A week ago I saw a new Volvo commercial that invoked Rocky Point. Today I got around to googling it.
“The story is that he wrote an award-winning screenplay three to four years ago but struggled to write his second,” says O’Rourke. “Was that all he had in him, or is he a truly talented guy?” He adds, “When you tell an actor that, and he has this information to chew on, it makes him give a deeper performance.”
We see our hero bringing home a woman with short hair and freckles. She has undergone some ordeal, perhaps, a medical one. I suspect she is his First Muse that got cast aside. They now know their true role in life that will unfold at a very dramatic modern house overlooking the sea. Has this guy been reading my blog? Has Rena ended her Cold War with me, and now wants in my movie?
The Volvo house looks like a Brook-Kothlow house, who built the house at Rocky Point where Rosamond died. Bryan watched me paint the large 31/2 by 6 ft canvas I did of the duck hunting cabin that was located off the entrance of the Bay Bridge. You can see some of them behind the wood dragon. This was my retreat from the vast nothingness of LA, that consumed our identities and spat us out with new ones. I began this work in May of 64 after dropping out of Uni High. They made me cut off my Errol Flynn goatee. Bryan was forced out due to his long hair. We were desperate to own a future. The mudflat sculptures appeared at this time. I would not they existed until 1965.
Is this synchronicity? Am I the progenitor of this movement? I had done a watercolor of the warehouse in Jack London Square. Jingletown was born in the 70s. Zorthan was doing junk sculptures at his ranch that I took LSD at in 1965. Bryan’s father designed track homes and shopping centers. This constitutes an architectural and psychological rebellion. Liz Taylor is trying to enjoy her home that George built, but, she is trashing it. We have drawn ourselves into a corner. Our props do not work anymore. The trip to the Volvo house might suggest a new pertinence has……….come home to stay. What kind of car did Liz and Burton drive? They drove Cadillac’s a real luxury car! A Volvo is not a luxury car.
A few years later: Liz graduates to a 1956 Eldorado Biarritz
with Richard Burton (left) and later still a 1958 sedan
The bay area embraced the mudflat sculptures. It became a cultural identifier. More and more sculptures began to appear after the summer of 1964. As it may seem, it wasn’t the artist or the radical that heard the Syrians of the mud. All walks of life began to hear the call to make their own sculpture down in the mud. Community church groups, nearby factory workers, and stay at home moms could understand the transformative power of making art and it being seen.
The City of Emeryville at the time embraced the activity. Even though it was trespassing and potentially radical, people embraced the artwork. By the time Time Magazine was writing an article on this curious phenomena in 1964, notorious Emeryville Mayor John Lacoste was newly aware of the activity. When asked about it he said he liked them and stated “they give this town some class.” Emeryville was an industrial town and it embraced the potential for public art within its boarders. Emeryville’s embracing attitude towards the Mudflats sculptures would change later as Emeryville further shaped its vision of itself from an industrial town into a modern commercial retail destination.
Volvo has taken a more dramatic, filmic turn in its storytelling, as we’ve seen in its curious ads featuring a family heading to a wedding and now, this new spot, which seems to imagine American poet and journalist Walt Whitman, if he were living in modern day.
The longform ad opens with a quiet, contemplative vignette. A man struggles at his laptop while sitting at a diner, and then invites a curious waitress to have a seat. She asks to read his work, he hesitates, but then we realize he’s willing to share when the sweeping music begins and a voiceover, from actor Josh Brolin, recites lines from Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road.”
It’s then that we see the life that this writer has lived, or aspires to live, as the film cuts away to splendorous scenes of the protagonist enthralling in the wonders of the outdoors — riding in his Volvo S90.
While the ad doesn’t expressly state it, the man, who bears a resemblance to Whitman himself, appears to be playing the poet as if he were in the here and now.
The spot was created out of Grey, New York, directed by Swedish director Niclas Larsson via Iconoclast and shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth. Composer Dan Romer providing the uplifting, orchestral score. It’s the latest in Volvo’s “Our Idea of Luxury” campaign, also spanning over radio, print, social and digital.
George Maclean – Bryan’s Father
Alas I found Bryan Maclean’s father, George. He was a premiere architect for Hollywood Stars. He built the home my kindred, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, lived in, and was Godfather at the Christening of her son, Christopher Wilding. George MacClean was a good friend of Robert Stack, who dated Liz. Bryan said he learned to swim in Liz’s pool. Was this pool located at 1375 Beverly Hills Estate Drive?
