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It’s seasonal, just like any resort town’s dynamics, and Incline Village is exemplary of that, surrounded by incredible natural beauty, inhabited by millionaires and the service class that caters to them, between the gorgeous lake and the majestic mountains. Starting with winter, from November through April, inside and home: the blanket with the bat-shape (but actually a Native American form) on the couch, the four-inch high bear figurine with the deer painting behind it, and the sun on the wall. But more so outside, during the snow covered half of the year, the Ridge Lift (the oldest and coolest chairlift) only runs a few days a season. That morning three feet of new pristine white stuff, sublime, beautiful beyond belief. Quiet as an absolute. Grey as the snowflakes got sparser. Got locked in the hut, the doorknob was broken. Banged on the window but Pete Kelly the director of lift operations took off on his snowmobile without hearing and I was stuck in there for a while but it was ok. A week before another big storm and at 6am walking to work at the ski area saw the happy face someone had carved in the snow on the rock underneath the “Village Highlands” sign. The skis (bought from Pete) leaning up against the employees’ locker room. Working at Diamond Peak, sitting in the lift sheds, thinking, the Eagles on the radio, watching the hawks ride the updrafts, the ski runs unfurling below and the resplendent blue of Lake Tahoe laid out beyond, the chairs going around and around in their inexorable circle. Co-workers drinking purple Rockstar™ energy drinks and Southern Comfort™ at 8am, smoking weed, flying down the slopes wasted. Stand by the lift, put people on the chairlift, and wait for lunch hour to ski. Then spring and summer, the amazing “bowling alley” made of pine cones and twigs found behind the baseball field at Preston Park, and the light at night like a Rene Magritte painting by the deserted tennis courts, the snowmaking cooling equipment seen in June and the shovel and broom on the porch.
During the summer months worked for the parks department. Under my mentor Jose’s tutelage learned to lay down chalk on the baseball fields. Also raked, shoveled, picked up trash, and drove a Gator. From the heights to the earth. Based on the inspection of what is low, what is at one’s feet. The baseball diamond dirt and chalk, the tennis courts’ beige and green, the yellow fiber plugs, the spray paint on the rocks, the manhole cover, the hose that is a hose but also a noose, the stakes and the dirt.
Martos Gallery, Los Angeles
3315 West Washington blvd.
wednesday – saturday 12-5 pm
the best zine on the planet releases the new book “Objects Also Die“…
“Observe its honesty, dignity, and moral courage; it’s drawn all the necessary conclusions from its own total loss of function. Objects also die my friend. And if they also must die, then that’s it, better to let them go. It shows far more style, above all. Don’t you agree?” So says Micòl Finzi-Contini. Grappling with that question and the necessity of letting go is the motivation behind the panegyric essay “Objects Also Die,” Doug Magnuson’s filmic memorial of the same name, and the two combined along with extra material that makes up Objects Also Die. Designed by Myron Hunt and built in 1920, Los Angeles’ The Ambassador prevailed at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard through innumerable guests, two Oscar ceremonies, one assassination of a presidential hopeful, and countless unrecorded collective and personal histories before being demolished to make way for a school in 2006. Through the prism of the hotel itself, San Diego’s El Cortez and Estes Park, Colorado’s The Stanley, this compendium explores the loss of the Ambassador while delving into the conundrum of dealing with the death of inanimate things that have taken on a life of their own. The draw at The Ambassador was communion with unknowable bygone times and that special stillness pervading rooms no one had been for a long time, a kind of mildly illicit romantic exploration of seductive ruins. Magnuson’s elegiac, calm, dry-eyed yet poetic nineteen minute documentation is accompanied by George Draguns’s affecting and occasionally spooky soundtrack, and the pages herein include Greg Magnuson’s haunting photographs of the beautiful decrepitude that defined the hotel in its last days. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (and the bungalow they set fire to), the Cocoanut Grove, the Venetian Ballroom are all included, as well as ephemera and mementos related to its seventy-year run, along with special guest appearances by Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Charles Manson, Alice Cooper, Norma Shearer, Art Nyhagen (the hotel’s doorman from 1946-89), and Dominique Sanda and Helmet Berger in Vittorio de Sica’s adaptation of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
in the 1940s and 50s, the heart of Fillmore jazz…
by ELIZABETH PEPIN
Billie Holliday singing at the New Orleans Swing Club. Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Kenny Dorham. Dexter Gordon hanging out at Bop City. During the musical heyday of San Francisco’s Fillmore District in the 1940s and 1950s, the area known as the “Harlem of the West” was a swinging place where you could leave your house Friday night and jump from club to party to bar until the wee hours of Monday morning. Nonstop music in clubs where Young Turks from the neighborhood could mix with seasoned professionals and maybe even get a chance to jump on stage and show their stuff. A giant multi-block party throbbing with excitement and music and fun.
