Monday, August 8, 2011



This is the city: Los Angeles . . .

And this is the blogger: Stephen T. McCarthy (circa 1979) . . .

[Photo by Kelly "Andy" Anderson, taken in the alley behind Star Liquors Store, Ocean Way & Bay Street, Santa Monica, California.]

When my dear friend the Flying Aardvark mentioned to me a filmmaker's strange combination of autobiography/documentary called "MY WINNIPEG" - a movie about the history of his birthplace and stories of his life growing up in that Canadian city - it provided me with the inspiration to develop the same idea on my Stuffs blog.

So, my thanks first to Flyin' Aard for the idea. Great thanks also to everyone who has posted photos and videos of Los Angeles landmarks all over the Internet - without y'all, this 6-part blog bit travelogue would have been impossible to create. I was absolutely amazed to find how many of the obscure structures I was hoping to find photographs of on the Internet actually did exist on the Internet. So, I sincerely thank each and every one of you whom I borrowed photos and videos from. God bless you, every one!

This series is dedicated to my three good Los Angeles friends who passed away far, far too young. TY HEATH, who committed suicide in 1976; MARTIN BRUMER, who was killed by a car thief in 1989; and especially to KELLY "Andy" ANDERSON, who took his own life in 1986 (but not before taking a number of the photos of me which you'll find displayed in the blog bits to follow).

Having been born in Los Angeles, California, and being raised in that metropolitan area (including my earliest years in Orange County, which for all intents & purposes might as well also be referred to as L.A.), I couldn't exactly title this series "My Hometown". Ever been to L.A.? It seems to stretch in three directions forever (cut short to the West by the Pacific Ocean). The term "My Homemegalopolis" was a better fit.

Also, bear in mind that this is a tribute to Los Angeles as I knew Her; a reminiscing of the megalopolis I lived in until moving to Arizona in 1992 (and again in 1995). At some points in the ensuing 6 parts, you will find photos of buildings and structures that no longer exist. Whereas New York City is like a rock - never changing - Los Angeles is like the ocean - always in a state of flux, always breaking and reforming like the surf. This was MY Homemegalopolis from a distant past, and not necessarily the city as She stands today.

Come along with me and let's go back to when I had a future . . .


“The West is the best. The West is the best.
Get here and we’ll do the rest.”
~ Jim Morrison
(from the song “The End”)

If you fly into Los Angeles Airport (LAX), in the center of the airport complex, you will see the futuristic looking restaurant below. It's been there for as long as I can remember. Somehow the future never seems to look like this:

I would recommend that you drive to L.A. instead. You'll get to see more of the country and you'll avoid The Sexual Abuse - the uninvited groping - from the government agents who wish only "to keep you safe".

Welcome to Los Angeles! 
There is a notable amount of diversity to be found in L.A. - from the fantasy factories of Hollywood's film industry and the Never-Never Land escapist aspects of L.A.'s amusement parks, to the low-down grit and grunge of Downtown and the ghetto areas of East L.A. and South Central, and pretty much everything imaginable in between those two points.

Unlike Phoenix - the city I'm currently trapped in - Los Angeles has no inferiority complex about itself. It's not trying to be Chicago, New York, or New Orleans. Los Angeles is L.A. - with it's Good, its Bad, and its Ugly . . . and also its beautiful blonde beach babes (although I always preferred brunettes). The city's Movie and Rock stars in Beverly Hills and Bel Air are only a 15-minute freeway ride from its homeless winos on Skid Row (unless it's "Rush Hour", and nowadays it's always "Rush Hour", ironically named seeing as how there ain't nobody gettin' nowhere in anything resembling a "rush").


