Tuesday, January 26, 2010


"... the automobile is the handiest tool ever devised for the pursuit of that unholy, unwholesome, all-American trinity of sex, speed and status." - bruce mccall

In 1982 my brother's favorite band was Missing Persons, and he kept the record needle stuck on "Walking in LA". Back then I had no clue what that song actually meant but flash-forward to the year I moved to Los Angeles, and it became glaringly obvious. Seriously, nobody walks in LA. People will literally get in their cars, drive a couple of hundred feet, and re-park to get to the next shop on the same block. I guess Los Angeles has always had a mad love affair with cars, hitching itself early on the bandwagon of forward-thinking, progress, and modern convenience, after all, they gave us Googie architecture. From the time developer AW Ross bought a tract of land that became Wilshire Boulevard, the city has been built almost entirely around automobile travel with its mile-wide boulevards, drive-up and drive-thru consumer culture, and tangled network of freeways. Even in 1920 Los Angeles had more automobiles than any other city, and today there are more registered cars than people. The city still seems to be dictated by, and revolves around car accessibility. Even with public transportation, you feel like a virtual prisoner without your own set of wheels. And of course, driving alongside, on the fast-track to convenience and mobility, are the cons, namely smog and grid-lock traffic.

It's not just California that's a car culture, it's the entire country. Since it's invention the automobile has been woven into the fabric of what we call the American Dream - success, mobility, freedom, and control of one's own destiny. Cars became the nation's symbol of leisure, convenience, and security. From the beginning it promised us so much more than mere transportation. Even during the Depression people were reluctant to give up their automobiles. Car ownership was synonymous with self-respect, individuality, and prosperity. All the romantic mythology associated with the open frontier had transfered to the car. Roadside America with its neon-drenched diners, drive-in movies, last-chance gas stations, and route 66 was a visual proof of our ingenuity. James Morgan, author of The Distance to the Moon, A Road Trip Into the American Dream believes our love affair with the automobile is about "our bone-deep need for clean breaks and fresh beginnings, for self-reinvention, for fleeing the numbing grind of everyday existence."

downtown los angeles traffic, 1949, loomis dean

drive-in-restaurant, 1949, loomis dean

drive-in 3 minute car wash, 1949, loomis dean

drive-in grocery store, 1949, loomis dean

drive-in shoe repair, 1949, loomis dean

von's curbside grocery, 1949, loomis dean

drive-in services North Hollywood, 1965

drive-in movies, 1951, francis miller

Blue, my old but trusty Volvo, has been feeling under the weather lately. I dropped her off for repairs just before the sky cracked open, and dumped another load of rain down on us. Boy, when it rains, it pours. This pie's for when everything has gone to crap, there's nothing left to eat in the cupboards cause you can't get to the grocery store, and you need cheering up.

Fix Anything Pie
8 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp baking powder
1 can fruit, drained (peaches, apricots, berries, plum, etc.)
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. In a medium sauce pan melt the butter, take off heat and let cool.
  2. Add sugar, egg, flour, shredded coconut, and baking powder until ingredients form a smooth dough. If it looks to buttery, add a little more flour.
  3. Grease 8-inch or 9-inch pie pan. Press about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Refrigerate and chill for 10-15 minutes to set.
  4. Fill the pie shell with your choice of fruit. Use the remaining dough to crumble over the top of the fruit.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until the dough is golden brown, but not dried out. Serve warm.

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