Saturday, August 31, 2013

2013 Ardenwood Farm Railroad Fair -- August 31, 2013

Today we went to the 13th annual Labor Day Railfair at Ardenwood Farm.  It was warm. There were no horse-powered train rides this year.  One steam locomotive operated, Ann Marie, an 1890 Porter which was there for the fifth straight year. Anne Marie pulled a three car train: the covered car usually pulled by horses, and two flats.  Anne Marie was not putting out a lot of black smoke, as she had last year.  

I didn't hear or smell the locomotive when we arrived.  The conductor explained that it was at the other end of the line where it spent the night and they were having some trouble getting the fire going.  

I like to catch the first train.  The line at Ardenwood Station kept getting longer and longer during the day. They had signs posted saying that all trips would be one-way, but Deer Park never developed a long line.  We made a round trip on the first train, and later caught one back from Deer Park.  

There was a big Garden Scale display, and a live steam display. 

We saw sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens and turkeys, but no swine.  We got to meet Red, who is now the regular horse on the horse-drawn train rides, and Goliath, who is learning the job.  They are trying to raise the money to buy harness for Goliath.  

Here we see Ann Marie  pushing her train out of Ardenwood Station.  She stayed at that end of the train, pushing to Deer Park and pulling back to Ardenwood. 

Traffic was fine on the Dumbarton Bridge, despite the Bay Bridge being closed.  

Clara Bow #7 -- August 31, 2013

From New Movie, December 1929.  

Clara Bow wearing her new anklet of thirty-four blue-white diamonds set in platinum, also a close-up of the anklet itself.  No, it was not a present from an admirer.  The little star gave it to herself on her birthday. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wally Reid -- What's Your Hurry? -- August 30, 2013

Photoplay Magazine had a page titled "Why-Do-They-Do-It?"  Fans could submit bloopers they had noticed in movies.  Wallace Reid was a popular leading man in the early 1920s, who appeared in many light comedies that involved racing cars.  This example is from the January, 1921 Photoplay.  After being injured while doing a stunt in 1919, Reid became addicted to pain killers and died while trying to break the addiction in 1923.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Yachts Will Spread Their White Wings -- August 29, 2013

From the 22-April-1905 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper.  I wonder if this painting survived the 18-April-1906 Earthquake and Fire.  I doubt it because the headquarters of the Olympic Club burned in the fire.  Click on the image for a larger view. 

With the America's Cup and preliminary races coming to San Francisco Bay this summer, I thought I would post pictures of some racing yachts.  


YACHTS WILL SPREAD THEIR WHITE WINGS

SAN FRANCISCO CLUB OPENS THE SEASON TO-DAY AT SAUSALITO

 Amateur Tars to Receive Guests on Board Gayly Decorated Pleasure Craft.

Jolly Supper and Jinks for the Sailor Boys

 The yachting season of 1905 will be opened to-day. Large flags will fly over the home of the San Francisco Yacht Club at Sausalito and all the available bunting will be employed to decorate the pleasure craft lying at
anchor off the water front. Not quite all the fleet is in commission yet. but the finishing touches are being put on as rapidly as possible and in a week or two all the yachts will be ready for cruising.

During the afternoon there will be music and dancing in the main hall of  the clubhouse , and impromptu receptions on board the yachts. The reception at the clubhouse will be from 2:30 to 530 p. m. At 7 o'clock supper will be served in the boatroom and at 8:15 the yachtsmen and their friends will adjourn to the main hall for the jinks. There will be vocal and instrumental music, story telling an exhibition of Japanese self-defense and other interesting items. At 11 o'clock a light supper will 'be served. At midnight a launch will leave the club float to convey back to San Francisco such of the guests as desire to return to their homes. To-morrow morning: the opening cruise of the season will be taken, the signals being griven from the sloop Challenger, W. G. Morrow's flag ship.

The sloops Espy, Sans Souci, Merope, Amigo and Phoenicia, which for. several seasons past have sailed under the flag of the Corinthian Club, will fly the San Francisco burgee this year. Espy has been renamed Nautilus and Sans Souci will be called White Heather. It is likely that Phoenicia will sail under a new appellation.

