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Rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies © Robert Sommers 2017

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Los Angeles Playday

Yesterday was a play day. Ken, Leslie and I headed up to Los Angeles to see some sights in the big city.

Our first stop was Nikon on Wilshire, Ken needed to service a lens. Nikon shares a building with a bunch of accountants and the National Enquirer.

We were in the neighborhood and we were hungry so we went to Cantor's, a favorite of Leslie and Ken. I had a tongue and corned beef fresser.

I confided to my wife that I had once broken off a relationship at Cantors when the girl I was seeing at the time insisted on talking to me while I read my newspaper and drank coffee in the morning. Long time ago, sorry, S____.

Very colorful city, Los Angeles.

Afterwards we headed over to Samy's Camera where I oogled equipment I can't really afford and don't really need. They didn't have the video camera Ken was looking for so we hit Culver City, which is really looking good these days.

After Ken scored his new camera at the Culver City Samy's we headed up to the Getty Center.

There is an incredible exhibit by the Czech expat photographer Josef Koudelka showing currently that you should definitely catch if you can.


Koudelka took powerful pictures of Gypsies, Prague Spring, the dispossessed and the general detritus of civilization. Some of the prints were quite large. Great stuff.

Josef Koudelka - for Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi - Prague 1964

Josef Koudelka - Prague

I snapped a couple shots before the guard told me it was not allowed in that gallery. Oops.


We wandered through the various galleries, looked at fabulous canvases by Degas, Rembrandt and Monet, a murderer's row of old masters.

Of course the most interesting things to see in museums are the humans and yesterday was no exception.


You really get a nice view of the city and skyline from the Getty.

© robert sommers 2015

I met some interesting people on the patio. There were a large group of Indian muckety mucks being closely guarded and whisked around. I was drinking tea and started up a conversation and it turns out that one of the men, quite affable, was Dr. Dimri, the Director of Archaeology at the Indian Ministry of Culture. We talked about his mission to repatriate some of the objects that had been illegally taken out of his country and exchanged cards.


Visited a pretty uninteresting exhibit at the Research Institute on war imagery and then we headed over to Burbank.


The real purpose of our day was to attend a talk by Amelia Davis on the late photographer Jim Marshall. To call Jim Marshall a rock photographer is a grave misnomer that does not begin to lend justice to the breadth of his life's photographic work and output.

While Marshall certainly captured some of the most iconic images of rock, his career stretched through the beatnik, jazz and civil rights movements. He took pictures of poets, of the drug scene, of straights cruising the Haight staring at the hippies. He was more rightly a chronicler of the sixties and the counterculture, in all its various emanations.

The presentation was held at the Clickers and Flickers meeting at the Castaways in Burbank. Clickers and Flickers is a group of photographers and movie people active in Los Angeles that have been meeting for years. Ken is a member and sometimes I tag along as they have fantastic speakers and incredibly talented members.

It turns out that when Marshall died he left about a million images behind from his trusty Leica, many of them never before viewed or printed. Amelia Davis worked with him for over a decade and now manages the archive.

We saw images last night that most of the world has probably never seen, Janis and Grace together, Hendrix shots from the Monterey Pop rehearsals, great candid shots of Dylan and Johnny Cash. It is obvious that Marshall's legacy is in very good hands.

Amelia Davis gave the same presentation we saw in Germany at Photokina to a rousing response. Very cool indeed.



Marshall was a favorite of both Coltrane and Miles Davis and we saw some pretty phenomenal shots of them. Miles even smiling!


Amelia finished a book Marshall had started sketching out on the Haight. We bought a copy and I am looking forward to going through it. We heard a lot of tasty anecdotes regarding the Stones Beatles and Woodstock shots, among others.

My friend John Morris was a longtime confidant and friend of Marshall and actually granted him exclusive access backstage at Woodstock which worked out quite well considering he got dosed. Davis recounts that he had a fear of heights but the acid allowed him to climb the scaffold and get classic shots of Santana.

Many people felt that Marshall was an irascible prick and it is said that you didn't want to get on his bad side. Leslie and I spent a very pleasant afternoon drinking with him before the Papa John Creech memorial and he was both cordial and wonderful. That was the night that the airplane played after David LaFlamme and Merle, Grace walked in and tore up the room with a blazing set sometime after midnight. Oh, the memories!

all photos © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

1 comment:

J.W. said...

Red Hat Ladies rock...