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“There is a sociology of horses, as well as a psychology”*…

 

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Clubhouse Mezzanine

 

On a cool and sunny Wednesday afternoon in December 2013, I pulled into a massive parking lot in Inglewood, California. My plan was to photograph Hollywood Park Racetrack before it closed forever. At the time, I was a portrait photographer and had spent many years capturing the subtleties of facial expressions, watching carefully how happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and surprise unfold in the muscles of the face. The work of portraiture is exhilarating but also profoundly exhausting, and I was interested in shifting my attention to buildings, particularly buildings that had been lived in and well worn. I liked the idea of working with less, and also working alone, and I was curious, too. What does a building reveal? How is a building like a face?

Growing up in Los Angeles I had spent many evenings right next door to Hollywood Park. I watched Lakers games, basketball at the summer Olympics, and countless rock concerts at The Forum. Although the neighboring track was enormous — 300 acres, a capacity of 80,000 guests — I had never paid any attention until now…

Photographer Michele Asselin spent the next several days intensively documenting Hollywood Park…

It was almost impossible to stop taking photos, but finally, on December 22, 2013, at 11:00 p.m., my hand was forced. The crowd filed out for the last time as the loudspeakers played “At Last” and “Happy Trails.” Some people were crying, some were singing, some were nonchalant. Those trying to filch a little piece of history — a sign or a doorknob — were stopped by a security guard. When the last person exited the grounds, the gates were locked. The horses were loaded into trailers in the coming weeks and moved across town or to Oklahoma, New Jersey, or Kentucky. The auctioneers sifted through what was left, and then, in 2014, Hollywood Park was razed.

After 15 days of circling the grounds, hauling my equipment from place to place, I was 12 pounds thinner and had hardly seen my kids. I had taken 25,000 photos. It would be a year before I finished sorting through them. I wondered what I had fixed in time. The end of something? Evidence of its existence? The traces of time? I tried to keep in mind what an arborist had once told me — that it’s okay to cut down a struggling tree as long as another is planted in its place. I hope that the same is true of buildings…

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Jay Cohen. Bugler.

From Asselin’s introduction to her new book, Clubhouse Turn- The Twilight of Hollywood Park Race Track.  For the full intro and more of her photos: “Say Goodbye to Hollywood Park: Photographing the Twilight of a Racetrack” and her website.

* Jane Smiley (Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and horse owner/breeder)

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As we place our bets, we might recall that it was on this date in 1931 that the state legislature in Nevada legalized casino gambling in the state.  In fact, gambling had been legal in Nevada until 1909 (by which time it was the only state with legal gambling), when an earlier instantiation of the legislature outlawed it.

(Coincidentally, it was on this date in 1942 that Alfred G. Vanderbilt and number of horse racing luminaries established the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America.)

gambling source

 

“He who controls the spice controls the universe”*

 

Spices

 

Spices were among the first engines of globalization, not in the modern sense of a world engulfed by ever-larger corporations but in the ways that we began to become aware, desirous even, of cultures other than our own. Such desire, unchecked, once led to colonialism. After Dutch merchants nearly tripled the price of black pepper, the British countered in 1600 by founding the East India Company, a precursor to modern multinationals and the first step toward the Raj. In the following decades, the Dutch sought a monopoly on cloves, which once had grown nowhere but the tropical islands of Ternate and Tidore in what is today Indonesia, and then in 1652 introduced the scorched-earth policy known as extirpation, felling and burning tens of thousands of clove trees. This was both an ecological disaster and horribly effective: For more than a century, the Dutch kept supplies low and prices high, until a Frenchman (surnamed, in one of history’s inside jokes, Poivre, or “pepper”) arranged a commando operation to smuggle out a few clove-tree seedlings. Among their ultimate destinations were Zanzibar and Pemba, off the coast of East Africa, which until the mid-20th century dominated the world’s clove market.

The craving for spices still brings the risk of exploitation, both economically, as farmers in the developing world see only a sliver of the profits, and in the form of cultural appropriation. In the West, we’re prone to taking what isn’t ours and acting as if we discovered it, conveniently forgetting its history and context. Or else we reduce it to caricature, cooing over turmeric-stained golden lattes while invoking the mystic wisdom of the East. At the same time, a world without borrowing and learning from our neighbors would be pallid and parochial — a world, in effect, without spice…

From turmeric in Nicaragua to cardamom in Guatemala, nonnative ingredients are redefining trade routes and making unexpected connections across lands: “How Spices Have Made, and Unmade, Empires.”

* Frank Herbert, Dune

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As we go deep on dash, we might recall that this is National Buffet Day.  The concept of the buffet arose in mid 17th century France, when gentleman callers would arrive unexpectedly at the homes of ladies they wanted to woo.  It was popularized in 18th century France and quickly spread throughout Europe.  The all-you-can-eat buffet made its restaurant debut in 1946, when it was introduced by Vegas hotel manager Herb MacDonald.  By the mid-1960s, virtually every casino in Las Vegas sported its own variation.  Today, of course, buffets are regularly available not only in any/every Vegas casino, but also in thousands of Indian and Chinese restaurants and ubiquitous chains of “family restaurants.”

buffet source

 

 

 

 

Written by LW

January 2, 2020 at 1:01 am

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