Saturday, December 20, 2014

House Without A Cause

It's not surprising that this home located near Hollywood Boulevard doesn't look very familiar; even though it can be seen in one of the most classic 1950's melodramas, it was relegated to the background. At the beginning of "Rebel Without A Cause," a drunken Jim Stark (James Dean) can be seen laying down on the street playing with a toy monkey.

The house in the background is none other than the one you see here.

One of these days I'll try to match the shot at night; first I'll need to find the toy monkey.

This fence which was once on display at the now defunct James Dean Gallery in Fairmount, Indiana was also seen in "Rebel":

A closeup of the display which shows the scene with James Dean and Sal Mineo that turned this plain old wooden fence into something that was museum quality:

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Picking the Wright Hotel

Part of my making-lemonade-out-of-lemons mindset involved staying at the Arizona Biltmore on a recent journey to Phoenix. For years, I had lived under the false impression that this massive hotel had been designed by my architectural idol, Frank Lloyd Wright. Au contraire, mes amis. Wright was hired as a consultant by Albert Chase McArthur, the actual architect on record for the hotel that opened in 1929. Part of the Hilton portfolio, the company does very little to discourage this misconception.

The above vintage photo is from February 1936.

Ads for the desert resort touted its warm weather during the winter months, along with its riding trails, golf course, and numerous pools.

These hand-tinted post cards show the natural beauty of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve that surrounds the hotel.

Approaching the hotel:

The entrance:

The Patio area:

One of the pools:

From the lens of my camera, you can see that the property was decorated for Christmas.

Note the topiaries that spell out "Arizona Biltmore."

The bellmen waiting for the next guest to arrive:

A very large panoramic view to tide you over until the next post about my visit to the Arizona Biltmore:

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Saga Motel, Spring 1971

This spring 1971 image shows not only the iconic Harbor Boulevard Disneyland entrance sign...

but to the right, it features the Saga Motor Hotel.

The address of the Saga was 1650 Harbor Boulevard, which means it is now the Ramada Anaheim Maingate. This explains the tile artwork that could be seen on the back wall of one of the buildings there. The Saga had 100 rooms, a coffee shop, restaurant, cocktail lounge, gift shop, and travel service.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Picking the Wright School

In August 1997 I paid my first visit to Taliesin West in Arizona. My brother lived briefly in Scottsdale, which was how I happened to visit this school of architecture founded by the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright. At the time, I had a point and shoot film camera that had a VERY dirty lens. I was experimenting with 3D photography by manually moving the camera from one eye to the other. Not really very exacting, but still kind of cool. Here are a few of those photos brought to life through the miracle of FauxD©.

Because of some recent lemons-to-lemonade events in my life I found myself back in Arizona and was able to make a detour back to Taliesin West. I didn't have much time, but still managed to snap a few shots while there. It was interesting to see the differences in my composition 17 years later.

This time, I went in for a tight shot of this scary little dragon sculpture:

2014 version: shooting these beams at an angle makes a more compelling composition.

Also interesting to note that my camera was about as dirty as it was back in 1997; retouching those dirt spots is a pain in the arse.

This time, I attempted to capture the panoramic beauty of the landscape. Hope you enjoy as much as I did. Wright worked hard to get rid of the utility poles that were in his view; even contacted President Hoover. As you can see, he didn't get very far.

You can see the inspiration for Taliesin's logo in this rock:

You only got this tile "autograph" on your building if you followed Wright's instructions to a "T" with no changes. Very few of these exist.

If you ever get a chance to detour your way out to Taliesin West, do so…and be sure to take the tour. It is a more than worthwhile use of time that will give you a peak into the genius that was Frank Lloyd Wright.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Playing Hooky, Pt. 2

Welcome to Mickey's Toontown, circa April 2000. The bright colors of Mickey's House are right up my alley. We all had a blast posing inside.

Even doing the laundry can be fun with Mickey.

The reward at the end: meeting Mickey himself!

Another rarity: riding the Teacups!

the cups start swirling…

with a little help from us, as we furiously turned the inner wheel.

Once again I must have handed off my camera; what the heck was I thinking.

This shot truly sums up my thoughts on this attraction.

On Peter Pan, apparently I completely lost control of the camera, and most likely my friend Arlette had it. With a flash, the magical details of this scene are lost. You can see why cast members caution against using one.

Being helped from my vehicle, I am sure I was anxious to get my camera back!

Arlette looks sassy with her princess hat from the nearby Mad Hatter Shop.

If my friends look pissed off, they aren't. They are focusing on a game we were playing called "Hot Lava." We couldn't let our feet touch the ground because it was molten lava. These are the things we came up with to pass the time in the line queue.

Safe and sound, we made it on the attraction!

Wrapping our day up, we posed in Central Plaza with some of the mini statues that surrounded the Partners Statue.

Arlette posed with her Ginormous Mickey Hands as we exited Main Street, U.S.A.

The last one for the day was us exiting the park on the Tram.

Of the four of us, I am the only one left in San Diego, but we all still keep in touch. When we returned to work, the CEO's assistant said she was sorry she didn't get a chance to talk to us the day before. We hadn't even been missed!

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