Thursday, April 2, 2015

Los Angeles Doors Tour Part III

The third installment of the LA Doors Tour starts us in Venice and Santa Monica. After that we go back to West Hollywood, Hollywood, and then Fairfax.

#30 Brooks Ave., Venice

#50 Brooks Ave., Venice
These were the locations of Harry Diltz's photo shoot in 1969. Jim stood in front of the second panel from the right.

#1 Navy St.?, Venice

This location was a bit of a mystery. I was looking for the Cheetah Club which existed from 1967-70. It was destroyed by a fire in 1970. I'm guessing it was renumbered when it was rebuilt because the  address of the above building is 11 Navy St. It is the first odd numbered building on Navy St. I thought the building in the picture below was the former location as this is the first building on the odd-numbered side of the street. However, it has an Ocean Front Walk address. One could submit this is the former location because Ocean Front Walk did not exist in 1970 and was once was 1 Navy St. I am doing supplementary research on this and will update my findings. 

1855 Main St., Santa Monica
The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The Doors played here on July 3, 1967.

2615 Main St., Santa Monica
 This is the former location of Olivia's, a soul food eatery.  Jim ate here when he went to UCLA and  was the inspiration for, "Soul Kitchen".

147 Fraser St., Santa Monica
Ray and Dorothy were living here in July 1965.  Ray invited Jim to live with them after that faithful chance meeting on beach where they decided to start a rock-and roll band. However, there is a problem with this location. It appears the correct address 154 Fraser St.  A thread on a Doors forum  and the ariel view on Google Maps supports this. There is a video where Ray goes back to this location to reminisce the old days. When I went to 147, I walked down the driveway to see the apartment over the garage. It did not look the same. What I saw was different house in the video. Since I was very pressed for time, I could not investigate this further (more on that later).

116 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica
This now British pub was once known as the Turkey Joint West. Jim used to eat here but, far more significantly, it is the first time Jim Morrison was on a stage with an audience present. The exact date of this occurrence is bit fuzzy. One source stipulates late May and another suggests early June of 1965. 

1616 Butler Ave, West LA
This is Village Recorders. This location is important because on December 8 1970, Jim recorded what was to become, "An American Prayer". It was his birthday and he wanted to record some of his poetry.  I wandered in and was greeted by Jeff Greenberg, the CEO of The Village Studios. I explained what I was doing and asked if I could take a picture of the studio Jim used. Unfortunately, that was not possible as there were paying clients using the studios and he was not sure which studio Jim had actually used. I had the same experience when I went to Sunset Sound which I completely understand. He asked me the name of my blog and brought it up in his iPad. He took the time to check it out and ask me a few questions. He suggested maybe with a heads up next time I was in LA he could do something for me. I thanked him for his time and went on my way. 

I am noticing a slight difference in the name. My sources have it listed as, "Village Recorders" and now the name is, "Village Studios". I wonder when the name changed and why.

11272 Santa Monica Blvd, West LA
This is the former location of the Lucky U, a UCLA days eatery.

Hollywood/West Hollywood/Fairfax

1441 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood
This is where, "Waiting for the Sun", was recorded.

8512 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood

This is what the stairs looked like back in 1968. On this trip, the stairs are now enclosed and closed off. If you look closely, it is the black square to the left of the brown wooden pole. No chance to get to them. Damn!

947 N. La Cienega, West Hollywood
Suite K was where Jim edited his film, HYW. I went to the door and knocked. No answer. I started to walk away when a woman on the phone opened the door. I wanted to ask her if I could enter the room, but she cut me off saying she was on the phone, then she closed the door. So close! I could not wait for her to get off the phone because my stomach gave me a subtle reminder that it was lunch time.

419 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax
This is a famous eatery in LA. Canter's has been around since 1931 and is open 24 hours a day. I included in my tour because, I was hungry and it was popular with the rock-and-rollers of the 60's. After you finished your gig this was the place to eat and be seen.

As much as I throughly enjoy visiting the sites of my all-time favorite band, my quest is hampered by two challenges, time and distance.