“You might have four clubs in a block, two on each side of the street. And then you go around a couple more blocks and then you have another couple of clubs,” Earl Watkins recalls in an interview with Carol Chamberland for her documentary on Bop City. “You had the Club Alabam (1820-A Post Street), which was one of our old established jazz clubs. Across the street was the New Orleans Swing club. They had a (chorus) line of girls in there. The guys had an excellent band. On Fillmore between Sutter and Post, you had Elsie’s Breakfast Club… Then down the block was the club called the Favor. Across the street from that was the Havana Club. And then when you went down the next block, Fillmore between Post and Geary, you had the Long Bar, which had Ella Fitzgerald. Then down another couple of blocks and you had the Blue Mirror. Then across from the Blue Mirror, they had the Ebony Plaza Hotel. In the basement, they had a club. And if you went up Fillmore to Ellis Street, you had the Booker T. Washington Hotel. And on their ground floor, in the lounge, they had entertainment.”
As World War II ended and the decade changed, so did the music. Bebop, which had been introduced to San Francisco just after the war, was being embraced by the city’s musical community like a long-lost child. Jazz clubs began opening up all over, especially in the Tenderloin and in North Beach.
The Western Addition music scene was also growing larger. You could hear jazz, blues, and R&B at the dozens of clubs in the neighborhood. Vout City (1690 Post) was a club run by the handsome and colorful musician Slim Gaillard, who had a good ear for music but lousy business sense. The club quickly folded and Gaillard took off for Los Angeles, leaving Charles Sullivan, a prominent African American businessman and entrepreneur who owned the building, to find a new tenant. Sullivan approached Jimbo Edwards, one of San Francisco’s first black automobile salesman, to rent the space. Jimbo agreed to open up a cafe, which he called Jimbo’s Waffle Shop. However, local musicians had other ideas.
In an interview with Carol Chamberland, Jimbo tells more: “Now I opened up this little cafe thing with Jimbo’s Waffle Shop. But there was a big old room in there. So musicians didn’t have no place to play their work and whatnot. About eight, ten musicians come and say ÔLet’s take this back room and have us a hangout house.’ So when I opened it up, I said, yeah, OK. Now when we opened it up, we didn’t even have a bandstand… So I built me a bandstand… And so that’s how Bop City came. Now it didn’t have no name, so we figured since Bop City’s closed in New York, we might as well name it Bop City. But the bottom line, it was never Bop City, it was always Jimbo’s Waffle Shop.”
Bop City quickly became the place to play. After all the other clubs in the city shut down, everyone would head to 1690 Post for amazing after-hours jam sessions and parties. Duke Ellington, Ben Webster, Billy Eckstine, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Dinah Washington, and John Coltrane were but a few of the many musicians who graced the club’s stage.
Pony Poindexter describes the scene: “One night, or should I say one morning, Art Tatum was honored with a special party at Bop City. There was lots of food… Up on the piano were cases of liquor. After everyone had stuffed himself or herself, we all settled back to look and listen to some real piano playing. Still, several hours went by and no one moved. It was daybreak. No one moved. Finally it came to an end. When I left there, I was spent — both from playing and listening…The very next weekend we had at Bop City the big three trumpet players of the bop style: Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Kenny Dorham. Dexter (Gordon) was also there. The session went on til early noon the next day. Jimbo honored them all with a special dinner. The next week the Woody Herman band came to into town, and there was another party for them. That night we heard Stan Getz and Zoot Sims stretch out.”
Saxophonist John Handy, who later went on to play with Charles Mingus, began sneaking into Fillmore clubs at the age of 16 in 1949. For Handy, Bop City was like a second home, and musically it was his first home, having been a member of the house band at one time or another. He told me the club was a place where young aspiring musicians could sit mesmerized for hours, watching their heroes play on stage, and maybe even be given a chance to join them on stage.
