Other Corporate Communicados How to Do Just That…

Dick Tracy & Wrist Radio ~ Now with Android GPS , IM & Unlimited Text

There’s something Awfully Familiar about the Dick Tracy Wrist Radio every Kid Had to Have in 1946…

On January 13, 1946  Comic Strip Creator Chester Gould changed Dick Tracy forever with the introduction of the 2-Way Wrist Radio, having drawn inspiration from a visit to inventor Al Gross. This Compact Communications Device, worn as a wristwatch by Detective Tracy and Members of the Police Force, became one of the strip’s most immediately recognizable icons,and can be thought of as a Precursor to Later Technological Developments,

Such as that iPhone InYour Face, you know, the one Connected to BlueTooth, Twitter, Tattler, TMZ, TCM, e-mail, IM, Chat This-and That, FaceBook GPS & BIG BROTHER.

Early Facebookers Lucy & Ethel Log On ~ 1956

Did America’s Obsession with that Oblong Oval Glowing in their Living Rooms actually Hook Them Up to an Early Form of GPS ? Maybe They were Skype-ing Us and We Didn’t Even Know It.

Poor George Jetson, Hassled & Micro-Managed by Maniacal Boss Cosmos Spacely, while he’s Really Supposed to be Working, Being Busted Web-Surfing Again…

Meanwhile, Ms. Judy Jetson is At Home in her Stylish Modern Living Room Logging On & Video-Chatting with Wilma Flintstone (who is still on DSL) about Girls Night Out ~

So Thanks for Coming Around & Logging On, But Remember,

Even Federico Knows When You’ve Been Here….


Cool Under Fire ~ 2 Inspiring Accomplished Guys & 175,000 Friends ~ 2012

There are 2 Esteemed California Boys, both Associates & Friends that have Given Me A Lot & all you who have Chosen to Read along, All 175,000 of You, in Australia, Austria, Brazil, The Cayman Islands, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, The U.S., & Sri Lanka…Inspiring People These Two Have Been for me & Hopefully for You As Well…

Of Course I, like Any Californian worth Their Salt ~ knew of him.

Some Time Many California Light Years Ago, at the Beginning of Federico’s career, he was in an elevator at a Big California Clothing Expo. Around 1985 or so. The Door Opened and in walks this Dude who was well, Electric. And All these Other Dudes & Hot Surf Chicks are Checking Him Out, throwing out Surf Mags for him to Autograph, old school Instamatics Going Off.  So I tried to Be Cool. He’s got that Vibe, that this is his Brief Respite from being ‘Shaun Tomson’. And as Soon as That Door Opens, Back At It ~ kind of A Celebrity Chilling for a Moment. And Then he was Gone.

Flash Forward 20 Years ~

As a Graphic Designer who chooses to Live In ~ as they say, a ‘Small Market’, Federico often Finds Himself Hustling for Work. So at one point there’s a very, very short, briefest of brief work-for-hire listing for someone of my Particular Skillsets. I Drop Round for a Visit to meet Surf Star Royalty Shaun & Ms. Tomson at their Clothing Biz Office. There he is ~ Same Dazzling Dude from the Eighties Elevator with an Equally Dazzling Wife. Federico is given a Project Brief and and is Off on His Way to Do His Thing. Then I’m Back. and Back Again. Pretty Soon I’m just There All.The.Time. Working at the Surf Star Clothing Biz. Which Was Cool and Challenging and Pressure-Tested Creativity. Designing and Making Stylish Pressure-Tested Surf-Inspired California Casual Couture ~

And How Is he Inspirational, Federico? Because, other than the Great Hawai’ian Duke Kahanamoku, Shaun Tomson is the Greatest Ambassador of his Sport? Dude- Because he’s the Gnarliest Tube Rider Ever? No.

Shaun Tomson defines Cool Under Fire.

Whether facing a Wall at Backdoor Pipeline

or a Wall of invoices or orders, Adventure or Adversity,

Travel, Trials or Tragedy.

He’s a Great Husband ~ Married to The Same Ms. Tomson for Many Years. A Great Dad No Matter What Goes Down ~ and Just a Straight-Up Nice Guy. With Style, Grace, Charm, Intelligence & Eloquence. Successful Designer, Writer, Film-Maker, California Renaissance Man. Surfer. ST Handles It.

On The Wet Road to World Champion ~ Shaun Tomson on the North Shore 1974-75

South Afrikaner Surf Star Shaun Showing Off his Seventies Spider-Web Quiver

Live+Work ~ Robin Donaldson AIA

Most of Us ~ At the end of Our California Day, think about What We did That Day. Uh, did a Spreadsheet. Mowed the Lawn & Washed the Car, Pickup the Kids & Went to the SuperMarket & BlockBuster. This Guy Designs & Builds the Houses and Buildings we Live+Work In. Fourth-Generation Californian Robin Donaldson has A Lot Going On Up There. I have seen the guy design a house with One Hand while eating His Lunch with the other. We’re Not talking about – no offense if you live in one, Your BasicTractHouse, either. Something More Like This ~

oh, and you’re Not Sure what To Do with the Inside ~ (architects call this ‘The Interior’). Well, how about throwing out the Cable Rug Grandma Gave You and those Plastic Milk Crates you Balance your Big Screen on for something, well…like this ~

Robin, when he’s not Dreaming Up Someone’s Phantasmagoric Phantasy Pad is Basically a Regular California Guy. He’s got a Great Family, a Big One, with a Dome-Headed Dad and a Bunch of Dome-Headed Brothers with Big Brains (Hence the Domes) and a Foxy Wife and 2 Genius-in-the Making Boys that Rip on Electric Guitar and they’re not even Old Enough to Drive, not Even Close. The Guy Drives a 10-year-old Ford Truck with Surf Stickers on the Back Bumper and Boards Inside so he can Surf when he’s not Dreaming Up more Dome-Headed Stuff like The Office You Wished You Worked In instead of those Crappy Computer Cubes Most of Us think of as ‘The Office’. For Instance ~

Robin Donaldson doesn’t Do All of This By Himself ~ He’s got an Equally Brilliant Partner and Mentors a Staff of 25 Equally Brilliant Staff Members to Design & Build these Incredible Spaces in Places like Abu Dhabi, Mexico and Of Course, California.

His Architectural firm, Shubin+Donaldson has 2 offices in California and Clients are Coming & Going Constantly in what for many is an Extremely Challenging Economy. But This isn’t about All of That ~

So What’s the Point ?

Robin Made a Book. It’s Called LIVE+WORK. And That’s the Point. That’s What We All Do. It’s How we Choose to Do It. For Damn Sure Federico doesn’t always Do it Right. which is why these California Guys Inspire Me & Can Inspire You…

Robin Said Two Things to Me That I Try to Remember…Once when Federico was Lamenting the Loss of Yet Another California Country-Club Style Crushing Hot Blonde Girlfriend, Robin’s words were, “You’ve Got to be Tougher”. That’s It. No Sugar-Coated “Sorry, Pal” for Federico. And he was Right.

And on the subject of What You’re Reading, All of It, A Year & 25,000 Readers Later…he told me

Keep Writing.

So I Do.

This Journal of California People, Places & Things was Originally Inspired by Two Other California Guys who, at the Outset of My Journey to Write over 2 Years Ago ~ Taught me so much about Where We Live. My Grandfather & Father were practically Inseperarable their Whole Lives, and when I was Lucky Enough to Come Along, there were Three of Us California Boys ~

They showed me the Mountains, The Sea & The Deserts of California. They Played me Cool Jazz, Mambo & Mariachi, and I discovered Rock N’Roll, R&B and Roots along the Way. They taught me about Animals & History, to Play Music, To Laugh at Yourself Sometimes, To Work Hard & Work with Your Hands, and To Hold a Door Open for a Lady.

As much as I think about them Every Day and All that We Shared, the fact they’re not here anymore has taught me about Mortality, that Nothing Lasts Forever. What I Choose to Write is Hopefully a Small Way To say Thank You to Them, To all of you Out There, and Thanks to wordpress.com as well. The F deC Readership is an almost Equal Split between Senores y Senoritas in Many Far-Away Lands from California ~ from ages under 13 to over 60 who have chosen to Stop & Read Along the Way ~ which Makes me Happy.

Gracias al Todos ~ Federico

photos : © Steve Wilkings, Dan Merkel, Shaun & Carla Tomson, Ciro Coelho & Shubin+Donaldson Architects

The California Hot Rod ~ Survival of the Fittest on the Desert Dry Lakes 1945-2010

“It didn’t make any difference to me whether I thought the airplane would go faster than sound. I was assigned as a test pilot on it, and it was my duty to fly it…”

~ Chuck Yeager

“Some dang fool gave me a roadster when I was 14 and ruined my whole cotton-pickin’ life”, begins Dick Kraft on his entry into the world of California Hot Rods. “Then, I had a ‘29 Model A with Kelseys and a Winfield head that I paid for by working on the family ranches. I wasn’t getting anywhere [with the four-banger] so I bought a ‘32 roadster with side mounts and 18-inch wheels for $200. In high school, we had a car club called the Plutocrats. Every Saturday night, we would street race to hold [onto] our number-one status.” Street racing was (and is), is a part of Hot Rod History. The Legends of the Sport didn’t become heroes by collecting stamps – as kids they were racers…”   ~ Dick Kraft

Dick Kraft fires his '27 T Modified ~ El Mirage Dry Lake 1948

Although The Birth of California Hot Rodding pre-dates WWII, on the Dry Lakes & on the Streets of California ~ The War actually accelerated the growth of the Sport. With the Further Development of the Ford Flathead V-8 engine – The U.S. Army ran ‘em in their Tanks and the larger displacement Lincolns and Packard engines ended up in America’s PT-Boats and Fighter Planes. All sorts of bits from the California Aircraft Industry ended up in Hot Rods after the War, including the Pilots. Indeed the ‘Belly Tank’ Dry Lakes first ‘StreamLiners’ were fabricated from the auxiliary fuel tanks used by WWII Fighter planes like the Lockheed P-38, One BadAss California Hot Rod in its Own Right, but that’s Another Story…

55th Air Group Ground Crew with 150 Gallon Drop Tanks at Nuthampstead, England ~ 16 November 1943

After 5 years of Hell-Bent Survival of the Fittest on Land, Sea & Air, California Boys had to find a way to Quench the Need for Speed, and California Hot Rodders took to the Air & Land in the Dry Desert Air in the Pursuit of Performance ~

The 1st 'Belly Tank' Lakester built by Bill Burke 1946 ~ Lots of WWII Surplus Gear All 'Round

California HotRodder Don Montgomery, 1948 ~ sporting a pair of WWII-style Bausch & Lomb Air Force issue shades, the 1st 'Ray-Bans'

And Indeed 65 Years Later, The Survival of the Fittest California Dry Lakes Hot Rods reached what Most Aficionados would consider the Pinnacle of Automotive High Style ~ The Hallowed Ground of the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance, 2010. The Iconic California Dry Lakes Roadsters And ‘Belly Tankers’ have since been restored to the Nth Degree… Far More Refined & Coveted in their Appearance than the All-Business Originals. However what Really Shines Through the Gloss, Pomp & Circumstance, The Caviar & the Champagne of the Greens of Pebble Beach is This. The California HotRodders, after enduring Years of Toil, War, Death & Destruction, came home to California to Create a Culture that was celebrated Then & Today for the Pursuit of Engineering, Design & Performance Excellence in the Thin Air Desert Dry Lakes of California ~

So-Cal Speed Shop '32 Deuce Roadster ~ Santa Ana Drags, 1950 & on the Streets of L.A., 2010

The So-Cal Speed Shop Team makes the Cover, 1950., & The So-Cal Speed Shop 'Belly-Tanker' today, Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance 2010

The Evans Equipt '27 T-Bucket Modified Roadster ~ El Mirage 1950 & Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance 2010

BadAss California HotRod 59AB Maxed-Out Merc Flatheads ~ State of the Art in 1950

Perhaps the Greatest Honour that can be bestowed on these California HotRods today is after years of racing, knuckle-busting, scraped together with bits leftover from Woe-Begotten World-War II Surplus by Men toiling in the California Desert Dust, Heat & Cold in the Pursuit of nothing more than Every Last Bit of Speed…Years of Neglect & Idleness, and finally these Rolling Works of Art take their place beside the Bugattis, Ferraris, Mercedes & Duesenbergs of the Classic Automotive Stratosphere, representing their Time & Place as California Art ~

The Shadoff Special/CT StreamLiner ~ World Speed Record Holder, Bonneville 1953 & Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance 2010



Special Thanks to Jalopy Journal.com /H.A.M.B. , Kustomrama.com, and Jimmy Bs 1925 Chev’s photostream on http://www.flickr.com for photos in the post ~

Elvis in L.A. ~ 1970

The King visiting his Subjects in his Mercedes 600 Limousine ~ L.A. 1970

Some California Icons are Bigger than the stories anyone can write About Them ~ Certainly Elvis is one who will be forever Connected with California, through his Music, his Movies, & his Moxie. He Gave us So Much ~

Long Live the King !

Mid-Century Modern Mad Men ~ • Albert Frey & Raymond Loewy in Palm Springs, 1931-1980

Much Like other Genres of California Pop Culture & Influence, it took several European Immigrants to the California Lifestyle to Recognize and Establish a Standard of Architecture, creating several Mid-Century Masterpieces that influence all that we know today about Modern California Design ~

At the end of World War II Palm Springs’ Lazy Sunny Slow Desert Population almost tripled, and the city experienced a building boom. As an Elite Escape for the Hollywood Gentry and a Winter Haven for East Coast industrialists, Palm Springs would emerge Post-War as a resort community for a broader segment of the American populace with more leisure time than any previous generation. This helped to attract Design Projects from around the country, along with readily available Wide Open Spaces, a Balmy Tropical Clime and existing relaxed building codes and regulations…

Albert Frey was born in Zurich and had Come Up in an era of the Dutch De Stijl Movement & German Bauhaus Schools of Thought on Design. There is a Direct Correlation in these European Design Styles that one can see today in the Iconic Mid-Century Homes & Buildings well-preserved in the Dry California Desert of Palm Springs.

