MY LATEST, now up online at Preservation magazine, explores the deep history of the Wilfandel Club in the Los Angeles’s West Adams district.
The club, for more than seven decades, has been a integral meeting-spot in Los Angeles for many generations of African American Angelenos. As West Adams undergoes the same shifts in gentrification as some of the older, established yet “under-the-radar” neighborhoods in L.A, the Wilfandel women are gearing up to ready to protect what was hard won.
The Wilfandel Clubhouse is a Mediterranean Revival house was built in 1912 via Preservation
From the piece:
Founded in 1945 by Della Williams and Fannie Williams (the two were not related), the Wilfandel Club House offered a singular experience: an elegant gathering place for black Angelenos to meet or celebrate in style. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently awarded the club a $75,000 grant through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF) to assist the women of the Wilfandel with essential infrastructure upkeep. Preserving this property is a way to honor all that’s come before—that struggle to acquire and protect one’s place in an ever-evolving Los Angeles.
A DEEPLY involving and bittersweet presentation at #LAPL’s Central Library on Saturday afternoon. Annie Laskey and her mother Marlene hatched a plan to walk the stretch of Wilshire Boulevard from its downtown high-rises and mid-town department stores to the edges of the sea. Annie mentioned that the thrill at first was less about the walk and more about getting to operate the Minolta SLR. Annie shot and Marlene made note (see the notebook in the grid below). While Marlene and many of the iconic locations that the Laskeys recorded are no longer with us, the absences were filled with vivid stories. Grateful for the Laskeys and their. sticktoitiveness Hundreds of sites have now been preserved on Kodachrome slides. The Wilshire Boulevard — the Carnation Building, Mutual of Omaha, Ambassador Hotel– that still exists in my head flickered to life with her stories. You can glimpse 100 of those images in a new book, “The Wilshire Slides 1978–1979” put out through LAPL’s Photo Collection and Photo Friends the nonprofit organization formed to support & promote the collection.
I’M MORE THAN a little tardy posting this but projects have been flying in and out the door, and my fingers are trying their very best to keep up. But this afternoon from a couple of weeks back remains on my mind.
Mike Sonksen (AKA Mike the Poet) is a civic treasure. He’s one of those faces that float into view at almost every poetry event and almost every corner of town. He’s a many-generation native of Los Angeles and with that he’s taken a multilayered interest in the city. All of it is up for exploration and inquiry.
Mike is also known around the poetry scene for his indiosyncratic city tours — on foot, by bus, via Metro — that have always featured the energy and of freestyle poetry and history. For as many years as I have known him, this was the very first time I had been able to take part in one of the downtown walkabouts. This round he featured other poets along the way, among them — Traci Akemi Kato-kiriyama, Rocío Carlos and F. Douglas Brown — who paused to share observations or self-reflections about sense of place or considered their personal place within with ever-shifting landscape of Los Angeles.
Much of the day and night before, it had been storming. Uncharacteristic downpours for May. But by mid morning the rain eased and the clouds pushed back enough to give the sky depth and offer a poem itself. We walked up and down hills, stood on overpasses and beneath flowering jacaranda trees to listen to aural snapshots of the city. Tourists in our own town. Just as we finished for the day, the clouds gathered again and the rain made an encore. Polite enough, however, to wait until the very last word. It was as if Mike had arranged it. Not once did he appear worried that we’d rain out, have to run for cover. Not one minute. He knows better. He knows how to read not just the streets, but the skies and the promises they won’t break.
To read Mike’s latest about L.A. new poet laureate, Robin Coste Lewis, click here.
image by Damon Casarez linked via Los Angeles Magazine
NICE PIECE up at Los Angeles Magazine by Jesse Katz about Westlake’s “slippery oasis” known as MacArthur Park.
The people who turn up in the lake these days may look different from those who perished a century ago. They may come from different parts of the world and inhabit different social echelons. We may have a more sophisticated vocabulary for their breakdowns, a more nuanced understanding of addiction and despair. But the guile of the lake—the melodrama of our city—is not a modern condition.
Every fall, I think about my old across-the-landing neighbor who worked graveyards undercover with LAPD, his beat to spin around those shadows in the Park. I know he could write a book or two. Jesse’s piece brought all that back…me standing, balancing with my laundry listening to native noir stories.
West Adams Terrace. Photo by Larry Underhill via L.A. Conservancy
… has a story …
This weekend, the Los Angeles Conservancy is offering a series of tours featuring historic neighborhoods in Los Angeles: Windsor Village, County Club Park, Wilshire Park are among them. As well the day-long event will offer sessions and workshops on sustainability, greening your home and balancing redevelopment and preservation.
And even if you can make it in the flesh, all of Los Angeles has been invited to participate in the discussion by using the hashtag, #LAStoryhood, to document the uniqueness of their own neighborhood in photographs via Twitter and Instagram… Looking forward to these personal virtual tours.
THIS IS my old neighborhood. Literally a stone’s throw away our old house and long-ago routines.
It was a deep-dose of nostalgia to sit on a patio beneath a canopy of green to conduct interviews and see the high-rise office building where my mother would take us for our pediatrician appointments. We shopped steps away in the now-vanished Santa Barbara Plaza and the old Crenshaw mall. It’s encouraging to see the shifts and additions as well as the fact that two savvy restauranteurs have decided to set down roots here.
“The space serves as a touchstone for Angelenos who have grown up in one of these contiguous neighborhoods and may want to travel back, not just to a physical place, but to a time. “There’s a reason why this is a neighborhood,” Brad Johnson reflects. “So many did stay rooted here emotionally, even after they moved away.” from my profile on Brad Johnson and Govind Armstrong and their restaurant Post & Beam now up at at KCET DEPARTURES.
I CAN’T express how happy I am to finally hear that Los Angeles Plays itself, Thom Anderson’s inclusive all over the map — literally– look at L.A. on film will finally be available for purchase this Fall.
from Alissa Walker’s post on Gizmodo:
If you haven’t seen it before, Los Angeles Plays Itself is innately entertaining as a cinematic experiment, even to the Angeleno-agnostic. Narrated with Andersen’s own commentary, the documentary features over 200 clips from films about Los Angeles, examining everything from the stereotypes surrounding the city’s automobile culture to an oft-repeated thesis that villains live in modernist houses (below). In short, it’s probably the most important media study ever conducted on the city—maybe any city!—and no one has been able to see it.
When I was teaching my “Telling L.A.’s Story” course, I used the film as a sort of red carpet into a Los Angeles my students hadn’t seen. My hope too was that it would at the same time get them thinking a differently about the city they traversed and interacted with daily. City as set. City as City. Each semester though, I had to hunt around for links because they would often be removed — only to be replaced by others. It will be great to have this sprawling moving canvass at the ready.
I feel a series of “Plays Itself” viewing parties in our near future…