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The house, a few blocks from the Venice Boardwalk has been replaced by condominiums, the mural, as many of the Fine Art Squad’s later works, did not survive, as we shall see.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 ~
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 -
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
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…
…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…
…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 ~
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 ~
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…
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 ~
And on the Beaches of California, Now Catalina was Everywhere, On Every Girl ~
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 ~
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 ~
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 ~
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 ~
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
What’s he building in there?
What the hell is he building
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
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. 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.
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.
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 ~
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…
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.
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….
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,
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 ~
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…
… “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”.
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 Drum, New 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” 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.
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.
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..!
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 ~
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.
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 ..?
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 !
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 ?
¡ VIVA TIJUANA !
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…
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
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 ~
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 Mexico, Peru, 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…
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 ~
Their Descendants in Mexico, who created that Ultimate California Kitsch Folk Art Souvenir ~ The Mexican Black Velvet Painting. Honour the Dios !
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’…
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 ~
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.
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. 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..
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….
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…
Well… I had to think about this one for a Few Days…because it was One of Those Life-Changing Moments in The Life of Federico.
I’ll Skip Over the George Thorogood & J.Geils Bands. I will say I’ve seen the George Thorogood Band a couple times since this day. Honestly how does a musician like this get to Be Famous? On sheer Attitude, because he can’t really play, he got No Style, No Soul. Just kind of a total White-Boy letdown, I assume like all his fans as well. He doesn’t look all Rocker-Foxy…at all. One of the few rock acts, when he comes on the radio, I turn that dial as fast as I get my hands on it. Just Bad. Never did see Faye Dunaway either. She was probably Chilling at the Polo Lounge, not slumming out there with all us White Boys & Hells Angels. White Boy Rock. Somehow I’ve got a little Latino & Blackness in me & my music preference, Part of the Reason I Love the Stones.
So, about this time, the Acid Kicks In. Only a half-tab., and the One & Only Time I ate it ever before or since. Perfect. Massive Crowd…I’m starting to realize The Only Way is To Rise Above It…literally ~
Ladies & Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones!
So..of course, All of Us Get Separated.. Good thing we had those Walkie-Talkies, smuggled in our back pockets. Amazing no real security back then, pretty much Anything Goes through the Front Gate. “Geo, come on, Breaker Buddy, I’m in the stands due North of Stones’ stage, 6 rows back, row 38..busting a move to the Field, what’s your 10-20? Over.” cssssshhhhhhh…pure static. I’ve got my sideman Jackie D. with me, and we’re getting ready to Charge the Field, along with a surging wave of 50,000 other Stones & no doubt Stoned Maniacs….
I’m starting to see some Rainbow Colors, and they’re not all coming from that Stage Backdrop 100 yards & A Sea of People in front of me. “C’mon, Jackie, we’re Going for It”.
So – Forward went the Charge of The Light (Headed) Brigade..seemingly beginning to Float on a Psychedelic Cloud. It’s So Beautiful ! And over The Sound of One-Hundred-Thousand Coliseum Gladiators Roaring at Top Volume. Jagger..”Well Alright..!” By now, I’m Gliding Forward on a Sea Of Rock & Roll to the Promised Land..Mick leading the charge, Jumping & Dancing forward, hands over his head, just fueling the massive crowd on Rock Nitro. Keith & Ronnie Wood, new to the band, replacing Mick Taylor from the 70′s era. I’ve seen Ronnie previously with Rod Stewart & Faces. He & Keith with matching chopped-up Rocker Shag hair, ripping it up on twin 60′s vintage Fender Telecasters…
An aside on the Stones, as I have seen them a few times now. Over a period of 20 years since this day..Keith & Ronnie always have their Trusty Fender old-skool Basketweave Twin Reverb amps on stage with them. Early 1960′s-era, thrashed cases, with no-doubt State-of-The Art TLC to Keep those Babies Glowing. Wow, if those things could talk, the tales they would tell. Beat-up on the Outside but still Rocking on the Inside..
I know the Feeling All Too Well.
Something I have always admired about the most legendary Musicians I’ve seen. They can afford to their own Islands in the Carribean, be with some of the Hottest Ladies on the Planet. and in Mick’s case, be Knighted by the Queen of England, Sir Mick. No Small Honour. And yet they’re touring with 20-year $300. Fender amps backing them up, as they did and do still Sound the Best. Of course they’re playing through Monitors the Size of the World Trade Center Towers. Another example of this is Neil Young, who owns and has performed some of his most famous recordings with a 1940′s Martin acoustic guitar - Originally owned by none other than Hank Williams.
As I Glide on my Psychedelic Haze through the Crowd forward, I’m taking all this in. My Walkie-Talkie is chirping away in my back pocket, No Way in Hell to hear it, nor do I care, single-mindedlysurging ahead, by now So Smoothed-Out, I’m not even ruffling anyone’s feathers as I press on, to the Front of the Stage. The Gemini-Must Get to The Front in me, urging me forward on my Inescapable Quest. By now, my feet are off the ground. I’m so Chilled Out, I have made it to within about 50 feet from the front of the stage, Jagger directly in front of me. My feet are literally off the ground, as the crowd is so dense, I’m being held suspended about 6″ off my feet by Sheer Humanity…
Being Elevated Above the Crowd by several inches, I am taking in a Commanding View. Jagger is strutting about & Looks Directly at Me. Our eyes lock for a moment, and we communicate as he has no doubt done with millions of others in his amazing career. For me, I feel I am The Stones-Whisperer for that instant. The crowd is surging back & forth with the force of an Ocean of People, but I am Riding the Wave, held suspended in a Stones Haze. This is my Moment of Rock Nirvana & The Essence of my Story…
Needless to Say, this moment was indeed the highlight of the day..My friend, who is quite Fearless, The Inimitable Jackie Davis, a Pure-Bred 22-year-old Irishman quite experienced in Mayhem of All Sorts, is nearly crushed to death by the crowd. On departure, he is speechless & cowering in a darkest back corner of my van, having nearly Met his Maker in his mind this day. We’ve briefly acquired the company of some Unattached Ladies, who have Crammed in Back with the Boys. They last for a bit further along in the day, before Disappearing as Mysteriously as they Arrived. I never did get all the details, for I am Le Chauffeur ~ What Goes on in Back of Limo, Stays in Back of Limo.
By Days’ End, around 10pm, after a Grueling 14 hours thus far, I’m letting the Boys Out the van, still riding the Aftermath of Acid, but in Command of my Wits. Suddenly I’m pounced upon from the front by none other than the Blazing Headlights of my friends, The Huntington Beach Police Department. My boys have summarily departed, save my Companero, Geo. Loyo, who’s still in back, in the Shadows of the Van Interior. The cop headlights have blazed a 1000 Watt Daylight Awakening into my windshield, and snapping me Back To Reality rather abruptly. I exit the front & greet my fate head-on, casually strolling to the Front of the Stage, suddenly inspired to throw down a Command Performance. “Hello Officers, what seems to be the problem here ?” As I commence to giving an Oscar-Worthy acting job to my Captive Audience, I faintly, ever so faintly feel the van back door open from within, as I am Casually Leaning on the Van. Geo is Silently Sanitizing the contents from the rear of the van into the bushes by reaching just outside through a crack in the door….
I proceed with my Acid-fused Command Performance, regaling the Police of our Stones Adventure, and ‘Gee, what a Fun Day it was, Officers, I’m SO Glad to be Home..!’ (I was not at home). Somehow by the Grace of God & Sir Mick looking over us, I manage to De-Fuse the Situation & escape Certain Death, had the Cops searched the van, or even look in back. Our friends leave us, and after one of my Greatest Days Ever, capped by the greatest Best Actor Effort I’ve ever put forth, before or since, I’m Maxed Out, enlisting the efforts of Geo Our Saviour, to drive us home.. and so ends (one of my many) Longest Days of all ~ And its Adventures…
Cheers, F of C
We heard The Stones were Coming..The concert was still months away, at the L.A Coliseum which holds in excess of 100,000 people. Of Course We Had to Go. This would be the Biggest Concert I had been to Yet. My partner Geo & I had our 1st, well actually, 2nd Studio together in a Huntington Beach Industrial Park. Geo was a year younger than I, we were both the Art Stars in High School. Geo was Mexican. His family was from Mainland Mexico City and somehow he had inherited from his ancestors an Incredible Talent. The guy could illustrate in a total ancient Mayan way. Think of the glyphs inside the Pyramids at Chichen-itza, or if he wanted, straight from the hip-Diego Rivera, 1930′s Style. He was really good, always a better Illustrator than I. To this day probably the Purest Art Talent I have known ever. Anyhow, we were Partners in a Studio together, which was a bit of a Hangout for the Boys. My Buddy Jackie Davis had come by with Johnny Shortsleeve to help us Inaugurate the Studio. We had a Sparkletts water cooler in the corner. The Boys showed up with a Sparkletts bottle, a glass one filled with Cuervo Gold Tequila, & swapped it onto the cooler, replacing the water. Johnny had recently Crashed his Camaro on a 405 offramp & rolled it, ended in a ditch, all Iceplant with his left arm pinned under the car all nite ’til they found him in the morning and pulled him out. He Was Medicating. Great. Thanks Boys.
