Southland Parks — Visiting Ascot Hills Park

Parks comprise more than 14% of Los Angeles’s landscape and the city is home to hundreds of these cherished public spaces. From the largest park within any American city (Topanga State Park) to the smallest pocket parks and parklets, I hope to showcase them one park at a time, in the series Southland Parks.

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Ascot HillsAscot Hills Park

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Ascot Hills Park is a fairly new, fairly large park in the Eastside neighborhood of El Sereno. Although its development as a park was first proposed in 1930, it took 81 years for it to actually become one. It thankfully took far less time to establish itself as a gem of a Los Angeles park which I first discovered in 2012 when I was taking care of a dog named Dooley. I was again housesitting when I decided to further explore with her.

Ascot Hills Park Entrance
Ascot Hills Park’s main entrance

Ascot Hills Park is located within El Sereno and neighbored by Hillside Village to the south, Lincoln Heights to the west, Rose Hill to the northwest, and the rest of El Sereno to the north and east. 

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's oil paint and ink map of Ascot Hills Park
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography‘s oil paint and ink map of Ascot Hills Park

Ascot Hills Park is unstaffed and open from dawn to dusk. Should you find yourself (or more likely, your car) locked within, there is a phone number posted near the entrance to the parking lot at the park’s southern end which you can call. It’s fairly undeveloped, although there are signs everywhere of recent improvements throughout, especially near the southern end where the parking lot, restrooms, outdoor classroom are all located.

Kewanee Street Entrance
Kewanee Street Entrance

At the northern end of the park, it’s not always obvious where the park begins and ends. There are fences around the reservoir but some of the entrances look less like entry points than barriers. Where Lynfield Street meets Kewanee Street, the latter street is gated and padlocked.  Behind it I saw some homes and no warnings to trespassers so I went around the gate.

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Kewanee Street Entrance

Although it more resembles the exit of a minimum security prison, the photo above is seemingly of proper entrance into the park. On top of the ridge, there’s a sign which confims to the visitor that they are in the park.

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Ascot Hills Park sign
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Hole in the fence with Lincoln Heights and Rose Hill behind

The first time that I came to Ascot Hills Park I trudged up the western face only to discover it surrounded by a rusty fence topped with barbed wire. However, I was was relieved that there are many gaps in the fence which allow passage. I’m not sure who cut them, but they’re found throughout the park’s perimeter.

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Underneath the heavy tagging the sign says something like “Take a bag, leave a bag.”

Before the opening of Ascot Hills Park, most of the larger open spaces in the Eastside were cemeteries: Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights, Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles, and several smaller ones. There were nice neighborhood parks like City Terrace Park, Hazard Park, Hollenbeck Park, Lincoln Park, and Rose Hill Park. There were other undeveloped open spaces like Elephant Hill and Mount Olympus II (aka Flat Top Hill) but aside from Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in Montecito Heights, there were no big, official, parks. The opening of Ascot Hills was, to use a vastly overused term, a “game changer.”

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The first humans to arrive in the Los Angeles Basin came at least 13,000 years ago and were likely the ancestors of the Chumash. Around 3,500 years ago the ancestors of the Tongva (or Kizh) arrived from the Sonoran Desert to the east and in the vicinity of the modern park established the village of Otsungna. In the 18th century, they were subjugated by the Spanish, who in addition to introducing Catholicism, slavery and disease, also introduced  the now prevalent wild mustard.

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Wild mustard, brought by the Spanish

There are several theories as to why and how exactly the plant was brought from the Mediterranean to Southern California but sharing a climate, it proliferated and was grazed upon by livestock and Spaniard alike.

The Repetto Hills, which include Ascot Hills Park, are located around the northeastern corner of the Spanish pueblo of Los Angeles’s original area of four square leagues. Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 and controlled the land until 1848, when the US defeated them in war. Two years later the city of Los Angeles was incorporated. A small section of what’s now Ascot Hills was located within the city’s original boundaries but most was annexed in 1915, part of the Bairdstown Addition.

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Hillside Village from Ascot Hills

The Ascot Hills got their name from the New Ascot Speedway, a midget car racetrack which opened at the southern edge of the hills in 1924. Between then and 1936, 24 race car drivers lost their lives on the track. After it closed the grandstand was burned down and  the property was soon after developed as Hillside Village.

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The empty and probably haunted caretakers house

The LADWP acquired property in the hills in the 1920s. An earthen dam was used to created a reservoir and the caretaker’s house was constructed off Bowman Boulevard. A large area surrounding the reservoir was used by the utility for training. In 1964, when a portion of the property was granted to the Los Angeles Unified School District who upon it constructed the Paul Williams-designed Woodrow Wilson High School. The original reservoir was taken off-line in 1987 and was replaced with a new storage tank in 1990.

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The 1990 reservoir

In 1930, at the behest of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, an ambitious, visionary plan was drawn up by the Olmsted Brothers and Harland Bartholomew & Associates titled Parks, Playgrounds, and Beaches for the Los Angeles Region which, had it actually been implemented,  would’ve included the Ascot Hills within a vast greenbelt around the city. 

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The entrance to Ascot Reservoir

In 2000, a proposal was made to flatten the hills and install football (soccer) fields and baseball diamonds — plans which were shut down in large part by action from students at Woodrow Wilson High School. Ground finally did break on the park in 2005, at which time it was scheduled for completion in 2007. Sixteen hectares opened in 2006 whilst, disappointingly, the rest sat fallow behind padlocked fences when the $3 million dollars allocated for the development of the park were frozen. In 2010, the threat of a lawsuit against the city got the ball rolling again and lo and behold, the rest of the property officially opened in 2011.

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Walnuts on the hill and what looks to me like a walnut seedling
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Toyon

The Ascot Hills covered by grasslands dotted with a few California Walnuts (Juglans californica) and on the eastern face, toyon shrubland.

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In the rainy season the hills were brilliant green. As winter nears its end, most of the grasses are now yellowing but it’s still quite beautiful. The dry grasses rustled, as did the leaves of the trees. The air smelled of eucalyptus and mustard and the breeze carried swirling clouds of pappus.

IMG_8552My head is filled with the images taken from too many films and the shimmying vegetation reminded me of swaying-grass classics like Onibaba, The Wind Will Carry Us, and especially, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.

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A small riparian woodland exists along the banks a small stream in which I was surprised to discover fish! It flows south from the Ascot Reservoir and is lined with non-native eucalyptus, evergreen coniferspalms, at least one Peruvian pepper, an interesting, green-branched tree that I don’t know the name of, and other species I couldn’t identify.

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Peruvian pepper

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IMG_8614IMG_8582I also spied flowering California bush sunflower, California poppies, Matilija poppies, datura, and monkey flower, among others.

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California poppies
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California bush sunflower
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Datura wrightii (aka “Indian Whiskey”)
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Monkey flower
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Matilija poppy

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Aside from the wild mustard, invasive non-natives that I recognized included milk thistles growing near the stream, castor beans along the eastern fence, and creeping up the northern face from yards below, a Mediterranean geranium, South African ice plants, and an aloe vera.

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Milk thistle

IMG_8541There were obviously a lot more animals around than I managed to see as I could only hear lizards scurrying in the undergrowth, spied uncounted holes probably dug by ground squirrels, and saw all kinds of wild animal dung. There was the expected tagging of rocks, garbage cans, and signs — the markings of one of life’s lower forms.

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I did manage to catch sight of crows and a hawk scuffling midair, loads of house finches, a ladybird beetle, about four rabbits, and a whole lot of white garden snails. There’s been a bobcat sighted in Debs Park but I don’t know of any showing up in Ascot Hills Park… yet! I looked for tracks too, but the ground was pretty hard and the only that I could identify were made by bicycles or athletic shoes.

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House finches
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Ladybird beetle
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White garden snails

Although the park’s mostly undeveloped state makes is easy to immerse oneself in, there are things reminding you that you’re in a city. Jets can regularly be heard flying overhead and the voice of an unseen child yelling at his parents carried across the valley. They joined the symphony of cawing crows, chirping finches, hammering woodpeckers, and roosters crowing from nearby yards. At one point I could hear a motorist blasting banda and toward the end of our exploration we were treated to an ice cream truck bumping a weird 808 techno gospel version of “Bringing In the Sheaves” on continuous loop.

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The KLAC AM 570 and KFWB 980 towers in the distance

There are two clusters of radio towers just outside the park. The cluster of three towers to the park’s southwest belong to KLAC AM 570 and KFWB 980 and we didn’t get very close to them. 

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Approaching the KMPC 1540 towers from the south
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KMPC 1540 towers from the north side of the hill and some California walnuts

To the park’s northeast is a cluster of six towers owned by KMPC 1540. Those towers are surrounded by a fence, guarded by two aggressive dogs, and also enclose several small, dilapidated structures which I hoped housed a hermit. However, as we walked down the hill we passed a seemingly normal man speaking Korean on the phone as he approached his van — so probably not a complete recluse.

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If you’d like to get involved with the park, there are several organizations serving it including the Ascot Hills Park Green Team, the Ascot Hills Park Advisory Board, Hermon Church, Los Angeles Recreation and Parks, and North East Trees.

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Woodrow Wilson High in the distance

Credit in picking up trash and planting natives also has to be given to high school students at Woodrow Wilson High, members of the office of José Huizar, and members of the nearby communities.

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Left to right: The skylines of Long Beach, Boyle Heights, Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, and Miracle Mile.

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FURTHER READING

Trails & Open Space: Ascot Hills Park Opens in El Sereno by Zach Behrens

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Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

The Nobody Walks in LA Guide to CicLAvia — The Valley

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of the San Fernando Valley (available on merchandise from Cal31 and art prints from 1650 Gallery)
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography’s Map of the San Fernando Valley (available on merchandise from Cal31 and art prints from 1650 Gallery)

Tomorrow, 22 March, from 9am and 4pm, a stretch of Lankershim and Ventura boulevards will be closed to motorized traffic for CicLAvia – The Valley. At just 8.85 kilometers, it’s a short one… but considering this past Tuesday it took me 45 minutes on the 134 to get from Studio City to Burbank, it’ll still be a glimpse of what the Valley looks like without gridlock.

CicLAvias are free, open streets events that briefly close off streets to motorized traffic —although I have seen people on mobility scooters and battery powered toy cars so the events aren’t completely free of motorists. There will be organized activities and food trucks but for me the real fun is seeing these communities without fear of being harried, harassed, or harmed by cars.

Without a preceding definite article, “Valley” refers to the San Gabriel Valley in the names of many a business along Valley Boulevard. However, add that all-important “the” and “The Valley” is nearly always understood by Angelenos to refer to the San Fernando Valley. The choice of streets, Lankershim and Ventura, is interesting. Lankershim has long been an important thoroughfare, connecting as it does the Valley with the Los Angeles Basin below via Cahuenga Pass. Coldwater Canyon Boulevard, at the route’s western terminus, is another connection to the basin (in this case to Beverly Hills). The northern terminus, Chandler Boulevard, is named after Harry Chandler — the controversial publisher of the Los Angeles Times who also developed much of the San Fernando Valley. The main stretch of the route is Ventura Boulevard.

