Stock footage of Exposition Park

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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.

L.A.drive - 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).