This was the End of an Era of the Stadium Concert. Going to these was a Total Expedition. A Commitment. Nowadays the shows last for maybe an hour, 90 minutes? ‘Let’s get a Starbucks before so we don’t Fall Asleep, K’? Weak. Back then you would prep for days to Gear Up for Concerts like the California Jam. The 1st one was held at the Ontario Motor Speedway, California’s answer to the Indianapolis 500-style of Racetrack. Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Black Oak Arkansas, ELP, Earth, Wind & Fire & Assorted Other Bands, ALL IN ONE DAY. Read the Fine Print..ticket price $14. It was Hot, Dusty & Mega-Packed with People from all over California, Arizona & God Only Knows where else. Awesome. You would Get a Whole Summer Tan in One Day. We went to these things all the time. Anaheim Stadium, Big Giant Venues-Stadium Style. Closest thing now is The Coachella Music Festival. But I have yet to see the likes of bands like Deep Purple & Black Sabbath & Black Oak Arkansas show up there all in one day, or even 2. VIP Tent? Forget it, All for One & One for All. Incredible Rock Madness. Dirt, Dust, Drugs. It pretty much was Arkansas. Now the Stones were Coming. We were Huge Stones Fans. I Still Am…Wikipedia says this about the Tour stopping in L.A we were Gearing Up For Next -
The Rolling Stones‘ American Tour 1981 was a concert tour of stadiums and arenas in the United States to promote the album Tattoo You. It was the largest grossing tour of 1981 with $50 million in ticket sales. Roughly three million concert goers attended the concerts, setting various ticket sales records.[
Geo & I both had Vintage 60′s era VW Vans. His was a Thrasher & he got in a wreck & did a full California-style Masterpiece re-do on it. I had paid too much for mine, a ’65, something like $1900. That was a lot then. Tinted side windows, bed in back, jamming stereo. I drove it to New Mexico & blew up the engine on the way back. I Painted it a Solid German Blue in our shop, no 2-tone. I put in a Brand-New 1800cc Screamer in there. Instant Porsche Cayenne in a Breadbox. Much cooler than the big-ass American Vans the Rednecks drove. But I gotta admit, I had had a Redneck Van myself. I had bought it new for $6000 from the Chevy Dealer, a Black one. Bad Move. Crappiest vehicle I ever owned, and to this day, the only New Car I ever bought. Hated it. What a Lemon. I was buried in payments on that Thing for awhile. So now it was The Reagonomics Era, and Gas had become pricey, so we got some Cool VW Vans & Styled Them Out. The ’Cal-Look’. They are actually called the VW Kombi.
We rolled down Beach Blvd. to the combination Head Shop/Ticket Agency & Checked Out the Stones’ advance sale Ticket Prices. They had these hand-typed lists on Ditto paper that said Who, When, Where & How Much concert tickets were coming. The Stones were maxing out at like $45 bucks each ! NO way Dude. That was Out of Hand. No Internet. No craigslist. Scalpers around & about we knew… No Dice. Tickets Maxed Out. We thought We Weren’t Going.
New Wave & Punk Shows were Happening, and we saw bands like X at the Whisky, Slam Dance-Mosh Pit History in the Making..By Now we only listened to tiny KROQ from Pasadena on the radio. Rodney on the Rocks. The Legendary Rodney Bingenheimer had debuted New Wave Bands like Devo & Talking Heads, Blondie, Black Flag & The Buzzcocks in L.A. We could barely get the station in, it was so small, no ‘bandwidth’ so to speak. We knew we were gonna have to be Punk-Rockers soon, but for now we were still Rockers, hanging on the Last Vestiges of a Dying (for the moment) Genre. We hadn’t sold out to be ‘Punk Rockers’ yet. A lot of them really were just that. Punks.
The New-Wave & Punk Bands never played the Big Venues. We went to the Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa, and they were Cool but almost Too Cool. The New-Wave & Punk Era did influence my Graphics Sense a lot though, Anti-Style. We loved that, to this day if I can lay out type Crooked & Dirty, I will. However for the Moment were up for one more Major Rock Expedition..load up the Vans & Go. We knew the days were numbered for those Big Blow-Out Stadium Shows. We were already Nostalgic about it. Veterans.
We loved the Stones because they were So Good, they Made Fun of all the other emerging genres of Music as they came along, like 70′s Country Rock & Disco. Then they came out with tracks that were better than all the bands taking those genres seriously. Songs like Dead Flowers & Country Honk made fun of Country while being Great Country Songs. The Stones had the Hottest Girls, the most Ultra-Jet-Set Lifestyle, The Most Money & the Most Legendary Notoriety. Andy Warhol did their album covers. The Hells Angels did their security in Cailfornia. We Had to Make That Show Hell or High Water. A Bright, Sunny October morning, I’m pacing around the Shop like a Tiger. No Tickets. Geo & I are looking at each other & fuming. Then the Boys Show Up, with this look on their faces like we’re Going on our Last Mission to Bomb the Nazis, We May Not Return. “Get in the Van, Boys”, I say. “We’re going to the Stones”. We loaded up & left, no prep, no tickets. We did grab our 2 Walkie-Talkies we used around the shop. One of us had got them for Xmas when we were were kids & now they were a novelty to use in the Shop, like an intercom system…”Jorge, it’s that girl you met at Sav-On, on the phone, are you here ?, Over”. Geo did pretty well with the Muchachas. We brought the Walkie-Talkies.
I’ve got Jackie D., (My To-This-Day-Since-Then Main Man), Johnny Shortsleeve, a bit torn-up from his Camaro Roll-over, some other guy who I’ve lost track of, in the back of my van. We’ve stopped for beers & they are drinking & smoking H-B style Mexican weed back there, undercover of dark tinted windows. Geo is a Torrid Bud Smoker as well, however I never really have been. He is riding Shotgun & yours truly Mr. Motocross Champion driving. I roll up the road & it’s Weekday (A Holiday for Us), Traffic & I hit the offramp. There, on the side is the Most Glorious Sight. 2 dudes holding HIGH FOR ALL TO SEE… STONES TICKETS !! I pull over right on the side, van side doors bust open with 3 maniacs each with a fistful of cash. We end up getting 5 tickets for face value, which is $16. Unbelievable. I can still see those guys out my windshield clear as day, like 2 Disciples from Heaven. So we roll to the Coliseum, or rather about 4 blocks from it. The whole zone, where Staples Center is now, Solid Brothas from the ‘Hood selling any scrap of concrete for parking, like $5. We Saddle Up & at the very last minute, somebody – probably Medicated Johnny says, “Fred, have a hit”. It’s Acid. Great. This is a new addition to my Repertoire. So I eat half, Grab my Walkie -Talkie & Start Walking. Us & 100,000 other Crazed Stones Fans…
Five years later we’re in on the field. It’s early. The Lineup is Some Band we never Heard of, Called Prince. George Thorogood (Not a fan at all). The J.Geils Band, who I don’t love either. However lead singer Peter Wolf is married to actress Faye Dunaway. Her I’m a Big Fan Of, maybe I’ll get to see her. A Main Stones-only stage at one end about 200 miles in front of us… and we’re right behind a pack of real-deal Hell’s Angels at a smaller stage. Opening Act Prince comes out first, never heard of him. Wearing an open trench-coat, blazing October heat. Thigh-highs & I think garter belts underneath with 6″ Black Platform boots. Prince is all dancing & prancing around trying to do his thing. Prince’s guitar player is Pretty Androgynous Looking as well. The Angels are having none of it. Within 2 songs they are hurling half-full Coors beer bottles at Prancing Prince, and hitting him. Prince looks a fright & terribly crestfallen soaked with Coors Beer & he is Gone. See you later Prince, Whoever You Are. Stay Tuned for Part 2…..
