Friday, December 16, 2005

"Last Looks: The Ambassador Hotel"

With half of the Ambassador Hotel already reduced to rubble -- and the other half scheduled to disappear by the end of the year -- all we have left now are photos and memories.

Thankfully, the hotel's ghosts were well documented before its demise. Some of those images are now on display, outside City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo's office:

One weekend last March, a team of Hollywood location managers and teenagers from the Jefferson High School Academy of Film and Theatre Arts slipped in and mounted one of the last photo shoots at the 84-year-old landmark building that was once the belle of Wilshire Boulevard.

Using donated cameras, the 60 students and their mentors from the Location Managers Guild of America prowled the bedraggled property, which hadn't seen a paying overnight guest in 16 years. (The Los Angeles Unified School District, owner of the property, prevailed this year in a battle against preservationists and announced plans to demolish the hotel and put up schools on the site.)

The eerie results of that shoot will hang in a 38-image exhibition outside the City Hall office of City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo through mid-January. It's called "Last Looks: The Ambassador Hotel," and the imagery includes an empty swimming pool, a room full of dust-caked porcelain sinks and a patch of carpet sprouting mushrooms.

Meanwhile, Tim McGarry blogs his memories of the hotel here, and ends on this note:
As I watch the Ambassador come down, I’m reminded of a scene in an old Astaire-Rogers movie -- Top Hat, I think, from 1935. Astaire is in white tie and tails, Rogers in a feathered dress. They are in a night club, sleek and brilliantly lit, with white walls and a polished black floor.

They dance. In the beginning, they are suspicious and reluctant. The next phase is a suave seduction, followed by rapid, joyful movements and brilliant leaps. In the last phase, the mood is downbeat again – the lady separates from her partner and vanishes off-stage. The lights dim, leaving the partner disconsolate in the shadows.


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