Friday, June 30, 2017

Zippy the Pinhead in Orange County

One of the wonderful things my old Googie Architecture Online website brought me was a connection to the great surreal comic strip, Zippy the Pinhead. The strip is, as the Baltimore Sun put it, "nuanced, full of pop-cultural references, non-sequiturs and social satire; a real comic for grown-ups." Anyway, I was thrilled in 2000 when artist Bill Griffith began using my Googie and other Roadside photos as settings for Zippy and his friends. Here are some examples of Zippy's adventures through my Orange County and Southern California imagery. (Sorry these are so small, but they seemed like big scans when I made them, at the turn of the century! We all had monitors about 8 pixels wide back then.)
5/5/00  The Parasol, 12241 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach. Since this ran, the Parasol was threatened with demolition, saved by Adriene Biondo and her L.A. Conservancy friends, turned into a Mel's Diner, closed again, and reopened as a Panera Bread restaurant. The amazing interior you see here is gone, but at least the building still stands. 
5/9/00  La Habra 300 Bowl, 370 E. Whittier Blvd, La Habra. This place reads like three separate Googie buildings all squeezed together. Definitely worth a visit. For sports fans, this is also the home of the first 900 game ever bowled.
5/10/00  Lake Park playground, Huntington Beach. I grew up playing in the parks of H.B., including this one, so these concrete (yet abstract) play structures brought back a lot of happy memories.
6/00  The first two frames show us what was, in 1999, the Ron's World shop on Avenida del Mar in San Clemente. Originally this place was a beauty salon, with the roof shaped like an artists palette (presumably with two giant paint brushes sticking through the "thumb hole." The second two panels depict Johnie's Coffee Shop (originally Romeo's Times Square) on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. Johnie's is now closed but still stands as a popular set for Hollywood location shoots. My favorite scene of Johnie's is probably Walter Sobchek raising a ruckus at the counter in The Big Lebowski.
5/12/00  American Landscape Supply, Goldenwest Ave., Huntington Beach. I miss this place. The giant chicken was one of the least strange things about American Landscape Supply. Hidden in the warehouse and among the trees were parts of Chinese restaurants facades (think dragons), taxidermied lions, a giant cappuccino machine shaped like a row of Easter Island moai, the city's old central lifeguard tower, logo characters from the roofs of various businesses, and more, and more, and more...
5/15/00  La Habra 300 Bowl. Bert and Bob are recurring characters that are always chatting over cups of coffee at the counter of a diner or coffee shop. Today, they're in La Habra!
5/16/00  King Taco, 1795 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach. This former Norm's location still had the Armet & Davis architecture in place, but a taco place had moved in and armed security guards gave you a clue about what had happened to the neighborhood in the decades since the middle-class coffee shop was built.
5/19/00  Linbrook Bowl, 201 Brookhurst St., Anaheim. Happily, the Linbrook is still marching along. It's a great place to bowl, the historic sign and other features are maintained, and the coffee shop (last time I checked) serves far, far better food than you'd ever have reason to expect at a bowling center.
5/21/00  (Former) home of Pete and Portia Seanoa, Slater Ave. Huntington Beach. You can read more about the Seanoas and this location on my Tiki Lagoon blog. These Tikis once stood at Lion Country Safari in Irvine.
5/28/00  Pacific Car Wash, 12050 Beach Blvd., Stanton.  Not as striking an example of Googie as the Beach-Lin Car Wash up the street, but the tapered support beams with lighteners are still a classic Googie touch.
