Los Angeles is a wonderful city, yet it seems much of society despises what it represents. Few cities stoke such anger in the heart of civilians as does Hollywood. I am not just talking about the fabricated outrage of Bill O'Reilly and his vendetta against the place that gave him John Wayne and Ronald Reagan. Beyond that, it is common to hear Los Angeles ridiculed for its superficiality, its insistence on driving everywhere, its fashionable health kicks and its all-consuming Sammy Glick way of life. But these people that hate Los Angeles - they are not pornstars. And these people that hate Los Angeles - they are not nerds. This city was simply made for these two categories of people. But to which category do I belong?
I recently returned to the show business glory hole that is Los Angeles, representing WFMU at the second annual TCM Classic Film Festival, the only film festival in the world that has the word 'classic' in its name twice. This awkward redundancy is alleviated in a Kentucky Fried Chicken - KFC kind of way and it is appropriate that I mention fast food here. For all the talk of aspiring anorexic models in Los Angeles, the area remains a beacon of hamburger romance and drive-in bliss. Diner imagery and Art Deco orgies. Googie shrines and carhop remnants. In between encounters with Mickey Rooney, Peter O'Toole and Walt Disney's grandson, I was busy indulging in the many classic burger stations, tiki lounges, fountain coffee shops and aging Hollywood watering holes. This can be hard on the system of a vegetarian - of which I am one - but I am not unlike like the pescetarian that explains, "I am a vegetarian... but I eat fish." Let me distinguish. I am a vegetarian... but I eat hamburgers. When in Hollywood I eat them with such abandon that I seem intent on a hari kari mission to go the rest of my life without ever having another bowel movement. Lucky for me, when an internal traffic jam occurs there is always the bar at Musso & Frank; the oldest restaurant in Hollywood and the only bar in the world sans television in its corner. Ruben, my bartending knight in shining red blazer, knows how to fix a drink that is so powerful it is capable of slaughtering, for a second time, the cow inside my gut. Yes, the Lagavulin at Musso & Frank... it will keep you regular.
But back to the matter at hand: The TCM Classic Film Festival; an incredible four days of thrilling encounters, simultaneous screenings and heart-breaking choices. Coetaneous events in which you must decide between Debbie Reynolds or Angela Lansbury, Warren Beatty or Leslie Caron, Roger Corman or Kirk Douglas; they are among the most difficult decisions in a film nerd's life and it is impossible to absorb everything. As I wrote in my piece last year, the great thing about the TCM festival is not merely seeing Hollywood's grand old product on the big screen or seeing living legends in the loosening flesh. Certainly, that's all fantastic, but for Angelenos such an event is commonplace. The festival is most important for those flying in from out of town, for those of us isolated in our respective communities and unable to enjoy the offerings of a cosmopolitan city, unable to have our passion understood by our own neighbors or our very own families. This is to whom this festival belongs. To look back at my own article of last year and pretentiously quote myself, "It was a convention of individualists coming together to discover that they are, perhaps, not quite as alone in the world as day-to-day life makes them feel."
With the outrageous timbre of KHJ accompanying me, I gunned it to Wilshire Blvd to pick up my pass for the TCM Classic Film Festival. The PR Department was located in a CBS skyscraper and would, I assumed, be in a neighborhood of nondescript office towers. Incorrect! I was ecstatic to find myself in a remarkable architectural region and one of the most historic urban districts in America. Known as the Miracle Mile, this incredible chunk of Los Angeles features gorgeous Art Deco theaters, mammoth streamlined one-time department stores (Desmonds - with an elderly elevator operator at your service!) and the most gorgeous nineteen thirties mechanics garage I have ever seen. Streamline. Moderne. Orgasme. The Miracle Mile was the brainchild of 1920s developer A.W. Ross who felt "that the form and scale of his Wilshire strip should attract and serve automobile traffic rather than pedestrian shoppers ... Ross ordered that all building facades along Wilshire be engineered so as to be best seen through a windshield. This meant larger, bolder, signage; longer buildings in a larger scale, oriented towards the boulevard; and architectural ornament ... perceptible at 30 MPH instead of walking speed. These simplified building forms [created] the stylistic language of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne." You hear a lot from Angelenos about how much the city has changed, how little of old L.A. remains, but I am consistently impressed with the amount of old L.A. that survives and, just as importantly, what an enormous sector of the population cares about it. It's a refreshing and striking difference from many other cities I've been in (I'm looking at you, Vancouver).