Ventura is the Valley’s “main street.” A section of it in Encino is billed as “The Valley’s Miracle Mile,” a reference to the museum-lined stretch of Los Angeles’s main street, Wilshire Boulevard. Today the Miracle Mile is rightly celebrated for its cultural institutions but was developed as a sort of linear, automobile-oriented commercial corridor. Ventura isn’t known for it’s high culture, although there is culture to be found in its restaurants, mid-century architecture, and long history. Ventura was used by Native Americans and later, after the Spanish Conquest, was developed as part of El Camino Real. Much later it was part of US 101 but although no longer a highway would (like Wilshire) benefit greatly from the addition of a rail line and without one remains stalled in the car-dependent 20th Century. Open streets events like CicLAvia — The Valley will hopefully inspire Valley-ites and visionaries to move things forward.

Mission San Fernando Rey de España
Mission San Fernando Rey de España

The first people to have lived in the Valley were likely the ancestors of the Chumash, who arrived in the Los Angles area at least 13,000 years ago. Some 3,500 years ago the Tataviam and Tongva/Kizh arrived, the presence of the latter still much in evidence in place names like “Cahuenga,” “Topanga,” and “Tujunga.” The Spanish built Mission San Fernando Rey de España in the Valley in 1797 and enslaved the locals whom they renamed “Fernandeños.” In 1821, Mexico gained independence from Spain and in 1833 the missions’ holdings were secularized. The land was again conquered by the US, who signed a peace treaty with Mexico near Universal City/Studio City Train Station. Rail arrived to the Valley in 1874 and early towns like Burbank, Owensmouth, San Fernando, and Van Nuys sprang up. Most of the Valley was annexed by Los Angeles in 1915.

One year earlier, German-American filmmaker Carl Laemmle began construction on the Valley’s first permanent movie-making facility, Oak Ridge Ranch, which later became Universal City. Although tourists still follow their noses to Hollywood, beginning in the 1920s, most of that district’s movie studios, prop shops, and production houses moved over the Santa Monica Mountains to the Valley. Later the Valley would be famous for producing it’s own studios, although Vivid and Wicked are unlikely to show up on any movie tours or lists of the Valley’s cultural contributions, which also include Gelson’s Markets, Du-par’s Restaurants, and (my favorite), the Los Angeles River.

Map of the San Fernando Valley in 1880
Map of the San Fernando Valley in 1880

The Los Angeles River begins in Canoga Park at the confluence of Arroyo Calabasas and Bell Creek. It’s joined by Browns Canyon Wash in Winnetka and Aliso Creek in Reseda before it enters Sepulveda Basin where it’s additionally joined by Bull, Encino, Haskell, and Woodley creeks. After it flows out of the basin, in Sherman Oaks, its course takes it nearer Ventura Boulevard but after meeting the Tujunga Wash, it again strays from Ventura, flowing around Griffith Park and continuing its 82 kilometer course to the San Pedro Bay. A watershed moment came for the concretized river in 2010, when it’s navigability was demonstrated by kayakers and paving the way for its un-pavement. For those who prefer to explore without getting wet (or giardia) there are river trails including the North Valleyheart Riverwalk and The Los Angeles River Bike Path, which in 2016 are scheduled to be joined by a section known as the Zev Yaroslavsky LA River Greenway Trail.

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The Valley in the car-dependent-but-not-yet-traffic-choked 1960s

During the early years of the Cold War, the Valley emerged as an important center of aerospace and defense and most of it was covered with suburban development. In the 1980s, it still had the reputation as Los Angeles’s suburb, and the suburban valley girl was lampooned in Frank Zappa’s 1982 single, “Valley Girl” and celebrated in Martha Coolidge’s 1983 film, Valley Girl. Preserved by music and film the stereotype never changed although the Valley itself did.

San Fernando Valley skyscrapers
San Fernando Valley skyscrapers

Even as valley girls were influencing the way young people talked around the country, the Valley was undergoing significant Latinization and urbanization. Today the Valley includes clusters of high-rises in Burbank, Encino, Studio City, Universal City, and the “Century City of the Valley,” Warner Center and Anglos are outnumbered by Latinos. The Valley is diverse too — with significant numbers of Armenians, English, Filipinos, Germans, Irish, Italians, Jews, Koreans, Palestinians, Persians, and Russians.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of North Hollywood
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography’s map of North Hollywood

It’s important to remind readers and participants that open streets events are not races. There are no start or finish lines. If ciclovias sometimes resemble marathons it is because they take place on streets and are thus linear. However, they’re most rewarding when explored at a measured pace and with an adventuresome spirit. I’m starting in North Hollywood rather than at the other end because that terminus is a major public transit hub, served by Metro’s Orange and Red lines as well as Metro Local 152, 154, 156, 162, 183, 224, 353, and 656 lines; the Bob Hope Airport Shuttle; Burbank Bus’s NoHo-Media District and NoHo-Empire lines; California Shuttle Bus’s San Francisco/San Jose line; City of Santa Clarita Transit’s 757 line; and LADOT Commuter Express’s 549 line. It’s also located near the eastern end of the Metro Orange Line bicycle path.

North Hollywood Station
North Hollywood Station

The subway station opened in 2000, near the site of the old and recently-renovated Toluca Southern Pacific Depot, a train station built in 1896 that was built by Southern Pacific and additionally served by the inter-urban Pacific Electric Railway until 1952. Today it is one of the few remaining 19th century buildings in the Valley.

NoHo 14
NoHo 14

Also near the station is NoHo 14, the tallest residential highrise in the Valley. One of the first high-rises in the Valley was the Mid-Century modern Commonwealth Savings Building, built in 1961 but sadly demolished in 2013. Older and still standing not far from the ciclovia route is Valley Plaza Tower (12160 Victory Boulevard), a ten-story Corporate International-style building completed in 1960 and designed by prominent local architects Douglas Honnold and John Rex.

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In 1979 the Community Redevelopment Agency adopted a part of North Hollywood for redevelopment most of which was designated the NoHo Arts District in 1992. The NoHo Arts District today is undoubtedly the cultural capital of the San Fernando Valley. The area, along with the Hollywood Studio District, is one of Los Angeles’s major concentrations of live theater. It’s also home to a large number of art galleries, dance studios, and café.

Masonic Lodge
Masonic Lodge

Other North Hollywood sites worth a gander include North Hollywood Park (established in 1927 and which hosts the Dave Potell Memorial Rink, the North Hollywood Skate Plaza, a swimming pool, and the North Hollywood Regional Library), the iconic Circus Liquor sign (as seen in Murder Was the Case and Clueless), the North Hollywood Post Office (constructed in 1936), the Television Academy (whose collection of sculptures including Bea Arthur, Bob Newhart, and Gene Roddenberry is far more interesting than Hollywood’s Walk of Fame), the El Portal Theatre (built in 1926), Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee (a great video rental place — including VHS), the Iliad Bookshop, the Federal Bar, the California Institute of Abnormal Arts (a bizarre freakshow/performance venue), the restored Idle Hour (a whiskey barrel-shaped bit of programmatic architecture which opened in 1941), the North Hollywood Masonic Lodge (designed by Mayan Revivalist British architect Robert Stacy-Judd), Le Petit Chateau, the St.Charles Borromeo Church (which although built in 1938 obtained a nice J. Earl Trudeau-designed Churrigueresque façade in 1959), Weddington Park, Phil’s Diner (built to look like a train car and not currently in operation), the Lankershim Arts Center (designed by S. Charles Lee in 1939 for the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power), and North Hollywood Toyota (a Streamline Modern car dealership from 1940).

El Portal Theatre
El Portal Theatre

If Encino Commons is the Valley’s Miracle Mile, Toluca Lake is the Valley’s Yugoslavia. In a region known for neighborhoods renaming themselves and redrawing their borders, Toluca Lake takes the balkan cake, chopped up into the small communities of Toluca Lake, Toluca Terrace, Toluca Woods, and West Toluca Lake. They all have roots in the historic Toluca Ranch, a portion of which is now located within the city of Burbank. As for the titular lake, it’s private and protected by the Toluca Lake Property Owners Association, who are the Valley’s Securitate so don’t attempt to visit. Aside from the popular eatery, Little Toni’s, I’m not aware of much that would warrant leaving the ciclovia’s course.

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Universal City

Do consider Universal City, although isn’t a city in any recognizable sense since it’s not incorporated and has no permanent residents. Like a proper city, it does have a couple of tall buildings, the tallest being the 36-story 10 Universal City Plaza (completed in 1984) and the rest including Hilton Universal City & Towers (1989), Sheraton Universal Hotel (1969), and Universal Studios Tower. It also has the illusion of a downtown, the mall-like simulacra that is Universal CityWalk. For tourists its probably best known for being the home of Universal Studios Hollywood, a theme park that is, of course, not located in Hollywood. If you like theme parks — and it’s fun to tour the backlot — it’s worth a visit.

Located between Universal City and Studio City is Universal City/Studio City Station. When it opened it was the first subway station in the Valley. During its construction, the foundation of the  late 18th century Campo de Cahuenga Adobe (where the Treaty of Cahuenga/Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed) was uncovered just 15 centimeters beneath a sidewalk along Lankershim where it had been since it was demolished in 1900. A recreation was built nearby in 1951.

Like Universal City, Studio City also began with a film studio, in this case Mack Sennett’s Studioland, which began operation in what was then known as Laurelwood in 1927. Also like Universal City, Studio City is a city in name only although it does have residents and is part of the city of Los Angeles. In 1933, Studioland became Mascot Studios which in 1935 became Republic Studios. In 1967 it became CBS Studio Center and was used to film Gilligan’s Island and Yes, Dear.

Other Studio City sites worth a look include the J. Barry Moffitt-designed Waxman House (built in 1964), R.M. Schindler’s Lingenbrink Shops (a 1942 strip mall with additions from 1946), Schindler’s Laurelwood Apartments (a courtyard complex built in 1949), Oil Can Harry’s (a gay bar which opened in 1968), Du-Par’s Restaurant, the historic Fox Studio City Theatre (built in 1939 and currently home to a Barnes & Noble), the Studio City Hand Car Wash (which has a large, helpfully-illustrative hand sculpture), Art’s Delicatessen (in operation since 1957), a Late Modern style Ralph’s (formerly a Hughe’s and designed by Tarzana-based R. Leon Edgar in 1972), a former Denny’s (designed by Armet & Davis, the duo responsible for Googie style Norm’s on La Cienega and Pann’s on La Tijera), St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church (a 1962 Mid-Century Modern church designed by A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons), The Fox and Hounds (a British Pub), Pinz Bowling Center (formerly Kirkwood Bowl, a 1956 bowling alley), and the Sportmen’s Lodge, a natural area which gradually was developed into the Studio City landmark that it is today.

