Just Above Sunset
April 9, 2006 - Rock's Answer to Jazz Age Paris, in the Rain

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Palm tree, rain, fog, Laurel Canyon

The Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, April 4, 2006 tells the tale


An Alaska storm slammed into Southern California this morning, packing steady rains, knotting traffic and making for a dreadful morning commute. The rains are not expected to diminish until Wednesday, forecasters said.

... Despite the rain, Laurel Canyon Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills was reopened after being closed over the weekend when a rain-drenched hillside began to slide.

Crews installed concrete barriers Sunday to protect against mud and debris flows that could be brought on by the rain.

Bartling said other areas of concern would include the areas of last year's Topanga, Foothill and Harvard fires. Because the burn areas lack ground cover, they are more prone to breaking up and becoming mudslides when soaked.

Sam Padilla, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said all stations near the burn areas are equipped with sandbags if residents need them.


The Times also has a photo gallery here, but this is Laurel Canyon here, where the news copters were low overhead at dusk last night, taking shots of the hillside below, and back again at dawn for the same.

And at dawn on the television a sweet young thing was doing a remote from the corner. Best to watch her on television, as it was raining hard. No point in walking up to the corner to see her talk. You'd just get soaked. But she was explaining that the house below had been red-tagged a year ago when the hillside started to slide away (see a shot of that here from January 9, 2005). The owners moved out long ago. More rain and it may get buried, or slide down into the canyon and block the road. This is across the road from the little house where Jim Morrison of the doors lived for a time.

A bit of history


Laurel Canyon gained its greatest fame in the 1960s as a countercultural enclave. When Joni Mitchell sang about "the ladies of the canyon," she was referring to Laurel Canyon. Jim Morrison lived behind the 1919 Canyon Country Store, whose Sister Mary Michael-style painted sign indicates that the area hasn't completely lost its Haight-on-the-Hill ways.

… During Hollywood's glory years, many notables, including Orson Welles and Errol Flynn, lived in the canyon. Urban legend has it that another former resident, Harry Houdini, still haunts the remains of his estate, visible on the right just before Lookout Mountain as you drive north.


And due for publication in May, Michael Walker's Laurel Canyon : The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood, with this from Publishers Weekly


Beginning in the mid-1960s, a string of successful rock bands emerged out of Laurel Canyon, a neighborhood of Los Angeles tucked away in the hills north of Sunset Boulevard. From the success of bands like the Byrds and the Mamas and the Papas, and singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Jimmy Webb, Walker proposes Laurel Canyon as rock's answer to Jazz Age Paris. It's a plausible concept, but one he stumbles to elaborate past the length of a magazine feature. The journalist, who lives in Laurel Canyon, delivers strong material on some of the musicians he cites, particularly in early chapters about Crosby, Stills & Nash and Frank Zappa, but offers little about other equally significant acts. Instead, he pads the story with lengthy sections on groupies and the music scene in other parts of the city, the Altamont concert (which was hundreds of miles away) and a digression on the history of cocaine. Furthermore, his enthusiasm for the Laurel Canyon legend leads to shaky critical pronouncements. If "the folk stars of the early 1960s were the first rock stars," for example, then what was Elvis?


Whatever. Rock's answer to Jazz Age Paris? What was the question?

It's an odd place to live.

The house in question.

House in slide area, Laurel Canyon, Hollywood

The fog above, rolling in at dusk.

Fog in the Hollywood Hills, Laurel Canyon

Looking the other way, Los Angeles, low ceiling...

Rainy afternoon in Los Angeles

If you use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me.  

There is a copyright notice at the bottom of this page, of course.

These were shot with a Nikon D70 – lens AF-5 Nikor 18-70mm 1:35-4.5G ED

They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0

The original large-format raw files are available upon request.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik

The inclusion of any text from others is quotation for the purpose of illustration and commentary, as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law.  See the Legal Notice Regarding Fair Use for the relevant citation.
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