George was the quintessential Hollywood-Los Angeles architect. He was Howard Roarke to the rich and famous. His house he built for the Trousdale Estates, is the Acme of Southern California success, that is enjoying a new Renaissance. Add to this the murals Garth Benton did for movie stars, and Christine Rosamond’s artwork, and the fact Bryan and Christine were lovers for two months when we were teenagers, then here is the lifestyle many can only dream of.
Bryan had seen the model I made for the house I designed when I was seventeen. He informed me his father was a famous architect. Bryan’s mother was an artist, as was one of her parents. I wish I knew her maiden name. Elizabeth, George, and Bryan were saved and became evangelicals. George and Bryan removed themselves from the Success Gauntlet.
Christine was married to actor, Rick Partlow, and lived in one of Micky Rooney’s houses. Garth did some acting, and was married to actress Harlee McBride. Tim O’Connor was like a member of our family. His father was a famous actor of the same name.
Michael Wilding was an artist, and thus was the reason Liz married him, in my opinion. Her family were art collectors. She encouraged Michael Jackson to become an artist. Michael Jr. may come out with a Mommy Dearest-like book that inspired the Rosamond Fib that she hid in the closet to paint. Bryan drew Beach Bunnies in our art class. Christine did not show her forbidden artwork to her lover, because this work did not exist.
Liz Taylor championed Gays stricken with AIDS. Her daughter-in-law, Aileen Getty, came down with this fatal disease. The Getty family owns the largest art collection in the world. We are talking about an Artistic Dynasty.
Sometimes I ask what the purpose of this blog is. The more I dig, the more I find. Wait till you see what I found out about Eric Nord.
A memorial celebration of the life of architect George MacLean is scheduled at noon Wednesday at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in West Los Angeles.
MacLean, who designed shopping centers for the public and mansions for film stars, was 68 when he died of cancer Dec. 1 at his ranch near Hemet. He most recently had pulled away from the Los Angeles social scene, said his longtime friend John Green, the composer and conductor.
At Work Developing Land
“George had been living as an evangelical Christian the past 10 years but he was developing estates on his Hemet property,” Green said.
MacLean was the chief architect for Westlake Village in Los Angeles, the Acapulco Princess Hotel and Estates in Mexico and the International Shopping Bazaar in Freeport,
Elizabeth quickly fell in love. What she didn’t know was that the home, which was made of glass and adobe, was designed by architect George MacLean with her in mind. In her book, An Informal Memoir, Elizabeth describes the unique interior: “One whole wall was built of bark with fern and orchids growing up the bark, and the bar was made of stone. And the fireplace had no chimney. There was a device making the smoke go down under the building and out through the barbecue pit.” Elizabeth also recalled that “You really couldn’t distinguish between the outside and inside. And all the colors I loved—off white, white, natural woods, stone, beigy marble. The pool was so beautiful. There were palm trees and rock formations—it looked like a natural pool, with trees growing out of it. It was the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen.” The state of the art home also featured an intercom, automated doors, light dimmers, automated curtains, and a movie screen. The architect later became godfather to Elizabeth’s son, Christopher.
After Elizabeth put the home on the market, Ingrid Berman toured the home as a potential buyer.
Ms. Taylor’s connection to the fight against AIDS grew deeper still when her daughter-in-law Aileen Getty revealed to the woman she called “Mom” that she had contracted HIV in 1984. Far from turning her back on Getty, Taylor grew even more committed to the cause and saving the life of the daughter-in-law she loved and the mother of two of her grandchildren.
“Without the love of Elizabeth Taylor in my life, I would probably be dead — if not physically, most certainly emotionally,” Getty told The Advocate in 2011. “Mom loved me through my shame and held me tight. This can be very difficult: If you do something wrong, sometimes you feel that you want to be scolded or punished for your actions, as opposed to being loved and supported. Mom just loved me.”