I Lived on Newport Blvd. & 28th Street in Newport Beach. I was 18 & my roomate & cousin, Mr. Joseph Batchelor, the Clone of Jan-Michael Vincent, was 17. I was more like Brad Hamilton from ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont’, but, without the Pirate Hat. J.B. was my Sidekick since age 7 or so. I was going to Orange Coast College, Contemporary Art History and Design 101. My wheels were the ones I never should have sold. 1965 Sunbeam Tiger, stuffed to the gills with a 275-horsepower 289 Ford V8 & 4-Speed. Good for about 120 mph in that little car, and a highly sought-after Item nowadays. We used to blast Johnny Winter, Bowie, Stones & Ted Nugent on the stereo in the house a lot. Standard Newport Background Noise, 1976.
I had bought the car for $700. sitting in some guy’s yard in Silverado Canyon, outside under a tree, and it sure didn’t look like that when I bought it. Today a nice one is worth between $25 to $60,000, so that was a insanely good deal for an all-original one, even then. I was driving it to school one day up a hill over the 405. A big station wagon was in front of me & stalled abruptly, causing me to smash hard into the back of it. Just thrashed my car up to the engine in front, a very light-weight body that was trashed. My forehead hit & broke the wood steering wheel. But I was okay. Turned out the girl driving was under-age, her Mom was letting her drive. the insurance ruled in my favor, that car was in the shop 2 months & came out looking like, well, the picture. Brand New car, paint, alloy mag wheels, new Pioneer 8-track stereo. Thanks, under-age girl, for Styling Me Out. Easily worth the Mild Concussion.
I had already done & seen a lot. I’d had probably the coolest girlfriend ever, Mishel. My first, a true California girl that wore vintage Mexican skirts with sequins on them in High School, no other girl had her Style. Mishel worked as a shaper at the Morey Boogie factory. Boogie Boards had just come out, they weren’t even called ‘Boogie Boards’ then. Just Morey Boogies, and they were shaped by hand in the beginning like surfboards. She worked with all dudes, a Sureform hand planer in the back pocket of her boardies in a shaping bay just like the boys. We had broken up & I was a batchelor at this point. My motocross & desert racing career was pretty much over, but I still went riding with my Dad all the time. And Mishel & I would Reunite. I should have Married her & I knew it, but I was 18-19.
Since around age 8, I had started riding mini-bikes, then trying to MotoCross my StepMom’s French Mobylette Mo-ped around the neighborhood when I was about 11. (Ladie’s step-through model, 50 cc pea-shooter, White Wall tires not good off-road gear). I Graduated through a series of mini-bikes & small cycles to Full-Size Motocross motorcycles, up to the 400 cc Husqvarna. Czech CZ’s, Spanish Montesas & Ossas. My Dad & I shared them all.
I raced on Weekends for around 3 years at Saddleback Park & the Mojave Desert, with the Big Boys. The family house was adjacent to an open field, as yet undeveloped, but not for long. We made a full-on Motocross Track out back & I practiced after school out there & raced on Weekends. The local Yuppie Cops would try to ride their heavy street Cop Bikes into the field to bust us. I had 2 boards rigged in the fence bordering the field, I’d let them get close then blaze head-down right through those 2 boards & escape out the neighborhood, totally non-legal off-Road race bike smoking down the streets at 70 mph, kill the motor & coast home. Those guys were so pissed at me, they couldn’t ride very well even on the Street. They Knew Who I Was. I used to fire up that Badass Huqvarna, Seriously LOUD, & just rip through the Neighborhood. One hot Summer Day the new Asphalt on our street was soft from the Heat. I Burned down the street on my MX Bike, which could tear Black chunks Out of the Pavement with that Gnarly rear Knobby tire. 50 Horsepower in a 200 lb. Bike. Seriously Fast. Guys like J.N. Roberts, Malcolm Smith & Steve McQueen were my Heroes. My Dad & I rode Desert, Motocross & Enduro in the Idaho Forests. I was a Pretty Good rider & he was no Slouch either, having had Motorcycles since being in England during WWII , 30 years’ worth. He had Taught me to Ride Well, since around age 8. My old Trusty StingRay & Motocross bikes & gear were stowed at his house, The Keeper of the Gear, Coolest Garage Always filled with a Lotus, or a ’69 SS 396 Big-Block El Camino, always something Cool in there since Day 1. But I had Moved Out, Doing my Thing.
I’d been to Europe after High school & seen a bit of it. Now I was on my own, working, figuring out about Art & Design. I loved Warhol’s work, he was very much still alive then & working. Just a Big Influence from the start. I had been playing guitar for a couple years & took a Classical Guitar class at OCC, the Jr. college I was enrolled for an AA degree. In the Class was a girl named Janet. She was a Total Farrah Clone. But complete Dingbat Dumb Blonde. Man, she defined that term.
Poor Janet, she was Total Farrah-Style, & she Embraced it, Purposefully Farrah. Feathered Farrah Hair, that Metallic silvery-white lipstick, white Ditto jeans too tight, all teeth & giggly..tee hee. The girl was completely Tone-Deaf, had no musical talent at all, & she decided I would be the Perfect Victim to get her through the class, and I was. Man, she had Zero Musical Ability. so of course I ended up Dating Her, but it wasn’t easy. I had Farrah in my Sports Car with the top down, Farrah Hair Everywhere. Then I met her Sister, who was a bit older, owned a Newport Beach Hair Salon, etc. She was way more sophisticated & older, polished. I was just starting to do some graphics, airbrush (total 70′s!) and that. So I painted this spacy, trippy 70′s mural on the wall of her Salon. It was called Inner Visions for Hair-what else? One of my first paying freelance jobs. Janet & I didn’t have too much in common, she didn’t last long. I was out of there.
Around the corner from our house on ‘The Boulevard’, Main Street, USA in Newport, was a Mexican restaurant called El Ranchito. We went there all the time for takeout. It was really good. So this one night, I’m camped out in my room, which was the screened-in front sun porch on our old California Bungalow house. I had one of my conquests from OCC over. She was a beautiful Redhead. she deserved better, I forget her name, she was cool, but I was 18, and, well. In the middle of the night suddenly there is Massive Automatic Weapons Fire Right in Front of the House. About 25 rounds BAMBAMBAMBAMBAM!!!!!!! We were literally under the Bed, terrified. I look out & see a big Black Town Car just blasted in the middle of the street, riddled with Bullets, doors open. Turns out the El Ranchito Boys were Cocaine Cowboys. something went Awry that night Big Time. Somebody got blasted right out front, like a Movie. If you ever see the film Cocaine Cowboys, Newport was like Miami in that movie back then. But we didn’t know anything about it, we were still just kids. These Carteles were all older, Player-Type Guys. I see now that El Ranchito has 11 Locations in the Newport Beach area…so There You Go.
I was Working in a Retail Commercial Nursery, a lot like the Home Depot-style ones, after awhile I moved back home for a bit. I don’t remember why, Not for Long. I worked with this guy, Jesse who was the Boss of the Dept., he was 22, I was around 18. He set me up with a Fake I.D. so I could go to the Clubs. He lived in a cool Newport Pad also. We became Fast Friends. We were both Killer Salesmen, & Since we worked in the Dept. with the most high-end goods in the store, like Toro Ride-Along Lawnmowers & other power Garden tools, we had potential to gross the most $ for the store, and we did. We had Carte-Blanche in that place and got away with Murder. But we would kill it on the Weekends, each selling 4-5 Mowers apiece in a day. Everyone was Fixing Up their New 70′s Tract Houses, & that store was packed on weekends. We had our Rap Down. This was the Era of Hawaiian Shirts, Puka Shells, all of that. I was & Always have been a big fan of Vintage Wear. So I had all kinds of Cool Hawaiians to wear. Jesse & I made it a rule that every Sunday in the Garden Shop was Hawaiian Day. If you worked that day, you had to show up with a Hawaiian on, or we sent your ass home to get one, or Don’t Come Back today. The managers backed us up on it too. We had access to the warehouse where all the inventory was stored. These 2 very fine-looking ladies started working as Cashiers, they were new, so we decided we were going to Impress Them.We went & got the 2 store forklifts, & started around the store, these girls were cashiers just inside the floor to ceiling windows in front. There’s around 5000 people & cars in the parking lot on a Sweltering Summer Sunday. The pavement is melting it’s so hot. We’re drag-racing each other in these 2 10,000 lb. forklifts to the front so the girls will see us, Hawaiian shirts flowing. And Jesse’s wheels dig in the soft pavement & he bails out and flips his over ! My God, I just putted around back, parked my lift & went back to work.I don’t know how he dodged a bullet on that one but he did. Insurance, liability all of that. They couldn’t fire him, he was a manager. Those girls were ours after that stunt. They were inside howling laughing in that nice air-conditioned store, 100′s of customers looking on in sheer horror. We sold so much product there, we could do no wrong.
