Wednesday, May 24, 2017

P. Martin, Erik Paulsen and More

CHRIS HEDGES CLASS, GREAT
The students’ participation today was memorable in Prof. Tapp’s class on Chris Hedges book, “Unspeakable.”  Several of us spoke about getting involved in local school district elections to identify possible candidates who want to revise history with their “special” books.  Tapp teaches in the U of M OLLI program. 

PAULSEN’S DELIRIUM 
Monday night on his “telephone town hall” Rep. Erik Paulsen made the outlandish statement that Republicans and Democrats agree on the major tenets in the tax reform bill.  But according to published reports the Democrats remain skeptical, oppose net tax cuts and will resist proposals that mostly benefit high-income households,
Listeners were asked to submit questions but Paulsen rattled on incessantly about the FBI Russian probe to visiting police chiefs from Minnesota in one breath.  
Paulsen spoke to a class at Chaska High School recently and one of the students summarized the talk in a letter to the Star-Tribune.  Here’s part of what Mackenzie Herring wrote:
“I am a senior at Chaska High School. On Monday, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen visited. His answers to students’ questions had a prevailing and troubling theme. He was asked about not hosting town hall meetings, lack of women in Congress, actions to protect against hate speech, and the recent GOP health care bill. Paulsen would acknowledge the point, but then deflect the intent of the question to find a way to criticize the Obama administration.”

PATRICK MARTIN FOR CITY COUNCIL
Bloomington was founded by Europeans and American Indians in a spirit multi cultural cooperation and that spirit should be revived, City Council candidate Patrick Martin said Tuesday night at a meeting of Bloomington’s Progressive Issues group.
A fundraiser for non-profits, Martin seeks to bring aggressive programs to east Bloomington with problems that no longer should be ignored.  Outreach programs are needed to reach e east side residents don’t speak English and seniors ill poor health.  Lack of public transportation, affordable housing are other vexing issues.

Martin has done research and approaches these challenges with a solid background in the dynamics of communities coming together to improve lives of residents.

Friday, May 19, 2017

MAGAZINE PUBLISHES TERRACE THEATRE FEATURE


Robinnsdale’s Historic Terrace Theatre is featured in Classic Images (#504) June 2017 issue, pp. 44-45, with photos and other art work.  
“Terrace Theatre, One of America’s Finest,” was written by David Zarkin, Bloomington, a former writer for United Press International, Idaho Daily Statesman and University of Minnesota.  

To order this issue of the magazine, contact Classic Images, Carol Peterson, 563-262-0539 or carol.peterson@muscatinejournal.com

AMERICA’S FINEST THEATER REMEMBERED by David Zarkin
Minnesotans for more than a year have been sharing movie-going memories and celebrating one of the nation’s outstanding mid century modern design movie theaters, the Terrace in suburban Robbinsdale.
“Few, if any, Twin Cities movie theaters ever attracted the kind of national attention that the Terrace received when it opened in 1951,” Dave Kenney wrote in his book, Twin Cities Picture Show.  The theater was demolished in early October by the property owner to make way for a Hy-Vee grocery store.
The Terrace Theatre, which was vacated 16 years ago and changed ownership several times, was a beacon to the community with a high tower topped by lighted letters that spelled out Terrace.  Looking more like a church than a movie house, the Terrace was a community gathering place where residents came together in this mid century modern building that set Robbinsdale apart from lager suburbs that were littered with dreary strip malls.
The Terrace Theatre was the vision of businessmen William and Sidney Volk, orphaned immigrant children who came to Minneapolis from Lithuania in the early 1920s.  Sidney attended the University of Minnesota and wanted to go to medical school but couldn’t afford  the tuition, said his niece Barbara Sidley.  
By the 1930s the brothers were well established Twin Cities movie exhibitors looking to make a big splash by building the Riverview Theater in 1949 near the Mississippi River in a residential neighborhood.  The Riverview was later remodeled to incorporate many of the modern design elements of the Terrace and remains a popular destination for Twin Cities moviegoers who want to enjoy the latest exhibition technology at bargain prices.
Architectural magazines raved about the Riverview, Will Hertz reported March 3, 1949 in the Minneapolis Tribune, while the brothers were building “the theater of tomorrow” in Robbinsdale.  Realizing that television was taking a toll on movie attendance in the late 1940s, the Volks recruited imaginative architects Liebenberg and Kaplan to design a modern unique space age movie house that would give Minnesotans compelling reasons to leave their comfortable living rooms. 
When the Terrace opened in 1951 showing Father’s Little Dividend,  the theater’s newspaper ad boasted that this new theater has “two spacious well furnished nursery rooms, special loge sections for ultra comfort, staggered seating for better vision, 100 percent temperature conditioner and the largest theater in the great Northwest with 1,300 seats.”
Volk brothers’ great grandnephew David Sidley said as a child going to the Terrace he was surprised to find a TV lounge on the side of the foyer which seemed out of place in a movie theater.  Boxoffice magazine on Aug. 4, 1951, reported that the TV lounge “gets a steady play from patrons who become perfect prospects for soft drinks and snacks served from the bar.”  Barbara Sidley, the Volk brothers’ niece, said the Terrace was the first theater to sell hot dogs in addition to popcorn and other refreshments.
Going to the Terrace was like coming home.  The theater featured a sunken lounge with a copper-hooded fireplace and a redwood smoking lounge was provided in the men’s room.  “Unique features included three garage stalls in the basement, a system of dumbwaiters serving the candy counter and coke bar, spacious refreshment storage rooms and two large private offices.  The theater tops a rise overlooking a surrounding portion of the countryside set with several of the sparkling lakes for which the region is famous,” Boxoffice reported.  
Years before the theater closed in 1999, it was divided into three screens, but competition from nearby suburban multiplexes sealed the fate of the space age modern building.  David Leonhardt of Robbinsdale worked at the theater where he met his future wife Alyssa and most recently headed a group that sought to preserve the building.  He and others encouraged developers  to incorporate  the theater in their plans for the site. 
“Everybody in Robbinsdale or from Robbinsdale has some kind of an emotional connection to the Terrace,” said Diane Jacobson, president of the Robbinsdale Historical Society. “It was the showplace of the town.”  
Efforts were underway before the demolition to list the theater on the National Registry of Historic Places and May 23, 2016, was declared “Historic Terrace Theatre Day” honoring the 65th anniversary of America’s finest movie house.
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

