Monday, June 30, 2008

un film de jacques demy

Spent this weekend hanging out at my beloved little Aero Theatre on Montana, for their Jacques Demy film tribute. Jacques was a french filmmaker who had a great admiration for Hollywood musicals. His films, to quite Wikipedia, "created a self-contained fantasy world closer to that of Fran├žois Truffaut, drawing on musicals, fairy tales and the golden age of Hollywood".

The series showed his major films in inverse order. It opened with "Model Shop", his only American Film. Shot on location on the Sunset Strip in 1969, it is a visual love letter to Los Angeles wrapped around a slightly sordid story- a man who becomes obsessed with a girl he meets in a photography modelling studio.

The second film was a musical, in the traditional Hollywood style. "The Young Girls Of Rochefort". It is about three would-be couples and the series of choreographed near-misses that keep them from meeting. Starring Catherine Deneuve and her real life sister Francoise Dorelac, as twin sisters, it is a very fun film- full of infused color and Michel Le Grand music.

The series culminated on Saturday with "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg", his most famous film. Not so much a musical as an operetta, there is no spoken dialogue. The entire story is told in song, and set to Demy's super infused color background- vibrant reds, intense blues, greens, and pinks belie the ordinary aspect of the story.

It's a typical tale- ordinary mechanic boy meets ordinary umbrella clerk girl. Boy meets girl, boy knocks girl up, boy goes off to war, girl marries a wealthy guy, boy comes home, buys an Esso gas station, marries Godmother's hottie caretaker, and their paths never cross again, until this bittersweet last scene- exquisite in its message about how life moves on. Take a look:

All in all, excellent weekend and timely message for yours truly.

Life moves on.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

sunday drive: arizona avenue

Only in Santa Monica does Texas touch Arizona. Texas Avenue becomes Arizona Avenue at Centinela, and continues due West to the Ocean.

It's a secondary path- halfway situated between Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, quite narrow and totally residential on the eastern edge, the intertwined cottages and older apartment buildings live in harmony. The street widens as it crosses twenty sixth street, and then the usage becomes much more blended with office buildings, medical centers, the fire station and a faux Tudor funeral parlor. There is art nouveau, deco, streamline moderne, and mid century modernism along its path, with a few postmodern structures downtown thrown in for contrast.

It finally terminates at Ocean Avenue, with a view of the ocean and the glamorous Shangri La Hotel, in the midst of restoration. For your amusement, Arizona Avenue, glimpses of buildings and signage old and new:

More Photos Here

Saturday, June 28, 2008

pink moon

The big culmination of pride month is this weekend, with major celebrations in New York and San Francisco. It should be an exciting time, especially in California with the recent Supreme Court Decision legalizing gay marriage.

It's Pink Saturday in San Francisco, but work obligations keep me tethered in place. I'm betting there are lots of pink grooms on the streets tonight.

As my long distance dedication to both cities, and to friends everywhere on this special day, here is Nick Drake with his exquisite Pink Moon. I'm hoping it shines brightly on all of you tomorrow.

We are here. And we have a right to be here. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I spent Monday on the set of a new film being produced by my good friend Ken. It's a period comedy about the exploits of fertilizer salesmen in Kansas in the early 1960's. Once one is beyond the obvious jokes, it's actually a very funny script and I think it will be a winner, albeit an off-beat one.

Got the grand tour- prop rooms, art department, carpenters shop, and three big sound stages. In the art department, artisans were carefully replicating cow dung. On one stage, a vintage diner was being constructed. The other stage was a Kansas field, complete with live grass and trees, and for the sake of authenticity, cattle. LIVE cattle.

This is where it got a bit humorous. The cattle, being somewhat nervous, contributed very authentic cow dung while being unloaded from the trailer. One cow slipped and knocked a second cow down as well. So these animals had to be righted and led onto the set where they...well, grazed. The crew removed the authentic dung with a shovel and placed the simulated dung on set instead.