I could not simply rely on happenstance for my vintage Los Angeles indulgence. Andy, a man whom I had never met in real life, but bonded with on the internet over our mutual love for revolutionary satirist Henry Morgan, invited me for breakfast at the Art Deco playground of the well to do: The Beverly Hills Hotel. In their downstairs cavern is the painstakingly preserved Fountain Coffee Shop, a place where a short, dapper man with a pencil moustache and Brylcreemed hair supervises the movements of an authentic nineteen forties dining experience. The Beverly Hills Hotel is legendary for reasons beyond the fact that the Fountain Coffee Shop offers a nine-dollar slice of toast. Over the years it has been the spatial domain of Bette Davis, Irene Dunne, Harry Warner, Loretta Young and The Sultan of Brunei. Unlike the Hollywood Roosevelt that, despite its place in history, decayed and was finally revitalized (into the choice party spot for hip-hop icons, adult film stars and TCM conventioneers), The Beverly Hills Hotel has maintained its place as a jewel of Hollywood wealth and glamour for eighty years without skipping a beat. Its legendary Polo Lounge still functions as it did in the early forties when it was named in honor of celebrity polo enthusiasts Spencer Tracy, Darryl F. Zanuck and Will Rogers. It contains the bar where both Humphrey Bogart and Marlene Dietrich loved to get hammered and where a few years later The Rat Pack did the same. Soaking in this atmosphere, Andy and I had a nice, long breakfast yammering about Allan Sherman, sixties garage rock, Goodson-Todman game shows, his wife's cult status and the politics of archiving popular culture. Andy had bacon and eggs for breakfast and I, being a vegetarian, had a hamburger.
I connected with another Angeleno that had only existed in my e-mail box until now. Shortly after completing an article at the time of George Carlin's death, a gentleman named Jeff contacted me to say that both he and George Carlin's family appreciated the piece. Jeff worked for Carlin for several years and it turns out that he is as much of an old comedy obsessive as myself. After corresponding about esoteric comedy minutiae for ages, we finally decided to meet. His Century City apartment is an astonishing museum filled with thousands of comedy records, Ritz Brothers playbills and Martin & Lewis "Whiz Tape." Perhaps the craziest artifact was a giant oil painting of George Burns... which used to hang above the fireplace in George Burns' own home. This is another reason why Los Angeles sends me. It is full of people obsessed with old show business, obsessed with twentieth century America, obsessed with things that nobody else in the world cares about. I am no fan of conformity, but I must concede that "fitting in" feels pretty good.
As the TCM Classic Film Festival got underway, droves of teeming vintage enthusiasts bonded, fitting in for the first time in their lives, continuously awed by this ongoing, unique, shared experience. I attended a conversation with Peter O'Toole moderated by TCM figurehead Robert Osborne. The two sat on folding chairs in the old Henry Fonda Theater and held an audience in rapt attention during a prolonged technical failure. "At this pace Lawrence of Arabia would never have been completed," quipped O'Toole. Much of the discussion, taped for a future TCM special, revolved around that most famous of epics. Explaining that there were no stuntmen available that knew how to ride a camel, O'Toole and Omar Sharif were left to their own devices. Fearful of being jettisoned from his perch, Sharif came up with an idea to subside his fear. "I've got a plan," Sharif told O'Toole. "I'm going to tie myself to the camel with rope!" "That's nice," replied O'Toole. "I have a plan as well. I'm going to get drunk."
Inspired by Peter O'Toole's master plan, I wandered off for a solid drink at the nearby Frolic Room, a narrow working class pub that has remained essentially unchanged for eighty dirty years. As has been noted by others, beyond its striking neon sign, it simply isn't much to write home about (regardless of what Bukowski wrote within). However, I am always intrigued by Hollywood joints that skirt the familiar headshots of the well-known stars in favor of far more captivating peripheral players. In the nineteen seventies, a time when he was tortured by horrific dreams of enormous arachnids, Alan Hale Jr, the rotund skipper from Gilligan's Island, regularly drank himself into a belligerent stupor here. I found myself hypnotized by the image hanging above the cash register; not an autographed photo of Alan Hale - but an adept artist's rendering!
Hiccupping back to The Roosevelt, I found the captivating starlet of An American in Paris, Leslie Caron, holding court in The Blossom Room where she bragged about defying her fellow judges at a Soviet film festival in the late nineteen sixties. When a film indicting the Vietnam War won top prize, Caron recalled that she jumped from her seat and screamed, "I protest!" The anecdote received a confused round of applause from the lunchtime crowd, some that intended on seeing Reds later in the week. They were now terrified of being heckled by the beloved icon as they entered that screening.
