Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
at LACMA
Jessica Simmons
Launch Party Carla Issue 6
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews:
Made in L.A. 2016
Doug Aitken Electric Earth
Mertzbau

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
Mark A. Rodruigez
The Weeping Line
Molly Larkey, Aaron Horst,
Keith J. Varadi, Katie Bode,
Stuart Krimko, Matt Stromberg
Non-Fiction
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
at REDCAT
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Launch Party Carla Issue 5
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Hana Cohn, Eli Diner,
Claire De Dobay Rifelj,
Katie Bode, Molly Larkey,
Keith J. Varadi
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Reconsidering
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater
Diana Thater
at LACMA
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Launch Party Carla Issue 4
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj,
Matt Stromberg, Hana Cohn,
Lindsay Preston Zappas,
Simone Krug, Keith Vaughn,
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word
F.B.I.
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
and LOUDHAILER
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Launch Party Carla Issue 3
Share Your Piece of the Puzzle Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Eli Diner, Jonathan Griffin,
Don Edler, Aaron Horst
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Reviews Benjamin Lord, Aaron Horst, Stephen Kent
Top-Down Bottom-Up Jenny Gagalka
Snap Reviews Aaron Horst, Char Jansen, Randy Rice, Lindsay Preston Zappas
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee
William Pope.L’s Reenactor
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
MEAT PHYSICS/
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
SOGTFO
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
@barnettcohen
Mateo Tannatt
Photographs
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
VESSEL // CINS and
VESSEL // PERF
Ben Medansky
I've been a lot of places,
seen so many faces
Nora Slade
Launch Party Carla Issue 1
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal, Catherine Wagley, Keith Vaughn, Aaron Horst, Kate Wolf, Mateo Tannatt, Evan Moffitt, Cal Siegel
We’re in This Together Lauren Cherry & Max Springer
Distribution
Downtown
ARTBOOK @ Hauser Wirth
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Los Angeles, CA 90013

Central Park
412 W. 6th St. #615
Los Angeles, CA 90014

CES Gallery
711 Mateo St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Cirrus Gallery
2011 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Château Shatto
406 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Club Pro
1525 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Fahrenheit
2245 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Ghebaly Gallery
2245 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

The Geffen Contemporary
    & at MOCA
152 N. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Harmony Murphy
358 E. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

LACA
2245 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

MAMA
1242 Palmetto St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Mistake Room
1811 E. 20th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90058

MOCA Grand Avenue
250 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Night Gallery
2276 E. 16th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

The Box
805 Traction Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Wilding Cran Gallery
939 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Chinatown
A.G. Geiger
502 Chung King Ct.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

EMBASSY
422 Ord St., Suite G
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Human Resources
410 Cottage Home St.
Los Angeles CA, 90012

Ooga Booga
943 N. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
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1301PE
6150 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Chainlink Gallery
1051 S. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Commonwealth and Council
3006 W. 7th St. #220
Los Angeles CA 90005

David Kordansky Gallery
5130 W. Edgewood Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

HILDE
4727 W. Washington
Los Angeles, CA 90016

JOAN
4300 W. Jefferson Blvd. #1
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Kayne Griffin Corcoran
1201 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

ltd Los Angeles
1119 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Marc Foxx
6150 Wilshire Blvd. #5
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Martos Gallery
3315 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

Ochi Projects
3301 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

The Landing
5118 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Park View
836 S. Park View St. Unit 8
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Skibum MacArthur
712 S. Grand View St., #204
Los Angeles, CA 90057

SPRÜTH MAGERS
5900 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Underground Museum
3508 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

VACANCY
2524 1/2 James M. Wood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Visitor Welcome Center
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Los Angeles, CA 90005
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2727 S. La Cienega
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Cherry and Martin
2712 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Honor Fraser
2622 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Klowden Mann
6023 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Luis De Jesus
2685 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

MiM Gallery
2636 La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Roberts and Tilton
5801 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Samuel Freeman
2639 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Susanne Vielmetter
6006 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Silverlake/ Echo Park
Smart Objects
1828 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Otherwild
1768 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
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Diane Rosenstein
831 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Family Books
436 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

GAVLAK
1034 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Hannah Hoffman
1010 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

LAXART
7000 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90038

M+B
612 N. Almont Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Mier
1107 Greenacre Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Moskowitz Bayse
743 N. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Regen Projects
6750 Santa Monica Blvd.
LLos Angeles, CA 90038

Shulamit Nazarian
616 N. La Brea
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Various Small Fires
812 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Westside
18th Street Arts
1639 18th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis
    &College of Art and Design
9045 Lincoln Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Christopher Grimes Gallery
916 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

DXIX Projects
519 Santa Clara Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90291

