Stock footage of Exposition Park


Friday, March 31, 2006

L.A.moment - Union Station

03/31/06 - [via mobile phone] Union Station, home to the Amtrak, Metrolink, MTA Red Line and Gold Line Trains as well as MTA buses and Flyaway Union Station to LAX express buses.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 - "Hear, Here" on

O.k., this is a plug... I'm a DJ at L.A.-based internet radio station, Well a fellow DJ, John Hershfield, and I have started a submissions only show for bands and artists called "Hear, Here". Check out the archive and listen in on Mondays from 12pm to 2pm Pacific Time

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

L.A.moment - L.A. River

03/28/06 [via mobile phone] L.A. River, after some rain

Monday, March 27, 2006

L.A.moment - Civic Center

03/27/06 Once again the Los Angeles Police Department was using my place of work, the Los Angeles Times, as a temporary staging area for their monitoring of the City Hall protests . I had to show my work I.D. to officers on the corner of 1st and Broadway just to be allowed to continue down 1st street. The L.A. Times cafeteria was filled with about 30 officers relaxing and shooting the excretement. All this was because of the student protests taking place at City Hal against the anti-illegal immigrant bills before Congress. All the while the Eddie Murphy film production of Dreamgirls (starring Beyonce) was upstairs on the 6th floor (No photos of the cops--or Beyonce--for that matter, I was too chicken to ask or to snap clandestinely)...

L.A.moment - Silver Lake adjacent

03/27/06 Outside the studio, pro-immigration rights student walkout...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

L.A.moment - Boyle Heights

03/26/06 Boyle Heights, Cesar Chavez and Chicago St.

L.A.visit - West Los Angeles

The Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park (1218 Glendon Avenue, south of Wilshire, in Westwood, 310-474-1579)

Visiting any of Los Angeles’ cemeteries makes for a unique (and to some, morbid), visit with the famously dead. Stand where their famous friends stood, place flowers where a famous spouse might have and consummate a dead celebrity obsession that has been going on for some time now.

Just a headstone’s throw from UCLA and Westwood Village, sits the final resting-place for many of the famously dead. The Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park is home to an eclectic group of actors, musicians, filmmakers, and other famous mortals. Visitors may be surprised and puzzled as to whom they’ll find buried in Westwood.
As a reminder, please keep in mind that cemetaries are not museums. Families for both the famous and non visit as well. So maintain an un-L.A. attitude that is both respectful and discrete.

Marilyn Monroe’s (1926 – 1962) life and death is thought of as one of tragedy and mystery. With cause of death declared as an overdose of Nembutal, a barbiturate, the coroner signed it off as probable suicide. But missing personal documents (including her diary) and the sudden stop of the investigation to her death, along with missing phone records, a lost routine death report, the quick destruction of organ specimens, and lack of remaining medical photos, lead many to believe murder as a more probable cause. (Corridor of Memories, #24)

Famous for her angelic face and catchy mantra, “they’re here” from Poltergeist, Heather O’Rourke (1975 – 1988) died at the age of 13 of intestinal stenosis. The story is that she was discovered by Steven Spielberg in the MGM commissary. (New Mausoleum, outside along the bottom)

The death of Dominique Dunne (1959 – 1982) follows a trend started in such films as Rebel Without A Cause and The Barbarian where many cast members of an entire film die unexpectedly. On-screen sister of Heather O’Rourke's in Poltergeist, Dominique Dunne, daughter of Vanity Fair writer cum laude, Dominick Dunne, was strangled in her driveway by her estranged boyfriend. (Section D, #189)

As previously mentioned, the untimely and strange deaths of celebrities can affect an entire film’s cast. Natalie Wood’s (1938 – 1981) death off Catalina Island completes the trinity of dead prinicipal cast members from A Rebel Without A Cause. Preceded by Porsche-crashing James Dean and the murdered Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood’s body was found floating in the Pacific Ocean, dressed only in a nightgown, woolen socks, and a red down jacket (Section D, #60).