I guess it makes sense to start our tour of Los Angeles in the same place where it started for me. On August 8th, 1959, I came out into "this world" kicking, screaming and crying, at the UCLA Medical Center, located on the UCLA campus in the Westwood Village area of L.A. Here's the hospital as it probably looked about the time I made my big exit & entrance:

Westwood Village, being a college area, was known for its nightlife and funky shops. I remember once reading that the Village had the greatest concentration of movie theatres than any other comparably-sized place in the world. Here's the famous Westwood Village Fox Theatre:

The Fox is known for its tall spire that can be seen at night from a fair distance:

The red brick building in the foreground of this late 1980s photo is the UCLA Medical Center, where this bun left its oven. At the upper right corner can be seen the white spire of Westwood's Fox Theatre:

Westwood's Art Deco-styled Bruin Theatre:

Below is the heart of Westwood Village. Many weekend nights during my high school years, my buddy Eric and I would get some Boone's Farm Wine or Southern Comfort and Cola, drink it in the parking lot of the Federal Building and then stumble into the heart of Westwood Village, hoping to pick up girls. (We never failed to fail in our quest for girls, but the buzz was always good.)

The original Rhino Records. It started out as just a small record store on Westwood Blvd. south of The Village. Rhino later developed into a major Record/CD/DVD label. But years before its worldwide success, while I was a teenager, I acquired a large portion of my LP record collection from this little store. They always carried a lot of hard-to-find releases. It was at Rhino where I bought my first Howlin' Wolf album - the one with the "Rocking Chair" cover:


If you're going to get around in the Los Angeles area, you're going to need to become familiar with the city's freeway system. The video below is a good start:


I'd often go to Downtown L.A. and make a day of it, because the atmosphere and the rhythm of life was so different there than in the beach communities of Santa Monica and Venice where I spent more time. On some occasions, I would invite my good friend and acting buddy Marty to accompany me and we'd go on Photographic Expeditions all over the city. On a few of those Day Trips, Marty went exploring Downtown with me.

During my personal "Great Depression of '86", after work, I regularly visited a little bar that can be seen in the photo below. If you were sitting here beside me, I could point it out to you. Basically, however, it was located at the very, very bottom edge of the photo and dead center:

Take this video aerial trip around Downtown L.A. - it's pretty, and it's pretty cool, and it belies all the unspeakable things that are actually occurring down on the streets:

From Downtown you could walk to Olvera Street, the site of L.A.'s humble Hispanic origin:

The Olvera Street bandstand:

Below is a Mexican restaurant on Olvera Street, where I have eaten more than once:

And from Olvera Street you could walk to L.A.'s Chinatown (as I often did). As I said, there's a great deal of diversity in Los Angeles, and sometimes you'll find it clustered together:

Below is what was once the "Hong Kong" Restaurant. The front of it could be seen in the opening credits montage of the great 1980's television detective show "Moonlighting":

The opening credits of "Moonlighting":

Oddly enough, in the 1970s, Chinatown was a hot spot for the L.A. Punk Rock scene, primarily driven by Madame Wong's Nightclub (and later, Madame Wong's West, a club on the Westside of town, that I sometimes attended). Below is a Chinatown restaurant at night.

Below is the "Bonaventure Hotel"; you've seen it in countless movies, TV shows and commercials. In the pilot episode of the TV show "Moonlighting", some brilliant screenwriter came up with the idea of having an "elevator chase" scene. It was filmed at the Bonaventure:

Perhaps the only thing that looks cooler than the exterior of the Bonaventure Hotel is the interior of the Bonaventure Hotel:

Have you seen the movie "Blade Runner"? Then you should remember having seen Downtown L.A.'s "Bradbury Building":

For me, no trip to Downtown L.A. was complete without visiting the Grand Central Market. The Grand Central Market is this massive, one-square block-sized marketplace that has just about every imaginable ethnic product for sale. Are you looking for a goat's head for your goathead soup? This is the place to shop. I rarely bought anything at the Grand Central Market, but I loved to look at the stuffs for sale - 95% of which I couldn't even pronounce. [I recently rewatched the movie "Midnight Run" and recognized the Grand Central Market in one scene that included Robert DeNiro.]:

Over two decades before I learned about the true meaning of the life of Jesus Christ, I knew and loved the "Jesus Saves" sign, located on the roof of a Downtown L.A. building just off of the appropriately named "Hope Street". Here's one of the many photos I took of that sign over the years:

The "Jesus Saves" sign [remember that, you'll need it later - specifically in Part 5] is gone now, but here's a photo that my great friend Pooh took of me standing near it, circa 1982 or '83:

On one of my many early 1980's photographic expeditions Downtown, I took this photo of a priest and his "Lucky Monkey" ministering to a couple of women. Downtown was a real trip, because you just never knew what strange thing you might see there. In some ways, it was even stranger than Venice Beach. . . . Uhm . . . well . . . never mind. Forget I said that. Nothing's stranger than Venice Beach. :

I'll never forget the day my friend Cranium joined me on a trip Downtown; we went into a few of the seediest, most dangerous looking bars imaginable. Being White guys with short hair, in a couple of the bars we were suspected of being detectives looking for a suspect. All eyes remained on us, and one bartender in particular just flat-out refused to believe that we weren't cops.

