Saturday, February 10, 2007

Last post on the bugle

Et en bonus, une courte nouvelle que Cynthia m’avait également joint à l’époque qui ne fut pas utilisée et que j’ai préféré laisser en anglais (Et pas forcément eu le courage de traduire surtout !)…

Speaking of which.. Here's a story I wrote for a zine all about L.A. and it's about one such building that i love that was torn down in 1984. Before i left L.A.. I was thinking of getting it protected as an historical building so they wouldnt' tear it down. But I was 15 and who would listen to a 15 year old girl ? here's the story :

I remember the first time I went to Ship's Restaurant. I was about 7 years old. My mother, brother, sister and I were coming back from visiting our Grandmother at her house in Los Feliz. (we were in the 1970 Ford Country Squire station wagon, which smelled of my barf and lysol from a previous I had to pee, so my mother took a right turn into the Ship's parking lot, and told me to run in. The building that was Ship's had two "wings". The (as I may call it) "west" wing (or Glendon side) was always open and was at the corner of Wilshire and Glendon. (Just one block east of Wilshire and Westwood.) The bathrooms were in the west wing on the way over to the "east" wing. (or the Wilshire Blvd side.) The bathrooms and three stairs divided the west from the east. The door to the women's room was heavy, nearly too heavy for a kid my age. The door shut fast behind me. I was in the small quiet room of the women's room. It was clean and smelled of air freshener. Glancing around as I peed I took note of the cool "modern" tile.

The noise of people talking and clanging silverware blasted in as I opened the door to exit the bathroom. I looked up and recalled seeing the stylish architecture pointing upward-Up to the future.

This was the future, Ship's.

The Future was taking me away now. At the age of 16 I was told that I was going to be moving to Washington, DC at the end of my 11th grade. For the last six months in LA I spent a lot of time thinking about the things I would miss. Besides my friends, the number one thing was Ship's Restaurant. "Always Open".

After punk shows, I would get off the bus and meet friends, (or they would be with me) and we'd go to Ship's (close running for us was Canter's... which was also a 24 hour coffee shop, but it just didn't cut it the same way.)

My friend Stacey lived near Ship's. We had made a decision that we would spend every hour of the day there in Ship's. So, if I slept over at her place, we would get up really late.. like 4 AM and see what kind of people were there. We'd take the 20 minute walk over in the darkness of the residential side streets of Westwood.

Ahead : the warm glowing building a-buzz at the corner. Ship's.

We loved watching people, drinking coffee and eating toast at Ship's. (there were toasters on each table so you got bread for your order of "toast" and you'd toast it yourself.) I also looked at the building. What was on the mind of the people who built this thing? It was like an east coast diner but it was all west coast in style. Lots of room, modern, and super efficient. This was the Future. Huge Stainless work counters where the uniformed waitresses (there were no men who took your order.. they were always women.. older women.. sometimes younger women.. but these older women were great. they were making careers at Ship's.) would prepare your plates of food that "came through the window" from the mysterious kitchen beyond. Here at the stainless counters, all custom made to fit the angles of the building.. were the glass mirrored dessert cabinets, (As a child I always thought the desserts were defying gravity and hanging upside down... I later found (I'm sure during my long hangs at ships) that there was a mirror and that was only a reflection.), the stainless Kold Milk dispenser, the hand orange juicer (that the waitress had to use everytime you ordered juice.. she cranked down the handle and made each glass fresh to order.) and the salad tossing counter (after all this was California... just a couple hundred miles from Salinas Valley, "The Salad Bowl of the Nation").

The salad tossing area was of amazement to me. They designed this whole area to toss those small dinner salads. There were about three holes in the counter where three stainless bowls were stored. Below the counter in the refrigerator was the ripped up lettuce and the dressings. When a salad was ordered, the waitress would get the food from the kitchen and would make the salad by serving a small portion of lettuce into the stainless bowls, select the appropriate dressing and toss the salad. The bowls were left there, and I think were re-used as the bowls (get this) were located above the refrigerator and so the bowls were actually refrigerated.

Genius! Everything at this place was mapped out and planned.THIS was THE coffee shop that all others copied. I was sure of it. There is NOT another place that is and was better. I still look for it, but it is not found.

The greatest thing of all about Ship's was that everything was made of the highest quality from the day. Everything was original (except the toasters, understandably). Even the Ray and Charles Eames dining chairs were original. I can still hear the feet of the chairs scraping the terrazzo floor as I sat down. The fake wood formica led to the stainless counter which lead to terrazzo walls and flooring which echoed the stainless steel lines of the counters. The huge glass windows --none at a right angle- reached up the the angled acoustical tile ceilings. The Glass front door with the arrow logo of the Ship's name cut and frosted into the glass, framed in a heavy duty stainless door frame. (OK- the only thing made of right angles) The lamps of various styles and colors hung all with a special purpose. Many of them were these black wires globes with strips of colored plastic which created a globe like shape. All these were the colors white, yellow and red. I was convinced it was to represent the colors of mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup. These were the ones that also created a shadow on the ceiling like a sun with sun rays going outwards... sort of like how a child draws the sun. There was a big wire "chandelier" with plastic cups on the end that shook from the vibration of some machine (my guess was the dish washer). Walls were wood, not just panelling but beautiful wood that was sort of 3-dimensional that went in and out, creating triangular points. Some of the walls were made of big round rocks, some were flat rocks (the one outside I climbed up once), some were stucco and some steel. There was this one "room divider" that
divided the dining area from the pay telephone area.