This guy named Terry came on & worked with us. He was a bit younger but a Very Smooth Operator, and had the Requisite Hawaiians, so he was In. A very tall guy, Terry rode a Kawasaki 750 Triple. Probably one of the Quickest Street Bikes ever, worth a fortune now. In 1976 this bike was downright Evil & Terry had one. He also had a Devastating Girlfriend, and she had a Devastating Friend. Terry also had 4 tickets to see David Bowie, On Tour with Mick Ronson. Bowie had swept in a year or 2 earlier & Immediately transformed the Music Scene. Girls in High School immediately turned into Glam Gueens overnight, wearing rad Shag Bowie haircuts, Glitter makeup, Super-short Hot Pants and Glitter-covered 6″ Platforms to school. Thank You Bowie, He Had Instant Power. There had been Donovan before him, there was also T.Rex with Marc Bolan, Iggy Pop, the New York Dolls, but Bowie completely Dominated. He was, & Is, the Man. Glam was It. To this Day I believe he is the Richest Rock Star. With Good Reason. And happily married to the Hottest Rock Star Wife. Well done after 40 years on the job. So I took Terry’s Girlfriend’s Friend to Bowie. She was devastatingly Foxy. As soon as we got to the show, she disappeared. I didn’t care. Bowie & Ronson put on to this day the most engaging performance I’ve ever seen. I didn’t take my eyes off the guy for 2 hours. And the rest of the evening all worked out, as well. Station to Station is by far my favorite Bowie album. Awesome Performance. Awesome Night.
The year was 1967 or ’68, Somewhere in There..I was hanging in Downtown Huntington Beach ~ Surf City USA. I never lived there when I was a kid (I did later) My Cousin Joey Batchelor did. Joey looked & acted exactly like a 9 year-old Jan Michael -Vincent. He was Just Like that guy. Spitting image. Blonde straight surfer hair, all over on one side. We were Hell-Raisers. Joey & his Mom Marlene & her other kids lived in this Thrasher Spanish Bunglalow right on the PCH in Huntington. Man, that lady could not Keep House at all. It was always a Pigsty. It was just near the Gordie Surfboards Shop. It’s Long Gone but Gordie’s was a Classic Calif. Surf Shop, 8 & 9-foot longboards all lined up out front, Tropical Pastel colors, redwood stringers, Pre-Shortboard Era. Oil Wells for a backyard. Stainky things, they were still Everywhere then, leftover from the whole 20′s ‘There Will Be Blood’ Era.
My Dad had been dating Joey’s Mom but ended marrying her Twin Sister. Damn, that must have burned her. What a Player. I had to Shake my Head at his Macho Gall even then. So I would Go Down there & Hang & we would Skate the whole Downtown. This is all way pre-Dogtown Z-Boys era. Joey was a year younger than me but we were always Competing on Everything, about Even. My Swinging 60′s Dad had married Joey’s Mom’s Sister by then so I inherited a fresh Brother & Sister & several Cousins, including Joey. Me & Joey ( I know, but that’s how I would’ve said it back then), used to skateboard down Main Street in Huntington Beach to Downtown, Main & PCH, Surf City Ground Zero. We had been shredding the concrete outdoor hallways of our school already for a few years. We made our 1st skateboards from 2×4′s, and we would schmooze the neighborhood girls & snag their Roller Derby white lace-up roller skates & pry the riveted-on wheels off with a screwdriver. Hammer the plates flat & nail ‘em to the bottom of the 2×4. Skateboard ! STEEL 3/8″ wide wheels, no trucks, Pre-Clay wheels, Way Pre-Urethane. We didn’t ride pools like the Z-Boys later in Dogtown Venice did later. We had no concept of pool riding. We were ‘Sidewalk Surfers’ shredding the flat concrete. There was this one corner, a hard right-hand 90-degree downhill sweeper, that was Dead Man’s Curve. You would always hit the smallest rock & Go Flying trying to make it. Sprained ankles, wrists, raspberry knees & elbows, ripped-up pants. Standard Skater Fashionistos.
Then Came Revelation! A Revolution! Clay Wheels. 3 times as wide as Steelies! Stores started carrying manufactured Skateboards. My first store-bought skater was The Black Knight. An Oak plywood deck with real clay wheels, badass ball bearings & trucks, actual turning-action & all-round a totally new machine.
Now we could shred the Banks on the local Miniature Golf Course. We’d sneak in there at night & just burn up the Turf.
So now you could hit Dead Man’s Curve & MAKE IT all the time. I saved my allowance for Weeks & bought it at Leonard’s Department Store… Cool Black Knight ! It was around $7. or $8. bucks That was A lot.
‘Champion Surfer’ Corky Carroll was always Hanging Out down there trying to impress everyone. He was an Ass. Total Short Man Syndrome. Then David Nuuhiwa Came to Town. Corky Shut Up real fast after that. Corky was a Kook.
Joey & I would go drive the Model T Ford Cars-a ride at Knott’s Berry Farm. Knott’s wasn’t a big Theme Park then. It really had been a farm, they had a few rides, the whole place was still very quaint & rural. It was cool. It was right on Beach Blvd. next to the real highway just over the fence. The cars weren’t on tracks, had small engines & ran on gasoline. They went about 20 mph. Pretty fast when you’re 9. Those cars probably had been running that track for 20 years. They were Thrashed. We floored those things for all they were worth.
We would actually pass the Tourists on the Track. It was a Dirt track & you could just literally slide & blow a rooster-tail of Dirt in their Faces. 2 California Kids razzing the Tourists. They Kept & Fixed all the Cars in that Barn there. I wanted to Work there So Bad. Later they put the cars on tracks and paved the track which was Not Happening at all. Like the Autopia slowpoke Cars at Disneyland. We were Not Happy about This. We had already Been Drivin for Real’. So that’s how I learned how to Drive. I was a Pro by 16. Got a 100% on my Test.
We used to go there All the Time. Buena Park. How California of a name is that?
We would buy our StyroFoam Surfboards at the Grocery Store. They cost like $2.99, maybe less.We could stand up & Surf on them ’til they’d break in half. ’Styrofoam’ was a brand new material then. High-Density surfboard foam came from the Military in WWII originally. But the low-density cheap-o kind was new. Nobody had Cool Plastic Coolers or those ‘GetAway’ ones or whatever they are back then. All there was were the Styrofoam kind with these yellow rope handles on them, like Waterski tow rope. Of course they were just big enough to hold a Sixer, but that did not occur to me then. So many things were still made by hand back then. Everything said ‘Made in Japan’. I guess we Forgave Them.
The StyroFoam Surfboards were up in front of the store wrapped in Plastic with the Charcoal and Dog Food. Everybody fed their Dogs canned Dog Food. There was dry then but it was pretty basic. No Dog would Eat it. Steel Cans. Aluminum cans weren’t invented yet. Sodas, Beers, Tuna, all Steel. This all way before Recycling, No IAMS Dog Food for the Eco-Bio Dog like now. People burned their Trash in Outdoor Incinerators in their backyard whenever they wanted. The Neighborhood smelled like a Campfire all the time because people were burning their trash back there – Mexico style. Your basic Household Trash Cans were Steel, like old war-surplus Oil Drums. My Dad would heft those over his head, Clean & Jerk up to a Full Military Press and Carry ‘em out.. All the other Dads rolled theirs out to the Curb. Now I do the same thing whenever I pick stuff like that up. But he was a lot Stronger than I’ll Ever be. He drank this beer called Brew 102.
Doing research for this article I come to find that all these people collect old Beer Cans. Buy and sell them on e-Bay, that sort of thing. Too bad they didn’t know us back then, we burned up 100′s of those things in the Backyard incinerator every Saturday, contributing to the demise of the Atmosphere & Environment of the Greater Los Angeles area. We could’ve saved them for 45 years & got all that Beer Money back on e-Bay.
