Shotgun Freeway: Drives Thru Lost L.A. / Morgan Neville & Harry Pallenberg / 1995

Shotgun Freeway: Drives Thru Lost L.A. / Morgan Neville & Harry Pallenberg / 1995


Footnotes

“I moved here in 1964,” David Hockney told me one sunny afternoon in December at his Hollywood Hills studio. “I flew out here direct. I didn’t know a soul. I didn’t drive. Within a week I got a driver’s license, I got a studio, I got a little apartment, and I thought, ‘This is the place to be—in the land of swimming pools.’ ” ➡︎

Joan Didion: Actually, I don't drive on the freeway. I'm afraid to. I freeze at the top of the entrance, at the instant when you have to let go and join it. Occasionally I do get on the freeway—usually because I'm shamed into it—and it's such an extraordinary experience that it sticks in my mind. So I use it. ➡︎

Didion stresses in her nonfiction how much driving can encapsulate both the dream and the nightmare of Los Angeles. In her 1976 essay “Bureaucrats,” she calls driving the “the only secular communion Los Angeles has,” requiring “total surrender, a concentration so intense as to seem a kind of narcosis, a rapture-of-the freeway.” In 1989 she wrote in “Pacific Distances” how these hours spent in one’s car effect “a kind of seductive unconnectedness” in which “context clues are missing. In Culver City as in Echo Park as in East Los Angeles, there are the same pastel bungalows. There are the same leggy poinsettia and the same trees of pink and yellow hibiscus.” This narcotic streamlining of experience is “one reason the place exhilarates some people, and floods others with an amorphous unease.” ➡︎

Regardless of all the glitz, it was Schwab's identification with the struggling entertainer that helped make it a cultural landmark. Perhaps it isn't surprising that Harold Arlen supposedly came up with the lyric to "Over the Rainbow" while sitting at the counter, watching all the penniless dreamers sip their bottomless cups of coffee. ➡︎

"Last week they gave us a medallion and a barbecue picnic," said Manuel Olimpio, a 15-year assembler at the plant. "We don't need all that. We need a job," he said, wearing a T-shirt that said, "GM Sucks." Other workers wore shirts bearing the message: "UAW Local 645--'Unemployed' Auto Workers." ➡︎


Extras

 Los Angeles, 1909 / Birdseye View Publishing Co

▶︎ Operation Abolition / 1960

◼︎ California Eagle

 Photos: From Prospect & Weyse to Hollywood & Vine / Nathan Masters / KCET / 2013

▶︎ KCRW: What was Never Built in Chavez Ravine?


Sources

◼︎ L.A. Habitat: David Hockney / Katherine McMahon / ArtNews / 2016

◼︎ Joan Didion, The Art of Fiction No. 71 / Interviewed by Linda Kuehl / The Paris Review / 1978

◼︎ The Place Makes Everyone a Gambler: Alice Bolin on Joan Didion and Los Angeles / The Believer / 2014

◼︎ Schwab's Pharmacy: The Hollywood Hopeful Hangout / Hadley Meares / KCET / 2013

◼︎ L.A. Makes Its Last Car: End of Road for GM's Van Nuys Plant / Patrice Apodaca / Los Angeles Times / 1992


David Hockney: Joiner Photographs / Don Featherstone / 1983

David Hockney: Joiner Photographs / Don Featherstone / 1983

I Love L.A. / Randy Newman / Tim Newman / 1983

I Love L.A. / Randy Newman / Tim Newman / 1983