Deco-Diego Friday

I had the privilege of attending the 2018 Peacemaker Awards today at The City Club in San Francisco, originally named the Pacific Stock Exchange Lunch Club. It was wonderful to hear some exemplary speakers and to acknowledge members of our community who have done great work, including a high school student who has led 50 mediations already at Mission High!

It was also exhilarating to see such a pristine example of art deco, early modern design. The City Club building was erected in 1931, one year after the collapse of the stock exchange. It is known to be one of the finest examples of design from that era in The City, and possibly the country (though Chicago may have some stiff competition). Nearly all of the furniture and accoutrements in the club are the originals, kept in pristine, swanky condition.  The fine, artistic details throughout are an example of what was to come in the United States when, through the New Deal, many artists were commissioned to incorporate artisanal details into city structures.

It is also not everyday that I get up close and personal with such an historic Diego Rivera mural, this one is called:


Also known as “Allegory of California” it was the first mural painted by Rivera in the United States, after having done a series of revolutionary works in Mexico City. There is a lot of information about this mural, many ideas about the symbols, and better pics than this – I was using my janky phone.

Architect Timothy Pflueger paid Rivera $2,500 to paint it. It is a beautiful piece, rich in history and irony- the most precious treasure in this monument to capitalism was left for us by a communist.

Calafia in her collar of golden wheat


The ceiling above Calafia


I also got 3 business cards from attorneys who all offered me job opportunities. Fun, interesting day!




This is an old article, but every time I read it I can hear my maternal gramp’s voice. A lot of old SF’ers sounded like the cabbie in Dark Passage. Gramps was a cabbie in 1947 too, after coming back from the war and having the first of 3 children before age 25. Workin’ class folks in the Mission and Haight and old money the closer you got to the Bay, with the exception of North Beach, which is where the old Italians played pool, smoked in the little cafes (which used to be on every block) and made the Sacripantina that my grandma would travel across town for. That was SF.

How to talk like a Sampanciscan

More desert stories…






1930’s tower.


When I stood up, a coyote about 12 feet away lumbered off into the brush.


Not a small bobcat track.


Old shacks.


Someone could make this work.


Someone named Nancy used to live here, based on evidence left behind, it was in the 1980’s.


She also left behind a large selection of Christian-themed cassette tapes.


This book was in the back of the garden shed. It is full of sexual passages.



dpgrandpashouse.jpgThis little homestead is like hanging out at grandpa’s.




Things got Lynchian pretty quickly at this place.


fantasydesertisland.jpgWelcome to Fantasy desert Island.



What is happening here, filming in the desert, a California tradition.


dpspiritof76.jpgSpirit of ’76 in the homesteader cabin.

dpsummit1.jpgClimbing the summit.

dpsummitsnake.jpgRattlers in the rocks.



A desert lady is making an alien. Why, who knows.


She also has a robot.

What I learned that weekend:

The wildlife and the feeling of the air is wonderful and the winters are beautiful as well.  It’s definitely a place that has a magnetic, cleansing feeling; necessary to go to now and then. However, in terms of finding the right spot, that’s the challenge.

There are a lot of Jesus fanatics and meth heads in Yucca Valley. A guy in a hospital gown (open in back) and arm in a sling, limped into the thrift store, bought a coffee mug for a quarter and left. No one batted an eye. California!

The coyotes are flourishing and getting smarter every day. It takes a lot of work to keep them off your property but it can be done without shooting them which is what the locals do for sport. There are doves, rabbits, huge hares, vultures, snakes, lizards, various wildcats, and canines. The sounds are minimal and beautiful except at night when the coyotes wail, which is also amazing.

It is one of the few affordable places to buy land even if you don’t live there permanently it is not terrible hiding out for a while. You can build pretty much whatever you want but be prepared to fight the authorities over water related issues.

You can find treasures. It is so dry that things preserve for a long time. Hiking around is pretty fun, as long as you pay attention.


Bunker Hill

Many times I’ve walked around Downtown LA trying to imagine and visualize Bunker Hill. The photos are amazing but what’s better is seeing the streets of Bunker Hill in old noir movies. The movement of cinema really captures the loftiness of heights and allows us to have glimpses inside the beautiful spindly works of art that sadly were all torn down. If you have watched enough movies you have probably seen a lot of the buildings below. These two screen shots are from one of my favorites from 1949: Criss Cross with Burt Lancaster, Yvonne DeCarlo, Dan Duryea, and a handful of other magnificent character actors : 13466411_10154216076939590_2654473009393708316_n.jpg

Up at Sunshine Apts. on 3rd St.


