L.A.-ish Quickie

I made a little trip down to the L.A. area on Saturday to grab some photos.  Some reshoots, some things that have been on my list for awhile, and some unexpected discoveries.

Here’s a nice ripple tin oldie from Echo Park (Los Angeles):


Here’s a batch of stuff from Covina:


I have no idea how old this one is.  Certainly, the text is new or if this place has always been Baskin-Robbins.  If it has always been a B-R, the text was updated as the company updated the logo.  It’s not often you see a B-R neon sign.  I’m assuming it’s lit at night and fantasizing that it’s pink and blue neon:


I’d love to know what this big monster advertised for originally:


A cutie-patootie from Glendora:


Equally or more cute in Covina.  I’m assuming there was a different biz here originally with different letters — but I can live with this transformation:


A close-up of Mr. Cinderblock (my name):


Some signs from San Bernardino:



I wonder how many layers of paint are there:


One more from San Bernardino.  I believe this has always been backlit plastic (not neon) but I could be wrong.  The place opened in 1961 but, unfortunately, it closed last year:


Moving on to some buildings — a repurposed Fotomat in Covina:


This place in Covina blew me away — love the angled sign and the decapitated pyramid.  I’m guessing 1970s:


How about this shredded brick corner?  Does anyone remember the BEST Product Showrooms?



It turns out, there are FIVE other locations similar to this.  You can bet, I’ll be shooting them all!


Moving on to one of my obsessions:  Bear Alignment signs.  They’ll be the subject of my feature for the the Winter SCA Journal issue — what’s the SCA Journal?  If you’re not a member, and you like signs and buildings and Americana, you wanta become a member so you’re not missing out.  Or you can buy a few Journals just to get a taste here:


I’ve been adding to this little page for awhile which explains a bit about these signs and shows examples from around the country:

This weekend, I bumped into this little funky sign in Covina with the happy Bear:


One of the priorities of this trip was shooting this Bear Alignment shop Glendora, CA.  I believe this is the only wheel alignment shop in-the-round.  One of the things that makes Bear shops unique is the equipment and the pit.  Not having lifts makes servicing faster.  You pull forward, and the mechanics get right to work:



Note that little bridge stairway in the photo above?  Upstairs, the owner shared with the this framed vintage aerial photo:


and this one:


The upstairs office is original (1960s)!


The Bear sign in Corona was restored last year.  I shot it last year but had a shadow from that palm tree.  This time, the light was right!


The shop is very proud of its Bear-ness.  Painted bears in the front window – and even the workers have embroidered bears on their shirts.  Here’s the manager, Paul, who told me he’s considering adding some animation or flashing to the sign.  I explained to him that the Vodie’s Bear shop in Garden Grove recently restored their giant bear sign and added back the original moving mouth.  Paul seemed enthusiastic about doing that.  I mentioned that most cities have strict laws about moving signs.  He seemed to think it wouldn’t be a problem since the city was very happy about the restoration of this sign.


This former Helm’s Bakery building in San Bernardino was a surprise.  Yeah, it’s pretty junked up now but the Art Deco details are still nice:




The incredible library is in Covina:




One more sign for you.  Maybe not all that special but I’m very sentimental about it.  My apartment is on a hill and when I take the dogs out for their final pee break before bed, I always look down the street to see the top few letters of the sign lit up at the bottom of the hill.  Green’s my favorite color as well.   And since you never know when one of these neon signs will disappear, I treasure it nightly.   I know there’s supposed to be black-out tape between the letters but I like it better this way.  There’s another, nearly identical “LIQUOR” sign just up the block with red neon.  I’d better get off my butt and shoot that one soon.  So, here’s the Avenue Liquor Store in Ventura:


I’ll be back soon with more stuff soon since  I need to give Sparkle some stress tests before the 3-week June trip.

More stuff from Saturday at my Flickr stream here:

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

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