MORE RESOURCES

If you want more guides, Andrea Richards, Daniel Larusso, and the Militant Angeleno have published their own.  Also worth checking out are Lindsay William-Ross’s Neighborhood Project: NoHo Arts District, Colin Marshall’s A Los Angeles Primer: Universal City, and my own California Fool’s Gold — Exploring North Hollywood, The Gateway to the Valley.

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Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, or listicles and jobs must pay offer reasonable pay. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Female Experimental Filmmakers: A Noncomprehensive A-Z

FEMALE EXPERIMENTAL FILMMAKERS: A NONCOMPREHENSIVE A-Z or…

50 OR SO FILMMAKERS YOU DON’T KNOW, WHO WILL SHOCK YOU, AND WHO HOLLYWOOD IS SCARED TO DEATH OF!

There are almost as many types of experimental films as there are experimental filmmakers. Many of them come to film from different directions than conventional filmmakers — weaving together psychology, painting, dance, poetry, literature, theater, sculpture, and other fields. This being Women’s History Month, I thought I’d have a crack at compiling a list of some of the names with which I’m familiar. If you have additions you’d like me to insert, let me know in the comments.AMY GREENFIELD

Amy Greenfield was born 8 July, 1950 in Boston. She is an originator of the cine-dance genre, her namefor her artistic intersection of experimental film and dance. In addition to film she’s created holographic moving sculptures, live multimedia pieces, poetry, and video installations.

BADY MINCK

Bady Minck was born in Ettelbruck, Luxembourg. She studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts and experimental film at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Her debut, 1988’s Der Mensch mit den modernen Nerven, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1989. Minck today divides her time between Luxembourg and Vienna.

BARBARA HAMMER

Barbara Hammer’s Dyketactics (1974) — NSFW
Barbara Hammer was born 15 May 1939 in Los Angeles. She graduated from University of California at Los Angeles with a degree in psychology and later earned degrees in English literature and film at San Francisco State University. Today she is a professor at the European Graduate School in Saas-FeeSwitzerland.

BETH BILLINGSLEY

Beth Billingsley studied art at the School of Visual Arts. She married sculptor Scott Billingsley and the two formed the filmmaking duo Scott B and Beth B who were seminal figures of the No Wave scene. Their first film was G-Man (1978). Beth Billingsley began making films outside Scott B and Beth B in 1987.

BETZY BROMBERG

Betzy Bromberg studied film at California Institute of the Arts in the 1970s. She began making experimental films in 1976 and her early films included Petit Mal (1977) and Ciao Bella (1978). Today she serves as the Director of the Program in Film and Video at that same school.

CHIAKI WATANABE

Chiaki Watanabe’s muX

Chiaki Watanabe (also known as CHIAKI) studied at School of Visual Arts. Today she divides her time between New York and Copenhagen.

COLEEN FITZGIBBON

 
Coleen Fitzgibbon’s Land of Nod (1992/2013)

Coleen Fitzgibbon was born in 1950. She studied structuralist cinema at the Art Institute of Chicago and with the Whitney Independent Study Program. In 1976 she co-founded the collaborative X&Y with Robin Winters. In the late 1970s she was associated with New York’s No Wave scene and today she divides her time between New York and Montana.

DINORAH DE JESUS RODRIGUEZ

Dinorah de Jesus Rodriguez’s Elixir (2004)

Dinorah de Jesus Rodriguez was born 28 April, 1957 in Placetas, Cuba. At the age of six she emigrated with her family to the US via Spain. She developed an interest in filmmaking whilst studying journalism at Boston University in 1975. In 1978 Rodriguez moved to California but today she lives in Miami.

EILEEN MAXSON 

Eileen Maxson was born 1980 in New York. Maxson received degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Houston.ELAINE SUMMERS


Elaine Summers’s Tumble Dance (1965)

Lillian Elaine Summers was born 20 February 1925, in Perth, Australia. She grew up in Boston and first studied art education at the Massachusetts College of Art. She was a founding member of the group from which the Judson Dance Theater would coalesce. She died after a fall at her home at New York’s Bellevue Hospital on 27 December, 2014.

G. B. JONES

G. B. Jones was born in Bowmanville, Ontario. Her synthpunk band, Bunny and the Lakers, released their only albumNumbers in 1979. She went on to co-found the post-punk band, Fifth Column. Jones also made experimental Super 8 mm films, often in collaboration with Bruce LaBruce.

GERMAINE DULAC

Germaine Dulac’s Étude cinégraphique sur une arabesque (1929)

Germaine Dulac was born Charlotte Elisabeth Germaine Saisset-Schneider on 17 November 1882, in Amiens, France. After initially working as a journalist she became interested in film through her friend, actress Stacia Napierkowska in 1914. Dulac and writer Irene Hillel-Erlanger then founded DH Films and produced a series of films from 1915-1920. Dulac died in Paris on 20 July 1942.

JAN MILLSAPPS

Jan Millsapps was born 26 February 1950 in Concord, North Carolina. She rose to prominence as an independent experimental animator and her film, Parthenogenesis, was awarded at the North Carolina Film Festival in 1976. She was a professor of cinema at San Francisco State University from 1987 and from 1991 to 1995 she served as chair of the cinema department at the school.

JANIS CRYSTAL LIPZIN

Janis Crystal Lipzin was born in 1945 in Colorado Springs. She studied painting and photography at Ohio University and New York University, and film at the San Francisco Art Institute. She made numerous Super 8 mm and 16 mm films begining in the mid-1970s. She directed the film/photo program at Antioch College and taught film and Interdisciplinary studies at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1978 to 2009.

JEANNE LIOTTA

Jeanne Liotta was born in 1960 in Brooklyn. She studied theater at New York University where she collaborated with Gargoyle Mechanique, The Living Theatre, and the Alchemical Theatre Company. From the 1985-1995 she collaborated on films and other artwork with Bradley Eros. In 1993 she founded the Firefly Cinema, which operated until 2010. She is also currently a professor of film studies at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.

JOYCE WIELAND

Joyce Wieland’s Sailboat (1967)

Joyce Wieland was born 30 June 1931, in Toronto. She studied commercial art and graphic design at Toronto’s Central Technical School and began making experimental films in the 1950s. In 1962, Wieland and her husband filmmaker Michael Snow moved to New York where they lived until 1970. She died from Alzheimer’s disease on 27 June 1998.

LARUA MULVEY

Laura Mulvey was born 15 August, 1941. She was educated at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. Mulvey arose as a prominent experimental filmmaker in the 1970s, co-writing and co-directing films with her husband, Peter Wollen. Today she is professor of film and media studies at Birkbeck, University of London.

LEAH GILLIAM

Leah Gilliam was born in 1967 in Washington, DC. She studied modern culture and media at Brown University, film and twentieth century studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and interactive communication at New York University. She began making experimental films with 1992’s Now Pretend.

LESLIE THORNTON

Leslie Thornton was born in 1951 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She grew up in Cincinnati. She attended the State University of New York at Buffalo and later at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Thornton began as a painter in the early 1970s and began filmmaking with Face (1974). She currently a professor of modern culture and media at Brown University and divides her time between Providence and New York City.

Lynne SachsLYNNE SACHS

Lynne Sachs was born 10 August, 1961 in Memphis, Tennessee. She attended Brown University where she majored in history and developed an interest in experimental documentary filmmaking. In 1985 she moved to San Francisco where she attended San Francisco State University and later the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1989 she made a long format experimental documentary, Sermons and Sacred Pictures. She currently teaches experimental film and video at New York University and lives in Brooklyn.

MAMA BAER

Mama Baer was born Andrea Katharina Ingeborg Gothling in 1981. She began as a post-industrial and noise musician in 1999 and began making experimental films in the 2000s. She currently lives in Flensburg, Germany where she often collaborates with her husband Kommissar Hjuler as “Kommissar Hjuler und Frau.”

MARIE EPSTEIN

Marie Epstein (née Marie-Antonine Epstein) was born 14 August 1899 in Warsaw. She collaborated with her brother Jean Epstein, director Jean Benoit-Lévy, and later worked as a film preservationist at Cinémathèque francaise. She died 24 April 1995 in Paris.

MARIE MENKEN

Marie Menken’s Lights (1964-1966)
Marie Menken (née Marie Menkevicius) was born 25 May 1909 in Brooklyn. She studied painting at the New York School of Fine and Industrial Arts and the Art Students League of New York. Menken and her husband Willard Maas co-founded the avant-garde Gryphon Group in the mid-1940s. She died 29 December 1970 in Brooklyn.

MARJORIE KELLER

Marjorie Keller was born in 1950 in Yorktown, New York. She enrolled at Tufts University but transferred to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She began making films in 1972 and earned a degree in cinema studies at New York University in 1975. She was working on a book on experimental female filmmakers at the time of her death in 1994.

MARTHA COLBURN

Martha Colburn was born in 1972 and grew up in the country between Gettysburg and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1990 she enrolled at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She began making films in 1994 and around the same time formed The Dramatics (not to be confused with the famous Motown group of the same name) who scored many of Colburn’s films.

MARY ELLEN BUTE

Mary Ellen Bute’s Synchromy No. 4: Escape (1938)

Mary Ellen Bute was born 21 November 1906 in Houston, Texas. She studied stage lighting at Yale University. Bute’s her abstract animated films were widely screened in cinemas before features in from in the 1930s until 1953, and she categorized them as “visual music” and later named the Seeing Sound series. She died of heart failure at New York City’s Cabrini Medical Center on 17 October 1983.

MARY HALLOCK-GREENWALT

Mary Elizabeth Hallock-Greenewalt was born in 1871 in Beirut. She studied piano at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and with Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna. Although best known as a pianist, she was also an inventor and pioneered visual music with an invention she called Nourathar which synchronized film to musical recordings and she hand-painted films films as well. She died in 1951.

MAYA DEREN 

Maya Deren was born Eleanora Derenkowskaia (Элеоно́ра Деренко́вская) on 29 April 1917 in Ukraine. In 1922, her family emigrated to Syracuse, New York, where her father shortened their family name to Deren. In 1930, Eleanora Deren enrolled at the League of Nations International School of Geneva. She graduated from New York University with a degree in literature. She adopted the surname Maya in 1943, after she moved to Los Angeles. Her experimental collaboration with Alexander Hammid, Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), is one of the most influential avant-garde films in history. She died on 13 October 1961 from a brain hemorrhage brought on by extreme malnutrition.