On Saturday, the 29th inst. the Corinthian Yacht Club will hold its opening reception and dance in the afternoon at its Tiburon Quarters.  At night the opening jinks will be given.  On Sunday, the 30th, the opening cruise of the season will be held on signal from Commodore T. Jennings' sloop Speedwell.

It has been decided that the opening entertainment of the Oakland Canoe Club shall be held on Saturday, May 6, and the first cruise on Sunday, May 7.  Commodore Charles Stewart's sloop Beatrice, while waiting to go upon the ways at Alameda. had a hole punched in her by a sunken pile. A new plank has been inserted and she is as sound as ever. A schedule of events for the season is nearly ready.

A Dalton Harrison, commodore of the Encinal Yacht Club, announces that the season will be opened on Saturday. May 20 with an afternoon of races and aquatic sports, in which the Oakland Canoe Club has been invited to take part. In the evening a dance will be given in the Encinal clubhouse.

The South Coast Yacht club will open the season with a race on Saturday the 29th inst. The course, will be six miles to leeward of the anchorage off Terminal Island and back. The event is open to all yachts in, the club. The owner of the winning boat will receive a handsome cup presented by J. Pugh.  On June 17 the South Coast Yacht Club will hold one of the most ambitious yacht races ever held on the Pacific Coast. This will be a race from San Pedro around Santa Barbara Island and back, a distance of 110 miles. It is expected that two days will be required to cover the course.

YACHTS PLACED ON CANVAS FOR THE OLYMPIC CLUB


W. A. Coulter, The Call's Marine Artist, Paints a Striking Picture for Louis Rosenfeld.

W. A. Coulter, The Call's marine artist, has just completed a canvas for Louis Rosenfeld, which will interest yachtsmen and all those who love the water. Mr. Coulter, who knows every rope and spar in use on a sailing vessel, has grouped twenty of the best known yachts of the bay on a canvas eight feet by three. Some are reaching on the port tack. Others are running free, while the remainder are on the starboard tack. For a background the artist shows Sausalito, Mount Tamalpais, Alcatraz and Angel islands.

The painting is intended for presentation to the Olympic Club and will be hung in a conspicuous place in the big Post-street building.

Bay Bridge Closed -- August 29, 2013

Last night the Bay Bridge closed so workers can begin the cutover to the new eastern span.  With luck, the bridge will reopen no later than 5am on Tuesday.  I took the photo at the Temporary Transbay Terminal on Tuesday. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Have a Dream 50 -- August 28, 2013

Fifty years ago today, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr stood before the Lincoln Memorial and gave one of the greatest speeches in American culture.  

"I Have a Dream..."

(Copyright 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King

At the "March on Washington"



I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

 This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What Cheer House -- August 27, 2013

This plaque, at Leidsdorff and Sacramento, marks the site of the What Cheer House, a famous San Francisco tea-total hotel founded by Robert Woodward, who later created Woodward's Gardens.

What Cheer House later became a generic name in 19th Century California for hotels that did not serve or sell alcohol. 

http://cablecarguy.blogspot.com/2013/08/ghost-sign-22-august-22-2013.html

Monday, August 26, 2013

1929 Duesenberg Model J Torpedo Convertible Coupe -- August 26, 2013


We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June to drool over their collection of classic autos.  The  boattail 1929 Duesenberg Model J Torpedo Convertible Coupe is posed back-to-back with a 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Boattail.  Walter M Murphy of Pasadena built the body.  I like Duesenbergs. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pier 7 -- August 25, 2013

Looking down Pier 7 towards the Embarcadero and the Transamerica Pyramid.  I took the photo on 30-May-2013. 

It's Hard Work Being a Cat #74 -- August 25, 2013

I took the photo on 20-November-2012. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ardenwood Farm Railroad Fair Coming Soon -- August 24, 2013

If you are looking for something to do this Labor Day weekend, I can recommend the Thirteenth Annual Washington Township Railroad Fair at Ardenwood Historic Farm Regional Park in Fremont. Every year, the Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources brings in a steam locomotive to replace their regular horse-drawn rail operation. There are rides on steam-drawn trains and handcars. There is a large garden railroad display, and all the regular animals and farm equipment and the beautiful Patterson house.