Born in Los Angeles in 1947, MacLean drifted towards the music scene and became a roadie for the Byrds. In the mid-Sixties, the tall blond musician would hang out at Ben Frank’s, a 24-hour diner on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. As he recalled on television, “Bobby Jameson, a friend of mine, told me about the audition for the Monkees. He said: `You ought to go down there, you’re what they’re looking for. You’ll make $750 a week.’ That was an enormous amount. But he didn’t tell me that it was comedy,” explained MacLean. “So I went down there being the hip, street- wise guy, gravelling my voice, and it was wrong. Thank God it was the wrong approach. They got the impression I was a seriously drugged- out guy. ”
Bryan MacLean’s mother was an artist and a dancer, and his father was an architect for Hollywood celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Dean Martin. Neighbor Frederick Loewe, of the songwriting team Lerner & Loewe, recognized him as a “melodic genius” at the age of three as he doodled on the piano. His early influences were Billie Holiday and George Gershwin, although he confessed to an obsession with Elvis Presley. During his childhood, he wore out show music records from Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma, South Pacific and West Side Story. His first girlfriend was Liza Minnelli and they would sit at the piano together singing songs from The Wizard of Oz. He learned to swim in Elizabeth Taylor‘s pool, and his father’s good friend was actor Robert Stack. Bryan appears in the 1957 Cary Grant film An Affair to Remember singing in the Deborah Kerr character’s music class. Maria McKee is his half sister.
He created homes for such stars as Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Stack and Dean Martin, and he was affiliated for several years with Daniel K. Ludwig, the builder, shipping magnate and financier for whom he designed office buildings and hotels.
MacLean, who studied art and architecture at USC, is survived by his wife, Gene, sons Bryan and Joel, his mother, Lillie, and a brother, Charles.
The boldest-faced celebrities, industrialists and society names in town angled to get the best lots, and competed with each other to hire the most talented architects and in-demand ‘interior decorators’ money could buy. The design review board – headed by society architect Allen Siple – and original covenants dictating 3,000 square foot minimums ensured large, well-designed homes; single-story restrictions ensured they’d spread out forever, while protecting views.
Your neighbors were on TV last night; another one’s on the stereo now.
- Wallace Neff
- Paul R. Williams
- William Sutherland Beckett
- James Dolena
- George MacLean
- Cliff May
- Lloyd Wright
- Lundberg, Armet & Davis
- Allen Siple
- Groucho Marx
- Dinah Shore
- Frank Sinatra
- Barbara Stanwyck
- Sheldon Leonard (Producer/Actor)
- Ralph Edwards (Game Show Producer)
- Charles Skouras
- Max Hoffman (Famed Automotive Importer)
- Isadore Familian (Building Supply Mogul)
Trousdale, who sold gum and advertising before going into real estate, conceived of Trousdale Estates as an exclusive enclave offering residents “a life above it all.” He oversaw a monumental grading project that transformed the scrub-covered hills into 539 lots, precisely stepped to maximize their canyon, city and ocean views.
From the beginning, Trousdale courted the rich and famous. Dinah Shore and Richard Nixon were among the early buyers, both of them commissioning modern ranch houses from Allen Siple. “I’d rather have Nixon in that house than the other House,” Groucho Marx quipped of his Trousdale neighbor. Marx, who hired the society architect Wallace Neff to design a low, curvilinear home with an open carport to showcase his three DeSotos, was a common sight in the neighborhood, walking his black and white Scottish terriers, Scotch and Soda. Danny Thomas built a sprawling Levantine mansion he called Villa Rosa. Like Paul Trousdale, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley both chose houses in the theatrical Hollywood Regency style.
Originally built by architect George MacLean in 1963, the Meisel Residence is located in the Trousdale Estates area of Beverly Hills. The Hawaiian-style ranch house is staggered along the site in rectangular forms, with expansive views overlooking the city from the living areas of the home.
Mister Meisel’s house was featured in the October 2012 issue of Architectural Digest with lush photographs by Roger Davies and text by the always snappy Mayer Rus. The article reveals that the house was originally designed and built in 1963 by little lauded architect George MacLean for an unnamed race car driver and his model wife. Mister MacLean, in case any of y’all might care, also designed a low-slung home above Benedict Canyon on Beverly Estate Drive (in Bev Hills Post Office) that was owned for a brief spell in the mid-1950s by a young Elizabeth Taylor and her second husband, English actor Michael Wilding.
At the time Mister Meisel bought his spectacularly sited house in Trousdale Estates it was blessedly untouched but much in need of a re-fresh. He engaged the pricey and revered services of the Ron Radziner of the firm Marmol & Radziner who completely rebuilt and sensitively added 2,300 square feet to the existing city view mid-century modern residence then selected celebrated and much published decorator Brad Dunning to chic up the day-core but “maintain the integrity” and “ambiance” of the residence’s original 1960s swagginess.
