March 31, 2009

Gulf Coast Deco V, the empire strikes back??

lone star creamery co.
Lone Star Creamery Co., c. 1936

barker brothers studio
Barker Brothers Studio (Houston's leading interior designers), c. 1931

barker brothers studio frieze
settegast estate building full front view
Settegast Estate Building, c. 1939 (endangered)

settegast estate building
This building housed Houston's Orange Crush bottling plant from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. HISD owns the vacant building, which is on the proposed site of the new High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

humble oil & refining co. filling station no. 179
Humble Oil & Refining Co. Filling Station No. 179. c. 1930

looking up at canopy of humble oil & refining co. filling station no. 179
Its only surviving "sibling" can be seen here.

humble oil & refining co. filling station no. 179 detail
I've been yearningly (achingly) looking at the Houston Deco picture of this fantastic, vintage service station for at least a year now. I nearly made it by last time. But it's located in what is sort of a "bad" neighborhood, and I was unsure about whether or not I wanted to attempt a quick picture. This trip, I arrived in Houston, early in the morning, and it was fairly cold (30s). So I had this place (and pretty much the entire street) to myself. I was practically skipping. Good thing nobody saw me....

humble oil & refining co. filling station no. 179 and neon sign
It's astonishing either of these (the building or sign) are still there. I was giddy when finding both. "This is why I do this," I thought to myself. Note the Omega Man-esque quality of the street.

lee wright top quality automobiles neon sign
angled view of houston fire station no. 11
Houston Fire Station No. 11, c. 1937

no. 11
corner view of 1102-1106 yale st.
1102-1106 Yale St., c. 1936

side view of 1102-1106 yale st.
According to the Houston Deco page on this building, its historic names included: ABC Stores, Rettig's Heap-o-Cream, Henke & Pillot, Ivy-Russell Ford, and Eckerd Pharmacy. Rettig's Heap-o-Cream had at least one other Houston location of which I'm aware, and pictures of it can be seen here.

street view of heights theater
The Heights Theater, c. 1929, remodeled in 1935

heights theater neon sign

  • Gulf Coast Deco
  • Gulf Coast Deco II
  • Gulf Coast Deco III
  • Gulf Coast Deco IV
  • Gulf Coast Deco VI
  • Gulf Coast Deco VII
  • Gulf Coast Deco VIII
  • Gulf Coast Deco IX
  • Gulf Coast Deco X
  • March 30, 2009

    The deductive reasoner of Baker St.

    El Guapo from was at the motion picture industry convention, Showest, in Las Vegas today, and snapped a snap of this poster for Sherlock Holmes:

    Although I'm "concerned" that Guy Ritchie is the director, it looks like this may be a cool film. I generally "jinx" movies whenever I blog about them before release, but maybe it'll turn out to be chock full o' awesomeness.

    Some Duck Soup

    Currently, I'm going back through the Marx Brothers' films, chronologically. They were pure, zany anarchists in their earlier, "phase one" films (the ones they made while under contract to Paramount Pictures). I can see why the Beatles in A Hard Days Night might have reminded people of them. Groucho, Chico, and Harpo (not so much Zeppo) were all about creating havoc and disorder, most times for no reason at all other than just to do it. Any authority figure, no matter how important or insignificant, is in trouble if he/she is in the same scene with them. How liberating this must have been for some people (especially kids) during the 1930s! Not to mention, hilarious, too, as in this scene featuring Harpo (genius) and Chico (pronounced "Chick-o") from Duck Soup (1933):

    I love that leg gag of Harpo's. It turns up frequently in their films.

    On a somewhat related note, there is the Marx Brothers/Nacogdoches connection (Wikipedia entry):
    old nacogdoches opera house
    the Old Nacogdoches Opera House

    One evening in 1912, a performance at the Opera House in Nacogdoches, Texas, was interrupted by shouts from outside about a runaway mule. The audience hurried outside to see what was happening.

    When they returned, Groucho, angered by the interruption, made snide comments about the audience, including "Nacogdoches is full of roaches" and "The jackass is the flower of Tex-ass." Instead of becoming angry, the audience laughed. The family then realized they had potential as a comic troupe.

    The act slowly evolved from singing with comedy to comedy with music.

    I can personally attest to the fact that although the streets of downtown are still occasionally filled with the sound of people shouting about runaway mules, Nacogdoches is not "full of roaches."

    March 27, 2009

    "Raspberry Beret"

    From the Wikipedia entry:

    "Raspberry Beret" is the first U.S. (and second UK) single from Prince and The Revolution's 1985 album, Around the World in a Day. The sound was completely different from any previous Prince track, incorporating Middle-Eastern finger-cymbals, stringed instruments, and even a harmonica on the extended version. The song was also more in the pop vein than ever before, though the 12-inch single and video of the song feature a funky intro. Although the song was originally recorded in 1982, Prince drastically reworked it with The Revolution to give it more of an international sound. The song has several notable features including its use of finger cymbals and flange effect.