Another Big Breakthrough in Modern Technology for us was the Invention of the Schwinn Sting-Ray. We had been riding a whatever hodge-podge of Bikes, and may have already had a Thrasher mini-bike or 2 around by then also. I’ve had so many wheeled vehicles I don’t remember the exact whole cross-over from pedal to power. The Sting-Ray was just THE COOLEST bike back then and it pretty much still is. THIS WAS A MUST-HAVE… If you did not have this bike in your equipment line-up, well it was pretty much the equivalent of not having Air to breathe. Your basic Sting-Ray came in around 5 colors.I could look it up but that just wouldn’t be right about this…I should remember… Red (as shown), A Cool Metallic Blue, Gold and Metallic Green. I think that’s it. I do know you could choose from a Knobby (treaded) tire in back, if you were a Quasi-Moto-Crosser (or ‘MX’ for short) this term had not been invented yet either. In Europe it was called ‘Cross’, I believe. We’ll get to that later. Or, if you were a ‘Dragger’, you could get a cool Drag Slick tire in back. THIS was the Hot Set-Up. You also had your choice of a plain White seat (shown), or Leopard print seat, which was so BEYOND COOL it was almost unbelievable. When I first saw this bike, maybe on T.V., it was almost Diaper Time, a throwback of about 6 years for me at this point.
So FINALLY Xmas came & I got one. It wasn’t exactly the one I wanted. It was Metallic Green & I think had these lame wrap-around 10-speed-style ‘Rams-Horn’ handlebars instead of the Bad-Ass Ape Hangers as shown. Also I got a Knobby tire in back. Well, I was a little peeved, but I was never the kid that spelled out exactly the Christmas List B.S. I always felt that to be a bit presumptuous & damn, my Dad took really good care of me, so I Bit the Bullet on this one.
I never really got over it. Plain Blue with the White seat & Slick was Cool. Very Drag-Style. Leopard seat..beyond Boss, which was we called everything Cool back then. That is SO Boss! That’s What I Really Wanted. But somehow there was a lesson to be learned there somewhere…& even then I knew it. Damn, no Slick. Apparently I never got over the Leopard Seat thing either, because ever since I’ve always loved Leopard-Print. I have some very Cool Leopard Bar-Stools that used to be in my Leopard Bar in my house. Whenever I see a woman with Leopard on, I go Weak in the Knees Immediately.
There were these Bikers that lived a ways away in a Different Neighborhood, on the other side of our school. They had all these Greasy Dirty Harley rigid-frame Panhead choppers in the driveway. They had full-on ‘Colors’, Levi jackets with the sleeves cut off & covered with patches. They had Chains hanging off & Biker Boots, which are Red-Wing railroad Lineman’s or Engineer boots. The Jackets all said HESSIANS on the back, with cool skulls.
These guys were the Real Deal, and we were not supposed to think they were cool, but they were so Counter-Culture, Evil-looking, nasty, dirty with Loud, ratty bikes, well of course, we did. They were Cool. Their beat-down tract house was right on Magnolia Street, directly across the street from the front of our school parking lot. While we were in class they were over there all day raging, in & out, bikes everywhere, front door open, Full-on torn down Panhead motors laying on the Living Room carpet, Grease & Oil Biker Mania. Joey & I Had to Check it Out.
We were specifically Not Allowed to cross Magnolia Street. “Under Any Circumstances”. Yeah,Right ! It was a super-busy street, fast cars hauling ass by, not our ‘hood, too far from home. So of course that’s where we were headed. There was a kid from the Hessian Biker House that went to our school. He was scary, older than us and a Bad-Ass and we didn’t really know him. He Blew us Off. He was a Real Biker Kid. We were just kids.
So One Day we ride our Sting-Rays over there, sort of nearby but not too close so as not to raise attention. We were wearing standard Converse All-Stars and the usual candy-ass JC Penney school gear.
The Chopper Kid comes Flying out the front door Ready To Kill Us or Beat Us Down, so we ride, ride, RIDE as fast as we can back to our street, barely ahead of him. He would’ve Kicked Our Ass. After that, he didn’t come on our block and we didn’t go on his. Mind Your Business.
In the movie Chinatown,
there’s a reference made to the
Morty: Yeah, he drowned too.
Gittes: Come again?
Morty: Yeah, he got drunk. Passed out in the bottom of the riverbed.
Gittes: The LA River?
Morty: Yeah, right under Hollenbeck Bridge. What’s wrong with that?
Gittes: It’s dry as a bone, Morty.
Morty: It’s not so completely dry.
Gittes: Well, he ain’t gonna exactly drown in a damp riverbed no matter how soused he is.
Morty: We got water out of him…He drowned…
7th Street Viaduct ~ L.A. 1910
There is no Hollenbeck Bridge in Los Angeles, as referenced in the film ‘Chinatown.’ The only bridges over the Los Angeles River are on Broadway, 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th and Olympic. 6th Street once had a bridge that spanned Hollenbeck Park, but that would not be the bridge in ‘Chinatown’ because that film specifically remarks ‘on the meager amount of water existing in the Los Angeles River, too low to drown a human.’ The producers of the film Chinatown most likely used poetic license to provide a ‘more Los Angeles’ allusion in describing the scene, rather than simply calling it a numbered street bridge. The producers of the movie used the 7th and Olympic Bridge as the ‘Hollenbeck’ Bridge.
Trapped and Desperate in L.A. ~
Evelyn Mulwray pulls her Pistol to Escape her Fate on the Mean Streets of Chinatown..
Faye Dunaway ~ Chinatown, 1974
Directed by Roman Polanski, now exiled from returning to Calfornia to escape a statutory rape charge, Chinatown is easily one of the best films ever to depict period L.A. a la 1947.
Raymond Chandler would have approved.
In a Ironic ‘Film Noir’ real-life twist of fate, A Foreign Director makes one of the best films ever about L.A., only to be exiled by that same city, having endured the Torture of having his pregnant wife, Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, brutally murdered by the Manson Family in the Hollywood Hills 5 years before. Then raping a 13 year-old girl a few years later, convicted in absentia for the offense, only never to return and living in exile 40 years later because of it…
Only in Hollywood.
The Hollywoodland sign was built by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler as an epic $21,000 billboard for his upscale Hollywoodland real estate development, the Sign soon took on the role of giant marquee for a city that was constantly announcing its own gala premiere. The “billboard” was massive. Each of the original 13 letters was 30 feet wide and 50 feet tall, constructed of 3×9′ metal squares rigged together by an intricate frame of scaffolding, pipes, wires and telephone poles.
A giant white dot (35 feet in diameter, with 20-watt lights on the perimeter) was constructed below the Sign to catch the eye. The Sign itself featured 4,000 20-watt bulbs, spaced 8 inches apart. At night the Sign blinked into the Hollywood night: first “Holly” then “wood” and finally “land,” punctuated by a giant period. The effect was truly spectacular, particularly for pre-Vegas sensibilities. Originally intended to last just a year and a half, the Sign has endured more than eight decades – and is still going strong…
The original houses are still there as well, in Beechwood Canyon. They look just the same and are some of the the most well-preserved 1920′s homes in Hollywood today…
In 1932, Peg Entwistle, a New York stage actress, became the symbol of the dark side of the Hollywood dream. Emboldened by her Broadway success, the ambitious young actress soon set her sights on the silver screen. She packed her bags for Hollywood and moved in with her uncle on Beachwood Drive – virtually in the shadow of the Hollywood Sign.
Unfortunately, Peg failed to make a splash, and she spent most of the brutally hot summer of ’32 hanging around her uncle’s house, waiting for a phone call that never came. Finally, on the evening of September 18th, Peg told her uncle that she was going to meet some friends at a nearby drug store, but this was a sad lie.
Peg instead made the arduous hike up the canyon hill to the Hollywood Sign, her one-time beacon of hope but now a symbol of failure and rejection. She climbed 50 feet up a workman’s ladder to the top of the “H” and plunged to her death. Peg Entwistle – dubbed by tabloids as the “The Hollywood Sign Girl” – was only 24 years old.
In Yet Another cruel Hollywood twist of irony, a letter to Peg arrived the day after her death from the Beverly Hills Playhouse. She was offered the lead role in a play … about a woman driven to suicide. Moral of the Story ~ Always Wait One More Day Before Killing Self…
L.A. 1947 0r 1997 ? The Film L.A. Confidential
Another great movie to depict L.A in the Day is the film L.A. Confidential…
Set in essentially the same ‘Noir’ period, the early 50′s as in the L.A. photos above, the film outlines the Seedy Pulp Fiction-style underbelly of L.A. Filmed almost entirely on Location in L.A. in 1997, it illustrates how little some scenes in the City Have Changed and Remain the Same…Now as Then.