I never really understood whether I really liked them, but I admired the creativity, and even the idea that perhaps architects sat in rooms showing drawings of details of things like this.. touting their greatness: Trying to sell the idea to the client (no doubt the future was in the sale: ) They were these wrought iron bars that ran vertical. They were spaced about every ten inches.

Running up each bar, every foot and a half, it would divide and create a diamond shape which held inside a "rock" made of plastic held by this flat area of "poured" plastic. They also used this artistic expression to divide booths in the east wing. (see photo). Plastic, I would suppose was the FUTURE. The future was great if Ships was part of it. But it wasn't.

A year after I moved to DC, I heard that ships was torn down and made (gasp!) into a parking lot! Whenever I'd come back and visit, I'd go to the other ship's on Olympic at La Cienega.. but that closed.. I saw the plywood boards in those angular windows once and I thought it was a crime. So then I'd go to the one in Culver City. That was ok. Neither the Olympic Blvd nor the Culver City ones were as good as the Westwood one. The Westwood location was the crowning jewel. So vast and big. These were small and confined and not as well maintained. The
sunlight didn't shine in these as in the Westwood location.

The last time I went was in January 1996. I drove with my friend Jane. It was closed for good. The lights were out. No more "always open." I was bummed that I didn't do what I wanted to do and make it a historically preserved building. I trusted that the owners would take it on themselves. That the city of L.A. would take it on themselves. It needed to be saved. We needed to remind ourselves what the future was to us when the idea was conceived in 1948. (as the architectural drawings proudly hung in the telephone booth area of the east wing.)

Sometimes, I wish I would have done all that.. the one last thing I wish that I ever did was to talk to the owners, the Shipman's. Their son we nicknamed "short tie" (as he had a very short clip-on tie) worked there during the afternoons. I wonder if he was the one who inherited the restaurant chain, and sold them all. I wonder where he is today.

Other notes from investigating ships...

I called an artist who was an Assistant to the Art Coordinator of The City of Los Angeles in the 1950's. His name is Joe Cook. I called to see if he knew Ray and Charles Eames (the designers of the chairs in Ship's)and to see if anyone knew if they had anything to do with the design of the building.

Turns out, he didn't know them personally to say if they had anything to do with the design of the builidng. But I did get a couple good stories. Joe's job at one point was to go and inspect buildings to be sure that the whole thing was keeping with the style that it claimed to be built. So, he kept on getting phone calls from the Biltmore downtown complaining about this building being built next door.

One call was complaining about the spires being built. The next call about it being red or the lights. They were concerned of how it ruined the Biltmore's reputation having this monstrousity being built. ("a personal insult") Turns out it was a restaurant just like Ship's: Googie's.

Sources say it is torn down. He also worked at the Barnsdale Museum doing the installations. He was able to meet Ray and Charles Eames, once doing an installation.

It turns out the Ray and Charles Eames house was about 10 blocks from where I grew up in Pacific Palisades. I would ride my bike by the house (hidden by Eucalyptus trees) everytime I'd ride down to the beach. It is near Chatauqua and
Corona Del Mar, if anyone wants to check. He spoke of Ship's and went to it frequently, for breakfast in particular, as Flax art supply was right behind it, and it was near Bullock's department store, where he did window displays. He told me that there was this regular, her name was Gladys Towles Roote. She was one of the first woman lawyers in Los Angeles. She and her secretary would go there in the morning in her "bizarre Hollywood get up". ("jewels like door knobs".. all this stuff around her neck.. and her satin turbin.)...

She'd sit there.. with all these legal papers on the wood formica table with her jewels and towards the wall was the toaster on the table. It was a sight to see. )

By Cynthia Connolly, a long since removed resident of Los Angeles, living in
the Washington, DC area since 1981.

Quelques photos souvenir du concert de Kimmo d’hier. Un concert un peu chaotique à cause de nombreux problèmes techniques mais qui nous permit malgré tout de passer une très bonne soirée principalement passée au bar...

KimmoLe Saphir 21 – 09/02/2007

KimmoLe Saphir 21 – 09/02/2007

KimmoLe Saphir 21 – 09/02/2007

Use Of ProcedureLe Saphir 21 – 09/02/2007

Il y avait tellement de monde hier soir que je n’ai pas réussi à redescendre pour aller voir No Nebraska, du coup je suis resté au bar avec l’ami Yann Nada qui arborait un très joli pull pour l’occasion (Dress code Kimmo oblige), tout comme David (Wee Wee) et Loïc (X-Or)…

Et uner petite photo de The Death Of Anna Karina pour finir !

The Death Of Anna KarinaL’Espace B – 07/01/2007

Soundtrack : Pinhead Gun Powder " Compulsive disclosure " / Shotwell " Celery, beef & iron "

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, here is luca from Death of anna karina, do you have some other pictures of this show? it's the only one we have found 'till now..
we would like to see some others, if you have please send to thanks!