Visiting for the fourth straight year is Ann Marie, an 1890 Porter 0-4-0T, Cortez Mining Company 1. 

It is well worth a visit.  This year the Bay Bridge will be closed for the opening of the new eastern span over Labor Day weekend, so those of us coming from the west may find more traffic than usual on the Dumbarton Bridge.  .

I took this photo of Ann Marie running by her train at Deer Park on Labor Day Weekend, 2012.

The SPCRR is building a car house to provide shelter for its collection.

Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources:
http://www.spcrr.org/

Fair flyer:
http://www.spcrr.org/PDFs/RailfairFlyer2013-color-v1a.pdf

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Famous Figure of Fiction -- August 23, 2013

The first actor to become famous for playing Sherlock Holmes was American William Gillette. Arthur Conan Doyle had killed Sherlock Holmes in 1893, but, needing money, was happy to let Gillette write a four act play, Sherlock Holmes, or The Strange Case of Miss Faulkner. In fact, Gillette had to write the play twice, because the first manuscript burned in the fire at Lucky Baldwin's Hotel and Theater at Powell and Market in San Francisco on 23-November-1898.  Gillette played Holmes more than 1300 times, and his play was the basis for later films with John Barrymore and Basil Rathbone.  The play also introduced a love interest for Holmes, Alice Faulkner. 

Gillette played Holmes in a 1916 feature film for Essanay, which is believed to be lost. The ad is from the 24-December-1916 Bisbee, Arizona Daily Review. Note that the film was "Released through the Big Four -- Vitagraph, Lubin, Selig, Essanay, Inc."  VLSE succeeded the Motion Pictures Patents Company, which had tried to establish a monopoly on film production and distribution. 

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Marian McPartland, RIP -- August 23, 2013

I have spent much of my adult life listening to Marian McPartland's program Piano Jazz on public radio stations, first KQED-FM and then KCSM.  I learned a lot about music from her.  I also thought of her as a living link to Bix Beiderbecke, since her husband Jimmy had taken over as lead cornettist of the Wolverines after Bix moved on. 

Jimmy served in the US Army during World War II and took part in the invasion of Normandy.  He met British pianist Marian Turner in Belgium and they married.  They played together and apart, before and after they divorced in 1970. 

Marian hosted Piano Jazz from 1978 until 2011.  She played duets with everyone. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ghost Sign #22 -- August 22, 2013

I took this photo of a restored ghost sign in Old Sacramento during our visit in July.  What Cheer House was a generic name in 19th Century California for hotels that did not serve alcohol.  There was a What Cheer House at Sacramento and Leidsdorff Streets in San Francisco. 

Elmore Leonard, RIP -- August 22, 2013

Elmore Leonard died.  Good writer.  His ten rules for writing from the 16-July-2001 New York Times:

"1. Never open a book with weather.

"If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

"2. Avoid prologues.

"They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want. 

"There is a prologue in John Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday, but it's O.K. because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: 'I like a lot of talk in a book and I don't like to have nobody tell me what the guy that's talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. . . . figure out what the guy's thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. . . . Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That's nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don't have to read it. I don't want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story.'

"3. Never use a verb other than 'said' to carry dialogue.

"The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with 'she asseverated,' and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.

"4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb 'said' . . .

". . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances 'full of rape and adverbs.'

"5. Keep your exclamation points under control.

"You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.

"6. Never use the words 'suddenly' or 'all hell broke loose.'

"This rule doesn't require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use 'suddenly' tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

"7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

"Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won't be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavor of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories Close Range.

"8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

"Which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway's 'Hills Like White Elephants' what do the 'American and the girl with him' look like? 'She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.' That's the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.

"9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.

"Unless you're Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison. But even if you're good at it, you don't want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

"And finally:

"10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

"A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character's head, and the reader either knows what the guy's thinking or doesn't care. I'll bet you don't skip dialogue."