The locations are spread out throughout the metropolis that is known as Los Angeles. Being based in Hollywood does not help. Just to get to Venice, it took me 50 minutes by the Metro to get to Culver City, then a 20 minute bus ride that eventually dropped me off near Brooks Ave. Then I hit spots between Brooks to Santa Monica Blvd, another 30 minutes. Then another bus to the 11000 block of Santa Monica Blvd to check out Lucky U and Village Recorder. Finally a 15 minute taxi ride to Culver City where I had another 50 minute Metro ride back to Hollywood. I wanted to check out Lookout Mountain Ave in Laurel Canyon and The Topanga Corral in Topanga Canyon. Unfortunately, Lookout Mountain is 5 miles away and The Topanga Corral is 24 miles away from where I was staying. These locations would require a rental car or a very expensive taxi ride. I walk to as many locations as humanly possible.

My visit to LA is not primarily to research The Doors. I attend the Turner Classic Movie Film Festival. That is why I am based out of Hollywood. I purchase an expensive pass to see classic movies on the big screen and attend once-in-a-lifetime events. So I need to be at a certain place by a certain time. This makes the time I have to visit Door sites very very limited. That is why I could not take more time to figure out the Fraser Street location. I was also in the vicinity of 14 Westminster Ave., but was too pressed for time to visit. The Laurel and Topanga Canyon sites continue to elude me. I would also like to visit Fairhaven Cemetery in Santa Ana to see where Pam Courson is interred.

I consulted the my usual sources and came up with more locations for next year. They are The Sea Witch, The Warner Playhouse, Brave New World, and 1403 N. Laurel Ave. These locations are not too far apart.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Petersen Automotive Museum

As a car addicted male, I try to make it to as many automotive gatherings as possible. Be it an auto show, car museum, or the local meet, I am there.

I have been to automotive museums in Massachusetts, Florida, and California. When I was making plans to visit LA for the TCM Classic Film Festival, I set aside time to visit the Petersen Automotive Museum. The collection is one-of-kind with many rare cars from every era. As an added bonus, the Petersen has a special guided tour of their vault. It is an extra $20 on top of the admission fee. They could have charged $50 and would still be worth it. However, there is only one disappointing stipulation: no photos! Our tour guide explained the reason. Most of the cars have been photographed or seen in movies or on tv. The museum is concerned about thieves having an insiders guide to the security system.

While I was not allowed to take pictures, I was allowed to take notes on my phone of what they have:

1915 Buick
1922 Chevrolet
1982 Ferrari 308 GTS Targa used in Magnum p.i.
1953 Nash Healey used in Sabrina
1959 Corvette Italia 3 ever built
1955 Porsche Continental 356
1965 Porsche 356c
1933 Dusenberg SJ convertible with a 400hp, 8 liter (480 c.i.) 
1967 Toyota 2000GT
1928 Studebaker
1931 Pierce Arrow once owned by former race car driver,  Phil Hill
1929 Dupont Model M Speedster
1930 Packard
1936 Packard with a 175hp, 12 cylinder engine
1998 Popemobile, which cost $900K to build, but never used.
1976 Mercedes-Benz limosine once owned by Jack Nicholson
1978 Mercedes-Benz Lancelet once owned by Saddam Hussein
1956 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing
1960 Mercedes-Benz roadster once owned by Robert Stack
1941 Cadillac Series 62 given to Carole Lombard from Clark Gable
1965 Chrysler Imperial once owed by Katherine Hepburn
1957 Cadillac Premiere
1968 Chevrolet Biscayne with a 7 liter engine (427 c.i.)
1952 Ferrari Superleggera Barchetta, the last one built, from Enzo Ferrari to Henry Ford II
1955 Ford Thunderbird
1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom
1913 Rolls-Royce Ghost
1967 Ford GT Mark 3, one of seven street versions
2006 Ford GT
1969 Mustang GT 350
1992 Jaguar XJ220
1992 Dodge Viper, car #5
1923 Mercedes-Benz Targa Floria, with a 7.2 liter engine (439 c.i.)
1931 Cord, first front wheel drive sold in the US
1965 Mustang GT 350 Carroll Shelby
1963 Volkswagen Beetle used in the filming of Herbie

Three cars stand out from the vault collection:

A Mercedes-Benz from the late 1800s/early 1900s considered to be the first example of an automobile.

