The Naked City Mar 1 2014
HI AND BYE
Knocked for a loop in Los Angeles.

Were the police being whimsical? We don’t know. This evidentiary photo taken at Pacific Ocean Park shows the curious path that 19-year-old John Lee O’Brien took when he fatally plunged from a roller coaster into the sea, today in 1927. The image comes from the Los Angeles Public Library’s archive of twentieth century police photos. There are two accounts of what happened here. One says O’Brien fell 50 feet, but that doesn’t explain the strange loop in the photo.
 
The more plausible story is version two. In that one, O’Brien was showing off by standing up during the ride. When the car went around a curve, he lost his balance and plunged 125 feet into the ocean. A fall from that height would have his descent beginning from the higher track in the photo, whereupon—boing!—he struck the lower track, rebounded and fell a further 50 feet into the water, unconscious or possibly already dead. Maybe that’s what the loop signifies—bounciness. The coaster, by the way, was called the High Boy. See below.

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The Naked City Dec 14 2013
WATER WATER EVERYWHERE
The fault was theirs and theirs alone.

Fifty years ago in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Baldwin Hills a tiny crack in the wall of the Baldwin Hills Reservoir became a 75-foot-wide breach that allowed more than 250 million gallons of water to burst free in a killer wave. The reservoir had been built on an active geologic fault, a fact that was known by engineers but deemed unimportant. The images above and below, part of the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection of vintage L.A. photos, show the beginning and aftermath of the event. The first shot was taken as workers were examining the growing crack. At some point, a shouted warning sent them scattering and the dam broke. The time elapsed between the discovery of the crack and the failure of the dam was about three hours. No workers were hurt, but within the path of the wave, an area roughly bounded by La Brea Avenue, Jefferson Boulevard, and La Cienega Boulevard, five people were killed, sixty-five houses were completely destroyed, and 210 other residences were damaged. That was today in 1963.

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The Naked City Apr 13 2012
PHONE HOME
Brother can you spare some pulp?

This photo of a drunk trapped in an L.A. phone booth in 1951 comes from the Los Angeles Public Library´s extensive online collection, and it also happens to represent exactly how we feel today. Not because we found ourselves unexpectedly invited to a party last night where we had perhaps too much champagne and whiskey, and not because our furniture hasn´t arrived at the new house yet and we´re sleeping on air matresses. No, we feel trapped like this poor sap because we are sans internet. And our local telecommunications gangsters won't have us online for another three weeks. Ain't that a bitch? We're operating entirely from internet cafes and whatever beams we can pull from the sky. We´ll try to manage without interruption, but no promises. Wish us luck. Or better yet, help us shoulder the load by writing us some posts. Use the pulp uploader in the righthand sidebar to send us text and art. It really works. We swear.

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The Naked City Dec 1 2011
OGDEN SELLS OUT
Hitting rock bottom in Los Angeles.

Here’s another shot from the Los Angeles Public Library online photo archive, sort of an addendum to our October post on crime scene photo diagrams. This time what we have is a diagram of a suicide, which took place today in 1958 when a man with the unlikely name of Ogden Sells threw himself from a top floor window of the Park La Brea Towers in Los Angeles. The arrow makes it seem as if Sells hooked like a Sandy Koufax curveball, but we can assume he fell hard and straight. More from the USC archive to come. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
December 08
1980—John Lennon Killed
Ex-Beatle John Lennon is shot four times in the back and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of The Dakota apartment building in New York City. Chapman had been stalking Lennon since October, and earlier that evening Lennon had autographed a copy of his album Double Fantasy for him.
December 07
1941—Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor
The Imperial Japanese Navy sends aircraft to attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet and its defending air forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While the U.S. lost battleships and other vessels, its aircraft carriers were not at Pearl Harbor and survived intact, robbing the Japanese of the total destruction of the Pacific Fleet they had hoped to achieve.
December 06
1989—Anti-Feminist Gunman Kills 14
In Montreal, Canada, at the École Polytechnique, a gunman shoots twenty-eight young women with a semi-automatic rifle, killing fourteen. The gunman claimed to be fighting feminism, which he believed had ruined his life. After the killings he turns the gun on himself and commits suicide.
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