Acrobatics of the Past

Diesel Brentwood bookseller Thomas Bailey reports:

On an unusually rainy Monday in Los Angeles, we here at Diesel were fortunate enough to catch a glimmer of sunlight through the most unsuspecting customer. All wrapped up and slowed by the ice-cold downpour, she looked to have seen the greater part of the past century. Turns out she had indeed seen quite a bit.

After purchasing what seemed to be just another customary holiday gift book, the lady turns around to me and asks if I recognize anyone in particular on the cover photo of Taschen’s recent portraiture of Los Angeles. Lo and behold, not only was she just one of the bright kodachromatic faces on the cover, but the fearless high-flying body intersecting the title!

As she unfolded the stories of each ecstatic face on the cover I noticed nearby customers slowly drawing closer to this magnetic force. Old Hollywood tales of Gene Kelly jumping in and out of cars, the spirit of Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Gish and the days of celebrity and spectacle untouched by the greedy hands of today’s paparazzi and the overbearing sense of being documented and display with little regard to the subject. We had been transported to times when people came to the beaches of Santa Monica just ot fly around in the air, master stunts and rework routines for the next George Cukor musical.

Despite the confining rain as of late, the stories reminded me of the abundant activity and the independent spirit that has been seminal to shaping the greater Los Angeles area. As an independent bookstore it’s always rewarding to feel such resonant traditions.


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