Sunday, December 07, 2008

LACMA Sunday

The palm tree is on the scrim, the cloudy sky is real.
Mark and Iris went to a book reading while I visited the Vanity Fair Portraits exhibit. Then Iris and I relaxed in the LACMA bookstore while Mark saw it. I learned much more from the show than the mediocre reviews led me to expect. The first part of the exhibit showed the BACKS of photos, bearing stamps and signatures. They were a window in how the photography and magazine worlds operated. Don't miss the letter from Conde Nast to Cecil Beaton, urging him to agree to a large pay cut, but continue to honor the magazine exclusivity part of the agreement. I was also surprised to learn that, in 1934, $12,000/year would be a large pay cut for Cecil Beaton. I only wish that the placards gave more technical information like the type of print process, or how the photographers achieved some of the effects.
The La Brea Tarpits adjacent to the LACMA complex.
There is much civic boosterism about a "Subway to the Sea" running down Wilshire Boulevard (beyond the fence in the picture) from downtwon LA to Santa Monica Beach. That works well in theory, when you are staring at a map of transportation patterns. But, think about it geologically.

The subway would need to run through underground fields of tar. Can you see the bubbling methane in the photograph? How can you tunnel through that and ventilate the tunnel so that the methane doesn't build up to dangerous levels? Scientists in the USC geology department have strongly cautioned that a subway under Wilshire would be too costly and too dangerous.


  1. Congressman Henry Waxman blocked the original plans for the subway to the sea because of west LA concerns about the westward-flowing brown tide. Having put off the inevitable for 10 years, he and his cohort are bowing to the reality that impassable traffic requires a subway.

    Indeed there was once a methane explosion at a Ross Dress for Less, but I think that was the exception rather than the rule. Clearly it's not a common occurrence since all those other buildings with basements are still standing, including the Page museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, which is partially underground if memory serves.

  2. No, the Page museum is above ground.
    The bottom story is surrounded by an earthen berm. It makes for a great tumbling hillside for kids.


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