Kelbo’s Resurfaces Thru The Scratches

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Digging through old negatives the other day, I came across a batch of scratchy, poorly preserved color negatives of Kelbo’s Restaurant. In the early 1980’s I moved into  a bungalow behind Kelbo’s in West Los Angeles. At that time, Kelbo’s was one of the last great post war tiki-style Polynesian restaurants left  in Los Angeles or perhaps the world. I recall seeing another Kelbo’s on Fairfax, across from Farmer’s Market, but that joint was demolished  a few days later, before I could snap a shot of it.

I had a sense that Kelbo’s wasn’t long for this world. There were never many folks inside drinking or eating  whereas the S.F. Saloon, LA’s first fern bar just a block away, was always hopping.

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Through the haze of time and booze, this is what I recall of the inside of Kelbo’s: thatched booths wrapped in bambo with a dramatic back lite plastic cocktail menu at the far end displaying Kelbo’s signature tiki-inspired rum drinks in wondrous colors of green, purple, fiery red & blue; tropical fish tanks on the backside of the bar; bartenders dressed like modern day Trader Joe’s employees; greasy sugary ribs that people loved; a round dance floor in the back with spinning disco ball and a circle  on the ceiling resembling the edge of a half coconut.

Luckily I snapped some shots of the outside, otherwise I would have never recalled the odd murals were painted on the doors & stucco. A few years later, Kelbo’s was sold, stripped of its soul and turned into Fantasy Island, a strip club which is how the building continues to function today.  I imagine the strippers  dancing beneath that coconut shell, working on the same floor once inhabited by spry seniors cutting a rug. I’m certain the fish tanks & glowing menus are long buried deep in a landfill.

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These murals were on the parking lot side of the building. They are painted in a film negative black & white look that some have found oddly racist looking.

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A few of the doors, one a black & white negative of the other.

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Who were the artists who created the murals? Not sure about the guys from Genius Inc but Carolyn Dulay is a graphic artist proud of her work at Kelbo’s.

muralartists-copyNotice the integration of the restaurant’s electric panel into the tropical look.

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The last stop on this tour is the junk shack in the back. Nothing of value inside folks so keep it moving!

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Explore more Kelbo’s history and photos at Old Los Angeles Restaurants and  Tiki Central. Huli pau!

Lookin’ for Love

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They say you only find love when you stop looking for it. Is this really so? We took to the streets on a love quest– pounding the pavement with our peepers peeled to see what we could find.

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We took it slow. We didn’t want to rush into anything, but things were looking promising.

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Probably just a fluke. But then this?

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And glancing down.

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Looking up.

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The walls.

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The stairway.

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The freeway.

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The doorway.

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The entryway.

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Hold up– maybe things are moving a bit too fast.

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Don’t want my heart to end up here.

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Maybe we need to break up. It’s not you, it’s me. And just remember:

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Thanks to all the artists out there putting love on the streets.

Check out the stripeycity shop to find quirky handmade sweet nothings for your sweet something this Valentines day.

Vinyl Revival

Vinyl is not dead, but records can die.

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These busted, moldy, scratched, and warped records have taken their last spin on the turntable. Such sorry LPs inhabit thrift stores, garages, basements, attics, flea markets, and bargain bins. They’re often wearing vintage jackets much too groovy for the grave.

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On a good day, we’re just in time to save a stack of played out LPs from the dump. Our Upcycled CD/DVD Holder Books breathe new life into discarded record albums while adding analogue charm to any digital media collection. Take a tour through past CD/DVD Cases handmade from salvaged album covers, accompanied by a tune played on a vintage Commodore 64 computer.

Beer Craft For Craft Beer Lovers

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Crazy for craft beer? You can’t seem to go far these days without stumbling across artisanal ales. Nothing like bellying up to the local bar for some local brew, but some days you just feel like cracking a cold one on the cheap in the comfort of your own home.

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For the love of good beer with a dash of dive bar atmosphere, we’ve created a set of Handmade Upcycled Photo Coasters to bring old school beer-sonality to your home bar.

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Stay in and enjoy a healthy session of homestead elbow bending, without endangering that heirloom coffee table.

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Take Note

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It’s the new age of craft coffee. That means single origin, nano roasters, cold press, and pour overs. Kinda makes one miss the old fashioned coffee-counter culture– where a pot was percolating in every kitchen and burning on every diner hotplate, just ready to warm up your cup. The coffee may have gotten better, but don’t you miss a bit of nostalgia with your cup of joe? This urban art journal is a homage to the good ole coffee institutions, compiling coffee signage photographed over the last 20 years. Signs of a different time, to inspire your current caffeinated thoughts.

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The Hand Writing is on the Walls

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It tells you where to park, what’s for sale, or how much for a haircut. I may not go in for the advertised clutch job or psychic reading, but I’m sold on the peeling-paint fonts and colorful crooked letters that make the walls come to life. A field trip through the city is a walk through a typographic gallery. It’s as if these walls can talk.

Check out our urban typography mini journal here http://etsy.me/1z0VNzF . Perfect for recording field notes on your urban rambles.

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.