Monday, August 22, 2011

Neon Jungle

Examples of Los Angeles Neon from the 1980s

Flipper's Roller Boogie Palace, located on the corners of Santa Monica Blvd & La Cienega Blvd. in West Hollywood, CA. was briefly the real-life embodiment of the kind of roller skating nightclub immortalized in the 1980 film "Xanadu". This photo was taken in 1980, not long before it closed in 1981, making way for an ESPIRIT clothing store. Today it is the site of a drug store.

Hot Neon

The Starwood Night Club in West Hollywood, Ca. around 1980 when it was a showcase for punk bands. It closed down after a fire in 1981. Currently an ugly little corner mall on Santa Monica Blvd.
Sign that used to adorn the Jim Morris Gym in West Hollywood, Ca. Photo taken in 1981. Was located right next to the former home of FLIPPER'S ROLLER BOOGIE PALACE on Santa Monica Blvd.
Sign for The Pleasure Chest adult fetish superstore on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, CA.  1981
In 1981 Melrose Avenue was flooded in neon, and one of the more animated signs was this active one for FLIP used clothing store.
The Tropicana Motel was a popular motel for rock bands, tourists, and burn-outs - located on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, Ca. Photo is from 1981. It was torn down in 1988. Currently the site of one of the ugliest hotels ever built. Dukes coffee shop, which was next door to the motel, had the best chocolate cake in town.
Another example of Los Angeles Neon 1981
Sign for the Gold Cost bar in West Hollwood, Ca., taken in 1981. Bar has been there as long as I've been in Los Angeles (since 1978) and I suspect it will still be there long after I'm gone.
Sign says it all. 1981, Los Angeles Ca.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Memories, Light The Corners of My Mind...

The Castro Movie Theater, Castro Street, San Francisco, CA
The Castro Theater is a 2000-seat movie palace built in 1922. Designed by architect Timothy L. Pfueger in the Spanish Baroque style, it was declared a landmark in 1976.
This was my neighborhood theater growing up in San Francisco during the late 60's. It was at the Castro that I first saw Rosemary's Baby, Barbarella, Bonnie & Clyde, and Midnight Cowboy in their original theatrical release.

The Alhambra Theater on Polk Street in San Francisco, CA. circa 1983 (the 1,625-seat theater had been split into 2 theaters by this time. The marquee above shows that one theater is playing the Burt Reynolds film, "Stroker Ace." 
While working as an usher at the theater in the 70's, the manager (a Mr. Lloyd, if I'm not mistatken) allowed me to climb up into that minaret pictured above. The view of the city from that height was spectacular, but the climb back down was terrifying.
The Alhambra movie theater on Polk Street is another San Francisco movie palace designed by the same architect who built the Castro Theater (Timothy L. Pfueger). The Alhambra Theater was inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Grenada, Spain, and is built in what is called the Moorish Revival style.
The Alhambra was declared a landmark in 1996 (after closing in 1998) and is currently the home of a CRUNCH gym.
Working as an usher at the Alhambra was my first job ever. I opened my first bank account at the Bank of America that was once across the street, and my first adolescent crush was on the handsome owner of the hair salon next door to the theater; a place called "As You Like It."
The movies that had their Bay Area premieres at the theater while I worked there were: The Stepford Wives (1975), Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), Return of the Pink Panther (1975), The Wild Party (1975), and Night Moves (1975). Most memorably, "Jaws" had its San Francisco sneak preview there in 1975. I can still remember standing in the lobby and hearing the screams.