The Assistant Director, possibly not used to the reality of livestock, grew very frustrated with the wandering grazing herd and had a heated discussion with the animal handler, who calmly explained that these are not trained animals, they're just cows and cows will tend to graze when placed on a field of fluffy grass. It's kinda what they do.

At that point, the AD yelled at the handler, "Well, I want you to take these cows away and bring me different cows", adding "I never want to see these cows again"!

It was a Joan Crawford scene from the set of Dorothy Gale's Kansas. The animal handled loaded the now blacklisted cows back into the trailer, and prepared to go retrieve some different ones.

One thought- They all look alike- how will he know?

Monday, June 23, 2008

dwight walk

The years I spent with Chris were, in all candor, among the best years of my life. My little straw blond Texan with the big blue eyes and the brightest smile this side of Dallas. Mad about design, mid century architecture, and cars of the 70's, we connected on many levels. On our first date we ended up back at his place, reading the 1973 Sears catalog and admiring the Harvest Gold, Poppy Red and Avocado appliances. You get the idea.

We brought new things to each other. I taught him a lot about automobiles, how to find them and how to restore them. He introduced me to a his favorite architect Bruce Goff. I taught him about Case Study Houses. He taught me to appreciate postmodern deconstructionism. And he made me into a Dwight Yoakam fan.

My favorite vocalists are almost always female. I do truly seem to prefer their voices to those of men. But there are exceptions. I had a Dwight album before I met him, but I wasn't a devotee. Chris had every syllable that Dwight had ever recorded. It was the soundtrack to our first summer together.

We saw Dwight in concert at the House of Blues in December 2001 as part of my Christmas gift to him. He was touring "Tomorrow's Sounds Today", and opened with this song. Take a look at the video- dancing on Bertoia wire chairs, with Lava Lamps and Egg Televisions in the background, a lucite suspended womb chair and George Nelson ellpitical lamps overhead. It's Bakersfield A Go-Go, and its a Polaroid of Chris and I. Portrait of the writer at his happiest moment. And I love that sexy little side step dwight walk.....don't you?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

oh so quiet

It's a scene out of a musical- walking through Union square, and suddenly strangers begin to dance and sing- one voice at first, and soon a chorus line appears out of seemingly nowhere.

Only it's not a movie, it's a San Francisco based performance art group calling them selves "Public Displays of Musical Affection". The Video itself is called 1...2...3:45 6/7/8. Uploaded by Billy Green who was clearly deeply involved in the project. Kudos to all who took part.

A long distance dedication for a friend to whom this pertains...

Don't you love it when the world bursts into song?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

hollywood hills

I spent this evening at a very glamorous surprise birthday party in the Hollywood Hills for my friend John. There was a line of Jaguars valet-parked in front of his painstakingly restored mid-century ranch home, the kind that tumbles down a hillside in a section of Hollywoodland insiders refer to as the "Swish Alps".

The crowd was eclectic and fun. Producers, designers, TV stars of the seventies, and a sprinkling of bohemian Hollywood neighbors to add charm to the mix. But hot -stiflingly hot. Almost brush fire hot.

I relaxed at the portable wonder of a bar which only hours ago had been a pool deck and sipped diet tonic. When the heat began to get to me, I climbed the staircase to the driveway to catch a breeze. At that exact moment, my straight ex-boyfriend was pulling up with his new wife of six days. I attempted not to notice but that was for naught. He greeted me tentatively. I said hello to him and gave her a hug. Him I prefer not to touch.

As they descended the stairway I looked up the hillside at a spectacular polished glass box- a cantilevered mid-century home lit up with a series of George Nelson pendant lamps- it was gleaming white and spectacular against the night sky. It represented the promise of what I expected when I moved to Los Angeles all those years ago. I contemplated the revised guest list and walked to my car.

I'm trying to capture my mood. The best representation, filmed in Hollywood only blocks from the party locale, comes from the eclectic Dwight Yoakum. He clearly has the cutest butt of the entire Bakersfield Sound.