6/11/00  Jack's Coffee Shop, 13221 Whittier Blvd., Whittier. Jack's opened during the Great Depression, but was updated and modernized during the golden age of Googie. Of the exterior portions of the mid-century remodel, it seems only the sign and the back/side wall remain today. Inside, the lunch counter area is still largely intact. It was still open for business the last time I drove past.
6/14/00  Hope International University, Nutwood Ave., Fullerton. Designed as a shopping and entertainment center for the new Orange County State College (now California State University, Fullerton), this entire complex was later purchased by Pacific Christian College which eventually changed its name to Hope International University.
6/19/00  Hope International University. More views of the same Space Age place.
7/2/00  Jack's Coffee Shop again. This time, both interior and exterior views. It is truly one of the great works of art along Whittier Blvd., along with the Googie bowling alleys (already name-checked in this post), the old Home Savings building, the car wash by the railroad tracks, and the hidden treasure that is Oceanic Arts.
7/11/00  Friendly Hills Bowl, Whittier; La Habra 300 Bowl, La Habra. Another great DeRosa, Daly & Powers bowling center design. It was recently "adaptively reused" by a couple other businesses and the exterior was largely saved, which is wonderful news. The sign was saved, but was shortened and otherwise altered dramatically, which is too bad. Still, it beats the alternatives.
8/22/00  The first frame depicts the Baskin & Robbins ice cream shop on La Palma Ave., in Anaheim. I believe the second frame was sent to me by my friend Greg Ottinger and depicts a Googie roof in the Phoenix, Arizona area. And in the last panel, a view of Java Lanes on Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach.
 9/26/00  The first frame (if you'll pardon the expression) is the Linbrook Bowl again, followed by an view of the terrazzo door handle at Norm's/King Taco. The third frame shows a sample of the waitress-made, chicken-related wall art at Anaheim's late, lamented La Palma Chicken Pie Shop. No retro-fied diner can compete with the total-1950s-immersion one received while dining at the LPCPS. Sadly, it closed for good shortly after owner Otto Hasselbarth died in 2015.
9/27/00  Satellite Shopland, Katella Ave., Anaheim. When I went to photograph this sign, the bulldozers were literally parked next to it and the concrete all around was already jackhammered up. A guy who ran a sign shop later pulled the "sputnik" out of a dumpster and restored it. But then THEY didn't know what to do with the thing. Ultimately it was snapped up by the eagle-eyed Tod Swormstedt of the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati. This Anaheim icon has now been fully restored and is on display in Ohio.
10/10/00  Java Lanes, 3800 East Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach. Lord, but that sign was a work of art. The building was pretty outstanding too. Both are long gone now, replaced by boring things.
10/11/00  Java Lanes again. Pat B. DeRosa really outdid himself (which is saying something!) with this cantilevered entryway. One of DeRosa's great achievements was taking sweeping modernist forms normally created in concrete and creating affordable plywood versions for his clients. He used creativity to bring the big architectural ideas of the day to the masses.
10/25/00  Frame one shows us Lyndy's Motel, on Beach Blvd., in Anaheim, which was recently demolished. Frame two is probably the back side of the coffee shop at the La Habra 300 Bowl again. Frame three was inspired by the Firestone Tires on Euclid Ave. in Garden Grove. Frame four depicts the Westminster Memorial Park Chapel, in front of the cemetery on Beach Blvd. in Westminster.

