I was deeply moved by this Veterans Day "thank you" from the people of Poland, thanking the United States for their help in supporting a free and independent Poland 100 years ago. Happy Veterans Day from Experiencing Los Angeles. -
Forty years ago today, October 23 1978, a fire broke out at 9:41am near Mulholland Drive and the 405 Frwy in the Santa Monica Mountains. Stoked by Santa Ana winds and very hot, dry conditions within a few minutes a large brush fire started moving westward.
photo credit: Julie Keese
This is one of the very few color photos I was able to find of the fire. Looks like it was taken from the roof of what's now the CVS pharmacy in the Palisades. The old RTD bus is at the intersection of Sunset Blvd and Swathmore. photo credit: Palisades Post Above: Via de la Paz, looking north from the business district.
I was a student at Palisades High School. I pulled this and the next few photos from our school yearbook.
Thirty homes were destroyed in Brentwood and Pacific Palisades - it could have easily been ten times that number. By contrast, the 1991 Oakland Hills fire destroyed 3800 homes - and killed 25 people.
Here's another color photo. It was actually a postcard, and was for sale for several years afterwards.The back of the postcard reads: "Santa Monica Mountains on fire-Fall 1978. The fire is nearly 10 miles wide in this photo taken from Venice, Calif. Photo and copyright by Jeffrey Stanton."
photo credit: Karl Edward Dean
Every year Southern California deals with brush fires. In fact, a few years back, another fire broke (below) next to the 405 Freeway - very close to where the Mandeville Fire began 40 years earlier. Fortunately, it was put out quickly.
photo credit: www.latimes.com
My family's home came very close to being destroyed in the Mandeville fire. A few things I remember:
1) the speed of the fire. When I got home from High School, I literally thought the fire might be near our home sometime in the next day or two. We were evacuating within 2 hours.
2) the size of the fire. There is something terrifying about a 50-60 wall of flames several miles wide coming towards you. Trying to defend your home with a garden hose felt like a bad joke.
3) the smell of the fire. I get an awful feeling everytime I smell a fire - bad memories of October 1978.
4) the SOUND of the fire. This was perhaps the scariest thing of all. I still remember the low, loud roar. It was surreal.
Our family was very fortunate that the winds shifted just was the fire approached our street. Other families were not so lucky - loosing not only their homes, but everything inside. photo credit: www.latimes.com
The Marek fire (above) in the San Fernando Valley in September of 2008 was a reminder that brush fires in Southern California are not a question of "if" ... but "when."
As a Christian, I'm reminded that brush fires involve issues of environmental stewardship, protection of lives, protection of property, understanding the specific climate (Mediterranean) and topography (mountainous) of Southern California. Brush fires are NOT forest fires. Remember Smokey the Bear? Not the same here. In Southern California several of the native plants are designed to burn (there's that pesky "design" again). One of my professors at UCLA stated that a fire every ten years is significantly less dangerous, less intense than one every fifty years.
"The probability for an intense fast running fire increases dramatically as the fuels [brush] exceed twenty years of age. Indeed, half-century old chaparral - heavily laden with dead mass - is calculated to burn with 50 times more intensity than 20-year old chaparral."
Mike Davis "Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster" pg 101
I have to now agree that it would make sense to have controlled burns of large uninhabited mountainous areas every 10-12 years - but most experts agree it will never happen - it would be political suicide.
This time last year, my wife I and took my kids and their cousins (all teenagers) to the Warners Bros Studio Tour. here are links to Part I,Part II, Part III, and Part IV of our visit. The tour included a visit to Sound Stage (above), filming location for the Ellen Degeneres Show.
Always interesting to see what's involved in television broadcast.
I'm not a huge Ellen fan. That's OK. My kids and their cousins found this part of the tour interesting.
Lights and more lights. Originally, the earliest movies were filmed in New York, often on the roofs of buildings. But films, and later television shows, need good lighting, and Southern California's sunshine and generally dry climate made this possible virtually year round. Eventually, films were moved into sound stages, but by then Hollywood had a film grip on the burgeoning film industry.