In the Film a Dubious ‘businessman’, Pierce Patchett, lives in a Groovy Post-Modern Pad high in the Hollywood Hills, Drives a Stylish 50′s Red Jaquar roadster & Lives a Little too Large for his Own Good…and That Pad is Actually…
The Lovell House, Richard Neutra, 1927 ~ One Cool Pad
The Doors & The Lizard King ~ 1965
When it comes to this era of The L.A.Club Scene, the Doors undeniably made a bigger mark on that history than any other band, by far. Even as an 8 year-old kid, I knew who they were, early on. They were from L.A, so they got a lot of L.A. Radio time & Press. The Doors were also signifigant as to marking the Emergence of L.A. based record label, Elektra, which later became Elektra-Asylum Records. An L.A. Rock powerhouse, producing records for not only the Doors but gaining considerable prestige on the music scene by being one of the first labels to sign up other leading acts from the new wave of American psychedelic rock of 1966–67. After All, Jim Morrison did write L.A. Woman, and This Story IS all About The L.A. Music Scene in the 60′s.. The Doors should be credited with bringing arguably the Biggest Notoriety to the Burgeoning L.A. Music Scene, especially with regard to the Sunset Strip & Whisky aGo Go. More than any other Band or Musician, The Doors Established L.A. as Rock City on the Map for Good.
Rick & The Ravens, founded in 1961, was the band Ray Manzarek was in before he joined The Doors. The band recorded three singles on Aura Records before splitting up and reforming as The Doors in early October of 1965.
The band used to perform on weekends for college crowds, mostly from UCLA Film School, at a bar on 2nd Street and Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica,California, called the Turkey Joint West, a British pub operated by the Santa Monica Soccer and Social Club, since 1974 known as Ye Olde King’s Head. Their setlist consisted of their own originals, padded with standards such as “I’m Your Doctor, I Know What You Need,” “Louie, Louie,” Smokey Robinson‘s “Money” andWillie Dixon‘s “Hoochie Coochie Man.”
During that summer of ’65, Manzarek was living in Venice, south of Santa Monica. By accident, he ran into Jim Morrison. “I had been friendly with Jim at UCLA, and we had talked about rock ‘n’ roll even then. After we graduated, he said he was going to New York. Then, two months later, in July, I met him on the beach of Venice. He said he had been writing some songs, so we sat on the beach and I asked him to sing some of them. He did, and the first thing he tried was ‘Moonlight Drive’. When he sang those first lines…
“Let’s swim to the moon/ let’s climb through the tide/ penetrate the
evening/ that the city sleeps to hide” …. I said, “That’s it”. I’d never heard lyrics to a rock song like that before. We talked we talked a while before we decided to get a group together and make a million dollars.”
In an interview conducted by Rainer Moddemann, Manzarek stated the first song Jim Morrison performed with Rick & the Ravens was Richard Berry‘s “Louie Louie.” Morrison was not officially part of the band at that time; Manzarek simply invited his former college colleague on stage, much to everyone’s surprise. Morrison was reportedly not prepared for this — his first public performance — and sang himself hoarse. Morrison and Manzarek had met previously and found each other sharing a lot of musical and artistic interests. Later Manzarek asked Morrison to join the band; Morrison accepted.
Although Rick & the Ravens do not sound at all like the Doors, they did play their small part in the early career of the Doors. On September 2, 1965 the band entered World Pacific Studios and recorded six songs that would eventually become Doors songs; “Moonlight Drive“, “My Eyes Have Seen You”, “Hello, I Love You“, “Go Insane” (the early title of “A Little Game” from the “Celebration of the Lizard” suite, known simply as “Insane” on the acetate), “End of the Night”, and “Summer’s Almost Gone“. The recording session was a relatively quick affair, only lasting three hours in total. Singer Morrison was reportedly delighted to hear his voice on a record for the first time. The demo was released in its entirety on The Doors’ box set in 1997. The tracks on the box setwere mastered from what was originally Jim Morrison’s acetate–now in the possession of Ray Manzarek–which was one of only 5 made.
After the demo was recorded, the band tried to pass it around. Both Jim and Rick Manzarek were disappointed in the response to the demo — additionally both of the Manzareks, along Sullivan, were not impressed by the new Morrison songs — and subsequently the Manzarek brothers, sans Ray, quit the band, stating they felt the band was “going nowhere fast“
At Morrison’s suggestion the band changed its name to The Doors a month after they had recorded the demo, shortly prior to Krieger joining the line-up. The band took their name from the title of a book by Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception, which was in turn borrowed from a line of poetry by the 18th century artist and poet William Blake: “If the doors of perception were cleansed , everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite.”
The 4 rehearsed for four or five months and played at a few private parties, including one given by Krieger’s parents.After practicing daily in a friend’s house behind the Santa Monica greyhound bus depot, The Doors made a humorously premature debut on the stage of UCLA’s Royce Hall, providing “live sound track” to a screening of Manzarek’s design film, “Who And Where I Live”. Krieger played guitar, Manzarek played flute, and Densmore, Morrison, and sundry girlfriends pounded on drums, rattles, claves, and tambourines.
A small, funky club called the London Fog located between the Hamburger Hamlet and the Galaxy on Sunset Strip was the first real club date for the Doors. They played for five dollars apiece on weeknights, double on weekends, seven nights a week, four sets per night. Because at the time they didn’t have sufficient original material for such a long gig, over half their set consisted of blues and rock ‘n’ roll classics, such asGloria, Little Red Rooster and Who Do You Love? Once again, a faithful core of students from the UCLA film school followed them, but on the strip, a cross section of other listeners joined them.
More than anything else, the London Fog job provided them with the opportunity to play together steadily, experiment with their songs, and to develop as a working group. Jim Morrison in particular changed, progressing from a reserved stage style to his present flamboyant manner.
The Doors’ music was ardently defended by a growing segment of the Strip population, but it also just plain scared a lot of people. Eventually they were fired by the London Fog. But on the very last night of their four months at the London Fog, Ronnie Karan, the chic chick who booked talent for the Whisky aGo Go, came in to hear them.
“We were the house band at the London Fog, a pathetic little nightclub just down the street from the Whisky,” Manzarek says today. “The Whisky was mecca for us. That’s where all the big bands played. On our breaks, we’d walk down there and look in the doors and say, ‘We’re the band from down the street,’ and they’d just sort of laugh at us.”
When Ronnie Karan, the booker from the Whisky, finally caught the Doors’ act, she was impressed by Morrison’s primal stage-appeal and offered the group the house-band slot: The Doors would open for the headliners, playing two sets every night. Their very first night at the Whisky, the Doors opened for Them, culminating in both Morrisons (Van and Jim) jamming onstage to “Gloria.” Unfortunately, none of them had telephones (Morrison was then sleeping on the beach) and all they could give me was a number where John ‘sometimes’ could be reached. It took a month to contact them again, but I finally booked them into the Whiskey.” Miss Karan also helped The Doors join the Musicians’ Union, get new clothes, and organize the business side of their lives. Her tenacious insistence upon using them as more or less the Whiskey house-band, despite management objections, was the important break The Doors needed. They played second billing to everybody, including groups such as Love, Them, The Turtles, The Seeds, and the number one band in Mexico, The Loco’s. “The Loco’s were a real low point in our careers,” recalls Manzarek. “they were terrible, the kids hated them, and we were caught in the cross fire.” Exposed to a wide-ranging audience – hardened groupies to Iowa tourists – The Doors began to intensify their musical Gotterdammerung and to experiment daringly. Allegedly, the experiments often took the form of drug trips. “They all arrived stoned and started improvising at random- I don’t know what it was, but it was great!” according to one friend of the group, Morrison was so consistently high on acid during this period that he could eat sugar cubes like candy without visible effect. But, inexplicably, the music kept getting better.
At the time, the Doors had only about fifteen songs. They would throw in some James Brown and Chicago blues covers, but playing two sets a night forced the group to quite literally expand its repertoire, thus shaping the band’s sound. “Repeat and stretch,” says Manzarek. ” ‘Light My Fire’ took off into solos. ‘The End’ became the epic we know now.”
Soon the house band developed a following of its own, and the Whisky became a destination for local counterculture types. Says Manzarek, “There were these guys named Carl and Vito who had a dance troupe of gypsy freaks. They were let in for free, because they were these quintessential hippies, which was great for tourists. God knows if they were even on anything, they were so out of their minds, but they danced like crazy. And they loved ‘The End.’
