Summer in Southern California
21/08/2012 § 1 Comment
For a perfect summer in Southern California, you’ll need golden light, a ton of palm trees, broad white beaches, a polka dot bikini, a beach shanty, some zinc oxide and a group of your closest surfing friends. Add a dash of PCH, a little rum, some ice and blend it all on high.
For the second half of August, I’ve decided to turn my sights back to the coast I know best — the west. While I may currently live on the east coast, and have quite an admiration for all things Northeast, summer will always mean very specific things to this California girl. These photos taken along the So Cal coastline, from Malibu to San Onofre State Beach in Oceanside, were just the ticket.
Summer on the Cape
Summer on Long Island
Gidget in Malibu
Taken by Allan Grant in 1961 for Life Magazine, via the Life Archives.
Field Notes || Herb Ritts: L.A. Style at the Getty Center
30/04/2012 § 1 Comment
New York is a vertical city, and its skyscrapers are climbing ever higher (case in point, just today my next-door neighbor One World Trade claimed the title of tallest building in New York). All that height, especially in the canyons of the Financial District or parts of Midtown, can feel a bit oppressive at times to someone like me, who grew up in one of the most horizontal cities in the world. For comparison’s sake I could give you some facts and figures about square mileage and population — essentially: LA is larger, while NYC is more populous — but nowhere is this “horizontal-ness” illustrated better than from the observation pavilions of the Getty Center.
Known for its impressive views from the Pacific to Downtown, the Getty Center is one of the best places to take in the urban sprawl that is Los Angeles (if it happens to be a clear day). Designed by Richard Meier, the Center also houses a large portion of the Getty art collection and has been the setting for a marriage proposal or two…thousand.
Familiar vistas aside, I also made the trip to the Center to catch the Herb Ritts retrospective, L.A. Style. Best known for his black and white portraits of celebrities and fashion editorials, equally impressive are Ritts’ nudes and his exploration of the concept of gender. A compact exhibition, complete with large-scale prints, vintage magazines and a screening of his music videos (e.g., Janet Jackson’s Love Will Never Do (Without You), Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game), L.A. Style is an excellent collection of some Ritts’ most iconic images, taken in the 1980s and 90s.
Herb Ritts: L.A. Style at the Getty Center
April 3 – August 26, 2012
The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Open Tuesday – Sunday
The Grand Tour || The House Where Satchmo Played
29/04/2012 § 3 Comments
Most homes of a certain age in Los Angeles usually come with old Hollywood stories of former residents. This Spanish beauty in Westwood, owned by good friends of mine, is no different. Home to Spencer Tracy and his wife for a time, and host to an intimate concert by Louis Armstrong, this estate has a charmingly eccentric layout, complete with original tile work, exposed beams, hardwood floors, interesting built-ins and one of the only SoCal basements I am personally aware of.
A relatively recent purchase, the owners are still hard at work with renovations but I twisted some arms and was allowed to take a few photos of their progress thus far. I can’t wait to see the finished product.
Field Notes || A Long Los Angeles Weekend
29/04/2012 § 3 Comments
As I mentioned last week, I scooted off to Los Angeles to surprise my family and enjoy a long weekend in my hometown. Armed with an exceptionally affordable rental car that I had to fill with exceptionally expensive gas, I bopped around from Manhattan Beach to Porter Ranch, and from Santa Monica to Downtown. And while I will admit that while I am on the East Coast I frequently have moments when I miss driving, a few minutes of sitting on the 405 definitely cured me of that for awhile…but it didn’t keep me from visiting some great places.
Breakfast at the counter at John O’Groats, a westside institution.
Don’t miss their biscuits.
Drinks at the Beverly Wilshire.
Where the car is king, you can’t help having so many good sightings…
An evening in Beachwood Canyon with Lizzie: dinner at Franklin & Company,
browsing at Counterpoint Records, peeking in the doors of the Villa Carlotta.
Cole’s, originators of the French Dip sandwich.
Bourbon drinks at Cole’s with Nick.
Breakfast at the Fountain Coffee Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
A very stylish makeover, courtesy of my nieces.
An excellent travel companion: Bag by The San Fernando Mercantile Company
Great Loves: Nellie and Coach Wooden
14/02/2012 § 3 Comments
After she passed away in 1985, Coach Wooden wrote his wife Nellie — his first, last and true love — a love letter every month.
Interviewer: How do you make love last in a marriage?
Coach: There’s only one way. Truly truly truly love. Most powerful thing there is. It’s true, it’s true. It must be true.
For more of my Great Loves posts, head here.
Field Notes: The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co. at the Rose Bowl Flea
27/10/2011 § 2 Comments
Now, when I say that I am originally from Los Angeles, it’s kind of like the geographic equivalent of rounding up to 10 from 7. How so? It’s because I actually spent the majority of my formative years in little place slightly to the north and west of Los Angeles proper, known to some of you simply as “The Valley.” Yes, the location of the party where Tai took a shoe to the head and went on to roll with the homies. Yes, the place that you have to thank for the “like” that permeates the vernacular. Yes, the San Fernando Valley. Like, oh my God.
