Friday, March 28, 2008
hollywood views - part 3 - the sunset vine tower

There is a building that I have been photographing from my deck, for a very long time.....It was known as The Sunset Vine Tower when it was built in 1963, as a twenty story office building. In 2001 there was a terrible electrical fire that literally closed the building down and it has been empty ever since. In the last two years it has changed "looks" many many times.....By way of placement, the building is at the South East Corner of Sunset Blvd, and Vine Street.......And I am going to show you a series of pictures of the different incarnations of this building.....There was a rather nice restaurant on the top floor, back in the day, called Simply Blues....There you could hear pretty good music and have some fairly good food, too. I remember going there sometime in the late 60's early 70's after seeing the fabulous show "Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well" at the then Huntington Hartford Theatre, up the street on Vine...(Now called the Ricardo Montalban Theatre.....) Later, that same restaurant/bar/jazz place was known as 360, because of the fantastic views from all sides, encompassing 360 degrees. (Incidentally, this building was featured in the film "Earthquake" back in 1974....)Okay. So in 2003 the building was bought by a Real Estate Group called CIM. It took a long time for everything to go through and finally, it was announced that the building would be completely renovated and turned into Condominiums....It seemed like nothing happened for the longest time.....Then, there was another fire in the building in 2005..... I did not take this picture...I found it on line...And you can see that back in 2005 there was some advertising on the side of this building for the film, "Mr & Mrs. Smith" (the 'Brangelina' film....).But, in all honesty, I do not recall ever seeing anything on the two sides of the building visible to me...till 2006.....Maybe it was there, but not in my view.....This building seems to have a lot of bad luck connected to it....I understand that someone jumped off the building sometime before that terrible 2001 fire that closed the building.....And just an aside: It was one of the first buildings built after Los Angeles changed it's building restrictions, allowing new buildings to be taller than 14 story's. In March of 2006, I noticed the first advertising showing up in my view....! In this picture it was only on the one side, facing West..... A closer look above at that advertising panel....covering 17 or 18 floors of this building.....An eyesore? I think so. As I recall....the Ipod Ads on the side of the old Bekins Storage Building which I have posted were the first ads that I became aware of....Visual Pollution was what I called them back then, and I still call this kind of advertising that two and a half years later..... In May of 2006, I noticed this strange bizarre covering that began to go up on The Sunset Vine Tower. In researching a little about the history here, it turns out that there was asbestos in the building that needed to be removed. They were forced to put this plastic sleeve covering the entire building so that the asbestos would not escape and the surrounding neighborhoods---me included---would not be at risk. Here above is the building, completely "wrapped" and you can see that on the North side they wasted no time in selling the Ad space. This picture was taken in July of 2006. And the one below, a few days later..... Then, a few months later, the Ads were changed..... There is money to be made by the owners of this building....I read somewhere where a Rep for this Real Estate Company said, 'Oh I wouldn't have any advertising on the building if it hadn't needed to be wrapped because of the asbestos....'. Oh yeah? Well, what was that "Mr. & Mr. Smith" stuff all about then?? Okay. So this one was on here for a while....and then.... As you can see....this stuff was being torn off....I'm not sure how that was done or if there were other factors involved, but..... this was still coming off--or being removed, two months later....And as you can see, all the exterior things that had been on the building in those first three pictures, are now gone.... And this picture above was taken the same day at the brink of dusk....And the "plastic wrap" is almost all gone....it really looks a mess, doesn't it? It is now February, 2007..... And above, on March 22, 2007....a neat and clean skeleton of a building appears.....Every time I photographed this building, I wondered what the hell they were doing and why it was taking so long to do whatever it was they were doing.....? In early April of 2007, something else seemed to be happening, once again, in terms of "wrapping".... As you can see, one side---the North side had this word running down the building...'TRANSFORMERS'.....and that blue stuff facing West...well, I didn't know what it was..... The picture above was only twenty minutes later...but it looked like the wind was playing havoc with that blue 'wrap' on the lower left so you could barely see it......Some weeks past and the next time I photographed the building, this is what I saw..... This was the most complex "painting" of any of the Ads that I have seen on that building.....it actually was quite amazing in it's complexity.....I have not seen the movie "Transformers" and I would venture to say the chances of my ever seeing it are none to none.....So I am happy I got to see this very expensive advertising for it.....But, I must say there is something quite imposing and scary about this Ad......