Mickey Rooney appeared in person to introduce the film Girl Crazy, but was noticeably absent from the screening of another picture in which he played a major role. TCM, in a stroke of wise, cultural diplomacy, had the lovely Julie Andrews introduce Breakfast at Tiffany's, whereas Mickey Rooney was kept far, far away. Had he been there, the man who depicted Mr. Yunioshi (often the novice film fan's first experience with yellowface) could have created one explosive Q&A. That isn't to say that Rooney wasn't explosive elsewhere. Some festival organizers winced at Mickey's occasional display of curmudgeonly behavior. A staffer that had to deal with the ninety-year old film legend explained that a vicious remark by Rooney "made a big fan of his cry like a fourteen year old girl... which she was" and that at one point he "pushed a woman off the couch sitting next to him and said, 'Ok, you're done." I did not get to witness this, but it sounds much like the headache Jerry Lewis caused festival organizers last year. A Turner Classic Movies associate stated later that "even in post-TCM Film Fest afterglow: Mickey Rooney is an enormous asshole."
I concluded my first evening at the festival with the immortal The Day the Earth Stood Still, which had composer Bernard Herrmann's daughter in attendance. It was great to see this seminal Cold War film on a giant screen even though someone from TCM later mentioned that "even in post-TCM Film Fest afterglow: Gort the Robot is a real dick."
I woke up the next morning and rushed to catch one of the most stunning of all big screen classics, The Gold Diggers of 1933, directed by the most talented of all vehicular manslaughter adherents, Busby Berkeley. Even the incessant coughing of a Kato Kaelin look-alike sitting beside me could not taint the beauty of this, one of the most visually stunning works in the history of American cinema.
A screening of several nineteen thirties Silly Symphonies cartoons followed next. The opportunity to see any golden age animation in its original 35mm format is, for me, stimulating, exceptional and essential. I knew for certain that I was amidst the honest-to-goodness animation man-child literati when prior to the show I entered the washroom and heard a man at the urinal whistling the tune from Steamboat Willie. Inside the theater I saw the only person in the world that makes a living watching cartoons, Jerry Beck, speaking with the gentleman seated next to me. Jerry and I belong to a mutual admiration society, but he was another Los Angeles resident I had never actually met in person. We were speaking casually about his monthly Cartoon Dump, a showcase of terrible cartoons and excellent stand-up comedy, when another well-known nerd rolled up. "Kliph, do you know Leonard? Leonard, if you like old timey comedy, Kliph Nesteroff is the one that..." Leonard Maltin cut Jerry off mid-sentence and exclaimed, "Oh, that interview you did with Jack Carter was fantastic!" Maltin gave me ***. I glowed a bit when they intimated it's time I move to Los Angeles and join their secret cult. As more people filed in, a stream of animation notables reached over my shoulder to shake hands with a hulking stranger. I looked at him and did not quite understand. Perhaps this hulking muscle beach type was a well-known football player? He sported a deep George Hamilton-esque tan and seemed vaguely familiar... for reasons I could not determine. After the first several cartoons were shown the house lights came up. Maltin asked someone in the audience to stand and take a bow. Seated right behind me, turns out, was Walt Disney's grandson. Six foot five. Tanned. Muscle bound. With the face of Walt Disney.
By mid-day I needed to satisfy my biological cravings for nourishment and decided to try the famous Formosa Cafe on Santa Monica Blvd. A legendary boxcar-length dive, showered in a red hue and located directly across from the original Warner Brothers lot, it's a venue full of Hollywood ghosts. It intoxicated the likes of Errol Flynn, Hugh Hubert, Allen Jenkins, Patsy Kelly, Ida Lupino, Frank McHugh, Eugene Pallette, Dick Powell, Ned Sparks, Warren William and every imaginable Warner Brothers contract player of the nineteen thirties. Jack Webb and Mike Mazurki are two of the more exciting autographed glossies on the wall. The most famous Formosa Cafe tale involves a drunken John Wayne, so far-gone that he passed out in one of the red booths. Unable to wake the Duke from his disgusting, halitosised slumber, staff simply turned out the lights, locked him in, and went home. When staff arrived the next day, there was John Wayne in the kitchen cooking breakfast. It's a nice story, but I'm not so sure I believe it anymore. If John Wayne were a young actor passed out in the Formosa Cafe today, you'd best call an ambulance. It is highly unlikely that anyone could pass out from the weak, watered down alcohol served here today. If you see John Wayne passed out in the red booth... he probably had a stroke.