Although a supporting cast member of A Rebel Without A Cause, Jim Backus’s (1913 – 1989) death was neither sudden nor strange. Better known for his roles as the Millionaire in Gilligan’s Island and the lead voice of the animated cartoon Mr. Magoo, Jim Backus died of Pneumonia and Parkinson’s disease. (Section D, #203)

Maybe one of the last people expected to be buried in L.A., let alone Westwood, Truman Capote (1924 – 1984), Southern Gothic novelist, journalist, and darling-about-town, is entombed a number of steps from that cute pixie, Heather O’Rourke. Allegedly, his cremated remains were in the possession of dear friend, JoAnne Carson (ex-wife of Johnny Carson). when they were stolen along with her jewelry. Although later returned, sans jewelry, half of his ashes now reside at Westwood Village, while the other half remains in Ms. Carson’s possession. (New Mausoleum)

Big Band drummer extroidinaire, Buddy Rich (1916 – 1986) had the natural knack and rythmn to be what many consider as the greatest drummer of all time. Raised by vaudvillian parents, Buddy Rich picked up the drums at a young age and became a child star known as “Traps, The Drum Wonder”. Roommates with Frank Sinatra during the Big Band era, Buddy Rich was a member of Tommy Dorsey’s Band and was especially known for being “resoundingly disliked”, to put it nicely. (Sanctuary of Tranquility)

Burt Lancaster (1913 – 1994) didn’t start acting until he was in his 30’s, which may be part of what led him to take greater control of his career. He is perhaps best known for his performances in Birdman of Alcatraz, From Here To Eternity, and Elmer Gantry, the latter winning him an Academy Award for his performance opposite Shirley Jones.

Another performer who died at a young age, Minnie Ripperton (1947 – 1979), is most famous for her song "Loving You". She died at the age of 31, of breast cancer. (Section D, #41).

Remembered for her performances in It’s A Wonderful Life and From Here To Eternity, Donna Reed came to Los Angeles at the age of 16 to complete her education and become an actress. Although she was in over 40 films during her career, she will probably be best known as the quintessential 50’s T.V. mom in the show that bore her name, The Donna Reed Show. She passed away from Pancreatic Cancer at the age of 65. (Section D, #142)

At the opposite end of the cultural icon spectrum from Donna Reed lies Playboy model, Dorothy Stratten (1960 – 1980). Before her death, she entered the acting world via the sci-fi comedy Galaxina, but the world came to know her more through the film story of her life, Star 80. Although the sentiment rings true, Dorothy Stratten’s headstone is a/the unique example of a rambling and contradictory epitaph. (Section D, #170)

One of rock and roll’s most diverse, satirical, and non-conformist renegades, Frank Zappa (1940 – 1993) is buried in an unmarked section of the cemetery. Known for his distrust of authority both on the record and on the record, he lead the charge against the Parents Music Resource Center, calling them “a group of bored Washington housewives” who wanted to “housebreak all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few.” He died of prostate cancer. (Section D, #100, unmarked)

Texan rocker Roy Orbison (1936 – 1988) follows Westwood Memorial’s rocker trend by being buried in an unmarked area of the cemetery. Although he knew of his heart troubles for a while, Roy Orbison refused to cut short his exhausting comeback tour. He died of a massive heart attack. (Section D, #97, unmarked)

Although her grave doesn’t give her birth date, it is believed that Eva Gabor (1921/1922 – 1995) was 74 when she died.