MEMOIRS, LOS ANGELES AND SPOKANE

UPI/NBC NEWS HOLLYWOOD
Side splitting hilarious is the 1971 teen fanzine “Spec” which must be short for spectator. My friend Babs gave me this rag and it brought back memories of my very short stay at the UPI Hollywood International Bureau in 1963 in the Los Angeles Mirror Building. 

UPI frankly didn’t know what to do with me so they shuffled me off to the Hollywood desk where I worked with a young woman who was a student in broadcasting at USC. One of her instructors was John Thompson who she referred me to and that bit of kindness landed me a job as a go-for editorial assistant at NBC News where Thompson was news director. (He was later fired for some improprieties; the details escape me.)
Working on the Hollywood desk got me out of firing range of Vernon Scott’s paper torpedoes. REMEMBERING UPI’s VERNON SCOTT
Paul Scorvino portrays United Press International Hollywood reporter Vernon Scott in 1964 in the Warren Beatty movie “Rules Don’t Apply.”  I worked with Scott at UPI in the Los Angeles Times Building on Spring Street in the summer of 1963after completing Coast Guard boot camp.
Scott was manic at times, throwing waded up balls of copy paper at me across the office that he would rip out of his typewriter in the course of knocking out his column.
“Rules” deals with an eccentric billionaire corporate deal maker who may be crazy and fears that his enemies may want to lock him away in an insane asylum.  Sound familiar?
More than a movie about Howard Hughes, it’s about “sexual puritanism in the late 1950s.”  Much of the story may be fictional but the character “Mamie” could be Mamie Van Doren who Hughes discovered at the Miss Palm Springs beauty contest and cast in “Jet Pilot.”  Ms. Van Doren was not acquainted with sexual puritanism, according to her autobiography.

I definitely was not up to the challenge of fabricating a piece on Ricky Nelson who was recently married to Mark Harmon’s sister and they were expecting their first born. These features were distributed by mail to newspapers worldwide. Since the Nelsons did not allow interviews, I needed to make up something benign out of thin air. I had difficulty rewriting a news release let alone make up some garbage about them shopping for strollers and diapers. As if I really cared. I did a quick count from the marriage date to when the little cherub was due and said to my coworker, “there’s our story.” She was not amused. I did not last long at Hollywood UPI.

BOWL & PITCHER

Nestled in the bends of the Spokane River amongst the huge rock formations was the heavenly Bowl and Pitcher Park where we celebrated July 4th with cap guns and a picnic.  It was a kid’s wonderland which I looked forward to every summer until we got the lake cabin which was a different kind of July 4 .

Although Gramps didn’t observe dietary laws, he avoided eating pork.  And Mom warned us kids that we weren’t to say anything about the canned pork and beans.  So at the picnic I left slip that  I wasn’t supposed to say anything about the p-o-r-k.  We had a good laugh about that one.


