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Looking west on Sunset Boulevard from about Hayvenhurst, ca.1936 | by MichaelRyerson
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Looking west on Sunset Boulevard from about Hayvenhurst, ca.1936

Looking west on Sunset Boulevard from about Hayvenhurst (out-of-frame and slightly behind the camera to the left) at the confluence of Sunset which bends to the left up ahead and Marmont Lane which runs essentially straight forward. The Chateau Marmont is formidably on the right, of course, and the front of the delicious Garden of Allah is to the immediate left. One of the grocery stores my father operated in this area was behind the camera about two blocks on the SE corner of Sunset and Fairfax, (hence its name the SunFax), so it wasn't too unusual for some of us box-boys to be asked to occasionally walk a small order down to the Garden. Sometimes two of us would go. Also not too unusual to have the door to one of the bungalows opened by someone you'd recognize. It was that kind of place. To my memory we never made similar deliveries to the Chateau Marmont. This great shot includes the best picture I've seen of Chester Morris' father's house. We are looking at the garage door side of the house, it sits just about dead center in the frame directly above the light-colored sedan headed this way. This is from 1936, so about two years before Preston Sturgis bought the house from Mr. Morris' widow (William Morris died on a heart attack in 1936, just about the time this picture was taken) and started his extensive renovations.

 

Here is a tidbit from Harpo Marx about the Garden of Allah...

 

"So my little bungalow in the Garden of Allah was a peaceful retreat. It was the best place to practice I ever had—until a piano player moved into a bungalow across from mine and shattered the peace.

 

I was looking forward to a solid weekend of practice, without interruptions, when my new neighbor started to bang away. I couldn’t hear anything below a forte on the harp. There were no signs the piano banging was going to stop. It only got more overpowering. This character was warming up for a solid weekend of practice too.

 

I went to the office to register a complaint. One of us had to go, I said, and it wasn’t going to be me because I was there first. But the management didn’t see it my way. The new guest, whose playing was driving me nuts, was Sergei Rachmaninoff. They were not about to ask him to move.

 

I was flattered to have such a distinguished neighbor, but I still had to practice. So I got rid of him my own way.

 

I opened the door and all the windows in my place and began to play the first four bars of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp Minor, over and over, fortissimo. Two hours later my fingers were getting numb. But I didn’t let up, not until I heard a thunderous crash of notes from across the way, like the keyboard had been attacked with a pair of sledge hammers. Then there was silence.

 

This time it was Rachmaninoff who went to complain. He asked to be moved to another bungalow immediately, the farthest possible from that dreadful harpist. Peace returned to the Garden.

 

I didn’t really know until much later how sharp my intuition had been. I found out that the great pianist and composer detested his Prelude in C-sharp Minor. He considered it a very Minor piece of work. He was haunted by it everywhere he went, by students who butchered it and by audiences who clamored for it, and he wished he’d never written it. After playing the damn thing nonstop for two hours I knew exactly how he felt.

 

—Harpo Speaks! by Harpo Marx with Rowland Barber, p 284-285.

 

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Taken on March 5, 2017