October 31, 2009

Rebirth of The Pines

pines theatre
Constructed in 1925, this is the way it was in July 2006.

first street in lufkin, morning
Looking down First Street, January 2007

And then suddenly, one morning in April 2007, Lufkin awoke to find it in this condition:
damaged pines theatre marquee
No one is really sure what happened, but it was theorized an 18-wheeler or delivery truck somehow crashed in to it. It is in this state it sat for a while.

By May 2008, I'd pretty much given up on it ever being repaired.
pines theater on cloudy day

I'd expected it to continue going down, but I was stunned to see it like this a year later, April 2009:
pines theater in morning on cloudy day
front on pines theater
I had heard rumors that a restoration was under way, but this looked like more of a dismantling, which it was. But instead of destroying, the removed neon and giant green glass, inlaid fleur-de-lis, it was all being refurbished:

the pines theater all shiny and new

the pines theater all shiny and new
What's old is new again. In fact, it's downright shiny.

the pines theater all shiny and new
Way to go Lufkin! Bravo. You restore some faith in mankind.

the pines theater

October 30, 2009

The Face...

Here is an article a friend and I did for our high school newspaper back in October 1984. It was about a "legendary" marking on an UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch) building in Galveston, called "the Face." There are various stories and explanations as to its origin and who is supposedly depicted - disgruntled former UTMB patient, the owner of the property on which the building is now located, for example - but it just as easily could have been our theory...

Click on it to make it bigger (that's what she said)

October 28, 2009

Early morning: Richmond/Rosenberg

I drove home from visiting family in Eagle Lake this past weekend via Richmond/Rosenberg. As is sometimes the case, I was rewarded by finding a couple of things I'd never photographed before, and a couple of things I got in a new light.

herradura restaurant
I'd snapped this great Herradura Restaurant neon sign before, but I just had to pull over as I entered Rosenberg to get it against the morning sky.

herradura restaurant

cole theatre
I couldn't leave Rosenberg without getting some pics of the old "colored" theater, the beautiful, Art Deco Cole Theater. Built in 1937, I'd taken some of it previously. A current musical obsession, The Ink Spots, performed here in 1948.

cole theatre

fort bend county courthouse
Fort Bend County Courthouse, c. 1909, Classical Revival/Beaux-Arts

Upon leaving Richmond, I did a double take as I drove past Larry's Original Mexican Restaurant. This type of thing fills me with so much joy I want to cry:
larry's original mexican restaurant
larry's original mexican restaurant
larry's original mexican restaurant

About eight miles east of Richmond is the town of Sugar Land, best known locally (at least at one time) for the Imperial Sugar factory:
imperial sugar
imperial sugar
In 1907, the factory was purchased by Galvestonian (my hometown) I.H. Kempner, the great-grandfather (possibly great, great-grandfather) of a childhood friend. To further toot my own horn (toot, toot!), I briefly dated another grandchild, she being a cousin to the childhood friend.

October 27, 2009

R.I.P. Richard Gladwell

It saddened me to hear this past Sunday of the recent passing of Richard Gladwell. Gladwell was the host of a program played on NPR stations called With Heart and Voice. With Heart and Voice was "a weekly program of choral and organ music." I say "was," because I assume the show will be no more. I was encouraged required forced to go to Sunday school and attend church services until I graduated from high school. Consequently, I haven't been a regular church goer ever since. The closest I've come to being one again has been listening to With Heart and Voice every Sunday on my NPR station during my long, morning run (which I do, ironically, religiously). It has always reminded me of the great old Hook & Hastings pipe organ echoing throughout the church of my youth. Adieu, Richard Gladwell.

"Trumpet Tune in D," by David Johnson (the theme to With Heart and Voice):

October 26, 2009

Alice Roosevelt Longworth

According to the Wikipedia entry, the following images are in the public domain.

Having just finished David McCullough's book about Theodore Roosevelt, Mornings on Horseback, I now find myself sort of crushing on Alice Roosevelt (so look out, Blake Lively). Weird.

The Roosevelt clan in 1903, with Quentin on the left, TR, Ted, Jr., "Archie," Alice, Kermit, Edith, and Ethel.