“There’s a point where Morrison has a section where he can do a little improvisation, and he put his hand out to soften us down,” Manzarek says. “And for the first time, he says, ‘The killer awoke before dawn. He put his boots on.’ And one by one, the dancers all stopped and stared. When he said, ‘Father, I wanna kill you,’ we’d never heard this before, but I thought, ‘I know what’s coming next. Please don’t do it.’ “
Morrison, of course, did it. When he howled, “Mother, I want to fuck you!” the band, which had been softly accompanying his recitation, kicked into overdrive. As Manzarek recounts, “John [Densmore] whacked on his drums, I pounded on my organ, Robby [Krieger] made his guitar scream like a banshee, and all hell broke loose. The people began dancing madly. Everyone went into a Dionysian frenzy. It was Greek! Oedipus Rex had been exorcised right there on the Sunset Strip.”
The Doors left the stage thinking they’d killed, and they had. They had also offended Tanzini’s sense of propriety. He went backstage, asked Morrison, “How the fuck can you say that about your mother?” and fired the band on the spot. Krieger asked, “Do you want us to play through the weekend, or are we fired tonight?” Tanzini thought for a moment, then said, “Oh, right. You play through Sunday, then you’re fired.”
In the end, things worked out for the Doors. Two days earlier, the band had signed to Elektra Records: The L.A. rock scene would have new standard-bearers to lead the dancing gypsy freaks into the Summer of Love…
L.A. in the 60′s and All That Happened back then Obviously has Power Now like it did Then. Immediate Feedback from those who Remember it..I was just a Little Kid. Listening to the Music. Checking Out The Cars. The Movies. The People. The Girls. All The Crazy Events in the News. JFK. Space-The Astronauts, The Surf Scene. Drag Racing. It was a Powerful Time. It all came out in The Music. My Swinging 60′s Single Dad had a Triumph TR-3 sports car identical to the one above…he was probably in the Lighthouse grooving on the Jazz when this picture was taken for all I know…or maybe he was over in the Valley at Shelley’s Manne Hole, owned by Shelley Manne, of course. My Dad once punched out Jazz pianist Les McCann in one of these clubs, after McCann made a pass at my Mother from onstage. Decked him in the middle of the guy’s gig. My Dad was a Pretty Cool Cat .
Wish I had that Hemi Plymouth 2-Tone Station Wagon parked out front. The Ultimate SUV. Super Cool.Worth about $250. bucks back then. I Saw 50′s & Early 60′s Black Chevys jacked up with Flames down the sides, pinstriped to the max & Corvettes on Used Car lots for like $650.-700 bucks. Brand-New Hobie & Jacobs 8’6″surfboards were around $100. and gas was .23 cents a Gallon to run all those V-8′s. I wanted a Roth Rat Fink shirt so bad but my Dad wouldn’t let me buy one. My Dad had been in England in WWII in the AAF for 4 years fighting the Germans. Big Daddy & all the Chopper guys used to wear these plastic German Nazi helmets around & my Old Man didn’t think that was too cool at all. Can’t say that I blame him. So no Rat Fink shirt for me. They cost $1.50 in the mail-order Big Daddy ads in all the magazines. My allowance was .50 cents a week. I used to draw his style hot rods with the giant Slicks in back and Monster Freaks inside with a giant Blown Chevy Rat Motor in front belching flames & smoke out the back. So Cool..& I never stopped straight through school, college & straight into a Design career pura vida~for Better or Worse. Now I can make my own Roth shirts from digital scans and heat-press ‘em on shirts myself. I just made ‘em for all the kids around here for Christmas. They dug ‘em just like Big Daddy would have wanted. In my 20′ I met him one time when he worked at Knott’s Berry Farm in the Sign Shop. My buddy’s Dad was his boss. Ohmigod. Big Daddy. He pinstriped out the entire old school Knott’s sign shop, top to bottom, inside& out. Wonder if it’s still there, it should be a California State Cultural Landmark. That guy was & is still one of my Heroes. He was a lot Cooler than Tiger Woods or some NFL Football Geek, that’s for Damn Sure. A Cool Role Model. I was in awe of meeting him.
At the same time my Dad was going to the Lighthouse in Hermosa, Grooving to Chet Baker & Bud Shank West Coast Style, My Big Sister was very likely in the photo below at the same time..on the same night…She must be out there..looks just like Her Crew.
Meanwhile I was the Little Kid at home, shredding the Neighborhood on my Sting Ray, Skateboarding & Playing Baseball, Checking out the Mercury Astronauts and the X-15. But I Caught Up Later.
Go to the beach, Hermosa had the Lighthouse, a world-renowned Jazz Club.There were a lot of Music Sub- Cultures, reflecting on the California Culture..Jazz, Folk.Country/Western. All sub-cults of L.A. Go to the Valley and although the Postwar 50′s had brought housing tract subdivisions, many parts of the Valley still had a distinct rural Country Western Cowboy Vibe. It’s still like that if you look for it. These here folks went to The Palomino on Lankershim Blvd.
A venue that later in our story we will witness the Crossover of Country into Rock. California Rock, they called it.
In the 1940′s & 50′s L.A. had an emerging Jazz Scene that came to be known a West Coast, or ‘Cool Jazz’. The roots of Be-Bop, & West Coast Jazz derive from Swing Music, Country Swing, Country/Western, Black R& B, Blues, JumpN’Jive. The earliest Jazz L.A.Clubs were centered on Central Avenue in L.A., running into what is now Inglewood & Compton… the precursors of Rock.
Back Then Central Avenue was the center of the L.A. Music ‘Hood, Now instead of Bands playing Jazz from the doorways at night, we’ve got the 47 Hoovers & Crips Shootin’ it Up down there. But That is Another Story. Big-name Musicians from all over the U.S. played on Central Avenue. Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington. Be-Bop Greats Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie, and a guy named Louis Jordan, whose Jump N’Jive sound I associate most with The L.A. Central Avenue ‘sound’ These predominantly Black musicians infused Big-Time Jazz on the West Coast…
By the Way, All those punk-ass White kids you see wearing their little Faux Fedoras they got at The Mall & thinking they’re rocking it ?..well, The Brothers were rocking that Look Big Time on Central 60 years ago…
West Coast white players like Alto Saxophonist Art Pepper, Baritone great Gerry Mulligan and Trumpet player/Singer Chet Baker emerged from this predominantly Black Music Scene and it all blended into West Coast Cool Jazz ~
This was an altogether entirely Different Scene as to The Rock Scene that was happening at Gazzari’s, The Whiskey a Go Go, The Cheetah, Pandora’s Box, The Prison of Socrates, The Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, The Rendezvous Ballroom on the Newport Peninsula, although the True Hipsters, then as today, were moving around & checking out all of these Sub- Scenes…
Los Angeles, with Specialty Records (Little Richard) and Imperial Records (Fats Domino) based in L.A., and records like Chris Kennner’s “Land of a Thousand Dances” making their way on that pipeline to places like East L.A., where Cannnibal & the Headhunters would make it a huge hit :
This Transition from a Black-infused roots music base, filtered through a largely L.A White interpretation, with some exceptions al Latino Estilo East L.A Locales, Set The Stage for The Sunset Blvd. Rock & Psychedelic L.A. 60′s…
The Real Rock Music Scene was Really Happening at the Whisky a Go Go & Gazzari’s on the Sunset Strip. A lot of Other Bands & Musicians were in On the Act, but Winds of Change were in the Air, and L.A was About to Experience Something that Would Change The Face of Rock Forever..
Even though I was a Little Kid growing up in L.A in the 60′s, I had a Big Sister. She was 10 years older than me, a High-School Cheerleader, and one of the Most Popular Girls in School. My sister Nancy was Hip, & Pretty. (She still is). I grew up seeing all the Dance shows on T.V., like American Bandstand, Shindig & Hullaballoo. American Bandstand was the oldest one, filmed in New York with Dick Clark. Shindig & Hullaballoo were spinoffs and were filmed in L.A. So, I got firsthand, in-house Dance Lessons in the Living Room from my Sis, and all the Action in the background on T.V. I learned the Frug, The Jerk, The Twist & The Mashed Potato from her. My sister could do the Jerk Quite Well. A lot of this Action took place before the British Invasion..that is, before bands like Herman’s Hermits (they preceded …) The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who a bit later, and so on. So between 1960, when I was really small, going forward, I got an education.
