Friday, February 28, 2014
Last weekend was Dapper Day at Disneyland. We dressed up again and joined the hundreds of people all decked out in their finest. Our favorite "histo-tainer" Charles Phoenix showed slides of the park from the 1950s/60s—always fun—plus, for the first time, there was a fashion boutique, where I bought a stylish chapeau (ca. 1950s) to cover my hair. As you can see by the video below, a wonderful time was had by all! But, damn, how did mid-century women walk around in those petticoats all day?
Randomland (a fun video series about "hidden" Disneyland)
at Dapper Day
Full view of dress and sans hat
Next Dapper Day is September 12. See you there!
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Some of the palms in Palm Springs
We don't go every year, but we couldn't resist this time around. We toured the area's most famous homes and buildings, attended a "jet set" fashion show, visited friends, ogled the prints in our fave artist Shag's gallery, saw a vintage car show, and ate breakfast at our favorite restaurants, Sherman's and Lulu. We also had dinner at the trendy Trio, which we loved. And all this over an extended President's Day weekend. Aren't we lucky that Palm Springs is only two hours from L.A.?
The Double-Decker Bus Tour
Taking photos from the back of the bus
Richard Neutra's Kaufmann house—the most
famous home in Palm Springs
Former home of Dinah Shore, rumored to be in
escrow for Leonardo DiCaprio
Liberace's final home, currently being renovated
into a boutique hotel
Mid-century modern home designed and landscaped
by Palm Springs architect William Krisel
Outdoor dining at Lulu
Welwood Murray library, being remodeled into a
downtown visitor's center
1961 bank building designed by E. Stewart Williams
Jet-Set Fashion Show
Vintage Car Show
Edsel wagon taillight
Tim admiring a woody station wagon
More fabulous tailfins
Postwar camper and BBQ
Krisel Homes Tour
Monday, February 10, 2014
The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show (1964)
The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time 50 years ago last night. I’ve seen the footage many, many times since then, but can’t honesty say I remember watching the show that night, though I know we saw it and distinctly remember watching the Beatles every other time they appeared on Ed Sullivan. Nevertheless, I do vividly remember my 5th-grade classmates’ reactions the next day. We all immediately became Beatles fans—so much so that, a few weeks later, the Easter bunny brought me my first Beatles album, Meet the Beatles. Thus began a lifelong love of the Beatles and rock-n-roll. I was ten years old.
My first Beatles album, which I, of course,
Back of the album, where you can see "Easter '64"
handwritten in lefthand corner
The Grammys and CBS celebrated the Beatles' historic 50-year anniversary by hosting a tribute concert, “The Night That Changed America,” which aired on TV last night, but really happened at the L.A. convention center a couple of weeks ago. Tim tried to use his contacts to get us tickets, but to no avail. And now we know why: the audience was packed with celebrities, including former Beatles Paul and Ringo and their wives, plus the families of John and George.
I’m not a big fan of other people covering Beatles songs, but last night’s televised concert was great with most of the performers staying very true to the Beatles’ own arrangements. I was especially moved by Katy Perry’s version of “Yesterday” and loved Joe Walsh on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The highlight, though, was when Paul, singing the preamble to the Sgt. Pepper’s album, introduced “Billy Shears” and here came Ringo to sing “With a Little Help From My Friends” (yay!). I wish we could have seen it live. But TV was almost as good . . . just as it was 50 years ago.
Ringo remembers coming to America
Monday, February 03, 2014
UA Theatre neon sign
Although the phrase “Broadway theater district” usually evokes NYC's “great white way,” L.A. also has its own once-famous theater district. In fact, downtown Los Angeles is actually home to the largest concentration of "movie palaces” in the world and they’re all located along South Broadway, between Third and Ninth Streets. Most are in various stages of disrepair; but some are slowly being renovated to reflect their magnificent past glory. The newly refurbished United Artists Theatre opened to the public for the first time on Saturday and we were there to see it.
