"From the Desert to the Sea, to All of Southern California." - Jerry Dunphy

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Goodbye 2010, Happy New Year

Okay so this is not the baby new year, its me in April 1955 at 3 months old. Judging by the picture I either had gas or a future revelation about how lousy the year of 2010 would be. I am not sad to see it go. I am reminded of the old adage for pilots, any landing is a good landing. However some are bumpier than others and for me, and a few good friends this was a bumpy year, bring on 2011. Happy New Year 2011!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Movies with Ida "Pumpkin" Duncan

This year I have seen move of the old traditional Christmas movies on TV then I recall seeing in a long time. From the numerous Scrooge versions to Christmas in Connecticut. AMC has been highlighting a few old perennials, Holiday Inn, White Christmas and A Miracle on 34th Street.

I remember the first time I saw Holiday Inn and White Christmas as a double bill on TV. It was back in the early 1960's. I was downstairs being babysat by our family friend and neighbor Ida Duncan. She had told me about the movies and invited me down to see them. The big thrill being she and her husband Duke had a color TV. I don't think I had ever seen anything on TV in color before. While I actually preferred the movie Holiday Inn, I was enthralled by the look and color of White Christmas. I think I also developed a slight crush on Rosemary Clooney. It was a great evening that I now relive everytime I see either of these movies.

I was very fond of Ida and even came up with the nickname "Pumpkin" Duncan for her. Granted it was silly but she and I enjoyed it. Eventually her and her husband moved to a small house which I seem to recall was off of Sepulveda near Roscoe. We kept in touch for a few years but as happens we eventually lost track of each other. The picture above is her next to her apartment below us at 13760 Sherman Way in Van Nuys.

Last time I looked on Google street view the apartment building was still there, looking much the same as it did back then. Merry Christmas to Ida wherever you are and the ghost of Christmas past.

 Ida Duncan 1960 above
 Ida and Duke Duncan above. Don't know who the child is.

Duke was a contractor. I once went with him to a job he had laying down a driveway. I was very young and probably not a lot of help. It may have been the first time I ever rode in a pickup truck, and now I own one

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas

Santa and I want to wish everyone who has visited our blog this past year a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Christmas 1961, our apartment on Sherman Way, Van Nuys CA.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Two Lane Blacktop

Here is a link to an interesting article about the cult car classic movie from 1971, Two Lane Blacktop, starring James Taylor, Dennis Wilson and Warren Oates. Two Lane Blacktop and Vanishing Point make 1971 one of the better years for road pictures. The article is an interview with the director and has behind the scene photographs as well.


I saw both movies on the big screen. I recall seeing Vanishing Point with my Dad and we both liked the film, and I fell in love with the Dodge Challenger. I think I saw Two Lane Blacktop with a friend. Both movies are low budget classics worth hunting down.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

RKO Encino Movie Ranch Link

Tonight I stumbled across a wonderful website about the old RKO movie Ranch in Encino, which most of us know as Balboa Park, bordered by Oxnard Blvd. to the north, and Burbank Blvd. to the south. Balboa to the east and Louise to the west.

The site has photos of the lot locations and the productions that used the lot such as "It's a Wonderful Life", as seen in the photo above, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and many others.

Click on the photos and then click on the expand box in the lower right corner to see the photo in a larger size.


I remember all those years we hung out in the park playing baseball, and other "wholesome activities" and I never knew the history of the park. You would think they would have a plaque or some form of commemoration for the old studio ranch.

While I'm at it, here is a link to the Culver Studios backlot and more:




I bought my first computer in 1984. It was a small, cheesy thing, called a Sinclair. It was small with touch pad keys and was no fun to use. A few years later I upgraded to A Radio Shack portable. Again not the best, but it cost almost $2,000. After I got used to it I decided to experiment with a word processing program and create some ASCII art. One of my creations is above. It looks something like an Indian designed Thunderbird blanket. It is by no means a remarkable piece, but what I find remarkable is that at one time I had the patience to sit at my desk for hours and punch codes to create this. Back then I was still a bachelor, working long hours and somehow I found doing this in my spare time relaxing. It pains me to admit to having no life back then, but I guess I created something out of it and it was better than watching TV. Maybe I was listening to an Eagles record at the time. Yes it was still the age of vinyl LP's and cassette tapes.

These types of things are much easier to create now but somehow doing it longhand if you will makes it seem like more of an accomplishment. I think of this when ever I use Photoshop or when I record music digitally instead of using tape decks. Perhaps there is still a place for the old ways. The musician Eric Johnson on recently began recording his albums digitally. There is still a studio in New York City, the name of which escapes me at the moment, dedicated to analog recording. Steely Dan has used it to recorded the rhythm tracks for their records. Many of use still believe analog is better for many things, including the bottom end.