ELIZABETH TAYLOR’s son is considering pals’ suggestions that he write a “Mommie Dearest” tell-all that promises to rip the lid off of the movie legend’s worst performance – as a mother!
A book penned by Liz’s 59-year-old son Michael Wilding Jr. would be in the tradition of the scathing Joan Crawford biography and explain why Taylor, a beloved Hollywood icon, was no saint to her kids, say pals.
“Michael was overheard saying he would rather have grown up broke with a loving mother rather ‘than the way I was raised!’”
Wilding, a former soap opera actor, has been urged to write the explosive book with his wife Brooke Palance, daughter of the late movie star Jack Palance.
“It would portray Liz as an absentee mom, always away on movie sets, flying around the globe or in the arms of a man,” revealed a family friend.
Elizabeth’s four children were trotted out for photo opportunities to give the appearance of a loving, close-knit family, but the friend says: “That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Michael, Liz’s son with second husband Michael Wilding Sr., spent much of his life “in a desperate bid for her attention,” according to the insider. “The book would talk about how Michael rebelled against his mother, running away to join a rock band, hanging around the drug scene and bedding a lot of women.”
During the mid-’70s, Michael lived on a farm commune in Wales, playing sax with a five-member rock group. He was married at 17 and had a daughter, but the union blew apart after just two years. He had another daughter with a girlfriend at the commune in 1975 but didn’t settle down until tying the knot with Brooke in 1982, and they had a son seven years later.
Despite Michael’s differences with his mother, he was the one who oversaw her care leading up to her death last year at age 79.
But now, said the friend: “Michael could spill all the family secrets as a way of coming to terms with a mother who was never there.”
In retrospect, MacLean didn’t dwell too much on his failure to edge out Peter Tork or Mike Nesmith and take part in American television’s manufactured answer to the Fab Four. Disparagingly, he claimed: “The Monkees were extremely square. They just jumped on the bandwagon. It had nothing to do with what was really going on. It was the Keystone Cops of rock. I didn’t belong in the Monkees or, if I did, I’m still in denial about it.” He joked somewhat nervously: “If I ever find out that I belonged in the Monkees, then I will probably have a legitimate nervous breakdown,” and went on, “I think that I really belonged in something that involved pioneering music, something that wasn’t popular yet. My goal for my music was always timelessness.”
MacLean more than succeeded in this aim with Love, a band who rank alongside the Velvet Underground and the Ramones when it comes to influencing successive generations of musicians (REM, House of Love, the Stone Roses).
Again, MacLean met Arthur Lee at Ben Frank’s. The Memphis-born musician had already cut a single with the LAGs before moving on to the American Four with the guitarist Johnny Echols. The three joined forces and, adding the rhythm section of Johnny Fleckenstein and Don Conka (soon replaced by the bassist Ken Forssi and drummer Alban “Snoopy” Pfisterer), became the Grass Roots.
Having made their live debut at Brave New World in LA in April 1965, the group changed its name to avoid confusion with another Grass Roots (of “Let’s Live For Today” fame). Given the flower-power movement emerging on the West Coast, the five musicians opted for Love and attracted the attention of Jac Holzman in early 1966. The entrepreneur had already established Elektra Records on the East Coast as the natural home of the folk scene with artists like Judy Collins but he wanted to move the label towards the rock underground. Love’s unique brand of folk and demented psychedelia more than fitted the bill. “Thirty seconds into their version of `Hey Joe’, I knew this was the group I was looking for,” claimed Holzman, who would later sign the Doors at Lee’s instigation.
Love became the first rock band on Elektra and released a stunning version of Burt Bacharah and Hal David’s “My Little Red Book” (from What’s New Pussycat?) in April 1966. Following their appearance on American Bandstand, the single and ensuing debut album (simply entitled Love) both made the US Top 60 and the following 45, the frantic “Seven and Seven Is”, did even better, reaching No 33 in September. “Love was what is lovingly referred to as an underground, a garage band. We had a following but it was underground. It wasn’t meant to appeal to as many people as the Monkees’ music was,” reflected MacLean, who wrote the lovely “Softly To Me” on the first album.
