The destruction of the land and that community was something that I thought was really hideous. It was doubly significant because it was the way Los Angeles was formed, really.” –AFI interview with Robert Towne

mulholland damn
Mulholland Damn, Hollywood
Already shimmering with heat.
A drunk blows his nose with his fingers into the fountain at the
foot of the steps.
Gittes, impeccably dressed, passes the drunk on the way up the
Former Mayor SAM BAGBY is speaking. Behind him is a huge map, with
overleafs and bold lettering:
Some of the councilmen are reading funny papers and gossip columns
while Bagby is speaking.
Gentlemen, today you can walk out that door,
turn right, hop on a streetcar and in twenty-
five minutes end up smack in the Pacific
Ocean. Now you can swim in it, you can fish
in it, you can sail in it but you can’t drink
it, you can’t water your lawns with it, you
can’t irrigate an orange grove with it.
Remember we live next door to the ocean but
we also live on the edge of the desert. Los
Angeles is a desert community. Beneath this
building, beneath every street there’s a
desert. Without water the dust will rise up
and cover us as though we’d never existed!
(pausing, letting the
implication sink in)

Chinatown by Robert Towne

(from left to right) Weymouth, Mulholland, Whitsett

AVC: The movie is very much in the tradition of Raymond Chandler and movies like The Big Sleep. But it also undermines it. Philip Marlowe gets beat up on a regular basis, but he doesn’t have a big hunk of gauze strapped to his face for half the movie. Is it easier for you to have a genre to push against when you’re writing, or is it more restrictive?

RT: Well, exactly. You hit upon something I think really is central to the working of something like that. As much as I loved reading Raymond Chandler, and in particular his love of the city, or his appreciation of those elements of the city that he found memorable—he’d write about the tomcat smell of eucalyptus and things that were part of my consciousness growing up, my sensibility growing up. But, having said that, his hero, Philip Marlowe, would never do divorce work. He considered it beneath the dignity of a tarnished knight. His mode of dress was careless at best. And the kind of crimes that he dealt with were usually one way or another like The Maltese Falcon—there was nothing about public corruption, or almost nothing I can recall. I knew that detectives in the ’30s and ’40s that were successful did nothing but divorce work until they got to be successful. And they were flashy. They were clotheshorses. And also when people get hurt, they don’t recover right away. So it was just an attempt to bring a level of reality to life at that time that the conventions of cinema had sort of obliterated.

via Robert Towne · Interview · The A.V. Club.

Aqueduct, 1926

As California Drought Enters 4th Year, Conservation Efforts and Worries Increase

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