MIDI ONODERA

Midi Onodera was born in Toronto. She began making experimental films in the late 1970s. In 1979 she made Untitled, Contemplation, and Reality-Illusion.

NANCY SAVOCA

Nancy Laura Savoca was born 23 July 1959 in the Bronx. In 1980 she married to writer and producer Richard Guay. She graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1982 where she made two shorts, Renata and Bad Timing.

PEGGY AHWESH

Margaret “Peggy” Ahwesh was born 1954 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. She earned a degree from Antioch College. She began her film career in 1983, with the Super 8 work Pittsburgh Trilogy. She began teaching film and electronic arts at Bard College in 1990.

REBECCA HORN

Rebecca Horn’s Berlin (1974)

Rebecca Horn was born 24 March 1944, in Michelstadt, Germany. In 1963 she enrolled at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg but withdrew the following year after contracting lung poisoning. She currently divides her time between Berlin and Paris.

SADAF FOROUGHI

Sadaf Foroughi (صدف فروغی) was born 27 July 1976 in Tehran. She studied French literature and philosophy at the University of Provence in Aix-en-Provence, France. She began making film with 2004’s Une Impression.

SADIE BENNING

Sadie Benning was born 11 April 1973 in Milwaukee. She began experimenting with film as a child with a Fisher-Price Pixelvision PXL-2000 toy camera. In 1998, Benning co-founded Le Tigre with Kathleen Hanna and Johanna Fateman. Benning left the band in 2000.
SHARON LOCKHART

Filmmaker and photographer Sharon Lockhart was born in 1964 in Norwood, Massachusetts. She received degrees from San Francisco Art institute and the Art Center College of Design. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Southern California‘s Roski School of Fine Arts, and lives in Los Angeles.

SHIRLEY CLARKE 

Shirley Clarke’s Bridges-Go-Round (1958)

Shirley Clarke (née Shirley Brimberg) was born in New York City on 2 October 1919. She studied dance at Stephens College, Johns Hopkins University, Bennington College, and University of North Carolina. She began to show interest in filmmaking in the 1950s, completing Dance in the Sun in 1953. She died after a stroke in Boston on 23 September 1997.

STEPHANIE BARBER Stephanie Barber

Stephanie Barber was born in Riverhead, New York and grew up in Long Island. She studied film and poetry at Binghamton University. She is currently a resident artist in the multidisciplinary MFA program at Baltimore’s Mt. Royal School of Interdisciplinary Art.

SU FRIEDRICH

Su Friedrich was born 12 December 1954 in New Haven, Connecticut. She studied art and art history at Oberlin College. She made her first film, Hot Water, in 1978. Since 1998, has taught at the Center for the Creative and Performing Arts at Princeton University. Today she lives in Brooklyn.

SUZAN PITT

Suzan Pitt produces experimental animated films. She was studying painting when began experimenting with 16mm film, creating Bowl, Theatre, Garden, Marble Game in 1970. She currently teaches with the experimental animation program at California Institute of the Arts.

TRACEY MOFFATT

Tracey Moffatt was born 12 November, 1960 in Brisbane, Australia. She graduated from the Queensland College of Art in 1982 when she filmed the documentary, Guniwaya Ngigu. She’s primarily known for her photography, but has made several experimental films.

TRINH T. MINH-HA

 
Trinh T. Minh-ha’s Reassemblage (1983)

Trinh T. Minh-ha was born in Hanoi and raised in South Vietnam during the war. She studied piano and music composition at the National Conservatory of Music and Theater in Saigon before emigrating to the US in 1970. Her first 16mm film, Reassemblage, was filmed in Senegal and released in 1983.

VAGINAL DAVIS

Vaginal Davis was born in Los Angeles. Davis’s band The Afro Sisters released their first seven-inch EP Indigo, Sassafras & Molasses, on Amoeba Records in 1978 and later opened for The Smiths and Happy Mondays on both of their first American tours. She began making experimental films with 1994’s Designy Living. She currently lives in Berlin.

VENA KAVA

Vena Kava was born 2 November 1986, in Zakopane, Poland. When seven years old, her family emigrated to the US. Kava studied experimental filmmaking at Emerson College in Boston and later the San Francisco Art Institute. Kava currently lives in Montreal.

VIVIAN OSTROVSKY

Vivian Ostrovsky was born 17 November 1945, in New York and spent most of her childhood in Rio de Janeiro. She studied psychology at Paris’s Institut de Psychologie and later film at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle and by Henri Langlois and Eric Rohmer. In the 1970s, Ostrovsky and Rosine Grange co-founded Ciné-Femmes International.

VIVIENNE DICK

Vivienne Dick was born 1950 in Donegal, Ireland. She attended school there before emigrating to the US in the 1970s where she became associated with the No Wave scene. In 1982 Dick moved back to Ireland and today she teaches filmmaking at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

ZEINABU IRENE DAVIS

Zeinabu irene Davis was born in Philadelphia and began making film at Brown University. She later received an MFA in motion picture/television production at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is also a professor of the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego.

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FURTHER READING

Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement (by B. Ruby Rich, 1998)

Women and Experimental Filmmaking (edited by Jean Petrolle and Virginia Wright Wexman, 2005)

Women’s Experimental Cinema : Critical Frameworks (by Robin Blaetz, 2007)

If you’re in Los Angeles, check out the Los Angeles Film Forum, the “longest-running organization in Southern California dedicated exclusively to the ongoing, non-commercial exhibition of independent, experimental, and progressive media art.”

*****

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, or listicles and jobs must pay offer reasonable pay. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Southland Parks — Visiting Los Angeles High Memorial Park

Parks comprise more than 14% of Los Angeles’s landscape and the city is home to hundreds of these cherished public spaces. From the largest park within any American city (Topanga State Park) to the smallest pocket parks and parklets, I hope to showcase them one park at a time, in the series Southland Parks.

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Memorial Branch Library
Memorial Branch Library

side entrance

Yesterday, whilst looking for a public library, I came across the charming, Tudor-style Memorial Branch Library, situated at the back of an equally attractive park, Los Angeles High Memorial Park. Both turned out to have an interesting story worth sharing.

Los Angeles High Memorial Park
Los Angeles High Memorial Park

Los Angeles High Memorial Park is a small (one hectare), unstaffed park that hosts a large jungle gym and a nice assortment of stately trees. It’s located across Olympic (at 4625 West Olympic Boulevard) from Los Angeles High School in the southeastern corner of Midtown’s Brookside neighborhood.

The land one which the park is located was annexed by the city in 1915. In 1920, the Rimpau Estate Co. subdivided the land, formerly part of Francisco Avila‘s Rancho Las Cienegasas Windsor Crest. Housing deeds expressly excluded non-whites but as with so much of Los Angeles, whites now only account for a small minority (15%) whereas most of the residents near the park are either black or Korean.

At some point the neighborhood became known as Brookside, a reference to the Río del Jardín de las Flores, which begins in the Santa Monica Mountains and then flows (mostly underground today) to Ballona Creek which then flows west and empties into Santa Monica Bay.

Across the street from the Los Angeles High Memorial Park is Los Angeles High School. The school was established in Downtown Los Angeles in 1873 and moved to the current site in 1917. The 1971 San Fernando Earthquake caused extensive damage to the beautiful buildings and preservationists mobilized to rehabilitate it until one of those mysterious fires finished it off and it was replaced with the current schoolhouse.

LA High Memorial Park Welcomes You
LA High Memorial Park Welcomes You

Los Angeles High Memorial Park was born when a group of students from the school purchased a parcel across the street in 1922 to dedicate to the memory of twenty students who’d died during the Great War (1914 – 1918).

Inside the Memorial Branch Library
Inside the Memorial Branch Library

In 1923, an adjacent parcel was procured by students and alumni and in 1929 the city granted the Los Angeles Public Library the right to there build a library designed by the architectural firm of Austin & Ashley (John C. Austin and Frederick M. Ashley), who’d previously designed the high school.

Judson's stained-glass memorial
Judson’s stained-glass memorial
Stained-Glass Windows In the Sky
Stained-Glass Windows In the Sky

The beautiful stained glass windows were crafted by the Garvanza-based Judson Art Studio. The library opened on 29 April, 1930.

Many of the trees are quite mature and seem likely to date back to the time of the park’s dedication. They represent several species and the roots of the one at the library’s southwest corners appear to be pressing quite strongly against its bricks. In the western side of the park is a large jungle gym, dedicated in 2013. This being the Council District 4 of Tom LaBonge, I have little doubt that ribbon was cut and a vociferous speech was made… perhaps even the Blue Angels made an appearance overhead.

Los Angeles Library sign that used to be at the Central location

Los Angeles Library sign
Los Angeles Library sign that used to be at the Central location

When I visited the gym and the rest of the park were being enjoyed by a healthy number of people of all ages and diverse backgrounds. They were engaged in a variety of activities; playing, hop-scotching, engaged in light petting, tic-tac-toeing, reading, picnicking, and lining up for a bite at About Time, a South Park-based taco truck.

Sidewalk fun
Sidewalk fun
About Time taco truck
About Time taco truck

In the days of old, Los Angeles High Memorial Park was the last stop on the Los Angeles Railway’s L Line but the last of the yellow cars came this way in 1940, when it was replaced by bus service. Today the nearest train station is Wilshire/Western Station, a not-too-distant/not-too-close 2.75 kilometers to the east, but the park is also served by Metro’s 28 and Rapid 728 lines.

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Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, or listicles and jobs must pay offer reasonable pay. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

An Interview with Karie Bible for Women’s History Month

In the past most of my posts for Women’s History Month have focused on historical figures. This year I decided to instead focus on living breathing women who’re contributing to the vibrant cultural landscape of Los Angeles. This week’s subject is Karie Bible, an independent contractor who maintains Film Radar, volunteers for the American Cinematheque in conjunction with the Film Noir Foundation for the Noir City Festival, sometimes volunteers for the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats series, and since 2002 has been the house tour guide for Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Check out her website Hollywood Forever Cinema Walking Tour for upcoming tour dates and more details.

Film Radar
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Film wasn’t invented in Los Angeles but no city in the world is more closely associated with the movies and yet film is rarely afforded the respect which it deserves. When I moved to Los Angeles, I discovered the largest collection of picture palaces in the world, the Broadway Theater District, but that all of their huge screens had long ago gone dark. There was no plaque at the site of Edison’s old Kinetoscope parlour in front of which oldest known footage of Los Angeles was filmed. There is no plaque at the former location ofChun Fon’s Sing Kee Laundry, where the first dramatic film shot entirely in California was made in 1908. The storage facility behind my local Jack in the Box had been Mack Sennet‘s Edendale film studio only to spend its second act enabling hoarders as a public storage warehouse. Grand historic theaters, when not churches, were subdivided into closet sized rooms with screens smaller than some peoples televisions.