Wearing ribbons in his hair, the more introspective MacLean was the ideal foil to Arthur Lee’s frenzied genius and Love became darlings of the hippie scene. Living in their communal Los Angeles “Castle” (actually a decaying mansion previously used as a horror movie set), they recruited Tjay Cantrelli on flute and Michael Stuart on drums while “Snoopy” Pfisterer moved to keyboards to flesh out the group’s richer sound on Da Capo, their second album (February 1967). MacLean’s jazzy “Orange Skies” was the B-side of “She Comes in Colours” but neither this nor “Que Vida” could match their previous success, especially as the group hardly ever toured away from their California base.
Following Pfisterer and Cantrelli’s departure, Love set to work on the ambitious Forever Changes, their third album issued in November 1967, just as their cult status was reaching British shores. Hailed a masterpiece and still namechecked as one of the best-ever albums, Forever Changes reached the Top 30 album chart in the UK while “Alone Again Or”, the eerie, evanescent MacLean composition, entered the US Hot 100. Covered by the Damned in 1986, “Alone Again Or” proved the swansong of the original Love as the idiosyncratic Lee kept playing mind games with MacLean.
During a very strange interview in 1992, Lee told me: “We were competing a bit like Lennon and McCartney to see who would come up with the better song. It was part of our charm. Everybody had different behaviour patterns. Eventually, the others couldn’t cut it.” Lee sacked the rest of the band and assumed the Love mantle from mid-1968. He briefly worked with Jimi Hendrix and nearly died of a drug overdose in 1970.
MacLean also fell from grace. “I don’t think I could cope with even the minimal amount of fame that I experienced. It was difficult to stay balanced. To be honest, it almost killed me just to have the notoriety that I had. To have my face more well-known would have been pathogenic. I don’t know if I could have lived through it,” he later admitted.
“I’ve had a lot of experiences that would have killed most people: drug overdoses, felony arrests. I was invited to Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski’s house the night that the Mansons showed up. I had a penchant for putting myself 100 per cent in whatever I was doing, wrong or right. And there are consequences. If you have the greatest drug and what you feel is the most euphoric experience and it ends, then you’re in trouble. You think you’re getting on to the train and you’re gonna get off at the next stop. But before you realise it, you’re strapped to the front of a runaway train until it crashes. And when it crashes, you don’t even know if you’re gonna come out. I just simply didn’t have another runaway train experience left in me.”
A proposed solo deal fell through when Jac Holzman pronounced the MacLean demos “too fragmented”. MacLean bounced back for a while but, before completing an album for Capitol Records, he quit the business in 1970. Seven years later, his old nemesis Arthur Lee tempted him out of retirement for a Love tour with the future Knack drummer Bruce Gary. MacLean enlisted for a further Southern California reunion outing (immortalised on Rhino’s Love Live album) and got religion.
“I wasn’t doing well. My mother had been converted watching Bill Graham on television, she was praying for me. One night, in a hotel room in New York, I just prayed, cried out to the Lord and said: if you’re real, I’m gonna give my life to you because I’m afraid I’m gonna destroy myself. I ended up walking away from the business at that point,” confessed MacLean, who became a sepulchral presence, not unlike the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.
By the Nineties, the erratic Arthur Lee was displaying paranoid tendencies and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. In 1996, following several arrests and convictions, he was jailed for 12 years for threatening behaviour with a firearm.
Bryan MacLean crawled back from the wreckage. His half-sister, Maria McKee, made several records with Lone Justice, including a song by MacLean, “Don’t Toss Us Away”, in 1985, which three years later became a Top 10 country music hit for Patty Loveless. In 1997, the Sundazed label released IfYouBelieveIn, a collection of solo acoustic MacLean demos culled from the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. His odd quavering vocals remained as compelling as ever and also came to the fore in his born-again incarnation.
“I started making music again when I felt comfortable to move back into writing without violating my stand for Christ,” Bryan MacLean told Ian MacMillan. “Love grows in me when I proclaim all that my Lord has done. I’m now writing worship music that’s presented in an ethereal genre. Celtic, spacy, no guitars. I call it spooky Christian music, spooky worship music.
“If a person is a Satanist or a Buddhist or a Hindu, they will be able to listen to this music and not be put off by it because it’s the universal longing to be in the spirit realm that’s being expressed.”
Bryan MacLean, guitarist, singer and songwriter: born Los Angeles 25 September 1946; died Los Angeles 25 December 1998.