The park was down river from the famous Natatorium Amusement Park where summer brought rides on the Jack Rabbit and dodgem cars.  I also lived the “nut house” fun in he dark ride and the Merry Go Round with the huge clown’s head where you could throw the silver rings.  I was too nervous to grab for the brass ring which would bring you a free ride.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

YET ANOTHER BAD ONE, THE ROOM


“THE ROOM” — PERFECT DATE MOVIE
“You drive me crazy.  Don’t worry about it, I still love you,” whines Tommy Wiseau as the romantic lead in the midnight cult classic “The Room” playing once a month at the Uptown.  The DVD is more rewarding wherein an interviewer interrogates Wiseau, a middle age freaky no talent with a German accent and a Tiny Tim wig.  This contemporary Orson Welles credits his success to “meticulous planning.”

“This is getting worse and worse,” one of the actors observes and after few minutes of this soft core porn mess I couldn’t agree more.  Wiseau is not only the romantic lead but also the writer, producer and distributor of “The Room.”  In Wiseau’s film, actors open and close doors frequently, interspersed with some nudity.  

Guys in tuxedo’s toss a football around in a scene reminiscent of the charging buffaloes in Ed Wood’s “Glen or Glenda.”  Cutaway shots are frequent and out of context.  

This is a “weekend movie” where an erstwhile director rents a camera and assembles a few drunken friends to “act” in his apartment.
In this era where incompetent people aspire to high profile positions it’s no wonder Wiseau has achieved some notoriety.  In fact, the quirkish actor James Franco plans to make a biopic on Wiseau and “The Room.”

Is this worth staying up till midnight and paying $8 at the Uptown?  Probably not. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Recommended Movies, TV May 2017

GREATEST FILMS
Of the 100 “America’s greatest films” on the AFI list, I own 15.  Three are on DVD and the others are VHS. http://www.filmsite.org/afi100filmsA.html

3 FALLEN LADIES
“I like the world better drunk than sober,” says Madame X played by Lana Turner in the 1966 Universal tear-jerker of the same name.  Words  to live by in the tragic world of scorned film women also portrayed in “Stella Dallas” and “Rain.”  
Bring Kleenex to the climatic death scene with X and her “son” in the jail cell.  For “Stella Dallas,” you’ll also need tissue as a forlorn Barbara  Stanwyck  stands on the sidewalk behind the fence’s iron bars as she watches her daughter’s wedding.  (Imprisoned by her imprudent ways.)
The defining scene in “Rain” comes at the end when Joan Crawford as Sadie Thompson dressed for barroom rendezvous with torch music blaring shows no remorse at the untimely demise of the Rev. Davidson.  

Take note of the similar slutty costumes for both Stanwyck and Crawford and Turner’s transformation from glamour queen to bag woman is amazing.  -  Zarkin

YOU KNOW DORIS
If you live in the Midwest you have to know at least one or more Doris — people who have put their lives on hold and don’t know why.   “Hello, My Name is Doris” with Sally Field as Doris and Max Greenfield as the object of her desires, is a provocative dramedy,  
Max was born in 1980, almost 20 years after Ms. Field’s sitcoms were airing on TV.  The key scene in the movie is when she is removing her makeup.  You either cry or laugh.
There’s no Hollywood ending for Doris. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6vBnnryIug

RED SCARE
The PBS documentary deals with the 1930s when the Communist Party was most active in the U.S.  Great concentration of wealth and unskilled laborers demanding higher pay and better working conditions were prominent issues then.  Sound familiar?  Compelling viewing.   www.americanreds.com

WHILE YOU SLEPT
Matronly Gertrude Berg sews the loose buttons on strangers clothing while she dispenses unsolicited grandmotherly advice in the sitcom “Mrs. G. Goes to College.”  What’s supposed to be hilarious about this ill-advised TV show is the idea that a granny might want to further her education.  
Well, it’s happening everywhere now through the Osher Lifetime Learning Institute at the University of Minnesota, UC Riverside, Boise State University and more.  Seniors take non-credit classes on campus, at community centers and senior residence communities.

WHILE YOU SLEPT
Matronly Gertrude Berg sews the loose buttons on strangers clothing while she dispenses unsolicited grandmotherly advice in the sitcom “Mrs. G. Goes to College.”  What’s supposed to be hilarious about this ill-advised TV show is the idea that a granny might want to further her education.  
Well, it’s happening everywhere now through the Osher Lifetime Learning Institute at the University of Minnesota, UC Riverside, Boise State University and more.  Seniors take non-credit classes on campus, at community centers and senior residence communities.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

REMEMBERING RADIO

RADIO, A KID’S BEST FRIEND
“I am the Whistler and I know many things for I walk by night.  I know many strange tales hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows.  Yes I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak.”