Frey moved around Europe, working in Belgium for several notable Architects, then moving to work with the Master Le Corbusier. Mssr. Frey came to America to work in 1928, and indeed one can trace the Roots of California Mid-Century Modernism to this period, as Architects like Frey, Austrians Rudolph Schindler & Richard Neutra moved to the U.S., bringing Art Deco & Modernist Sensibilites to the Somewhat Staid and Rigid American Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Design Ethic of the Day.

Photographer Edward Steichen, Film Director Josef Von Sternberg along with his Muse, actress Marlene Dietrich and her Contemporary Greta Garbo and Many Others influenced and Began to Shape California Pop Culture in Film, Photography, Graphics, Architecture, Furniture and Product Design. Albert Frey had already Created & Contributed several American Architectural Masterpieces with Le Corbusier and other leading American Architects of the Day years before setting foot in Palm Springs, or even California…

Consider That Most Americans were either Entering the Depression, going to Gangster Movies and PoP Culture centered around Bonnie & Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly and Charlie Chaplin, that Perhaps Puts the Progressive Luminaire House in Perspective as Design in 1931 ~

Designed by architects A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey for the 1931 Architectural League exhibition in New York, the Aluminaire House was one of only two houses by American architects to be included in the Museum of Modern Art’s famed 1932 International Exhibition of Modern Architecture. Disassembled and rebuilt 3 times, The Aluminaire now resides On the Central Islip (Long Island) campus of the New York Institute of Technology.

Another Altogether Influential European Designer would come to America from his Native France, having been wounded & decorated by his country while serving in WWI. His name was Raymond Loewy. He almost single-handedly changed the Face of American Product, literally creating a completely new Modern American Design Vernacular in Trains, Planes & Automobiles ~

Monsieur Loewy, having landed in New York in his French Military Uniform with $50. in his pocket, sought work immediately in Manhattan. Much like his N.Y.C. PopArt Successor Andy Warhol, Loewy started out his Illustrious American Design Career Stateside in the 1920′s as a Window Display Designer for Department Stores, including Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. He soon found work on a Higher Level as a Fashion Illustrator for the magazines Vogue & Harper’s Bazaar, as Fashion was largely illustrated rather than photographed at that time. This path very much Parallels that of Warhol some 30 years later…however that is where the Similarity of the Two Ends ~

Loewy’s Amazing Design Talent & Skills Propelled Him to the Stratosphere of Classic American Industrial & Product Design. He designed everything from The World’s First Streamlined Refrigerator, the Coldspot, to Complete Railroad Lines, Locomotives, Furniture, Graphic Design, Airliner Interiors and Automobiles ~ His Most Noteworthy Association in this realm with Studebaker. One of his Most Beautiful & Timeless Designs is this breathtaking Studebaker StarLiner Coupe from the Early Fifties, Known among Automotive Aficionados as the ‘Loewy Coupe’  ~

And So ~ at the Peak of Their Careers, Mssrs. Frey & Loewy’s Paths Converged. As Raymond Loewy was a Confirmed Bachelor at this point in his Stellar Mad Men Career, he needed a Man Cave. And who Better to Build It than the Confirmed Mid-Century Desert Design Maestro Albert Frey.

From 1935 to 1937 Albert Frey worked with John Porter Clark (1905-1991), a Cornell-educated architect, under the firm name of Van Pelt and Lind Architects as both were yet unlicensed in California. April of 1937 saw Frey briefly return to the east coast to work on the Museum of Modern Art in New York. While in New York Frey married Marion Cook, a writer he had met in Palm Springs. In 1938, Frey and his wife went to France and returned to America on the SS Normandie, a floating Art Deco Masterpiece. The couple arrived back in New York City on August 1, 1938 aboard the Great Ocean Liner.

Frey was So Enamored of Palm Springs and its Surroundings, he would soon focus all his Creative Design Energies there. He built his own home in Palm Springs in 1941, starting with a 3-bedroom nucleus that he hoped could be a prototype for mass-produced homes. Built out of very low-cost industrial materials, it came in at $6 per square foot, low even then. An original proponent of multiple-use space, his dining room table hung from the ceiling on clotheslines, The Iconic architectural Photographer Julius Shulman wrote about the Frey House,

“The aluminum siding and ceiling reflected the sun, while the interior wood panelling provided a feeling of warm refinement”

To see more of Julius Shulman’s Palm Springs Architectural Photography have a look at Modernism Rediscovered; pictures by Julius Shulman from::Palm Springs Modern Committee .

Frey’s Building Technique would soon Become the Mid-Century Southern California  Style Vernacular~

Architects & Builders all over Southern California would Adopt Frey’s Design & Building Style, capitalizing on readily available materials that emerged from the Mass Industrialization of America & the Southern California Aircraft Industry during WWII. FiberGlas, Aluminum & Plywood established the Signature Look ~

Architects like Cliff May & Roy Fey would Capitalize on this PostWar Building Boom,

adopting Frey’s Le Corbusier ethic and applying it Everywhere a Tract House Could Live in California. Neighborhoods from Larkspur to Lakewood sprang up and with all those G.I’s returning from Axis Battle with their G.I. Bills, Times were Good in Sunny California ~

One Big Drawback of these Low-Cost Innovations by the Bauhaus Master Frey was that Anyone could Get in on The Act, often with Questionable Results, and the California Tract House Was Born ~

But Not to Worry, as the Absolute Masters shared & adopted Frey’s Culture as well, and shared & adopted Frey’s Culture as well, and California Masterpieces arose… the Most Iconic Example is easily the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs by Richard Neutra. To look upon this house today One sees the Intuitive Skill in which Neutra Adopted Man’s Need for Shelter with the Surrounding Natural Setting as One ~

The Kaufmann House - a 1946 masterwork by architect Richard Neutra

The much-photographed 1946 masterwork by architect Richard Neutra might be the complete marriage of the abstract geometry of modern architecture with the desert-and-mountain landscape of Palm Springs. The sleek, largely horizontal, 3,162-square-foot house — on 2.53 acres, and including five bedrooms and six bathrooms — is laid out with pinwheel-like wings, offset by a few vertical elements — a chimney and an outdoor sleeping area that Neutra called a “gloriette” — that pull together the sprawling composition.

Many critics place the house amongst the most important houses of the 20th century in the United States and even was included in a list of all time top 10 houses in Los Angeles in December 2008.

And while the Upscale Master Neutra was Doing the Big-Time Mid-Century Masterpieces in the Desert ~ The Pioneer of the Genre, Albert Frey worked on a Smaller Scale with regard to Residential Design. Concentrating on his Ethic of Economy and Cost-Effective Materials, Frey Designed & Built an Addition to his Frey House I, in 1946.

Rising Out of the Rugged Palm Springs Landscape ~ Frey’s Iconic Extraterrestrial Turret appeared as from An Erector Set on Steroids ~

One can note the Most Basic of Hardware-Store Materials Frey conceived in a Most Iconic Manner

To see Frey’s own houses today perched in a Rugged Palm Canyon, is Almost Surreal. So Famous is the UFO-like Profile of Frey’s Home, it’s hard to Distinguish the Reality of your Gaze from one of Julius Shulman’s Timeless photographs.

As Frey’s Direct Bold Style Took Hold in the desert, Commercial Commissions in the Community presented themselves, and Indeed stand today as Testaments to Albert Frey’s Design Genius & the Simplicity in which he Preferred to Live, Embracing the Desert Surroundings ~

George & Judy Jetson got Married at the Palm Springs City Hall, 1957 (below) & Filled Up at the TramWay Gas Station, 1963 ~ Albert Frey

And Almost as a Parallel ~ The Bachelor Designer Raymond Loewy’s career had drawn him to Palm Springs in the Forties. So What Better Architect than Frey to collaborate with Loewy for the Ultimate Mad Men Man Cave ?

Raymond Loewy's Ultimate Man Cave & The Trappings of Bachelor Success ~ Albert Frey, 1946

Built in 1946-47 as a bachelor retreat and expanded later when Loewy got married, the house today has been restored by metalware manufacturer Jim Gaudineer who said of the design, “When you slide open the glass walls, it’s almost like living outdoors.” A typical Palm Springs modernist villa with a low-slung pavilion and plenty of glass that provides striking views of desert, mountains, and the pool and garden that make the private oasis complete…

What makes the Loewy House so Attractive is its Intimacy and like all of Frey’s Designs, its Simplicity. The Pool that literally Floats into the house…How Very Dean Martin of you Raymond. And indeed with Julius Shulman’s amazing Black & White photographs of the Loewy House, along with so many of Frey’s designs, it became an Immediate California Design Icon, like Frey Himself ~

For some years in the Late 40′s and 50′s Loewy settled down to a Life of Designer Domesticity

enjoying the Fruits of his Labors…and indeed in so many pictures of his Life, he is Surrounded by Beautiful Women, Admiring Friends & Co-Workers…No Shrinking Violet, Mr. Loewy ~ The Desert Design MasterMind Working on his Tan…and during that period Loewy continued his association with Studebaker, designing a Succession of Styles for them that would ensure Studebaker’s, and Loewy’s place in Time, literally…

Loewy with a Final Prototype Avanti - A 4-door never produced~looking some 50 years previous a lot like the 2010 Porsche Panamera

Loewy’s continued success and Endless Restless Design Genius would lead him to what many feel is his Swan Song ~ A Studebaker that, in spite of the Impending Doom of a company Loewy’s Designs had propped up for years – His Finest Hour would come with The Last Effort of a very old American Car Company to stay alive …

The Studebaker Avanti ~

A Final Avanti rendering virtually identical to the 1963 ~ preceding Mustang, Camaro, et al

Loewy in Later Years would divorce his Wife, and like Many Maniacal Mad Men, would soon Marry a Woman Half his Age ~

While his business earned roughly $3 million a year for decades, Loewy was able to indulge a sybaritic life‑style. In addition to a series of enormous yachts, Loewy at his peripatetic peak maintained lavish residences on Long Island and the Riviera, a pied‑a‑terre in Paris and a château in the suburbs, a Fifth Avenue cooperative, a villa in Mexico and of course the Frey House Palm Springs, Calif. “Of course, we have very little of all that left,” said his wife Viola.

And What of Frey Himself ? Perhaps the New York Times said it best in 1998 ~

Albert Frey, a Modernist and Minimalist Architect, Dies at 95

Albert Frey, an early ambassador to America of the International Style of architecture who later brought its themes to buildings in harmony with the American desert, died on Nov. 14 at his home in Palm Springs, Calif., his executor, F. Gillar Boyd Jr., said.

He was 95 years old.

Mr. Frey belonged to a generation that believed in a political role for modern architecture, that of social liberation through machine-made, egalitarian and affordable designs. His chosen materials were aluminum, glass, cables and, eventually, the very boulders and sands of the desert where he settled.

In a career that spanned more than 65 years, Mr. Frey remained true to the principle that architecture should make the most of the least. His best known works were the East Coast houses he designed with Lawrence Kocher in the 1930′s and the many buildings he created in the Palm Springs of the 1940′s, 50′s and 60′s.

”He was the last of a generation of European architects that came to the West Coast envisioning that, in this unformed landscape, a perfected vision of a modern future could bloom,” said Terence Riley, chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art.

And Mr. Loewy ? He Lived to Be 97, until 1986 ~

During his lifetime Loewy’s company worked for numerous private companies as well as governments, and his designs have had a major effect on the Man-Made Environment. Products he has been responsible for range from cars, ships, airplanes, buildings and white-goods appliances
to products such as toothbrushes and pens.

Mssr. Loewy served as consultant to numerous corporations including  The Hupp Motor company, Coca- Cola, United Airlines, Shell, Exxon, IBM, BMW, GM and NASA sought him for his streamlined designs seen to reflect economy and grace. Loewy was a Consultant to NASA on the Apollo Space Program, and on the Saturn I, Saturn V, and the SkyLab Habitat studies, 1967-1973.

That is a Long Way from Designing 1930′s Refrigerators~ And Along Somewhere, in Between All of Those Accolades, The Two of Them were Just Two Young Brilliant Guys, Admiring Each Others’ Work, Creating a New California Style, Some Sensible Living Spaces & Making Friends ~

Who Was the Best Pilot I Ever Saw ? ~ 50 Years of Badass California HotRodders • A Gallery

California has long been called the Birthplace of Hot Rodding…

In his Book, The American Hot Rod, Iconic California Hot Rodder Dean Batchelor illustrates that, while the ‘Classic Hot Rod’ may have been a ’32 Deuce Roadster with a Hot Flathead, the Real California Hot Rodders knew of, Appreciated & were Enthusiasts of all types of MotorSport – Sports Car Racing, Dry Lakes, Motorcycling, Drag Racing, and all that entails. Mind you, NASCAR had not even been founded on the beach at Daytona when Mr. Batchelor and many other California Hot Rodders were going about  the Business of Speed ~ so here, an ongoing Gallery of Images of some of the most Badass Hot Rods and the Californians that Shape the Sport ~

Dean Batchelor • SoCal Speed Shop '32 Roadster, Muroc Dry Lake 1948

Although there are so many California Men & Women that define the term ‘Hot Rodding’, there are a few that have excelled far beyond their original California HotRod Roots to become International Icons of MotorSport. Santa Monica, California Boy Phil Hill was the First (of only 2) Grand Prix Formula 1 World Champions for the United States ~ Considered by many to be the Pinnacle of MotorSport. Phil Hill accomplished this in 1961. Long Associated as a Driver for Ferrari the Iconic Italian Scuderia run by Notoriously European Elitist Enzo Ferrari. For Phil Hill to be recognized as one of the Drivers in an Era Completely Dominated by European Drivers & Teams, to win Grands Prix, much less the World Championship in that atmosphere is a True Testament to Phil Hill’s Driving Skill. In 1960 he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, for Ferrari, The first Grand Prix win for an American driver in nearly forty years, since Jimmy Murphy won the 1921 French Grand Prix. His Primary Career Victories are Simply Astounding for any MotorSports Driver in any form of the Sport ~

One of the Most Talented, Winningest & Versatile California HotRodders Ever ~ Dan Gurney.

