Monday, September 07, 2009

OH so very hot, muggy and SMOKEY

Here is the street next to my house and it is around 10 am. The smoke was blowing away from this area by this time of the day and the fires were several miles away and over a ridge of a tall mountain - Mount Wilson.

What I found interesting - this was taken last week - were the memories of how shadows looked like on the ground when I was a kid. During the really bad days of summer, where, at camp we hiked up to Griffith Park, there were never any 'real' shadows on the ground because the smog diffused the light to such a degree. Horrible!

It has been hard to sleep these last two weeks with the air so heavy from smoke and heat and humidity. I remember as a little kid (and up to high school) what it was like to look down the road when LA had the most horrible smog. It looked like the picture above and much worse. Notice the red tinge to the white cement and the odd look to the shadows from the tree just out of frame? That is from the cloud of floating ash that blanketed the San Gabriel Valley.

These pictures remind me of those bad old days, but in these pictures, these would be like the GOOD old days! When it was VERY BAD as a kid in Jr. High, we would go out on the 'play ground' and next door was the Church of Latter Day Saints - the Mormon church which abutted to its rear, Emerson Jr. High. The golden statue, the guy blowing his horn way on top, sometimes when the smog was REALLY BAD, only the pillar could be seen but not the statue above. It would be enshrouded in brown muck! And, after playing outside, our lungs would hurt to take a breath.

I remember the Red Car, because we took it around Hollywood to be with my grandfather and later, so he could look for work. Ted lost his dream to a partner that turned out to be a crook. Ted was so proud of his studio and he was just broken after it was taken from him.

After walking for hours all around Hollywood, we would go to Nick's hot dog stand near Capital Records on Vine Street. Nick would give us hot dogs and hamburgers for free or, we would buy one and he would throw in the rest... he knew we were hungry. Nick used to wave me toward the cash register, and whisper, "...hold out your had..." and he would give me a fist full of candy to tide me over. Nick was Greek - I remember how he talked and laughed... Funny how you remember things. He has been gone many decades but, he must have done a lot for other people on the down-and-out because, no matter who owns the building , the sign, Nick's Place, remains. Nick's hot dog stand was just south of the Capital records building. It's the red sigh.... if you can see it in the link above.

My grandfather knew Glen Wallichs. And after my grandfather built his studio on Yucca and Argyle, and then found Glen was building his Capital Records building he said with a laugh, "... you aren't gong to build so close to me are you?" If you look at the Google Map screen grab below, and then look at this old photo of my grandfather's studio above (he cut out the wood for that sign and the numbers ... he did stuff like that) you will notice that the Capital Record's building was not yet built.

That day when we visited my grandfather before he lost his studio, we took the Red Car. I remember making a connection in front of my grandfather's (I called him Teddy) studio. My grandmother said that the Automobile Club and General Motors wanted to take out the Red Cars, and that this might be the last time will ride it ever again. She said that the companies wanted to take away the ugly electric wires so we can see the big beautiful blue sky. Not soon after the Red Cars were gone and the wires were taken out, my grandmother told me to come out on the porch. "See that line of brown? That is called 'smog' it is getting worse and worse. It will make us sick." If you look at the old photo and compare it to the new one from Google, you can SEE the fuzzyness of the encroaching bad air.

It's truly amazing what and how much we will believe in when companies tell us a bunch of lies and fabrications so they can make billions from our health and lives.

A side note about why my grandfather lost his studio - his partner forged his name on the papers of ownership. He bought the judge, too. He had done this several times, apparently, to other small studios from what my grandmother told me. Then he tried to do this to one of the big studios, like Columbia or...????. The big studio had enough money to hire lawyers to put him away for ever. I guess "Berger" (what I remember of his name) after years of successful theft, he finally found a studio too big to swallow.

My grandfather was hired finally by the Nelsons. He worked on and off for them until Ricky Nelson died. That was a very sad time.

Maybe someday I will turn some of the film Ted shot into video and post it. He was an artist. That is all he wanted to do - his art.