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tracing farther back in history

As I was yesterday, I'm again today doing some digging into the history of the buildings that were eventually transformed into Premiere Towers. Yesterday I found the Sep.1923, LA Times article that announced the building's opening. Today I found another article from April, 1922, announcing that the building would be constructed. The article includes a reference to the "Victoria Trask" property.

Announcements of plans for a new home for the California Bank were made yesterday for the first time. Negotiations have been completed by a group of local capitalists for the erection of a twelve-story class-A building on the Victoria Trask property, on the west side of Spring Street, between Sixth and Seventh streets.

So who or what is Victoria Trask? Apparently it's Mrs. Victoria Trask. A June, 1921, article announces "Twelve-Story Structure to Rise in New Financial District." The plans were announced by H.H. Ford, President of the Redlands National Bank, and the included drawing looks almost identical to the California Bank building announced the next year.

This property, owned by Mrs. Victoria Trask, was taken under a fifty-year lease by Mr. Ford several months ago, and tentative plans were prepared at that time for a nine-story structure to be erected on the property.

So who was Victoria Trask? She was married to Walter J Trask, or at least was until he died in 1911. Mr. Trask was a local lawyer, and his obituary says that he had been president of the Los Angeles Bar Association. They lived in a house at 1321 S. Figueroa, a location that definitely does not have housing any longer. A property Mrs. Trask owned was involved in an assessment dispute with the city in 1912, though the heart of the argument was over the city widening of Sunset, so the property involved would be different than the one that became Premiere. She was also active in real estate dealings back to 1902 (and possibly before that... I think that's about where I hit the beginning of the online Times archives).

talking games

I'm sitting in my MMORPG class right now. I don't really talk a lot about video games. Who does, really, outside of the people who make them? I mean you say, "Yeah, it's cool." and that's about the end of it.

I mentioned before that we're supposed to be playing Star Wars Galaxies, but that I don't have a machine that could play it. Well, turns out Annenberg really doesn't either at the moment. This is thanks to a number of things, large among them the fact that all Annenberg machines are remotely managed by ISD. ISD rolls out software to all machines at once, and local access is locked down pretty much completely. So even if ISD kicked the game out to machines, when run the game wouldn't even have the appropriate rights to install the patches it likes to download every week. I also doubt these machines have capable video cards, but that issue's farther down the road.

Our professor brought a machine from his office into the classroom today to show the character creation, only to find his network card getting disabled. ISD says his machine has a virus, even though the approved ISD virus protection software is indeed running. It's good to see that professors struggle with the same institutional issues you hear about students having all the time.

where do you live? "Crack Alley"

From a 1987 LA Times article titled, "You can walk outside. It's incredible."

The result, for example, in notorious "Crack Alley"--a trash-strewn walkway between 6th and 7th streets linking Broadway and Spring Street--is that "the selling (of narcotics in the alley) is about gone," said Ronald Rubacher, an officer on patrol there.

Hey... That's my alley. The one they're loudly power-washing as I type this.

A different article says that these drug-dealing problems are what led to the alley being fenced in. Now the only pests down there are the film crews that appear poised to be shining lights outside my window tonight.

premiere towers

There's not a lot online about the downtown building I call home, so I've sort of pooled the different info I have on the building together to make a page on Premiere Towers. I'll add to it as I get more material, especially material on the history of the buildings.

Right now I'm reading a really interesting piece from the April 1, 1991, LA Times. The piece, titled "Condo Pioneers Bitter as Spring Street Rebirth Fails," was written right in the midst of the dark times the Premiere conversion project went through. The CRA though there was going to be a condo market downtown, so they converted two old buildings into one condo project. Only about a quarter of the units sold and the CRA lost a lot of money in the resulting buy-back and resale.

It's interesting to look at what pricing was like back then.

Pierson, Tanasaphaisal and the other residents plunked down from $70,000 to $135,000 to buy condominiums at Premiere Towers, located at 6th and Spring streets. The 12-story, $12-million redevelopment project, which opened seven years ago, was described by the CRA as "a unique alternative for middle-income households desiring downtown living."

Look around at the current downtown condo market and you'll see lofts going for a half million dollars or more. Every unit that makes it to market is getting snapped up. But the CRA jumped the gun by a decade or two and lost its shirt on it.

Interestingly, the article mentions the Stock Exchange as being a failed nightclub.

Both the Stock Exchange nightclub, which opened in 1987 in the architecturally imposing former home of the Pacific Stock Exchange, and Irwin's, an upscale restaurant that had been aimed at the City Hall crowd, closed within the last two years.

Today the Stock Exchange is again a nightclub, and one that seems to be doing pretty well to judge by the traffic I see going in and out.

From a different Times article from 1986...

The artists who live in downtown Los Angeles' northeast industrial district have been predicting for years that as soon as word got out that something hip was happening in their reconstituted neighborhood, the yuppies would buy up all their funky lofts and spoil the fun.

You can check that one off as done.

downtown comedy

This week's issue of the Downtown News has an article on Perry Kurtz and his attempts to launch comedy nights downtown. The piece, entitled "The Unsinkable Perry Kurtz: Local Funnyman Tries, Again, to Bring Comedy Downtown," includes this little snippet:

But even the Redwood audience beat Kurtz's next outing. A resident of Spring Street's Premiere Towers, Kurtz held his third comedy night in a community room at his condo building. Four tenants turned out. "How sad is that? People next door wouldn't walk down the hall!" he says.

Now, let's consider for a moment that three of those people were me. Well, me, Kathy, and Charlie, but you get the idea. There were a few others, bringing the count closer to double the four they list, but it was definitely still a sad turnout.

