Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’
April 17, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
January 28, 2013 | by Aaron Gilbreath
The entrance to Los Angeles’s original subway system lies hidden on a brushy slope next to an apartment building that resembles a Holiday Inn. Known as the “Hollywood Subway,” the line opened in 1925; ran 4,325 feet underground, between downtown and the Westlake District; and closed in 1955. After Pacific Electric Railway decommissioned the tracks, homeless people started sleeping in the old Belmont Tunnel. Crews filmed movies such as While the City Sleeps and MacArthur in it. City officials briefly used it to store impounded vehicles, as well as first aid and 329,700 pounds of crackers during part of the Cold War. By the time the entrance was sealed around 2006, graffiti artists had been using it as a canvas for decades, endowing it with legendary status in street mural culture, and earning it numerous appearances in skateboard and other magazine shoots. Now the tunnel sits at the end of a dead-end street, incorporated into the apartment’s small garden area, resembling nothing more than another spigot in Los Angeles’s vast flood control system. Read More »
October 24, 2012 | by Alex Moore
Hollywood was then a small town, quiet though excited. Just across our meadow, and across one more open lot, was a movie studio where they were using a troop of lions in pictures. The dreamlike romance of the place came vividly to mind in the mornings when we would be wakened by lions and meadowlarks roaring and singing.
Beth Gates Warren’s Artful Lives tells the story of a group of artists living in Los Angeles at the beginning of the twentieth century. It focuses on the artistic and personal growth of photographers Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston over the course of ten years, from their meeting in 1913, until Weston’s departure for Mexico in 1923. Mather, though a talented photographer with an undeniably rigorous and progressive vision, has remained in relative obscurity, and this book attempts to correct her omission from the history of photography. In doing so it also sheds light on the group of artists, actors, activists, and socialites who were a part of dreaming Los Angeles into existence.
In one tantalizing vignette, a pair of lovers—an artist and an actress—relate hearing the roars of the on-set lions from a local picture company blending with the song of meadowlarks in their backyard, painting a bizarre and idyllic picture of 1920s Los Angeles—a land of wild and exotic ambition, fueled by deep pockets and artistic dreamers. The romantic vision of a young Hollywood, with animals roaming the lot and artists frolicking in their rural studios, may feel far from the contemporary urban landscape, but the tension between fast-paced ambition and sun-drenched creative freedom still holds Los Angeles’s sprawl precariously together. We are both the home of the mainstream—a city decorated with strip malls and billboards—and a renegade network of backyard studios, converted garages, and performance artists out on the frontier.
One of the trail-blazing studios was the Selig Polyscope Company. Founded by William Selig, the studio made a host of jungle movies and in order to populate those movies, Selig needed a menagerie of lions, tigers, elephants, and apes. To house—and presumably profit from—these animals, Selig built an ambitious zoo. Read More »
October 22, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
Los Angeles friends! Please join us tomorrow as we celebrate the art of the short story at the Hammer Museum! Author Mona Simpson, Paris Review editor Lorin Stein, and yours truly will discuss literary life and read selected stories from the new Paris Review anthology Object Lessons, with Q&A to follow. Event details here.
July 19, 2012 | by Aaron Gilbreath
When the waitress set the slice of strawberry pie in front of me, I tried to contain my excitement. This moment was the culmination of two years’ worth of waiting, two years of longing and imagining my order and relishing memories of the last time I ate here at the Original House of Pies. I had first learned of the place from a song.
There are no lyrics in the Friends of Dean Martinez’s “House of Pies.” Instead of vocals, an electric guitar plucks the melody in sync with a heavy-bottom bass. It isn’t a catchy melody. There isn’t much to it. The tune mostly sets a mood. Under the guitar, brushes make slow circles across a snare drum, and a high lap steel whines its laconic counterpoint, casting a spell, like when heat and blinding sunlight make everything slow and heavy. Although it was recorded by a Tucson, Arizona, group, the song sounds the way summer in Los Angeles feels. The guy who wrote it, Joey Burns, was raised in L.A. and drew the song’s title from an East Hollywood restaurant.
I thanked the waitress, and she left me to savor my pie in private.
March 6, 2012 | by Amitava Kumar
Hari Kunzru’s latest novel, Gods Without Men, is being released in the U.S. today. Set in the Mojave Desert, the novel is an echo chamber for stories divided across more than two centuries. The clever symmetries that link the stories reveal the bleached bones of American identity—racial mixing, violence, an unending contest over the politics of meaning and faith. This is Kunzru’s fourth novel; his debut, The Impressionist, appeared in 2003 and was followed by Transmission (2004) and My Revolutions (2007). I conducted this interview by e-mail, but I saw Kunzru only a few weeks ago, in late January, at the Jaipur Literature Festival. He had done a public reading from Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses , a book banned in India since its publication more than two decades ago. Rushdie had been scheduled to appear at the festival but, because of threats to his life, decided to stay away. When I last saw Kunzru, it was close to midnight and he was making calls to lawyers overseas. He had been informed that he was facing arrest. The next day, on legal advice, Kunzru left the country.
The first time I read about you, you were described as having “a nonspecifically exotic appearance” that marked you “as a potential native of about half the world’s nations.” How do you usually explain your origins?
I was born in London. Depending on who I’m talking to, and how I feel, I might describe myself simply as a Londoner, British (that one’s only crept in since I came to live in New York—to anyone in the UK, it’s weirdly meaningless), English, the son of an Indian father and an English mother, Kashmiri Pandit, rootless cosmopolitan … Read More »