1939 Bugatti 57C Van Vooren. It was a wedding gift for the Shah of Iran's wife in 1939. It remained in Iran until 1979 when it was sold for an unbelievable USD$ 275! The car was in terrible condition and had to be completely restored. When it went to auction it sold for more than USD$ 1.750.000.

FRD was in need of safe transportation during World War II. Would the armor plated car once used by Al Capone suffice? Apparently it did.

Here are some notable cars from the general collection:

Bugatti EB 110

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Warner Brothers VIP Studio Tour 2013

On our last day in LA, my wife and I took a tour of the Warner Brothers studio. A friend of hers from the TCM Film Festival connected with someone on Twitter who works at the studio. He was kind enough to get us on the VIP tour and pay for two of the tickets. The VIP allows you to get off the tram and walk around a bit. You are shown areas the normal tours do not see. I was looking forward to this!

Warner Brothers has a very rich history in the movies. Aside from being in the business for 90 years they have also produced some of Hollywood's most famous movies.

This was my second time at the Warner Brothers studio. Back in 1995/6 my uncle worked at the studio on their computer systems. I was in LA and he suggested I meet him for lunch at the studio and then I could wander around. Hell yeah! Sounds like a plan to me.

Hallways used in "Ocean's Thirteen"

A street used in gangster movies from the 1940s

Same street facing the opposite direction.

This where the upside down kiss was filmed from "Spider-Man".

The building from, "The House of Wax", with Vincent Price.

The alleyway from "Friends" Monica and Rachel use in the episode with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Storefronts, above and below, used in "Two Broke Girls"

The famous Warner Brothers water tower.

This is a parking lot used to simulate the top of the hospital in "E.R."

Exterior of the EL from "E.R"

Courthouse from "The Dukes of Hazzard"

The church from "Ocean's 11" (1960)

The house James Dean's character lives in from "East of Eden"

The exterior of The Belle Auroure from "Casablanca"

The kite scene from "Big Bang Theory"
The marquee from the end of "Yankee Doodle Dandy"

The theater used in the episode of "Big Bang Theory" where they steal "Raiders of the Lost Ark"

A park used in "Big Bang Theory"

The interior of Belle Auroure from "Casablanca"

Actual props from "Casablanca" except for the piano which is a replica. 

The space capsule from "Big Bang Theory" when Howard goes to space.

The Lincoln Continental from "The Matrix"and the Ducati 996 ridden by Trinity from "The Matrix Reloaded"

The Batmobile from the first series of "Batman" movies.

A Tumbler from "Batman Returns"

A Dodge Charger from the "Dukes of Hazzard" movie.

An actual Batman costume!

A car from one of the "Harry Potter" movies.

Yes, this is the actual Friends set! The same couch from the TV series. After the series ended, Warner Brothers kept the entire set for posterity. Even though I was not a dedicated fan of the show, this was a cool thing to see.

The Chinese curio shop where Gizmo the Mogwai was purchased in "Gremlins"

The office building from "Argo"

The street corner from "National Lampoon's Vacation" where the hubcaps are stolen.

Courthouse exterior from "Night Court"

This is the workshop of the studio. It has been featured in "Black Legion" with Humphrey Bogart and "White Heat" with James Cagney.

 This is Soundstage 16 and at 98 feet tall, it is one of the biggest in the world and the biggest in North America. Any movie that requires a massive set is filmed here. Some movies shot here are  Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, the Batman trilogy, The Goonies, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

It too dark inside Soundstage 16 to see anything. Damn!

The tour ended with a visit to The Warner Brothers Museum. It is designed to archive and display the history of the studio. You are not allowed to take your phone or camera inside. Housed here are some of the most memorable props ever shown on the big and small screen. 

There are costumes from Harry Potter, Batman, Big Bang Theory, Watchmen, 300, The Town, and Heartbreak Ridge.

Some of the props from the Hangover are the crowbar, the fake baby, the tooth, wedding swag, and the baby carrier.

Some Best Picture Oscars are included. Worthy to note, a shorter base was used for the first year only on the construction of the statue.

There was one piece that caught my attention. It was the actual piano used in "Casablanca". The same one Rick uses to hide the Letters of Transit and Dooley Wilson plays on. It was encased in clear to protect it. It is not owned by the studio but merely on loan from it's owner. It went to auction in late 2014 and was sold for almost USD 3.000.000!