The areas that gave me hope were the repertory and festival scenes, which seemed to be flourishing if somewhat hard to keep up with. Then I discovered outdoor screenings in parks and thought to myself that someone out to do for art houses, drive-ins, experimental film, film festivals, foreign films, outdoor screenings, revival houses, special screenings, video art what AOL’s Moviefone or NBCUniversal’sFandango do for the suburban multiplex. Unaware of anyone providing this service, in 2008 I tried my hand at it with the intention of providing the service once a month but made only one, finding it way too much work, way too incomplete, and way too Web 1.0. The best thing about my effort (which you can behold, like the subject of an atrocity exhibition, here) was that it led to someone telling me about Film Radar — which it turned out were already providing that service and are therefore, in my estimation, the greatest resource of its kind for the Los Angeles film scene, which is why I wanted to interview Karie Bible.

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Do you run Film Radar all by yourself?

I run Film Radar along with Ray McDermott, whose contribution is invaluable.  This wouldn’t still be going without his help.

Do you receive funding from the city or any outside sources? Does it operate solely on donations?

We do sell ads sometimes, but otherwise we put our own money into it.  Donations would certainly help (hint, hint)! [There is a PayPal donation button on the website]

Do you rely on the theaters and festival promoters to get in touch with you?

We’ve been doing Film Radar since 2002, so at this point most people find us. Ray and I both have full time “day jobs”, so keeping up with the emails and requests is really challenging.

Before I knew about Film Radar I once tried my own hand at creating a similar film calendar focused on independent theaters, revival houses, special screenings, and festivals and found that there were a lot more than I was aware of. How do you keep abreast of it all and how do you decide which theaters to include in your listings?

To be honest, it is a constantly evolving thing. Right now we are currently trying to re-tool the calendar and find a way to make it much less time consuming to create.  We have huge lists of venues, links, bookmarks and paper schedules from venues all over town.

Grauman's Egyptian

Do you think that the city itself should take a more active approach in protecting its cinematic legacy? I’ve never been asked by a tourist how to get to the Broadway Theater District but am routinely asked for directions to the Hollywood Sign, the Walk of Fame, and Hollywood & Highland, things which are only tangentially related to film. 

Fortunately there are many organizations that help in preserving our city’s cinematic heritage for example theAmerican Cinematheque, Los Angeles Conservancy, Hollywood Heritage, Art Deco Society, UCLA Film and TV Archive, Venice Historical Society, Echo Park Historical Society… the list goes on and on.

Street Food Cinema

(Image source: Street Food Cinema)

It seems to me that as the grandchildren of the suburban pioneers increasingly choose to live in city centers that there’s seemingly a renewed interest in public space; from farmers markets, community gardens, open streets events, public transit, to outdoor film screenings held in public parks. Does this give you any hope that there’s hope for the future of cinemas and public film exhibition?

There is always hope!  I don’t believe that the communal experience of watching a film will ever go away. There are numerous ways to see film all over the city! There is Street Food Cinema (what’s not to love about movies AND food trucks!), movies on Santa Monica Pier, Silents Under the Stars at the Paramount ranch, movies at Hollywood Forever… again the list goes on and on.

The non-multiplex film scene seems to be dominated largely by new indies, “midnight movies,” and cult classics. Personally I wish that there were more places to see experimental, African, and silent films. Are there any other types of film you’d like to see more of in Los Angeles?

Wait, there ARE places to see these things! If you love experimental films, don’t miss Film Forum, which has been showing experimental / avant-garde film in Los Angeles since 1975.  They have several events a month. I also recommend Red Cat, which is located in downtown and the Echo Park Film Center. As for silent, well the Cinefamily (aka “The Silent Movie Theatre”) shows silent film on one Saturday per month. You can also find silents at the UCLA Film and TV Archive, Hollywood Heritage and the Old Town Music Hall.  The Los Angeles Conservancy usually includes a silent film as part of the Last Remaining Seatsseries. There is also the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which features 20 silent films. The Turner Classic Movies Film Festival has silent film as well. Even though passes are expensive, you can buy tickets on an individual basis. They are showing a newly discovered Harry Houdini silent in a few weeks, which I’m very excited to see! There are opportunities to see silent film all over the place if you look for them.

As for African film, admittedly that is pretty hard to come by. That said, there is a Pan African Film Festival that happens every year and the American Cinematheque (Egyptian and Aero Theatres) do an excellent job of showcasing films from all over the world.

In an older interview with Adrienne Crew, you mentioned L.A. Confidential, Chinatown, and Los Angeles Plays Itself as some of your favorite Los Angeles films. Are there any films that you feel get Los Angeles completely wrong?

That’s a tough question to answer. Los Angeles is a really diverse place with many facets. Most movies only capture one perspective. I always get really irked with movies that are Los Angeles stories, but are shot elsewhere in the world. The movie Battle: Los Angeles was shot in LouisianaThe Black Dahlia movie was primarily shot in Bulgaria. I know this is done for tax credits, but I find it so annoying.

Having grown up in Texas, do you have any Texas-set films that you particularly like or dislike?

I thought the recent film Boyhood did a great job of capturing what it is like to grow up in working class Texas.  I also loved Robert Duvall’s The Apostle. Most of the time if you see a preacher depicted on film they are either saintly or evil with no in between. Duvall’s character was a raw, complicated human being. It was a brilliant performance. As for historic films, I will always have a soft spot for John Wayne in The Alamo.  My parents took my brother and I out the abandoned set of this film in Bracketville, Texas when I was a kid. Oddly enough, we were far more impressed with the movie set than the real thing, which is in a crowded urban area next to a mall.

 Eagle Rock postcard
Eagle Rock postcard LACMA Postcard

If you had a guest who was wide open to ideas and had a month to explore Los Angeles, where would you direct her or him?

I would need a month off to show them a fraction of what our city has to offer!  I would start by finding out their interests (art, architecture, film, nature, music) and then I would shape the tour around that.  The possibilities are endless.  If anyone ever says they are bored or that there is nothing to do in Los Angeles, they clearly aren’t paying attention.

Finally, do you sneak snacks into the theater?

Admittedly I have done this on occasion.  Last year at the TCM Festival I was chomping down on a philly cheese steak during one of the films.  The guy next to me was really irritated, but I couldn’t help it.  There is very little time in between films and there was no way around it. At least it wasn’t something crunchy!

*****

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, or listicles and jobs must pay more than slave wages as he would rather write for pleasure than for peanuts. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

All-Female Bands of the 1970s — Happy Women’s History Month!

I wrote a post on all-female bands from the 1910s-1950s, and a post covering all-female bands of the 1960s — here’s my attempt at a conclusive A-Z (and other alphabets) of all-female bands of the 1970s. Details are often sketchy or non-existent and as always corrections and contributions are appreciated!

DIE ÄTZTUSSIS

Die Ätztussis were an anarcho-punk band from the Kreuzberg section of West Berlin, active at least as early as 1979 when they played the Antifaschistischen Festival. The members were Cordula (vocals), Kiki (bass), Menusch (guitar), and Petra (drums).
‘B’ GIRLS

‘B’ Girls in 1977 (image source: Rodney Bowes)

Cynthia Ross, Lucasta Rochas, Marcy Saddy, and Rhonda Ross formed ‘B’ Girls in Toronto in 1977. Although they recorded a handful of demos, they only released one single, “Fun At The Beach,” on BOMP! in 1979. Roaches was replaced by Xenia Holiday before they broke up in 1981 or ’82. A collection of their recordings were released as Who Says Girls Can’t Rock in 1997.
BEBE K’ROCHE

BeBe K’Roche were formed in Berkeley by Jake Lampert, Pamela “Tiik” Pollet, Peggy Mitchell, and Virginia Rubino in 1973. They released one single, “Hoodoo’d,” and an eponymous LP in 1976 on Los Angeles’s Olivia Records.
BERKELEY WOMEN’S MUSIC COLLECTIVE 

Berkeley Women’s Music Collective in 1973 (image source: Queer Music Heritage)

Berkeley Women’s Music Collective were comprised of Debbie Lempke, Jake Lampert, Nancy Henderson, Nancy Vogl, and Susann Shanbaum. Lampert later went on to play in the all-female BeBe K’Roche. Henderson left the band to become a physical education instructor before they recorded Berkeley Women’s Music Collective (1976) and Tryin’ To Survive (1978).
BITCH

Bitch were from the Chicago area and were comprised of Donna Agresti (drums), Donna Kirkendall (bass), Gerre Edinger (guitar), Lorrie Kountz (guitar), and Nancy Davis (vocals). They were  active from the late 1970s until at least 1981.
THE BLOWDRIERS

The Blowdriers were an all-female punk band from the San Francisco Bay area who recorded the song, “Berkeley Farms” which was included on the 1993 compilation Killed By Death #13.

THE BODYSNATCHERS 

Two Tone ska group The Bodysnatchers formed in London in 1979 and were comprised of Miranda Joyce (alto saxophone), Nicky Summers (bass), Penny Leyton (keyboards), Rhoda Dakar (vocals), Sarah-Jane Owen (lead guitar), and Stella Barker (rhythm guitar). In 1980 they released “Let’s Do Rock Steady.”

BRIGHT GIRLS

Debbie Trethaway (drums), Jane Boston (harmonica), Jen Green (rhythm guitar), Jude Winter (electric piano), Rose Yates (bass), Susy Taylor (vocals), and Tasha Fairbanks (saxophone) formed Devil’s Dykes in Brighton in 1977. The band changed their name to Bright Girls in 1980 and their song “Hidden From History” was included on the compilation Vaultage 80: A Vinyl Chapter (1980). They stopped performing in 1990.
BRISTOL WOMEN’S MUSIC COLLECTIVE

The Bristol Women’s Music Collective formed around 1978. They were the subject of the short documentary, In Our Own Time (1981), produced by Women in Moving Pictures (WIMPS).

CARAMBOLAGE 

Neue Deutsche Welle group Carambolage were formed in 1979 by Angie Olbrich, Britta Neander, Elfie-Esther Steitz, and Janett Lemmen. They released an eponymous album in 1980 and Eilzustellung-Exprès in 1982.
THE CASTRATORS

The Castrators were an all-female punk band with Angela Risner, Tessa Pollit (guitar) — who went on to join The Slits as bassist — and Budgie, who apparently was NOT the Budgie of The Slits. They were profiled by News of The World in 1977 for a piece on female punks.

