More from L.A. (part 4)

I caught a good night’s sleep and got up early.  I’m now organized enough to bang out the final post from this four-day trip.  I’m rejuvenated from the picture-taking adventures and ready for another week of job hunting.  It was shocking to see how much L.A. has changed — and not changed — since I lived here 30-something years ago.  So much development (some people have money — or at least they did!); so much more traffic;  so many more homeless people.  This economy blows.  Hope it gets better soon for all of us!

Let’s start with a couple of shots from Chinatown:


And some downtown shots.  Because of the tall buildings, it’s very hard to get any decent light unless you’re there right around noon and scamper about like mad.  I was there much too early and didn’t feel like waiting:


Lots more L.A.  The Gem Motel sign is across the street from the motel itself.  I don’t know why:


Well-preserved storefront — a REAL rarity anywhere in L.A.:


I stumbled upon this Lenin sculpture in front of the Ace Museum.  This page explains the piece:


I’m stumped by this one on La Brea.  A Chihuahua and a cowboy’s shadow?  Does anyone know the story here?  While desperately Google-ing for info, I came upon another great wall painting that was (maybe it still is?) on La Brea:,+west+hollywood.jpg


These are news to me.  Back in NYC, we had those big double-decker tour buses.  Here in Hollywood-ish today, I saw lots of these stretch-Sparkles — some with canopies over the seating area:


I don’t know if the “Ice Cream” part of the sign was always affiliated with Baskin-Robbins.  It appears to be:


And speaking of sweets….  Back in Ventura, I was reminiscing about one of my favorite places.  We would often go there for my birthday since I’m not big on cake.  I decided to check on-line to see if there were any House of Pies left.  Sure enough — there are a few:  two in Houston — and one in Los Angeles.  Yes!  The “Original” is no longer part of the name — and is missing from the sign:


The sun was not in my favor, nor was the parking lot & other stuff — but you can see the building is basically original.  Here’s a vintage photo of another one for comparison:

And more about the chain here:


Just some of the selections:


I got two slices:  a peach — and brought home a chocolate cream.  Only photo-ed the peach and it got a little manged in Sparkle’s cubby.  The choc. cream piece was HUGE.  They were superb — highly recommend when you’re in L.A.  It’s a very vintage-y coffee shop interior and feel as well.  The crust was very buttery — very cookie-ish — just perfect:


Continuing the food theme.  I went to the Universal Studios CityWalk since I had missed shooting some of the signs there on loan from MONA.  This one’s not vintage but still fun.  The popcorn pieces flash independently:


Lots of palm tree cellphone towers around — but I hadn’t seen a pineapple until this one in the Valley:


This sign is at the Valley Beverage Company in Sherman Oaks — a three-sided one:

Better yet, they have a giant (maybe three feet tall?) bottle of Patrón tequila on the roof:


From the Premier Car Wash in Encino:


Nearly “home” (Ventura, where I’m hoping to find a job) — this one from Camarillo:


OK — back to the grind for me.  If I’m still unemployed at Christmas, which is my birthday, I’m gonna treat myself to a little Vegas trip.   So it’ll be a win-win situation.  Til then…


More from L.A. (pre-Part 4)

I’ll get this final post to you on Sunday or Monday sometime.  A full day of shooting today & then the drive back to Ventura.  I’m beat and lots to do in the next couple of days.  Hope you all are safely back home now (or soon) if you’ve been traveling to grandmother’s house or wherever for the holiday.

More from L.A. (Day 3)

Just another gorgeous day here in paradise.  10 minutes of fog in Pico Rivera was kinda shocking.  Highs in the low 80s and I even turned the A/C on for about an hour for the panting dogs.  That was also shocking — that the A/C still works!  (regular followers of my blog know what I’ve been through with that)

A real sign fest for you tonight.  Let’s start with East L.A.:

Also East Los Angeles — an adapted Jim’s Burgers sign:

From Whittier.  Merle West has moved, leaving this sign behind.  The building is vacant & work is going on.  Not feeling good about the future of this sign:

Also Whittier.  I’m a sucker for shish-kabob signs (at least that’s what I call them:  spears with shapes on them):

Five Stars Liquor is or was apparently a chain.  This sign is in Bellflower:

Also in Bellflower.  Boo’s sells windows & floor coverings — so, maybe this sign advertised for another business originally?  But those bulb-filled letters look pretty vintage:

Another shot from Bellflower.  I’m assuming this building was used for something fancier before the carpet store.  Maybe a restaurant?