As a driver, Gurney scored Practically Countless Victories in the sports car races at Daytona, Sebring, the Targa Florio, the 1000 km at the Nurburgring and Le Mans. He won four World Championship Grand Prix races, in France, Belgium and Mexico, three additional Formula 1 races, seven USAC/Indy Car road races and five NASCAR 500 Stock Car races. He was twice runner-up in the Indy 500. Gurney has the distinction of being the only U.S. citizen in the 100 year history of Formula 1 racing to win a World Championship Grand Prix in a car of his own construction.

Dan Gurney in the AAR Gurney Eagle ~ The First American to Win F1 with an American Car of his design ~ 12 Jun 1966, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

Dan Gurney’s All American Racers is the only constructor in the U.S. that has designed and built a winning F1 grand prix car, The Gurney-Weslake Eagle. A variant of-winning Indianapolis 500 car and a winning sports car. The All American Racers’ factory team employed 66 drivers winning 78 victories, the “Indy 500,” 83 pole positions and eight Championships.

Dan Gurney & Harry Weslake- Developers of the First American Engine to win at Formula One ~ Brands Hatch 1967

Dan Gurney ~ FIA 289 Cobra, Targa Florio 1000KM Italy 1964

Ken Miles & the Shelby King Cobra, Riverside 1964 ~ One of the Best, Ever.

Drag Racing Legend ~ SF Valley Boy, A Teenage Don Prudhomme in the Tommy Ivo 4-engine Dragster. Early 1960's

One of the First Women to Excel in MotorSport ~ Shirley Muldowney • AA Top Fuel Dragster, 1968

The HotRodder’s Hot Rodder ~

Legendary California Hot Rodder Mickey Thompson

In the 1950′s & 60′s of California HotRodding, there really were no Corporate Sponsors or Big Paychecks. Guys like Mickey Thompson built what they had and ‘Run What They Brung’ to Pursue Speed, often with very little budget. Mickey Thompson built, ran and financed a Succession of Successful Hot Rods in Drag Racing, Off-Road and his Pursuit of the Land Speed Record at Bonneville.

He developed a brilliant career as both a driver and an Innovative Automotive Technician; later as a designer, manufacturer and seller of racing and performance equipment. In addition to being a Drag Racing Champion, Mickey Thompson set more speed and endurance records than any other man in automotive history. He is credited with designing and building the first slingshot dragster in 1954, moving the seat behind the rear axle to improve traction when the existing racing tires proved unsuitable.[1] A change so momentous in the Sport, it would not happen again until Don Garlits introduced the Rear-engined Dragster in 1971.[2] Thompson also was noted for being the first manager of Lions Drag Strip near Long Beach, California in 1955.

In his long career, Thompson raced everything from stock cars to off-road vehicles and engineered numerous competition engines. He went into the performance aftermarket business in the early 1960s and then, in 1963 he created “Mickey Thompson Performance Tires” that developed special tires for racing including for Indianapolis 500 competitors.

MT~Prepped for the Carrera Panamericana Mexican Road Roace, 1954

Thompson founded SCORE International in 1973, a sanctioning body to oversee off-road racing across North America. He and his wife Trudy formed the “Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group” (MTEG) which ran an indoor motocross and off-road vehicle racing show and competition that brought the sport from the back-country terrain to stadiums in the heavily populated metropolitan areas.

One BadAss Calf. HotRodder ~ Mickey Thompson & 4-Engine, 400 MPH Challenger I, Bonneville 1960

The Fastest Man Alive…

Fastest Man on Wheels ~ Craig Breedlove & Crew with Spirit of America, Bonneville Salt Flats, 1963

The Spirit of America

Incredibly Driven California Hot Rodder Craig Breedlove was Driven to Pursue his Quest as Fastest Man Alive in 1962. In Pursuit of the Land Speed Record ~ Breedlove set out to Build and Field the Fastest Car on Wheels, The Spirit of America. Breedlove was and Is to This Day so Incredibly Driven to Build the Ultimate Bad California Hot Rod, he built it in his garage, simultaneously putting on suit & tie while pursuing Big Financing to Keep his Project Alive and meeting with Suits from Goodyear and Shell Oil. In a Succession of Cars, Breedlove Won & Lost & Won Again his Quest for Fastest Man on Wheels -

The Spirit of America was the first of the modern jet-propelled record breaking cars, built with a narrow stream-lined fuselage, three wheel chassis, and most significantly turbojet engine. Like most of the other competing vehicles the engine was ex-military, the first Spirit had a General Electric J47 engine from an F-86 Sabre and was tested at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1962, where difficult handling resulted in failure. Before trying again a new stabilizer was added and a steerable front wheel.

Breedlove set his first record on September 5, 1963 at Bonneville, the first man to set an average speed of over 400 mph during a land speed record.[1]

With 5,000 pounds of thrust, The Spirit wasn’t just pretty, it was fast. On Oct. 5, 1963, clocking a two-way average of just over 407 mph, Breedlove brought the land speed record back to the United States for the first time in 32 years. He broke records with Spirit of America until October 1964, when, at more than 500 mph, his chute snapped off. The car overshot the track, smashed through some telephone poles, skipped across a saltwater pond and sank like a stone. Breedlove walked away wet, but unscathed, and with a record — 526.28 mph. He’s the only driver to nearly drown while setting a land speed record.


Risky Business at over 400MPH ~

A new Spirit was built over 1964-65 to attempt to beat Arfons, dubbed Spirit of America – Sonic I a four-wheel design with a much higher rated GE J79 engine originally from an F-4 Phantom, the same type as that used by Arfons’ Green Monster. Competing for the LSR over several years with Arfons ended with Breedlove setting the record at 600.601 mph (966.574 km/h) on November 15, 1965, a record that stood until 1970. The Sonic I is currently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum, California.

After a lengthy break from world records Breedlove began work on a new Spirit in 1992, eventually named the Spirit of America Formula Shell LSRV. The vehicle is 44 ft 10 in long, 8 ft 4 in wide, and 5 ft 10 in high (13.67 m by 2.54 m by 1.78 m) and weighs 9,000 lb (4 t), construction is on a steel tube frame with an aluminium skin body. The engine is the same as in the second Spirit, a GE J79, but it is modified to burn unleaded gasoline and generates a maximum thrust of 22,650 lbf (100.8 kN).

The first run of the vehicle in October 28, 1996 in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada ended in a crash at around 675 mph (1,000 km/h). Returning in 1997 the vehicle badly damaged the engine on an early run and when the British ThrustSSC managed over 750 mph (1200 km/h) the re-engined Spirit could do no better than 676 mph (1088 km/h). Breedlove believes the vehicle is capable of exceeding 800 mph (1,200 km/h).

Breedlove sold the Spirit of America Formula Shell LSRV to Steve Fossett, holder of many sailing, ballooning and other aviation records, and the car was undergoing rebuilding in hopes of some preliminary shakedown runs in late September 2007 at Bonneville. However, Steve Fossett went missing in early September 2007 while scouting for alternative land speed record venues in Nevada, and his body then later recovered.[2]

To Be Continued…


One of the Earliest of the New California 'Funny Cars' ~ Doug Thorley, "Chevy II Much", 1966


Beach City Chevrolet Fuel FunnyCar 'Vette, 1969 ~ Evil HotRods & Evil Girls are 2 of a Kind, Long on Horsepower, Long Legs & Hard To Handle. Totally Worth It.

Too Hot to Handle ~ Tom Pre-'Mongoose' McEwen in Evil Handling Mid-Engine Hemi-Cuda, which would soon Wind Up Shiny Side Down, 1966

LEVI’S 501 XX ~ California Denim • 1850-1971

When One Thinks of a Fashion Icon ~

Names Like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren or Yves St. Laurent Come to Mind.

However One Claim to Fashion & Function Fame is in a Class of Its Own…

…Made in California Of Course ~

The LEVI’S 501 XX Denim Jean

No Matter When you Grew Up, or Where You Live, in America or Japan or Australia or Europe, whether you are an Octogenarian, A Hippie, A Baby Boomer, Cowboy, Biker, Yuppie, or just Plain Old You, There’s a Pretty Good Chance you’ve got a Pair of Levi 501′s. Or You’ve had some – or You Want Some. You might even have some on right now ~ Like I Do. My Favorite Version, although not to Wear Personally, are Without Question the Daisy Duke Variety, but we’ll get to that later.. It all started ‘Way Back in the California Gold Rush Days ~

According to the Guinness Book of World Records the Most Valuable Denim Jeans are an original pair of Levi Strauss & Co 501 XX aged over 115 years old which were sold to a collector in Japan for $60,000 through eBay in 2005. The seller reports that the rather dusty jeans were found in a mine in the Rand Mining District, on the Mojave Desert in California. They are covered in candlewax from the candles the miner was using to light the tunnel he was working in and were found with a paper bag with the name of a mercantile store which operated between 1895 and 1898 in the town of Randsburg. The pants have a buckle back with suspender buttons and cloth label indicating they are size W34 x L33.

Send ‘em Over to Federico~ A Bit Big but Those Will Fit.

In 1853, the California Gold Rush was in full swing, and everyday items were in short supply. Levi Strauss, a 24-year-old German immigrant, left New York for San Francisco with a small supply of Dry Goods with the intention of opening a branch of his brother’s New York dry goods business. Shortly after his arrival, a Gold Prospector wanted to know what Mr. Strauss was selling. When Strauss told him he had rough canvas to use for tents and wagon covers, the prospector said, “You should have brought pants!,” saying he couldn’t find a pair of pants strong enough to last. San Francisco Was A Rough Town in 1850. Gold had been discovered all throughout the Hills to the North in Places like Sutters Mill & Vallecito. Prospectors Invaded John Sutter’s Land, leaving him Powerless to Fight them Off, as they came by the hundreds, tramping through his Fields and Streams. Fortune Hunters from Far & Wide showed up from Everywhere. Immigrant Miners thought they would simply Bend Over & Scoop Up the Nuggets. The work turned out to be a lot Harder Than That, Dirty, Wet & Exhausting ~ Day After $6. aDay.  Tough Going & Hard on the Gear.


1895 Pair of 501 XX LEVI'S found in a Mineshaft in the Mojave Desert • eBay price-$46,047.


So Young Levi Strauss, being of an Enterprising and Sound Practical German Mind, was Selling Merchandise to the Miners. For Years he sold All Manner of Dry Goods he imported from the Family Business on the East Coast. In late 1870 Jacob Davis, a Reno, Nevada tailor, started making men’s work pants with metal points of strain for greater strength. He wanted to patent the process but needed a business helper, so he turned to Levi Strauss, from whom he had purchased some of his fabric. So Levi Strauss, knowing a Good Garmento Opportunity when he saw one, Partnered Up with Jacob Davis to form Levi-Strauss & Co. They began manufacturing LEVI‘S brand Overalls for the Populace of Miners, Muleskinners and Mercantile-Minders. People didn’t wear no Belts in Those Days, it was Suspenders or even Rope or Whatever to hold your Britches Up, so Levi put Big ‘Ol Buttons on the Front & Back to Strap Yerself In.

Levi had the stout, rough canvas made into Waist Overalls. Miners liked them, but complained that they tended to chafe. He substituted a Twilled Cotton Cloth from Nimes, France called “Serge de Nimes.” The fabric later became known as Denim and the pants were nicknamed ~


The Rest is History

Levi was In The Apparel Business. Everybody for Miles Around wanted a Pair of His Britches. They Weren’t called 501′s yet, and they Weren’t really even Pants, but more of a Pull on Overall Style to wear with suspenders. The earliest pairs weren’t even Blue but more of a Potato Sack Brown color, with the Cut to Match. Fashion followed Function, but not for Some Time to Come.

In the California 1880′s ~ It was a Lot More about Git ‘Er Done than How Do I Look?

LEVI'S HQ 14-16 Battery Street San Francisco, Since 1880

• On May 20, 1873, Levi-Strauss & Nevada Tailor David Jacobs received U.S.Patent No.139,121.
This date is now considered the official birthday of The ‘Blue Denim Jean’.
• Also in 1873, Levi Strauss & Company began using the Iconic Chevron pocket stitch design. Levi and Nevada tailor Jacobs co-patented the process of putting rivets in pants for strength.
• The ‘Two-Horse Brand’ Label showing a team of horses trying to pull apart a pair of pants, was first used in 1886.
• In 1890 the firm assigned its first lot numbers to its products, and the famous number “501″ was assigned to the riveted pants. In that year as well, Levi Strauss & Co. was formally incorporated and issued 18,000 shares of stock in the company to family members and employees.
• A second back pocket was added in about 1901 and belt loops appeared in 1922—the pants would sport both loops and suspender buttons until 1937.

This Pair of ‘Dead-Stock’ Buckle-Back LEVI’S 501′s from 1917 have never been worn & are worth Many Thousands of Dollars ~Iconic Chevron Single-Needle Stitching and ‘Fold-Over’ Label

Levi-Strauss & Co. entered a New Era in a New Century…

One Big Nasty Setback ~ The S.F. Earthquake & Fire in 1906

Levi-Strauss had already Been in Business for 30-Plus Years at the Turn of the Century ~ He had Built His Company Up from a small Dry Goods store into a Company with virtually No Competition and he had Worked Hard. Levi died on September 26, 1902 at the age of 73. He never married, so he left the business to his four nephews, Jacob, Sigmund, Louis, and Abraham Stern, the sons of his sister Fanny and her husband David Stern. He also left bequests to a number of charities such as the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum and the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum. Levi’s fortune in 1902 money was estimated to be around 6 million dollars. He was buried in Colma, California.

