Archives for category: Los Angeles Locations

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Anais Nin lived in Silverlake (Los Angeles) from the early 1960s until her death in 1977 at age 73. The beautiful home, located at 2335 Hidalgo, was designed by Eric Lloyd Wright (Frank’s grandson), who was the half-brother of Rupert Pole, Nin’s then-husband. Nin led a complicated personal life that included bicoastal husbands (Hugh Guiler in New York and Rupert Pole in California). She eventually had her marriage to Pole annulled, but continued to live with him in the gorgeous house he had built just for her.

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LEAVING THE MOTEL

Poem by W.D. Snodgrass

Outside, the last kids holler
Near the pool: they’ll stay the night.
Pick up the towels; fold your collar
Out of sight.

Check: is the second bed
Unrumpled, as agreed?
Landlords have to think ahead
In case of need,

Too. Keep things straight: don’t take
The matches, the wrong keyrings–
We’ve nowhere we could keep a keepsake–
Ashtrays, combs, things

That sooner or later others
Would accidentally find.
Check: take nothing of one another’s
And leave behind

Your license number only,
Which they won’t care to trace;
We’ve paid. Still, should such things get lonely,
Leave in their vase

An aspirin to preserve
Our lilacs, the wayside flowers
We’ve gathered and must leave to serve
A few more hours;

That’s all. We can’t tell when
We’ll come back, can’t press claims,
We would no doubt have other rooms then,
Or other names.

NOTE: William DeWitt Snodgrass (1926-2009) won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1960. He is considered a leading figure — along with Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton — in the confessional school of poetry.

Photo: Built in 1946, the Olive Motel is an old-school motor court motel located at 2751 Sunset Blvd. in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles. I’ve driven past this place countless times and always figured it was abandoned — but from what I gather via Google, it’s still in business.

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In August 2010, Skylight Books in Los Feliz hosted a gala event to celebrate Charles Bukowski‘s 90th birthday. Gerald Locklin read poems, Linda Bukowski was in the audience, Pamela “Cupcakes” Wood stopped by. When the festivities started, one of the hosts read a trivia question and promised a Bukowski T-shirt to first person who called out the answer. I won the first “I’d rather be reading Bukowski” T-shirt of the night! (The winning answer was “John Fante.” The question was: Who is Skylight Books’ top-selling writer? I figured it was a trick question, considering we were all there to celebrate Buk’s birthday.)

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We used to drive around at night, we didn’t have anything else to do. We didn’t like to be in our apartment…So we drove around in the dark. We drove down Sunset and slowly through the quiet northern streets in Beverly Hills. Sometimes we parked and beamed the headlights over one lawn. Houses in Beverly Hills still amazed us. After we sat for a while, peering out trying to see movement inside the frames of fuzzy, lighted windows far back on a lawn, my mother would sigh and turn on the ignition. “Someday,” she’d say.

From Anywhere But Here by MONA SIMPSON

Photo: Soj!!, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Find more work here.

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There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”

Opening paragraph from Red Wind, novella by Raymond Chandler that first appeared in Black Mask in 1938

Photo: “Hollywood night scene looking south on Vine Street.” Dick Whittington, 1942. Courtesy of USC Archives. More information here.

Note on Photo: I’ve read that the Taft Building (sign in upper left of photo) was Raymond Chandler’s inspiration for Philip Marlowe’s office building located near Hollywood and Vine.

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Several times during the past few days, I’ve passed the above mural (situated near LaBrea and San Vincente in L.A.) and each time have nearly swerved into oncoming traffic. A photo doesn’t do the mural justice — it’s large, imposing, vivid, and stunning.

Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra created this reimagining of Mt. Rushmore in honor of Independence Day. “My intention is to provoke and delight, with bright colors, showing once again that art and democracy remain fundamental to art and life as a whole,” Kobra said when referring to the artwork.

Street art is what I love best about Los Angeles — there’s always something new and exciting around every corner to spark your imagination.

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The first book I ever picked up because I wanted to (not counting books for kids and teens) was Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which I read at age 14. Yes, Mr. Huxley ushered me into the world of literature and for that he will always be a hero and mentor.

English by birth, Huxley was in his early 40s when he moved to Los Angeles in 1937 — and lived in Southern California for the rest of his life. (He passed away on November 22, 1963, the same day as JFK.) Huxley worked briefly as a Hollywood screenwriter — with projects that included a treatment for Alice and Wonderland, which Walt Disney rejected because he “only understood every third word” (according to one Huxley biographer).

Huxley loved the lushness of California, the kitschiness of California, and the openness of California — he stopped by for a visit in 1937 and never left. Every time I drive past the Hollywood Hills, where Huxley lived  at 3276 Deronda Drive, I think of him.

Thank you, Mr. Huxley. Brave New World changed my life and made me want to become a writer.

Painting of Aldous Huxley by Scott Richard. Find more work here.

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..bison were the gift of a good spirit and were our strength…” BLACK ELK, from the book BLACK ELK SPEAKS. Find it here.

While driving on LaBrea Avenue in L.A., I saw a vacant storefront where a street artist had painted a graphic version of the Buffalo Nickel. I was at a red light and snapped the image through my windshield, telling myself I’d try to stop by again and get a good shot before the people trying to lease the building obliterated the buffalo. Often, I will drive to a meeting in the morning and see a beautiful piece of street art that’s gone when I return in the afternoon. L.A. is always in flux.

When I got home, I looked up bison and buffalo on animal totem websites and learned that they bring good fortune. If you’ve read this far, I share all my good fortune with you today. The image above is a graphic I made from the blurry image shot through my windshield. Many thanks to the artist — I think your work is beautiful.

Update, August 6, 2012: I learned that this is a wheat paste poster (not painted) and the artist’s name is Common Cents. Again, thank you! Your art made my day.

Illustration: Street art in Los Angeles, photo by Silver Birch

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Hats

poem by William Jay Smith

Round or square

Or tall or flat

People love

To wear a hat.

Taken from Laughing Time: Collected Nonsense (1980) by William Jay Smith. Find the book on Amazon here.

Photo by Silver Birch (Los Angeles)

Note on Photo: While running an errand, I spotted a grandmother and granddaughter in identical hats. I pulled over in my car and managed to fire off a fast shot. It struck me that if girls are lucky, they will have a kind grandmother to lead the way for them — and even lend them their too-large hats that they can grow into.

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All is love in fair and war. ” PEPE LE PEW, Wild Over You (1953)

My paths crossed today with that debonaire Frenchman, Pepe Le Pew. I love street art and adore Pepe — so seeing them together made my day. Merci to the artiste!

Photo by Silver Birch (street art in Los Angeles)