    Random thoughts and memories triggered by the video:

  • I obsessively anticipated the world premiere of the "Raspberry Beret" video on my once beloved MTV. I was not disappointed.
  • I didn't like his hairstyle - I could only think "Liza Minneli."
  • Having purchased the album a few weeks before the release of the "Raspberry Beret" video (listening to it from sunrise to sunset), the beginning of the video was disconcerting, due to its being so different from the album version.
  • Being a huge Beatles fan at the time, I was hopeful Prince was about to launch the second coming of Beatlesque psychedelic music with songs such as "Raspberry Beret." I still hear "Here Comes the Sun" in the violin section.
  • The Middle-Eastern finger-cymbals? Awesome! I wanted some!!
  • "Raspberry Beret" was the last 45 I ever bought, solely for the B-side - "She's Always in My Hair," still one of my favorite songs of all time.
  • Here I am with an old Galveston pal and college fraternity brother in my UT dorm room, circa 1985. I'm wearing a vintage, 1960s-era paisley shirt purchased in a little boutique located along Champs-Élysées Avenue when I went to Paris (I was actually in Nice around the same time Prince was filming Under the Cherry Moon) the previous summer with a close friend. I bought it because Prince had made paisley cool and fashionable again. I still have the shirt.

  • March 25, 2009

    Baytown scraps

    These are some leftover images from my recent hunting trip, which included a look at Baytown, Texas. A lot of these Baytown structures just have to be Art Deco.

    interesting bldg. in baytown
    Perhaps this odd little building is Streamline.

    house in baytown
    Because I was looking specifically for Art Deco buildings on this trip, I thought I saw it everywhere.

    garage with deco styling
    little bldg. in baytown
    deco bldg. in baytown
    This actually should have been with my Houston Deco IV post, as I just discovered it is in fact Deco (of this I am certain). It is Odd Fellows Hall, completed in 1929.

    another deco bldg. in baytown
    bldg. with deco details
    former gas station in baytown
    another former gas station in baytown

    Each of the previous structures were on West Texas Avenue, which must have been quite something forty or fifty years ago. In the midst of all of this Deco and Deco-esque "splendor" was this more modern building, the Citizen Conference Center:
    citizen conference center

    March 21, 2009

    "You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me"

    A not too surprisingly swingin' performance of "You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me" by the Benny Goodman Orchestra in October 1985 at the New York Marriott Marquis:

    Wikipedia entry:

    "You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me" is a 1930 popular song. The credits list music and lyrics as written by Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal, and Pierre Norman.

    The song was introduced in the movie The Big Pond (1930) by Maurice Chevalier. The song has been used in other movies, including Monkey Business (1931) where the Marx Brothers steal Chevalier's passport and sing this song to try to prove they are Chevalier.

    Monkey Business

    And of course there's the ultimate version, Sinatra at his best, on one of the greatest albums ever made, Songs for Swingin' Lovers! (1956):

    Favorite moments: When the strings begin at the start of the second verse and Sinatra's "jazzing up" of the last verse.

    March 20, 2009

    Mike Rowe meets Oscar the Grouch

    Mike Rowe on Sesame Street, investigating Oscar the Grouch's trash can and discussing the world's dirtiest jobs:

    Oscar sounds really old! Who knew it has been the same person since the first season, back in 1969?

    I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

    pic source

    Well, I guess I have a new favorite Rolling Stone cover now. How eagerly these days' young starlets exploit themselves! Good thing? Bad thing? Is the photographer the one doing the exploiting? Or is it the girls' agents? The producers of Gossip Girl? Where does the pressure to do something like that come from? Discuss.

    I'll still never watch that show. Never have. Never will. I also won't buy the magazine. So is the whole thing a wash? Well, no. I got a crude blog post (which will probably offend the few regular visitors I have) out of it.

    March 18, 2009

    Kerrville Bus Station

    kerrville bus co. depot
    I took these of the Kerrville Bus Station in Brenham on a chilly, gray Saturday morning. I assume it is still in operation. It looked a little bit abandoned, though. Those rounded corners and other things about this little building lead to me to believe it is either an Art Deco or Streamline design. That would put its construction somewhere from the thirties to late forties, which is all right by me.

    kerrville bus co. depot neon sign
    round corner and pay phone at kerrville bus stationside entrance to kerrville bus station
    front view of kerrville bus station in brenham
    rounded corner of kerrville bus station
    kerrville bus station in brenham

    March 17, 2009

    Louis Armstrong and the Suzy Cute doll

    Almost as bizarre as the Jimi Hendrix Experience opening for The Monkees on their 1967 U.S. tour, here is Louis Armstrong in a 1964 Suzy Cute toy commercial. Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong is widely considered to be the most important jazz musician to have ever lived. It is reasonable to believe popular music would be completely different had he never picked up a trumpet. 1964 was the year his version of "Hello Dolly" went to #1. So why would he have agreed to do this commercial? It seems demeaning, but what do I know? For better or worse, it would appear (based on the recording of this ad lib/rehearsal of the "Suzy Cute" jingle from this site) that Armstrong was directly involved in its creation.The money must have been good!

    Here Louis, lend your talent and fame to this little tiny doll:

    "You press her tummy, her arms go up!"

    It just seems wrong somehow...

    Why Louis, why?

    There's nothing little white girls love more than sweaty black men and New Orleans-style jazz!