08a Belasco Theater – New Wine Bar on Balconly Level (E)-Level E

Level E
Level E

08a Belasco Theater – New Wine Bar on Balconly Level (E)
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark No. 476
__________

The Belasco Theater, 1926
1046 – 1054 S Hill St.
Downtown, South Park, Los Angeles, CA
Morgan, Walls, and Clements

On February 26, 2011, we were invited by the Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation (LAHTF) to preview the newly restored Belasco Theater on Hill Street, in the South Park neighborhood of Downtown Los Aneles. Ordinarily, "adaptive reuse" is a dirty word to a hard-core preservationist, but the rennovations made to the Belasco are sensitive to the architecture, and give new life to an otherwise vacant building. Working with the LAHTF and the Los Angeles Conservancy, the owner of the Belansco has created a wonderful, and vibrant entertainment complex. Restored to Department of Interior standards, and adapted for a multitude of uses, this theater is destined to become a new Los Angeles hot spot.

The story goes that Edward Doheny, who lived just southwest in Chester Place, wanted a theater closer to his residence. At the time, many of the older theaters on Broadway were in decline and beginning to turn burlesque. On land owned by his oil company, he commissioned Morgan, Walls, and Clements to create two new venues — the Belasco (HCM-476) with a close space designed for plays, and the Mayan (HCM-460), for musicals. The theaters were completed and opened in 1926 and 1927 respectively. They Mayan took on a pre-columbian theme, while the Belasco incorporaes several different Spanish themes, including: Churrigueresque, Spanish Renaissance, Moorish, and Gothic. Doheeny choose Frederick Belasco (brother to David and Edward Belasco of the New York Belasco theaters) to run the new venue. The Belasco’s opening production was Gentlement Prefer Blonds. After the theater closed, it was converted into a movie palace, became home to the Gospel Temple, and later the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), before being acquired by the current owner.

I love my little point-and-shoot Sony T100. However, in the low light of the theater I had to use the OSI setting. As a result the interior appears an erie Victorian red, even though it’s mostly blue and gold. No amount of tinting would help, so the pictures are what they are.

After the tour we decided to take a walk around the block to see what other architectural treasures were in the neighborhood:

— The Mayan Theater (HCM-460). 1040 S Hill St. Built in 1927, the theater opened with George Gershwin’s "Oh Key." It was designed by Morgan, Walls, and Clements, and is only one of eight buildings in Los Angeles designed in the Pre-Columbian (Mayan Revival) style. The hand-carved wall scuptures were created by Mexican artist Francisco Cornejo.

— The White Log Cabin Coffee Shop. Across the street from the Belasco is an amazing little piece of Los Angeles Programmatic archiecture in the form of a quaint log cabin. Built in 1932 and designed by Kenneth Bemis, it began life as the White Log Cabin Coffee Shop. Later it was painted red and became Tony’s Burgers. Today it survives as the El Comedor Mexican Grill.

— The YWCA (Woman’s Athletic Club). 1031 S Broadway. Designed by Allison and Allison in the Italian Renaissance style, the structure is impressive but in sad need of repair. Today it serves as a home of the Los Angeles Jobs Corps.

— The Herold-Examiner (NRHP-92000382, HCM-178). 1111 S Broadway. The Harold-Examiner is a Mission and Spanish Colonial Revival masterpiece, built in 1912 by legendary California architect Julia Morgan, for William Randolph Hearst. It is said she took inspiration from A. Page Brown’s California Building of the 1983 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, however Gebhard and Winters owe this more to a coinciidence of styles. The building’s colorful domes and open-arched arcades are it’s most notable features, but the arches were closed in during a 10-year strike that lasted from 1967 to 1977. The Herold-Examiner finally closed it’s doors November 2, 1989, and the building — still owned by the Hearst family — has remained shuttered ever since. Despite a scare in the early 1990’s when the Hearst family wanted to tear down the building for a parking lot, it survives in relatively good condition (thanks in part to community outcry and it’s designation as both a National Register of Historic Places and a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Ladmark).

