Honey’s search for El Portezuelo

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July 1, 2018 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

[In order to see the detail of the maps and some of the larger photos, you can click on them to see the full size.]

 

Introduction

A Huntington Digital Library cataloger wrote that the scene in the photograph of a man sitting under the boughs of a tree was taken at the Ostrich Farm in Griffith Park.

According to Mike Eberts, Griffith J. Griffith’s Ostrich Farm was located near today’s Crystal Springs picnic area.[1]

Mike Eberts was right. The Huntington cataloger was wrong.

The Man Sitting Under Tree Boughs photo shows Beacon Hill, the eastern-most summit in the Santa Monica Mountain Range, the 1,001-foot hill that towers over the Los Angeles River. Beacon Hill separates Crystal Springs from the Riverside Drive portion of Griffith Park.

You can see Beacon Hill from the Crystal Springs side but the hill does not look the same from the Crystal Springs side. Read more

Honey travels through portals of time

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June 1, 2018 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

Introduction to the portals 

Figure 1: Toypurina mural, Ramona Garden

The people who lived in Los Angeles when it was part of the Spanish empire and during the years Mexico governed it often appear in history books as two-dimensional: cardboard men in sombreros riding pretend horses fitted with painted silver decorated saddles and paper cut out dark eyed women with high combs that lift masses of hair veiled with lace mantillas.  They speak pure Castilian Spanish.

This is a cartoon image of the Pastoral Era after secularization of the missions, largely inspired by a “boomer” subsidized by Southern Pacific Railroad to increase the number of passengers on trains to Los Angeles.

The forty-four people that walked from the Mission San Gabriel in 1781 are silent. Read more

Honey does Dogtown

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February 1, 2018 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

 

Dogtown. Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library

The history of Dogtown is not a cooperative subject. Its past is scattered through libraries and archives and some of it may be in library basements.  Internet and the linked-in library lending system allows some of these sometimes gleaming fragments to be excavated.  Information gleaned from books that were based on unintentional misreadings of history and from librarians’incorrect dating and location of information challenge anyone’s attempt to sequence what happened in Dogtown.

Dogtown’s history tells us several stories.

One story is that  — after the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railway to Los Angeles —  rich farm land along a beautiful river was gradually turned into what today looks an industrial wasteland from a Philip K. Dick novel set on the banks of a ghost river crowded with weird non-native plants, plastic bags hooked on those plants thrown from cars, treated sewage, non-treated street waste, industrial effluent and graffiti. Read more

Honey and the second barrio of Los Angeles

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January 1, 2018 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

As soon as a piece of a puzzle does not fit, then the rest of the pieces jiggle and come loose.  Some pieces of the history of early Los Angeles jiggle.

William David Estrada, presently Curator of California and American History at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, wrote that La Placita was built between 1818-1822 on the plaza’s third site; that is, that the settlers or the government moved the plaza from the original site to another site to the Olvera Street location.[1]

That statement is one of the few about the history of early Los Angeles that makes a lot of sense.  The Spanish Colonial records were destroyed, H. H. Bancroft’s team of researchers did a tremendous job of copying and attempting to organize – they did not organize all that well; it is hard to this day to understand the organization but Thomas Savage and his assistants spent two years with paper anarchy.  There was no survey of Los Angeles until 1849 and no map since about 1793.  No one had a deed to his property.  Property descriptions were impossible to understand because they referred to things like the orchard where the cows ate the apples.  Later writers turned information on its head and because they saw things through preconception and wearing American blinders, they mystified by the beginning of Los Angeles.

That Dr. Estrada figured out there was a second barrio after the original plaza and its surrounding buildings and before there was the plaza in front of the Catholic church near Olvera Street is impressive. Read more

Honey at the Piper Tech

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November 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

Behind Union Station and across from the Denny’s stands the C. Erwin Piper Technical Center.  C. Erwin Piper died at the age of 84 in 1992.  He had been the head of the City’s Public Works Department.   I have sat waiting for the bus at the back of Union Station and saw the large building many times and did not notice it, which either sets the bar higher for my obliviousness or says something about the building’s architecture.

The Los Angeles Police Technical Investigation Division is in Piper Tech. The Elections Bureau is in there.  A room with boxes no one will let you into is there.  There’s a helipad.  City Archivist Michael Holland refers to Piper Tech as the city’s junk drawer. Read more

Honey explains the first roads through Los Angeles

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August 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

Misperceptions about the role of the aboriginal people of Southern California in building the city begin with the road system, a system possibly 13,000 years old.  Understanding the native American road system is a way to reveal that human behavior is not static, that the world of people is not one thing determined by immutable rules, but that it can be – and has been – much different from what it is now.