"My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

"If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Comic Book #26 -- August 21, 2013

Two-Fisted Tales was a famous war comic from EC.  This cover of this issue depicts a scene on a Union ironclad during the US Civil War. 

The image is from the wonderful site CoverBrowser (http://www.coverbrowser.com/).  

Fremont and Mission -- August 21, 2013

Right after I moved into my present office, they tore down the building next door.  They have been excavating and dewatering for a few months, but they must be done now because yesterday they poured concrete in the bottom of the hole.  We speculated on the purpose of the smaller hole in the middle.  Note the big crane on the Fremont Street side.  There is a construction stairway on the side opposite Mission.  I took the photo yesterday. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Grauman's Chinese #29 -- August 20, 2013

In July, 2012 we paid a return visit to Hollywood and Grauman's Chinese Theater.  Sid Grauman was a San Francisco showman who came to Los Angeles and built three major houses, the Million Dollar, the Egyptian, and the Chinese. The theater has hosted many film premieres, but is most famous for the hand and footprints (and hoofprints and nose prints and other types of prints) in the forecourt.
John Wayne left his hand and cowboy boot prints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese on 25-January-1950. Wayne had a long career and led film stars in yearly box office returns for many years.  I enjoy movies from every period of his career, from The Big Trail to the Mascot serials to the Lone Star westerns to the Three Mesquiteers to Stagecoach to the John Ford cavalry films to the war films right up to The Shootist

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pulp #46 -- August 19, 2013

The only issue, Spring 1940, of Civil War Stories

The image is from Phil Stephensen-Payne's wonderful Galactic Central (http://www.philsp.com/).

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Into the Heart of the Heart of America -- August 18, 2013

After he left Mack Sennett, Harry Langdon's first feature on a lucrative First National contract was Tramp Tramp Tramp, the story of cross-country walking race.

This ad is from the 09-March-1926 Film Daily. It is one of a series of cross-country ads to parallel the race.  Here he arrives in Kansas City, "the heart of the heart of America."  Next stop, Des Moines. 

Stockton Street Closed #3 -- August 18, 2013

On Wednesday, I took a walk along Market.  I took this shot of Stockton Street from Ellis, looking towards O'Farrell.  The street is closed to Post for construction of the Central Subway. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nickname #28 -- August 17, 2013

I recently read a wonderful essay by Lt Col Robert Bateman: The Meaning of Oaths and a Forgotten Man.  He talks about how Robert E Lee "was a traitor who should have been executed."  This is because Lee and other Regular Army officers who had sworn to protect and defend the United States should be regarded as traitorous opportunists who had violated their oaths and given up their honor.  He points to the example of George Henry Thomas of Virginia, a Regular Army officer who thought long and hard and when Virginia seceded and decided that "my oath of allegiance to the Federal government always came uppermost."

Colonel Bateman points out that Lee is idolized even though he killed tens of thousands of American soldiers, while Thomas, who remained loyal to his country and earned the nicknames "The Rock of Chickamauga" and "The Sledge of Nashville" by being one of the most effective generals on either side, is largely ignored except by historians.

General Thomas and his men stood fast at Chickamauga, preventing a Union defeat from turning into a rout.  Thomas destroyed Confederate General John Bell Hood's army at Nashville.  He continued to serve his country during Reconstruction. General George Henry Thomas died while serving as Commandant of the Presidio of San Francisco. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bioscope 1 Year -- August 16, 2013

One year ago today, 16-August-2013, Luke McKernan, proprietor of my favorite blog, The Bioscope, announced that "it’s time to call a halt to writing about film, at least for the time being, and in this form. I’ve been writing for the Bioscope for just over five years, and I’ve probably said all I want to say about silent films. It’s become a chore, and I want to be doing other things ... Thank you all old friends and new for having read the blog over these past five years, and for often having said such kind things about it. But it’s time to move on to the next venture, whatever that might be."

This was a stunner.  I had seen blogs end before, usually by just stopping without any announcement or ceremony, but this was a blog with a wealth of good information, good writing, and good fellowship among the writer and the visitors.  I always looked forward to the next post.  I made more comments on The Bioscope than any other blog. 