Also Bellflower.  The construction of a Zen Monastery.  I love all the wood framing:


From Long Beach, evidently.  I didn’t even know I was THAT far south today:


From Lakewood.   Hmm.  The old Shakey’s signs read “Ye Public House” — and this one says “Ye Olde Publick House”.  Is there a standard that I don’t know about for “public house” pizzerias?  Or did these guys just copy Shakey’s?  Or is it just a fancy way of saying that they serve beer?  And what are they covering up with that plastic?


Back in Bellflower:


I stopped at Bellflower Bagels to shoot the giant donut sign — here’s a shot I took from a few years ago (it still looks the same):

And while there, I decided to give their bagels a try.  I could tell they were the typical soft California version.  I have tried the Einstein’s and the Noah’s and the Jacks’ Famous and even the Von’s.  Just nothing like NYC bagels at all.  So there was no sense getting poppy or sesame and then complaining about it.  I went with the cranberry.  Which I was hoping was more tart than sweet.  But it was pretty sweet.  And tiny.  But not bad either.  The cream cheese helped.


Still Bellflower:


From Maywood.   This sign stands on a fenced vacant lot.  But a vinyl sign attached to the fence said “New Primo Burger Coming Soon”.  I don’t know how long they’ve been promising that.


Last sampling for the night from downtown.  I swung by Phillipe the Original for some night photos.  This clock sign is inside the restaurant.  I don’t know how vintage the neon is but the clock face appears to be old:


And outside by the parking lot:


So, another day or two to play down here before I head back to Ventura (depends on the interview situation).   More photos for you tonight.  And, don’t forget, if you’re not following along at Flickr, you’re missing half the photo-samplings from this trip:

More from L.A. (Day 2)

The days are so ridiculously short right now.  The sun is up around 6:30, a tad early.   But by 9:30, it’s straight up in the sky like it’s noon.  Around 3 pm, the sun starts to wane already and by 4 pm my photos take on a sickly yellow hue.   I don’t remember it getting this dark this early in NYC.  Is L.A. further from the sun this time of year than NY?  What it boils down to is maybe 40 or 50 less shots per day than I’m used to.  But L.A. and I are not going anywhere, so what’s the rush?

Let’s start with Mike’s Liquor in South El Monte:

Lady Liberty from downtown El Monte:

On to Los Angeles proper.  Every once in a while, despite the fact that it was in the mid-70s today, there are little reminders of fall.  I guess L.A. does get seasons and fall colors after all.  Yet, just behind these trees were ferns and weird pine shrub-y things that you’d never see in the Northeast.  Or at least not in November.  To my knowledge.

Random fun vehicle.  Parked in someone’s driveway.  The label in back said it was an Electra King produced in Long Beach.  So I did my research — and, based on the palms, the garage doors, etc.,  I think the car shown in this article is the very same one!

I believe the Good Luck Bar sign is contemporary — but awful nice:

A couple swell signs from the Royal Viking Motel — which is on a corner so it needs signs for both sides of the street:

A wonderful bus shelter poster.

OK.  Public service announcement.  Please, please, if you’re thinking of getting a dog — or a friend or family member is or even a mere acquaintance or stranger — please adopt or encourage others to do so.  Don’t buy some cute puppy wuppy from a breeder.   We don’t need to be making more when we’re killing billions of wonderful dogs each day. Wonderful dogs like mine — who got very, very lucky to get a home.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

There are taco trucks everywhere in L.A.  I’ve been tempted at times to pull over to get a burrito sometimes  —  but I just haven’t gotten the courage yet.  Could they really be any less sanitary than a walk-up stand is?  Probably not.

I love this painted taco truck simulation.  Note how the windows and the awning fit perfectly:

One more for the day — see that evil end-of-the-day yellow, almost pink color coming through?  It looks like this one probably had an animated pestle.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!  I’m sure your holiday was a lot more traditional than mine.  More mañana.