Herd Quitters ~ Charles M. Russell ~ Circa 1900

The ‘Blue-Collar Worker’ & The Dungaree ~

Levi had Created an Incomparable Product without Equal, so who should decide to Follow Farmers, Cowboys and Workers All Over America wearing LEVI’S Work Wear to produce the Absolutely BulletProof Wearable Durability of LEVI’S Denim ? The U.S. Military. The U.S. Army & Navy adopted Denim in Varying Weights, calling their gear Dungarees. Blue Denim work clothing was adopted as Standard by the Army on 11 June 1919, replacing brown work clothing used before. The top was a jumper style pullover, the trousers had five pockets — two front, two hip, and a watch pocket. In 1933 a one-piece work suit (coveralls) was adopted in blue denim for use by mechanics, drivers, machinists, and others in similar roles. This was in addition to and did not replace the two piece work uniform. These blue denim coveralls were used until replaced by herringbone twill (HBT) one piece coverall in 1938.

The First 'Big E' • 1936 LEVI'S Series1 XX Single-Pocket Jacket ~ $$


A Burgeoning Business Taking Hold Further South in California would Make Levi-Strauss a Household Name ~


1930's ~ LEVI'S Invade Hollywood

John Wayne wearing Original-style LEVI'S Waist Overalls ~ Circa 1936

LEVI'S Pearl-Button Rodeo Shirt~1938

1930′s Hollywood Cowboys Like Gary Cooper, Tom Mix & John Wayne Put LEVI’S on the Map ~

The Big E • 1936

The Red BIG E Label Showed Up to Help Identify the LEVI’S Brand from Further Away ~

In 1936 LEVI'S Started Sporting the BIG E Tag ~ This is a Slightly Newer Series 2 Jacket.

Roy Rogers & Dale Evans ~ Paramount Ranch, 1938

LEVI’S got on The Style BandWagon with Some Fine Western Duds to Complement the Jeans. Amazingly, Levi-Strauss Products were only Available West of the Mississippi Before the 1950′s.

Ladies & Kids got in on The Act with their Brand of Koveralls, or essentially Overalls. While These were Fine for Work, Some Ladies preferred a More Stylish Look, And LEVI’S Delivered~ In the Late ‘Thirties Cowboy Couture was All the Rage in California.

As The Forties Approached, The Depression & Dark Clouds of War Over Europe meant Soon it would be Time to Stop Singin’, Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Back to Work…

Bib Overalls, which came into prominence during the Great Depression. Farmers, Carpenters, Railroad and Factory workers adopted Bib Overalls as their Uniform during this period, which became a Symbol of America’s Fighting Spirit as the country struggled to rebuild itself afer the devastating Stock Market Crash of 1929. During World War II, American Fighting Men took their favorite pairs of denim pants overseas, While the Ladies Went to Work on America’s War Machine ~

1941 Series II 'Buckle-Back' 501 XX

Levi’s Carried On through the Wartime 1940′s ~ But it Was really in the 1950′s the Brand would Hit Its Stride ~ as now LEVI’S would be Available Nationwide for the First Time…Just as Brando, James Dean and a Host of Other Rebels Without a Cause Dawned on America…

Postwar Paradise PinUp Norma Jean Baker in a Pair of late 40's 501XX RedLines, 1948

In 1947, Rusetta Coupe Club members Bob and Dick Pierson of Inglewood, California ran their Now Utterly Priceless ’34 Ford 3-Window Coupe at the Dry Lakes. It was their daily transportation—their mother thought it would be a safe car for them to drive—eventually, over the ensuing years they sneaked it up to 140.40. It was no longer their daily driver.

For the 1950 Dry Lakes Season at El Mirage, they stood the Hot Rod World on its ear when they figured out how to chop the top, lay back the windshield and yet still meet the SCTA’s 7-inch windshield height regulation. Powered by a Bobby Meeks-built, Edelbrock equipped Flathead Merc, The Pierson Bros. 2D coupe consistently ran 150 mph.  The car ran at the Dry Lakes, the Drags and at Bonneville ~ Standard Racing Uniform ~ LEVI’S BIG E 501 XX

The Most Iconic, Poignant And Touching Film ever Starring the Legendary

LEVI’S 501 XX Denim ~

The Misfits, 1960

Hollywood Images such as these are what give the LEVI 501 its Classic Legendary American Status Today ~

Starring Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift and Clark Gable with a Screenplay by Arthur Miller & Directed by John Huston ~

The Misfits is A Touching Film, Painfully Desperate & Obvious each is Near their End in the Film & In Life…The Photographs by the Incredible German Photographer Ernst Haas need no Further Dialogue ~

The LEVI’S ‘BIG E’ 501 XX Denim Jean & Jacket Would Go on for Another 10 Years, until 1971 ~





California Couture Biker Gear de Rigueur ~ LEVI 501 XX Jacket & Jeans, cutoff the Sleeves, Add Hells Angels Colors & Biker


501′s Starred in Thousands of Told & Untold Episodes Across America, with Rock N’Roll, Romance, HotRodders, Tragedy, War, The Hell’s Angels, Hunter S. Thompson and Cowboys, Farmers, Families, and Kids Growing Up Everywhere… Maybe Just Like You.

For My Friends Always, Wallace & Jill ~ Federico


Ravishing Raquel Welch ~ 1967. No, Those Aren't 501's but...



John Wayne & The Sands of Iwo Jima 1949 ~ Happy 4th of July America

John Wayne & Real-Deal WWII Marine Veteran John Bradley~"The Sands of Iwo Jima" 1949

Also appearing as themselves are 1st Lt. Harold Schrier, who led the flag-raising patrol on Iwo Jima, Col. David M. Shoup,

later Commandant of the Marine Corps and recipient of the Medal of Honor at Tarawa,

and Lt. Col. Henry P. “Jim” Crowe, commander of the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines at Tarawa, where he earned the US Navy Cross.

Saddle Up & Move Out !

Stryker’s squad fights in the battle for Iwo Jima, witnessing the iconic flag raising on Mount Suribachi.

The flag used was the actual one raised on Mount Suribachi after the battle. It was loaned by the US Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia

Steve McQueen & America Take on the World ISDT • East Germany 1964

The International Six Days Trial is considered the Olympics of Motorcycling ~ and Rightfully So. An Endurance Contest of Six Days’ riding over Extremely Challenging Terrain & Weather by 5-man teams from Many Countries of the World. The Trials are a True Test of Man, Machine, Skill, Endurance and Reliability.

Going for the Silver Vase ~Mssrs. Steen, Bud Ekins, McQueen, Coleman & Dave Ekins after Day 1 • East German ISDT, 1964


International Six Days Trials

East Germany

Must Be Rough • McQueen Styling It around England on a Brand New Triumph street TR6 from the Meriden Factory ~ Just prior to the '64 ISDT

The ISDT was first held in 1913 at Carlisle, England. It has occurred annually, apart from interruptions due to World War I and World War II, at various locations throughout the world. Up until 1973 the contest was always held in Europe. In 1973 it travelled for its first overseas jaunt the United States. Since then it has been outside Europe more frequently: twice in Australia (1992 and 1998), once more in the USA (1994), Brazil (2003), New Zealand in 2006 and Chile in 2007.

3 Members of the ISDT Team from Wales with Ariels ~1934

The event has attracted national teams from as many as 32 different countries in recent years. Over its long history the rules and conditions have changed to keep in step with the developments in the sport, but it remains a supreme test of rider and machine. Over the six days and upwards of 1250 miles a rider must contend with strict rules about time allowances and restrictions on mechanical replacements, carrying out his or her own track-side repairs. One must not arrive at a Prescribed Checkpoint either too early, nor too late, and doing either necessitates a penalty or deduction of Points from a Total Given at the Outset of the Event. Rider & Machine must carry all requisite spare parts, tools and equipment as required and needed for each day’s ride on their motorcycle. If a Team Member receives Assistance of Any Kind during roadside repair, even as much as being handed a tool by an onlooker or a Sip of Water, that Rider will be Disqualified from the Event. The Remaining Team Members must carry on Without Him.

McQueen & One of the World’s Most Famous Motorcycles • Triumph ISDT TR6SC

In 1964, Iconic Motorcyclist First ~ Steve McQueen~ Actor Second, was chosen along with 4 of the Best American Off-Road Riders of the Day to Represent the United States in the 1964 ISDT in East Germany. His Teammates were Brothers Dave & Bud Ekins from Hollywood, John Steen and Cliff Coleman.

Californians All ~

Bud Ekins • One of the Greatest & Most Famous Motorcyclists ~ Ever

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Bud Ekins was the undisputed “King of the Desert” and offroad races, with wins at all the major races including the famed Catalina Grand Prix in 1955, where he took almost 10 minutes off the race record time. He won the offroad Big Bear Run in California three times, most memorably in 1959, covering the 153-mile course over half an hour ahead of the second-place rider, despite getting a flat tire and breaking a wheel.

Ekins competed in seven International Six Days Trial (ISDT) events in the 1960s, winning four gold medals and one silver — all on Triumph motorcycles. His Now Revered North Hollywood Shop has long been the California Holy Grail of Moto. He travelled to England prior to the ISDT and prepared the Triumphs for the ISDT alongside the Meriden Factory Techs, 4 650′s and one 500CC. Bud Ekins was also a founder of the famous Baja 1000, making record runs Down the Baja Peninsula-and Back.

In 1962, McQueen asked Bud Ekins to do some stunt riding for the filming of The Great Escape. Ekins was in Germany working on the film, and it was at the end of shooting that he and McQueen came up with what is arguably the Most Famous Motorcycle Stunt of All Time. Ekins – being the Master of All Things Triumph and through his Previous Supreme ISDT Performance was charged with arranging delivery of the 4 Brand New TR6SC and T100SC models collected from the Triumph Factory in Meriden for the ISDT Competition…

The Great Jump • 12 feet vertical and 65 Feet on an archaic 300+ lb. Triumph 650, 1962

Bud Ekins Won 4 Gold Medals and a Silver

in ISDT Competition

Bud Ekins prepping a stock-looking Triumph 650 for an early Baja 1000 • circa 1968

Dave Ekins in 1959 • wearing no doubt the earliest Honda jersey in the U.S

According to Dave Ekins, McQueen managed to get Paramount Studios to pay for the trip by hiring his racing teammates as ‘bodyguards’ accompanying Steve to the European premier of his new movie, “Love with the Proper Stranger.” Dave E. won the Bronze Medal in the ISDT riding a much smaller displacement Triumph 500 while his Mates were All Aboard 650′s, and Flailing About at the Finish. Ekins went on to earn a second ISDT gold in Sweden in 1966 riding a Zundapp. He then won the Bronze in the West German ISDT in 1969 despite a broken rear axle.

Dave Ekins rode in 5 ISDTs in total ~ That’s a Lot of Endurance, Reliability & Skill.

The Competition

Belgian Joel Robert carrying a Broken Silencer • Riders were not allowed to accept any help for repairs and had to Stay on Course & Time At All Costs to Win, Place or even Finish.

Within a Few Short Years the Belgian rider Joel Robert would become World 500cc Motocross Champion- An Absolutely Grueling Sport at That Level ~ Robert was a Completely Dominating Rider. The Sort of Competition the Americans Rode Against. McQueen & Co. were certainly Riding on Par.

McQueen out the Gate/Day 2 ~ Gunning it in the Rain on Cobblestone

For 1964, the ISDT would take place in the Communist Eastern Bloc during the height of the Cold War. On September 5, 1964 in a packed hall in Erfurt, East Germany complete with a large picture of Lenin, McQueen ~ in what has been reported as one of the proudest moments of his life – carried the ‘Stars and Stripes’ for the US team at the opening ceremony…


18/03/10 –

Mr Oriol Puig Bulto, President of the FIM International Technical Panel, was a experienced off-road rider during the Sixties: he took part in nine International Six Days’ Trial events between 1962 and 1970. He was in Erfurt in 1964.

He recalls:

Oriol Bulto ~ Riding for Germany in the 1964 ISDT

In Erfurt in 1964, I remember well the American team with Steve McQueen, the Ekins brothers and other riders. They had a lot of helpers, press people, cameramen, etc., and many american flags everywhere. They were doing spectacular rides the days prior to the start, going up and down and doing fast side slides with their big Triumph twins. A real show…
I met briefly Steve McQueen and Bud Ekins, they were nice people, very accessible and ready to share experiences and fully enjoy the event. In my opinion, all members of the US Team were good riders, very much used to ride in the desert and in dry terrain but not so much in the muddy sections through the woods and hills of central Europe.
Also, they were riding too ‘crazy’ for a six days event, crashing too much. I remember seeing Steve and some other members of the US team riding with torn mudguards and bent handlebars, and also with bruises in their faces. The best known members of the team, Steve McQueen and Bud Ekins had to retire on the third and fourth days after several heavy crashes. But other members got Gold and Silver medals.

I never met again Steve McQueen, but I had the pleasure to meet Bud Ekins in May 2007 at the ‘Legend of the Motorcycle, Concours d’Elegance’ in Half Moon Bay, California, where I was acting as a Judge and Bud was the Honorary Judge. Bud was in serious health condition but we had the opportunity to remember together ‘those old glorious times’, few months before he passed away in October of that year.”

