From the Stacks: 'The Los Angeles Book'
It has been years since I looked through “The Los Angeles Book” and even longer since I read it. Then several weeks ago, I bought a copy so I could point out a particular photo of Chavez Ravine to a Chapman University student who was interviewing me for a documentary on the Dodgers.
Muscle Beach by Max Yavno.
Granted, I post Shippey’s columns because he writes about a broad variety of subjects, but his text for “The Los Angeles Book” is like an almanac. I didn’t detect any glaring factual errors, but he ignores quite a bit of history and is muted in his criticism. For example, his harshest words about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is: “Uncle Sam now is spending a few millions to compensate for the shameful wrongs done then.”
Carthay Circle Theater by Max Yavno.
Oil derricks and City Hall by Max Yavno.
Chavez Ravine by Max Yavno.
Yavno’s photograph of Chavez Ravine is the reason I bought the book. The Times file photos I have found of the area were taken after most of the houses were cleared away. This is the only image I know that shows what it was like before the bulldozers rolled. Notice the dirt road and ramshackle mailboxes, the antithesis of the post-World War II mania for modernization.
LOS ANGELES IN 50,000 B.C.
MOST PEOPLE think of Los Angeles as an egregious young upstart, fed on real estate-promotion hormones till it has grown abnormally. But visit its County Museum or La Brea Tar Pits and you learn it has a past long antedating history. It is the only great city which can show you what life was like within its borders fifty thousand years ago.
Though it is a good museum in many ways, the Tar Pit discoveries are the main reason why some millions of visitors, including paleontologists from other lands, have gone to the County Museum. Most of them gape in wonder at reconstructed creatures they can hardly believe ever existed anywhere.
Some of them joke that a paleontologist is a guy who can reconstruct the jawbone of a donkey into a dinosaur. But when scientists declared that some of the skeletons dug up in the Tar Pits were "at least fifty thousand years old," G. Allan Hancock, who owned the property, presented it to the county, and it became Hancock Park.