Have a listen:

Will the pain ever dissipate?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

dark side

Here's the dark side of the legalization of gay marriage in California, hilariously presented by Jeffery Self and Cole: Sent to me by James. Take a look:

Um, I think I'll stay single.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

au revoir cyd

Sad news today in Los Angeles as we learned of the passing of the very lovely and gracious Cyd Charisse. Born Tula Ellis Finklea in Amarillo, she came to California to reinvent herself as so many do. And she invented something very special.

A very talented and artistic dancer, she added elegance and poise to the many films in which she appeared. Most usually paired with Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly, but not exclusively.

She starred in my favorite B-Musical about Las Vegas, 1956's "Meet Me in Las Vegas", as the love interest of Dan Dailey. It's one of those fabulous glamour films of the 50's with great sets and amazing costume and no discernible script whatsoever. Dan appeared in the opening scene pulling under the Porte Cochere of the Sands Hotel with a brand new red 1956 Lincoln Premiere convertible and matching horse trailer. Yes, horse trailer.

Here she is dancing to a mid-century adaptation of "Frankie and Johnny" with John Brascia. Sammy Davis Jr. narrates. It's rat pack heaven:

Rest in Peace to a fine lady in every sense of the word.

Monday, June 16, 2008

sunday drive: charles and ray eames house

A treasure, nothing less.

Charles and Ray Eames are heroes of mine and probably the most important and influential duo in mid century design. Their partnership touched many different aspects of design- from design to furniture to art and the graphic arts, plus film and architecture. They created the Eames Chair, the Mathematics Exhibit for IBM at the 1964 New York World's Fair, the movie "Powers of Ten" and this amazing polished glass box house, nestled alongside a meadow at 203 Chautauqua in the Palisades.

The house was designed as part of John Entenza's Arts and Architecture Magazine Case Study Homes Project. It is designated as CSH No. 8. Incidentally, Entenza's own house, CSH No. 9, was across the street at 205. The house was designed to be built out of prefabricated, readily available materials. Originally envisioned to stretch across the meadow to maximize the view, the Eames later redesigned the structure to lay more discreetly along the edge of the property so as not to disturb the gentle meadow. A national treasure.

Photos by the author June 21, 2003, as part of an Eames Office Tour lead by Lucia Eames (daughter of Charles) and her son Eames Demetrios, who is the head of the Eames Office located here in Santa Monica.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

up the avenue

Morning did arrive, as was reliably predicted. I was actually asleep so it got here on its own, but I am nonetheless grateful for the visit. Not just any morning, but Father's Day.

Because I've never really gotten down the concept of the correct Father's Day gift- he doesn't wear ties and I can't see sending him flowers, I'll do it here instead.

One thing Dad instilled in me was his love of music and the musical theatre. He was the guy who turned me on to June Christy and Judy Garland. Holidays at our house invariably involved the screening of a musical. Perhaps one day we should talk about that.

So For Dad, on Father's Day, his very favorite scene from his favorite musical.

Take it away, Judy (and Fred):

Saturday, June 14, 2008

best man

As if this week hadn't been stressful enough, my General Manager came into my office and announced, "Your boy's getting married today".

He was referring, of course, to my straight ex-boyfriend, the one whose abrupt decommissioning I have previously reported. The one who openly adored me, more than anyone I ever encountered. The one who held my hand in public. THAT one. Getting married. To a female. I knew the wedding was coming, but in all honesty, would have preferred to have learned of the date after the fact.

Jeremy and his partner John were invited. I, whom he said did more for him than almost anyone else in his life, I who introduced them all to each other, was not. I'm okay with that, it is truly kinder this way, although part of me would have have loved the moment of extreme discomfort when the Minister proclaimed "If anyone here has reason why these two should not be legally joined...".

I can dream, can't I?

