Succulent Tin Cans on a Stick– The Upcycled Urban Garden

Soaking in the last few days of summer. This means enjoying and improving the backyard– a constant work in progress. The summer garden is winding down but the pomegranate tree is coming around. It looked a bit lonely, so we decided to give it some succulent company. A few clippings found new homes in some old tin cans. With some ingenuity and some hardware scraps those tin cans cheat the fate of the trash heap once again!

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Check out our Hobo Tin Can Beer Holders (cause everything goes better with beer!) and some of our other upcycled wares here: http://etsy.me/1i9heEp

City Lights

CityLightsSprouting skyward out of the cracked bubbling blacktops of abandoned city parking lots, the rusty streetlights quietly weather out their last stand against the next nondescript stucco development that will inevitably usurp their real estate. Admiring these geometric giants orbiting above the urban sprawl, one can begin to imagine how the past was lit.

To see a bunch of old LA streetlights standing together in one random parking lot, check out Vermonica created by Sheila Klein.

You can find more photos of  Los Angeles’ urban landscape at stripeycity.

We Honor Folk Artist Leonard Knight

Leonard Knight, the creator of the magnificent Salvation Mountain near the Salton Sea, passed away several days before Valentine’s Day. We visited this visionary artist 10 years ago and snapped this shot that captures his love of life.

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He embodies the religious style of ephemeral imagery & graphic art created by folk & street artists all across the USA. These works show up on almost anything–from the sides of trailers, storefronts & windows to the junkyard landscape of the late W.C. Rice’s Cross Garden in Prattville, Alabama.  The homegrown art in unsuspecting environments often speaks louder than the godly messages– for us it’s more about the art.

ImageImageImageCheck out more images at  stripeycity on Etsy or take a sightseeing trip around your own neighborhood and see what you might find!

Art is all around us

Museums are inspiring, but sometimes a shuffle around the city is just as good if not better– easy on the eyes and the wallet. Slow down and you might catch a masterpiece before it disappears.

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This art seems to pop up as magically as it is erased from the cityscape.

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Who’s behind the art? Does it drive up sales of mufflers or psychic readings? Either way, it’s great wallpaper for the city.

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Hats off to all the urban artists who make our city colorful and interesting. Any neat street art in your city?

See the day in the life of one street artist here. Take notes on your own urban art ramblings in a  Street Art Mini Journal.

Lost Weekend

Some juice joints modernize by switching out neon signage for plastic, covering old worn bar wood with laminate or selling out to a hipster who fumigates, reupholsters and reopens with higher prices and younger clientele.  Downtown Los Angeles has a few of the latter with King Eddy’s Saloon the most recent to get the make over.doghouse_blogscBut if you’re lucky, you end up as just a wink in a camera bug’s eye and nary a mention on the internet like the Dog House, a rundown bar across the street from MacArthur Park that disappeared without comment sometime in the 1980s.  Besides this shot taken from the window of a passing car, the Dog House’s only other appearance is in the background of a scene in some obscure low budget flick that dropped out a sight a few years ago.  The Dog House would belong in the Bar Hall of Fame, if there were such an institution.  There is a Drinkers Hall of Fame for those who care for such places.  You can chance upon it if you drive east out of LA on the old Route 66 though the bar signage got the modernization treatment mentioned above.  Inside it’s as nondescript as a striped down ranch house in the Valley but the painted sign that once attracted drinkers on the side of the bar is still something to admire in old photos like the one snapped on an escape from the city several decades ago.

drinkershalloffameblogwmEven before digital shutters made spending $$ on film obsolete, fools like myself took as many shots as our fingers could tap out in the hope and prayer that out of several rolls of 36 at least one brilliant shot would surface.  That’s one of several reasons why I don’t remember taking many of these photos, that is the where, when, why, who and whatever.  Like DL’s Beef & Beer.  What was this simple storefront?  A precursor to Wurstkuche where instead of Belgium brew and artisan sausage they served Bud and ground beef?  beefnbeerblogwmThe Zimba Room.  Now here’s a sign I pass nearly everyday on Beverly Blvd in Echo Park but you’d never recognize it.   The white letters were painted over long ago so now it’s just a huge chunk of blue metal hanging on the side of a true flop house called the Lafayette Hotel.  The Lafayette is a dump that no hipster would ever consider giving the gentrification make over.  Any fumigation would involve torching it to the ground.  But imagine if you can the bar that was once accessible from the front, a place called the Zimba Room.  Zimba…the imagination is rich with visuals…zimbaroomblogwmLike Zimba, the name Taxi Bar inspires the mind to wander and dream of stories best found in detective novels.  Taxi Bar is still visible on Third, a block or two before the street dips down into downtown.  Unfortunately the sign, with blue & white letters, a star and arrow,  was switched out several years ago by all new vinyl.  Probably the only good part of the joint and now that’s gone too.

taxi-barblogwmStep back in time with some photo postcards of bygone Los Angeles Bars.

Malted Milk If You Please

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How is it possible that malts once reigned supreme?  The evidence is all around us if we care to look for ghosts.

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A kid today might not even know the word, even if you added milk after malt.  But at one time there were malt shops.  Not sure what else they served.  Maybe root beer floats and chocolate shakes?  Burger and fries like the place below with neon malt spinning like a top.

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And yet, malts was the name above the title at one time, a place reserved for major stars.  So check out our little gallery of dead malt shops whose signs remind us of a past we can only dream about.   Recently I made a wrong turn at the airport and found an older burger joint with a newly painted bright red sign screaming Malts.  They weren’t open at the time so I wasn’t able to confirm a real malted milk or not.

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DIVE REVIVAL

In this 2012 Los Angeles world of revived dive bars (King Eddy’s), dive cafeterias (Clifton’s) and dive everything else (Cole’s), a few joints that left the scene decades ago remain long forgotten.  One that begs for memory revival is The Playboy, a bar next to Nickodell Restaurant, both at one time straddling Paramount Studios on Melrose Ave.

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Alas, I only took a few slides of the place moments before it was crushed by the dozers back in’98 but I imagine it was once a classy cocktail lounge inhabited by Sinatra and Paramount execs.  I say this because of the top hat, white gloves and black cane painted on the back door.

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Perhaps back in the ’70’s a few New Wave Hollywood directors (DePalma & pals) threw back shots of whiskey while Gulf & Western’s Paramount Studios behind the bar struggled to redefine itself.  You can see a glimpse of the studio  in the top right corner of the shot of The Playboy below, the bar boarded up and stripped of its glowing neon.  Maybe it’s a good thing that nothing remains for a LA Revivalist to polish up and charge 12 bucks for a cocktail that once sold for $2.50 back when The Playboy was living up to its name.

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Nutel Motel Is suddenly No-tel Motel

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Up until a few months ago, you’d be driving east on 3rd toward downtown LA and see the prominent Nutel Motel sign, wide strips of plastic signage above billboard lettering mounted on a massive pole.  Nutel, a phenomenal name for a motel.  Not that I would have wanted to stay overnight in tacky stucco multilevel motel below the sign.  But the name was brilliant wordplay, stupid and brilliant at the same time.  Now, however, Nutel the sign is gone.  First high winds punched holes in the Nutel part, then the sign was completely replaced, name and all.  The motel remains but Nutel is no longer there.

Life is a lot different for the Moytel, located further east, on the north end of downtown’s Chinatown.  The Moytel, a seemingly Yiddish-Chinese interpretation of a standard motel, looks from the outside to be decently kept up.  Maybe they’ve even evicted the bedbugs, something I doubt the Nutel and its successor never attempted.