Hey, look, we're on the set for the Ellen Show.
Back outside, our tour continued. I guess I like the palm trees outside the various sound stages.
Warner Bros logo on the side of one of the many sound stages.
Another look down the the massive and cavernous sound stages. At 62 acres, Warner Bros Studios is huge.
A quick stop off at a display of some of more current Batmobile vehicles. I'm old enough to remember the campy but fun Batman TV show. The 1966 Adam West Batmobile can be found on Wilshire Blvd (in the Miracle Mile District of Los Angeles, at the Petersen Automotive Museum. At least it was for a time. Here's a link to a previous post on a visit to the Petersen.
The most recent incarnation of the Batmobile. Meh. I like the 1960's version better.
Driving by the guard gate, featured in the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles.
Warner Bros Studio is so big that it actually has it's own fire department on site.
Favorite photo: it's not what we saw, it's who we were with. I was hoping to finish up this five part series on our studio tour with something profound. I guess that'll have to wait for another day.
The tour concluded with a display of models and other artifacts from various Warner Brothers films. This is a 1:100 model of Gatsby's Castle from the 2013 film The Great Gatsby.
Images from various cartoons from Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbera (owned by Warner Brothers) cartoons.
For those of you who grew up in the '90's, the tour concludes with a replica of the Central Perk set from the popular TV show Friends. Popular show, but I was never really a fan. And my kids were way too young.
There's an Academy Award you can hold. "Oscar" refers to the statue, given out annual by the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences. Hence, the Academy Awards. The Award ceremony is held around the end of February / beginning of March every year.
More studio memorabilia.
Christoper Reeves cape from the 1978 film Superman. The film was "just OK". Even as a teenager, I thought the "spinning the world backwards" scene at the end ridiculous. I know it's "just a movie" but that doesn't excuse a silly script.
Detective Harry Callahan's handgun from the 1971 film Dirty Harry.
One of the "76 Trombones" from the 1957 musical The Music Man.
The tour concludes with a final ride back to the entrance/exit. Behind me, my daughter and my niece.
A final look down Hennesy Street. Here's a link to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour website. Tickets are $65, with a special $49 offer for Southern California residents.
Last Fall, my wife and I took our teenage kids, and their two cousins, to the Warner Brothers Studios tour. Here's a couple of links toPart I, Part II, and Part III of our time there. Above, the Embassy Building in the New York Street section. As mentioned in a previous post, my wife and I took the tour ten years ago. I recognized this set as the home of Daddy Warbucks from the 1999 version of Annie.
Anyone remember the cheesy but fun 1960's Batman TV show? Above it Gotham City Hall. All that's missing is Adam West's version of the Batmobile parked out front.
Several scenes from the 2016 musical La La Land was filmed on the Warner Brothers lot, including the coffee shop on site where Mia (Emma Stone) worked.
As pointed out in the film, across the street was the streets of Paris, featuring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the 1941 classic Casablanca.
Another view of Mia's Coffee Shop.
More painted outdoor sets. While these might seem a bit fake from this angle, they really do come across as real in live production.
The "backside" of the Hollywood Hills, in between several sound stages.
More sound stages.
The tour featured driving through design studio, as well as the the machine and wood shops.
We got a chance to peak inside the production areas.
It was a Saturday. During the week, my guess is that this is a beehive of activity, with carpenters working on indoor and outdoor sets.
The world famous Warner Bros logo outside one of the many soundstages.
Another peak inside. This just shows how massive some of these buildings really are.
We made another stop for a tour inside yet another sound stage.
Warner Bros Studio Tour
Many of the Sound Stages feature a list of films and TV shows that have produced inside. Stage 1 has been in production since 1937 with Life of Emile Zola (which I've never seen) ... to Bonnie and Clyde (1967) to Lethal Weapon (1987).
Currently, it's the location of film for the popular Ellen Degeneres Show.