This was my ‘rush day’; the objective was to visit some old haunts and take some pictures for research for my new/old book Space Age Ash Tray and general digital scrapbook uses.
The ‘haunts’ I wanted to visit and update myself with where large parts of Westchester, Playa Del Rey, Venice Beach and my old hometown of Santa Monica. However, when I headed out, I felt I was rushing myself too much and shit canned the original idea of starting off in Westchester and instead, took the Santa Monica Blue Bus no. 8 to my old neighborhood section in S.M.
I had originally planned to stop by Amoeba Records after my little Space Age invasion, but my aunt then bravely offered to take me there on the next day as only she had to take care of her apartments in that area. Thanks to this, I had some additional time today. After an early breakfast of corn beef hash and eggs, courtesy of my aunt’s other housemate, I headed off to the Ocean Park section of S. M. where I grew up in.
It was just after 9:30 am when I arrived in this area and I’m glad to say that this area hadn’t changed much in 25 years, which was good enough for me. For the next 90 minutes, old footprints were traced and updated: the old apartment building where my grandma managed until the late 70’s that had recently painted blue (hey, better pepto bizmo puke pink), a couple of tiki apartments that remained intact (pretty damned rare), the old Frontier Park which was renamed the Joslyn Park and a corner of Main Street where Xanadu was filmed were the more notable highlights.
Fast approaching 11 am and I noticed the Tommy’s Chiliburger on the corner of Pico and Lincoln Blvd. As much I loved the idea to grab a dangerous bit o’ eat there, I didn’t feel like being groggy for the rest of the day, so I passed it up and took the number 3 to Westchester.
For the LA novice, this is the point you might be bored to freakin’ death (if not now), as this suburban area is just a small uncorporated dot JUST above LAX. However, having grown up in the isolated paranoid island called El Segundo and small parts of the South Bay, Westchester and it’s collection of stores and shops was Las Vegas to us younger Segundo residence.
Another round of urban archeology highlights: my old work from the mid-90’s (Westchester Fair antique mall) was now prepped for a future Halloween City property, managed to take some pictures of the inside of the Paradise Building (formally Paradise Theatre, of course) where they had framed pictures of it’s former life and a bowling pin from the former bowling alley that was once a part of the theatre and snuck into the other former movie palace/now office building, The Loyola, which looked like the same hatchet job they did to the Paradise…only with brighter paint.
I made a pit stop at the other haunt, Soundsations Records, for a ‘look-see’ and ended up spending too much time there and left with an Earth Wind & Fire album to fill out my EWF collection.
On to Playa Del Rey….on foot. What path I took and freakin’ WHY?! In the crowded landscape that is LA, Westchester Parkway is a unique little piece of concrete and tar. It’s a street that borders the northern portion of LAX and, well, pretty much the rest of LA itself. The notable part is that it’s a full boulevard size with not buildings on either side, just a sidewalk, street lights, trees and, a fairly recent addition, TSA’s “hidden” cameras. If you’re into Edward Hopper surroundings, this street should be on top of your moody scenery list.
…and that was me, strolling my way down the Parkway to Playa Del Rey and it’s collection of old buildings. Once I arrived, I reached another Zen-like pleatu. When I lived here, I’d go to these “collections” regularly and felt calm and a feeling I entered into another world. WHY? I can hardly describe that either. An artist named Clive Perry once claimed in his photo book of mid-century apartments and it’s ‘dingbats’ that he searched out areas like this and felt an exaltation and returns often to check up with “these old friends of mine”. Leave it to the Brits to articulate about our culture much better than us lazy Americans.
A lot of my “old friends” where still there, cleaned up and in one piece. I think any highlights of this leg will be even more excruciatingly boring so I’ll stop here….well, maybe one….
There’s an apartment building called Marina on Manchester Blvd. that, to this very day, remains intact and straight from the 1960’s!!!! It’s a block white building that colored by large squares of bright colors and pop art shapes for balconies. The only change this building went through was the removal of the hip fountain on the front.
I’ve taken many many pictures of this place for years and I can’t stop! The place is truly amazing. Many years ago, the landlord was having an open house of the largest apartment. I almost fainted when she showed it to me. As I bullshitted my way through this tour (yea, as if I could afford the rent!?!), my jaw dropped with the designed touches everywhere…totally 1960’s! I can hardly describe the large bulb….cocoon?…X-mas ordainments hanging above the stair case that lead to the second level. Even the fireplace was straight out of a Playboy bachelor pad!
This time, they had a small one bedroom spot near the back that was up for grabs and I checked it out. Even with the small shoeboxed apartments shoved to the back, this place had extravagance to spare!!...including the snazzy open fireplace that fashionably separated the kitchen and front room! I never in my life gauged over a damned fireplace and many pictures were taken if THAT, too. I’m surprised that none of the Marina residents didn’t call the cops on me.
It was a long walk down Manchester to Lincoln Blvd. for the Santa Monica Blue Bus number 3 towards Washington Blvd. and then the Culver City Green 3 to the traffic circle in Venice Beach.
The epoch of my Urban Zen peaked right about here! Venice Beach! It was a Thursday and, yet, it looked like a typical summer weekday. So much to catch up, check out and basically watch humanity roller skate (yup, they still do that here), skateboard and prance like a proud peacock. The only piece that where missing was some of the performers and artists I personally knew like O, Janor Hypercleats and Barry ‘The Lion’ Gordon. Well, I wasn’t going to let such anal retentiveness cloud this visit.
As I had a couple of Tiger Milk energy bars back at the Trader Joe’s in Westchester, I was getting hungry for actual food, so I pushed my luck with a piece of pizza at Big Daddy’s. A few steps and pictures down the road, I bumped into the intersection of the Boardwalk and Dudley St. where they filmed Xanadu….yes, again with the movie. This time, they took a picture of Dudley and superimposed the Muse mural over it….and yes, I took yet another damned picture of THAT, too.
Straight down the Boardwalk and along the beach, I finally reached the Santa Monica Pier and in time for one of their Twilight Concert shows. The last time I saw one was well over 11 years ago; it was a legendary funk line up of The Brother Johnson opening for Shuggie Otis. The Johnsons opened big and forced everybody to funk out big time. Unfortunately, Shuggie killed what party atmosphere the Brothers wrathed upon the audience. The first song was off great but then he spent almost 35 minuets tuning his guitar. It’s little sad wonder that the poor guy turned into a recluse since the late 70’s.
This time, I hadn’t worry about such details as the band was playing overly-echoed reggae; strike one and two. What were the band’s name? I didn’t know. Strike three and moving on…
….down to Parisades Park. By this time, there was a beautiful sunset and all the local sunset fans were out watching it drop. That seemed not a bad habit to have and I ended up joining them. Then I looked to my right and was reminded of the park’s many points of interest….Xanadu was filmed here, too.
After an hour of living through the horror that is the Third Street Promenade, I made it to the bus stop to jump on the number 8 back to my aunts house and to fall apart on the bed.
Onward to day three…..