The Belasco Theater: thebelasco.com/Main/Main.htm
The Mayan Theater: clubmayan.com/
The Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation (LAHTF): www.lahtf.org/
Wikipedia: The Los Angeles Herold-Examiner: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Herald-Examiner

Level E
Level E

08b Belasco Theater – New Wine Bar on Balconly Level (E)
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark No. 476
__________

The Belasco Theater, 1926
1046 – 1054 S Hill St.
Downtown, South Park, Los Angeles, CA
Morgan, Walls, and Clements

On February 26, 2011, we were invited by the Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation (LAHTF) to preview the newly restored Belasco Theater on Hill Street, in the South Park neighborhood of Downtown Los Aneles. Ordinarily, "adaptive reuse" is a dirty word to a hard-core preservationist, but the rennovations made to the Belasco are sensitive to the architecture, and give new life to an otherwise vacant building. Working with the LAHTF and the Los Angeles Conservancy, the owner of the Belansco has created a wonderful, and vibrant entertainment complex. Restored to Department of Interior standards, and adapted for a multitude of uses, this theater is destined to become a new Los Angeles hot spot.

The story goes that Edward Doheny, who lived just southwest in Chester Place, wanted a theater closer to his residence. At the time, many of the older theaters on Broadway were in decline and beginning to turn burlesque. On land owned by his oil company, he commissioned Morgan, Walls, and Clements to create two new venues — the Belasco (HCM-476) with a close space designed for plays, and the Mayan (HCM-460), for musicals. The theaters were completed and opened in 1926 and 1927 respectively. They Mayan took on a pre-columbian theme, while the Belasco incorporaes several different Spanish themes, including: Churrigueresque, Spanish Renaissance, Moorish, and Gothic. Doheeny choose Frederick Belasco (brother to David and Edward Belasco of the New York Belasco theaters) to run the new venue. The Belasco’s opening production was Gentlement Prefer Blonds. After the theater closed, it was converted into a movie palace, became home to the Gospel Temple, and later the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), before being acquired by the current owner.

I love my little point-and-shoot Sony T100. However, in the low light of the theater I had to use the OSI setting. As a result the interior appears an erie Victorian red, even though it’s mostly blue and gold. No amount of tinting would help, so the pictures are what they are.

After the tour we decided to take a walk around the block to see what other architectural treasures were in the neighborhood:

— The Mayan Theater (HCM-460). 1040 S Hill St. Built in 1927, the theater opened with George Gershwin’s "Oh Key." It was designed by Morgan, Walls, and Clements, and is only one of eight buildings in Los Angeles designed in the Pre-Columbian (Mayan Revival) style. The hand-carved wall scuptures were created by Mexican artist Francisco Cornejo.

— The White Log Cabin Coffee Shop. Across the street from the Belasco is an amazing little piece of Los Angeles Programmatic archiecture in the form of a quaint log cabin. Built in 1932 and designed by Kenneth Bemis, it began life as the White Log Cabin Coffee Shop. Later it was painted red and became Tony’s Burgers. Today it survives as the El Comedor Mexican Grill.

— The YWCA (Woman’s Athletic Club). 1031 S Broadway. Designed by Allison and Allison in the Italian Renaissance style, the structure is impressive but in sad need of repair. Today it serves as a home of the Los Angeles Jobs Corps.

— The Herold-Examiner (NRHP-92000382, HCM-178). 1111 S Broadway. The Harold-Examiner is a Mission and Spanish Colonial Revival masterpiece, built in 1912 by legendary California architect Julia Morgan, for William Randolph Hearst. It is said she took inspiration from A. Page Brown’s California Building of the 1983 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, however Gebhard and Winters owe this more to a coinciidence of styles. The building’s colorful domes and open-arched arcades are it’s most notable features, but the arches were closed in during a 10-year strike that lasted from 1967 to 1977. The Herold-Examiner finally closed it’s doors November 2, 1989, and the building — still owned by the Hearst family — has remained shuttered ever since. Despite a scare in the early 1990’s when the Hearst family wanted to tear down the building for a parking lot, it survives in relatively good condition (thanks in part to community outcry and it’s designation as both a National Register of Historic Places and a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Ladmark).