With the lights off every Sunday night on KXLY CBS I would get creeped out listening to my Sears Roebuck little radio in bed.  Signal Oil Co. was the sponsor and the intro theme was whistled by Dorothy Roberts, according to “The Big Broadcast 1920-50.”  Yes the Whistler could give you nightmares so don’t tell Mom.  I should have been sleeping but who could sleep with the Whistler on.

Old time radio was the drug of choice for kids and Spokane, in fly over land, was spared television’s introduction until 1953.  So at an age when I could appreciate radio drama I was into it with CBS, MBS, NBC and ABC.

Sunday afternoon was big with the Mutual Mysteries:  The Shadow and Nick Carter, not to be missed. With “Inner Sanctum” and “Gangbusters” there was no reason to leave the radio.


I actually participated in a radio play reading when I toured the BBC on Regent St. in London in 1998.  The Brits in the tour insisted on doing a western which was a strange choice, I thought.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

LALA LAND, SO. AFRICA, HOPKINS MANN

HOLLYWOOD IN SOUTH AFRICA
“Untamed” is a Fifties romanticized Hollywood whitewash of the “taming” of the native African continent by whites.  It’s best to cheer when a Zulu heaves a spear that lands in the chest of an unwelcome white.  

A related documentary in 1993 is worth a look: “In Darkest Hollywood:  Cinema and Apartheid.”

DIM IMAGES AT CINEPLEX
At the Mann Hopkins yesterday for “LaLa Land” we experienced a very dim image on the screen which makes us think that Mann is trying to save a few nickels on electricity.  If you were home you would select “dynamic” on the remote.
This has happened elsewhere, including the AMC Rosedale.  But the Riverview is consistently brilliant.

LALA LAND REVISITED
A good reason to revisit this movie is the argument between the two leads about whether she should accompany him on a gig in Boise.  Having been a Boise resident, I appreciated the humor in that.  Also watch for the symbolism about the importance of taking the right exit ramp from the freeway (of life.)  
Cues about the retro life in the arts community include the references to the Rialto Theater (So. Pasadena) and the audio cassette deck in Ryan’s Olds.
The ending is reminiscent of Bogart and Bergman in “Casablanca” and dancing on the stars is from the MGM Fifties musical “Lovely to Look At” which is a lame remake of the RKO hit “Roberta.”

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

'AMERICAN GRAFFITI' SURPRISING SUCCESS

AG features classic cars.
CRUISIN’ FOR LOVE
A low budget movie featuring a quaint early 1960s California mating ritual, cruising Main Street, with no name actors and a freshman director/film editor was an unlikely candidate for box office records.  The 1972 musical “American Graffiti” at a cost of $750,000 defied all odds and reaped $55 million for Universal Pictures and Lucas Films.   
The premise for the movie seemed weak:  Teens cruising downtown in classic cars while in real life young people were demonstrating against the Vietnam War.  Also, the featured musical act, “Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids,” was mediocre at best.  Was it escapism for a war weary public or Universal’s promotions that connected people to “American Graffiti”?  Maybe it was excellent entertainment.
My Los Angeles roommate John Miller in 1963 enthusiastically recalled kids cruising downtown Ontario, Calif., and that was 10 years before AG was released.
On my recently purchased new VHS tape, the interviews at the end of the film with George Lucas, Ron Howard and others is worth the 60 cents I paid for the tape.  
Lucas broke ground with a documentary rather than a tiresome teen comedy with a weak plot.  Cinema photographer Wexler deserves much credit as well.


Compare it to the 1956 “Rock Rock Rock” with Tuesday Weld and Alan Freed with has an annoying sitcom type plot. See this one for the scene in the night club with the starburst chandelier similar to the light fixtures rescued from the Terrace Theatre before it was demolished.

Friday, March 24, 2017

SOUTHDALE LIBRARY PLAN SUSPENSE

Now that Edina held its last “open house” Thursday night (March 23), it’s up to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners to receive proposals for redevelopment of the Southdale Regional Library on York Avenue in Edina.

I was the “ambassador” Thursday night for one of the groups providing input to the Edina city and library officials and here’s what we recommended:

Don’t rush into redevelopment now.  The retail property picture is changing rapidly and the Southdale Mall could be available to the county for a library and other uses at bargain basement prices.

