Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Questionable L.A. History

A description of Central Avenue's jazz clubs, c. 1950, from James Ellroy's The Big Nowhere (please excuse the racist language):

Dusk started coming on, rain clouds eclipsing late sunshine trying to light up Negro slums: ramshackle houses encircled by chicken wire, pool halls, liquor stores and storefront churches on every street-until jazzland took over. Then loony swank amidst squalor, one long block of it.

Bido Lito's was shaped like a miniature Taj Mahal, only purple; Malloy's Nest was a bamboo hut fronted by phony Hawaiian palms strung with Christmas-tree lights. Zebra stripes comprised the paint job on Tommy Tucker's Playroom-an obvious converted warehouse with plaster saxohones, trumpets and music clefs alternating across the edge of the roof. The Zamboanga, Royal Flush and Katydid Klub were bright pink, more purple and puke green, a hangarlike building subdivided, the respective doorways outlined in neon. And Club Zombie was a Moorish mosque featuring a three-story-tall sleepwalker growing out of the facade: a gigantic darky with glowing red eyes high-stepping into the night.

I can't tell what parts of Ellroys historical fiction are researched and which are just made up. The Zamboanga was a real club, but not located near Central Avenue (it was at 3828 West Slauson Avenue, somewhere between Inglewood and Culver City). I've never heard of The Zombie Club, but man, I would love to believe that it existed and matched Ellroy's description. Incidentally, he also seems to have the musician's union local wrong: he writes of Local 3126, but the Los Angeles locals were 47 for whites, 767 for blacks (although I believe they had amalgamated 767 into 47 by the time the book takes place). At any rate, if anyone out there knows anything about this Zombie Club, please let me know.

Also, I've got a myspace page set up, feel free to befriend me or whatever they call it: www.myspace.com/sleestaklightnin

Also, a reminder that TCM is showing a marathon of rock movies tomorrow morning. Not one, but TWO movies starring Herman's Hermits! And another one with Roy Orbison as a civil war spy! And tomorrow night, a chance to catch some classic 70's flicks, including The Conversation (which I've never seen) and Nashville (which I really want to watch again after reading Pauline Kael's review of it).


Post a Comment

<< Home