It 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.
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.
Then it was time to sit back and chill out on the cool chairs til it was your chance to bowl.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All we have left is the memories of spares, strikes, and turkeys bowled within them.
If you’re lucky enough to have a vintage bowling alley in your neighborhood, best go for a bowl before it becomes extinct.
Kinda tough to take to the streets these days without stepping into some roadside sanctimony. Take or leave the big messy bag of religion and take a second to appreciate the hand painted art on exhibit in everyday locales. Admission is free to the public. See Jesus lording over automobile shops where he protects and warranties everything from crankshafts and transmissions to windshields. And watch him preside over liquor store parking lots and back alleys, bringing hope to those with no bathrooms & no place to shoot up.
Amble along with us through the pious city streets and righteous country roads across the USA. Don’t be a-feared of the blood and apocalyptic messages. And just remember the choice is yours. Wherever you end up, send us a postcard.
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.
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.
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.
A few of the doors, one a black & white negative of the other.
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.
Notice the integration of the restaurant’s electric panel into the tropical look.
The last stop on this tour is the junk shack in the back. Nothing of value inside folks so keep it moving!
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.
We took it slow. We didn’t want to rush into anything, but things were looking promising.
Probably just a fluke. But then this?
And glancing down.
Hold up– maybe things are moving a bit too fast.
Don’t want my heart to end up here.
Maybe we need to break up. It’s not you, it’s me. And just remember:
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.
Take note. Our handmade upcycled photo notebooks are one of a kind. Pick a theme that strikes your fancy– from Pizza to Urban Birding to Mid Mod Architecture. Original urban photography inside and out is sure to inspire some bright ideas. Tour our mini journals here and put one in your pocket!
Over 5 years ago, we challenged ourselves to track down and watch every film noir made back in the day when noir was noir. It’s been a fun yet bumpy ride mapping our way through cross referenced lists to find rare cinematic gems and plain old lemons. We’ve scoured public libraries, the internet, local video stores, and film noir fests. Now we’re closing in on completing the list.
But thankfully, there’s always unexpected noirs popping up like weeds wanting their day in the sun. So the challenge continues. At this point, it would be heartbreaking to take a powder on the nightly noir habit.
Luckily, we’ve amassed quite a DVD collection for the dry spells. It was that tippy stack of DVDs that inspired the making of a worthy home for them. We found a couple discarded noir-ish LP covers and worked up a plan for a dapper homemade DVD Case. Over time, we perfected the construction and began selling the one-of-a-kind Upcycled DVD Holder Books.
Recently, we came across this album cover which inspired the making of our latest 52 DVD Holder Book to hit the Etsy shop.
Inside pocket pages are sewn from repurposed card stock printed with original photography, street art imagery and graphics in keeping with the noir theme.
Now you too can stylishly tote your film noir library through life’s mean streets.
Meanwhile, we’re hoping to cross a couple more noirs off the list at the San Francisco Noir City 2016, taking us one step closer to wrapping up our challenge… or maybe just a couple films deeper into the shadows.
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.
Before School of Rock there was Century Records. Nothing against the 6-year-old guitar prodigy or the teen wonderkid singer songwriter, but who doesn’t love a creaky out of tune cover song played by a run-of-the-mill middle school band?
Century Records was largely a franchise operation. Local recording companies across USA peddled Century’s LP Packages then sent their school recordings to Saugus, California to be pressed and printed. Century was the brain child of a guy named Keyser who was deep into plastics and vinyl. In fact, Century eventually became a strictly plastics operation and stopped its franchising of school records all together. But not before creating a library of unique no-frills LPs for amateur tin-ear archeologists to unearth and revive.
In our unrelenting mission to rescue junked albums, we first ran into these LPs in thrift store bargain bins. They usually have a pretty generic cover with a distinctive sketch of the Century Records Building on the back. Some of the tracks are are pretty good, though we prefer the cuts with plenty of rough around the edges. These numbers illustrate the beauty of the Century Record concept: everyone can get a shot at being a recording artist and have the LP to prove it!
Such dillies include Alameda High School Band’s version of Greensleeves on yellow vinyl, the Byrd Junior High 1964 Band’s medley of hits from West Side Story, and the Wilson Junior High School Chorus’ 1967 rendition of the Impossible Dream. Standards like these become instant entertainment in a way that karaoke never could be.
A few years ago, it dawned on us that we might be able to find the Century building as sketched on the back of the LPs– after all, Saugus is practically in our own backyard. Armed with a map, some Century LPs, and a camera, we headed north on Highway 5. We were certain this distinctive looking building would be easy to spot. No such luck.
We showed the LP to the owners of a local coffee shop, several gas station attendants, and even the woman on duty at the historical society. No one had heard of the place let alone seen this building. Everyone was really nice though, and the historical society lady even thanked us for educating her about her own town. Alas Century Records was obsolete– erased from the local memory and urban landscape. We’ll just have to turn to the turntable for solace in Wilson Junior High’s The Impossible Dream.
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.
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!
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