I arrived in Hollywood with a camera just in time to take one of the last shots of Tiny Naylor’s Drive In at Sunset and La Brea before it was flattened. The roof resembled an aircraft carrier and I half expected fighter jets to arrive and save this place from the destructive forces of commerce and modernization. Hell, when I was a kid modern meant cool. Modern meant a roofline like Tiny Naylor’s, a jet-age version of a 1950’s malt-burger sci-fi flick drive in. But Tiny N’s version of modern was itself modernized into a bad stucco strip-mall. And today you can order franchised Crazy Chicken parts and never know that at this same site modern man & modern woman once drove up in modern finned American cars and sat beneath a flying rooftop eating burgers and malts.
Sometimes you can save an old building like the Sunset Grill but then you can’t save it from itself. There was quite some dust up over the demise of the Sunset Grill, a classic burger grill just east of Hollywood’s heartland. Guitar Center was going in next door and may have needed a parking lot. Or maybe they just didn’t want their cheap Japanese knock off Fenders to compete with the authentic grill and grease of a joint that probably spawned a thousand classic songs over the years. How authentic can a 1950’s replica of a Fender Tele seem next to the reality of the Sunset Grill? The dust up saved the Sunset Grill but today it resembles a stucco box. Gone are the stools, the grease, the soul of the place.