A down 'n' out dog crosses the street in L.A.'s Skid Row district:

L.A.'s Skid Row is the very bottom of the bottom of the barrel. I walked amongst those people with no fear, because I considered them to be my peeps. The only thing separating me from the denizens of Skid Row was an unbroken heart and a semi-functioning liver:

In 1976, Tom Waits, one of the more famous L.A. songwriters, released a song titled “Tom Traubert’s Blues”. The following borrowed text pertains to it:

The song's chorus incorporates "Waltzing Matilda," the classic Australian ballad of aimless travel. ("Matilda" is Aussie slang for "backpack," and "waltzing matilda" means being on the road or hitchhiking.)

Bones Howe distinctly remembers when Waits wrote "Tom Traubert's Blues." Howe's phone rang in the middle of the night. It was Tom. … "He said the most wonderful thing about writing that song," Bones recalls. "He went down and hung around on skid row in L.A. because he wanted to get stimulated for writing this material.

“He called me up and said, 'I went down to skid row ... I bought a pint of rye. In a brown paper bag.' I said, 'Oh really?’” Waits replied to Howe, "Yeah - hunkered down, drank the pint of rye, went home, threw up, and wrote 'Tom Traubert's Blues’.”

Howe was even more struck by what Waits said to him next: "Every guy down there ... everyone I spoke to, a woman put him there."

So according to Bones Howe, "Tom Traubert's Blues" was inspired by Los Angeles’ skid row.

Howe-ever, Waits also recorded a song about L.A.’s Skid Row titled “On The Nickel”, and since I like it better than I do “Tom Traubert’s Blues”, that’s what you’re getting below. Because Skid Row runs along 5th Street in Downtown L.A., it has often been referred to as “The Nickel”.

Here's a little known fact: Most folks are aware of the worldwide "Hard Rock Cafe", a chain of Rock 'N' Roll-themed eating and drinking establishments. L.A.'s first in that chain opened at The Beverly Center Mall in the West Hollywood area [see Part 4].
But in truth, the ORIGINAL "Hard Rock Cafe" was a small, grungy dive on Downtown L.A.'s Skid Row. When the entrepreneurs went to open their first Los Angeles establishment, they were required to buy the rights to the name from the Skid Row dive. The real "Hard Rock Cafe" - the original bar using that name - is pictured on the back cover of The Doors' "Morrison Hotel" album. [Incidentally, the photo on the front cover of that same album was also taken in Downtown L.A.]:

Here's Jim Morrison and his bandmates drinking bad American beer inside the first, the real, "Hard Rock Cafe":

Skid Row at night... "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Disneyland anymore." :

It could be said that I literally grew up in two different places in the Greater Los Angeles area. One being in the shadow of Lifeguard Station #26 on Santa Monica Beach [we'll be going there in Part 3 of this tour] and the other being at Dodger Stadium. When I was a toddler, my Mom worked for the Dodger organization, and my Grandfather had Dodger season tickets for at least four decades. Dodger Stadium was almost like a second home to us. As the photo below illustrates, I wasn't joking when I used to say, "In Dodger Stadium, if a batter hits a pitch 'Downtown', he's merely hit a foul ball for a strike" :

I've spent a significant chunk of my life in Dodger Stadium. In fact, I was in Dodger Stadium, standing and watching, that October night in 1988, when one of baseball's all-time most memorable home runs was hit. Total strangers were hugging each other, and I never witnessed a louder or longer standing ovation for any kind of performer before or since. It was indeed UNBELIEVABLE! :

Transport yourself to Part 2 by clicking here: The DeLorean With A Flux Capacitor

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.


Jessica Bell said...