(Part 2 of this story, next time.....)



More To Come.......









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38 Comments:
had this to say:

What a fascinating history of one building. Seeing it's many incantations through your pictures is kind of like watching one of those films which show a long period of time passing quickly! A lot has certainly happenend to it. I wonder when they will finish doing whatever they are doing? It does seem that they are contnet to use it as a huge advertising board! Speaking of which they really are visiual pollution as they dominate the view.

Thanks for your lovely comment about your photobook :) I am so happy that it still brings joy to you and flattered that people like it so much. I am up to my ears still with work and study but I will email you soon. I haven't forgotten that you wanted more! I never thought it would be such a big hit! :)

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 2:42:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

doesn't it just make you wonder how anything ever got sold before all the commercialism ?!! (hard to believe that once upon a time there was "virtually" no "commercials" on our computers!

No one can leave the tiniest (nor the largest bldg) space unused! It's sickening.

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 3:33:00 AM PDT 

Blogger jac
had this to say:

wow! i never really thought about all the ads that go on buildings like that. i wonder what will happen to it now?
you cracked me up with the transformers! none to none chances are indeed pretty slim!
have a great day naomi! thanks for bringing a little of your flair into mine :-)

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 5:14:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I knew that building looked familiar and then you mentioned Earthquake, one of Charleton Heston's less successful efforts, if I recall.

Cheers.

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 5:51:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

This would be comical...if it were not so sad.

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 6:50:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What an amazing travelogue of photos as this building goes through renovations. It does look like the owners are only using the outside to make money on advertising. But it is a shame that the inside is going to waste for so long, since the 2001 fire.

I can certainly understand your questioning what is happening with the building when it is literally in your backyard every day.

Your photos never cease to amaze me nor does the view from your deck!

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 7:26:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What an interesting series of photos of its history. I would have had no idea a building could remain empty that long and still not be torn down. There are a few buildings I know of that are bad luck buildings and never keep a tenant or seem to get remodeled in a way that works but one that huge is the first I've seen.

I would also consider those big ads to be visual pollution. Amazing they allow them but then I guess money talks

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 8:49:00 AM PDT 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

Another absorbing post Naomi. Some buildings seem doomed don't they? I'm wondering if they project those ads on the the wall rather than paint them.
Ohhh Jacque Brel - Paris in the sixties and heart ache! Don't ask:)

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 10:25:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Those are fascinating pictures - and I can't wait to see the rest of the story!!

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 11:12:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I love the fact that you bring me such interesting posts with so much interesting history.

You know you should be a tour guide - ahhh...but, you are through your blog you share such a love for your city...and we get to share your life...How lucky!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 12:51:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

So far, I haven't seen much advertising at that level here in the UK.

Mind you, the artwork is better than the 'glamour' photos.

I love your potted history of the tower; a lifetime of it, so to speak :-)

cq

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 2:34:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

As you have said and written before:
Is it progress?
-- or what's the force and meaning behind (such garbage) what you have to look at every day?

Oh Oh Oh - these matters is better to talk face to face than via blog.

btw. I'll see what I can do when visting my Son in Michigan early August - coming over to CA?. Have family in SF area.
Anna will visit Ingelin in Hong Kong late June and beginning of July. I go there in October.

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 4:35:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I think that LA ought to have a law that you cannot advertise like that on a whole building. That it is there at all is bad for the people who live behind it, but to add ugly ads like that is terrible.

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 5:18:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Thanks for sharing LA through your eyes and those of your camera. I feel like I've been there now, in a way. The Sunset Vine Tower was built a couple of years before I was born. So much has happened to it in 40+ years. I love top floor restaurants and I would've enjoyed Simply Blues.

My son would enjoy seeing that last building with the "Transformers" ad on it. Personally, I think there are too many ads on these buildings; it ruins the view and takes away from their history and charm.

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 6:11:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

So many changes in just one building!

Friday, March 28, 2008 at 6:29:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Thanks for documenting the story of the building. I wonder just hop much it costs them to "wrap" the building in advertisements. I'm sure there would be planning laws about doing that in this country. Looking forward to the next part :)

Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 6:57:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, what an amazing history of this huge building. You did a good photo reportage here. Sounds this building have a bad luck indeed!