Alice in 1891

Alice was Theodore Roosevelt's first child, born in 1884, and only offspring with his first wife. She (TR's first wife) would die as a result of Bright's disease, in addition to childbirth complications. It also happened to be the same day (in the same house, on a different floor) TR's mother, Mittie, passed away. In his diary, TR would say about that day: "The light has gone out of my life." He would never speak of his first wife ever again, failing to so much as mention her name in his autobiography.

Alice would be sent away, to live with TR's older sister, Bamie, until he eventually remarried in 1886. And I got the impression from reading Mornings on Horseback, as well as Alice's premature (she wrote it in 1935, and would live until 1980) autobiography, Crowded Hours, and Mrs. L: Conversations With Alice Roosevelt Longworth, that although he loved her, Alice was for TR an unfortunate reminder of a profoundly painful life event. Consequently, the way I read it, he didn't show her much affection, and being as busy as he was, he most likely didn't give her as much attention as she craved. Consequently, Alice could be a bit of handful. This blurb from from the children's book, What to Do about Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!, is probably only slightly hyperbolic:

Theodore Roosevelt had a small problem. Her name was Alice. Alice Lee Roosevelt was hungry to go places, meet people, do things. Father called it running riot. Alice called it eating up the world. Whether she was entertaining important White House visitors with her pet snake or traveling the globe, Alice bucked convention and turned every new experience into an adventure!

With her dog, Leo, in a 1902 White House photo

And according to Wikipedia:

When her father took office following the assassination of President William McKinley (an event that "filled (me) with an extreme rapture"), Alice became an instant celebrity and fashion icon. She was known as a rule-breaker in an era when women were under great pressure to conform. The American public noticed many of her exploits. She smoked cigarettes in public, rode in cars with men, stayed out late partying, kept a pet snake named Emily Spinach (Emily as in her spinster aunt and Spinach for its green color) in the White House, and was seen placing bets with a bookie.

Once, a White House visitor commented on Alice's frequent interruptions to the Oval Office, often because of her political advice. The exhausted President commented to his friend, author Owen Wister, after the third interruption to their conversation and after threatening to throw Alice 'out the window', "I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both."

Alice (looking a bit more like her cousin, Eleanor) christening the sub named after her father, the USS Theodore Roosevelt in 1959

At the end of Theodore Roosevelt's presidency in 1909, she is alleged to have buried a voodoo doll of new First Lady Nellie Taft in the White House lawn. She was such a fixture of the Washington D.C. social circuit, living until 95-years-old, she was sometimes referred to "the other Washington Monument."



Picture from a 1906 postcard related to her wedding

Formal portrait from 1901

Someone was inspired all these decades later to do a YouTube video about her, complete with poetry by Lord Byron:

October 20, 2009

Victorian morning

This past Saturday, I took advantage of the first sunny day we've had here in well over a week to get some shots of two favorite Diedrich Rulfs masterpieces, the M.E. Rudisill House (1896) and the Roland Jones House (1895). Specifically, the morning sunlight really brought out the Queen Anne/Victorian detailing:

rudisill house
With busy North Street being just to the left in this picture, it was almost as if the 21st and 19th centuries were separated by merely the front yard of the Rudisill House.
rudisill house


Nacogdoches' chief competitor of the magnificent Victorian homes of Galveston's leading architect, Nicholas Clayton, the Roland Jones House:
the roland jones house
the roland jones house

October 17, 2009

Disco Sinatra, or Saturday Night (and Day) Fever

saturday night and day fever
One of the things I find admirable about Frank Sinatra's career was his willingness to try new things (sometimes hilariously so) in order to remain relevant in the fickle business of trying to sell a product to the popular music crowd. Whether it was agreeing to allow electric organ and bass on the Strangers in the Night album (1966) or his sublime recordings he made with Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967 and 1969),

Sinatra was surprisingly flexible when he needed to be. Such is the case when, in 1977 during the final days of his "Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back" phase, the crooner worked with a then 32-year-old producer/arranger named Joe Beck. Allegedly Don Costa suggested to Sinatra that he record some disco material. And the rest, as they say, is history. From Will Friedwald's Sinatra! The Song Is You: A Singer's Art:

In the '60s and '70s, when he tried to reach the youth market, he stooped to their level by dabbling in ephemeral forms that were well beneath his taste and talent. His mercifully brief dalliance in "disco," as it used to be called, represents by far the most execrable example of this trend.