And So it Went ~ Cliff Coleman achieved 3rd place in the 750cc class and Dave Ekins gained 5th place in the 500cc Class that year. Bud Ekins and Steve McQueen both crashed out on the third day, Ekins with a broken ankle. The Steve McQueen bike has been rediscovered and is now owned by Sean & Catherine Kelly of Johnson Motors, a Re-created Apparel Biz in Pasadena, California very much in the Tradition of  The Esteemed California Triumph Motorcycle Dealer of the Same Name – that Mssrs. McQueen, The Brothers Ekins, Steen and Coleman frequented in their Days of Glory in 1964 ~

The BadAss California HotRod Boys Took On The World’s Best ~

“She’s Just a Cheap Imitation of Lana Turner” ~ The Legendary L.A. Formosa Cafe’ • 1929

Everybody’s Gotta Eat ~ even Hollywood Royalty…

At one Time or Another, just about All the Hollywood Stars have rolled up their sleeves to go to work at The Lot. In 1934, When The Legendary Formosa Cafe’ opened – The Lot was known as the Warner Hollywood Studios, the sister lot to the main Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. But the Lot was around before that, being one of the Oldest Studios in Hollywood, and so was a little Red Train Car luncheonette across Formosa Avenue. And by then, Like All Proper Hollywood Stars & Legends, the Lot & the Luncheonette had already Re-invented Themselves ~

The Lot Began Life in January of 1920, when Hollywood’s Hampton Studios opened a spacious new building and backlot to house their growing production company, and moved their operations to Santa Monica Boulevard and Formosa Avenue from their former home on east Sunset Boulevard. Hampton Productions, now long gone & forgotten, was an early pioneer in Hollywood film making; their movies starred, among others, William Desmond and H.B. Warner.

Shortly thereafter, the studio was bought by the First Couple of Hollywood, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.They named it Pickford-Fairbanks Studios. Together, they turned out such HollywoodLand Film Classics as “Robin Hood” and “The Thief of Bagdad.” The First Hollywood Power Couple.

United Artists ~ Mssrs. Fairbanks, Chaplin & Ms. Pickford, 1925

In 1928, along with Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, Pickford and Fairbanks formed and founded United Artists, prompting Charlie to leave his Chaplin Studios nearby on La Brea for this new locale.

A few years just before all these Hollywood Happenings were Taking Hold – in 1925, an Enterprising Former Prizefighter Fella with the Distinctly Chinese name of Jimmy Bernstein came to town. Jimmy wrangled himself an abandoned L.A Pacific Electric Red Line Train Car & plopped it down near the corner of Formosa and Santa Monica Boulevard, directly across from The Pickford-Fairbanks Studio.

One Red Car please ~ What Holds 90 Years of California History, Hundreds of Hollywood Stars, Legends & Stories ?

Jimmy named his Red Car Joint the Red Post and Started Serving Up his Little Luncheonette to the Hard Working Hollywood 9 to 5 Stars, Studio Folk and WannaBe’s a short walk across Formosa from the Studio.

The Studio Star Machine grew and Business was Good. Chaplin, Norma Shearer, Douglas Fairbanks & Co. began an Exotic Hollywood Happy Hour Escape Exodus across Formosa that soon outgrew the Red Post.

Prizefightin’ Jimmy had to Expand. Along with his Fledgling but Booming Business, apparently Jimmy had a Penchant for the L.A. Ladies of Asian Persuasion. So, he added a Dining Room, Bar and Kitchen and faster than you can Say Sayonara to the Red Spot, he changed the name of the joint to Formosa Cafe. The Hollywood Studio Gentry took to the expanded version, Tradition Took Hold and the Red Spot Train Car became the Formosa Star Dining Room, as Celebs Big & Small brought Jimmy autographed 8×10 Glossies he Decorated his Dining Room with…for the next Several Decadent Decades ~

Jimmy’s Red Spot Luncheonette Gets a Hollywood Makeover ~ The Star Dining Room

The ‘new’ (if you can possibly imagine it ever was) Formosa Cafe’ was a Small, Dimly-Lit Cantonese Cave of Coolness with a neon sign on Santa Monica Boulevard. Inside, A Cavalcade of actors mingled (& mingle still) easily with lighting technicians, stage hands, writers and cameramen, without tourists or high-powered producers talking mega-deals. Indeed, the Credo of the Formosa was & is Low-Key.

Across Town, enter one New Los Angeleno, an emigre’ from China named Lem Quon. Master Quon came to the United States on a cargo ship when he was 12, joined his parents who had already come to Los Angeles, and began working for his father in Tuewfar Lowe, one of a handful of Chinese restaurants in the city.

The Formosa 1940′s & L.A. Noir ~

By Now just about Every Star under the Hot Hollywood Sun had made their way into the Formosa. Indeed, one could write All Day listing a Who’s Who of Legends, The Faded & Forgotten Failures & Successes & Formosa Fortunes Made & Lost  ~ Perhaps a Young Eastern Visitor to Hollywood, with its Extras, Excesses and Extra-Curriculars said it Quite Well…

“The Truth About Hollywood”, [Drugs, Alcohol and Sexual Morality]

It ought to be possible to write sanely about the morals of Hollywood. It will be well to keep in mind the purpose of the slightly bewildered but resolute statesman who said “I will go to the end of the road, let the chips fall where they may.” Recollection of the well known limerick may also be useful: “Said the Reverend Jabez McCotton, ‘The waltz of the Devil’s begotten.’ Said Jones to Miss Blye, ‘Don’ Mat you mind the old guy; To the pure almost everything’s rotten.’ ” I went to Hollywood, to find out the truth, good and bad. I talked with actors, directors, producers, screen writers, extras, merchants, doctors,ministers, bankers, detectives, performers, extollers, denouncers, newspapermen and women, publicity men, housewives, onlookers, lenders, spenders and others of high and low degree and varying standards of veracity. I sat with the heads of official agencies investigating the Taylor murder, the traffic in narcotics and bootleggers.

I watched movie people at their work and their frolics ~

Thoreau Cronyn • NEW YORK HERALD ~ March 19-April 2, 1922

Into this Extra-Exotic Era of Hollywood Excesses,

Enter Master Lem Quon~

Quon joined the Army during World War II and worked as a cook. Returning home, he worked briefly as a cook at the Shanghai-Gin, and when it lost its lease, he moved to the Formosa and while he worked the Kitchen, Bernstein Worked the Bar.

In 1945, Quon became Bernstein’s partner. “I ran the kitchen and he ran the front,”

Quon told The Los Angeles Times, in 1993.

And Thus Begins The Classic Noir ’40′s Era of the Formosa & Tales of Legend ~

• The Formosa Cafe’ – Black Dahlia Connection ~

It is from 1940′s HollyWood Leading Man Franchot Tone that we get our closest near-glimpse of the Notorious Black Dahlia ~ Ms. Elizabeth Short in Hollywood, in those moments when her Still-All-in One-Piece shadow falls over a still extraordinary film called Phantom Lady made for Universal in 1944.

While Tone was making this film, he encountered Elizabeth the Soon-to Be-Dahlia at the Formosa Café. According to his later testimony, Tone asked her what she was doing there: “She said she was waiting for someone, and I said, ‘Of course you are, you’re waiting for me!’” He then told her that he knew of contacts in Hollywood who were looking for girls with her kind of looks, and offered to take her to meet him. In reality, he was simply taking her to his own apartment. “I thought it was a pick-up from the start,” he recalled later; “she came with me so easily, but to her it wasn’t anything of the kind.” His attempts to seduce her were firmly rebuffed, so he gave her some money and sent her home in a taxi: “There was something sad and pathetic about her.”

• When L.A. Mobster & Doomed Envisionary of Vegas Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel’s half-century – old safe was opened the other day at the Formosa Cafe in Hollywood, where Siegel once had an office, it was . . .(According to Modern-Day owner of the Formosa Jimmy Quon, Ben Siegel Did have a Safe Stashed in the back…)

• The Formosa served Cantonese Cuisine under the gaze of 1,000 photographs of film personalities–Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Lucille Ball, Clark Gable, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Pearl Bailey, Elvis Presley–and Lem Quon knew them all. He had his favorite anecdotes, such as billionaire Howard Hughes borrowing $20 to pay a debt to a drinking buddy.

• Lana Turner once danced in the aisles, Elvis Presley came to drink beer late at night, a Drunken Lee Marvin was thrown out and a sotted Rudy Vallee was once driven home by the staff. The Waitresses remembered Clark Gable as a lousy tipper, & the Costumed Cast Members of the “Beverly Hillbillies” and “Dynasty” lunched on Sub Gum Pork and Chow Mein. Quon arrived at work one morning, upon entering the Kitchen confronted by a Hungover & just Slept-over John Wayne – who calmly asked him how he liked his Eggs ~

After All The Stories & All The Formosa Lurid & Likely Tales of Iniquity, perhaps in True Hollywood Fashion, No Better View of the Legendary Cafe’ Than This some 60 Years Later ~ By Hollywood Itself, A Classic Example of L.A. Art Imitating Legend ~

The Formosa often played host to real-life L.A. Gangster Johnny Stompanato and his famous lover, Lana Turner. Stompanato’s gangster boss, Mickey Cohen, and organized crime chief Bugsy Siegel were both Formosa regulars, and had their own “back room” for private meetings and card games. Cohen’s arrest for tax evasion in 1952 is the starting point for L.A. Confidential but probably the ending point for the Secret Back Room.

In 1976, 1920′s PrizeFighter Jimmy Bernstein Passed to the Big Barroom in the Sky, and after 30 Years of Formosa Partnership, Lem Quon became Sole Owner of the Formosa. In 1991 The Formosa, along with Quon, Bartender Lindy Brewerton, serving drinks since 1942, and 2 Formosa Waitresses with Tales of Serving Hollywood Royalty since the 50′s, successfully fought off Warner Bros. Studios, who wished to demolish the Formosa and build a Parking Garage… Instead Quon and Cafe’ Regulars, calling themselves Friends of the Formosa, got the restaurant declared a Los Angeles Cultural and Historical Landmark and the Formosa was preserved like an Ancient Embalmed Chinese Lady.

The newest source of reference for this Legendary Tale is from 1993.  Federico can attest the Fabled Formosa is Definitely Still A Dark Den of Hollywood Royalty ~ He was there last week, in 2010. Formosa Boss Man Quon married twice and lost both wives to cancer, the first in 1955, the second in 1976. He is survived by Jimmy Quon; who now Carries The Torch of Formosa Tales and runs the Joint, William Jung, three stepdaughters and several grandchildren.

The Cafe’ that serves up Cantonese Cuisine amid a Gallery of close to 1000 glossies still has that Star Attraction. Lem Quon’s first scrapbook, which is locked away for safekeeping, includes greetings from Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Clark Gable and other Hollywood Heavyweights ~

“L.A. is so ephemeral — there are not many places like this that gather that kind of ambiance and history,” said Teresa Grimes, preservation officer with the Los Angeles Conservancy, a private preservation group…

Paul Joyce ~ Formosa Cafe’. 1994, acrylic on canvas

… “Nothing is really sacred. Nothing is here for a long time. We should be protecting not only our architectural resources but our cultural resources.”

Detective Ed Exley :

“A Hooker cut to Look Like Lana Turner is Still a Hooker…”

Detective Jack Vincennes :

“She is Lana Turner”.

The Grand Dame of California ~ Building the Golden Gate • 1933 – 1937

In our California Culture increasingly obsessed with Technology & Beauty, Keeping One’s Looks Intact and Being Completely on the Leading Edge of Everything, there is one Lady who Holds Her Distinctly Deco Demeanor, Style and Efficient Manner Far & Forever Above All the others…A Stunning RedHead, She Lives in San Francisco ~

The Newly Completed Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin side in 1938

The Golden Gate & Fort Point ~ Circa 1891

Fort Point has stood guard at the narrows of the Golden Gate for nearly 150 years. It has been called “the Pride of the Pacific,” “the Gibraltar of the West Coast,” and “one of the most perfect models of masonry in America.” When construction began during the height of the California Gold Rush, Fort Point was planned as the most formidable deterrence America could offer to a naval attack on California.

Fort Point 1933. The early construction phase of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Although its guns never fired a shot in anger, the “Fort at Fort Point” as it was originally named has witnessed Civil War, obsolescence, earthquake, bridge construction, reuse for World War II, and preservation as a National Historic Site.

In 1916, more than four decades after railroad entrepreneur Charles Crocker’s call for a bridge across the Golden Gate Strait* (Strait) in 1872, James H. Wilkins, a structural engineer and newspaper editor for the San Francisco Call Bulletin, captured the attention of San Francisco City Engineer Michael M. O’Shaughnessy. O’Shaughnessy began to consult a number of engineers across the Country about feasibility and cost of building a bridge across the strait. Most speculated that a bridge would cost over $100 million and that one could not be built. But it was Joseph Baermann Strauss that came forward and said such a bridge was not only feasible, but could be built for $25 to $30 million.

Strauss was a prolific engineer, constructing some 400 drawbridges across the U.S. He dreamed of building “the biggest thing of its kind that a man could build.” In 1919, San Francisco’s city engineer, Michael O’Shaughnessy, approached Strauss about bridging the Golden Gate, the narrow, turbulent passage where San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. Strauss caught fire with the idea, campaigning tirelessly over the next decade to build the bridge. He faced enormous opposition from the “Old Guard” — environmentalists, ferry operators, city administrators, and even the engineering community. Yet in November 1930, a year into the Great Depression, voters at last supported a bond issue for Strauss’ bridge. The ambitious project finally had its green light.

Strauss was the steadfast believer who organized the political, financial, and promotional efforts to build the Bridge. The time was right to span the Strait as population centers were growing and traffic congestion at the ferry docks was becoming intolerable. By 1929, motor vehicle travel via ferry had exploded, with demand exceeding available capacity. But there were no federal or state funds available to build a bridge because the construction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge had already received the limited federal funds available.

Fort Point with The Golden Gate Bridge under construction ~ 1934

Plans for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge also involved plans for the demolition of Fort Point. Fortunately, Chief Engineer Strauss recognized the architectural value of the Fort and created a special engineer arch which allowed the construction of the bridge to occur safely over it. During World War II, Fort Point was once again used as temporary housing for soldiers. Today the Fort is a National Historic Site, largely because of the Foresight of  Strauss.