I encourage anyone who has not visited The Bioscope to go there and look around.  You'll find many wonderful items.  I particularly recommend the About link, which leads to many of the most useful postings on the site. 

I checked with Luke last week to see how he was doing and to ask if he'd mind if I mentioned the anniversary.  He had no problem with it.  He says The Bioscope is history now, but he is concerned about the reference sections, which will gradually become outdated.  He may decide to make some updates in those areas.  Luke said that he is working on a new site about cinema, which will debut later this month.  I'm looking forward to it. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thrills of the Honest Sort -- August 15, 2013

The Oz Film Manufacturing Company, located in Los Angeles, was formed in 1914 to produce movies based on stories by L Frank Baum, the creator of The Wizard of Oz.  The company made some movies, but was not a financial success. This double page ad is from the 29-August-1914 edition of Moving Picture World.  It refers to their first two movies, The Patchwork Girl of Oz and The Magic Cloak of Oz. I'm glad the acting is "Thoroughly Adequate." 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vent'Otto -- August 14, 2013

Car 1818 belongs to the Vent'Otto class of trams from Milan, Italy.  They have proved to be work horses for the San Francisco Municipal Railway's F-Line.  Here we see the Peter Witt car turning from Don Chee Way onto the Embarcadero.  1818 is in the green livery worn by Milan cars until the early 1970s.  When I visited in 1977, most of the trams were orange, but some were still green.  I took the photo on 07-May-2013. "Vent'Otto" means 28, the year the class debuted in Milan.  The plural is "Vent'Otti." 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wells Fargo Museum Closes -- August 13, 2013

I learned yesterday that the Wells Fargo History Museum on Montgomery Street had closed and would not reopen till November.  It is being refurbished.  The windows are covered, but the top of the stagecoach is just visible.  I took the photo yesterday. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hyperloop -- August 12, 2013

Elon Musk was not happy with the details of the California high speed rail project, so he started to think about an alternative, which he said at one time would be a "cross between a Concorde, a rail gun and an air hockey table."

Today he revealed his concept, an elevated pneumatic tube line, with the cars impelled by magnetic levitation and riding on a cushion of air.  He feels the cars could go from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes.  He says that the system would not be practical for distances over 1000 miles.

It might work, although I don't think Musk took the power of NIMBYs into account.  

I thought about Alfred Ely Beach's Beach Pneumatic Subway, which he tested under Broadway, New York for some time after 1870. 

Ferry Building -- August 12, 2013

 San Francisco native Ruth Asawa, who passed away this month, placed many of her sculptures around the city.  One of the favorites with many people is the fountain in the plaza of the Hyatt Union Square Hotel.  The fountain, installed in 1973, was formed using baker's clay, with help from friends and school kids who created some of the people, animals and autos.  It was then cast in bronze.  Unfortunately, the fountain has been threatened by Apple, which wants to replace the building at Post and Stockton with an ugly Apple Store which would displace the fountain.

Here we see the Ferry Building with a sailing ship, a helicopter, and fish, but no ferry boats.  I took this photo on 13-March-2009. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Karen Black, RIP -- August 11, 2013

I was sorry to hear that actress Karen Black had died.  She was very big when I was young.  I admired her work in movies like The Great Gatsby, The Day of the Locust and Family Plot.  I could tell the artists at Mad Magazine liked her because they always took great care in drawing her for the movie satires.  I was thinking just recently that I had not seen her in anything for a long time.  Today we went to mass at Saint Peter's in Pacifica. They have changed more of their methods. The areas at the front where they project hymn lyrics are painted gray and the slides are black on white rather than white on black. From my mom's house, we could hear Outside Lands. This year they did not set up the speakers to make things quieter outside the park. Vampire Weekend was playing during dinner.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Winery Tour -- August 10, 2013

Today we drove to Rohnert Park to take a winery tour.  There was a sign advertising SMART by a stretch of track along the freeway.  I could see where some of the new crossing signals had been installed for SMART and the NWP. 

Our tour guide was Jeff Mathy, proprietor of Vellum Wines (http://www.vellumwines.com/).  It is always nice to talk to someone who is passionate and full of knowledge about his work.

