Happy Birthday, Chester Himes

I JUST caught a little bit of this short, three-part documentary about Himes which is posted on YouTube. Best known for his novel — “If He Hollers Let Him Go,” Himes’s was always in motion in life and on the page. Though he lived both in Harlem and Paris, he also spent some time in Los Angeles in the 1940s where he tried to make a living in the screentrade. In that time here, he wrote, If He Hollers, and another novel, The Lonely Crusade which depicts one of the early waves of the African American Great Migration and the strange new territory of Los Angeles.

with a nod to Collectif James Baldwin — many thinks for the heads up.

L.A. “Objectified”

WHAT A great way to tell the story of a place. Los Angeles Magazine’s Chris Nichols has picked 232 objects as a way to spin a necklace of vignettes about the City of the Angels. It casts a wide net — Ray Bradbury’s typewriter, an old Thomas Guide, a tarnished Bullock’s Wilshire tea set and a handbill from the old Club Alabam on Central Avenue. There is a call for more suggestions. Click here to take a look at the entire gallery.
Now I’m thinking about what would make my shortlist….

Overdrive

I FINALLY got it in gear and made it up to the Getty Center to see, Overdrive, the comprehensive survey of the fast-paced expansion of L.A.’s modern landscape and architecture. I was caught off-guard that it was ending as it has only been up since April.

Though it was room after room busy with charts, video, still images, blueprints, sketches, architect models, even still what might seem to some an overload of information — I still wanted more.

I realize that has to do with my general hunger for information — further insight and shadings on the story– about how the many cities within one city came to be.

Through official documents and ephemera, the show traced the visual history of the addition of freeways, subdivisions, suburbia, public housing, aerospace, apartment culture, as well as venues that housed sports teams, studios and city government — the seats of power. In a certain way you felt as if you were watching the city grow up around you as you threaded from one end of the gallery to the next.

I left with the feeling that within each of these larger topics I wished there had been space to go as deep as they went broad, which made me think on my way back down the hill to be absorbed back into the sprawl I’d been looking at from above — that perhaps the next project could be taking each of those “headings” and present an ongoing show that spotlights each of these areas.

For those of us who grew up here watching L.A. shape-shift around us, there is nothing more satisfying that seeing htat growth from a distance and in stop-motion to be able to grasp just who we are and where we’ve come from.

There are a series of videos up at the Getty site including this beautiful glance-backward at Bunker Hill:

And this of the building of Baldwin Hills Village, which is now known as Village Green:


For more video click here.