Granted, The Valley is kind of like the red-headed stepchild of the Southern California family. It’s not regarded as especially cool or interesting, but rather, frankly, as being kind of lame. My mother, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, can’t even remember going there once as a child because, as she put it, “Why would you?” Perhaps I wear my pride somewhat internally, but when it gets down to it, I have so much love for my Valley and the years I spent there. I totally embrace my inner Valley Girl.
So you can imagine how happy I was a few months ago to discover The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co., purveyors of fine vintage American-made workwear from 1930-1970 and handmade, utility-inspired dry goods/accessories. And when I realized they had their own take on the classic tool bag, very much like those I had been admiring by a few other designers, but automatically and infinitely so much better because of its Valley origins, I might have geeked out a bit. So of course, I shot off a note to learn more about their bags and the operation at large.
In short order, I received a lovely reply from Warren Schummer, the man behind San Fernando Mercantile Co., as well as Vintage Workwear, a blog focusing on vintage workwear from the 1940s through the 1970s. It turned out Warren’s Valley roots were a bit more established than mine, as his go back three generations, and helped shape his addiction to workwear:
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, particularly Sylmar in my youth, then left and spent a few years spent in Huntington Beach. Came back to Studio City for my teens and 20s, Sherman Oaks for the 30s and then to Tarzana in the west valley for the past 10 odd years, give or take. My pops owned an auto body repair shop on Ventura Blvd in Studio City where he specialized in German cars including Porsche and Mercedes Benz cars in particular. That environment in addition to my Grandfather working at the now defunct Chevrolet plant in Van Nuys helped shape my love of work clothing.
Warren began collecting — actually, he called it “hoarding” — workwear and soon came to realize that the best way to support his collecting habit was by parting with some of his pieces. This led to a stall at the Rose Bowl Flea Market (#3282), where he has been in residence for more than 18 months now, on the second Sunday of every month. Warren also owns All Valley Handyman Service, which provides him with the opportunity to wear his vintage on the job.
Wanting to apply the inspiration he found in vintage to the creation of new merchandise, Warren began with a small run of work caps made from vintage fabrics, selvedge denim and brown duck, which did well. With the success of the caps, bags were the obvious next step and a tote and tool bag-inspired bag soon followed. Warren is intensely involved in the design and construction process, seemingly coming just short of sewing everything himself — which I think he probably would try to do, if he could. All of San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co.’s merchandise is made in the USA, with most of it made in Southern California.
After hearing and loving all of this, I knew that I desperately wanted one of Warren’s bags and that I would definitely be stopping by stall #3282 on my upcoming (at the time) visit to the Rose Bowl Flea. A few short weeks flew by and I found myself in the sweltering Pasadena sun at the Flea. I dragged along Nick — of the rather awesome Tumblr No Secrets Between Sailors (and also Instagram: nosecretsbetweensailors) — and made him show me the ropes.
The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co. was our first stop. Nick and I had a good long visit with Warren and his lovely lady Michele, while taking shelter in the shade of the tent and slowly perusing an amazing selection of workwear merchandise. We also discussed the specifics for one of his glorious 16″ bags that will be making its way to me in New York in the near future. Of course you’ll receive the full rundown when it arrives. Such a great afternoon.
If you are at the Rose Bowl Flea, be sure not to miss the The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co. If you can’t make it out to Pasadena, check the shop out online, as well as the store blog, and the Vintage Workwear blog.
Fotos: City of Angels
31/12/2010 § 3 Comments
Bunker Hill: Yesterday and Today
03/08/2010 § Leave a comment
For many people, Bunker Hill is just the section of Downtown Los Angeles where all of the tall buildings are concentrated.
In fact, Bunker Hill began as a residential subdivision in 1867. It was an affluent neighborhood full of expensive homes, and remained that way until after World War II. As the wealthy departed the Downtown area for the Westside or Pasadena, single family dwellings were divided and rented out. Thus, Bunker Hill became home to lower income renters and pensioners.
By the mid-fifties, LA city planners decided to completely clear out Bunker Hill to make way for a massive redevelopment. The homes and shops were razed to make way for a new, modern urban center. The residents, many of them older, were to be displaced in the name of progress. USC student Kent MacKenzie shot a student film capturing this transition from the point of view of the disenfranchised pensioners. This amazing film offers a rare glimpse into the everyday life of this Los Angeles community in 1956.
Update 8/3: Unfortunately, the video was taken down this afternoon and my expert sleuthing of the interwebs has not turned it up — really unfortunate. In the meantime, a few more pictures of what Downtown looked like before all of the high rises.
Photos via: Life/SkyscraperCity/Imageshack
Classic Los Angeles: The Theme Building Reopens
05/07/2010 § Leave a comment
There are a few things I must always do and see when I make a trip home to Los Angeles. The Theme Building has always been on this shortlist (if not for the lucky coincidence that it happens to reside at LAX). Completed in 1961, it originally was meant to serve as the central hub for LAX’s terminals and parking, but building plans were scaled down. Instead, the Theme Building became a futuristic icon for the airport and for the city of Los Angeles itself.
The Jetsons-like structure is not the location of LAX air traffic control — a common misconception — but rather is home to a restaurant and observation deck. The structure has recently undergone an expensive and lengthy renovation, its first in 47 years. The observation deck was closed after 9/11, but it will reopen on July 10, 2010, giving a new generation the opportunity to see what Los Angeles looks like from the top of a flying saucer.
Via: Los Angeles Times