The real problem, though, is it wasn't really that funny. I don't know, maybe it was the room or the lack of crowd, but the acts just weren't all that comedic. Perry may kill at the Comedy Store, but after the night at Premiere Towers we just sort of left saying "Well, that was weird." Nothing against him, it just wasn't the kind of night set up for success. I do like his drive to get stuff going downtown, so I'd love to see the night take off. I just hope there are a few more laughs of the less nervous variety.

Friday questions?

So I know I skipped out on the normal routine of answering the LA Blogs Friday questions. But, seriously, look at the assignment. That's not a fifteen minute project; that's a travel essay. I looked at them Friday morning, went "whoah... that might take a while", and then just never made it back to them. It's a good task, just one that I've dealt with many times before.

in front of the tv all weekend?

As you can see, I took the last couple days off here. My last post was Friday at 9am. Friday at 9pm I got a Tivo.


Actually, yeah... But the Tivo has already made itself an integral part of my tv watching experience. I mentioned earlier in the month that the Toshiba SD-H400 was really tempting me, and in the end it won. I even purchased it despite missing the $199 sale, and having to pay $250 instead (before $100 mail-in rebate). The urge was still there, though, so I gave in.

I was primarily worried about how the Tivo and the Comcast digital cable box would interact. Thankfully it's better than I had feared. The cable box does have a working serial port, and the Tivo can use it to change channels. That keeps me from having to worry about any sort of an IR repeater. Channel changing is a bit sluggish, but other than that it's fine.

It's amazing how quickly it clicks that the Tivo is a very different tv watching experience. Last night Kathy and I were watching Sportscenter, and she walked into the kitchen for a minute. She returned for #2 of the week's top 10 plays. "Do you have the others?" "Sure." Hit the reverse button, back up a minute or two, and there we are at #10. That's what Tivo's automatic recording of live tv will do for you.

But you know all that; it's just me that's quite late to the Tivo party.

ah, hollywood

I went to bed last night to the faint sound and smell of a diesel generator running in the alley down below me. I don't know what they were shooting, but the street outside my apartment was packed full of production trucks and personnel. Broadway was involved, too, with a bank of lights set atop the Palace Theatre illuminating the buildings across the street. Today the generators have been replaced with trucks. A good change in my book. Some Downtown residents get very cynical about filming. I'm not at that point, I still enjoy seeing it, but I will admit that there are times you wish it would just go away.

quitting before the race even starts

I decided today, before even attending the first class session, to drop my improv class. It's a 2-unit class, and at some point in either this semester or the next I do need to take one of those. But I don't think that time is right now. This semester is a pretty important one in terms of reversing my long-term trend of slacking off and while it may not appear at first glance that dropping a class is the way to do that, well, I think it is. This also gives me a neat time in my schedule to add the 4 telecommuting hours I hadn't quite placed yet, so that's an added benefit. And it gives me just one more thing with which to blow up my spring schedule.

For the last few semesters I've been quite good at scheduling my life into just Tuesdays and Thursdays to fit in some full days at work, but next semester that just isn't to be. I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that I'm going to be hereon campus every day in the spring, so why not be here for 18 units instead of just 16?

So that leaves me four classes for this semester, and I'm excited about all of them, so I guess that's pretty good.

daytime movie watching

There's something about watching movies in the morning that just makes the rest of your day a little weird. Today was the first go for my speculative cinema class. It looks like it's going to be fascinating, but pretty intense. I'm one of only two non-cinema majors, and the other guy is only business because he's still trying to apply for film (a separate and much harder process). Several of the 20 students are taking this as a grad class.

This morning we watched the 1979 film Time After Time. Due to a scheduling conflict, we watched the film in the 350 or so seat Norris Theater -- all 20 of us. That was kind of weird. The movie itself was good. It just feels like you should get out of a movie and have it be night time, not 1pm.

Oh yeah, and the film had David Warner in it -- Sark from Tron. I love that movie. And he's also been in about 150 other things, but Tron's what's important.

on being not in charge

It's funny attending something you used to be in charge of, but no longer are. I've been involved in Campus Crusade at USC since I was a Freshman, and from spring of that year through spring of last year I was running sound for their weekly meeting. Today is the first meeting of the new year, and the first time I haven't been running sound in two and a half years.

It's hard to resist that urge to hear something I dont like and want to go fix it. I hate bad sound. I think that's one of the only reasons I ever got into running it. Well that and it was "oh, you know how to work a sound board?"

The trouble for me was that I knew what I liked, but didn't really have any of the theoretical background to know the acoustic modelling behind how to EQ particular instruments.

Right now though I can tell you that an acoustic guitar doesn't need as much in the highs. Tinny acoustic is pretty rough.

Oh well, I'm a normal person now.

ah, the BRU

I've never been a fan of the Bus Riders Union. They sued the MTA ten years ago and got it to agree to a consent degree saying that it would add a lot of bus service, etc. And this may have really been important ten years ago. But today the BRU is stuck in the impossible mindset that buses are exclusively the answer. The LA Times today has an article on ongoing disputes involving the consent decree. The BRU continues to allege that Metro needs to add more buses and more service, and any time Metro starts to plan a rail line the BRU comes out opposed. In light of that background, I found the following from today's article to be pretty funny:

Bernardo Torres, 40, said Rapid buses often get so crowded that people start fighting. But he isn't sure that more buses are the answer.

"There will be more traffic and the congestion will be even worse," he said. "I think they need light rail."

Don't tell that to the BRU... They won't like you very much.