I don't need interior decoration anyway, as long as I can go outdoors and see the sky decorated by clouds. Today the clouds heaped up like extravagant mounds of whipped cream, or darkened into bruises, or slid across the face of the sun and burnished themselves with its light. Late afternoon even brought a brief sun shower, and at dusk the frogs began to sing. As far as I'm concerned, February weather gets no better than this. Yes, I know parts of the east are buried under snow, and New Orleans got whacked by a tornado, but it's not our fault!
I've been squandering time on one of those trivial but endlessly irritating things that Wikipedia has brought into my life. This time it's their article on The Garden of Allah, a residence hotel in Hollywood which was knocked down before I could ever see it. It was one of those iconic bits of the local culture which the place so casually discards and then immediately begins to mourn. The Wikipedia article starts out by mis-attributing the construction of the place to Alla Nazimova, the dancer and silent era movie star who was in fact merely a leaseholder who came on the scene a couple of years after the place was built. After that the article goes downhill. It's a stupid and pointless occupation, but I have a compulsion to fix the article.
In the process of hunting down information on the web, I had occasion to Google for Bart Lytton,the local S&L magnate who had the place demolished in 1959 but who is unmentioned in the article. The search results were heavy with pages about a 1940s era writer who had the same name. He even had page at the IMdB. After a bit more digging, I found a reference to Bart Lytton the S&L magnate in a PDF about Lyndon Johnson's Presidential campaign (ps 24-25). Lytton was a big supporter and there was a bit of a contretemps when columnist Drew Pearson told Johnson campaign insiders that Lytton had been a minor screenwriter who had been blacklisted for having been a Communist in the 1930s. So it was the same guy. A bit of a surprise for me.
I then came across a page about a 1945 movie based on one of his stories, and suddenly realized that, one night a few months ago, I'd fallen asleep watching television and had woken up in the middle of a running of this very (and very cheesy) movie. If this turkey was typical of Lytton's literary work, then I can now say of the Hollywood red scare that sent so many obscure and famous laborers in the movie industry into oblivion that, well, it's an ill wind that blows no good. Unfortunately for the Garden of Allah, the good it blew had apparently played out by 1959, and Lytton demolished the not-so-venerable (1920-1923) buildings and put up the main office of his S&L in its place.
Lytton's triumph over history, (such as history is in Hollywood) was short lived, though. During a decline in the Southern California real estate market a couple of years later, he found himself overextended and lost control of his financial empire (I bet he regretted abandoning his Communist principles then, alright), and he died a couple of years later. His S&L was absorbed by another of its kind, his art collection dispersed, his name removed from a building at the Los Angeles County Art museum which he had helped finance (it was renamed for another large (but unruined) donor, Armand Hammer), and today almost nothing remains of his legacy but a .2 acre public park in Palo Alto called Lytton Plaza. His daughter, Timothea Stewart, had an art gallery in L.A. for a number of years, but that seems to be gone. She may or may not be the same Timothea Stewart (though it seems to me an awfully unlikely name to be shared by any great crowd) who left a comment to a Huffington Post entry about the late Bernard Levin two years and eight months ago (as the cow of time flies.) I wonder?
Still, though Black Bart (as he was called in a 1968 Time Magazine article about his financial meltdown) is long gone and all but forgotten, I keep thinking that he was at least as interesting a character as most of the celebrities and eccentrics who had, for a while, occupied the bungalows of the Garden of Allah. Naturally, there is no Wikipedia article about him. I guess maybe he's gotten a break. Maybe I'll ruin things for him and write that missing article. It couldn't be worse than most of the crap there.
But some other time. Now I'm going to go out and sniff a bit of that fresh night air with the lingering scent of rain in it. Wikipedia can wait.