Friday, July 30, 2004


Amazing Places #1

Clifton's "Brookdale" Cafeteria
648, South Broadway (at 7th)
Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles is one of the most mind-blowing places in the whole of the USA, and the crazy thing is - hardly anybody who lives in LA actually goes there [well if they live in West LA, Hollywood, Santa Monica etc]. In the five or six times, I've been in LA - I'd never been in Downtown before earlier this month, when I decided to try out the new subway system and go to check out the Bradbury Building. Downtown is like nowhere else, at street level it could be Mexico City - then glance up and you're surrounded by unbelievable 1920's / 30's art-deco buidlings - office blocks, old movie houses and theatres. More on this later when i finish printing & scanning my photos from this excursion.

One of the most incredible places I came across, completely by accident, was the Clifton's "Brookdale" Cafeteria, from street level these days it doesn't look like very much, but the art deco mosaic in the sidewalk outside must have caught my eye. Walk in and you are surrounded by the most insane decor - back in 1935, the owners of this establishment had decided that they were going to build an entire Redwood Forest inside their cafeteria... there are rock sculptures, fake giant trees, a twenty foot cascading waterfall, babbling brooks, a little stone chapel, Moose heads, giant murals of forests... all surrounding you as you sit eating, in the split level dining areas. Unfortunately they no longer have the live organist or the singing waiters and canaries.

The "Brookdale" is the only surviving establishment of several cafeterias, built by the Clifford / Clinton family - they also had the Polynesian themed "Pacific Seas" complete with an outdoor waterfall & volcano.

The food is very simple 'serve yourself' cafeteria style fair - and they have always operated a policy that they would never turn anyone away hungry, during the depression 10,000 people ate there for free... and even now they say "Pay what you wish; dine free unless delighted", which is pretty unusual, especially for Los Angeles.

Unfortunately I was unable to take any photos inside this establishment, but pay a visit to their website: , for the full story, in the meantime here is a vintage postcard that will give you a taste of how it looks, even after almost seventy years.


Thursday, July 29, 2004


Keeping it Lubricated.

Well you know what they say... as you get into your forties then the human brain begins to calcify, to dry out, to solidify. Like a discarded piece of bathroom sponge that's fallen down the back of the toilet, like a white & crumbling piece of coral - that when you're trying to swim ashore gets caught by the edge of your flippers, and pinged into depths. Like that old plant that's out on your balcony, that you forgot was there and hasn't had a drop of water in six months, like a... well you get the point.

I've kind of been worrying about my mind getting like that, so this winter
(Aussie winter) I've decided that it must be kept well lubricated at
all costs. Which means learning, growth and the stimulation of the brain
cells, before permanent deterioration sets in. So it's two months of serious
adult education for me:

Adios mi amigos y amigas.

Monday, July 26, 2004


A New Instrument of Scrutiny

When you're feeling a bit fed up, bored and listless - you know that there is no better remedy than.... SHOPPING, the greatest cure to be found in this world or the next.

Luckily this weekend i had the opportunity to bond with the legions of
camera ubergeeks, at the Sydney Camera Market, rummaging through
piles of vintage cameras, lenses, filters and totally useless accessories -
in the hope of finding, erm! well not sure exactly what.

Olympus PenHowever managed to come away with a very interesting piece of equipment, a 1968 Olympus Pen EE2 half-frame camera. What that actually means is
that it takes, photos that are half the size of a regular 35mm negative, on an ordinary film. So you end up getting 48 shots from a 24 exposure film or a crazy 72 shots from a 36!!!! The viewfinder is in portrait mode, the opposite way up from all other cameras. It's a tiny pocket-size thing, but solid steel and seriously sturdy, very simple - but it's supposed to give really good results. We'll see... weather has been a bit grim today, so haven't had the chance to take it for a test drive, but for $20 AUD, I'm sure it's going to be worth it...


The Conspiracy of Fates

Have you ever had that? Just when you think your life is going pretty good,
when you've just about got everything under your control, then suddenly Fate
sticks it's oversize boot out from behind a bush and sends you flying - face
down in the dirt?

Well I guess that is what happened to me two weeks ago... arrived back in
Sydney [ all in one piece after a five week trip from Barcelona via Berlin,
London, New York, Minneapolis & Los Angeles ], everything looking good,
looking forward to finding a new apartment, getting all my material goods
out of storage, hooking up with my friends - then WHACK!

I get laid low with really bad abdominal pains, and am unable to do anything
apart from lay down & whinge. At the earliest opportunity i get down to the
medical centre for some help, and the doctor sends me off for a protracted
series of blood and ultrasound tests. These appear to show that i have
several stones in my gall bladder, which are causing me pain by getting
stuck in the exit tube preventing bile [ that breaks down fats in your body
] from escaping.

So he packs me off to the hospital in order to speak to the surgeon in case
I need an operation to whip the offending gall bladder organ, right out of
there. Even in my pained state i begin to think that's a bit extreme. So
St.Vincents Hospital insists on keeping me in overnight for observation and
more tests despite my protestations, to be honest I've heard so many horror
stories about the place from friends I was more nervous about staying there
overnight. However next morning I'm pretty much back to normal, so they feed
me delicious hospital jelly and send me home.

However, not before warning me that I will probably have to lay off fatty
food... forever. No more bacon sandwiches, skimmed instead of full fat milk,
no chocolate, no red meat, chicken without the skin only, Thai food but no
peanut sauce, no cheese, no butter, less beer... Thats all the major food

So for the last ten days I've been in denial, I'm supposed to go back to the
doctors for more tests - but i certainly don't want to do it without being
armed with more information. Surgery indeed, i can't help but think that
there must be some kind of alternative to sharp & cutty instruments, & me
wearing one of those green backless, hospital gowns with my spotty ass
hanging out. Although they say it can be over in two days, keyhole surgery
in & out, i just don't believe them - it's a problem I have with medical
authority. Else where i've been reading about how the surgery doesn't really
achieve anything, and you can be on a drainage drip for two weeks after. To
hell with that!

Just through a cursory flip through the web, I've found out that I can do a
Gall Bladder Flush by drinking a pint of olive oil & lemon juice, which is
supposed to get rid of all the impurities... not pleasant, but has to be
better than going under the blade. [ Thanx N&N ]
Also i'm supposed to eat as many green vegatables, green juices & Spirolena
as i possibly can - funny how they never tell you those things in the
doctor's surgery or in the hospital. I suppose that it's more in their
interests to keep you in the 'slice & dice' system.

Luckily I'm feeling much better now, although I am gagging for a bacon
sandwich and a Mars bar... there's some things apples just cannot beat!

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