More from L.A. (Day 1)

I wish I had good news to share about the job situation.  Soon.  Maybe.  I decided to make the most of this Thanksgiving holiday weekend situation and spend a few days taking photos in the L.A. area.  I’ve been so frugal for the past month that I think I’m entitled to blow some money on gas.

This one fell through the cracks from the last blog post.  I might as well add it to this batch.  From Sun Valley:


Ladin’s is a two-fer in Canoga Park:


If you’ve spent any amount of time in the L.A. area — you’ll know from these clues alone that this is a car wash.  This is the Mission Car Wash in San Fernando.  For lots of other examples, I’ve got a page here:


Wild sculptured trees in Montrose:

Also Montrose:


The former Piller’s Clothing Store in Eagle Rock:

The building was adapted by RennArts — the Renaissance Arts Academy charter school:

Across the street from Piller’s:

Also Eagle Rock:


I was thinking this must have been some deco/modern department store in Pasadena.  But everything online says this was built for Ross and fairly recently:


Roses blooming — all over the place — in late November — not something I’m used to!


A couple of next-door-neighbor signs in Pasadena:

This was the shady side — the sunny side has far less neon and you couldn’t make out the Reddy Kilowatt figure:


Still in Pasadena:


From San Gabriel — a former Lodge Coffee Shop?


Another from San Gabriel.  Does anybody know what business name (or shopping center name) was perched on top of this giant steel base?


The last one for the night — from Monrovia.  From the bright yellow porcelain enamel at the top of the sign, we can assume the entire boomerang arrow was that color originally:

More tomorrow night…  very tired driver & dogs tonight.


L.A. Diversion

No news from the battlefield here on the beach.  Still job-hunting in Ventura in this miserable economy.  Lots of $9 an hour jobs out there.  Which is fine if you’re shacking up with family and friends.  Gonna try my luck this week at the agencies in Santa Barbara.  If that fails, move on to prospects in the Los Angeles area.  At this point, I don’t care where really.  I just want to have any old office job, a permanent roof over my head and a routine of some kind.  But as we enter the holiday season, things are slowing down, hiring gets put on hold.  So I might just have to suck it up til January.  Ugh.

So, since I had to go down to my storage unit in The Valley, I came up with a little to-shoot list and made the most of the day.  I don’t mind L.A. that much really.  It is kinda fun.  But I’ve lived there before and could do without the aggravation.  Traffic.  Ventura is just so much prettier, quieter, saner.  But I’m growing impatient.  And the “recruiters” I speak to here are not all that optimistic.

Taking breaks to run the dogs on the beach and at various parks perks me up when I start to get depressed.  Taking photos and driving around also gets my outlook back on track.  Joy!  Sun!  Fun!  So, here’s some of what I’ve been up to.

It seems every day I pass either a Coco’s restaurant or a Carrow’s restaurant that carries Coco’s pies.  A big truck and/or sign about them.  So…. one hungry afternoon, I gave in.  The choices, at least at the one by the beach here, were of the cream variety:  chocolate cream, coconut cream, banana cream.  Apparently, they also make apple & cherry & that sort but I don’t remember seeing them:

I went with the seasonal offering:   the Harvest Pie — which is pumpkin pie with pumpkin chiffon on top.  Great!  I will be back another time for another flavor:



Oxnard is where most the interviewing at the agencies takes place.  So, one night I hung around long enough (went to Port Hueneme’s Kiddie Beach which is great for dogs) and got the Wagon Wheel Bowl sign.  Here’s Sparkle basking in it:



OK — on to the ventures “over the hill” (the Conejo Grade, into “The Valley”).   A shot of the mailbox in Northridge created from a Bob’s Big Boy arm:

Also in Northridge, Continental Liquor:



From North Hollywood:



From Burbank.  I love freestanding neon — and apparently so do the birds:



Caught at a stoplight.  Seems like quite a long hearse to me — but I’m no expert:



I believe this geodesic dome in Glendale was originally a cleaners.  Now, it’s unclear what it’s used for.  Possibly storage for the medical place or doctors’ offices next door:



From Los Angeles proper — a faded oldie with a freestanding arrow:



Another sun-bleached sign in L.A.:


and the motel itself:



Another surviving motel in L.A.:



Two of my passengers basking in the front seat with non-stop sun.   Grem (on the left) never really sleeps.  Hardly ever.  The seniors were snoozing in the back.