Rhino Records reminds me of all the secondhand music stores they’ve got scattered around Melbourne nowadays in attempt to pretend the digital media hasn't destroyed the good ol' days. It feels like you’re walking into the 1970s. Best way ever to buy a record. I love it. There’s nuttin’ like the smell of ink, vinyl and leather jackets ...

I LOVED Bladerunner. I think I've seen it a kazillion times but don't recognize the building. What scene is the Bradbury Building used in?

Re the photo your great friend Pooh took in 1982 or 1983: wow, you sure did love James Dean, didn’t ya?!?!

PS: Gotya email. Thank you. Read it. Gonna leave that conversation at that coz have a mountain of work to do today. :o) But I will add, that I AM very crazy. Because I wrote a whole post dedicated to you and these posts today :o) hehehe *ducks head in attempt to avoid your backhand*

Will read parts 2-6 tonight.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

AlliAllo ~
Hard to believe, but it seems vinyl records are attempting to stage a comeback. My friend DiscConnected just posted something on his blog about that, and how Tommy Shaw, guitarist for Styx, has recently rediscovered "Licorice Pizza" and is urging folks to go reexperience the LP format.

Please don't hate me, but I only saw "Blade Runner" once and disliked it. (No surprise, really, because SciFi is perhaps my least favorite genre in cinema.)

But below are a few URLs related to Blade Runner and/or the Bradbury Building that you can check out. [Some pretty neat stuffs on YouTube.]:
(Scroll down to the category "Appearance In Popular Media".)

James Dean? He was alright, but an overrated actor, if you ask me. ;o)

Yeah, I figured you were "crazy". ("It takes one to know one," some folks say.)

You wrote an entire post about this slop? Cool, and thanks! I'll be sure to check it out and leave one of my patented smart-ass comments. When you gonna post it?

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Manzanita said...

I came here by way of Jessica's blog. I don't have time to finish it this morning but I'll come back to it. I've never been to LA so I'll enjoy the tour. Thanks

DiscConnected said...

>Whereas New York City is like a >rock - never changing - Los >Angeles is like the ocean - >always in a state of flux

Funny, Stephen, I would have the OPPOSITE impression.

Have you heard this said by others (I never have)?

The phrase paints an interesting mental picture.

I think my impression is formed by the fact that I notice many of the little changes in NYC (shops changing hands, CBGB's closing) as well as the skyline changes, which are certainly very gradual...well except for one abrupt one almost ten years ago.

Not that I am an expert on NYC, but I was a frequent visitor in the 80's and 90's, living a few clicks down the road, and it seemed ever-changing to me.

LA, or at least the parts familiar to me, do not seem to be so different from when I first visited in 1989, but I would not notice the little changes like you would.

Even Venice seems the same to me, but I do not have the familiarity that you have.

Plus I probably don't look at much other than the roller-skating bikini girls.


PS....the Rhino store is a good one...I wonder how it is holding up these days.

DiscConnected said... the vinyl "comeback..."

It's still a small percent of the music business (3-5% I think)...but it has been growing where CD's are tanking an even downloads are down...

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Hey, thanks much for stopping by and letting me know you did.

As soon as I get an opportunity (which will most likely be tomorrow) I will be sure to check out your blog also. I love the "Wanna Buy A Duck" name to begin with, so you're off to a great start as far as I'm concerned.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Stephen T. McCarthy said...


>>…Funny, Stephen, I would have the OPPOSITE impression. Have you heard this said by others (I never have)?

No, I never heard it said by others. I probably would have dismissed the idea if I had, since “the others” are often wrong. ;o)

Well, as I stated before, my remark is not meant to be taken hyperliterally, as it is a “general rule of thumb” viewpoint I hold.

Obviously, we all know that in EVERY large city, some things remain the same and others change over time. That’s a fact that applies universally. But generally it seems to me that New York remains fairly stable (as illustrated in my Email comment about the photograph on the cover of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” album and the picture I saw recently of how it looks today).

And there are many more examples I could draw from. I’ve seen a number of old photographs of New York locations as they appeared before and appear now, and for the most part, whatever changes occur seem to be minor.