Interesting mood. Eighteen months and I'm 99% better, but not completely over it. Just beginning to conceptualize the notion of casual dating sometime in the short term. And paying homage to Casey Kasum, looking for the perfect long distance dedication. So here is my video greeting, featuring great mid century ranch homes, the lovely and talented Dinah Shore, and a selection of 1959 Chevrolets. It wouldn't be a wedding without em.

Take a look (pay attention around 1:07)

I always cry at weddings.

Friday, June 13, 2008

sleepness night

Well, there is no doubt that it's been a stressful week for me, and here I am awake and up with you.

It is a good thing or a bad thing when your exact mood can be expressed by a Go Go's song?

At least its a rare release, a bonus track on the European Market Version of "God Bless The Go-Go's".

Which is exactly what I was just saying to myself.

Good Night, All

Thursday, June 12, 2008

worlds away

Here is a digital revelation- the blogosphere allows us the unique opportunity to mourn people we never actually met.

Last Sunday was LA Pride. I arrived somewhat early. While waiting to meet up with friends for a pre-pride brunch, I was leafing through a local publication and found myself staring at the picture of a fellow blogger. It was a memorial ad.

We lived in the same general area, but I can't say I knew him. I read his blog and his comments, and exchanged infrequent emails. Does that constitute knowing someone in the digital age?

I know that he entered this life in a month when the first Gemini 1 spacecraft was successfully launched, the same month that also brought us Russell Crowe and Andy Bell. I know that his birth coincided with the release of an album called "The Rolling Stones", and that the following day saw the unveiling of the Mustang.

The New York World's Fair was open to an enthusiastic public before he was a week old. It was a time of unmatched optimism and postwar prosperity. The Good Life, it was called. The American Dream. Did he realize his dreams?

I know he was out in high school, which was pretty cutting edge for the early 80's. How difficult was that? I know he went on to college and then a successful career where he was highly visible in the gay community. Was it rewarding?

I know he survived the loss of a partner in the 90's and went on to find another loving relationship. Did he heal?

To have someone so close by, but not really know them. Worlds away, as it were. Is the Internet analogy merely an allegory for the truth of our everyday lives- that we can touch someone every day and not really know them either?

I don't know what happened to him, I only know he's no longer there. And I know that I feel a sense of loss. Our village, digital as it may be, has lost a voice.

For him, a prayer for peace. For us remaining, a wish for solace.

This song has been so on my mind today- Simon and Garfunkel, from the Concert in the Park

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

marry go round

Charming news, according to the San Francisco Gate. In order to save California from the untold harm of gay marriage, two level headed counties have decided to stop all marriages. Take a read:

County officials in at least two California counties say they'll stop performing all wedding ceremonies by next week, arguing that they don't have enough resources to marry both gay and straight couples.

Officials in Kern and Butte counties cited budget and staffing constraints as the rationale for halting the ceremonies. But clerks in other counties say that claim is specious. Some activists went further, arguing that the decision to stop the ceremonies amounts to poorly disguised discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.

County clerks are required by law to issue marriage licenses, but the offices do not have to perform wedding ceremonies. The recent state Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriages takes effect after the business day on Monday.

In Kern County, Clerk Ann Barnett announced her decision only after county lawyers told her she could not refuse to marry gay couples. Butte County Clerk Candace Grubb, meanwhile, blamed budget constraints, telling the Chico Enterprise-Record that her decision was made long before the court ruling.


Email Ann

Email Candace

Personally, I'm sorry to hear that straight couples will be unable to marry in those two counties. They will see about one perecent of the discrimination that we have dealt with our entire lives. And perhaps others will see how totally rididculous it is- as Mildred Loving said in 1967, the state can't tell a person who they can marry.

Complete Article Here

Saturday, June 7, 2008

finest hour

Magnificent. Poised, confident, determined, compassionate, real and genuine.

She reminds us all what Democrats stand for, and how absolutely vital it is that we stand together. She has done an exquisite job of reminding us who we are and how badly America needs us. She would have made one heck of a Commander in Chief.

