50 pictomat throwaways: l.a./004
August 28, 2010, 10:49 am
Filed under: 50 pictomat throwaways

throwaway no.4 / los angeles

pictomat picks right up where dah/zyne left off, with throwaway no.4 (los angeles), in the mail today. note the special stamps!


50 amazing faces: when legends collide / 50 famous fags: montgomery clift
August 28, 2010, 10:38 am
Filed under: 50 amazing faces, 50 famous fags

montgomery clift, born: omaha, nebraska (1922-1966), elizabeth taylor, born: london, england (1932)

there is something to be said for the old hollywood star system. it is rare to find two finer specimens of the human race, despite both of their idiosyncratic foibles. taylor’s respect and love for the troubled clift are the stuff legends are made of. he did relatively young, ravaged by poor self esteem, the bottle, and a little problem hollywood had about him: his homosexuality. she is still alive, much longer than we ever expected a woman with as many lives as her to live. watch them in “a place in the sun” from which this studio shot comes. listen to the clash sing their homage to him on the album london calling, titled “the right profile”.

50 self portraits
August 28, 2010, 10:29 am
Filed under: 50 self portraits

you may see this on a special stamp on the next throwaway

50 amazing faces: elsa lanchester
August 28, 2010, 10:25 am
Filed under: 50 amazing faces

elsa lanchester, actress. born: london, england (1902 – 1986), still from james whales “the bride of frankenstein”, hair by tesla!

50 grand designs: the griffith park observatory, 50 pictomat essays
August 28, 2010, 10:17 am
Filed under: 50 grand designs, 50 pictomat essays

the griffith park observatory, built 1935. archects: john c. austin and russell w. porter

not a trip is made to this city without a ritualistic and almost sacred walk to the griffith park observatory. it sits majestic, simple and sublime atop the hollywood hills, and keeps a watchful eye over this city of fallen angeles. built in 1935, it is celebrating 75 years of showing the heavens to the stars and lesser mortals. remodeled, but somehow keeping its quaintness behind a facade that is some crazy mixture that a hollywood set director could have created. neoclassic, and deco-moderne, its colorful marble floors and w.p.a. style murals still intact, it remains one of only a few buildings not subject to los angeles' continual reinvention of itself. its alcoves, like alters in a gothic cathedral, are dedicated to the earth's moon, its sun, its elemental building blocks. the same tesla coil machine that thrilled us as a child still emits its lightning bolts of electricity to the steel cage that it is encased.

once, many years ago, we got to push the button to release that clatter of white heat, now it is done on a schedule. tesla is dead, this rare relic, old and prone to shorting out, and the people with the knowledge to keep this chancy machine jolting like something from james whale's classic "the bride of frankenstein" are a rare lot. we feel little tingles of energy on the hairs on ours arms, every time a thunder of lightning is loosed, just as we did 40 years ago. what a blessed relic, this little lighthouse to the heavens. we exit precisely at dusk, where we still hear lucinda williams sing about her "red suns" and watch tonight's red sun sink into the hills above the ocean covered in haze at malibu.

we walk down the mountains, the Hollywood sign above us, the front doors of the observatory behind us, where sal minio was gunned down by the cops while james dean and natalie wood stand helplessly at the end of "rebel without a cause". further down the hill we pass all the elderly california girls, who are hopelessly tan, and sluttishly dressed. they still "just wanna have fun" and are filing into the once famous outdoor venue in griffith park, the greek theater, that now feels more like an indian gambling casino. the distinctive voice of the new yorker, cyndi lauper, though muffled in its little canyon, urges those california girls to do what they have always done, but to "keep having fun" seems redundant. it has been decades since brian wilson and his brothers started writing songs about those girl and their cars. oh, l.a. you city of too tanned bodies and too many cars.

we remembered, as we hopped up the stairs, almost back to our l.a. home, a father talking to his son at a display in the observatory, as the son alternately hit buttons that lit up elements that were present in humans and then stars. "see" his dad said, "you are made up of carbon, just like a star." we finished up the last few steps as joni mitchell filled our head again ... "you are stardust, you are golden, you are million year old carbon, you are caught in the devil's bargain, and you've got to get yourself back to the garden." it seems as if it was some ancient poem now. pop songs are no longer written like prayers today.