THE CHICAGO WOMEN’S LIBERATION ROCK BAND 

 
The Chicago Women’s Liberation Rock Band teamed with The New Haven Woman’s Liberation Rock Band and released Mountain Moving Day on Rounder in 1972. Their side included the songs “Secretary,” “Ain’t Gonna Marry,” “Papa (Don’t Lay That Shit on Me),” and “Mountain Moving Day.”
CLAPPERCLAW 
Clapperclaw were a London-based theatrical group comprised of Caroline John, Rae Levy, Rix Pyke, and one other member. They active from around 1978 who performed feminist, socialist satirical music hall on instruments ranging from accordion, banjo, clarinet, guitar, mandolin, pianos, recorders, spoons, triangle, and whistles.
CLITO

Clito were an Italian punk band formed around 1978 in Milan. They were comprised of Elettra Sax (saxophone), Klara Lux (drums), Norma Loid (guitar), Olivia Gintonic (bass), and Ruby Scass (vocals). Their songs “Giangol” and “Se La Vita E’ Faticosa” were later included on the compilation Italian Records called The Singles 7” Collection (1980-1984) (2013).
THE CURSE

The Curse

The Curse were formed in Toronto in 1977. The band was comprised of Dr. Bourque (bass, backing vocals), Mickey Skin (vocals), Patzy Poizon (drums, backing vocals), and Trixie Danger (guitar, backing vocals). They released the single “Shoeshine Boy” b/w “The Killer Bees” in 1978.

THE DEADLY NIGHTSHADE

The Deadly Nightshade

The Deadly Nightshade (image source: The Deadly Nightshade)

The Deadly Nightshade formed in Northampton in 1972 and were comprised of Anne Bowen (rhythm guitar), Helen Hooke (lead guitar, fiddle), and Pamela Robin Brandt (bass). They released two records, The Deadly Nightshade (1975) and F&W (1976).
THE DINETTES

The Dinettes

The Dinettes formed in San Diego as The Cockpits in 1978 who, after a couple of line-up changes, coalesced around Cindy Brisco (drums), Doriot Negrette (vocals), Irene Liberatore-Dolan (drums), Joyce Rooks (guitar, vocals), Lisa Aston Emerson (guitar), and Sue Ferguson (keyboards) as The Dinettes. They released “Poison” b/w “T.V.” in 1979.
DOLLY MIXTURE 

Dolly Mixture were formed in 1978 by Debsey Wykes (bass, piano, vocals), Hester Smith (drums, vocals), and Rachel Bor (guitar, cello, vocals) in Cambridge. After releasing three singles in three years they released the limited edition Demonstration Tapes in 1983. Wykes and Smith went on to form Coming Up Roses and Bor performed with Fruit Machine. Wykes later performed with Saint Etienne and later, Birdie.
ELECTRA 

Electra

Electra were formed in Suffolk in 1979 by Celia Tordoff (congas) Gill Alexander (bass), Lizzie Scott (piano, bass, guitar, vocals), Lizzy Smith (guitar, lead vocals), Margi Stevenson (vocals, percussion), Nicolette Vine (vocals), and Rachel Perry (piano, bass, guitar). In 1986, Smith, Stevenson, Perry, and Paddy Tanton (vocals) formed The Lizzy Smith Band, which continued until 1993.
EMILY SWAY AND THE SHUFFLE SISTERS

No information available!

THE FEMINIST IMPROVISING GROUP

FIG

The Feminist Improvising Group (Image source: The Women’s Liberation Music Archive)

The Feminist Improvising Group (FIG) formed in 1977. Their ranks included Angèle Veltmeijer (flute, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone), Annemarie Roelofs (trombone, violin), Cathy Williams (keyboards), Corinne Liensol (trumpet), Françoise Dupety (alto saxophone, guitar), Frankie Armstrong (vocals), Georgie Born (cello, bass guitar), Irène Schweizer (piano, drums), Lindsay Cooper (bassoon, oboe, soprano saxophone), Maggie Nicols (vocals), and Sally Potter (vocals, alto saxophone). They released an eponymous album in 1979 before disbanding in 1982.
THE FLATBACKERS 

Flatbacker2

The Flatbackers formed in the UK in 1978 and were Julie Usher (lead guitar, vocals), Lucy Dray (bass, vocals), and Lyn Monk (drums, percussion, backing vocals). They released three singles, “Pumping Iron,” “Buzzz Going Round,” and “Serenade Of Love” in 1980 and 1981. They disbanded in 1981.
DIE FLYING LESBIANS 

Die Flying Lesbians were formed in Germany in 1974 and included Cäcilia Rentmeister (piano, synthesizer, harmonica, vocals), Christel Wachowski (guitar, percussion), Danielle de Baat (guitar, bass, vocals), Gigi (Christa) Lansch (percussion), and Monika Jaeckel (drums, percussion). They released a self-titled album in 1975.
GALAXY 

Galaxy were a heavy psych/space rock band formed in Jacksonville, Florida by Frenzi Fabbri (guitar), Miss Gunner Powell (drums), Pepper Leonardi (bass), and Space Mama Geiger (keyboards). They released Day Without the Sun in 1976.
GIRLS 

Girls were a Japanese five-piece comprised of Gill, Lena, Llia, Rita, and Sadie. They released the albums, Noraneko (野良猫) (1977), Punky Kiss (1977), and Girls (1978).
GIRLSCHOOL

Girlschool are a British Heavy Metal band which formed in 1978. Their roots go back to Wandsworth where in 1975 Dinah ‘Enid’ Williams (bass, vocals), Kim McAuliffe (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Tina Gayle (drums) formed Painted Lady. In 1978, McAuliffe, Williams, Denise Dufort (drums), and Kelly Johnson (lead guitar) changed their name to Girlschool and released their first single, “Take It All Away.” They still perform to this day, with McAuliffe, Williams, Dufort, and Jackie Chambers (lead guitar, backing vocals).

THE GO-GO’S 

The Go-gos, 1979, David Ferguson.

The Go-Go’s, 1979 (image source: David Ferguson)

The Go-Go’s were formed in Los Angeles in 1978 by Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Elissa Bello (drums), Jane Wiedlin (guitar, vocals), and Margot Olavarria (bass). Although initially punk, they found fame as a pop band in the 1980s. Wiedlin released several solo albums, as did Carlisle and Gina Shock, who early on replaced drummer Bello.

ISIS

Isis
Isis formed in New York City in 1973. Their ranks included Barbara Cobb (bass), Carol MacDonald (vocals, guitar), Ellen Seeling (trumpet), Edith Dankowitz (saxophone, flute, clarinet), Faith Fusillo (guitar), Ginger Bianco (drums, percussion), Jeanie Fineberg (saxophone, flute, piccolo), Lauren Draper (trumpet, vocals), Lolly Bienenfield (trombone, vocals), Lynx (saxophone, guitar), Margo Lewis (keyboards), Nydia “Liberty” Mata (percussion), Renate Ferrer (guitar), Suzi Ghezzi (guitar), Stella Bass (bass, vocals), and Vivian Stoll (drums, vibraphone). They released three albums, Isis (1974), Ain’t No Backin’ Up Now (1975), and Breaking Through (1977).
JAM TODAY

Jam Today

Jam Today (image source: The Women’s Liberation Music Archive)

Jam Today were formed in 1976 in Peckham, UK. Over the course of several line-ups their ranks included Alison Rayner (bass), Angele Veltmeijer (saxophone, flute), Barbara Stretch (vocals), Corinne Liensol, Deirdre Cartright (guitar), Diana Wood (vocals, alto saxophone), Fran Rayner, Frankie Green (drums), Jackie Crew (drums), Joey (vocals), Josefina Cupido (percussion, vocals), Josie Mitten (keyboards, vocals), Julia Dawkins (saxophone, flute), Laka Daisical (vocals, keyboards), Nicki Francis (saxophone, flute), Sarah Greaves Baker (trumpet), Terry Hunt (guitar), and Vicky Aspinall (violin). They (when the band was comprised of Crew, Dawkins, Hunt, Rayner, and Stretch) only got around to releasing one EP, Stereotyping, in 1981.
KANDEGGINA GANG

Kandeggina Gang, which included Jo Squillo, was a punk band which formed in Milan in 1979. They released one single, “Sono captive” b/w “Orrore” before disbanding in 1981.
KLEENEX

Kleenex formed in Zurich in 1978 with a line-up of  Klaudia Schiff (bass, vocals), Lislot Ha (drums), Marlene Marder (guitar), and Regula Sing (vocals). Initially Kleenex were assisted by Rudolph Dietrich and Gogi Düggelbach of Nasal Boys (I smell a theme here) but the core of the band was always female, revolving around the duo of Ha and Schiff. Sing (nee Ramona Carlier) left to join The Mo-Dettes and was replaced by Chrigle Freund, who was subsequently replaced by Astrid Spirit. In 1979, faced with legal action from the popular American manufacturer of snot rags, Kleenex changed their name to LiLiPUT, and no legal threat ensued from the estate of Jonathan Swift. After their dissolution, Marder wrote the book, Kleenex/LiLiPUT – Das Tagebuch der Gitarristin Marlene Marder and the band’s output was collected and released by Kill Rock Stars as LiLiPUT.

THE KLITZ 

The Klitz formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1978 and were comprised of Amy Gassner (bass), Gail Elise Clifton (vocals), Lesa Aldridge (guitar), and Marcia Clifton (drums). They recorded “Couldn’t Be Bothered,” “Two Chords,” “Hard Up,” and a cover of Alex Chilton’s “Hook or Crook” before disbanding.

KLYMAXX 

Klymaxx were a Los Angeles funk band who formed in 1979. The members were Bernadette Cooper (drums, vocals), Cheryl Cooley (guitar, vocals), Joyce “Fenderella” Irby (bass, vocals), Lorena Porter Shelby (vocals), Lynn Malsby (keyboards), and Robbin Grider (synthesizers, guitar). Their first big hit was 1984’s Meeting In The Ladies Room.

LAVENDER JANE 

Lavender Jane
Lavender Jane (image source: Alix Dobkin)

Lavender Jane were comprised of Alix Dobkin, Kay Gardner, and Patches Attom. They released Lavender Jane Loves Women in 1975. Dobkin went on to form Alix Dobkin Featuring the Lesbian Power Authority who released Living With Lesbians in 1976 and she released the solo, Alix, in 1980. Gardner released several solo albums before dying in 2002.