The weather was not as warm as I would have expected in Sonoma County in August.  

Our first stop was Truett-Hurst Winery on Dry Creek Road.  This area has changed a lot since my father was building Warm Springs Dam up the road.  There may have been one or two wineries, but now the valley is full of them.  Truett-Hurst is right on Dry Creek and everything is done in an eco-friendly way.  They have a vegetable garden, fruit, goats, and chickens.  We enjoyed their wine and bought a bottle of their Swallowtail Chardonnay.  All of their wines are named after creatures from the estate.  We would go there again.

We went across the creek to the Raymond Burr Winery.  The setting was pretty but the tasting room was rather small.  Two of his Emmys were on a shelf and people were welcome to take them down and pose for photos.  The wine was good but we were sorry their port will not be available until November.

We drove into Healdsburg and had lunch at the Wild Sage Deli.  The sandwiches were good.  We sat in the outdoor area to eat.

We drove through town and across 101 to visit Merriam Vineyards.  They have a nice new tasting room.  The owners were friends of Jeff and they had an interesting discussion about wine making.  We bought a bottle of Rosé of Pinot Noir. Then we went and sat outside and enjoyed the sun and the breeze.

After that we went to Rodney Strong Vineyards.  They had a very modern, imposing tasting room, and BB King is coming to play September 1, and the man who spoke to us about the wine we tasted was very knowledgeable,  but the operation was very commercial and we didn't like the wine.

Our last stop may have been the best, at Harvest Moon Estate and Winery, near River Road.  It is a small family operation, with a Model A Ford parked out front.  Jeff and the winemaker, Randy Pitt, gave us a wonderful lesson on the way they like to make wine, bucking the trend to make wines with higher alcohol content.  Randy was very enthusiastic about the flavors in his wine.  He let us taste a 2011 Zinfandel and a 2002 to compare. We bought a bottle of dry Gewürztraminer. I took the photo at Harvest Moon today. 

We drove by the Sonoma County Fair to pick up two people, then back to Rohnert Park to get our car.  Traffic was clear all the way to San Francisco.  We stopped in San Rafael to have a light dinner.

It was a nice day. 

It Is a Real De Luxe Train -- August 10, 2013

The Golden State Limited ran from Chicago to Los Angeles over the tracks of the Rock Island and the Southern Pacific's Sunset Route.  This ad, from the July, 1929 Photoplay touts the train's comfort and service.  Actor George O'Brien, a native of San Francisco, was the son of police chief Dan O'Brien.  George was known for his remarkable physique.  He served in the Navy in both world wars and saw combat in each, as a stretcher bearer in the first and a beachmaster in the second. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Orpheum -- August 9, 2013

The Orpheum opened as a vaudeville house in 1926.  Later it had a vaudeville and movies policy.  Now it hosts musicals.  I took the photo on 10-May-2013. 

SamTrans #5 -- August 9, 2013

Having eliminated my DX express bus and others in 2009, SamTrans continues to eliminate service into San Francisco.  Starting 11-August-2013, routes 390 and 391 will be replaced by the ECR (El Camino Real).  ECR will terminate at the Daly City BART station.  The name of the route disregards the work of the highly paid consultant who came up with their numbering scheme about ten years ago. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tom Mix #8 -- August 8, 2013

I like the portrait of Tom Mix in this ad for his movie Hard Boiled, from the 06-May-1926 Film Daily.

Overland Route to Europe, Through America -- August 8, 2013

The Pacific Mail Steamship Company had a monopoly on carrying the United States Mail across the Pacific.  It also did a big business in passengers to and from Australia, New Zealand, the Kingdom of Hawaii, Japan and China. This ad from the 14-November-1876 Brisbane Courier reports the upcoming sailing of Zealandia for Honolulu and San Francisco. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Train Station #62 -- August 7, 2013

San Francisco native Ruth Asawa has placed many of her sculptures around the city.  One of the favorites with many people is the fountain in the plaza of the Hyatt Union Square Hotel.  The fountain, installed in 1973, was formed using baker's clay, with help from friends and school kids who created some of the people, animals and autos.  It was then cast in bronze.  Unfortunately, the fountain has been threatened by Apple, which wants to replace the building at Post and Stockton with an ugly Apple Store which would displace the fountain.