Avoid providing Tax Increment Financing for redevelopment.  We don’t need to give Fortune 500 companies tax breaks.
Buildings bordering Richfield’s residential area should be low so they don’t cast a shadow over the neighboring homes.
Don’t allow “big box retailers” as tenants in this development and provide adequate and accessible parking so that library patrons don’t have to compete with restaurant customers for parking spaces.  Also, underground parking spaces should not be narrow and difficult to navigate.  Edina has a sorry record in planning for parking in its commercial areas; Grandview Library/senior center case in point.

The “plan” presented by Edina refers to limited “discreet” above ground parking and that needs to be defined.
Remodeling the existing library building was an option presented at previous meetings but apparently has been ignored.  Edina Economic Development Manager Bill Neuendorf said the remodeling option is being “tracked.”  Another official said although their are no cost estimates for remodeling, he thought it was not economically feasible to remodel the existing building.

It was previously  reported in the Sun Current: “The space could be used for an indoor concert facility, suggested Doris Rubenstein, a member of the Richfield Housing and Redevelopment Authority. While Richfield has two outdoor stages under development, it lacks a venue for indoor performances, Rubenstein said.”

County Commissioners need to hear from taxpayers and remain flexible.  I hope hearing dates will be announced in the media.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

MARCH 25, USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL,PEARL HARBOR


Fifty from Minnesota toured the Arizona before boarding the NCL cruise ship on Saturday.


Hawaii 2017

Royal Hawaiian Hotel, built in 1927, the Pink
Palace
Hawaii Island cruise aboard ship
CALL ME KAWIKA
After four short classes aboard ship I was certified in Hula and performing with visitors from Japan and the U.S. on the stage on the sun deck of the NCL Pride of America.  Kaulana Bucasas and China Hill were are onboard instructors and enriched the wonderful Aloha spirit and Hawaiian experience.
TRUMP SUPPORTERS STILL ANGRY
You couldn’t swing a dead cat on deck of the Pride of America cruise ship this past week without hitting an angry Trump supporter.  One from South Carolina groused about “post election protest syndrome” and another from Orlando referred to the “United States of Objectors.”  
I replied that I would insist that our Republican Congressman resist all attempts to increase the national debt limit by an additional $54 billion for the war industry.  It could be a boondoggle; like $200 saws for the Army, said the Trump guy.  We agree on something.

This park is near where Jay stays in Honolulu and is away from the tourist district near the beach.  Honolulu is way overbuilt but Oahu has design standards so McDonalds can't build yellow structures with red arches.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Naturally Native, Allegiance, RCA SelectaVision Player

No talent Dora Hall album found
“NATURALLY NATIVE”  MOVIE EXPLORES RACISM
Jennifer Wynne was the co-director on this movie featuring an all Native American cast and financed by the Pequot Tribal Nation.  Ms. Wynne spoke to our Road Scholar group earlier this month at the LA Downtown Hotel.
The movie is the story of three native women who struggle establish a cosmetic business and are frustrated by racism and sexism.  The characters also challenge the stereotypes prevailing for Native American alcoholism and casinos.
The conflict between those who were raised Christian and those who are more traditional is also a theme in this worthwhile movie available on DVD.
DORA HALL ALBUM FOUND IN SUBURBS
A cousin had this LP from the infamous Dora Hall, a no talent with a rich husband who did a TV special for syndication in 1963 that I saw on KCOP/13.  She dabbled in several venues but country probably worked best since you don’t have to be Rene Fleming to pull it off.  She sounds like Lucille Ball in “Mame.”
“ALLEGIANCE” THEME OF RACISM RELEVANT NOW
EDINA—From coast to coast today audiences in movie theaters saw a Fathom January 2016 performance of “Allegiance,” based in part on actor George Takei’s real life experience as a child in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II.  The women in the internment camp in “Allegiance” found a way to unify in resistance with letter writing to Washington officials objecting to the racism. 
The showing here was lightly attended but those that saw it in LA and San Francisco must have enjoyed a few communal moments.  (Takei appears in the 1960 war movie ‘Hell to Eternity” which is a sympathetic look at the plight of Japanese Americans during the war.)

RCA SELECTAVISION VIDEO DISC FAILED PRODUCT
A suburban relative was an earlier adaptor of home movie equipment in the early 1980s when he and his wife purchased an RCA SelectaVision player.  I inherited it this weekend and find that the power source is dysfunctional so it won’t play the large floppy discs.  
This is America’s only attempt to invent a TV connected movie viewing device and was a total bust; worse than the Sony Betamax.  The RCA product is a reworking of the phonograph with a magnetic cartridge, needle and grooved vinyl records. 
I am sure that this analog rendering of movies is no improvement over VHS.  Next month I will give it away.

