Monday, April 26, 2004

Book 'Em

Maria and I managed to make it to the annual Los Angeles Times Book Festival this Sunday right before it closed.

Making our way to UCLA, we parked in the Ralphs/Best Buy/Longs parking lot and hoofed it to campus, immediately heading for the Angel City Press booth.

As far as books on pop culture and local Los Angeles history goes, we're both huge fans of the Angel City Press catalog. (Angel City puts it this way on their website: Drenched in nostalgia yet undeniably cool, each Angel City Press book is luxuriously illustrated and showcases the modern design concepts of California's top graphic artists.)

Sitting at the booth was author Greg LaVoi, signing copies of his book "Barbie Loves L.A." We quickly picked up a copy and had Greg sign it.

If you haven't seen it, or any of its writeups in the L.A. Times and Los Angeles magazine, the book is a visual treat for people (like us) obsessed with L.A.'s classic landmarks.

LaVoi, an Emmy-nominated costume designer, took vintage Barbie dolls, dressed them to the period, and, via some amazing work in creating visual perception with photography, places her in front of, and interacting with, L.A. sites.

That includes shots of 1950s Barbie shopping at Bullock's Wilshire... filling up gas at the vintage 76 station in Beverly Hills... catching a flight in front of LAX's Theme Building... Grabbing a bite in front of Perino's... and plenty more.

LaVoi said he had no problem getting permission to use the landmarks... except the Ambassador Hotel. LaVoi eventually was able to shoot Barbie standing in front of a microphone outside the Cocoanut Grove... but only after twisting the L.A. Unified School District's arm. LAUSD didn't want the Ambassador portrayed as the historical hotel it is... nope, the school board wanted the Ambassador portrayed as a school. The LAUSD eventually relented when LaVoi threatened to tell his story to the L.A. Times.

Yup, L.A. Conservancy, that's the mindset we're up against in trying to save that building.

Meanwhile, LaVoi said he's now scouting locations in New York for a sequel. He hopes to shoot "Barbie Loves N.Y." later this year.