Nowhere in the world in the automobile more an integral part of a place’s culture and lifestyle than in California. Even as we find ourselves facing a world where the supply of unleaded is becoming ever more dear, Californians are leading the effort to make car culture more sustainable, guilt-free, and politically correct. Yet the car remains a celebrated icon of the California lifestyle, so, unsurprisingly, the Golden State is blessed with a number of automotive collections, two of them in Ventura County. Of those two, the arguable leader is the Murphy Auto Museum.
The Murphy is a labor of love of a handful of local car enthusiasts who tired of hiding their lovingly restored classics in garages and only wheeling them out for weekend events. The result is a gift for anyone with even the least appreciation for the automobile as historical artifact and art form.
The docents are knowledgeable and helpful, but are happy to simply let you wander the museum and appreciate the cars. The restorations have been loving and the attention to detail ensures that what you see are not “hot rods,” but vehicles that look like they are almost fresh off of the production line. Little surprise that Hollywood often comes into the museum looking for cars to use in period movies.
The museum is strictly a weekend affair, open Saturdays and Sundays only, so make it a part of a weekend itinerary when you are in the area.
MURPHY CLASSIC CAR FOUNDATION
2230 Statham Blvd.
Oxnard, California 93033
Sheila Weller takes us back to the 1960s, where a tiny cult of personality born in the early days of California’s surfing craze became a plunge into dysfunction and criminality.
Juicy reading, regardless of whether you grew up in that era, especially if you knew or were a part of the surf culture yourself growing up (as were many of us who went to high school within an hour’s drive of a SoCal beach.)
Garth Trinidad, a DJ at Santa Monica public radio station KCRW, has put together a playlist in remembrance of the 1992 riots. It’s a fascinating list, but the funny thing is that I remember playing none of these during those days.
I’m thinking about putting together my own April 1992 playlist. Let me know if you have one to share.
If the history of California proves anything, there is nothing with greater potential to amaze and titillate than a fringe group with a lump of cash and a real estate broker.
A group of Silvershirts, aided by a German agent and with the complicity of mining heiress Jessie Murphy, purchased a 55-acre ranch in the Santa Monica mountains and proceeded to invest today’s equivalent of US$66 million fitting it out as Kehlsteinhaus West.
The ruin is about to be put to the bulldozer to make the area a park, but I hope they at least put a plaque in place, if nothing else to serve as a marker for the high-water point in Nazi ambition.
In an engrossing time-capsule of writing,Vanity Fairoffers us James M. Cain‘s August 1933 article of the birth of Malibu and the early stages of its development as a suburb of Hollywood.
The article came out before the novels (The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce, Double Indemnity)for which Cain’s name would enter the American canon. As a literary curiosity it is an example of some of Cain’s best journalism, and as history it provides a snapshot of the L.A. Gold Coast uncluttered by what it later became.
There is something soulful about a lighthouse, standing as a sentinel to guide lost ships in search of refuge or in avoidance of danger. Even today, when lighthouses seem supplanted by such innovations as GPS and satellite navigation, the now-automated lights are a reminder that there are still those on the sea counting on seemingly outmoded implements to find their way on the water.
California is blessed with some of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world, and most of them have both significant history and pleasing architecture. It is a testament to the nation that we put so much thought and care into the design and upkeep of whate are, basically, maritime aids to navigation. In some sense, then, lighthouses are baubles in America’s love affair with the sea.
Our local favorite here on the Strawberry Coast is the Port Hueneme (wah-NEE-mee) lighthouse, the now-automated sentinel that marks the entrance to Southern California’s other other deepwater port. The structure itself is a nicely done example of the Art Deco Moderne style that characterized so many of the public structures built in the early 20th Century in Southern California. Volunteers of the Coast Guard Auxiliary have created a little museum at the base of the light, and it is open to the public from 10-3 on the third Saturday of each month. The link above will give you the details.
If you are in the area, it is worth a trip, and if you combine it with breakfast at Mrs. Olsen’s Coffee Hut nearby, you’ve got a superb beginning to a summer Saturday, even if Coastal Eddy is having his way with the weather.