June 6, 2014
I find myself drawn to 3400 Wilshire Boulevard in the Mid-Wilshire district, but now pretty much considered to be Koreatown. I have consistently been haunted by ghost images of all sorts. I wouldn’t say I 'm attracted to death, but more of the lasting presence of people and even buildings, after they left the world, stick with me like an inoperative tumor. I often go to a location, where it is either empty or perhaps a new structure is in place, but I can still feel the old ‘vibes’ of the landscape. Standing at a specific location causes one to cry all of a sudden, and I have known to shed tears without knowing why, and later, I realize because I was in a specific location where a sense of great loss took place.
A grand hotel once took place on 3400 Wilshire Boulevard. The hotel opened in 1921, and this is where the 2nd Academy Awards and the 12th Academy Awards took place. The great silent movie actress Pola Negri lived in this hotel from 1930 to 1943. The beautiful nightclub was home to entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Liberace, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Perry Como and even Vicki Carr. I never went to this nightclub, but I often dreamed of it, and with a mixture of old vintage photographs plus scenes from Hollywood films, I visualize a world where I edit all the bad things, and kept the imagined memories in place. Like the Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet film, I imagine myself chasing down a beautiful female, who I may have met last year, but more likely I just saw the film, and that alone, opened up a memory that may or may not exist.
Very rarely did I regret moments that I missed, but I always do have a sense of regret of moments that I have noticed. We never know how well planned things are, and eventually it can be just a matter of luck, that something horrible took place. If people would have known, perhaps they could have secured the area better - but alas, probably the scent of regret lies in the kitchen pantry. Forty-six years ago I was awaken up by my mother, when I was around 13 years old, and she told me what was in that hotel. News, these days are not so shocking. I think due to the images of death that is consistently around us, including on the Facebook website, where friends pass on, yet their pages still live on in a sense, both as a tribute or someone doesn’t know the password to kill (a horrible word) the page. Nevertheless I was quite shocked to hear the news, because at the time, the Vietnam war was raging, and it seems American culture was being ripped apart. A series of assassinations that took place in the 1960s had a profound effect on the American psyche, and it was a very painful series of moments or time for an overly sensitive 13 year old boy. From an artist who got shot in New York City to a politician who got shot and killed in a kitchen pantry at this magnificent hotel. In a sense, the murder not only destroyed a man but also the hotel itself.
I walk through the vacant grounds, that now has no life, and I wonder that perhaps it is a good idea to destroy or tear down any structure that has witnessed or a death that took place at that specific location. Then I wonder what a structure has not witnessed a death within its walls. Is there a death-free location somewhere on this planet?