“In the New World,” wrote Carl Sauer in his 1932 monograph The Road to Cibola, “the routes of great explorations usually have become historic highways and thus has been forged a link connecting the distant past with the modern present. For the explorers followed main trails beaten by many generations of Indian travel.” Read more

Honey once again walks through time to the site of this city’s beginning

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July 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

I met Jodi at Nick’s Café on North Spring Street.  A statue of a pig stands in front of Nick’s and a pig offering to be devoured is painted on the wall as you come in.

The cafe was once at the edge of the Southern Pacific rail yard, hazardous waste dump and a refinery.  The neighborhood gets crappier and grimmer around the back of Nick’s in Dog Town around the William Mead Housing project is.  In 1994, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons tested at nineteen times the safe level in the housing project.  In the City’s general plan, this is the North Industrial District, and by people that live around there sometimes Naud Junction or Mission Junction after two Southern Pacific area junctions.   Mission Junction is a little to the north of the old road to the San Gabriel Mission and quite a bit south of the original road to the mission.

North Spring was Toma Road until 1876 when Southern Pacific cut off the top end and the city renamed it. Toma Road went to the Toma.   The Toma was the dam and headwaters built out of sticks, stones, reeds and clay that pooled water for the zanja, the irrigation system that sucked out river water and sent it past adobe houses and into the agricultural fields. The Los Angeles State Historic Park aka The Cornfield is on the other side of North Spring Street. Read more

Honey’s Dreamland

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June 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

After exposure to sunlight, Kodachromes taken with home cameras in the 1940s and 1950s lost color, becoming fainter. Memory may also turn colors fainter after a time. The colors in the first dream are paler than colors are in real life.

The place was near a lake or marsh. Tall reeds grew at the water’s edge, and the boy hid in them. Women were on an elevation behind above him, and the slope of land and brush concealed them from him. The women sang as they worked. They gathered seeds. They were all safe.

Partly concealed by the brush stood a rabbit that watched the boy without moving. The rabbit had long upright ears that were thin so that the light made them translucent. One of the women called the boy by his other name, not his real name. The boy’s other name was rabbit.

A smooth stone lay in the shallows. The child put his hand in the water and removed the stone.  His hand was brown not white. I knew I was dreaming and woke. Read more

Honey Continues to Live in Concord, California

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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

 

My house is one of perhaps thirty 1956 houses at the edge of the Canterbury Village subdivision. The thirty houses are regular square houses. Most of the true Canterbury houses are two stories with steep roofs and a brick chimney.

There is no village in Canterbury Village. There are houses and on the nearest main streets commercial businesses but the word “village” does not describe our neighborhood.

The streets of the Canterbury Village are named Shakespeare, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Cape Cod (no cape, and no cod), Chaucer Drive, Pickwick Drive, Lancelot, Churchill, Cobblestone Drive. I live on Shakespeare.

I thought for years that the three men that live on Shakespeare Drive were the same man but recently have been able to distinguish them. They all wear very long gray-brown beards, baseball caps, are stocky, and they all walk in a hunched way as if they had serious back injuries at one time, and maybe they all did. One, however, rides a motorcycle, and another one rides a convertible and plays the same song over and over loudly. The other one just stands at the edge of his lawn. They emerge from different houses. Read more

Honey Talks About Two journeys through California from Los Angeles in 1912

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February 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

1912 driving costume.

1912 driving costume.

 

An Englishman named J. Smeaton Chase settled in Southern California in 1890, when he was twenty-six.  The best known of Chase’s books is California Coast Trails: A Horseback Ride from Mexico to Oregon, published when he was forty-seven about his travel on horseback on trails from San Diego to the Oregon border wearing a broad-brimmed Stetson hat, riding breeches, leather puttees and a tweed coat.

From Chase’s California Coast Trails:

“Carl Eytel the painter and I were riding down the south road from El Monte one midsummer morning, with our blankets rolled behind our saddles and other appurtenances of outdoor living slung about us. Ever since I had lived in California I had been waiting for an opportunity to explore the coast regions of the State. At last the time had come when I could do it; and Eytel, my companion on other journeys in the mountains and deserts of the West, was free to join me for the southern part of the expedition.

“Our object was to view at our leisure this country, once of such vast quiescence, now of such spectacular changes. Especially we wished to see what we could of its less commonplace aspects before they should have finally passed away: the older manner of life in the land; the ranch-houses of ante-Gringo days; the Franciscan Missions, relics of the era of the padre, and the don, the large, slow life of the sheep and cattle ranges, and whatever else we could find lying becalmed in the backwaters of the hurrying stream of Progress.” Read more

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