I remember my first trip to NYC – my friend Eric met me at the airport and we took a couple of subway trains. I, of course, had no idea where I was or where we were going. But when we finally emerged onto a street in Greenwich Village, I looked around and couldn’t believe what I was seeing . . .

I felt like I had just exited a time machine and entered into 1930s or ‘40s New York scene. It looked just like it appeared in so many old movies I had watched over the years, and it was hard to believe that this was 1983.

By comparison, a great deal of the L.A. I grew up in has been altered radically. Not all of it, of course. For example, thankfully, my childhood neighborhood around Ocean Park Blvd. and 17th Street in Santa Monica has remained largely unchanged. And I could say the same about plenty of other locations.

But too often (because I wish L.A. remained as stable as I perceive NYC to be), when a new business venture is started in L.A., rather than just moving into a preexisting structure, they raze what was there before and build anew. To illustrate: the downtown Santa Monica Mall looks nothing like it did when I first moved to S.M. in 1969.

The Disneyland Hotel area is nearly unrecognizable to me today. Much of Orange County has changed. It seems to me (whether I’m right or wrong) that Before and After pictures of L.A. and NYC would show far greater significant alterations in the landscape of the former city than in the latter city.

And that’s why some years back I conceived the theme of New York being like the island-ish rock it’s established on, and L.A. being more like the surf that abuts it – forming, breaking, and reforming. (Frankly, I envy the stability of New York, because who wants to see their childhood hometown – or childhood homemegalopolis – change drastically over the decades?)

The last time I was in Westwood Village, other than some of the movie theatres, nearly every business was different from what was there in 1992. I didn’t even know the place anymore, and the lively atmosphere it once had seemed entirely missing.

>>…Even Venice seems the same to me, but I do not have the familiarity that you have. Plus I probably don't look at much other than the roller-skating bikini girls.

Venice has changed some (Where’s the Pacific Ocean Park pier today? Nowhere. Gone.), but most of the changes are very minor and reflected merely in shop ownership and the nature of the businesses along the Boardwalk.

But I wouldn’t expect you to notice any of the minor changes in Venice because, being a healthy man with the right frame of mind, your focus has been on the roller-skating cuties where it belongs. Good man!

>>…the Rhino store is a good one...I wonder how it is holding up these days.

That’s a good question. I hope it’s holding its own, because it will be a sad day if that shop ever goes under.

~ D-FensDogg
‘Loyal American Underground’

Arlee Bird said...

I can see this is gonna be epic. Maybe you should write a book about it. Or you could start a whole separate blog about nothing other than L.A. stories. Or at the very least you could have made 26 posts themed from A to Z and put them up next April.

I recognize a lot of this stuff. Some seen in passing and some actually visited in person. I keep thinking that someday I want to take the bus or train downtown and just explore. I don't like to drive and park, although I've driven through many times. I used to go to Olvera St. and Chinatown fairly often, but now I don't go much of anywhere.

Good travelogue. I'll continue onward.

Tossing It Out

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Addendum, Part 1 Of 2:
It still surprises me how often I awake in mornings with some creative idea in mind, or the answer to some question I’ve been entertaining, or just some random song lyric from seemingly out of nowhere.

Well, this morning I awoke with the IDEAL example in my mind to illustrate the ever-changing nature of Los Angeles.

But first, I want to clarify something I wrote yesterday. I said, “Too often … when a new business venture is started in L.A., rather than just moving into a preexisting structure, they raze what was there before and build anew.”

Of course, I’m not saying this is always the case. More times the new business just moves in. But sometimes, even when the entire structure isn’t razed, a great deal of remodeling goes on first, and it’s not uncommon for the entire front of a building to take on a new look, even when the roof and floors have remained the same.

Also, I said yesterday that my old neighborhood in Santa Monica has remained largely unchanged. What I failed to mention, however, and what is somewhat ironic, is that the biggest change I’ve seen in my own neighborhood has taken place at the house I grew up in. My old house on Sunset Avenue has been knocked down and rebuilt. When I was growing up in it, it was just this old box, but now it has a very pronounced, flashy Spanish look to it. If I didn’t already know that Spanish house was occupying the same city lot where I grew up, there is no way I could have ever guessed that I was standing in my old front yard (what there was of it).