It all started with really innocuous Folk Music from the Eisenhower Beatnik 50′s. People like Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul & Mary, even Early Bob Dylan, & Joan Baez were pure White Folkies. My sister listened to this crap on her record player, and The Folkies played The Troubador, The C/W artists played the Palomino Club in the Valley. Those places really didn’t become Pop venues until the very late 60′s, early 70′s. The Folkies set the stage for a whole genre of Pop Music later in California. American Bandstand had some cool East Coast acts and R&B people like Chubby Checker – “C’mon Baby, Let’s Do the Twist”! Chubby taught the whole World How to Do the Twist on that show, White People could Do the Twist, even JFK & Jackie were Doin’ It. There’s a Right Way and a Wrong Way To Do It. I saw James Brown on that show, Ike & Tina. Then The Supremes were on The Ed Sullivan Show from New York. Ed Sullivan was ‘The Reeelly Biigg Shewww’, which was how it sounded when he said it. Elvis had been on there. That Show was a Big Deal. I thought the Black Artists were Cool right from the start. They could Dance, man, they were Hip. This is all way before Motown. Watch Diana Ross from that time…Michael Jackson grew up watching her too, my same age. Watching Diana Ross back then is the Catalyst for Michael Jackson. He Stole All her Moves…I had a Big Crush on Diana Ross. She was Fine. I was 7.
L.A. Pop Radio was all AM then… KRLA & KHJ were the Cool Stations. The Coolest songs sounded the best cranked up through the crappy little speakers in Car Radios. Everybody had Cool Cars Back Then..Cool American Ones with Big Back Seats for Makin’ Out at the Drive-In with KRLA Blasting. So This was the Environment into which the L.A.Music Scene was Born. Personally, I was Making the Scene at the Drive-In in my Pajamas & Chuck Taylors. There was a playground going in front of the movie screen before it got dark. And Rock was Blasting while I shredded on the Swing Set. I was listening.
My Sister was like 17, and she was going to the L.A.Clubs. One you never read or hear about now, but was one of the Hip Clubs in L.A. back then was the Cinnamon Cinder. And Gazzari’s, and of course The Whisky a Go Go…where do Go Go Girls come from..? The Whisky. There you GoGo…
The Folkies played The Troubador, The C/W artists played the Palomino Club in the Valley. But those places really didn’t become Pop venues until the very late 60′s, early 70′s, more on those later…
Pop Music got harder sounding, edgier. Less horns & arrangements, leftover from the Big Band Sounds of the 30′s and 40′s. Rock was really taking hold. Kids were starting to Hang Out in front of the Clubs on Sunset. The Scene was Heating Up.
The Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip was founded by Elmer Valentine, Phil Tanzini, Shelly Davis, and attorney Theodore Flier in January 1964. Though the club was billed as a discothèque, suggesting that it offered only recorded music, the Whisky a Go Go opened with a live band led by Johnny Rivers and a short-skirted female DJ Rhonda Lane ,spinning records between sets from a suspended cage at the right of the stage. When, in July 1965, the DJ danced during Rivers’ set, the audience thought it was part of the act and the concept of Go-Go dancers in cages was born. The Whisky a Go Go was one of the places which popularized the Go-Go dancing. Elmer Valentine, in a 2006 Vanity Fair article, recalled arranging to have a female DJ play records between Rivers’ sets so patrons could continue dancing. But because there wasn’t enough room on the floor for a DJ booth, he had a glass-walled booth mounted high above the floor.
Around this time the British invasion began. With them came Jangling guitar riffs and Vox organs, for me the signature early British Rock sound. The earliest and one of the best British bands I remember hearing pre-Beatles, pre-Stones and the rest was Eric Burdon & The Animals. Their sound would seriously influence another band to come a year or so later, in 1966. They were a lot Dirtier & Nastier than the Beatles, a la the Stones.. more L.A. Sounding. More my Style.
In true L.A.Fashion-Musical Styles were merging, White Folk sounds with East-Coast generated Black R &B, and the British Invasion brought White Rockers like the Animals & Rolling Stones, Van Morrison & Them, emulating a Blues Sound from the Animals & The Rolling Stones. Blues bands were some of the first to play the Burgeoning L.A.Club scene around this time..and soon THE L.A. Band of the Era would emerge…L.A’s own The DOORS, were about to hit the Scene, but in my opinion The Doors were not the most original and by far not the best…
L.A. now had White Blues & Folk artists – some American, some British, some East Coast Black R&B artists like Otis Redding. Two other New distinct genres of Rock entered the L.A. Scene in the form of 2 new artists. Nearby The Sunset Strip, in a rural community in the Hills of Laurel Canyon passing between Hollywood & the San Fernando Valley, a group of musicians were singing, playing & songwriting in a distinct Folk, yet edgier Electric Rock sound, unique to California.
The second artist – from Britain, emerged on the scene. His name was Donovan Leitch, or known as Donovan. His music would have far-reaching effects on California & American Rock Music, the roots of Glam Rock.
Also a group of Rock musicians from the Bay Area and a place called Fillmore West were making their way South to L.A.
More to come…
The Legendary Movie Bandito Zorro was based on a California Legend~
El Bandito Joaquin Murrieta. Was he Real? Was he Killed as some Say? Or Did he Live On in California for Many more years after his rumoured, but not Confirmed Death in the Hills of Central California in 1853 ? This is a Story that Legends, Books, Movies are Made of..and it doesn’t get any more California than That…
Depending on a California pioneer’s point of view in the mid 19th century, Joaquin Murrieta was described by some as a Mexican Robin Hood of El Dorado ~ robbing from the Rich & Giving to the Poor, while others would say he was nothing but a Vicious Desperado ~
So many tales have grown up around Murrieta that it is hard to disentangle the fabulous from the factual. There seems to be a consensus that Anglos drove him from a rich mining claim, and that, in rapid succession, his wife was raped, his half-brother lynched, and Murrieta himself horse-whipped. He may have worked as a monte dealer for a time; then, according to whichever version one accepts, he became either a horse trader and occasional horse thief, or a bandit…
Joaquin Murrieta and Murrieta’s Well
By Andrew Ruppenstein, April 5, 2009
Inscription. The legend of Joaquin Murrieta is one of the most enduring and fascinating of chapters in California history. Facts, fiction and romantic tales entangle to create a legend of unique aura that had become part of California’s folklore, especially in the Livermore Valley where Joaquin was a frequent visitor.
In the early 1850′s Joaquin Murrieta roamed this land. Most famous as an avenging outlaw or a Robin Hood, Joaquin Murrieta and his men were above everything else horsemen, and of the best of breeds. Wild horses, abundant in those days around the Sacramento Delta, were rounded up by Joaquin and his men and driven to Sonora, Mexico, where they were sold at high prices.
One of Joaquin’s favorite camps was at this spot because he claimed the water here was the best in the country where he rode. This fountain is over the artesian well that Joaquin Murrieta favored to water his herds of wild mustangs.
Dedicated April 16, 1995 ~ Joaquin Murrieta Chapter 13 E Clampus Vitus
Erected 1995 by Joaquin Murrieta Chapter 13 of E Clampus Vitus.
Fact or Fiction ~ In True California Style the Legend of Joaquin Murrieta inspired the First SuperHero..! Before SuperMan, Hopalong Cassidy, Dick Tracy, SpiderMan, IronMan, Luke SkyWalker, Indiana Jones or even Avatar…There was Zorro..!
Zorro (Spanish for fox) is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega (originally Don Diego Vega), a nobleman and master living in the Spanish colonial era of California. Not only is he much too cunning and foxlike for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he delights in publicly humiliating those same foes.
Zorro (often called Señor or El Zorro in early stories) debuted in McCulley’s 1919 story The Curse of Capistrano, serialized in five parts in the pulp magazine All-Story Weekly. At the denouement, Zorro’s true identity is revealed to all.
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, on their honeymoon, selected the story as the inaugural picture for their new studio, United Artists, beginning the character’s cinematic tradition. The story was adapted as The Mark of Zorro in 1920, which was a success. McCulley’s story was re-released by the publisher Grosset & Dunlap under the same title, to tie in with the film.
Due to public demand fueled by the film, McCulley wrote over 60 additional Zorro stories starting in 1922. The last, The Mask of Zorro (not to be confused with the 1998 film), was published posthumously in 1959. These stories ignore Zorro’s public revelation of his identity. The black costume that modern audiences associate with the character stem from Fairbanks’ smash hit movie rather than McCulley’s original story, and McCulley’s subsequent Zorro adventures copied Fairbanks’s Zorro rather than the other way around. McCulley died in 1958, just as the Disney-produced Zorro television show was becoming phenomenally successful.
When I was a kid my Favorite T.V. Show was the Disney version of Zorro. He was much cooler than SuperMan or Batman, rode a Black Stallion & Always had a Foxy Senorita on his arm…
Zorro was also a California Homeboy…a True Swashbuckler sporting True California Style.. And as we know, in Calfornia image is Everything, Fact or Fiction…it Doesn’t Really Matter…