The RCA system fell victim to poor planning, conflicts within RCA, and technical difficulties that stalled production of the system for 17 years until 1981, by which time it was already made obsolete by laser videodiscs.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

LOS ANGELES FEB. 2017

Norma Talmage House
“WHAT’S GOING ON?” LOVE, THAT’S WHAT
HOLLYWOOD, USA — Marvin Gaye’s hit song could serve as an anthem for the multitude who gathered Saturday (Feb. 4) at the Hollywood Pantages Theater for “Motown the Musical” in a communal cross generational outpouring of emotion during the week of hell from the twisted mind of a maniac in Washington, DC.
You could feel it in the gorgeous art deco auditorium as we clasped hands and gently swayed and sang “Reach Out and Touch” someone and make this a better world.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time; Los Angeles is America and I was happy to be among it’s assembled multitude on that beautiful day. 

REMEMBERING GOLDEN ERA MOVIES
CULVER CITY — From the alley I could get a shot inside MGM’s Sound Stage 15 where the “Wizard of Oz” was filmed in 1939 and also “A Day at the Races” with the Marx Brothers.  An entire race track was constructed for the later in this sound stage.  In this darken building are old movie sets, but photos aren’t allowed.  In a similar alley, Gene Kelly in Navy blue denims drew approving glances from ladies on the lot in a scene from “Anchors Aweigh,” an MGM musical.

MGM STARS REMEMBED
CULVER CITY — The MGM studios has been reduced to a mere 500 acres by Japanese electronics giant Sony.  Much television is recorded here.  We rubber necked ourselves through sound stages for “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Goldbergs.” 
 We also spent time in the sound recording studio which is named for Barbra Streisand.  Bungalows on the old MGM lot have been named for famous stars.  One of these bungalows appears in the 1945 MGM musical “Abbott and Costello in Hollywood.”

LOS ANGELES — Thanks to Road Scholar tour guide John Daugherty for taking us to the downtown Fine Arts Building, a prime example of Gothic architecture. We also toured the Art Deco Union Station which is featured in several movies (below).

POVERTY ROW STARS ON BOULEVARD
Dave O’Brien was stoned on pot in “Reefer Madness” and was the Dead End Kids social worker in “Spooks Run Wild.”  Their stars are on Hollywood Boulevard.


POVERTY, WEALTHY CONTRASTS
LOS ANGELES — This strange door was donated by a wealthy arts patron to the city for the plaza near the Forum performing arts center.  Nearby, the homeless sleep in the streets.  Psychologist Dr. Stuart Perlman illuminated the humanity and pain of the homeless in his paintings that can be seen in City Hall. 
You can see Perlman’s paintings when you go to the conference room in the Los Angeles City Hall.  

WHERE RACIAL HATRED LEADS
Now is the teachable moment about race relations in America so see the exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles for critical discussions on the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans 1942-45.  In Little Tokyo.


SANTA MONICA TOUR
Norma Talmadge’s Santa Monica house also was home to Brian Aherne, Cary Grant and Randolph Scott together and David Niven and Merle Oberon together.  Talmadge, a silent era star, was married to United Artist chief Joseph Schenk.
Japanese American barracks, WW2, Wyoming
Fine Arts Bldg., downtown LA

Thursday, January 26, 2017

BACKGROUND FOR ROAD SCHOLAR TOUR LA

MY LOS ANGELES 1963-64 — David Zarkin biographical
Leaving Spokane in 1963 in my 1953 Ford I arrived in Los Angeles in August’s incredible heat where I immediately called Uncle Gordon who suggested I stay at the YMCA in downtown.  While I was trying to sleep in the creepy Y, a thief broke into my Ford and stole my Coast Guard uniforms, but the police recovered them.  Meanwhile, I moved into a motel on Figueroa which was also very grim and I imagined it was the same place where pop idol Sam Cooke was murdered in 1964.
I was scheduled to start work almost immediately at United Press International in the Mirror Building on Spring Street.  (This was a job I lined up while in the Coast Guard in the Bay Area with John Madigan at UPI where I had good references from my boss Bobbi Ulrich at UPI Spokane.)
My Coast Guard buddy, John Miller of Ontario and I found a one-bedroom apartment without air conditioning in South Pasadena so I was driving the flat as a pancake Pasadena Freeway to work every morning.  John’s family was transplanted from the Midwest to work in Southland industrial jobs.
With John, I went to an organ concert at the Rialto Theater, South Pasadena, which is featured in “LaLa Land” and “The Player.”  The auction of props and sets at the closing of the Hal Roach Studios in Culver City was memorable one Saturday where Roach music director Charles Roger’s widow sat on a camp stool and showed a scrap book of Rogers career at the studio.  