I was livid with the Formosa. Rather than the flavor of scotch, my mouth was filled with a bitter taste of betrayal. I had been disappointed in a Hollywood staple and was suddenly crippled by a foul mood. And when you're in a foul mood in West Hollywood, when you feel as if a bartender has cheated you, there's only one thing that will do it right. Musso & Frank. The wood-oaked atmosphere in this bustling church of alcoholic magic is filled with booths and bar stools that housed the habits of Charles Bukowski, John Fante, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, William Saroyan, Nathaniel West and Thomas Wolfe. They treat writers well here. As I sat at the bar in my typically tapered suit, the bartender investigated, "You're dressed up... are you a singer?" "No. I write." "Good. I hate singers. If you were a singer..." he said as he stroked his knuckles, "POW!" Sitting at the bar in Musso & Frank you will inevitably have a fascinating conversation with a complete stranger. To my right sat a woman who I learned, over the course of ninety minutes, was an internet star among the most deranged of subcultures. Stephanie told me that she once broke her leg, posted a YouTube monologue about it, and became the darling of an underground pervert's world known as "Cast Fetishism." As you may have guessed, this is the universe in which mentally off-kilter gentlemen masturbate to imagery of women with broken legs. Mr. Musso, now this is what I call conversation! To my left sat Paul, a session drummer from Nashville, who told me about the difficulty of drumming for Bob Hope when the comedian was fully senile. We bonded over a passion for steel guitars, bandying about names like Curly Chalker and Don Helms, to the rhythm of his wife's rolling eyes. And when they had split I was left with an aging patron of the arts, lamenting her former life in Gramercy Park where she had been Arnold Stang's neighbor. Reader, if you don't drink, you really need to take it up - and park your tuchus down at Musso & Frank.
Directly across the street, TCM Fest was presenting a midnight screening of The Mummy. Perhaps my movie affinity is most passionate when it comes to the classic horror pictures of Universal Studios, so I did not hesitate over this one. That being said, The Mummy is a picture that never truly satisfies. When I first saw the film at the cynical age of fifteen, I found it slow. Perhaps my assessment would be more mature after viewing this 35mm print. So I went. As it turns out, The Mummy starring Boris Karloff is, indeed, one of the most boring films ever made. What would a film like Cape Fear, Psycho, Halloween or The Shining be without their moody soundtrack? Would they captivate even remotely? The Mummy is almost completely without an underscore. Devoid of any background music the film just dies. Imagine what could have been if they possessed the ingenious economy of Monogram Studios when they made this mundane, actionless sequence from Charlie Chan in the Secret Service appear suspenseful:
Early the next morning I attended one of the big draws of the festival, a long forgotten 1933 star-studded B-movie in disguise called Night Flight. I sat beside a diminutive gentleman who once produced the E! True Hollywood Story of The Dick Van Dyke Show. In front of us sat a man in a hat that obscured the E! producer's view. Politely tapping on the man's shoulder he asked, "Sir, would you mind removing your hat?" Monsieur Chapeau did a slow turn that would have made Oliver Hardy proud. With a glaring scowl the man intoned, "I will remove my hat when the film starts. I always removed my hat for a movie. I have removed my hat for every film at this festival!" His indignancy percolated to a point where finally his volcanic persecution complex exploded. "My mother raised me correctly, sir! She raised me to remove my hat! Don't ask me to remove my hat! I always remove my hat!" It was an insane and disturbingly earnest display. Night Flight sported an epic MGM cast that included John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable, Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy and the prolific C. Henry Gordon. Robert Osborne introduced the picture with a candid admission you would not hear him say on television. "So, the movie you're about to see... probably isn't very good." After the film Osborne was joined by Drew Barrymore who spoke about the legacy of her famous family. An odd moment occurred when a cranky man (not the man in the hat) screamed at a photographer that stood for a snapshot. At full volume the man shouted, "Down in front!" The theater stopped cold. Drew Barrymore, under the impression that she was being heckled, let out a stunned "Excuse me?"
