Los Angeles in "Year of the Amphibian"

Nine months of the story in "Year of the Amphibian" take place in Los Angeles, and while L.A. has changed considerably since the early 1980's, some of the specific things I reference in the book still exist.

Wattles Park (Chapter 4 - Mid-October)

Wattles Park is a real place but the vibe is quite a bit different now. It used to be relatively quiet most of the time, with a grassy, palm-shaded slope for picnics and not much else, plus the front gate was often locked so as kids we had to find ways to sneak in. Above this area you could escape along dirt pathways up into the undeveloped hills of Runyon Canyon, and you were usually alone, which was good because scary people would lurk there sometimes. Nowadays the entire area has become a giant hilly walking park, jam-packed with runners and dog-walkers (and fewer unattended children).

Temporary Contemporary (Chapter 8 - Mid-February)

The Temporary Contemporary opened in 1983, and featured a great number of art installations. I remember one I could even crawl through. The space still exsists today but is called the Geffen Contemporary. See Art and Maps for more about the art mentioned in the book.

Cal Worthington (Chapter 8 - Mid-February)

Cal Worthington was the perfect embodiment of a used-car salesman, an intentional parody. Living in L.A., you could not escape his TV advertisements which always began with the words "Here's Cal Worthington and his dog Spot!" then a song accompanying a short clip of Cal with his "dog" which was always something else like a tiger or an elephant. But that part was canned and repeated in every ad until they made a new one. My favorite part came next, when Cal would go though the lot and say things like "just look at this beauty!" as the camera panned across the latest piece-of-shit cars. Cal himself made it all the way to 2013, and the dealership still exists.

Here's another one, and another.

Nuart Theater (Chapter 10 - Early March)

The Nuart Theater is an art-house cinema in West Lost Angeles on Santa Monica Boulevard that dates from 1929. In 1974 it became the very first Landmark theater, and you can still watch movies there today.



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