[our pictomat font is malfunctioning on non-apple products. excuse our inconsistency.]

50 pictomat essays: fear and loathing in l.a.
August 28, 2010, 9:46 am
Filed under: 50 pictomat essays

the ennis-brown house interior in ridley scott’s dystopic view of a future los angeles

there is a surreal disconnect in Los angeles between the city as is portrayed on television, which is, we believe is its most trusted version of itself, and the city that one can physically walk through. that is, of course, if anybody besides us actually walks. it is a city seen through t.v.s and cars and therein lies its skittish vision of itself. yesterday it was all weather, all the time. the 10:00, 11:00, … news had us continually anticipating a morbid heat wave, dangerously high surf at malibu, and flooding in the surrounding mountains. there is no relief from this deluge of impending doom. the result? nothing more than a slightly warmish night. today it was murder central. a man’s wife who hasn’t, it turns out today, been seen for three months, is suddenly missing, her husband is missing, too, but only since yesterday, when the police named him “a person of interest.”

living on the fault line does not bring out the most optimistic sentiments in a city that is in a perpetual state of sliding into the red sunset of the pacific ocean. that an ocean with such a southing sound should lap against such an angst ridden population is a sad thing to a oft returning visitor, such as ourself.

we walk. we look at the cozy bungalows. one on this block was built when walt disney’s “snow white” was first released. it has seven apartments, a thatched roof, and scattered round windows, the type little dwarves would stare out of, it they weren’t watching the 10:00a.m. news and making sure their security doors are double locked. we walk on by the lush plantings of tropical and colorful vegetation.

if we lived here, and we feel as if we very well could,we would turn off the news forever and an eternity and read rather judiciously. that means staying clear of raymond chandler’s pulp fiction of the 1940’s, because even then, when los angeles was at the very end of manifest destiny’s long march across the continent, the women in his novels like “the long goodbye” would get uneasy on hot summer nights when the warm santa anna’s swooped down the canyons. those wives would start fingering petite pearl handled guns they kept in their purses, and begin looking at their sleeping husband’s temples. perhaps there is nothing that can change the edgy temperament of this city.

it has been in a state of dystopia for quite some time.

[our pictomat font is malfunctioning on non-apple products. excuse our inconsistencies.]

50 grand designs: the ennis-brown house
August 28, 2010, 9:23 am
Filed under: 50 grand designs

the ennis-brown house (built 1924), architect: frank lloyd wright. born: richland center, wisconsin (1867 – 1959)

poor, poor frank lloyd wright, particularly when it comes to his houses built in los angeles. he was in l.a. intermittently while overseeing construction of the imperial hotel in tokyo. in l.a. he created a new sort of home built of concrete blocks. the ennis-brown house is probably the most impressive, but also the home in biggest trouble. l.a. has never been a city to consider its past. the future, the next movie, the next deal is what this zippy city is all about.

the ennis-brown house is crumbling. it is not entirely due to wright’s sometimes inventive construction techniques. the house here uses cinder block construction. not a bad idea, but when the blocks age, or are ravaged by earthquakes, they crack, and expose the iron rebar which rusts and … the rest is not a pretty sight and expensive to repair. in usual housing markets and especially in l.a. where people can afford these things, this house had managed to stay intact. that is until now. it was on the block, so to speak, for 15 million, today’s paper reports it’s down to 7, and still no takers.

the new ruling class wants open designs, loft like spaces, not the low cozy, embellished work of the once maestro of american architecture. who knows what will happen?

the last time we lazied by the place that looms over the city in the hollywood hills above vermont boulevard it was in sorry shape. another of his l.a. cinder block houses in somewhat better shape has interested buyers. they are japanese, and if they buy, they might cart it back block by friggin’ block to tokyo. by the way, wright’s imperial hotel in tokyo, survived a devastating earthquake there, only to be torn down later.

you can see the ennis-brown house in various movies, most notably “blade runner”. its interiors are used as harrison ford’s apartment.