Four different Roy Rogers oaters were presented by TCM, allotting the rare opportunity to see the inconsequential films on the big screen. I caught the 1946 pablum My Pal Trigger featuring the harmonious Sons of the Pioneers and the acrid stench of Gabby Hayes. It was a fun departure from the glossy standards the fest presented like All About Eve, La Dolce Vita and Now Voyager, although I must admit I almost walked out of the Roy Rogers film, offended by its vulgarity. At one point the film's antagonist cussed, "Oh, applesauce!"
I felt taxed during the week trying to press through that relentless swarm of nauseating, desperate people that clog Hollywood Blvd with their costumed, lowlife, unabashed lack of talent. More often than not I wandered off for lunch in another neighborhood. I strolled up Orange Avenue and took a long Westbound walk down Sunset, passing the intersections frequently referenced by Flo & Eddie. I rambled past the real life backdrops I had seen in the trashy drive-in pictures of my youth; Mondo Hollywood, Riot on Sunset Strip, The Trip, Wild Guitar, Wild in the Streets. There was Lerner's Liquor where Jim Morrison cleaned 'em out, Dead Man's Curve immortalized by Jan & Dean and the noble looking Rocky and Bullwinkle statue, standing at the former site of Jay Ward Studios, deserving a special salute. I then found my lunch stop; the Hamburger Hamlet, where Dean Martin found latter day solitude in the Tap Room, wearing a K-Way jacket and large tinted glasses, drunk, depressed and alone. It was there that I took in the lunchtime atmosphere of anonymous character actors, aged 50-65, their scalps treated with bronze Mennen hair coloring. One booth was on the receiving end of my stare as I strained to place the face. It dawned on me an hour later, an epiphany of total ambivalence: Charles Grodin; due for a K-Way jacket fitting and a Mennen endorsement deal.
Wandering back to the movies I received a pair of shocking text messages. One about Gene Kelly's wife and another that announced that the discussion with Warren Beatty, moderated by Alec Baldwin, originally scheduled for three o'clock, had been bumped. Beatty's epic Reds, based on John Reed's Ten Days That Shook the World, was to be preceded by a rare opportunity to see Beatty speak live, but in a deft slight of hand the session was moved to after the film. Reds is nearly four hours long, and with so many different items on the schedule worth catching, most attendees had the same plan. Go see Warren Beatty and Alec Baldwin speak before the film - and then when the house lights go down - get the fuck out of there! Needless to say such plans were cleverly thwarted by the schedule change and those who braved the epic were graciously rewarded for their loyalty. As a gift to those stamina stalwarts, Beatty indulged the crowd in a freewheeling, open Q&A session. We that missed out would have to be satisfied with Hollywood's other great symbol of satyriasis: Jerry Mathers. He spoke before Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry and I'm sure we all eagerly await Peter Bisskind's next tell-all biography: Beaver.
Far beyond the festival perimeter, I ventured to North Hollywood on the basis of a series of promising Polaroids from the late fifties of a tiki bar, the city's oldest, the Tonga Hut. I walked into an odd conversation going on at the bar. "I saw Charles Nelson Reilly today," said a man. "What!?" exclaimed the bartender in disbelief. "I thought he was dead!" The man calmly explained, "I saw Charles Nelson Reilly today... on a rerun of Sid and Marty Kroft." The patrons of Tonga Hut breathed a collective sigh of relief and I ordered a series of exotic drinks from a nineteen fifties Trader Vic cookbook while my ears were gracefully assaulted by the mystical sounds of Les Baxter. I gave Baxter's star near Hollywood and Vine a special nod when I patronized the eighty-year-old burger stand, Molly's Charbroiler. I got excited walking up the block when my Ipod started playing the theme song from Ray Dennis Steckler's Wild Guitar. The instrumental accompanies the opening sequence of the film, in which Arch Hall Jr. at that very corner, looks up in awe at the Capitol Records building. I am such a dork.
That same day, the Nicholas Brothers, likely the greatest dance team of all time, were paid great homage in a composite of brilliant footage compiled by Bruce Goldstein of Film Forum. Goldstein, well-known to Manhattanites as that rare kind of moderator who is both witty and entertaining, presented Nicholas Brothers footage from one-reelers, features, rare home movies and their enjoyable appearance on The Hollywood Palace (an episode that also featured Jack Carter I might add). A line spiraled around the block for the event and was likely the longest the late Nicholas Brothers have had since the nineteen forties (the line contained a man who specifically purchased a pair of two-tone shoes to attend the presentation). Former stand-up comic Robert Townsend made an appearance before Goldstein took the stage. Townsend talked about the influence of television on his life and how, "At the age of ten I could do any impression." He then, unfortunately, preceded to perform not any impression, but classically hackneyed interpretations of Humphrey Bogart and Marlon Brando. It titillated some tourists. Goldstein took the microphone moments later and deadpanned, "Hi. I don't do impressions. Well... actually I do... but I wouldn't waste your time."