On February 16, 1977, he and Joe Beck recorded vocal tracks on "Night and Day" and "All or Nothing at Al" on top of disco orchestral backings that the producer-arranger had laid down the day before. While "All or Nothing at All" was wisely withheld (released only in 1995 on The Complete Reprise Recordings suitcase), "Night and Day" made it out as a single. (Sinatra also performed this version live, even as late as March 1979.)

I can see why they held back on releasing the Issac Hayes-inflected version "All or Nothing at All", yet I kind of like the update of "Night and Day." Of course, "Night and Day" is a tune Sinatra had sung since the earliest parts of his career.

In 1942, he did it with Tommy Dorsey:

There's the 1947 version he recorded during his late Columbia Records period, which Columbia Records didn't initially release, and apparently sat undocumented in Columbia's vaults until 1993:

Applying the "I've Got You Under My Skin" template to it on the 1957 A Swingin' Affair! album:

My personal favorite, a jazzy, vibe-heavy live recording, captured on Frank Sinatra with the Red Norvo Quintet: Live in Australia, 1959, not released until 1997:

Back to the heavy strings and melodrama on the Don Costa arranged version from Sinatra and Strings (1962):

And finally, disco Frank on the February 1977 recording with Joe Beck:


October 12, 2009


Ah! Well a-day! What evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the albatross
About my neck was hung.

from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

It would appear Mick Fleetwood needs your love so bad.

From Wikipedia:

"Albatross" is a guitar-based instrumental by Fleetwood Mac, released as a single in 1969, later featuring on the compilation albums The Pious Bird of Good Omen and English Rose. The piece was composed by Peter Green.

The composition suggests a relaxing sea setting, with cymbals imitating the sound of waves and a dreamy solo from Green's guitar. It contains only two chords, Emaj7 and F#m, and could be seen as an early ambient work. It is often assumed that Green used his Les Paul but he said it was his Fender Stratocaster, as there is subtle use of the vibrato bar. The Les Paul that Green used in Fleetwood Mac has a nasal tone like that achieved in the in-between positions of a Stratocaster, and heard in the song.

October 9, 2009

October 6, 2009

Gulf Coast Deco IX

alabama theater

Previously on Gulf Coast Deco...

  • Gulf Coast Deco
  • Gulf Coast Deco II
  • Gulf Coast Deco III
  • Gulf Coast Deco IV
  • Gulf Coast Deco V
  • Gulf Coast Deco VI
  • Gulf Coast Deco VII
  • Gulf Coast Deco VIII

    Exactly what is "Art Deco"?

    Now, on to the show (in chronological order):

    Josephine Apartments, c. 1939
    josephine apartments
    Places like this always remind me of "old" Hollywood for some reason.

    josephine apartments
    josephine apartments
    josephine apartments

    Alabama Theater, c. 1939
    alabama theater
    From Houston Deco:

    "The Alabama stopped showing movies in 1983 and the building reopened the following year as Bookstop after a restoration and adaptation designed by Judith Urrutia and Billy Lawrence of San Antonio.

    Barnes & Noble, which owns Bookstop, plans to close the store and move to a new location built on the site of the River Oaks Shopping Center. Weingarten Realty Investors, the property owner, plans to demolish the building and redevelop the site."
    alabama theater sign

    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, c. 1941
    church of jesus christ of latter day saints

    Public School Stadium, c. 1942
    public school stadium
    public school stadium

    Pearland School, c. 1945
    pearland school
    pearland school
    pearland school

    University State Bank, c. 1946
    university state bank
    university state bank

    Duplex, c. 1947
    They could have named this place "Twin Palms."

    Roy and Lillie Cullen Building, Baylor College of Medicine, c. 1948
    roy and lillie cullen building, baylor college of medicine
    roy and lillie cullen building, baylor college of medicine health friezeroy and lillie cullen building, baylor college of medicine pathology frieze
    "Health" and "Pathology" friezes

    roy and lillie cullen building, baylor college of medicine frieze roy and lillie cullen building, baylor college of medicine frieze

  • Gulf Coast Deco X