Five Car Garage
(Emma Gray HQ)

Team (Bungalow)
306 Windward Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
Eastside
ACME
2939 Denby Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90039

ESXLA
602 Moulton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90031

SADE
204 S. Avenue 19
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Boyle Heights
BBQLA
2315 Jesse St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Chimento Contemporary
622 S. Anderson St., #105
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Ibid.
670 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Ooga Twooga
356 Mission Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Parrasch Heijnen Gallery
1326 S. Boyle Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Museum as Retail Space (MaRS)
649 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Nicodim Gallery
571 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Venus Over Los Angeles
601 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023
Pasadena/ Glendale/ Valley
The Armory Center for the Arts
145 N. Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91103

Los Angeles Valley College
5800 Fulton Ave.
Valley Glen, CA 91401

Natural
15168 Raymer St.
Van Nuys, CA 91405

The Pit
918 Ruberta Ave.
Glendale, CA 91201

Melrose Hustle

 

Stephen St. John, Untitled from Angel on Safari (1979). Published in My Summer with Eddie, Volume Two (ebook) (2013). Image courtesy of the artist.

Stephen St. John, Untitled from Angel on Safari (1979). Published in My Summer with Eddie, Volume Two (ebook) (2013). Image courtesy of the artist.

When we get a look at Eddie Dodson’s face, it is twisted by panic and strain. Maybe he is just squinting in the afternoon sun. He stands alone, his back against the wall. My Summer with Eddie: The Shortest Short Stories of 7552 Melrose Ave. is a work of L.A. noir for the end of the disco era: a document and a daydream. Published in 2013 as a two-volume e-book, it contains black-and-white photographs taken in the summer of 1979 by photographer/ cinematographer Stephen St. John. The photos are interspersed with dialogue, commentary, and poetic fragments, and it can be difficult to discern from what perspective the narrative is being told.

From 1973 to 1984, Eddie Dodson was the swaggering, druggy owner of a hip furniture boutique on Melrose Avenue that bore his name, Dodson’s. It was also a popular meeting place for the local cocaine-and-Quaalude crowd, which often included actors such as Jack Nicholson and John Belushi.

Stephen St. John’s studio was across the street from Dodson’s, with a perfect view into Dodson’s display window. From July 19th through August 30th, 1979—his camera positioned like that of a detective—St. John documented the comings and goings of Eddie Dodson, his stylish clientele, as well as random passers-by. His text reveals that St. John and Dodson knew one another to some extent. In Volume Two, St. John refers to Dodson as “my friend,” though the terse interaction that followed makes it feel like a specious claim.

Stephen St. John, Untitled from Reader’s Imagination (1979). Published in My Summer with Eddie, Volume One (ebook) (2013). Image courtesy of the artist.

Stephen St. John, Untitled from Reader’s Imagination (1979). Published in My Summer with Eddie, Volume One (ebook) (2013). Image courtesy of the artist.

By 1983, Eddie was addicted to heroin. Displaying the peculiar work ethic of a man on the spike, he turned to bank robbery to support his habit. He robbed 64 banks in nine months, setting a world record. Before he died in 2003, he robbed eight more banks. Understandably, heroin attracts fewer users than other less demanding recreational drugs. In 1979, Quaaludes were an easy option. The pills were stamped, RORER 714. St. John writes at the beginning of Volume One, “Everybody was on the lookout for chair 714.”

Chairs, real ones, are established as a motif in the photographs. Dodson’s front window and (legitimate) inventory become the set dressing for an existential drawing-room play about wealth, fate, and perception. The furniture coming and going from Dodson’s reveals the Deco and Nouveau revival of the 1970s. Secondhand classical Hollywood glamour is for sale on the street. It is a fashionable accident that aligns My Summer with Eddie with the noir fiction of the 1930s, like They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1935) and Day of the Locust (1939), works that blend suspense and banality to show Los Angeles as a place of ambition and despair.

St. John’s photos document an upper-middle leisure class. Many of the subjects drive Porsches and Volkswagens and have time to kill in the middle of the day. The rare overweight, old, or Hasidic person moves past St. John’s lens, while the young, stylish, and rich stop and make themselves at home. As they lounge, preen, and smoke they also unwittingly pose for Stephen’s pictures.

The graininess of the black-and-white film gives suggestion to both fashion shoot and criminal investigation. As in the former, where the point is to show off outfits, St. John’s subjects are photographed head on, in full. One portrait in Volume One depicts a woman in sunglasses and heels standing in a casual contrapposto while lighting a cigarette, her shirt falling artfully off her shoulder. Her position in the frame is as perfect as if she’d been directed where to stand. The difference between St. John’s portraits and fashion photography is mostly academic. However, the main distinction of these photographs is the story they tell. We are forced to wonder: who was this woman, and what was her connection to Eddie?

