Century Records Update– The Hits Keep Coming

Maybe our quest for Century Records wasn’t all for naught. A reader, Audrey wrote in to tell us that her dad, Sam Rice, was a recording tech there. Her memories begin to flush out the black and white sketch on the back of the record and what went on within.

CenturyRecords Labels007 copy

“I remember visiting the factory only a few times. I think I remember the processing room, but very dimly. I remember the smell of the records being made. I remember the red blue and gold records, I think. I mostly remember desert-like landscaping, the crunch of rocks instead of glass, and a water dispenser with cold water in the waiting room.”

Century Books

She even shared a peek of some of her pop’s Century Records paperwork– recording schedules and contracts. Looks like you could get a school record in the works for six bucks per unit back in ’65. Of course, this includes some whistles and bells like “special editing, anti static vinyl, and custom album cover”.  Wonder if color vinyl was extra?

Red Century

Turns out Audrey’s dad was a big of a big shot over at Century, at least in 1965 when he got a gold medal for a top 10 record.

Top10YellowRecord

Unfortunately, her father has passed, but his name lives on– showing up on many of the Century Records in those thrift store bins.

DSC_6075SamRiceLP

So we continue to scour those thrift shops while keeping our ears out for more Century Records stories… If you have any, drop us a line.

Advertisements

Bukowski Drank Here, or Did He?

Proofsheet001DrinksBooks2 copy

“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.

KodachromeSlideFrameTilted1 copy

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.

Proofsheet006 copyStudy1 copy

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

KodachromeSlideFrameFrolicTilted copy 2

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.

KodachromeSlideFrameTiltedBig ed signcopy copy

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.

KodachromeSlideFrameTilted copyBigEdsBurnin copy

Find more photography of old Los Angeles dive bars here.

In Search of a Blue Fountain

Some old friends from Berkeley days were in town and wanted to reconnect with our 1930s Union Train Station.  It’s a time capsule classic, beautifully preserved with little of the reconstitution work seen in many revived historic sites.  One member of our troupe had read the biography of  Mary Colter, the woman who designed the station’s adjacent Fred Harvey restaurant and bar.  We looked at her work through locked glass doors and also wondered what other work she might have contributed to the interior of station such as the magnificent tiles, stenciled ceilings, floor design and acoustic siding that effectively quiets reverb in airplane sized structure.  Meanwhile, I recalled a color slide I took of a pair of blue ceramic drinking fountains set against a backsplash of magnificent train station tile and was determined to show off my memory to my pals.  Unfortunately, the fountains were no where to be found except on my old slide which I had miraculously saved from a trash heap of accumulated history I’ve been weeding through these past several years.  Long live ceramic blue fountains and their four armed handles for all to drink from.

Pig vs. Chicken ’98

The Pig ‘N Whistle – renovated on Hollywood Blvd or rather reconstituted a few years back into something resembling what it looked like back in the 1920’s when it was neighbor to the Egyptian Theater – itself now reconstituted into something resembling what it looked like back in the 1920s.  But one day in 1998 – years  before both reconstitutions had taken place, I was walking Broadway Blvd in downtown Los Angeles when I saw an old Pig ‘N Whistle sign fighting to reassert itself behind a coverup job by KFC.  I like to think that for a moment the pig was stronger than the chicken and pushed the half-baked bird off its perch, showing off to anyone who might have noticed  the location of one of the many old & long deceased P ‘N W restaurants.

For more details on the history and locations of this chain of pig joints – which apparently started in downtown San Fran – check out this blog: http://restaurant-ingthroughhistory.com/2011/05/26/famous-in-its-day-pign-whistle/