Best known for the television and radio versions of the play, Our Miss Brooks, Eve Arden (1908 – 1990) is also remembered for her portrayals in Stage Door, Mildred Pierce, and the film version of Grease. (Section D, #81)

One of the last of the 1930’s male stars, Lew Ayres (1908 – 1996), may be remembered by some audiences for his work in the 70’s and 80’s on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Highway To Heaven, Damien: Omen II, and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Others may remember him as Dr. James Kildare in the nine Kildare movies. But he will probably be best remembered for his work in the 1930’s anti-war Oscar winning film, All Quiet on the Western Front as the disillusioned German solider. Later when he declared himself a WWII conscientious objector, he was shunned by the studios and movie audiences, only to revive his career when he eventually volunteered as a medic and chaplain’s aide (earning three battle stars)

Everyone’s favorite nanny, Mr. French, from Family Affair is buried here. Granted, his headstone reads Sebastian Cabot (1918 – 1977). He was also the voices of Bagheera from The Jungle Book, the narrator in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Sir Ector in The Sword in the Stone. He died of a stroke. (Large Urn Garden, near front of office, top row, nine from right)

Many people remember John Cassavetes (1929 – 1989) for his acting work in such films as Rosemary’s Baby and his Oscar nominated performance in The Dirty Dozen. But it is his work as a director, where he was most prolific. Films like Faces and Shadows from the early part of his directing career as well as Opening Night and A Woman Under the Influence are considered not only his best work, but important films of the American independent cinema. (Lot 308)

Editor's note: Some gravesite listings do not have location information due to unacertainable information. Go to the Find-A-Grave website for GPS coordinates, if so determined.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

L.A.moment - Civic Center

03/25/06 [via mobile phone] Immigration Rights march, Downtown Civic Center, Los Angeles

L.A.moment - Civic Center

03/25/06 [via mobile phone] Immigration Rights march, Downtown Civic Center, Los Angeles

L.A.moment - Red Line

03/25/06 [via cel phone] Downtown Immigration Rights protest

Update My first Tokyo moment on the Red Line. I got on at Civic Center and at each subsequent stop leading out of downtown, more people would get on the train. We were shoved so close together that I may have impregnated the guy in front of me. Oddly when I got off at Hollywood/Highland, there was nary a Mexican, Central American or South American to be seen.

L.A.moment - Civic Center

03/25/06 [via cel phone] Downtown Immigration Rights protest

Update Facing south on Broadway just south of 1st and Broadway, again from the 2nd floor balcony of the L.A. Times building.

L.A.moment - Civic Center

03/25/06 [via cel phone] Downtown Immigration Rights protest

Update The corner of Broadway and 1st, which, normally on a Saturday, is a quiet intersection.

L.A.moment - Civic Center

03/25/06 [via cel phone] Downtown Immigration Rights protest

Update I didn't set out to photograph the anti-immigration reform bill protest. One of my day jobs is at the Los Angeles Times and so it happened that I was at a great vantage point to document the march. Although my intention is to have StardustLA be about Los Angeles for both Angelenos and visitors, I felt this was too important a moment in the history of Los Angeles and the United States to not document and share.

L.A.moment - Civic Center

03/25/06 [via cel phone] Downtown Immigration Rights protest

Update This was taken from the 2nd floor balcony of the L.A. Times building on the corner of 1st and Broadway. The people towards the upper left corner of the photo going down to the lower right are on 1st, while the swath of people heading towards the upper right are on Broadway.

Friday, March 24, 2006

L.A.moment - Red Line

03/24/06 12:12pm [via mobile phone] Red Line, Vermont/Beverly or is it the Thunder Mountain ride at Disneyland?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

L.A.ocation - Venice

Touch of Evil

Considered one of the best American B-Movies of all time, Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil took advantage of Venice’s Winward Avenue of the late 1950’s. Like other Los Angeles 1920’s developments, the Avenue was falling into a downward spiral, overcome by drugs, crime, and a less affluent population. Orson Welles tapped into Winward’s decay and embellished upon it. Portraying a fictitious Mexican border town, the Avenue’s Spanish column archways stretch into a dark void of swirling trash and lonely shadows. Everything that is light or dark is covered in a sheen of dense dirt.