Kirk Douglas is the greatest living star of his era. No other living actor comes close to his cinematic significance. And he gets a bad rap. Some people struggle with watching him speak as much as Douglas himself struggles to speak. This topic was front and center in a fascinating pre-Spartacus discussion between Robert Osborne and the Hollywood giant. I sat off to one side in Grauman's Chinese, eyeing a front row plastered with reserved signs. When Kirk Douglas was introduced the crowd rose to its feet and I moved front and center to this vacant row, apparently reserved for me entirely. Kirk Douglas was born in 1916 and has been awesome ever since. His second film, Champion, is one of the great underrated classics and filled with many emphatic, quotable lines ("Can't you hear 'em, Johnny!? Can't you hear the crowd!?" "We're not hitch-hiking anymore! We're riding!!!"). Douglas talked about the pain of being treated as if he were a moron, with a pat on the head from people that think he has lost his mind, rather than just his ability to enunciate. Attendees were treated to some amusing footage from Douglas' post-stroke one-man show, with a clip of the nineteen fifties Kirk Douglas berating the modern day Kirk Douglas, "Shut up, old man. Nobody cares what you have to say!" The conversation took an even more fascinating turn when the subject turned to Spartacus and Dalton Trumbo's screen credit. Douglas talked about the hardship of the blacklist. Tears glistened in his eyes during a profoundly moving monologue. He recalled hiring the defamed Hollywood Ten member and how during the actual writing process Trumbo worked under the pseudonym "Sam Jackson." When it came time for the film's release, Douglas says it was his call to have Dalton Trumbo's name appear in the credits, the first time in over a decade, in bold defiance of the reactionary squeeze that still intimidated Hollywood. Said Douglas to Osborne, "That was the start... of the end... of the blacklist." I'm not sure if the several hundred people sitting behind me in Grauman's were also standing at that moment, but I know I was. And I know I heard more than just my own applause echo for five very powerful minutes.
So much more happened that week that either could not be squeezed into one man's schedule or one man's article. Appearances from Marge Champion, Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds, Richard Roundtree, Barbara Rush, Nancy Sinatra, Haskell Wexler; a midnight presentation of The Tingler with the original gimmickry, screenings of Cabin in the Sky, The Cameraman, Design For Living, The Devil is a Woman, Dodsworth, Fantasia, Clara Bow's Hoop-La, Little Shop of Horrors, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Niagra, A Night at the Opera, Manhattan, The Man with the Golden Arm, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Shall We Dance, Taxi Driver, The Third Man and my own time spent in gastric defiance at Canter's, Nate n' Al's, Original Tommy's, Pann's, El Chato Taco, El Coyote, El Tepeyac, Lucy's Drive-In, Roscoe's Chicken and Waffle Hut, seventeen more visits to Musso & Frank, and then there was that amazing footage of Richard Pryor fighting Milton Berle that I viewed at The Museum of Television and Radio. Goddammit, I love this city.
At the end I found myself at the TCM Classic Film Festival wrap party where, naturally, scantily clad women grinded against Robert Osborne all night long. There was bar side conversation with the quiet man from Denver who nursed his whiskey and spoke reverently of Raymond Chandler and Lou Archer pulps. Poolside there was conversation with a stylish Kim Novak type, tolerant as I ranted about sitcom wardrobes "provided by Botany 500" and the influence of Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas on the world of fashion. The TCM Classic Film Festival was described by critic Lou Leminick (a man who makes a living covering film festivals) as "the best run festival I've been to." What a joy to be surrounded by people full of esoteric knowledge that suddenly became none-too-esoteric. The TCM Classic Film Festival was a place where I felt that I actually fit in... and in a city where I felt the same. It's a rare sensation.
Here are some more vintage Los Angeles radio airchecks. They filled my ears with happiness as I traveled around town consuming movies, burritos, burgers and booze.
Let Charles Bukowski take you on a tour of early eighties Hollywood Blvd and Western Ave:
Join the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook group, a great resource of classic Los Angeles imagery.
Author's Note: The continuity of some festival events was altered for the sake of more fluid reading.