L.A. is essentially a post-World War II city, as it really didn’t come into its own as a “Superpower” American metropolis until rather late. (Heck, L.A. didn’t even acquire a Major League Baseball team until 1958.) I think that, as a result, a significant portion of the population has little regard for history and tradition.

Now here’s the thing I found wandering around in my mind when I awoke this morning and which I think is perhaps the perfect illustration of my thesis:

In the late 1970s, it was determined that the “Hollywood” Sign was rotting and beyond repair, and it was deemed too dangerous to let it stand much longer. So, the decision was made to raze the sign, and the city fathers insisted that it would cost too much to replace it.

So, for a period of time it seemed that the sign was destined to be knocked down and the Hollywood Hills left bare. Can you imagine that? Something as famous worldwide as the “Hollywood” Sign was slated to be destroyed and not replaced! And that was as late as the ‘70s!

Continued Below...

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Addendum, Part 2 Of 2:

Well, some people couldn’t stand the plan and so a committee was formed to “Save The Hollywood Sign” and eventually a concept to elicit private donations to replace the sign was developed: If a person would donate a certain amount of money (I can’t recall how much, maybe $20. dollars or so), then when the old sign was torn down, a piece of it would be made into a gold-plated necklace charm and sent to the donor with a little booklet explaining the history of the Hollywood Sign.

The plan was a success and when the old Hollywood Sign was removed, a new one took its place in the exact same location. My Ma and I both pooled our donations and sent them in, and somewhere here at my house I still have that little charm. It is a small, flat, rectangular shape with the word “Hollywood” cut out of the center of it, copying that slightly irregular alignment that the real sign in the Hills displays.

But anyway, I think this is an ideal example of L.A.’s changing nature and what little regard it holds for stability and tradition. Which isn’t to say that no one there cares about preserving the past, but too often “change” seems to prevail.

And incidentally, one of the most prominent voices in the “Save The Hollywood Sign” movement belonged to Rock star Alice Cooper. I think he may have even been a committee member, but either way, I know that he made a sizeable personal monetary donation to the fund and was very vocal in the local media about the Angelenos need to save such a notable landmark.

I was never a huge Alice Cooper fan (I believe I owned only “Welcome To My Nightmare” and “Greatest Hits”), but I will always appreciate his efforts to “Save The Sign”.

~ D-FensDogg
‘Loyal American Underground’

DiscConnected said...

I wonder if some of the stability in NYC also relates to the construction of the older buildings.

The saying "they don't make 'em like they used to" has a lot of truth.

The old rowhouses (called brownstones in NYC) could probably survive a tank running into them...

Anyway, an interesting perspective that would not have occurred to me...

Although you're talking to a guy who walked through Philly's Italian Market recently, and lemme tell ya-Rocky Balboa would not know the place!


Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Thanks, McFriend!

Ha! It seems to me you now think of everything in 26 pieces. :o)

But ya know, yer right! This could have made a pretty good A To Z Blogfest presentation. Only the idea didn't occur to me until recently when the Flyin' Aard told me about the movie "My Winnipeg" and my mind started humming.

But yeah...
H is for Hollyweird.
J is for Jesus Saves.
V is for Venice.
W is for West Hollywood.
X is for X-Rated: Ivar Theatre.
Z is for Zevon, Warren.

It would have worked quite well.

The one thing in Downtown L.A. that I would think you'd find most interesting is the Grand Central Market. I know you like to cook a bit, and you're interested in different types of ethnic or regionally diverse foods. So I think you'd find the Grand Central Market to be a Wonderland of intriguing stuffs.

If you ever make that trip to Downtown, be sure, above all, that you check out the Market. Even I always found it very interesting and I'm not a kitchen kind of guy at all.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Arlee Bird said...

Central Market is definitely one of the places I'd like to visit.

By the way, I meant to comment my surprise that someone other than me had seen My Winnipeg. Did you put it on your Netflix cue? It is such a weird surrealistic film. I loved it.

Tossing It Out

Stephen T. McCarthy said...


>>..."I wonder if some of the stability in NYC also relates to the construction of the older buildings. The saying "they don't make 'em like they used to" has a lot of truth."