Still a little rough around the edges, today’s Winward is home to restaurants, bars, and shops. It is bustling with daytime beach goers and nighttime revelers. Sadly, many of the original buildings that carried the trademark archways are gone, gouged out unceremoniously. But upon entering Winward Avenue off of Pacific Avenue, the original buildings will be impossible to miss. - Arlington to Wilton

Arlington to Wilton

Hurtling to Thai Town the other day from the Westside, I aimmed myself eastbound on the 10 freeway, waving good bye to the discordance Santa Monica has with the Hollywood/East Hollywood/Silver Lake quadrants of Los Angeles. There is no direct or quick route to get from A to B. They are on opposite sides of the moon from each other. But the time was now nigh, the Fairfax exit, La Brea Blvd. exit, I had a decision to make. Do I take my normal route, Crenshaw Blvd., travel through Hancock Park via Windsor and then continue north on Gower? Would Western be brimming in congested muck as usual, making my drive more akin to bulldozing? Was it late enough to just continue on the 10, go north through downtown, and then unnaturally backtrack to my Hollywood Freeway exit?

No, once in the while I get in the mood to make exploration more important that quickness. Los Angeles being set up in a more or less grid pattern makes these driving tests possible in theory and the potential for success great. I ignored the Crenshaw exit and saw that the next was Arlington. Arlington? There isn’t an Arlington in Hollywood. Was I to end up at a dead end or a discovery?

I turned on to Arlington, headed northbound, and immediately understood what my driving stance would be. Two lanes both directions, with the right lane toggling from curbside parking to driver’s right of way. The upcoming light was bearing down, I stayed in the left lane and then saw the driver up ahead about to make a left turn. I jumped into the right lane and flew past 5 cars now stranded for not paying attention. Granted, the driver didn’t have his left turn signal on, but his driving language was loud and clear (the most consistently inconsiderate maneuver on the road today). But, what’s this, the right side lane is filled with parked cars. A quick eye dash to the mirror and over the shoulder and I’m back in the left lane, again poised and ready to read any changes in the road’s current.

This pattern continues, I wet my finger to the wind, read the signs up ahead, and continue this exhilarating propelling. Images of an old cemetery, chateau-styled apartment buildings, and a quaint neighborhood blur and bounce by as Arlington fades into Wilton Place. Wilton! I know this street, it passes within striking distance of my Hollywood Thai! I am saved and excited. My driving prowess has been weilded and my new route proves worthy of repeating.

L.A.chains - The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

The L.A. based Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has been serving up their brews in California since 1963. People have got to be drinking their full-bodied and robust coffees and teas, but how do you get passed their ice-blended mochas? You know, the very thing that has imbedded themselves onto your soul.

The choco-sweet caffeine buzz of cold goddess nectar can carry you through the day, protecting you from the melting orb of sun overhead and perhaps the apparent doldrums manifesting themselves before thee. How can consciousness be expanded when the trinity of ice, coffee, and chocolate are blended together? This is not to be asked, this is only to be partaken. Drink from the teet accordingly. LINK

L.A.rchitecture - Beverly Hills

Union 76 Station (1965), Pereira and Luckman, architect firm –
(427 North Crescent Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210)

Part of the architectural team that designed LAX’s Theme Building (the one straight out of the Jetsons--and not surprisingly in a number of James Bond films), Pereira and Luckman further display their predilection for jet-set space age architecture with this Beverly Hills Union 76 gas station. It’s main awning sweeps upward like the fin of a manta ray, both protecting customers from the sun and rain as well as waving to the speeding traffic, beckoning them to refuel.

The station’s placement on the corner of Crescent Drive and Little Santa Monica Blvd. makes the beckoning more like the doomful luring of the Greek mythological Sirens. Beverly Hills’ strict commercial zoning has made gas stations a rarity in town and so the station always has the highest gas prices around. It preys upon both the city’s wealthy citizens as well as its near exclusive gas selling status (you might as well be driving through the desert).