Strauss alienated many people in his quest to build the structure — his first suspension bridge. Obsessed with claiming credit as the span’s creator, he minimized the acknowledgement given to Charles Ellis and Leon Moissieff, the two visionaries who actually worked out the significant engineering challenges of building the bridge. Strauss’ detractors blocked a statue of the chief engineer proposed for the bridge plaza; his widow would eventually fund its creation in 1941, inscribing it, “Joseph B. Strauss, 1870-1938, ‘The Man Who Built the Bridge.’”

During the bridge’s construction, Strauss started to feel unwell, both mentally and physically. He disappeared for more than six months — causing rumors to spread that he had suffered a nervous breakdown. During this time, Strauss divorced his longtime wife and married a young singer, many years his junior.

On May 27, 1937, the bridge opened to the public. Returning to his other great love, poetry, Strauss composed verse for the occasion, exulting, “At last, the mighty task is done.” It would be the last mighty task of his life. Exhausted, Strauss moved to Arizona to recover. Within a year, he would die of a stroke.

1930's Engineering SuperStar Joseph Strauss

The Recent Economic Times may remind one of the Days in the Depression when the Golden Gate was built. In all of the Technology we enjoy today, all the iPods, iBooks, iPads, and iPhones filling the Airwaves, Hollywood Special Effects and Carbon Fiber all being Creations of California ~ There was a time when Everything Technological was Built with Pure Blood Sweat & Tears. All Steel. 80,000 Miles of Hand-Wound Wire make up the Lengths of Cable that Suspend the Golden Gate Roadway. Built By Men By Hand. There is a saying that The Coldest Winter in California is a Summer in San Francisco. Now imagine getting up & going to Work for 4 years, Day In-Day Outdoors suspended High Above that Icy Bay with nothing but inches of Wet Steel and Slick-Bottom Boots between You & Your Demise. Eleven men died during the Bridge’s construction. Until February 17, 1937, there had been only one fatality, setting a new all-time record in a field where one man killed for every million dollars spent had been the norm. On February 17, ten more men lost their lives when a section of scaffold carrying twelve men fell through the safety net. Going to work in those conditions ~ Never to Return Home.

The most conspicuous precaution for Bridge Workers was the safety net, suspended under the floor of the Bridge from end to end.  During construction, the net saved the lives of 19 men who became known as the “Half-Way-to-Hell Club.”

By Joseph P. Strauss, Chief Engineer
Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District

Written upon completion of the building of the Golden Gate Bridge in May 1937

At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun
The Bridge looms mountain high;
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky.

On its broad decks in rightful pride,
The world in swift parade shall ride,
Throughout all time to be;
Beneath, fleet ships from every port,
Vast landlocked bay, historic fort,
And dwarfing all–the sea.

To north, the Redwood Empire’s gates;
‘To south, a happy playground waits,
in Rapturous appeal;
Here nature, free since time began,
Yields to the restless moods of man,
Accepts his bonds of steel.

Launched midst a thousand hopes and fears,
Damned by a thousand hostile sneers,
Yet ne’er its course was stayed,
But ask of those who met the foe
Who stood alone when faith was low,
Ask them the price they paid.

Ask of the steel, each strut and wire,
Ask of the searching, purging fire,
That marked their natal hour;
Ask of the mind, the hand, the heart,
Ask of each single, stalwart part,
What gave it force and power.

An Honored cause and nobly fought
And that which they so bravely wrought,
Now glorifies their deed,
No selfish urge shall stain its life,
Nor envy, greed, intrigue, nor strife,
Nor false, ignoble creed.

High overhead its lights shall gleam,
Far, far below life’s restless stream,
Unceasingly shall flow;
For this was spun its lithe fine form,
To fear not war, nor time, nor storm,
For Fate had meant it so.

Out of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration, putting Millions of Idle Americans Back to Work to Create some of the Most Enduring Examples of Americana. The Golden Gate Bridge is A Shining Art Deco Triumph of Design and Engineering Execution – Perfectly Spanning the Glorious Golden Gate & Bisecting Nature with a Man-Made Masterpiece of Timeless Design & Efficiency. When one thinks of one Iconic Symbol Synonymous with California ~ The Golden Gate is truly the Grande Dame ~

Dedicated to My Bay Area Friends ~ As The Classy Californians They are…

A Memorial Day Wish ~ The 10th Mountain Division • 1943-2010

While Many of Us Americans enjoy Barbecues & Ballgames for Memorial Day ~

There are a lot of Intrepid Americans out there who may not have quite the Three-Day Holiday most of us are looking forward to…Airports, Backyards & Bars Across America will be Filled to the Brim with Happy Hour Americans for the Duration of the Downtime. Americans are Pre-occupied with Partying, Pre-Game & Postgame, The Playoffs, Pabst Blue Ribbon & Plastic Surgery these days. Once Upon a Time ~ Then & Now…there were a lot of Americans who Did it the Hard Way so a complete generation of us don’t even have to look up from our iPhones or Facebook or ESPN to consider a time or a place where Hardship Prevails…

(Above) Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division wait to board a 214th Aviation Regiment helicopter near Ghazni, Afghanistan.

The 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) is a light infantry division of the United States Army based at Fort DrumNew York. It is a subordinate unit of the XVIII Airborne Corps and the only division-sized element of the US Army to specialize in fighting under harsh terrain and weather conditions. The division retains the “mountain” designation for historical purposes but is actually organized as a light infantry division.

Activated in 1943, the 10th Mountain Division was the last among currently active divisions to enter combat during World War II. (According to “World War II Order of Battle”[2] by Shelby L. Stanton, the 10th Mountain Division entered combat on January 8, 1945, followed by the 8th, 13th, 16th, and 20th Armored, and the 65th, 71st, 76th, 86th, 89th and 97th Infantry divisions in the final months of the war.) The 10th fought in the mountains of Italy in some of the roughest terrain in the country. After the war, the division was briefly redesignated as the 10th Infantry Division, a training unit.

Nowadays the 10th Mountain Division makes their home for the most part in the mountains of Afghanistan.

There is no ‘Bottle Service’ or Swimming Pools, or Babes in Bikinis or even a Beach for these guys. They live largely outside in conditions that range from searing heat to extreme cold, and their Holiday Outfits consist of sometimes over 100lbs. of gear. Personnel in this Division come from places like Colorado, or North Dakota, Montana and the Mountains of California. They are trained in all the Usual Requisite Soldiering skills, and have an additional resume’ that includes Heavy Hiking, Mountaineering, Snowshoeing & Skiing in the course of their Duties.

The history of the 10th Mountain Division is rooted in developments prior to the United States’ entry into World War II. Influenced by the 1939 success of Finnish troops in warfare against invading Soviet units and by concern over escalating hostilities across Europe, individuals in the War Department and the military turned their attention to the status of military preparedness for winter warfare. Troops stationed at Fort Snelling, Minnesota had engaged in specialized training, yet no large-scale maneuvers had taken place. In May of 1940, the American Alpine club urged the Department of War to begin mountain warfare training and subsequently began advising the military on equipment necessary for mountain and winter warfare.

Additional pressure for the development of elite mountain troops came from Charles Minot Dole (Minnie Dole), Chair of the National Ski Patrol Association of the National Ski Association. Dole believed the need for trained alpine soldiers existed and he emphasized the presence of skilled skiers in the US able to meet these special needs of the military. When the War Department created ski patrol units within several existing divisions, the National Ski Association reviewed equipment and training and by the end of the winter the advisory relationship had become formalized.

So just a Little Reminder ~ These guys, or Other Guys just like the originals above from 1945, are Out There Right Now. They may have a Cerveza or Two for their Holiday, they May Not. So ~ while you’re Kicking Back & Having a Good Time, or you’re Hung Over, or complaining you had one too many Slices of Aunt Esther’s Pie, or the Zone Defense of your favorite NBA team broke down in the 4th Quarter, or What to Wear, or you’re Stuck in Traffic ~ maybe Raise A Toast to These Guys, and the Thousands of American Ladies & Gentlemen in the Armed Services out there on the job doing what they do ~ So we don’t have to…Happy Memorial Day ~ FdeC.

A band performs during the funeral of Army Lt. Col. Thomas Belkofer of the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum, New York, at Arlington National Cemetery. (Alex Wong / Getty Images / May 18, 2010)

¡ Viva Velvet ! ~ A View of Vintage Tijuana • South of the Border 1928-1968

Ay Ay Ay ~ Long Before Estamos Californianos travelled to Disneyland, Las Vegas or the Coachella Music Festival for The Weekend ~ We Went South of the Border ~ Down Mexico Way…A Lost Paradise In the Days before the Carteles and All the Drugs Drama ~ Mexico was Fun Fun Fun..!

The Original Caesar's Restaurant & Bar ~ The Creators of none other than the Caesar Salad, Tijuana 1920's

Tijuana, B.C. Mexico ~ An Exotic Name for a Once Very Exotic Place, even to us Dyed-in-the-Natural Cotton-Californians. In the Nineteen-Twenties up to Quite Recently, (It’s become a Little Heavy Down There lately), Tijuana Beckoned Us with Amorous Adventures of Sport, Games of Chance, Just Plain Carousing and a Variety of Questionable Activities. One could Pack Up His or Her Favorite Senorita or Senor, Gang of Four or Family and within 2 or 3 hours, Travel to Tropical Tijuana or further south to Exotic Ensenada for all kinds of Fun in the Sun !

From 1919 to 1933, Alcohol, Casinos, Prostitution and Horse Racing were all forbidden or tightly restricted in California, (what else is new) and all were easily available in Tijuana. A Go-South-Young-Man No-Brainer !

Because of this California Condition, Great Pleasure Palaces were built, including the city’s fabled Agua Caliente Casino & Racetrack, and countless Hollywood celebrities, their imitators, various wanna-be’s and hangers-on Crept South by car, rail, ship and small plane.

Agua Caliente during the 1920′s was The Biggest Attraction in Tijuana – and beside being a Major Party Attraction to the EveryDay California Gentry, was a Second Home to many of the most famous Horse Racing Jockeys of the day, including the Legendary “Iceman”, George Woolf ~

George "The Iceman" Woolf ~ Cool Under Fire on the Track

Woolf was One of the Winningest Jockeys of his time along with his pal, a Fun-Loving Fella named John ‘Red‘ Pollard. Within about 6 years the 2 Men would Become Most Famous for Courting and Riding to Victory perhaps the Most Famous Californian of her era ~

~ A Demure Yet Fiesty Young Lady named Seabiscuit.

Built on an Artesian Hot Spring, hence the name ‘Agua Caliente‘, the Casino attracted and entertained high profile patrons as the stars of the Film Industry in Hollywood would venture down to Mexico for Fun, Drink and Gambling. The Grandstand had a Spanish~Mediterranean feel to it with its white buildings and red tile roofs…

By All Accounts, Agua Caliente was the Jockey’s Favorite on their circuit, this being the days before Del Mar & Santa Anita Racetracks were built Up North in California Proper. These Boys had the Neighboring Boardinghouse nee’ Bordello at their Disposal On The Hill above the Track, along with No Doubt Mucho Macho roving Bands of Mariachis, Lovely Latin Ladies & Liberal Libations ~ as they were Outright Local Stars and Heroes of The Tijuana Sporting Life…

The Agua Caliente Casino was the Crown Jewel of the Classic Tijuana era. It opened in 1928, Tiled and Stuccoed, All California Moorish and Missionary, Vast and Self-Assured. It lay only six miles South of the Border, covered 655 acres and cost about $10 million at the time ~

The Lion’s Share of The Dough was supplied by American investors. It was “one of the most opulent resorts ever to grace the Americas,” but more significantly, it was the inspiration for Las Vegas in the years following…

Wish I could jump in My Time Machine & Stop In for a Couple Margaritas on that Patio, a Couple Cancions from the Mariachis, then Head Straight to the Track ! ~

Along with the Casino offering Roulette, Baccarat and Faro (but no windows or clocks), Agua Caliente featured about 400 rooms and bungalows, a horse-racing track, a golf course, a spa fed by natural spring water (hence the name), an Art Deco ballroom, various cocktail bars, tennis courts, a riding academy, a landing strip for small planes, a blue-tiled minaret and an iconic bell tower, a replica of which now stands at the beginning of Boulevard Agua Caliente.

Tally Ho Boys ~ Bing & Co. Styling it Down South

Charlie Chaplin and Gary Cooper came to the Races. Douglas Fairbanks sat on the Board of Directors. Jean Harlow tried the golf course. Bing Crosby and Clark Gable saddled up horses, and the showroom featured a teenage dancer, Ms. Margarita Cansino, who later changed Her Hollywood Name to None Other Than Rita Hayworth.

If One tired of All The Excitement at The Races, Perhaps a Cerveza or a Siesta is in order, or go Across Town to El Toreo for a Hemingway-esque Day in the Sun at the Bullfights…

¡ ole !

The very first Plaza de Toros (That’s Bullring in Gringo-Speak) in Tijuana was a wooden structure that would accommodate 2000 and was built in 1904 by Sevillian banderillero Antonio Gonzalez Rubio and Mexicali merchant Don José R. Alvarez, in the square block then described by 3rd and 4th streets and Avenida Revolución and Avenida Madero.

In May of 1911, the Plaza burned to the ground, allegedly by Welsh mercenary Caryl Pryce, and was subsequently replaced by a new, slightly larger (capacity 2,500) Plaza, on 5th and 6th streets, to become the Center of Tijuana’s Toro Activities in the 1920s and ’30s.

It was officially inaugurated as Plaza El Toreo de Tijuana on July 3, 1938.

Practically every Great Torero or Bullfighter of the era performed in the historic Tijuana Plaza de Toros ~ and a Few Well-Known Toreras performed there tambien...

More than a Few Celebrities visited Tijuana All The Time, even The Mild-Mannered Charles Lindbergh, ‘Lucky Lindy’ himself. He doesn’t look like a Real Fun Guy to Hang Out with though, Wonder how he did at The Track ..?