I am looking forward to see the Part 2 of this story...

Sorry I could not to sent you some yummy fruits... LOL!

Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 9:08:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

what a great idea for a post! this is a very interesting series of photos of that building Naomi. I can hardly wait for part 2!

Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 11:05:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Hi,
I'm back again.
Firstly thanks for your nice comment on my post from yesterday;)

The French word for "medly" and also a soup:
http://www.answers.com/topic/potpourri

When talking about French:
Jaques Brel - What an artist he was. And the play you here mention:
I could cry for less. He gave himself.
I remember, when working in Paris back in -67, we did not have money to go to Olympia - the famous show theatre in Paris - but we watched his show on TV soon after: Brel at Olympia. I got "geeseskin".
Most people do think he was French, but in fact from the French spoken part of Belgium. I have a collection of his songs - on vinyl.
When I listen to his song of the Port of Amsterdam - I'm thrilled.

Well, that's it for now.

Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 11:36:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I think it is amazing that you have taken so many pictures over the years of that same building, fasinating watching it change.
they really do just seem to use it as a huge billboard these days.

Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 2:26:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

That building must be cursed or something.
Maybe a witch cast a spell on it.
How strange that a building there could stay empty and unused for so long.
I DID see transformers with my kids.
It was a fun movie, not a classic by ANY means, but fun nonetheless.

Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 9:17:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Something about this post reminded me of my Hawaii trip. I spent one whole day on my balcony studying the people at the pool and kept up a running commentary for my husband about an older heavy man getting a sunburn. (I think I made my husband stay in that day because he had gotten too much sun the day before.) It was fun watching the changes through the day. He got redder and redder and then his wife was coating him with sunscreen and then he was wrapped in towels and had moved into the shade. It's fun to watch all these things going on from the comfort of your own space.

Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 11:49:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Never a dull moment with buildings Naomi and in fact I have noticed from reading your blog that you are never bore with things around you.

You have this wonderful sense of things around you and for that I am thankful to be able to share everything nice around you, around your life :D

Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 1:44:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Interesting to see the trials and tribulations of the building and I didn't find that Bradgelina film very good either.

We get these building wraps on the way into London from the west now. Thats the route from Heathrow airport and they change them every few days. None as big as your one in L.A. but I suppose its only a matter of time.

There a small piece on my car cam from west London but that was at night, so not quite so clear!

Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 9:02:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow. The evolution of this building is unbelievable. I never would have thought one would go thru so many changes, especially so drastic.

Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 6:11:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow Naomi!! It's amazing the changes in the appearance of this building!! So neat that you got all these photos as things were changing. Seems it has had lots of makeovers. I don't like the ads on the sides either!

Now, since I'm late getting here, I'll read "the rest of the story" in your second part!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 7:27:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Did you just show us a building getting naked??? * big eyes *

Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 11:53:00 PM PDT 

Anonymous smlnmyt
had this to say:

I worked in this building at L.A. Leasing Systems from 1977 - 1979. I think I was on the 14th floor. Of course as a receptionist, I didn't have a window, but I would sometimes go and stare out of one of the offices. Simply Blues was a wonderful restuarant. The view was spectacular and the father and son team was a charming combination. Do you know if they (Michael and his dad) ever opened another restaurant?
Thanks for the update about this building.

Monday, May 4, 2009 at 1:56:00 AM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Simply Blues was my favorite restaurant in the 1980's. Went there every week. Had very good food. Great view. And Maurice was the graphologist that visited every table. He was a lot of fun. If I remember correctly, occasionally one of the Marx Brother's sons would play at the piano bar. Was never able to replace the restaurant and very sad to see it close.

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 8:13:00 PM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

I loved "Simply Blues", too. When I had just graduated from high school in the mid 70's, and was starting college, this was one of the first places I would go with my new "older friends" as our first stop on our "nights on the town". I remember we always had a nice experience there, and were always treated nicely even though we were young (but well dressed!) Since I have not lived in the Hollywood area for about 20 years, I enjoyed the memories this story brought back.