I went downtown to see what they’ve done to the Felix sign (see Flickr photos tonight).  And also to shoot the statues inside which I had missed the last time I was there.  A salesman said confidently that they (there are three of them I think) are from 1927.   As I was taking this photo, a car came flying around the corner and hit about five cars parked directly in front of Sparkle.  Bumpers and fenders flying everywhere.  I was greatly relieved when I ran outside to see we didn’t get a scratch.  Thank God!  I’ve had enough hell just getting that bumper replaced when I was rear-ended.



And now for a little diversion — I decided to check out the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.  Mostly, just to see the new (old) Pep Boys statue (see my Flickr photos tonight) — and this recreation of the Bulldog Cafe.  The pipe emits steam:

Here’s what the original looked like:
The Bulldog Cafe, 1933

A good read about dog-shaped buildings here:


OK — and a whole buncha cars.  I took way more photos than I’ll subject you to here.  I didn’t take notes so I can’t help you with identification:

There is also a nice little gallery of motorcycles:



I don’t know if this Jamm’s sign on display is vintage or new — but it is a killer.  Neon outlining and then the bulbs of each letter fill up in sequence.  Then, with the letters full, the sign goes into that dizzy scintillating mode.  It’s hypnotizing.



So that concludes our little “cheer-DJ-up” tour.  More to come soon enough…


Quick Hello from Ventura-ish

No, still no job yet.  But, boy, am I working my butt off looking.  All my stuff still sits in a dark storage unit in Northridge.  And with the holidays fast approaching, this roughing it may remain my lifestyle for a few months.  But the dogs are having a blast.  And taking pictures now and then sure cheers me up.  I took today (Friday) off from “the hunt” and am entitling myself to a three-day weekend to re-energize and organize.  Here are a few photos I grabbed yesterday and today.

I remember this tree in Oxnard from my childhood.  It’s always been this sparse-looking.  Some kinda pine I assume.  Can anyone identify it?


A post office in Oxnard:


A “Fighting Seabee” statue in Port Hueneme.  There are similar statues in Davisville, RI and Gulfport, MS.  The Seabee motto is “we build, we fight”.  That’s why this bee is holding tools and a tommy gun:


An excuse to take a long walk with the dogs along the beach at Port Hueneme.  This lighthouse from 1941 is still in operation:


On up to Carpinteria — the Coastal Liquor sign:


Up to Santa Barbara for a bit.  I noticed a couple lit neon signs at a little shop downtown.  They turned out to be modern — but this one is vintage.  From Los Angeles originally:


An oldie in Santa Barbara — I’m guessing 1920s/1930s:


There’s not nearly so much mid-century modern buildings in Santa Barbara as there are in Ventura.  This one is now a Days Inn:


Just down the street from the former McConnell’s Ice Cream Parlor and plant.  This guy looks in the direction of the cow that’s still on the roof.  I don’t know if he’s always been there and I just missed him.  I believe this building might have been part of the ice cream plant facility.  There is a cleaners there now facing the street — but maybe there is still manufacturing going on behind that.


This little guy is life-sized — perched on the wall of a parking lot downtown:


This horse statue is rolled out each day in front of Jedlicka’s Saddlery.  It doesn’t seem to be the standard fiberglass model.  He looks like he’s been patched up quite a bit over the years.  Apparently, he had a bridle originally.  And a passerby confirmed that he used to have a saddle.


A couple from Goleta to close out this post.  A former Rexall Drug sign — the orange and navy porcelain peeking through:


I have no idea how authentically vintage this one is — maybe none of it.   But the Indian piece does seem to be weathered.  I also don’t know what it read under that vinyl tarp:


I’ll probably spend the rest of my weekend working on my long-neglected website.  I still have thousands of photos to add from my spring & summer trips.  I really don’t need to travel for a while!  But I might make a trip down to L.A. one of these weekends soon to grab some things from my “locker” — and take a few photos.

Rather wistfully, I missed all the drama of Hurricane Sandy “back home”.  My old neighborhood never lost power — but my old workplace did and is still closed (nearly a week now).   I hope you all went unscathed or are now back on the path to normalcy.