Category Archives: Americana

US Marines Volunteering To Guard Schools

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school massacre, reports are coming in from several cities in which US Marine Corps reservists, retirees and active duty personnel are standing uniformed guard in front of elementary schools.

They are unarmed volunteers and strive to greet and reassure the kids coming to school each day. Some have said they will keep this up for weeks or as long as needed. I don’t know where this got started, but it seems to be a spreading.

This too, is America.


Sorry, I have no photographer credit for the image.

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Good-bye, Hal Takier (1917 – 2012)

Portrait of Hal Takier

Unfortunately I only met Hal in his old age, but I am grateful for the time we were able to spend together. Hal was one of a few remaining witnesses of a very special time in popular culture, and American history: the Swing Era. Always gracious, supportive, friendly and willing to share from the wealth of his experience, he and his wife Marge were regular attendees and contributors to a series of public events I co-produced and directed.  I will miss him dearly and remember him fondly. Hal left behind his wife of many years, Marge Takier.

Below is the first part of a three part mini-documentary made in 2001 of legendary Southern California swing dancers Hal Takier, Jean Veloz, and Freda Angela. Interviews were filmed by Erik Robison, Tip West and Mike Mizgalski and edited by Hilary Alexander. (Provided via YouTube):

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L.A. Noire

I am not a video gamer. No, no, no! Not at all! But to my great surprise there is now a computer game I could see myself getting excited about: L.A. Noire. Its simulation of 1940s Los Angeles is simply stunning and mindboggling.

This is not an invented landscape! This is a representation of the authentic streets, buildings, landmarks and vehicles which really existed at the time, and the players navigate on a true map of the city. Here is a simulated police chase through downtown Los Angeles, circa 1947:

I never thought I’d say this, but this has gone on my “must try” list. Not that I’d really want to “solve a crime” or actually play the game — I’d be content with cruising around vintage Los Angeles for hours and hours.

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The Abandoned Railroad

I have a fascination with hidden, forgotten and deserted places. Sometimes, one can find them even in the busiest of places. Here is a picture of an abandoned railroad track in the middle of Los Angeles. I accidentally found this site by following some stray cats in a park. Not far from this place are residences, freeways and traffic jams.

Railroad Tracks. Photo: Reinhard Kargl, 2009. Click to enlarge.

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Going For A Drive In Downtown Los Angeles

This stock footage was shot in the 1940s.

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