Friday, July 9, 2010 at 1:44:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I was searching on the Net to find anything about the restaurant I used to be a server at back in the 70's, Simply Blues. How nice to see it mentioned on here. I worked there when we had an earthquake, or maybe an aftershock...and to feel that whole building sway...was amazing and scary! They had THE best crab benedict and I've never found anywhere that made it as good as they did. Sunday brunches were fantastic, and the gay crowd were the best tippers!

Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 2:38:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Thank you for bring back wonderful memories of working at this building.I was the HVAC (heating/venting/air conditioning) contractor at the building from 1979 to 1995. The sixteen years I spent at this building were some of the best years of my now 37 year career. The people I met and worked with at the time will always have a special place in my heart.

As for the time it took to renovate this particular building, I would just like to say.......Like a fine Lady preparing for a party, the time seems long, until you see the elegance, beauty, and grace of her entance.

Thank you my Lady for sixteen wonderful years with you.

John Dalton CM

Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 10:31:00 AM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

More re that "Transformers" wrap:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0ZB4PJKUJ4

The Goo Goo Dolls music video for the song "Before it's Too Late" from the film.

John Rzeznik: guitar & vocals
Robby Takac: bass
Mike Malinin: drums

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 11:39:00 PM PST 

Anonymous LaMer79@comcast.net
had this to say:

I was a Building Manager for this property in the early middle '90's when it was owned by a Beverly Hills developer, a famous radio personality, and two attorneys. How very interesting it is to see how it has changed. Thanks for your posting.

Sunday, February 27, 2011 at 12:28:00 PM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Thank you for this most intersting read. I worked in this building in the late 80's and actually was googling Simply Blues to see if it still existed, and stumbled upon this. I no longer live in California.Simply Blues was still hopping then and I even remember seeing the newly famous Bruce Willis in the bar. There was also a tradegy when I worked in that building. A young woman jumped minutes before I arrived for work.

This was really cool. Again, thank you.

Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 11:19:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I was taken here by my prom date in 1975. We had the most fabulous evening dining at the Simply Blues Restaurant. As luck would have it, they didn't even card us, lol. You could get away with stuff like that back in those days. I have the ashtray as a souvenir sitting here by my computer, (no don't smoke) and was just wondering today whatever happen to that place. Your story and pictures are truly fascinating!! You answered my questions and gave me a whole lot more!! Thanks a bunch.

Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 11:31:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

In about 1983 I took my wife, then prom date, to a fancy LA restauarant on the reccomendation of a nice lady customer that frequented the grocery store I used to at. I had been talking about the upcoming event and she asked where I was taking my date. I told her I had no idea as we lived pretty far away from any decent place to eat and she said, "You want to impress her? Take her to Simply Blue; it's a great restaurant on top of a building overlooking Los Angeles. You won't regret it."

On the night of the prom, my date in a cute dress and me styling in my rented tux, I looked up the route in my Thomas Guide, picked her up in my orange VW Fastback and told her that we were going to be on the road for a bit.

The destination was a surprise. A lot of firsts for us that night: first time making dinner reservations, first time dining in a fancy restaurant, first time dressing up together for the evening... First time dining in another city; yep, all theses memories, still pretty fresh after some thirty years.

Upon arriving to the building, parking was below ground in a well lit basement lined mostly with expensive vehicles. We exited the car and took an elevator to the lobby and was greeted by a sharply dressed security attendant who after asking what our business was in the building, ushered us into another elevator that accessed the upper floors Before entering the elevator, I asked him, "Sir... Which floor is the restaurant on?" He said, "You'll know..." and gave us a wink as we stepped in nd the door closed.

The elevator ontrol buttons were unremarkable, brushed tainless steel like one would find in any normal elevator, except for the top floor ( or was it the second from the top?) instead of a number designator, had a small brass plate that (quite simply...) read "Simply Blues." We were both out of our element, nervous, but both so exited.

When the doors opened, we were met by a narrow, chrome lined glass, old-fashioned meat counter that held seafood, like crab an oyster lined in net rows, this next to a fish tank that held live Maine lobster. This with rich, dark wood accents resonating "class" everywhere.

Beyond and over the glass in front of us, I could see a bar area within a room off center and to the right, with a gentleman singing, playing piano, surrounded by suited office types and their female companions - all having drinks, smiles, laughs - by the baby grand, ala "Piano Man" Billy Joel style, but upscale and swanky.

