June 03, 2015

Photo Essay: Obscura Day 2015

On May 30, 2015, over 30 countries and over 35 U.S. states coordinated to host over 150 events all on one day, in each of their respective time zones. Eighteen of those events were in Los Angeles County. Five of those events were planned by me. Four of them sold out.

Graphic: Atlas Obscura

I'm pretty proud of my first Obscura Day as a field agent for Atlas Obscura.

Unlike most of my events for the Los Angeles Obscura Society, these were all repeats for me. For that many events to occur in one day, I couldn't go into uncharted territory. I had to rely on people and places that I knew wouldn't let me down.

At my first stop of the day, I was surprised at how much Rockhaven Sanitarium had been cleaned up since I visited in 2013.

After all, these places aren't frozen in time.

But unlike most other vacant properties, conditions at Rockhaven have actually improved over the last couple of years.

Volunteers have managed to clear out a lot to make more structures' interiors accessible by visitors during these rare tours.

I was so happy to be back at Rockhaven, but I was on a tight schedule, and had to depart Montrose for Sun Valley to get to my next event.

A thirty minute drive later, I arrived at Dapper Cadaver, behind the Burbank Airport. Having minored in biology in college, I'm always pretty comfortable around medical equipment and weird bones and skeletons and animal carcasses.

And Halloween stuff soothes me at any time of year. I might not look like it, but I feel a kinship with the goths and the horror fans. I just don't wear my dark, black soul on my sleeve quite as much as others do.

For my next stop, I returned to Valley Relics for a more lighthearted romp, satisfying my love for classic cars (including one once owned by Nudie Cohn, the Rodeo Tailor responsible for the Rhinestone Cowboy movement)...

...and neon signs. But while it seems as though Valley Relics couldn't be any more in my wheelhouse, it was missing one thing: pinball.

So for my final bow of Obscura Day, I was able to relax amidst the clanging and the thumping and bumping at a private collection of pinball machines in Pasadena.

I didn't even have to play any of the machines. I loved just sitting there and absorbing all of the lights and sounds. But, of course, I couldn't resist playing at least a few rounds with Elvis, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Evil Knievel.

An unexpected surprise at the pinball party was a vintage Metal Typer machine, which, for 50 cents, will stamp a custom message onto a metal "Good Luck" coin. I was proud to create a badge of honor, identifying myself as Field Agent Sandi.

Could there be any one day more emblematic of me and my quirky interests and particular expertise? Could I be more thrilled that so many people in LA share my interests – or, at least, are adventurous and curious enough to explore them?

For more photos of the day, click here.

Related Posts:
EVENT: Obscura Day 2015
Photo Essay: Book Arts at the International Printing Museum
Photo Essay: Rockhaven Sanitarium, Closed to Public, Exterior
Photo Essay: Rockhaven Sanitarium, Closed to Public, Interior
Photo Essay: Curiosity Crawl at Dapper Cadaver
Photo Essay: Relics from The Valley
Photo Essay: Pinball Forever (Or, At Least, Since the 1930s)

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