Thanks for joining me on this little trip down memory lane. Are we having fun yet?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Googie Architecture Online goes offline

A few days ago, the website I created in 1998, Googie Architecture Online, went kaput. (Remnants can be found via the Wayback Machine.) Life has been crazy lately, and by the time I realized I'd failed to send my new credit card number, it was too late. I'm sort of sad about that, but the site had really overstayed its welcome by many years anyway. It had served its purpose, and then some, and whatever content still has value will see the light of day in other forms. (I'll be putting some choice bits on this blog in the coming days and months.) In any case, people who want to know more about Googie architecture these days can just hop on Amazon and buy either or both of Alan Hess' definitive books on the subject: Googie: Coffee Shop Architecture and Googie Redux.
In the 1990s, when I created the site, the "World Wide Web" was in its relative infancy. I wanted to teach myself to build a website, and do so using a topic that wasn't otherwise addressed online yet. I'd just read Alan's first book and was truly inspired -- Inspired enough, in fact, that I was already driving around Orange County, taking photos of what little Googie architecture remained. (It turned out much of it was in the process of being bulldozed at that time.) And of course, I was jotting notes about the places as I photographed them.

So the new website neatly knitted together my loves of photography, writing, historical research, and Space Age architecture. But I expected little to come of it.

Months later, I read an article in the Orange County Register about a librarian at the Anaheim Public Library, Jane Newell, who was ALSO documenting local Googie buildings, even as the City's new "good taste" edicts felled them rapidly.

Who was this woman, I wondered? Why was she doing this great thing? We should work TOGETHER!

I called her and she turned out to be enthusiastic and smart and right on the same page with me about Googie's importance to Orange County. She was photographing sites, collecting related ephemera like postcards and matchbooks, and gathering other historical information however she could. We made plans for a lunch meeting at the former Bob's Big Boy (then Coco's) on Harbor Blvd. at Chapman Ave.

The first thing I asked Jane was, "How did you find out about Googie, and what made you think to tackle this project?"

"Well," she said, "I came across this website, you see..."
It was the first moment I fully appreciated the impact one local historian's efforts can make. Without Googie Architecture Online, Jane, Alan, and Phil Brigandi (who also saw my website and later remembered the Googie panel discussion Jane and I did with Daniel Paul at CSUF) I would not have doubled-down on local history and made it my life's work. Nor would I have met so many of the good people I know, admire and love today.

So it's with some sadness that Googie Archiecture Online rides off into the sunset. But it was looking pretty long in the tooth, and Lord knows there are other, more compelling sources of information to be had these days. And like I said,... My interest in Googie will continue to pop up in other work I do.

Last year, I called together a large roomful of people, including my hero Alan Hess, to discuss creating a county-wide historical preservation group, to protect historic buildings and sites not just in one area or of one architectural type, but of all historically or architecturally significant stripes. The kid who put together Googie Architecture Online would have been terrified to call, let alone run, that meeting. But one led directly to the other.

Thanks for everything, Googie Architecture Online.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Holy contributing to the deliquency of minors!

Thanks to my pal Jim Washburn for this 1960s photo of Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward?) hanging around with Orange County high school kids. One girl is holding up a sign reading "Brea-Olinda" and a boy in the back is holding up a sign that reads "Rancho Alamitos High."

Anyone know what this was all about? Jim has no idea. So far, my only clue comes from a Feb. 13, 1966 Los Angeles Times article by Vi Ehinger, entitled, "Batman Transforms Image of Teen-agers." It reads,...

"Orange County teen-agers have gone 'batty.'

"And for once it has the approval of parents and school officials alike.

"Heretofore socially unacceptable words are being replaced by terse phrases such as 'gleeps' and friends are being brought home and introduced to mother as 'my Robin.'

"Responsible for the current teen-age trend is the Batman TV series -- an admittedly corny show that has captured the imagination of many a teen-ager and changed his way of life.

"The 'in' group at Brea-Olinda High School holds Batman parties.

"The first one, given by Krista Campbell, was attended by five persons. Last week's, hosted by Carl Sweet, boasted an attendance of 32.

"Refreshments at these social highlights include such goodies as 'bat saucers' (round cookies) and 'Holy Interruptions' (cokes or hot chocolate.)

"Students at McPherson Junior High School in Orange are circulating a petition to keep the teachers from assigning homework on the night Batman shows are on.

"The sports car set at the beach area now make 'bat-turns' and the school teacher is plagued with the raised hand and the request to go to the 'bat-room.'

"However, this teen-age nonsense is cheered by the parents and the school officials who claim Batman's and Robin's clean images are far more welcome than the long-haired rebel character."

Really? Gleeps? "My Robin?" "Bat saucers?" In this era when Marvel movies dominate the box office, one almost forgets that superhero comic book stuff was once the domain of TOTAL NERDS.