UPI Summer Relief Reporter
I was summer “relief” staff at UPI in the mirror building, mostly rewriting news releases, but I also covered Clifford Odett’s funeral at Forest Lawn where Danny Kaye gave the eulogy and Zsa Zsa Gabor attended among others.  (Without the internet or a clip file, I went to the funeral totally unprepared to write anything relevant about Odett’s career.)
The UPI Hollywood International Bureau needed help writing filler features for newspapers so I succeeded writer Tom Mankiewicz, son of the movie director-writer Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
I was working under the direction of a student intern who assigned me to fabricate a piece on Ricky Nelson who was recently married to Mark Harmon’s sister and they were expecting their first child. Since the Nelsons did not allow interviews, I needed to make up froth about Rick and the wife shopping for strollers and diapers. I did a quick count from the marriage date to when the little cherub was due and said to my coworker, “there’s our story.” She was not amused, but she referred me to one of her instructors at USC, John Thompson, who also was the news director at NBC in Burbank, and he was hiring.  
After, interviewing with Thompson, a tall man with a gray crew cut, I got a job as one of two “editorial assistants.”  I should have asked more questions about opportunities to write news for KNBC.  The other assistant was Ken, an African American announcer from PBS Channel 28 who has a bit part in the movie “Wild in the Streets,” a cult classic.  Swept up in the “glamour” of working at NBC-TV, I thought this was a step up from UPI and two of my former classmates from the University of Washington worked in the huge building.  Carol Anderson was an assistant on the Monte Hall game show, “Let’s Make a Deal,” and Skip was a page.  (Skip later got a real estate job but Carol was on track for success in TV.)
NBC/KNBC News was in a window-less warehouse where most everyone smoked.  Jack Latham was the anchor and later did cameos in some movies including “Willie Wonka.”  Some of the KNBC regulars included Elmer Peterson, Cecil Brown and Chick Hearne.  The later marinated himself in after shave and moved about briskly so he could read the sports on the air and get to his primary job, Lakers’ basketball play by play on RKO’s KHJ-TV.  I was “clerical” at NBC where I answered phones, ripped copy off the wire service machines and ran errands to LAX and Republic Pictures for CFI lab film processing.  I got my haircuts at a shop across from Warner Brothers where John Wayne was their other famous customer.  One of my best lines at NBC is that I “wanted a job where I raised and lowered the flag for news anchor George Putnam at KTTV.”
A few months after I started work at NBC, Thompson was fired by the New York suits for “financial improprieties” and a bespectacled accountant-type took charge.  A small town Spokane kid, I found Los Angeles populated by transient residents like myself where it never felt like “home.”  I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted.  I burned out the engine on the Ford driving the freeways in summer for NBC so I made a fruitless attempt to buy a Falcon at a shady Hollywood dealer.
The Van Nuys singles group I joined was my social life which meant more travel on the Ventura Freeway.  With the NBC job in the valley, we moved to a singles apartment building with a pool in Glendale on a major roadway across from a Ralph’s store.  My roommate John was rarely around and I was lonely.  By 1965, I landed a job at the Idaho Statesman, Boise, where I finally became a journalist, winning an award for a series of articles on pollution.

Events You May Know in 1963-64
Madame Nu of South Vietnam gave an angry press conference in Los Angeles after the CIA assassinated the SVN president, her brother in law.

Mayor Sam Yorty, a nominal Democrat, loose cannon and pompous ass, began every interview by stating, “As I have said repeatedly” which made his quotes irrelevant.  KNBC’s Bill Brown, a former Chrysler PR writer, covered City Hall and amused us with his cynical observations.

The Baldwin Hills Dam burst and flooded the area and Glendale hills floods sent homes sliding down the hills.

Before “Hogan’s Heroes,” Bob Crane was a morning announcer on CBS’ KNX where he interviewed show biz personalities who might get him a movie or TV gig.  He also appeared as the neighbor on the Donna Reed Show and boasted that he was the only radio personality who wore pancake makeup on the air.  Bronislav Caper, the movie music composer, was a frequent guest.  

Steve Allen”s syndicated late night TV show, taped at an old movie house near Hollywood and Vine, was the hottest ticket in town.  A secretary at NBC knew one of the writers and got us tickets.  We attended the night when Allen attempted an unrehearsed rendering of “Romeo and Juliet” with a confused middle age audience member.  Allen lost his temper when Juliet didn’t respond to his cues and the bit was scrapped. 

Heartthrob George Maharis was arrested in the men’s room at Carolina Pines Jr. restaurant.

Peter Lorre died and KNBC needed footage from one of his films.  I knew about “The Raven” and lugged the entire 35mm movie from AIP to NBC. 

