Friday, January 25, 2008

Obscure and lost L.A. history

ABOVE: The Haunted Castle at Beverly Park (now the Beverly Center)
BELOW: BP parking lot circa 1969-70

Lately, as I roam around the net in-between gigs waiting for the writer's to do their thing so I can finish mine...or to be more specific, I'm waitin' on liner notes from Pamela Des Barres for the The Sales Bros. album package I'm designing...and Al Jardine's Track info for his first solo album I'm doing...I've grown addicted to daily hang-outs in these blogs in particular:

Gorillas Don't Blog
Stuff From The Park
Outside The Berm
Vintage Disneyland Goodies
Knott's Berry Farm Museum

Why? Because they feature not only amazing old Disneyland stuff (from photos to souvenirs to employee handbooks) but they also serve as a time machine for places that we've lost forever here in Southern California; Marineland (below), Knott's (pre-snoopy) , P.O.P., etc...

BELOW: The late great Ralph Story did a couple of shows for KCET called "Things That Aren't Here Anymore" (can't find a link to I guess the show isn't around here anymore either!) But Ralph also did an incredible TV series from 1959-1970 called "Ralph Story's Los Angeles"

Yes, this is the man who invented Huell Howser.
The shows are over at the UCLA media department and can be viewed by the public there, but man I'd love to see these released on DVD. There's an entire episode done on the Hollywood Ranch Market that's mind-blowing...complete with 1967 Rodney Bingenheimer in a purple Nehru jacket buying a Diet-Rite soda at 3A.M. (those wierdos that come in after the rock clubs close, the check-out girl explains!)

I guess what's so hard of letting go of the past, is that being an L.A. native and an artist, I really miss the visual & creative vibe we used to have here before the city turned into what I can only describe as The Invasion of the Beige People!...I can't seem to put my finger on who is behind this movement, but they've re-painted over almost every architectural structure (that they haven't leveled) different shades of beige or brown..."tuscan" they call it, and now when you drive around the city on the main boulevards, the buildings actually feel like they're falling in on a claustrophobic forced perspective.

BELOW: Driving around Hancock Park last week I caught it happening in we see the innocent workers following orders from tuscan hour earlier, this was a perfectly groovy white Spanish-style home.
Stop the madness!
Listen, to each their own...but my own has a much wider color scheme! Our local retail shops aren't much better. Long gone are the bright colors and the red & white striped awnings that would pop out of those storefronts as a perfect foreground to the palm trees and blue skies. Also nearly extinct are those amazing and imaginative store & restaurant logos we used to see all around the city.

I gotta thank Dan Goodsell for the 60's Orange Julius logo, Dan's the king of original food packaging. It's a wierd sensation when you get home-sick while you're in your own city, and that's how I feel here lately.


jedblau said...

Mark --

Thanks for your comments on my blog and for giving me a plug on yours! I have oodles of POP stuff...the challenge is finding the time to post it all. I have some other retro LA stuff like old Lawry's stuff and a FANTASTIC brochure from Farmer's Market circa 1955/56. I'll post it at some point. The THINGS THAT AREN'T THERE ANYMORE shows used to be offered on VHS through KCET. You might check there. Best, Jed

solariscyberdeliko said...

Beautiful blog, my friend. Lots and lots of great points made. I think the so-called "tuscan" movement you mention is the esthetic equivalent of being neutered (as in: losing vitality)---which is what some semi-permanent residents seem to want, at least visually. The great city of L.A. has slowly taken the "I'm OK, you're OK" attitude (literally) to an absurd length everywhere you turn. But I love that plenty of Angelinos DO care and are making waves to preserve what's left of what originally had "life" and pazazz. Your blog is important in that way. And this is not merely waxing nostalgic--because a lot of the "old" stuff had "personality" and "modern" written on it more than our current utilitarian, almost Soviet-styled beige drabness will ever have. More pink and white striped awnings please! Stop votivo now.

Mark London said...

Thanks jedblau ,
I'd love to see your POP and L.A. stuff sometime on your blog. As for "things" I've had that on video myself for a while, I just hope other folks can still get it.

Thanks solariscyberdeliko,
I don't want to sound too bitter, and I know we gotta roll with the times, but man I'm glad there are organizations like the Los Angeles Conservancy and ModCom around here, otherwise we would have lost places like the Cinerama Dome, Capitol Records building and many more a long time ago. And yes, the beige paint must stop...jeez I made the mistake of going to Disneyland in the afternoon last month, they hit nearly every building in the park! Very sad...but on a high note, the resurrected Tomorrowland stage looks amazing!

outsidetheberm said...

Hey, we'll buy your book - in multiple copies!

We have some original Ralph Story scripts around here someplace. Will try to locate and post.

Great blog!

outsidetheberm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patrick Owsley said...

Mark -- Great post! The book cover looks great!

Mark London said...

Thanks Patrick!
~ ML ~

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know, I believe the series on KCET was called "Things That Aren't There Anymore". I scoured KCET site but found nothing. They offered the 2 part DVD set(along with "More Things That Aren't There Anymore") for a $100 pledge/membership supporting KCET when it aired, but I wonder why it is not in their storefront on the web? Anyhow, great blog and topic,Thanks!

Aeijtzsche said...

Hey Mark, I forgot about your Blog here and then suddenly remembered it.

Please do a book as you describe above. I missed the LA you knew, and I'm kind of pissed off that I did!

But I have to rely on stories and pictures.

Hope you're well,

Josh Hoisington