I Love L.A.: “Progress is killing us.”

August 11, 2015 — Leave a comment

L.A.’s iconic Formosa Cafe at Santa Monica Blvd & Formosa.

There’s a great old story about John Wayne passing out in a booth in L.A.’s iconic Formosa Cafe after a long day on the set and a long night in the Formosa’s bar. Lem Quon (co-owner at that time) locked up the place at closing and left The Duke to sleep it off. When Quon returned the next morning, Wayne was in the kitchen cooking breakfast for both of them.

Los Angeles Magazine posted this piece about 18 L.A. landmarks that are going away or changing dramatically. It’s a great walk down memory lane but a sad reflection on how things change. I don’t know if it’s factually true or just perception but it does seem Los Angeles is quick to let sites steeped in history and tradition go to the ash heap. Norm’s on La Cienega seemed perennially in danger for a while. The events center at Studio City’s historic Sportsmen’s Lodge is about to be plowed under to put up another retail, office building on Ventura.

Every time I hear about another landmark being shuttered, I remember a location scout with producer/director Harry Thomason. We were in a van going from spot to spot looking for locations to use in a 1950s period movie. Time and again we’d arrive at a location we remembered fondly only to find it in total disrepair or completely gone. At the end of a long day of such experiences, Harry turned to me and said, “Tim, progress is killing us.”


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