El Piloto Famoso Senor Charles Lindbergh ~ El Plaza de Toros, 1930's

El Matador Antonio Montes ~ Who lived to be 103

Enough Will All the Turismo, History & Culture ~ Sometimes you Just Need a Beer…

You could Belly Up to the Longest Bar in the World ~

La Cantina Ballena, a Real Whale of a Bar in Mexicali ~ and Throw Down just 5 Centavos American for a Tall Cold Cerveza, or Go Big and Get a Pitcher for .25c ~ Viva Mexico !

Ahora Quien ~ Marc Anthony

In the Midst of All the Mariachi Madness, no one saw what was coming. On the Horizon, everything was Manana. In 1933, Prohibition came to an end and a series of morally conservative presidents ruled Mexico. Nevada legalized gambling in 1931.Tijuana all but dried up and blew away. How Ironic ~ the Same Presidents had relied on Tijuana’s income to fund their armies during the Mexican Revolution. The Enterprising Tijuana Turismo Industry had to Dream Up other Forms of Entertainment now that alcohol was once again legal in Estados Unidos.

The U.S. was Gearing Up the Military Presence in the late 1930s in anticipation of the Second World War, and San Diego became a Major Navy Base. Tijuana responded to the sailors’ needs by saturating the area around the old bull-ring with hotels, restaurants, and bars. Informal betting along the lines of three-card monte was common.

The Vida Alegre, that is to say, Prostitution, extended into the suburbs of Colonia Libertad and Colonia Independencia. Another Form of Entertainment & Betting Revenue in Tijuana debuted with the Opening of El Grande’ Fronton, The Jai-Alai Palace in 1947 ~

Jai Alai ( High’-Lie) originated as a handball game in the Basque area of Spain’s Pyrenees Mountains over four centuries ago. Games were played on Sundays and holidays in small villages at the local church, hence the name jai alai which means “merry festival” in Basque. Players would use the open-air church courtyard and the walls of the church as the fronton or arena. Often called the “fastest sport in the world,” Jai Alai consists of men with weird basket appendages a la Cricket, whipping rock-hard balls against a granite wall, trying to make their opponent miss the return while avoiding being hit with the speeding bullet themselves. It’s a game that requires a combination of skill, speed, and acrobatics.

The game spread to and gained popularity in Spanish-Speaking countries like Mexico and Cuba, and even the Phillipines. After its initial introduction in the U.S., frontons started going up all over the country. Spectators flocked to jai alai arenas to watch the “ballet with bullets,” and it quickly became an alternative to horse and dog racing for gambling.

Betting on Jai Alai is just like betting on horse racing or dog racing. So you can place a single “win,” “place,” or “show” bet on a particular team or you can pick two teams to finish first and second with a “quinella” bet.  Spectators can also make Trifecta and Superfecta bets.

The skill and agility of the players allows for some handicapping but the speed and tricky action of the pelota introduces an element of luck into the equation ~

Another Development in Mexico’s Mad Quest for Turismo Dolares was the Emergence of The Maquiladora ~ What Us Gringos would call The Black Velvet Painting Factory…

There are a Few Iconic Superheroes of the Black Velvet Painting. Of Course ~ Numero Uno The World Over is Senor Jesus Christ just nipping Elvis By a Nose at the Wire in Popularity. Voluptuous Pin-Up Girls, Marilyn and Madonna, The Devil & His Vices (there are a lot of THOSE in Tijuana), Jungle Fantasies and Religious Scenes are common themes. Personal Favorites de Federico tend toward what could be called The American Badass Genre, Charles Bronson, John Wayne and The Man with No Name ~

Latin Art Curator Christina Ochoa says Black Velvet Painting goes back to the 14th century, when Marco Polo found samples of velvet paintings in Kashmir. The popularity of American black velvet painting can be traced to the work of one man known as the “American Gauguin” — Edgar Leeteg, a native of Sacramento, California, who lived and painted in Tahiti from 1933-to-1953. Leeteg, although no more skilled at the technique than his Mexican Artesano Counterparts, can be credited with effectively blending Tiki Style & Culture with the Mexican Maquiladora style of painting, and that blending in effect, is what California Culture is All About ~ Que No ?

Leeteg’s vast output of thousands of black velvet paintings served as the inspiration for imitators who flocked to create a vast industry churning out a form of art that would be indelibly associated with tourism. Many of Leeteg’s works were purchased by Navy personnel based in Hawaii, who would return to San Diego, bringing Leeteg nudes and commission Mexican painters in Tijuana to make similar portraits of their girlfriends in black velvet. She Looks Damn Good above The Waterbed ~ and In It !

For Years, Even Though the Ractrack was Gone, there were and are still Bullfights, but the old Gran Corrido is gone, and even the One that Replaced it is gone too….

A New Estadio is outside town now, not Quite the Same ~ the 3rd or 4th in a Long Line of Bullrings Long Gone.  The Jai Alai Grande Palacio is Gone as well. There are still Endless Mercados…but instead of Switchblades, Black Velvet Elvis’s, Cusano Rojo Mezcal with The Worm in the Bottom, Strip Clubs, Donkey Shows, Serapes, Paesant Blouses, Endless Bad But Cool T-Shirts, Maracas & Huaraches, it’s Fake Chanel and Hermes’ (from China) and The Illicit Internet for Trashy Tijuana Turistas Looking for Quick Insta-Love. The Maquiladoras Still Churn Out the Velvet Paintings to Sell to Unsuspecting Gringos Tired & Wasted on their Way Home, lined up at The Border, but they’re not Quite The Same, either. Instead of Toreros, it’s Tupac, and even he’s not Around Anymore  ~ It All kind of makes you feel you’re Just Lucky to Still Be Around at all…And those Tacky Souvenirs you Threw in the Trash, saying Why in Hell Did I Buy this ? – Are Low-and High-Brow Art Now… But Weren’t They Always ?


Thou Shalt Drag ~ “Big Daddy” Roth Lives ! A California Genius in his Heyday • 1963

Although this Modern Day Badass Hot Rod was not built in California ~ The Style it Embodies is completely a la Ed “Big Daddy” Roth 1963…

And California-Style It Is…Having seen, owned & been exposed to A Lot of Hot Rods, Federico had to admire Blown to Be Wild for the Sheer HotRod Audacity, Craftsmanship & Total Big Daddy RothNess of a Monster Car Come to Life ~

Though we now use any manner of digital technology to create Modern Art, preserve Nostalgia, Pop Culture & Retro-Everything, ( which I am Shamelessly Guilty Of ), One of the Most Iconic California Pop Maestro MasterMinds, Mr. Ed Roth, like Mssrs. Matisse, Picasso & Dali before him, gazed for the most part Wholly and Phantasmagorically Into the Future. None of these Neo-Artistes sat and lamented on Things ‘Back in the Day’, but completely without the aid of computers or digital devices of any kind, Roth created a FantasyLand of FantasticNess we now Worship as California High Art …and Rightfully So ~

Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth building "Mysterion" in his Maywood, Calif. shop, 1963

Big Daddy embraced a wholly original technique d’art. Using Plaster of Paris to create a master shape for his Outlandish California Creations, he would hand form a molten batch of Goo into a hardened Futuristic Shape and cover it all with FiberGlass, a relatively new media technology developed during World War II. What would begin as a Big Mess on the floor, Roth would transform into a Rolling Renaissance Machine, like “Mysterion” above, built in 1963 and “Beatnik Bandit”, below in 1960.

DisneyLand and the Nice Kids had Mickey, Roth and the rest of us had Rat Fink, 1963

Roth's Beatnik Bandit - controlled by a central 'Joystick', (no steering wheel) and hand-blown bubble top, 1960

” In Africa I had got this fantastic idea for a fiberglas car when I saw a picture of Henry Ford beatin’ the trunk of one o’ his new ’41 Fords with a sledge hammer and it wouldn’t dent. Ya could’a knocked me over with a feather. It was also very cheap! It could also be done by people with little or no talent and I had both. It seemed too far out for my brain so I just dismissed it ’til I saw the LIFE article. In ’57 I started playin’ with ‘glas’. I got some of the gooiest messes ya’d ever wanna see. My pants are always ruined by the end of each day, but in them days I’d have to throw ‘em away each day. Shoes was good for about 4 days before I’d throw a coat of black paint on ‘em.”

“First I had the frame which was your basic ’29 Ford rails and fitted this junk Caddy engine into (junk but ran good). I knew fiberglas existed but couldn’t get anyone to help me (except Dirty Doug later on) so I was gonna make me a body outa wood like the Shadoff Special guys’d done. But it was too complicated and besides, wood and me don’t jive! So I went to the local lumber yard and got some casting plaster (which is gross ’cause it dries so quick) but it was cheap and better’n wood.”

The Shadoff Special ~ Bonneville Speed Week, 1953. Body of fiberglass over a wooden 'buck' or frame, built by Dean Batchelor. One of the most successful 'Streamliners' of its day.

“Makin’ the buck was no problem. Guys in Detroit was usin’ clay since the early 20′s but clay was a buck a pound. Forget it! Plaster was a buck for 100 pounds. I used that! Then I covered the plaster with this messy, ooey, gooey stuff. I mean, like, it just ran into this big pile of mush on the asphalt. It was devastating.”

From “Hot Rods By Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth”/Roth,Thacker 1995

Early Big Daddy – hand airbrushing Monster Shirts, pre-Fame and screenprint days. Above right, Justifiably Proud Big D with Outlaw, 1956-60. His 1st FiberGlass car, and its Offspring, the Revell licensed model kit of it you can still buy today.

Roth's "Outlaw", at an early 60's L.A car show, his early airbrushed T-shirts on display

The Original "Outlaw" Revell model kit ~early 1960's

Gazillions of the model kits were made of several Roth creations..and for a while at least, in His Heyday, Big Daddy was makin’ Big Bucks..He had literally Created a Monster and Mysterion defined the Early 60′s California Hot Rod Era ~

Big Daddy Roth model kits ~ every hip kids' 'Must Have' in 1965 for just $2Bucks !

Big Daddy outside his Maywood shop, circa 1960

Roth built Most of his Masterpieces along with producing his T-shirts at Roth Studios, his very Low-Techy Mad Scientist’s Laboratory on Slauson Avenue in Maywood, an L.A. suburb. Revell American produced model car kits that featured the “Beatnik Bandit” and “Road Agent”. Other model kits included “Rat Fink” and the gang, a group of hot rodding monsters. During 1963 Revell paid Ed “Big Daddy” Roth a one cent royalty for each model sold. In 1963 Ed brought in $32,000 that year in royalties, that’s a lot of model kits…

Big Daddy Ed, The Old World Craftsman, built his California Creations almost single-handedly in his small shop, heating and blowing Plexiglas Bubble Tops for his Masterpieces in a pizza oven, like some Mad Venetian GlassBlower Time Travelling to Shakey’s ~

Roth's Shop in Maywood, his Ol' 55 & plywood form for one of his Pizza-Oven 'Bubble Tops' out front

Roth at work on Mysterion at his shop, 1963

Mysterion fiberglass body shell under construction, 1963

Later On he got so busy he hired a few Dedicated Employees, guys like Dirty Doug, Robert Williams and Ed ‘Newt’ Newton, who drew most of the Cool Monster T-shirt designs. Years later, Roth would work with Moldy Marvin, who carries on the Roth Legacy, maintaining ‘All Things Roth’ to this day.

Roth was Getting So Big he started printing Catalogs – Perfect Reading During 4th Grade Math Class…

BDR at the Office ~ Drag 'T' ,Rat Fink Hat & a Sea of Silkscreens behind him...Dress for Success !

I'll be Upstairs Doing My Homework, Mom

His lightweight, rear-engine Space-Age Road Agent, used a rear-mounted Corvair engine and ultra-light construction, you’ve gotta love those StarTrek pods on the sides….preceding the StarShip Enterprise, which wouldn’t be seen on the new T.V. show Star Trek for another 2 years…

Big Daddy, no Average Beatnik – demonstrated a Stroke of Pure Genius completely devoid of Modern Technology….i.e. arguably the first use of what we know as ‘RGB’ color in a non-printing application, with the lighting on his Orbitron, below, 1964. An excellent article on Orbitron is here :


Roth's Orbitron ~ lost for years, and found recently outside a Mexican adult bookstore & restored...ever heard the term 'RGB' with relation to computer color? Roth's 3 headlights produced a white beam, in 1964. Roth felt the car was "a failure at the shows..." for not having its chromed Corvette engine exposed.

Big Daddy Monster Shirts just $2.49 ! (in 1965)

Big Daddy had a family to support. He had quit his job as a Window Display artist at Sears-Roebuck and financed his Custom Car Creations work through sales of the ‘Monster’ T-shirts, travelling around to various Custom & Hot Rod Shows and related events for years, parlaying his designs into lucrative licensing agreements with Revell, for the Model Kits. Today we think of the T-shirt, with any manner of design on it, to be anywhere from ‘Designer’ couture – as in a simple black petite ladies T-shirt with ‘Prada’ on the front, to a 12 year-old’s latest Volcom ‘Surfwear’ 18-color-cool-for-a-week-design.

Every time you see some ‘Metal’ or ‘Punk’-flavoured design or ‘Urban’ streetwear, and All the Kids and Half the Adults are ‘rocking’ Cool Skulls-this-or-that, you’ve got Big Daddy Roth to Thank, because he Did it First…

Roth did his original shirts by hand, graduating to silkscreens in one to 3-4 colors, a contemporary of Mr. Andy Warhol with regard to screenprinting technology. Considering a Warhol screenprint is now worth several hundred-thousand to millions of dollars – at the same time Big Daddy was knocking out hundreds of screenprints, all the while producing 3-dimensional full-size Rolling & Driving Works of Art.

