Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Programmed to Chase

I don't know what it is in my genetic code or my dysfunctional upbringing that programmed me to chase down whatever I wanted.

Early in my education, when I was still coloring drawings of Jesus and perfecting my cursive, my parents made it very clear to me that I would have to get a full scholarship (or pay for my own tuition) in order to go to college. So I won science fairs and math bees, got great grades, did as many extracurricular activities as my parents would allow, performed community service, and got that scholarship.



After paying my retail dues at a discount clothing retailer, I nabbed my dream job: in the music department of a store at the mall, the first step in my budding music industry career (and still my favorite job ever).

Having no idea what I was doing, I set my post-college sights on New York City and chased it down in a rental truck full of my things, careening through the Lincoln Tunnel on my way to conquer Manhattan, then Brooklyn, then Manhattan again, and finally Queens.

I got a job at the best record label in the world. I got promoted over and over again. I got laid off, and then hired by a company I'd been stalking for a year. I won a game show. I won court cases, unrepresented. I won awards and trophies and gold and platinum record plaques.

I seized that city in a full-on attack, ready for a fight.

At one point, it seemed like I could get anything I wanted, if I just worked hard enough, if I just chased hard enough.

That is, anything except the one thing I really wanted: love.

That didn't stop me from chasing it – unsuccessfully, from the wrong people, from those who didn't deserve me, from those from whom I deserved better.

This was my training ground, my boot camp. I chased and never caught what I was chasing, but I kept getting better at it. And every time I tried to give up the chase, I caught a whiff of something irresistible, and like a greyhound to a hare, off I went.

I can't resist a good lure.

I always tell myself that I want to be chased, but to be honest, I get scared off too easily when someone is in too hot pursuit of me.

Perhaps I scared off all those people I ever chased before.

But I think some people actually need to be chased.

And although I've given up on some people in the past...
...maybe I shouldn't have.

Maybe I should've chased a little harder.
Maybe I should've chased a little longer.

Maybe I should've asked for what I wanted.
Maybe I should've said how I felt.

Maybe it would've worked.
Maybe I would've found what I was looking for.

And now...

Maybe someone might be worth chasing.
Maybe someone might want to be caught.

Related Posts:
Let Me Love You
Free Milk
You Can't Always Get What You Want
Love Is the Drug

Photo Essay: The Wiltern Theatre, Off Limits Areas

As a preservation enthusiast, I know I should revel in the beauty of the restoration of the former Warner Western Theatre...

...now thriving as The Wiltern.

But here's my favorite part of these tours that give me all access to these historic theaters of LA:

...the stuff you don't normally get to see when attending a show...

...though maybe when you're actually doing a show.

Behind the scenes.

The sandbags and curtains.

The fly systems and the lighting rigs.

The catwalks of the underbelly...

...the sliding doors...

...and the bars on the dressing room windows.

The Wiltern has a somewhat secret upper level that is rarely accessed by the public (except, I suppose, as an emergency egress), so it hasn't been restored in decades...

...though it does provide access to the projection booth (and now spotlight room), whose door is marked by an inviting "DO NOT ENTER" sign.

This creepy stairwell, too, is unrestored...

...and shows signs of water damage, as well as general creepiness.

The projection booth has been modernized to accommodate the type of lighting equipment necessary for their modern day stage shows (as well as larger windows), though it still houses the stall-less toilet so typically found to satisfy projectionists needs when nature calls.

Behind the scenes at the Wiltern, spooky hallways and staircases abound.

In the basement, you can find spare light cans...

...as well as the antique fuse-based electrical system, which still powers the theater today.

Under the stage, there are mechanical and machine rooms full of cooling equipment, ducts and other ventilation...

...and hallways most people wouldn't want to go down.

Except me, of course. I could spend all day down there, trying to figure out what's behind every door.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: The Wiltern Theatre, Public Areas
Photo Essay: Open House at the Restored Alex Theatre, Magic Hour

Monday, August 18, 2014

Photo Essay: The Wiltern Theatre, Public Areas

If the case of the Wiltern Theatre teaches us anything, it's that something that's very very far gone can still be saved.

I mean, this place had an approved demolition permit.

The demolition crews had arrived.

And, like a scene out of a Hollywood movie, preservationists threw their bodies in front of them in order to save this beloved Art Deco building.

The furniture (including the built-in theater seats) had been sold off.

There was a giant hole in the ceiling...

...and two feet of water covering the floor.

Somehow, this bygone movie palace (originally opened in 1931 as the Warner Western) was able to bounce back...

...and operate successfully over 80 years later as a popular concert and event venue...

...with many of its original details and ornamentation preserved...

...or, at least, reproduced.

From the moment you enter from under the glittering marquee soffit and those two gorgeous blade signs...

...you are struck by wall and ceiling murals...

...lighting fixtures illuminating gold leaf...

...with the beginning hints of streamline moderne.

The centerpiece of the lobby is the rotunda...

...now outfitted with LED lighting...

...and first restored in 1984 during the multi-million dollar effort to reopen the theater as a performance venue...

...once it had been saved from demolition in 1979.

Although many features have been repainted to their exact original specifications...

...the general color scheme of the vestibule, lobby areas, and auditorium are much more muted now...

...than the days when bright oranges and reds were used to counterbalance the black and white pallor of the silent film era.

Art Deco details abound in the public areas...

...including the walls of the ladies' lounge...

...and of the inner lobby...

...and balcony levels.

Even the plaster walls feature some raised details for added texture...

...even where color may be lacking.

Inside the auditorium...

...you get a view of the grilles that once housed a 4/37 Kimball pipe organ...

...long since dismantled, its parts sold off and given new life as pieces of other organs around the country.

The auditorium ceiling once featured nine skyscrapers, reflecting the growth of Wilshire Boulevard as the "new downtown" and an exciting new center of business...

...but unfortunately in the 1980s restoration, the design was simplified, and the number of skyscrapers reduced to seven.

I've actually been to the Wiltern twice for concerts and didn't notice a lot of these details, with the theater packed to the gills, and most of my attention directed at the performance on the stage. It never even occurred to me that it was appropriately named after the intersection it calls home, the Wil(shire)-(Wes)tern.

And it's such a staple in LA today, I had no idea the obstacles it had to overcome to survive the way that it has. It's inspiring to think it's never too late – that nothing is too far gone to be saved.

Maybe that means there's hope for some of the rest of us.

Stay tuned for photos from the off-limits areas of the Wiltern, including the projection booth, mechanical room, dressing rooms, and backstage.

Related Post:
Photo Essay: Open House at the Restored Alex Theatre, Magic Hour