The entrance to the main eating area was to the left, immediately guiding one past the case and lobster tank to the maitre des podium. I announced our reservation, "Robert...for, uh, two," and we were promptly taken to our seats. In passing other patrons we received smiles, the kind of " been there, one that" smile any couple dressed in prom garb would receive given our surroundings. Funny, one couple even asked if we had gotten engaged.

We were seated next to a window and could see the lights and sights of the city's north/north-west end. The view was really stunning. My girlfriend wanted to dance, as there was a small floor to do so with lite music, but she was too self-conscious to ask. I was just impressed at the atmosphere of this restaurant gem on top of the world.

The menus came, and my date was hesitant to order anything beyond a salad; by our terms this place was pretty expensive, but she ended up ordering something, that I don't recall now, and I ordered a steak. We ate our meals talking about the prom to follow, our friends, and other silly things that young folks talk about during their swanky restaurant adventures.

After a great dining experience, we settled our bill and bid goodbye, unknowingly, to the best dining experience and venue we've experienced. What a wonderful night we had.

Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 12:37:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

In about 1983 I took my wife, then prom date, to a fancy LA restauarant on the reccomendation of a nice lady customer that frequented the grocery store I used to at. I had been talking about the upcoming event and she asked where I was taking my date. I told her I had no idea as we lived pretty far away from any decent place to eat and she said, "You want to impress her? Take her to Simply Blue; it's a great restaurant on top of a building overlooking Los Angeles. You won't regret it."

On the night of the prom, my date in a cute dress and me styling in my rented tux, I looked up the route in my Thomas Guide, picked her up in my orange VW Fastback and told her that we were going to be on the road for a bit.

The destination was a surprise. A lot of firsts for us that night: first time making dinner reservations, first time dining in a fancy restaurant, first time dressing up together for the evening... First time dining in another city; yep, all theses memories, still pretty fresh after some thirty years.

Upon arriving to the building, parking was below ground in a well lit basement lined mostly with expensive vehicles. We exited the car and took an elevator to the lobby and was greeted by a sharply dressed security attendant who after asking what our business was in the building, ushered us into another elevator that accessed the upper floors Before entering the elevator, I asked him, "Sir... Which floor is the restaurant on?" He said, "You'll know..." and gave us a wink as we stepped in nd the door closed.

The elevator ontrol buttons were unremarkable, brushed tainless steel like one would find in any normal elevator, except for the top floor ( or was it the second from the top?) instead of a number designator, had a small brass plate that (quite simply...) read "Simply Blues." We were both out of our element, nervous, but both so exited.

When the doors opened, we were met by a narrow, chrome lined glass, old-fashioned meat counter that held seafood, like crab an oyster lined in net rows, this next to a fish tank that held live Maine lobster. This with rich, dark wood accents resonating "class" everywhere.

Beyond and over the glass in front of us, I could see a bar area within a room off center and to the right, with a gentleman singing, playing piano, surrounded by suited office types and their female companions - all having drinks, smiles, laughs - by the baby grand, ala "Piano Man" Billy Joel style, but upscale and swanky.

The entrance to the main eating area was to the left, immediately guiding one past the case and lobster tank to the maitre des podium. I announced our reservation, "Robert...for, uh, two," and we were promptly taken to our seats. In passing other patrons we received smiles, the kind of " been there, one that" smile any couple dressed in prom garb would receive given our surroundings. Funny, one couple even asked if we had gotten engaged.

We were seated next to a window and could see the lights and sights of the city's north/north-west end. The view was really stunning. My girlfriend wanted to dance, as there was a small floor to do so with lite music, but she was too self-conscious to ask. I was just impressed at the atmosphere of this restaurant gem on top of the world.

The menus came, and my date was hesitant to order anything beyond a salad; by our terms this place was pretty expensive, but she ended up ordering something, that I don't recall now, and I ordered a steak. We ate our meals talking about the prom to follow, our friends, and other silly things that young folks talk about during their swanky restaurant adventures.

After a great dining experience, we settled our bill and bid goodbye, unknowingly, to the best dining experience and venue we've experienced. What a wonderful night we had.

Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 12:39:00 PM PDT 

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