Genius at Work ~ Roth and "Rotar", motorcycle-powered hovercraft, 1965. Would it fit Obama's programs to develop 'alternative energy' today? Quite possibly.

Another often overlooked aspect of Big Daddy’s Intellect were his sometimes subtle to blatant messages to Us Kids on the subjects of Anti -War, Question-Authority,  yet showing Respect to Soldiers, Servicemen & Country, Government, Cops, The Establishment & encouraging us to ‘Stick It to the Man’.

Of course it was All in Fun and he was just Covering All His Bases. This was 1963-1965, Vietnam was still relatively unknown to the Average Kid, but the Big Kids knew, and Roth was speaking to them too ~

Semper Fi Do or Die ! Most of Roth's best T-shirt art was done by an artist named Ed 'Newt' Newton

Although Roth knew Full Well – Kids were his Audience, his Army in America and We Were the Future …

…he wasn’t always so Popular with the Parents..but in Retrospect – through his Crazy California Ways, his Humour with Tongue Firmly in Cheek and his Unmistakable Genius, maybe he was Right…and perhaps now one can ask – have we Learned any Lessons he was trying to Let Us in On ?

2010 SmartCar or Big Daddy's Surfite ? 900 lbs., 40MPG ~ Ed Roth, 1964

I was In The Presence of The Great Big Daddy Roth Twice. Once at the young age of my Peers in the photo above, at an L.A. Car Show, watching Roth airbrush T-shirts, just like in the photo up top there, by himself working away, covered in paint ~ a cloud of enamel haze around his head.

He obviously made an impression, as 10 or 15 years later, I was now a young Graphic Designer/Sign Maker sharing a studio not entirely different than Roth’s above with an early partner, whose Dad was Head of the Graphics and Sign Shop at Knott’s Berry Farm. Big Daddy was working there at the time, toward the End of his Career. So of course we went to see him, and I was Beside Myself. Walking into this archaic wooden, very rural-style shop left over from the Early 30′s Days of Knott’s, my expression upon meeting him was no doubt like those of the boys in that photo above, a Jaw-Dropping Idol of mine. I had been One of Those Kids. Roth had managed to Pinstripe, Flame, Scroll and Letter – in tiny script practically the entire surface of the Shop Interior with Big DaddySpeak.

Famous Flames ~ The Tom McMullen 'Deuce' Roadster ~ Flames by Roth

With a wry grin, towering over me – he shook my hand and chatted with us for a few minutes, before mounting his Equally Vintage Cruiser Bike, also completely BigDaddy-ized with Perfect Pinstriping and Dazzling Druid Decoration on every inch of metal surface, as He Rode off on yet another Fantasy Mission into the California Sunset ~

California Earth Day ~ Figueroa Mountain

Made in California ~ Objets D’Art part1 • Los Californios y Yanquis 1800-1930

It’s Important to Remember, or to learn anew about Where We Live – for California has Contributed Greatly to the Arts, even inadvertently through other Intentions and Inventions in the Past, now considered Art Forms…

7 Palms ~ Montecito, 1924

In our Typical Jaded California & Occasionally Uninformed Way, it took Two Non-Californians to Remind Us Locals that indeed, Time Waits for No One, and Rust Never Sleeps. Los Senores Mick Jagger & Neil Young ~ Muchas Gracias Hombres

Neil Young cruising Zuma Beach, Malibu. © Henry Diltz, 1975

Therein lies the Essence of our Stories here in Federico de California. As all of Our Highly Regarded FdeC Researchers are currently Out on Spring Break surfing, snowboarding, hiking, skiing, just Generally Carryin’ On or Out on WalkAbout ~ It’s left to me to Tell the Tale…

In the Beginning there were The Chumash ~ They had it all to themselves. Abalone of several pounds on the Beaches and Lobster in the Tidepools. Wild Game in the Hills and Mountains, Bear, Deer, Mountain Lions, abundant Halibut and freshwater Trout in the Streams. They Fashioned their jewelry from Abalone and Conch Shells strung with leather from hides. Their Canoes were light and fast, carved of wood in sections and the seams sealed with tar, natural seepage from the Natural Petroleum offshore.  They lived in villages along the ocean, pretty much Grooving on the California Scenery much the way we do today, in places like Umalibo ~

1000 year-old Chumash Cave Painting ~ Painted Cave, Los Padres Nat'l. Forest

Chumash Plank Canoe ~ 1880's

Scholars differ regarding the meaning of its name; although it is certain that “Malibu” can be traced back to the Umalibo ranch belonging to the native Chumash Indians, the actual meaning of the word is uncertain, although it could well be the name of a person. And Albeit Several Generations later, The Greatest California Surfer of them all, none other than Miklos Sandor Dora, a 1st generation Californian of Hungarian descent, along with the Chumash should well have monuments erected to them along the Coast of Malibu today. It was they who most truly appreciated their place and although separated by many generations and cultures,

I like to think they Understood Each Other in that regard…

It is in a Most California Hurry Up & Remodel – Screw the Past Way, many of us today do not understand, California is an Art Form in of Itself ~

And Then, one day The Chumash looked up from their village to see the White Sails of the first Europeanos ~ The first outside explorers, flying the flags of Spain and of England, as they sailed along the coast of California for the first time from the early 1500s to the mid-1700s, but no European settlements were established. The most important colonial power, Spain, focused attention on its imperial centers in MexicoPeru, and the Philippines. Confident of Spanish claims to all lands touching the Pacific Ocean (including California), Spain sent an exploring party sailing along the California coast. The California seen by these ship-bound explorers was one of hilly grasslands and wooded canyons, with few apparent resources or natural ports to attract colonists. And with these first Explorers from Another Land, so came the first Objets d’Art with them. It can be said travellers from Ancient Peru and even the Sandwich Islands (Hawai’i) and Beyond preceded them, but that is all getting a Little Heavy for old Federico ~ as I have mentioned, the Staff Anthropologists are all Out To Lunch. We’re here for the Art & The Culture a little more as We Know it Today…

Arizona Hohokam pottery bowl with Spanish influence ~ 1400's

Talavera pottery bowl produced in Mexico by Spanish artisans ~1500's

Talavera pottery is the Mexican variation of the Spanish majolica produced in Talavera de la Reina and other Spanish cities and which derived from Italian Renaissance Majolica, with Islamic influences. The craft arrived in Mexico after the Conquest (1500′s) when the city of Puebla was settled. Talavera is a very stylish and beautiful glazed pottery originally produced in Puebla only by Spanish artisans as  glazing was unknown in pre-Hispanic Mexico. It is likely these were some of the first types of Objets D’Art brought by the Europeanos into California, and Talavera pottery and tiles were produced in great quantities  to meet the need for  architectural tiles, tableware and utilitarian pottery in the New Spain. For New Spain was what California was About to Become. Baja California, specificially La Paz, was one of the original Ports of Call for the Spanish coming aboard. This is Somewhat Before Carlos N’ Charlie’s and the Giggling Marlin were Established.

The Espanoles were also very skilled Woodworkers & Carpenters, bringing with them Religious Objets D’ Art in the form of Paintings – many from Italy. Altars, Furniture, Doors and all manner of Dieties, Crucifixes and as we shall see, eventually in Part 2 ~

Federigo (he's in the Club!) Gonzaga (1500–1540) (Francesco di Marco di Giacomo Raibolini) (Italian, Bolognese, active by 1482, died 1517/18) Tempera on wood.

Their Descendants in Mexico, who created that Ultimate California Kitsch Folk Art Souvenir ~ The Mexican Black Velvet Painting. Honour the Dios !

Saint Ambrose in His Study, ca. 1500. Spanish, Palencia. Wood with traces of polychromy. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

A new Breed of the Populace Had Emerged ~ Los Californios …

As we Now have all of these Talented, Creative & Romantic-Minded Spanish Folk in our Backyard, of course They were all having Such a Good Time, and as Californians have been known to do, especially when on an Extended Holiday in Baja ~ in the Parlance of the day…it was Time to Party.



The New Californio people possessed a European background of Literacy in the Arts, Skilled Trades and Horsemanship. In one Big Rock & Roll Move, they brought with them the Spanish Guitar. Their Explorer adventuresome spirit, bred with the Distinctly Mexican skills and resources in Mining, Cuisine, and the Numero Uno skill of Tequila Distilling. So…Now it’s all starting to Make Some Sense, ¿Que No? A handsome New Breed of People were ready to Bring it On and Venture Norte’…

Frederic Remington~Mexican Gentleman Rider • steel engraving, 1908

Early Californio Artesanos naturally made handicrafts more of necessity than decoration, however combining a skill gradually more refined and ornate. With the abundance of Mexican Silver enriching not only the Spanish government, also through the trappings of the Well-to-Do, especially in form of Saddlery and Jewelry. a Vaquero’s saddle was not only testament to his skill as a rider, also to his Position in Society, much the same as Today’s California Car Culture.

Many decorative designs in 1800′s Native Mexico for Blankets, Serapes, Ponchos and Jewelry motifs were borrowed from those of Native North American Hopi, Navajo, Zuni and Ancient Anasazi Indian tribes. The geometric patterns were inherited from thousands of years of related cultures not far away in Arizona and New Mexico, or Pre-Colombian motifs to the South. The Spanish introduced Colonial influences from their holdings and all were absorbed into a Progressive Climate of Growth in the arts, forming the basis of much of California’s Cultural Arts ancestry today ~

Navajo Saddle Blanket ~ mid 1800's

Navajo Indian engraving ~ U.S. Bureau of Ethnology, 1881













As the Mexicanos & Californios migrated North, and were influenced by Native American design, the Biggest Factor in Commercializing Mexican Culture into California came by way of the Easterners & Midwesterners in America ~ California Here Come the Yanquis ~

Prominent Yankee businessmen & Families made their Way West as the Railroad progressed ever further toward Virgin California. The Mexican Californio Government had established Presidios staffed initially by the Spanish and gradually giving way to Mexican rule throughout the Californias in the Early 1800′s. However ~ once high-falutin’ Soldier & Warrior-minded Yankee Businessmen like John C.Fremont made their ways into California to the North, followed by the likes of the Irvines, The Hollisters and the Stanfords.

John C. Fremont ~ No Mariachi-lover He

All these stiff-lipped White Boys with their Patrician East Coast ways came on Hell-Bent to Take Over. Mexican Rancho and Land Grants to 1st-Generation Californios and Mexicanos were gradually taken up by the Easterners, and they Sure as Hell weren’t going to be imbibing any California Indio Tequilas or wearing Navajo Concho belts. And On They Came ~ And they’re Still Coming. They brought their English, Irish & French Baroque Upper-Crust style of Painting and their Harpsichords all in Major chords, and much the same as the sound of a major key Clashes with those of Andalusian and African-rooted Minor key Spanish guitar…

During the Bear Flag Revolt, Frémont imprisoned José de los Santos Berreyesa, the alcalde, or mayor, of Sonoma; two Berreyesa brothers; and others he believed were against him. On June 28, 1846, Berreyesas’ father, prominent landowner José de los Reyes Berreyesa, crossed the San Francisco Bay and landed near San Quentin with two cousins, twin sons of Francisco de Haro, the first alcalde of the Presidio of San Francisco. Berreyesa intended to visit his sons in jail. Frémont ordered Carson and two others to shoot and kill the three Californios, as there was no room for more prisoners.[11] Later, Carson told Jasper O’Farrell that he regretted killing the men, but that the act was only one such that Frémont ordered him to commit.[12].

Within a very short time, Fremont & His Yankee Army went South to capture first – The Presidio at Santa Barbara, and On South to Capture the Pueblo de Los Angeles. The Mexican -American War was over ~ and the Yankees were Now Large and In Charge of all California Norte. Now that all this War-Mongering was over, The Yankee Business Machine went to work and the Classic Spanish Period was over ~ at least until Yankee Ingenuity hit on the Great Idea of marketing California’s Own Native Culture Back to Itself…

All this Back-selling of one’s own resources from under their feet smacks of one of California’s Characters of Fiction ~ however loosely based on fact….

Black-Hearted Daniel Plainview ~ "Now if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, imagine MY straw, going all the way to YOUR milkshake..."

One of the Earliest Yankee Artisans to embrace the Spanish-Mexican Arts Culture and market it successfully as a saleable Art Form was an authority on Architecture from New York, William Spratling. Spratling had travelled West first to New Orleans and visited Mexico, first in 1926. Spratling quickly was introduced to and became a welcome participant in the artistic circles of Mexico. His activities in promoting the art of Diego Rivera among New York galleries led to his participation in the first exhibition of Mexican arts held in the United States. The exhibit was funded by the Carnegie Institute and opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Spratling assisted in assembling the exhibit and also lent a number of his own pieces. During this same period, Spratling was working on drawings for the expanding Morrow home in Cuernavaca. Many of these drawings were included in the book written by Elizabeth Morrow, Casa Mañana.


Dwight Morrow, the US Ambassador to Mexico, suggested to Spratling in 1931 that Taxco had been the site of silver mines for centuries. However, Taxco had never been considered a location where jewelry and objects of silver were designed and made. Subsequently, Spratling hired an experienced goldsmith from Iguala who moved to Taxco and created silver jewelry of Spratling’s design. Other craftsmen joined Spratling’s shop and produced tin ware, copper items, textiles and furniture – all designed by Spratling.

These earliest designs were based on pre-Columbian motifs as well as simple themes utilizing rope borders, strap designs and other such basic ideas. The enterprise grew far beyond Spratling’s expectations. Because he had created an apprentice system of training young silversmiths, many new talented artisans had an opportunity to develop their craft. Over time, many of these artisans opened shops of their own – all with Spratling’s support.

Other Enterprising Yankees ~ influenced by the Emerging Success of Latin Style & Culture through Artists like Matisse & Picasso, would soon realize a Spanish Cultural Revival in Architecture, The Arts & Design, Ceramics, Furniture & Music and would soon Capitalize on the once fading and Now re-emerging Spanish Style…as we shall see…


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