THE LONDON WOMEN’S LIBERATION ROCK BAND

womensliberationmusicarchive
The London Women’s Liberation Rock Band (image source: Women’s Liberation Music Archive)
The London Women’s Liberation Rock Band were formed in 1972 by Alaine (guitar), Angele Veltmeijer (vocals and flute), Eleanor Thorneycroft (bass guitar), Frankie Green (drums), and Hazel Twort (vocals, keyboard).
MAIDEN VOYAGE

Maiden Voyage were Hetsilla Sharkey (flute, saxophone, keyboards), Leslie LaRonga (drums), Missy Wolcott (bass, keyboards, banjo), Nancy Pollock (guitar, trumpet, trombone), and Terry Sausville (keyboards, flute, trumpet). They released In New York in 1974.
THE MASCARAS 

The Mascaras were an obscure punk group who existed around 1977, when they Tony Wilson’s So It Goes.
水玉消防団 

水玉消防団

水玉消防団 formed in Tokyo in 1979. Members included 天鼓 (guitar, vocals), カムラ (bass), 可夜 (piano, electric piano, organ), まなこ (guitar), and 宮本 (drums). They released Otome no Inori wa Da Da Da (1981) and 満天に赤い花びら (1985) before disbanding in 1988.
MO-DETTES 

Mo-dettes formed in London in 1979 — originally as The Bomberettes. They included Jane Crockford (bass), June Kingston (drums, vocals), Kate Korus (guitar), and Ramona Carlier (vocals). The one album wonders released the optimistically-titles The Story So Far in 1980. Melissa Ritter replaced Korus in 1981 and Sue Slack replaced Carlier in 1982, shortly before they disbanded.
MOTHER SUPERIOR

Mother Superior were a progressive rock band who formed in London in 1974. Their line-up included Audrey Swinburne (lead guitar, lead vocals), Jackie Badger (bass, vocals), Jackie Crew (drums, vocals), and Lesley Sly (keyboards, lead vocals). They released Lady Madonna in 1975 and disbanded in 1977.
MOTHER TRUCKER 

Mother Trucker formed in Hounslow, UK around 1974 and were comprised of Billie Simpkins (lead vocals), Freddie Barnes (drums), Jackie Ellender (bass guitar), Leslie Rice-Paddington (guitar), Ronnie McBurney (vocals) and were signed to Ember Records. They released a self-titled album in 1975.
NECESSARY EVIL

Necessary Evil were a British punk band formed around 1979 who existed until 1980.
NEO BOYS 

Neo Boys formed in Portland in 1978. The members were Jennifer Labianco (guitar), K.T. Kincaid (vocals), Kim Kincaid (bass), and Pat Baum (drums). Labianco was replaced by Meg Hentges. They released “Neo Boys” in 1980 and the Crumbling Myths EP in 1982. A compilation, Sooner Or Later, was released in 2013.
THE NEW HAVEN WOMEN’S LIBERATION ROCK BAND 

The New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band appeared on the split 1972 LP Mountain Moving Day with The Chicago Women’s Liberation Rock Band. The New Haven Woman’s Liberation Rock Band’s side contained the songs “Abortion Song,” “Sister Witch,” “Prison Song,” “So Fine,” and “Shotgun.”
THE NIXE 

The Nixe formed in 1978, in Utrecht, Netherlands. Their line-up was comprised of Ilva Poortvliet (vocals), Marian De Beurs (guitar), Nikki Meijerink (bass), and Simone Luken (drums). They appeared on Utreg-Punx in 1980 and and released The Nixe EP in 1981. They broke up in 1984 but a self-titled compilation was released in 2008.

NOH MERCY

 

Nōh Mercy were a post-punk duo of Esmerelda (vocals, keyboards) and Tony Hotel (drums), who formed in San Francisco in 1977. They disbanded in 1980. A self-titled compilation was released in 2012.
THE NORTHERN WOMEN’S LIBERATION ROCK BAND

The Northern Women’s Liberation Rock Band formed in 1973 and were comprised of Angela Cooper (vocals), Angie Libman (drums), Carol Riddell (keyboards), Frances Bernstein (guitar), Jane Power (rhythm guitar), Jenny Clegg (bass), and Luchia Fitzgerald (vocals).
ÖSTRO 430

Östro 430

Östro 430 were a Neue Deutsche Welle group who formed in Düsseldorf in 1979. The original line-up included Martina Weith (vocals, saxophone), Bettina Flörchinger (keyboards), Monika Kellermann (bass), and Marita Welling (drums). Later members included Olivia Casali (bass), Gisela Hottenroth (bass), Birgit Köster (drums), and Ralf Küpping (guitar). In 1981 they released the Durch dick & dünn EP, in 1983 they released Weiber wie wir, and they disbanded in 1984.
OVA

Ova formed as The Lupin Sisters in 1976 and were Jana Runnalls (vocals, guitar, clarinet, drums, percussion, kazoo) and Rosemary Schonfeld (vocals, 12-string guitar, electric guitar, synthesizer, cabasa, drum programming, marímbula, log drum). They released Out of Bounds (1982) and Possibilities (1984).
PEACHES

Peaches, also known as The Vamps, were an Australian trio formed in Sydney in 1975 by Margaret Britt (bass,vocals). In 1978 they released a recording of Willie Harry Wilson’s “Substitute.”

PULSALLAMA 

Pulsallama were a no wave band which included members Andé Whyland, Ann Magnuson, April Palmieri, Dany Johnson, Jean Caffeine, Kimberly Davis, Lori Montana, Min Thometz, Stace Elkin, and Wendy Wild. They released “The Devil Lives In My Husband’s Body” b/w “Ungawa Pt.II (Way Out Guiana)” (1982) and “Oui-Oui (A Canadian In Paris)” b/w “Pulsallama on the Rag” (1983). Magnuson went onto form Bongwater.
QUALITY STREET

Quality Street were a London band formed around 1979 whose members were Angele Veltmeye (saxophone), Maggie Nicols (vocals), Sally Beautista (guitar), and Vicky Scrivener (vocals).
THE RAINCOATS 

The Raincoats

The Raincoats are a British post-punk group formed in 1977 and still active. The original line-up was Ana Da Silva (guitar), Gina Birch (bass), Paloma “Palmolive” Romero (drums), and Vicky Aspinall (guitar, violin). Palmolive was soon replaced by Ingrid Weiss. After releasing three albums, the band broke-up in 1984 but reformed a decade later after their albums were reissued in 1993 with liner notes by Kim Gordon and Kurt Cobain. In the new line-up, Aspinall and Weiss were replaced by Anne Wood and Heather Dunn.

THE ROCHES

The Roches were a vocal, folk-rock trio formed in Park Ridge, New Jersey by Maggie and Terre Roche. After singing back-up for Paul Simon on There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, they released their only album as a duo, Seductive Reasoning, in 1975. Afterward they were joined by younger sister Suzy Roche.
THE RUNAWAYS 

The Runaways were formed in 9175 by Joan Jett (guitar, vocals), Michael Steele (bass), and Sandy West (drums). Steele left to join The Bangles and was replaced by many bassists, including Peggy Foster, Jackie Fox, Vicki Blue, Laurie McAllister, and Lita Ford (who also played guitar). Cherie Currie joined as lead vocalist in 1975 and, after departing in 1977, was replaced in that role by Jett. They played their last show in 1978 and broke up in 1979.
THE SLITS

The Slits were a punk band formed in London in 1976 by members who’d formerly been in The Castrators and The Flowers of Romance. The original line-up was Ari Up (Ariane Forster), Palmolive (Paloma Romero), Kate Korus, and Suzy Gutsy. There were line-up changes and The Slits weren’t always all-female (e.g. Budgie) but they primarily presented themselves as an all-female group. They released Cut (1979) and Return of the Giant Slits (1981) before disbanding in 1982. They reformed in 2005 and released Trapped Animal (2009), the year before Forster died.
SNATCH 

Snatch were a punk duo comprised of Judy Nylon and Patti Palladin. They formed in London in 1976 but the two bandmates were both American. After several singles and a collaboration with Brian Eno, they released a self-titled album — their only — in 1983.
SPOILSPORTS 

Spoilsports were Angele Veltmeijer (saxophone), Barbara Stretch (vocals), Carole Nelson (keyboards), Ruth Bitelli (bass), and Sheelagh Way (drums), who formed in 1978. They released one single, “You Gotta Shout” b/w “Love And Romance” in 1980, after which they broke-up.
THE STEPNEY SISTERS

The Stepney Sisters formed in York in 1974. The members were Benni Lees (bass, guitar), Caroline Gilfillan (vocals, drums), Nony Ardill (guitar), Ruthie Smith (vocals, saxophone), Sharon “Shaz” Nassauer (keyboards), and Susy Hogarth (drums). They disbanded in 1976. Their song, “Sisters” was included on the compilation Music & Liberation: A Compilation of Music From the Women’s Liberation Movement (2012).
TOUR DE FORCE

Tour de Force were a British new wave quartet who were formed in the late 1970s by Bernice Cartwright (bass), Carol Stocker (vocals), Deirdre Cartwright (vocals, guitar), and Val Lloyd (drums, vocals). They released three singles, “Night Beat” b/w “Tour De Force,” “Beat the Clock” b/w “Undecided,” and “School Rules” b/w “We Don’t Talk” in 1980 and ’81.
USCH

Usch (also known as Enola Gay) were a Swedish punk band formed in Stockholm in 1978. The original members were Hans Edström (guitar, vocals), Irene Liljeblad (bass, vocals), Jojje Jerngrip (guitar), Kicko (vocals), and Nike Markelius (drums, vocals) and they released Usch EP. In 1980, John Essing (guitar) and Toril Vigerust (guitar, vocals) played in the band and the following year the band released the single “Hatlåten” before disbanding.
UT 

UT
UT (image source: UT/Music)
UT were a New York no wave band formed in 1978 by Jacqui Ham (vocals, bass), Nina Canal (vocals, guitar), and Sally Young (vocals, drums). They released three albums, Conviction (1986), In Gut’s House (1987), and Griller (1989). They were on hiatus from 1991 till 2010, when they returned to live performance.
THE WELDERS 

The Welders

The Welders were a punk group formed in 1975 in St. Louis, Missouri. The original members were Caroline Fujimoto (bass), Kelly “Rusty” Draper (guitar), Jane Fujimoto (drums, keyboards), Julie (guitar), and Stephanie von Drasek (vocals). Julie left in 1977 and von Drasek in ’78 — their replacements were Colleen (vocals) and Lyla (drums), who remained until the band broke up in 1980 or ’81. Four of their songs, “P-E-R-V-E-R-T,” “Debutantes In Bondage,” “S-O-S Now,” and “Baby Don’t Go” were released by Rerun Records in 2010.
WICKED LADY

Wicked Lady were a Dutch band who released three singles “Underneath the Neon Tonight” b/w “Manolito,” “Girls Love Girls” b/w “Daddy’s Little Rich Girl” and “Plastic Queen” b/w “Play the Game” in 1978, 1979, and 1981, respectively.
Y PANTS 

Y Pants

Y Pants were a one album wonder comprised of Barbara Ess (bass, ukelele, drum, vocals), Gail Vachon (keyboards, ukelele, vocals), and Virginia Piersol (drums, vocals), who formed in New York City in 1979. They released the Y Pants EP in 1980 and Beat It Down in 1982 before disbanding the same year.