Ruth Asawa passed away Monday night.  

This section of the fountain depicts the old Southern Pacific Depot at Third and Townsend.  The Mission Revival depot opened in 1912, in preparation for the Panama Pacific International Exposition.  The depot was in very bad shape when I was young.  The current Caltrain Depot at Fourth and King opened in 1975. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bessie Love #8 -- August 6, 2013

I have always been fascinated by the career of actress Bessie Love.  She was born in Texas.  Her name was Juanita Horton.  Her family moved to Los Angeles and she went to Los Angeles High School.  Looking for work, she met director  DW Griffith and got a small part in Intolerance.  She appeared in movies with William S Hart and Douglas Fairbanks.  She was a 1922 WAMPAS (Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers) Baby Star.  She played many leading roles, most famously in The Lost World, but never broke through until the talkies came, when she starred in The Broadway Melody.  Her career was hot for a few years, but then tailed off.  She continued to appear in small parts in movies until the early 1980s.

This item, from the February, 1930 New Movie has Bessie in some sort of a preposterous costume. Is it supposed to be from the South Seas?

BART Still Running So Far -- August 6, 2013

BART management failed to negotiate seriously during the 30-day delay.  In fact, the union-busting chief negotiator, who was paid $400,000 to negotiate, was on vacation during much of the period.  Sunday night we were watching the 10 O'Clock News, waiting for the announcement, when union leaders came out and announced that Governor Jerry Brown had ordered no strike or lockout for seven days while a panel investigates the matter.  When they report, he can order a cooling-off period of up to 60 days. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Firehouse #70 -- August 5, 2013

San Francisco native Ruth Asawa has placed many of her sculptures around the city.  One of the favorites with many people is the fountain in the plaza of the Hyatt Union Square Hotel.  The fountain, installed in 1973, was formed using baker's clay, with help from friends and school kids who created some of the people, animals and autos.  It was then cast in bronze.  Unfortunately, the fountain has been threatened by Apple, which wants to replace the building at Post and Stockton with an ugly Apple Store which would displace the fountain.

This section of the fountain depicts Engine 12 on Stanyan Street.  I imagine her helpers created the fire truck and the dog.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Famous Conjuror Dead -- August 4, 2013

An item from the 21-May-1917 Adelaide Register reports the death of John Nevil Maskelyne.  Maskelyne and his partners, first George Cooke then David Devant, invented many standard illusions.  Some sources say that Maskelyne also invented the pay toilet.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Stockton Street Closed #2 -- August 3, 2013

On Thursday, I took a walk by Union Square.  I took this shot of Stockton Street from Post, showing how the street is closed at Geary, all the way to Market.  There are right turn signals installed.  The big yellow thing appears to be a drilling device. 

Dorothy Gish in Flying Pat -- August 3, 2013

Dorothy Gish appeared in Flying Pat for Paramount in 1920.  I don't know much about the movie, but I like the poster.  Dorothy was a fine actress, but her movies are much harder to find than those of her sister Lillian.

I was happy to learn that there will be a blogathon dedicated to both Gish sisters on September 7-9, to celebrate the 101st anniversary of their first appearance in a movie. The blogathon is being hosted by Movies Silently and The Motion Picture.  I'll be there. 


Friday, August 2, 2013

Harry Langdon, Heart Trouble in Australia #2 -- August 2, 2013



I had a request for anything about Harry Langdon's last silent feature under his lucrative First National contract.  Heart Trouble flopped at the box office and we may never know if it was any good because it is considered lost.  I remembered seeing several items in digitized Australian newspapers.  In part one, I gave some of the results, showing the progression from main feature to second feature.  Here we see it shown until 1931, even as talkies came to dominate the market.  Click on each image to see a larger version.  I found the newspapers using the Trove Project, which is digitizing more papers all the time.  I am splitting this post into two parts.  