Built by the United Artists (UA) movie studio in the late 1920s, the theater showed films for many decades, until it was abandoned by UA and eventually became a church. Today, it anchors the tres hip—and high-end—Ace Hotel, which occupies the floors above the theater as well as the former office building next door. Unlike the streamline-moderne Ace, the restored UA theater is almost gaudy in its opulent “Spanish Gothic” architecture. Still, we loved it and, as you can see below, went crazy taking pictures (click on images to enlarge).
New marquee, looking up from the sidewalk
Ornate spires at the top
Outer lobby ceiling
Outer lobby staircase bannister
Ceiling border and top of mezzanine opening
Reflection in outer lobby mirror
Malibu tiles decorate the basement floor
outside the ladies room
Enormous oval ceiling fixture illuminating
the theater's interior
Balcony murals and ornamentation
Ace Hotel exterior
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Outside the beautiful new Fabulous Forum
The Fabulous Forum—the long-time home of the Lakers as well as “the” premier L.A. concert arena in the 1970s/80s—pretty much laid abandoned after the Lakers moved to Staples Center in 1999. For several years, the building served as an occasional church; then was purchased in 2012 by the Madison Square Garden Company, which spent millions to renovate it.
The once again “fabulous” Forum reopened last week, to rave reviews, as a concert-only venue. The quintessential California band, the Eagles—who, perhaps not so coincidentally, also opened downtown’s Nokia Theatre in 2007— was tapped to inaugurate the rejuvenated space. Three shows were added after the first three shows sold-out almost immediately. We saw the Eagles and the beautiful new Fabulous Forum last night.
We hadn’t been to the Forum since 1989, when we drove up from San Diego—where we lived at the time—to see Paul McCartney perform with Wings. In those days, the Forum was nothing more than a great big barn seating up to 18,000 concertgoers. We literally sat in the very last row at the top of the stadium and couldn’t see very well. But the sound was loud and I was happy just to be able to breathe the same smoke-filled air as the ex-Beatle.
Today the Forum is indeed quite fabulous. The lobby that rings the perimeter of the building is narrow and dimly lit, offering a clubby atmosphere to a venue that used to scream “sports stadium.” Refreshments are provided by several hip L.A. vendors, including La Brea Bakery, Pinks, and Culver City’s own Coolhaus. Inside the arena, the stage occupied a full third of the floorplan, making the space feel intimate despite an audience of thousands. And the sound was amazing—every note was audible above the general rock concert din. We no longer watch concerts from the last row and so had close seats to the right of the stage. They were almost perfect.
Our view of the stage (opening act)
Pink's hot dogs sold in the stands during intermission
The audience appeared to be 99% baby-boomers—in other words, people our age. The man sitting next to Tim joked that there were probably eight ambulances waiting outside, instead of the usual three or four, in case of emergency. It took a long while before the smell of marijuana wafted in our direction.
The Eagles were fabulous, too. Bandleaders Don Henley and Glenn Frey got things rolling by singing a couple of acoustical songs from their Desperado album, early work from their more folksy period. The concert then progressed through their discography, featuring every hit they ever recorded. With the exception of Joe Walsh, who was allowed to riff on his guitar, the vibe was mostly laid-back—in fact, one reviewer accused Frey and Henley of “loitering” on stage. Still, when the entire band was singing together in harmony, they sounded exactly like an angelic choir from heaven. It was glorious.
Amazingly, the Eagles had enough hit songs to fill three hours (with intermission), before ending on “Life in the Fast Lane.” And yet [spoiler alert!] they left three of their biggest songs for the encore. Nevertheless, people started to bail as soon as the main part of the concert was over. This is L.A., after all, where the fear of traffic trumps even the best concert experience.
“SERIOUSLY?” I asked the couple next to Tim, as they got up to go. “You’re leaving before hearing HOTEL CALIFORNIA?!!!”
And, sure enough, the first encore was “Hotel California,” perhaps the Eagles’ most famous song, followed by a few more, including my favorite, “Desperado.” I hardly noticed the traffic once we headed home.
Typical Eagles fans