The Chandler-esque Brevoort, built in the 1920s and originally known as the Warner-Kelton, was in 1946 home to Elizabeth Short, also known as The Black Dahlia. Clara Bow’s lover (and future mother-in-law!) Tui Lorraine lived there in the 1920s and Cary Grant kept one of the rear bungalows as his trysting place. Actress Pert Kelton was resident and part owner early on and the songwriting team of Rodgers and Hart lived there and the hotel inspired them to write their song “There’s a Small Hotel”. Silent film star Monroe Salisbury, who had been in many Cecil B. DeMille films, wound up employed at the hotel as a night clerk before dying of a fractured skull in the mental institution where he spent 1935, his final year.
A sign above the main entrance to the Brevoort reads “Joyously Enter Here”.
Here is the hand of 85 year old French climbing legend Pierre Mazeaud, holding not only a rock he brought back from the top of Mount Everest but also his favorite smoke, a Toscanello.
Mazeaud was the first Frenchman to summit Everest (in 1978) but his climbing career started in the 1940s and was peppered throughout with major successes and first ascents in the Alps, the Dolomites and beyond.
I photographed Mazeaud today at his flat in Paris for my upcoming book about the legends of climbing.
As for the Toscanellos… Another climbing legend, the late Anderl Heckmair (who led the first successful ascent of the Eiger north face in 1938), turned Pierre onto these many decades ago and he still loves them.
Four years ago I was on the cement-lined banks of the LA River at the entrance to the tunnel that opens up under the 6th St. Bridge poised to photograph Dead Rock West for their, at the time, new album cover. Suddenly, a pigeon fluttered down from the heavens and expired right at our feet. If it was a sign we never deciphered it, however I did train my Hasselblad on the deceased fowl and preserved it’s demise on a few frames of Tri-X film.
Dead Rock West have re-released this fine album on 180 gram red vinyl and whilst hobnobbing last night with songbird extraordinaire Cindy Wasserman and her multi-talented beaux Patrick Dennis (who redesigned the album packaging) I snapped this photo of our departed feathered friend who now graces the inner album sleeve.
This happened in August, I forgot to post it here…
I was walking down Old Street in London a few days ago and had just about walked past a little shop that obviously catered to the Leica camera connoisseur. In fact I had taken a few steps past it because I was late to meet a friend but I doubled back and stuck my head in the tiny shop just to see what was in there - it was filled from floor to ceiling with all manner of Leicas, especially vintage ones.
After talking with the owner for a bit I mentioned that I had photographed a notable old Leica last week for my book project (the climber Fritz Wintersteller’s camera, see earlier post). The owner said, “Hmmm… I have something you might be interested in.” From under his desk he pulled out a very old and yellowed cardboard box with a shipping label still fixed to the front, originating address being “Ernst Leitz Optische Werke, Wetzlar”. The destination address, faded but still visible:
F.S. Smythe Passenger on the “Viceroy of India” For L.R. Wager, Esq.
This box originally contained a new Leica that Leitz GmbH had sent to the climber Lawrence Wager who was on a ship en route to India and ultimately the Himalaya as part of the 1933 British Mount Everest Expedition. The camera was being sent to Wager in care of F.S. Smythe who was also on the expedition and was one of the most, if not the most, notable early 20th Century British climbers. Among other successes as a climber Frank Smythe broke a succession of Himalayan altitude records throughout the 1930s and was also a prolific writer. Smythe and Wager both reached approx. 28,120 feet on the Northeast Ridge of Everest on this 1933 expedition and both without using supplemental oxygen, the latter record of which wouldn’t be bettered until 1978.
The camera was stolen at some point, possibly the 1950s, and was later replaced by the same exact early ‘30s model Leica, which now lives in this original box. Nonetheless, here is the box that was handled and held by two major figures of early 20th Century climbing. I would wager (no pun intended) that this box made it as far as base camp on their expedition.
Amazing what you’ll stumble upon when you’re out for a walk.