Part One
Part Two
A review from the December, 1928 Motion Picture Magazine 


"Movie Notes" from the 08-April-1929 Grenfell Record and Lachlan District Advertiser says that in the second feature Heart Trouble, Harry Langdon "Bombs the blues with mirth."   The main feature The Red Dance is supported the second night by a movie we saw twice in part one, Almost Human.

This large ad from the 18-April-1929 Werribee Shire Banner promotes the upcoming showing of Heart Trouble and Buster Keaton's The Cameraman at the Mechanic's Palais.  There is a nice graphic for The Cameraman.  John Ford's Four Sons was coming first. Sorry I had to split it into three pieces. 

By 17-June-1929, this ad from the Hobart Mercury says that Heart Trouble was playing on the island of Tasmania.  Note the item at the bottom: "BOX PLAN OPENS TO-DAY FOR 'THE JAZZ SINGER,' the first "TALKIE"



The 09-October-1929 Townsville Daily Bulletin, from the northeast coast of Queensland, has Heart Trouble as the main feature with a Carlyle Blackwell movie.  Harry "Bombs the blues with mirth" and is described as "the frozen-faced Comedian."  I had never seen "frozen-faced" used to describe Harry Langdon.


Two days later, the 11-October-1929 Townsville Daily Bulletin reported Heart Trouble was playing at a different theater as second feature to a Hoot Gibson movie.

This article, from the 15-September-1929 Perth Sunday Times, reports that Hal Roach has announced that he will be producing one talkie comedy a week, featuring stars such as Laurel and Hardy, Charley Chase, Our Gang, and Harry Langdon. 

This article from the 24-March-1930 Northern Star of Lismore New South Wales, says that a Hal Roach talkie short featuring Harry and Thelma Todd, "Hotter than Hot" is playing with Mary Nolan's first talkie, Shanghai Lady.  This probably decreased peoples' interest in Harry's silents. 



Meanwhile, way down yonder in Tasmania, the 07-June-1930 Burnie Advocate reported that the Burnie Theatre featured film of the arrival of aviatrix (love that word) Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from Great Britain to Australia, which was playing with a talkie, King Vidor's Hallelujah.  The Davenport Majestic Theatre and Town Hall played Life's Circus, which was a silent German movie called Manege according to the IMDB, along with Heart Trouble as a second feature.  I threw in the ad for Lon Chaney in West of Zanzibar for the Chaney fans. 

In Melbourne, the 26-November-1930 Argus has Heart Trouble playing second feature to an Australian movie, When the Kellys Were Out, which must have been about Ned Kelly's gang, in a kiddie show, the Regent Children's Party.  Other movies on the bill were a chapter of Tarzan the Tiger and an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon.  There was also a live show with a cowboy, a contortionist, dancing clowns, and other novelties.  I included the ad for the grown-up show, Caught Short, a talkie with Marie Dressler and Polly Moran.  That is a crappy title for a movie.

Even as late as 31-March-1931, the Northern Standard, from Darwin, Northern Territory, carried an article about Heart Trouble before a local showing.  It says that Harry Langdon "is an exponent of a type of comedy which seems particularly suited to himself and one other comedian -- Buster Keaton.  The art of gesture is one in which these two are extraordinarily versed..." 

Another Darwin newspaper, the Northern Territory Times, carried an ad for a showing of Heart Trouble as second feature to what appears to be a Russian circus film, or a European circus film shot in Russia.  I couldn't identify it in the IMDB, even looking at a list of Italian diva Marcella Albani's films.

The same issue of the Northern Territory Times also carried an ad about "unusual stunts" in Heart Trouble, but doesn't describe them.

The last reference I could find to Heart Trouble was in the 18-April-1931 Adelaide Advertiser and Register as the second feature to a talkie, Ladies Love Brutes

At the same time that Heart Trouble was playing in Australian theaters, I found ads for most of Harry's other silent features, Tramp Tramp Tramp, The Strong Man, Long Pants, Three's a Crowd, and The Chaser.  I didn't find the Sennett feature His First Flame, but I wasn't looking for it.  Perhaps, as some writers have suggested, the Australian market, like the American, was saturated with Harry Langdon. 

Harry visited Australia in 1936 to appear in a stage production of Anything Goes