Roy Neal covered NASA for NBC and was reminiscent of the Duke character in Doonesbury with a cigarette holder clenched between his teeth.  He was a nice guy but a bit pompous because he was in tight with the space gurus.   I used to pick him up at the Burbank airport when he returned to LA.

Clete Roberts covered breaking news for RKO’s KHJ-TV in a trench coat, reminiscent of a Hollywood stereotype from the 1940s.


I got a press pass from NBC for a preview in the basement of a valley bank building of the Sam Fuller film noir “Shock Corridor” and it is a low budget gem from Allied Artists.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Gun Safety, Soucheray and More

MINNEAPOLIS — Last Thursday Minnesota House of Representatives Republicans introduced legislation that would turn the Land of Lakes into more of a wild west shooting range.  Rev. Nancy Nord Bence reported Sunday at a meeting of PROTECT MINNESOTA at the Mayflower Church on disturbing events in the Republican Legislature.
One dubious piece of legislation would authorize anyone, including non-residents, to carry a gun without a permit.  The other is known as the “stand your ground” law which would allow a person to shoot anyone they considered a threat with “threat” interpretated subjectively.

Save Tuesday, February 14th. That's when we'll go to the capitol to put our hard work into action!  
CLASSIC MOVIE INSPIRES STEW
In the classic movie “It Happened on 5th Avenue,” an estranged couple is reunited when the wife makes “mulligatawny soup.”  The millionaire husband, played by Charlie Ruggles, is overwhelmed by the wife, played by Ann Harding.  They fondly remembered the soup from leaner times.
So I ran across the recipe in my heart healthy cookbook and am giving it a go now in the crockpot.  The main ingredients are chicken, broth, apples, onion, green pepper and carrots.

BITTER SWEET IRONY
I am savoring right of center Sunday Pioneer Press columnist’s Joe Soucheray’s discomfort with Trump playing footsie with Putin.  Like me he grew up in a school where we were taught to fear the Soviet Union and the Reds.  (A seventh grade teacher, John Kale,  warned us that the radio documentary spoofing the Army McCarthy hearings was a subversive danger.)  
Soucheray compares the Ruskies to the Green Bay Packers.  What a horrible thing to say about Russia where my father was a native of Minsk, but was also anti-Russian.
Joe no doubt would prefer that Tim and Mary (Pawlenty) would soon be occupying the White House but it hasn’t come to pass (and never will).

 CABIN FEVER MOVIE BINGE
With snow, ice and freezing temps, the 1981 film noir “Body Heat” seemed an appropriate title to chase away the winter blues last night.  Coupled with the 1944 noir “Double Indemnity,” both provided a wonderful take on the state of civilization as we know it.  In “DI,” Fred MacMurray is fixated on Barbara Stanwyck’s ankle bracelet while in “BH” the object of William Hurt’s lust is shown in explicit bedroom interludes with the femme fatale played by Kathleen Turner.  
This is an updated take on the biblical Adam and Eve Garden of Eden yarn for adult viewing.  Greed and lust send our erstwhile heroes down the swirling vortex of hell and damnation, but getting there is half the fun. 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Hawaii 1991, "Last Five Years"

HAWAIIAN DREAMS
Preparing for a tropical getaway, so I am playing this 1988 CD I bought in Oahu in 1991 when I was with the Uhlers Ski Club.  Time to get back there.  Photo with my Yashica SLR, 3M film.

AEROBICS PARIS STYLE
Something different was added to Silver Sneakers aerobics today at the YMCA when instructor Sarah provided Edith Piaff singing “LaViene Rose.”  On a day when I thought rigor morits had set in, this was enough to help me forget that it’s only 9 degrees outside today.

ARTY DORMAN, THEATER CRITIC
Growing up in New York in 1965, Arty Dorman saw a summer production of “The Music Man” with Anita Bryant as Marian and Gig Young as Professor Harold Hill.  Given that Gig was gay and Anita was homophobic, that was indeed a strange bit of casting.  Arty spoke Sunday at the Or Emet Jewish Humanist Congregation meeting in St. Paul.  He recommends the play “The Humans” which won a 2016 Tony Award.  Dorman expanded his love of theater to become the lead Twin Cities critic for www.talkinbroadway.com

NEW YORKERS IN LALA LAND

Like the popular movie “La La Land,” the characters in the movie “Last Five Years” have difficulty navigating careers and maintaining romance.  The setting is New York City in this musical with Jeremy Jordan (“Smash”) playing a writer and Anna Kendrick as an actress.  This is one of the more interesting movies on Netflix. lastfiveyearsmovie.com