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California Fool's Gold Episode Guide

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 23, 2014 08:33pm | Post a Comment
California Fools Gold by Eric Brightwell

I thought that it might be useful to publish an "episode guide" of my California Fool's Gold pieces here on the Amoeblog. I've also been invited to speak about them for a class on diversity in Los Angeles at Emerson College so this goes out to the students in Professor Oliver's class. 



Sonic Youth - "Eric's Trip" (off Daydream Nation)


If you're a fan of this sort of thing (or you're just temporarily mesmerized by the computer screen in front of you) you might also enjoy my column over at KCET called Block By Block in which I explore our vast Southland without the use of a car whether by foot, bike, bus, train, subway, ferry or otherwise. As with Eric's Blog, Block By Block also often feature my maps which I create as Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography

California Fool's Gold -- A Channel Islands Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 20, 2013 02:49pm | Post a Comment
WHO WOULD FLOAT ME TO MY ISLAND DREAM? -- THE CHANNEL ISLANDS

Foggy Day
Foggy Day (Image credit: Lee Shurie for California Kayak Friends)

On planet Earth there are at least two archipelagos known as “The Channel Islands.” Frankly, I'd be somewhat surprised if there aren't more. One is located in an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates France and the UK known in English as “The English Channel” or simply “The Channel.” It's traversed (or is it subversed) by the Chunnel. Its eight Channel Islands are home to about 168,000.

Channel Islands of California

The other Channel Islands are in an arm of the Pacific Ocean called the Santa Barbara Channel. Being located in California they are are often distinguished from their Atlantic counterparts by their being referred to as the Channel Islands of California. There are also eight islands in this archipelago although they’re only home to about 4,000 people. In some ways they have more in common with another archipelago, the Galapagos Islands of South America. Both developed in relative isolation which allowed for an independent evolutionary processes. In the Channel Islands' case, that process led to the development of at least 145 endemic species.

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California Fool's Gold -- A San Fernando Valley Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 5, 2012 10:55am | Post a Comment

WHERE THE WEST BEGINS AND THE SUNSET ENDS -- THE VALLEY 

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY STATE COLLEGE 1973 postcard
San Fernando Valley State College postcard (1973)

_THE_ VALLEY - A SAN FERNANDO VALLEY PRIMER


San Fernando Valley panorama

San Fernando Valley panorama


There are numerous valleys in Los Angeles County: the Antelope, Crescenta, Hungry, Peace, Pomona, PuenteSan Gabriel, Santa Clara River, and Santa Clarita, to name a few of the better known ones. However, when one hears mention of The Valley it is almost universally recognized as a reference to LA County's San Fernando Valley.

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California Fool's Gold -- A Hollywood Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 26, 2012 09:42pm | Post a Comment
HOLLYWOOD SWINGING

Hollywood Boulevard - 1927
Hollywood Boulevard in 1927 at the opening of Hells Angels at Grauman's Chinese

Hollywood is famous around the world as the one-time center of the American film industry. Although Hollywood isn't the original home of the west coast film industry (nearby Edendale in Echo Park and Sycamore Grove in Highland Park both have stronger claims to that distinction), Hollywood has for almost a century continued to serve as a metonym for that industry (and inspire portmanteaus like Bollywood, Dollywood, Ghallywood, Kollywood, Mollywood, Nollywood, Tollywood, etc); even though that most of the film industry mostly long ago abandoned the neighborhood, primarily for the San Fernando Valley. Hollywood has done an excellent job of branding though. After all, you don't have other countries referring to their film industries as "Bedendale," "Nycamore Grove", or "the Ghalley."

Vintage Hollywood Postcard

The Hollywood neighborhood has expertly continued to pimp its association with the American film industry that formerly called it home where the other neighborhoods did not. In Edendale, the oldest studio was torn down and is now a vacant lot where the 2 Freeway meets Glendale. The old Mack Sennet Studio where Charlie Chaplin and Keystone Cops movies were made is now a public storage facility unceremoniously tucked behind a Jack in the Box. Hollywood, on the other hand, continues to bill itself as "The Entertainment Capital of the World" and adds industry-related tourist attractions like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was installed long after the last pieces of tinsel in tinseltown had blown over the hills.
Homeless on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Today there are relatively few vestiges of Hollywood's cinematic past not installed merely to attract tourists -- of the film studios, only Paramount remains. Of the major label music industry, only Capitol Records remains. The aforementioned Walk of Fame -- to me, at least -- serves primarily as a testament to the ephemeral nature of stardom. Not to be hopelessly cynical but the first time I saw the names like Bryan Adams, Sean "Diddy" Combs, and Paula Abdul, I felt nothing but disinterest. However, for roughly ten million annual visitors it's presumably something terribly exciting and I honestly don't want to disparage that.

Hollywood Boulevard shops

I would be very surprised, however, if much of Hollywood doesn't disappoint the celebrity or glamor-chaser because it really has little of either. Along a particularly acrid stretch Hollywood Boulevard, low-end shops hawk photos of celebrities alongside stripper-wear, I Love Lucy lunch boxes, tacky cell phone cases, novelty license plates, T-shirts and other chintz. People dressed rather unconvincingly as superheroes attempt to bully clueless tourists into tipping them for posing in pictures. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's saddened by the spectacle. 

California Fool's Gold -- A South Los Angeles Westside Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 29, 2011 08:54pm | Post a Comment
LETS SHOW THESE FOOLS HOW WE DO THIS ON THAT WESTSIDE

Just as Los Angeles has two Eastsides (one being the largely Latino enclave east of the LA River and the other being South Los Angeles east of the 110 and/or Main St) it also has two Westsides. One Westside is a collection of LA's westernmost neighborhoods (such as Bel Air, Brentwood and Venice) and the area's enclosed cities (like Culver CitySanta Monica and Beverly Hills).

The other Westside is the area of South Los Angeles (and the surrounding communities) that lie west of the 110, south of the 10 and east and north of the 405 (although some of those are can make the historical argument for being part of the South Bay, despite being separated from the Santa Monica Bay by miles of land and other cities). This westside, after white flight in the 1950s to the present, is also colloquially known as "The Black Westside" and indeed, it's still, as of 2011, home to most of Los Angeles's black residents and businesses despite changing demographics.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Map of South LA's Westside
Pendersleigh & Sons' Map of South LA's Westside

The region of South LA's Westside is a large area bounded by South LA's Eastside to the east, The Harbor to the southeast, The South Bay to the west and south west, The Westside to the northwest and Midtown to the north. Definitions differ of exactly what communities constitute the region with several also claiming the South Bay and/or The Harbor. No doubt part of the reason these neighborhoods are in question are due to residents of and developers in those communities eager to disassociate themselves with South LA, which carries negative connotations for many.

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