Stephen St. John, Sky’s the Limit (1979). Published in My Summer with Eddie, Volume Two, (ebook) (2013). Image courtesy of the artist.

Stephen St. John, Sky’s the Limit (1979). Published in My Summer with Eddie, Volume Two, (ebook) (2013). Image courtesy of the artist.

Windows, reflections, and lenses, all of which frame perception differently and with varying degrees of obscurity, are a salient theme in St. John’s photographs. “Two steps later, these thoughts became his Karmann Ghia, shimmering in the storefront glass, ” writes St. John in Volume One. In one shot, Dodson is shown running to his car. Above his head in the composition, almost filling the display window, is a funhouse mirror that returns a wavy, distorted reflection. Perception is corrupt and contingent.

Later, Eddie is photographed reaching out to a person beyond the edge of the frame, grasping a tanned and dismembered arm while casually slumping his shoulders. There are no chairs on the sidewalk; the lights in the shop are decidedly off for the night. Is Eddie shaking hands or handing off? Our biographical knowledge directs our assumptions toward exhilarating lawlessness.

Moments of elegant synchronicity and integration among opposites also punctuate My Summer with Eddie. In Volume Two, a muscular African American man in short-shorts and mules walks up the street, while a thin light-skinned woman in cut-offs and slides walks the same direction on the sidewalk, slightly behind him in the frame. They give no indication of being together, yet they walk in step, and both eat ice cream. The photo captures them both mid-lick. Their summer scene plays out before a backdrop that exhibits St. John’s interest in frames and reflections. A plush antique chair sits safely in Dodson’s display window, while a bamboo camp chair rests on the sidewalk. A potted palm is reflected in a mirror and echoed in a framed print of a tropical landscape propped against the storefront.

Stephen St. John, Untitled from Angel on a Business Trip (1979). Published in My Summer with Eddie, Volume One (ebook) (2013). Image courtesy of the artist.

Stephen St. John, Untitled from Angel on a Business Trip (1979). Published in My Summer with Eddie, Volume One (ebook) (2013). Image courtesy of the artist.

One of the more illusion heavy photographs depicts a torso (Eddie’s) blockaded from view by a round mirror that reflects a smiley face a sky-writer has drawn overhead. The disembodied torso furtively speaks with a woman who leans forward with intrigue, her face obstructed by her long hair. The photograph speaks of the secrecy, seediness, and pursuit of illicit kicks the store came to be known for, all while maintaining an elegant formal cohesiveness: the mirror sits centrally in composition, while its ocular shape is repeated in a car’s whitewall tire in the bottom right corner of the frame.

With a light touch—reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s minimal video work of the 1960s in which hip people do simple things, like Eat (1963) and Sleep (1963)—St. John works within strict technical parameters to record a single subject as a marker of time. His direct, deadpan involvement with the urban character of Los Angeles recalls the photo-books of Ed Ruscha, like Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965) and Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966).

In the summer of 1979, St. John’s night-job was shooting additional footage for John Carpenter’s film, The Fog (1980). The young filmmakers of the time, like Carpenter, Brian De Palma, and Tobe Hooper, were reinventing genre films by personalizing their conventions. In genre films like Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) and De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (1980), representation is cut loose from its moorings. Images and narratives—especially those with claims to historical veracity—are regarded as artificial, flexible constructions. At the time, post-punk, new-wave, no-wave, and neo-geo were emergent, loosely defined styles. Pictures Generation artists, like Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince, were using photography to deconstruct the nature of representation and identity. From the academy to the punk club to the matinee, visual history was understood to be mutable and adaptable to individual expression. Everyone saw the world as a stage, perhaps especially in Los Angeles.

After his summer with Eddie, Stephen St. John went on to be the Steadicam and camera operator on films including The Karate Kid (1984), Out of Africa (1985), Raising Arizona (1987), Unforgiven (1992), Men in Black (1997), and Man on Fire (2004), to name only a few. In 2014, he was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography for Killing Kennedy (2013) and most recently he was the cinematographer on Mercy Street (2016). His ascension on one side of Melrose was the inverse of Dodson’s decline on the other. My Summer with Eddie is a chronicle of the rising tide, before the world records and summer blockbusters.

Stephen St. John, Untitled, from Synaptic Pruning (1979). Published in My Summer with Eddie, Volume Two (ebook) (2013). Image courtesy of the artist.

Stephen St. John, Untitled, from Synaptic Pruning (1979). Published in My Summer with Eddie, Volume Two (ebook) (2013). Image courtesy of the artist.

Originally Published in Carla Issue 1