You're quite right and I think that remark is very valid.

Back when New York City was rising and becoming the dominant metropolis on the East Coast, everything was made with bricks and granite. There was a lot to be said for American workmanship back then and that stuff was BUILT TO LAST! And it HAS lasted.

L.A. being a more modern city, however, a good deal of it was put together during the "Drywall Era", and I think oftentimes developers look at preexisting structures and realize that, rather than doing extensive remodeling, it would probably be more cost effective to scrap the whole thing and rebuild it.

So, yes, I think there's probably an economic factor to my theme, as well, and that it is not entirely driven by some subconscious psychological element. I mean, I don't think anyone's making a conscious attempt to mimic the area the cities are founded in (NYC on a rock and LA against the Pacific Ocean), but it just seems to me that it works out that way.

Then again, I could be full of crap.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

I immediately attempted to put "My Winnipeg" in my NetFlix queue but NetFlix didn't have copies of it then. Are you saying that they have it now?

I will have to go back and check because I am interested in seeing it.

Incidentally, I happen to know that you didn't watch any of the videos I included in "My Homemegalopolis" (it's "MISTER Psychic" to you!) Shame!-Shame!-Shame!

When you gonna start over and do it right?

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Arlee Bird said...

My Winnipeg was one I saw on streaming video--I don't think the actual DVD was available.

If I had watched all the videos then it would have probably taken me 3 or 4 hours instead of the hour it took me to just go through the text. You should see all the videos friends have sent me to watch. I wish I had that much time, but the hours in a day are limited.

Tossing It Out

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Yeah, I went back to NetFlix and took another look after responding to your comment, and I found that indeed the DVD is not available.

I also found that I had placed the title in my "Saved" file in the event they ever do acquire it - although they probably won't.

No problem about the videos. It's just that I happened to be on the computer at the time your comments came rolling in, and they were rolling in so quickly that I thought to myself: He can't be doing much more than glancing at the photos.

It wasn't really the videos so much as I was thinking you couldn't have been reading much of the text that accompanied the photos. But either way, no problem. I know I yak on and on and my blog bits require a significant investment of time.

I'm just grateful that you checked it out to whatever extent you did, McFriend!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

DiscConnected said...

I just watched the Waits' clip-good choice.

It's far superior to the album version (on Heartattack & Vine) just as you said-less of the TW "put-on" in the voice.

Off to watch the clips from part 2-I'll finish eventually....

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Yeah, I found perhaps 4 live versions at YouTube but I thought this one was easily the best.

When you get to Part 3, you'll find a live version of Zevon's "Carmelita". I thought that version was quite good too, although in that case, I'd say the studio version is superior.

Hey, you'll make it through... if the country can hold on long enough. ;o)

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Missed Periods said...

Wasn't My Winnipeg fantastic? I can still hear the narrator's voice.

My parents used to take us to Westwood Village almost every weekend in the '80s. Remember all the Hare Krishnas? It's so different now.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

M.P. ~
Unfortunately, I haven't seen "My Winnipeg". I wanted to view it but NetFlix doesn't carry the DVD.

Well, if you could be found in Westwood Village in the early '80s then you probably remember that loud, obnoxious group of guys who were always making a scene wherever in The Village they were. I was one of them. In fact, I was the one in the black leather jacket.

If any one of us owes you or your parents an apology for anything, be it known that I sincerely apologize here and now. (We weren't REALLY hoodlums; we were just drawn that way.)

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Sheboyganboy VI said...

Stephen -

As a Southern California native, I am enjoying your blog on growing up in LA. Although I grew up in San Diego County, we made frequent trips to LA for something or another when I was a kid. Disneyland, particularly... but also trips farther north as well. I remember the Jesus Saves sign. We actually spent two weeks driving every day to go to the huge public library looking up info for a business project of my father, and we hob knobbed around downtown.

My folks LOVED LA. They met in high school in Montebello in the 1930s & 40s and danced at the Palladium and countless other clubs, once a week or more. They heard all of the big names we recognize now, in person.

A bunch of them would hope in the model A with a rumble seat and then drive to the beach in less than an hour on nickel-a-gallon gas ("give me 5 cents worth of gas and check the oil!") and watch the muscle-builders. Those guys would look pathetically wimpy now, of course.