In bebop, if you couldn’t play, the musicians would tell you to get right off the stage, even during your solo,” Hester says. “They didn’t care. You had to be good, or forget it.”
“THE LEGEND OF BOP CITY” 1998 directed by Carol Chamberland
the Los Angeles International Film Exposition — the original film fest in L.A…
“Filmex was, for many of us, the introduction to alternative film in Los Angeles,” recalled producer Tom Pollock, who served as chairman of the board of trustees of Filmex in those early years.
The first Filmex was launched on Nov. 5, 1971, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, with the premiere of “The Last Picture Show” and featured a circus-like opening night with a tightrope walker, a fire-eater and an elephant greeting the guests.
Pollock said the elephant was the brainchild of the late Gary Essert and the late Gary Abraham, who ran Filmex and were fondly referred to as “The Garys.” “Filmex was a different kind of film festival,” Pollock added. “You wouldn’t see elephants at Sundance.”
Filmex featured a 24-hour movie marathon at the El Rey Theatre one year. Snow globes were given away as favors in 1981. There was a special license plate on the second official vehicle of Filmex, used in 1985 for transporting prints and guests.
Director Alfred Hitchcock arrived for the premiere of his film “Family Plot” in 1976 driving a Universal Studios tour bus and was later seen dining with Jimmy Stewart and Hitchcock’s wife, Alma.
By 1987, Filmex had morphed into AFI Fest, which in 1990 honored the Spanish director, Pedro Almodovar, for his film “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!”
1971: Gary Essert (along with partner Gary Abraham) founds the Los Angeles International Film Expo (a.k.a. Filmex). The festival’s first edition, opening Nov. 5, featured The Last Picture Show (dir. Peter Bogdonovich) as its opening-night film, in addition to 40 other filmic selections. L.A. Times critic Arthur Knight reported that year that the L.A. Filmex could be an excellent avenue for garnering prestige for challenging and creative American films, which were largely being ignored on the international festival circuit and by American audiences (unfortunately, in its early years, few American films were entered). New films (by the likes of Pasolini, Demy, Chabrol and Bresson) screened at Grauman’s Chinese Theater alongside retrospectives of silent comedy icons like Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, film noir and Alfred Hitchcock. At its inception, the festival was non-competitive.
1972: Despite strong attendance, Filmex ends its second year with a budget deficit.
1974: Filmex moves from Grauman’s to the Paramount Theater in Hollywood. Films by Alejandro Jodorowsky (The Holy Mountain), Orson Welles (Fake) and Paul Verhoeven (Turkish Delight) have their American premieres at Filmex.
1980: Ten years on, the festival’s annual budget rises to about $600,000. At this point, Filmex is, as Charles Schreger writes in the L.A. Times, a film festival for the film industry (or, as Schreger writes, a festival “for the cineaste who would rather burn his copy of ‘Agee on Film’ than admit he enjoyed ‘Star Trek'”). Schreger estimates that 50,000 filmgoers were in attendance. In 1980, Essert boasts that Filmex is second to none.
1983: Personality clashes lead to Essert being ousted from the festival he created. Essert goes on to create American Cinematheque.
1985: Jerry Weintraub elected director by Filmex’s board. Weintraub announces plans to introduce compeition into Filmex by 1987 and plans to make Filmex more populist. Amidst other ambitious claims, Weintraub claims, “I’ll go head-to-head with Cannes for films.”
1986: Saddled with debt, Filmex merges with Essert’s American Cinematheque. Jerry Weintraub steps down as director.
1987: Filmex becomes the AFI Fest, in the wake of Filmex’s financial struggles (an estimated debt of over $300,000). AFI Fest, held at Hollywood’s Los Feliz Theater, is declared a success, despite lower ticket sales, reaching new audiences.
1992: Filmex (and American Cinematheque) founders Gary Essert and Gary Abrahams, partners for over 20 years, die of AIDS within a week of one another.
1993: AFI Fest’s budget is around $400,000. Its new incarnation is trimmed down and less flashy.
1995: Festival changes names again (it becomes simply the L.A. Film Festival).