Tuesday, September 27, 2011

David Bowie

Three David Bowie artifacts.
 This is actually a custom shirt hanging in a window in downtown L.A. It appears as though the shirt has vanished, leaving only a silkscreen image floating in air, or perhaps it is a banner waving from a traffic signal.
Bowie, summer 1974 at the former Universal Amphitheater in L.A.
A precursor to blurry cell phone concert photos. I took this with an SLR from the back row.
An image of Bowie on my teenage birthday cake.
That's the iconic Aladdin Sane cover rendered in frosting.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gold Line Los Angeles

Notes from the Gold Line.

The three men seated nearest to me on the Gold Line are variations of the same person; gaunt, weather-beaten and of indeterminate age. All have baseball caps and small grubby packs.

A couple of young guys are at the front of the car, wearing the same kind of caps. One has the brim reversed for variation. They both have ear buds jammed in, and their heads bob. They stare at the devices in their cupped palms, as if holding living creatures.

At Lake Station two girls in matching orange outfits get on. They speak streams of run - on sentences, augmented with texts -- or images that they flash each other from their phones.  One dramatically repeats the phrase; "I'm serious".

"Looking Out, Not Down."

My attention turns again to the young men. They're slouched in the metal seats that are not designed for anyone to sit comfortably in. Cords dangle from their ears like fibrous growths. They look down -- rather than out. They could be kids anywhere in the world with their posture and ubiquitous technology. Plugged-in -- the cliche of their generation. The phrase  "self -contained" also comes to mind. Cell phone, Ipods, lap top in a travel case -- and good to go. 

Of course I have all that stuff too, but gadgets don't imbue me with the sense of speed, ease and mastery of life projected by the cyber- generation. I don't feel particularly empowered. Maybe they don't either. Who knows what they think? It's probably fundamentally the same for us all. Be it a Smart Phone or shabby pack; we hold them in desperate grips, like talismans.

 I've always loved looking out windows. Windows in motion are even better. Life's right there. Does anybody notice that? What details will they remember for their memoirs? Are memoirs even necessary for humans living real - time - online reality shows? Past actions looping in perpetuity. Data awaiting harvest.

"Windows In Motion."

At Del Mar Station one of the "old" guys disembarks; he morphs into a bleached out phantom in the August sun. Have I just written his memoir by the simple act of noting his existence?  Or is he  noting;  "a man of indeterminate age wearing a fedora and  holding a camera on the Gold Line." that he will later add to the monumental "History of Everything" that he's secretly writing,  that only he will ever read? 
I wonder if  those cheerleaders carelessly taking snapshots of themselves with their phones, inadvertently caught me and later will discover a stranger's face haunting their personal photos. 

I exit at Hollywood and Vine. Emerging at street level,  I switch my wallet to breast pocket for security; clutch camera to my gut -- and I'm good to go.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Santa Fe, South Pasadena, Olga

Westbound toward Union Station, past "Olga" circa 1970.
View from alley that parallels Hawthorne.
 Can anyone ID the train?
My childhood friend Dave lived on Monterey Road between Orange Grove and Indiana Avenue. The Santa Fe line ran right behind his house. I remember a siding, a little shanty and a sign that said "Olga". All of the times I visited, over many years; I never tired of watching trains. Never. Though I'm not a hard core rail fan like some of my friends;  I'm still drawn to rail travel, depots and related history. The sounds and rhythm. Railroads are musical and poetic.

There were no fences; us kids were always fooling around on the tracks. No adult supervision. The east bounds would throttle down as they approached Indiana Avenue. That distinctive change of pitch was thrilling. Wish I had a recording of it. All those grade crossings. It must have been crazy from an engineer's perspective. 

Looking west toward Indiana Ave. Circa 1970
 "Olga" was on left easement between ally and tracks.
Train tracks unleashed a daredevil spirit. How many times could you hop over both sets of tracks with the train approaching?  You couldn't really get run over by a train.  Air horn, huge head lamp, creosote aroma mixed with lingering diesel, as the last car disappeared  just past Orange Grove Avenue, where the track curved sharply. Did the toilets really flush directly onto the tracks? What happened to the penny we put on the rail? The really bad boys placed much larger objects than pennies out there, but they never stopped the train.
View of "Olga" westbound from Gold Line train.
Sound barrier parallels alley.
What exactly was Olga; a telegraph shack, or shed for rail crews?  I never knew for sure -- or maybe I did and forgot. I wish I had taken a photo of it before it was torn down.

Seeing the passengers in the windows of the shiny silver Santa Fe coaches always made me wish I was on the train. The only time I ever traveled that stretch while it was still standard gauge was in the early 1970's. For a brief period there were some private rail excursions around the time Amtrak took over. I don't remember who sponsored them.  I remember one of the trips was called "Spring Time In Tehachapi" I've got some photos of those trips.  All this returned to my memory when I was taking the Gold Line into L.A. the other day.  Anybody out there remember this stuff?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hollywood & Vine Street Shots

Bat Girls On Hollywood Blvd.
Vine St. Script.
Stretch Limo, Hollywood Blvd.
Our attention reflexively turns to view entrances
and exits from these distended vehicles.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mall Of America

Bloomington, Minnesota

Frozen in place #1

A Rage, Garage, Gage

Happy Hamsters

Consumers Descending  

Consumers Ascending

Frozen in place #2.


Bettie Page

Chicken Outfit

Mall Of America, Minnesota by Dorian Speechinpiedmont