Yvonne DeCarlo  looking out towards Angel’s Flight.

Here’s the movie, the 2nd nightclub scene is mesmerizing. Watching the extras’ faces and the shots of the band make it very intimate and special.


post by Messy Nessy:

This is a picture of a Los Angeles that no longer exists. Affectionately knick-named “the Castle”, this elegant Victorian house was one of many in the once prestigious neighbourhood of Los Angeles, known as Bunker Hill. Downtown LA does have history, it’s just buried under gleaming high-rise office blocks and strip malls…

Despite once attracting high-income residents with its fashionable apartment buildings, Bunker Hill had become a working class lodging district by the 1920s. The once thriving leafy hilltop suburb was a symbol of urban decay that discouraged new investments. After the Great Depression, the grand old Victorian mansions were run-down and being used as cheap apartment hotels.

In the 1950s, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency came up with a drastic redevelopment plan for the entire Bunker Hill area and by 1968, every last Victorian home of Bunker Hill Avenue had been demolished.

These pictures show the last surviving houses, the Castle and another Victorian home, the Salt Box, being relocated by preservationists to another site in the 1960s, only to end up getting torched by vandals soon after.

Pre-1950s downtown Los Angeles: 


Downtown Los Angeles today: 


With the future looming in the background, the Castle is pictured above, fenced off, awaiting its fate. Behind is Downtown’s first skyscraper, the Union Bank Building.

The controversial redevelopment destroyed and displaced a community of almost 22,000 working-class families who renting rooms in the architecturally significant but ill-maintained buildings.

In 1966, The Los Angeles Times wrote of Bunker Hill: “Nowhere else in Los Angeles was the architecture so ornate. The mansions were wooden-frame Victorian with Gothic gingerbread touches applied with a heavy hand to simulate masonry.”

The original Angel’s Flight, a landmark funicular railway at Bunker Hill, once stood half a block north of where it stands today. But in 1969, the railway was closed as the area underwent total redevelopment and all its components were placed in storage for nearly thirty years. You can see here how it looked amidst its Victorian backdrop, looking almost European even.

Circa 1890 view of the Bradbury Mansion on the corner of Hill Street and Court Street

Pictured: The Lima apartments, an example of the residential ‘hotels’ of the early 20th century in Bunker Hill, formerly desirable apartment buildings before the area’s decline.

The Melrose Hotel, built in 1882 and Hotel Richelieu at Grand Avenue and Second Street in the late 1950s.

And after “progress” moved in to the neighbourhood in 1957…

Just to get your bearings here, if you could stand on the front porch of the Melrose Hotel today, you’d be looking at this building across the street, the Disney concert hall.

If you have a good enough imagination walking around downtown LA, perhaps you might be able to visualise the ghost of Bunker Hill.

Desert stories

The desert of the 50’s, small shops and vacation/retirement homes.


Cholla Forest Pinto Basin Joshua Tree National Monument 1947 by Harlow Jones

Modern homestead in Wonder Valley
5 acres of desert land for $15,000 in Lander’s CA. got me intrigued enough to check it out for myself, and to read Kim Stringfellow’s fun and interesting book:  Jack Rabbit Homestead

What I found on part of the land:


Remnants of previous life: ceramics, huge TV, vinyl records identify these artifacts to be around  40 years old….



Famous tourist attraction and new-age mecca, The Integratron has a story rooted in science fiction and mysticism from the 1950’s:DSCN0076

One of many sources that tell the story of the man who built it, etc.

DSCN0080Beautiful woodwork inside The IntegratronDSCN0081

We lay on the floor and listen to vibrating crystals..if you love sci fi mystery and/or have ASMR this is the place for you!

Landscaping around The Integratron:DSCN0077

Many artists have moved to the desert so they can own an affordable home and do their art, most become inspired by the feeling of the land and decide to stay permanently.TowerHomestead800Pie for the People wall muralbbkit2katie2kitchwallbuilt_in_the_desert_tx700Desert-Arts

The Oasis of Mara can be seen in the distance in this mid-century photo:TheOasisOfMara-29Palms

Yucca Valley consignment store holds many strange items.
Miscellaneous abandoned homesteads scattered throughout the California desert. photo credit: Kim Stringfellow from