My folks could head the other direction and go have a picnic at a reservoir in the San Gabriel mountains - with Dad wearing a suit and tie, of course.

The connection of LA to the love and lore of the automobile is important, too. Most of people that came to LA in the early days came in cars from the Midwest, seeking employment, sun, and the bounty of LA and its surroundings. The areas around LA were excellent farming areas, especially for citrus groves.

I am sad that I am just now getting to this blog, however. I have been away daily on projects, and then at night when I usually get some computer time, I have been stymied by the world's worst internet connection. I have called the filthy swine and asked what the problem is, and they tell me they are "working on it", But it literally takes web pages like yours about a minute to come up. Your YouTube links? "Fugettaboutit!" News sites with many elements to load? They usually just time out and fail. Very sad!

I'm moving on to part deux!

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Perhaps the best comment my blog has seen since Anniee passed away!

I'm outta time at the moment (work calls, or rather, shrieks), so I must cut this short. But I will return before long and address your comment properly. (Got the other comments you submitted as well, but will wait to post them until I have some available "response time".)

Thanks, and yak again soon, McBrother.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Thanks for the terrific comment!

>>...I remember the Jesus Saves sign.

You know, here was a landmark so well known that it made its way into Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." music video, as well as Ray Manzarek's "L.A. Woman" video, and yet the city destroyed it without a care.

It's like I was saying to DiscConnected, L.A. has little regard for its own history and landmarks.

>>...We actually spent two weeks driving every day to go to the huge public library looking up info for a business project of my father, and we hob knobbed around downtown.

Oh, I really liked that library. At one point (maybe 1980 or so) a huge fire destroyed much of the Main Library in downtown L.A. I still have pictures I took of smoke damage to the structure's exterior.

Thankfully, the decision to restore it was made, and the library system began selling leather bookmarks to raise funds for the restoration. I bought several of them for family members, and the primary bookmark that I still use to this day is the same one I bought for myself way back then.

It's in really good shape considering how much I use it (i.e., how much I read). Made of reddish-brown leather and stamped with gold, it shows the silhouette of the pyramidal library building, below that it reads "SAVE THE BOOKS", followed by a Joseph Conrad quote about books, and at the very bottom it says, "The Los Angeles Central Library".

Somewhere around here are the bookmarks I bought for my Dad and Mom. If I run across either of them, I'll send it to ya.

>>...Those guys would look pathetically wimpy now, of course.

Maybe, but they'd also be steroid-free and possess naturally-gained strength. I have more respect for them than I do for these latter-day chemical monsters.

>>...The connection of LA to the love and lore of the automobile is important, too.

Very true. And I LOVE the way that was tied into the "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" story. That line toward the end about how only a Toon could have dreamed up that insane "freeway" idea always makes me laugh. (I'm still wild about that movie.)

Great comment, Sheboyganbrother!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Oh my! What an awesome tour! (And now you are all famous--a blogcelebrity and everything... :-))

Great job!

Lady Doris

Anonymous said...

Hi -

I can't remember if I already commented, and it seems like most of the comments were a few years ago. Regardless, this is just great! I moved to L.A. (Hollywood) from Michigan in mid 1980, not long after graduating from Michigan State. I had show biz (screenwriting) dreams, and I can remember so many of these things you have discussed (such as the old Rhino Records store) so clearly. Thanks for taking all the time and effort to put these pages together.

And oddly, I also discovered the interesting film "My Winnipeg" from here.

Tom Rombouts
El Segundo, California

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Hello, TOM. Thanks so much for the kind words. Your name sounds real familiar -- I think maybe you did comment on another installment in this series. Regardless, I appreciate it.

I don't know what happened to so much of what I embedded here -- photos and videos seem to have disappeared.

After my acting desire left me, I too tried my hand at a screenplay.

Hey, in case you're interested, I have another blog called 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' where people vote on their favorite between two songs. My current Battle (voting ends after tomorrow) has to do with Santa Monica and Venice ("Dogtown"). I'll include a link below if you'd like to submit a vote. I'd be pleased to see you participate.

~ Stephen
Link: STMcC Presents 'Battle Of The Bands'