The Belasco Theater: thebelasco.com/Main/Main.htm
The Mayan Theater: clubmayan.com/
The Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation (LAHTF): www.lahtf.org/
Wikipedia: The Los Angeles Herold-Examiner: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Herald-Examiner

Level E
Level E

LEVEL Magazine, Issue 44: Pages 34-35
The last spread from a 6-page article written by Johan Martinsson about my book, The Excavation of Mushroom Island.

Special thanks to Mózsi Kiss for providing the following translation.

************************************************************************

Page 34 – When LEVEL gets a hold of Logan Zawacki, he says that he is now 28 years old and the manager of the photographic laboratory at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida.

28 years. That means that he would have been four years old in 1983, when he supposedly received his first science grant. Something is – as you have of course understood already – not right here.

It turns out that it is all made up. The scholarship, the subterranean tunnel, the forgotten island, the whole story.

Or not all of it. One of these things actually does exist. The book where all this was documented.

It is 76 beautiful pages filled with excavated skeletons from Mario’s world, tons of facts and topographical maps of the invented islands – complete with places such as the “Pipe Maze,” “Vanilla Dome,” and the “Castle of Koopa.”

“Imagine if Mario’s universe really had existed! That idea made me take on the assignment of interpreting the Mario mythology from a more realistic and scientific point of view,” says Zawacki. “Science has always used skeletons as physical proof of ancient cultures, so I decided to do the same.”

Zawacki started searching for pictures of real skeletal parts that could be used to illustrate the fossilized remains of the Mario characters.

“Every fossil consists of several different components that I have joined together. For example, I created Bowser’s skeleton by combining skeletal parts from a bear, an iguana, a turtle and a dolphin.”

After creating the images of the fossils, Zawacki fixed them to the paper through a printing technique that was considered out-dated already in 1860 – all in order to give the reader a feeling of flipping through an old book on anatomy.

The result feels so authentic, it is difficult not to be convinced that both goombas and chain chomps really existed, once upon a time. But the book also lets us know that they do not exist anymore – an insight which leaves the reader unexpectedly discouraged.

The Mushroom Kingdom is one of the places where time stands still. Peach, Luigi and Mario can never age and die – they can only play their roles over and over in a drama that is repeated in infinite, timeless cycles.

But the Excavation of Mushroom Island sees that world in the rear-view mirror. It has been destroyed. All its inhabitants are dead. Page 20 shows the skeleton of the Princess. Zawacki reports that an examination of the body revealed that she had a large tumor in her left breast. On page 49, we learn that a Homo Sapiens male dressed in a green cap with an L-shaped character had been trapped in a pipe and had starved to death. Page 55 reveals the discovery of a human head, which had been separated from the rest of the body by a falling block in the Donut Caverns. It is Mario.

The immortal are dead, and it feels wrong.

“The fact that all the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom were dead became inevitable the exact moment I decided to present them as fossils from a long lost time. And I understood that I had to explain why the characters died to place them in a credible reality – where all people, plants and mythological things have one thing in common: death.”

Page 35 – It is unclear what Shigeru Miyamoto thinks of Logan Zawacki’s scientifically unsentimental way of killing all his iconic characters – but all things considered, it is difficult to think that the game genius would feel anything but honored by “The Excavation of Mushroom Island.”

Not because it confirms that he has always made historically correct games – but because it confirms that he has made something much more than this. He has created his own history. He has fantasized and turned his fantasies into physical reality.

Once upon a time, the idea of a plumber who jumped on small two-legged brown animals and collected coins to get extra lives, was just some funny thoughts in the head of a young Japanese game designer. Today, Mario is a reality for billions of people.

“The Excavation of Mushroom Island” is a tribute to the fantasy and its incredible power. It is difficult to imagine a better way to show Shigeru Miyamoto respect.

[The caption: To order Logan Zawacki’s book “The Excavation of Mushroom Island,” send an e-mail to LZcreations@hotmail.com]

Level E

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