Disappearing Lanes

 

Bowl Header2 copyIt was a good Sunday when Dad packed us up in the station wagon for a trip to the local bowling alley.  The space aged geometric letters stretching into the sky were a sign of good times ahead.

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Trading in the old sneakers for a pair of groovy colored funny smelling shoes was treat enough. Then there was picking out the perfect ball and the nick name for the score sheet. Yeah, scoring was done with pencil, paper, and brain back then.

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Then it was time to sit back and chill out on the cool chairs til it was your chance to bowl.

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It wasn’t rock and bowl, or black light bowl, it was just plain bowling and it was plain fun. I remember there being lots of alleys back then and the lanes were usually packed.

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For the last few decades, old bowling alleys have been slowly disappearing from the Southern California landscape. Lately,  I read news of the likely closure of Burbank’s Pickwick Bowl.

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Will it be the next to join the bowling alley graveyard? The Covina Bowl had its last stand earlier this year and the Friendly Hills Bowl was hit by the bulldozer before that.

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They are in the good growing company of the iconic bowling centers that have gone before them. The Hollywood Star Lanes, Picwood Bowl, Panorama Bowl, La Mirada Bowl and many more classic mid mod architectural gems have been crushed for the vast and valuable real estate they occupy.

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All we have left is the memories of spares, strikes, and turkeys bowled within them.

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If you’re lucky enough to have a vintage bowling alley in your neighborhood, best go for a bowl before it becomes extinct.

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Bukowski Drank Here, or Did He?

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“I started drinking before you people were born. I’ll be drinking after I bury you.”- Charles Bukowski

Chances are it’d be hard to figure all the joints Bukowski bellied up to. His domain was Hollywood and Western for a chunk of his life when he was boozing/ writing poetry and prose by day and sticking mail at the post office by night. There’s a neat video of him reminiscing about his old neighborhood here.

That hood has changed a lot since those days with arrival of the Metro Red Line and scads of soul-less structures filled with fast food and big box stores which knocked out whole city blocks of mom and pop shops. It used to have equal parts grit and personality… lots of bars, liquor stores, and street life.

Though Bukowski was long gone (moved to San Pedro in the late 70’s) the area still had flavor in the 80’s and 90’s when we captured these pix. This dive was on Western– perhaps he tipped a few back here before getting 86’d. Notice the sex shop next door.

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The Study is wedged between a hotel and a liquor store that Bukowski recalls, so maybe he did some “studying” here as well. This spot became a gay bar in the ’90’s and has now been erased from the landscape all together. I remember it having a pot belly fire pit inside, providing refuge from the cruel LA weather I guess.

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Buk is said to have ventured west on Hollywood Blvd. to the Frolic Room, which keeps pouring ’em strong to this day.

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Big Ed’s was a classic Culver City watering hole, popular among actors, gamblers, & hustlers in ’40s & ‘50s. It seems a stretch to think Bukowski would have been a regular here as it falls so far outside of his home turf.

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It had its last last call in the late ‘80s. Just before shuttering, it was transformed into The Golden Horn bar, the setting of the cult movie, “Barfly”, the only screenplay penned by Bukowski. If you squint, you may be able to imagine the Golden Horn neon atop the Big Ed’s. Bukowski had a cameo as a bar patron towards the end of the movie, so maybe just maybe he did drink here after all…

Sometime after the movie was made Big Ed’s was razed, but not before being mysteriously burned, which is when this shot was snapped. Wouldn’t you know it became a parking lot. Now that’s poetry.

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Find more photography of old Los Angeles dive bars here.

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.

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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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 struggling 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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Want a bit of Hollywood history in your own home bar? Find a Playboy Photo print here.

The Ivar – Legit Goes Strip

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I first stumbled on the Ivar with this slide I took in the late 1970s.  Hollywood was rundown and the Ivar was a lovely shade of pink that symbolized what was left of the city of dreams.  A legit theater that opened in ’51, it had turned into a peep show and strip club a couple decades later.  Famed street photographer  Gary Winogrand left the street to photograph the show inside and why not, they even had a photo night where horny men with cameras could get their film exposed in more ways than one.  In the 1960s and into the early ’70s, rock acts like the Doors played the stage.  For more info and some great old photos, check out this website and the various links contained on its page:  http://sites.google.com/site/hollywoodtheatres/ivar