I think this is perhaps her finest hour.

Awesome job, Hillary- you rock!

Friday, June 6, 2008

lone voice

"I do not run for the Presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I'm obliged to do all I can."

"Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital, quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change."

"Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation ... It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

-RFK. November 20, 1925- June 6, 1968. Rest In Peace.

What a shocking contrast to the incumbent administration. Are we still on the same planet?

On the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of a courageous voice for justice and tolerance, there has never been a time when we needed change more desperately.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

kissin cousins

From our friends at, a great commercial reminding you that its awfully hard to tell them apart. Which one wore the plaid dress? Which one started the hundred year war? Heavens to Brooklyn (Heights), its not so easy to discern.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

light reading

Dora snagged me on the nearest book meme. You probably know the one, it goes like this:

1.Pick up the nearest book.
2.Open to page 123.
3.Locate the fifth sentence.
4.Post the next three sentences on your blog and in so doing...
5.Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged me.

Here we go. Because everything in my house except the cat is vintage (and she's no kitten herself), the closest book is the 1966 fiction sensation Valley of the Dolls, by Jacqueline Susann.

Page 123 reads as follows:

"But we both agreed that a Broadway show would get us a picture deal."

"Picture deal!" This was Henry. "God, that kind of thinking went out with Ruby Keeler movies".

Okay so there was an extra sentence. I knew y'all wouldn't want to be left hanging.

Since I tagged many of you last week, I'll leave this as an open challenge. Although I especially would like to see what Lynette , Miss Janey, and Citizen Jane would come up with. Oh, and Tank. Don't forget da Tank. But its optional, guys.

You can now return to regular programming.

Monday, June 2, 2008

evening orchid

I have always said that the right car in the wrong color is the wrong car. No beige 1959 Cadillacs for me, thank you.

A lady named Emily in the store last week casually mentioned that she was selling her 1965 Corvair that she had owned for 25 years. "What color", I asked, which is always my first question when someone tells me about a car. "It's called Evening Orchid", she replied. "It's kind of a lilac".

Evening Orchid- I'm quite familiar with the color. Less than one per cent of 1965 Chevrolets were painted in this color, which is an amazing pale lavender metallic. In this drab era of silver and black transportation appliances, it stands out. I've always wanted an Evening Orchid Chevrolet, whether it be a Chevy II or an Impala.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the color is applied to a sexy second-generation Monza sport coupe with the 110hp engine, four speed manual transmission, and original California black plates. She was the second owner, having purchased it out of Lawndale via a newspaper ad all those years ago. Complete with a file of over twenty years of service records, and a spare set of carburetors. It runs quite happily through the gears. Here are pictures from our first morning, under the Jacaranda trees.

No name yet, anyone care to suggest one?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

sunday drive: main and colorado

I had to renew my parking permit this week. Innocuous enough, but it meant I had to go to down to the City of Santa Monica. I mistakenly started at the new Police and Fire building on Olympic, where a nice officer (in a very nice fitting blue uniform) directed me to City Hall- "It's the old building just behind us". And indeed it was- a magnificent, virtually untouched, late Art Deco example from 1938. It's the creation of Architect Donald Parkinson and features terrazo mosaics by Stanton MacDonald-Wright. Fluted trim, sculptured window detail, brass doors, amazing zig-zag glazed tile, it's just breathtaking to behold.

It's nestled between Maurice Fleishman's 1956 Santa Monica County Building (with and deeply recessed window detail and zig-zag patterned walls!) and a magnificent 1947 Streamline Moderne Sears Department Store with intact original signage. Only the exterior windows have been replaced. Note the intersection of curved soffits and crisp angular walls. It's the creation of local architect Rowland Crawford. And behind, a slightly newer (circa 1950) Sears Auto Center in International Style.

It's a treasure trove of architectural evolution all intact for your enjoyment. And they're all adjacent- these photos were all taken on foot.

For Lynette, who loves Deco as much as I do. Take a look:

More photos here