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 Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, or listicles and jobs must pay more than slave wages as he would rather write for pleasure than for peanuts. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Greater Streets — Exploring Yosemite Drive

Los Angeles has more streets than any other city in the US, about 12,000 kilometers of roadway, the surface of which covers approximately 15% of that of the entire cityscape. New bicycle lanes, reconfigured road diets, pedestrian advocacy, the rediscovery of public stairways, open streets events, and government programs like Great Streets have gone a long way in transforming the way Angelenos engage with one of our largest public assets. However, it’s my belief that in nearly all things, what makes something great comes from the ground up and the streets are no exception and I will explore these streets in this series, Greater Streets.

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Yosemite Drive street sign/bird house
Yosemite Drive street sign/bird house

It probably wasn’t the first time that I drove or rode along Yosemite Drive but I have one amber-filtered memory of cruising along its gently meandering path one twilight and noting its charm; none of which owed anything to the presence of sidewalk jugglers, overpriced food trucks, or yarn-bombed lampposts. Yosemite’s charms come from its graceful curves, the rustling leaves of the mature trees which line it, and the rolling hills which rising up steeply behind the small houses along its edges.

Shade trees

Steep hills

My first thought was that Yosemite Drive might’ve been developed along an old rail line since this is often the case with attractive, meandering, tree-lined roads but none of Los Angeles Railway’s yellow cars ever made their way through Yosemite Valley. They understandably forsook Yosemite Drive for Eagle Rock’s major streets: Colorado, Eagle Rock, and Figueroa — all of which are tellingly much wider than Yosemite. My next guess was that perhaps a river once ran along the bottom of this tiny valley and that turned out to be the case.

Yosemite Drive (3)

Scout

Much of this area was formerly covered with strawberry fields which replaced the sprawling pastures of the Verdugo family’s vast Rancho San Rafael. Although here too there were strawberries, a stream and a stately riparian woodland filled most of the valley floor between the Eagle Rock and York valleys. Yosemite Drive began life as Sycamore Avenue, a road which followed the course of Eagle Rock Creek, a stream which flowed from near the intersection of La Loma Road and Figueroa Street down valley to a confluence just east of Eagle Rock Boulevard, which then flowed into a wetland at a lower elevation.

The Eagle Rock Water Company was established in 1906 and they built a pump house at the corner of Maywood Avenue and Sycamore. Eagle Rock incorporated in 1911 with a population of about 600. That same year, Fred and Edith Ekhart  (operators of  the Gates Strawberry Ranch) built their home along Sycamore Avenue. Edith went on to found the Eagle Rock’s Friendly Club which later morphed into the Women’s Twentieth Century Club. The Eagle Rock Water Company was purchased in 1917 by the City of Eagle Rock. That year part of neighboring town of Annandale was annexed by Pasadena. The un-annexed portion of Annandale and the town of Eagle Rock were both annexed by Los Angeles in 1923 which resulted in renaming of numerous streets and Sycamore Avenue thus became Yosemite Drive.

In November of 1933, about 3,000 hectares of the Pickens Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains went up in the smoke of a forest fire. On 31 December, 18.6 centimeters of rain fell on the denuded foothills which resulted in disastrous flooding which in turn lead to the death of about 100 people (45 of the missing were never accounted for). Woody Guthrie commemorated the calamity with his composition “The New Year’s Flood.” Eagle Rock Creek’s fate was to be tamed and entombed in a 2.5 meter storm drain which was lowered beneath Yosemite Drive.

Yosemite Drive (2)

Yosemite Drive is only about three kilometers long — not a major street by anyone’s measure, but because it runs between heavily traveled Figueroa Street and Eagle Rock Boulevard it’s unfortunately treated by too many motorists as some sort of freeway interchange. For such a small street, it’s especially disconcerting as cars speed by, rocking the cars parked along the road, and occasionally killing people as they try to shave a few seconds off of their commute. As many people died in the New Year’s Flood die every year as the result of motorists running over pedestrians and along this stretch, whilst crossing a crosswalk, then-seven-year-old Alexander Sanna was struck by then-22-year-old Duc Quy Trinh who after colliding with the child, stopped and dislodged his body from the car, and then sped off — only to turn himself in when guilt got the better of him. For his crimes of felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter he was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

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I decided to start my walk at the Figueroa end of Yosemite and then walked west. At least one home was built in 1907 but most along Yosemite were built in the 1920s. Fewer were built during a second wave of development in the late 1940s. There are also a few larger developments which dramatically illustrate fairly different approaches to multi-family living.

The Garden Apartments style Yosemite Gardens (1951)
The Garden Apartments style Yosemite Gardens (1951)
Dingbat on steroids Yosemite Manor (1986)
Dingbat on steroids Yosemite Manor (1986)
LEED certified Rock Row (2010 -- built by my next door neighbors the Kevin and Hardy Wronske)
LEED certified Rock Row (2010 — built by my next door neighbors the Kevin and Hardy Wronske)

ROCKDALE ELEMENTARY

Rockdale

Rockdale Elementary

Rockdale Elementary School was established in 1886 in the Annandale School District. In 1928, an attractive red brick schoolhouse was constructed. The San Fernando Earthquake in 1971 rendered the school unsafe and after its demolition, the current school was built.

SILVERWOOD’S HAPPYLAND

The cheery, tiled planters at Happyland's main intersection
The cheery, tiled planters at Happyland’s main intersection

The land along Yosemite Drive was subdivided into several small tracts including the Blackmer, C.S. James, Douglas, Floristan Heights, Gates, Hamilton Place, J.Q. Adams, Marble Heights, Myers and Kulli Sycamore Glen, Myers and Kulli’s Oak Grove, and Pottawattamie Park tracts but my favorite is the ridiculously named Silverwood’s Happyland subdivision, developed in the 1920s. The Silverwood in question was a Los Angeles clothier named Francis B. Silverwood who also wrote the lyrics for “I Love You California” in 1913.

Bilo Market
Bilo Market
R.O.C.K. Teen Center
R.O.C.K. Teen Center
The Eagles lodge
The Eagles lodge

Primarily residential, Happyland is noteworthy for its mix of period colonial revival architecture styles and its small commercial center at the intersection of Yosemite Drive and Townsend which is still home to a small cluster of businesses including Bilo Market (building constructed by PC Blackmer in 1925), R.O.C.K. Teen Center (and coffee house), and a Fraternal Order of the Eagles lodge (which was having Wild Game BBQ Night).

COMMUNITY CHURCH OF EAGLE ROCK

Community Church of Eagle Rock
Community Church of Eagle Rock

The Community Church of Eagle Rock (or Eagle Rock Community Church) was dedicated in 1927. In 1936 it became the Eagle Rock Community Covenant Church. Today it’s known as Iglesia Del Pacto Evangélico.

EAGLE ROCK HIGH SCHOOL

Eagle Rock High School
Eagle Rock High School

The original schoolhouse of Eagle Rock High School was built in 1927 to serve a student population of just 690. Most of the buildings today seem to have been built in the late 1960s or early ’70s. The discarded Kool-Aid pouches and juice boxes looked rather more recent.

YOSEMITE RECREATION CENTER

Yosemite Recreation Center
Yosemite Recreation Center

The grounds of Yosemite Recreation Center include two auditoriums, a playground, handball courts, an indoor gym, an outdoor gym, tennis courts, and outdoor pool, and basketball courts — the lagger of which seemed to be getting the most use.

DELORES WALK

Delrosa Walk

Delrosa Walk is a short walkway connecting Yosemite Drive to Addison Way, a street which runs parallel a block to the south. Although so inconspicuous that I at first passed it without notice, once I successfully located it I was somewhat surprised to see this minor pedestrian artery being used by two women.

Delrosa Walk
Delrosa Walk

DISTRIBUTING STATION NO. 30

Distributing Station No. 30
Distributing Station No. 30

The art deco Distributing Station No. 30 was built in 1936 at the intersection that had originally been home to Eagle Rock Water Company’s pump.

Shopping Center

Although I prefer the quiet intersection of Yosemite and Townsend, the main commercial hub of the street is its intersection with Eagle Rock Boulevard. Nearby is Abby’s Diner, Eagle Rock Barber Shop, the Eagle Rock Church of the Nazarene, the Eagle Rock Music Studio, Ballroom Blitz, New Century GlassTattoo Love, Transport Skate Shop, and a nameless shopping center that’s home to Pot Thai Cafe, Mediterranean Triangle, Cabo Joe’s Mexican Grill, Fresh Donut House, Video Hut, and several chain restaurants and shops, and the former Yosemite Theatre.

YOSEMITE THEATRE

On 3 May, 1929, the Kenneth A. Gordon-designed, 900-seat, Yosemite Theatre opened at 4884 Eagle Rock Boulevard. It featured a couple of nights of vaudeville performances before the screening of its first film, The Younger Generation. In 1937 its name was changed to the New Eagle Theatre and, no longer new even in name, it simply became the Eagle Theatre in 1940. From 1976 till 1979 it screened porn as part of the Pussycat chain. It became a budget independent theater in 1983 and closed permanently in 2001 to, like many former theaters, become a church — in this case, the Cenacle of Faith.

Plenty of parking and little traffic,
Plenty of parking and little traffic so just park wherever
Looking east down Yosemite Drive
Looking east down Yosemite Drive
The western end of Yosemite
The western end of Yosemite

West of Eagle Rock Boulevard, Yosemite Drive begins its steep ascent into the hills. The sidewalks eventually vanish but so does most of the traffic, so walking in the street feels less dangerous. The views from this hill are pretty impressive and off in the distance I could make out the shadow and shape of the titular Eagle Rock.

Fair Park Avenue cul-de-sac and the Eagle Rock in the distance
Fair Park Avenue cul-de-sac and the Eagle Rock in the distance

 Located just below the western end of Yosemite Drive is Fair Park Avenue, a short street and cul-de-sac with about nine lots and for some reason, no houses.

SWANSON HOUSE

Swanson House (1921)
Swanson House (1921)

On the other side of Yosemite Drive is Addison Way, which I visited to check out the historic Swanson House, located as it is at 2373 Addison Way. It was built by the owner of the Eagle Rock Lumber Company, Emil Swanson, and naturally is a log cabin.

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Ford Rule

If you don’t have the time or ability to walk, Yosemite Drive is well-served by buses, including  Metro’s 28, 81, 83, and 180/181 lines as well as the LADOT‘s DASH Highland Park/Eagle Rock line. There are things that you will miss, however, from a bus or car; the smell of orange blossoms, the song of the robin, the jungle-like container gardens, the mentions of ZZ Top and Ford Motor Company along the sidewalks. To quote Ferris Bueller, who ironically was complaining about not having a car, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Thanks to Jane Tsong (of Myriad Small Things), Will Campbell at Blogging LA, Eric H. Warren and Frank F. Parrello’s Pioneers of Eagle Rock, Walk Eagle Rock, LA Creek Freak, and Eric H. Warren’s Eagle Rock.

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Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, or listicles and jobs must pay more than slave wages as he would rather write for pleasure than for peanuts. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.