In Hot Water

In this case, happily in hot water. An overdue bubble bath is imminent, yes, but I'm also on a little research run for the Agua Caliente hotel in Tijuana.

For this, blame The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister. Wow. I had to put it down so I could turn the laptop back on and start looking things up.

I was started at eBay, for the postcards (as always, doncha know), when I logged into "my eBay" and saw that I had "one item awaiting payment." Huh? When did I bid on something?

Ohhhh yeah. Goodness, that was eight days ago. Usually I've been outbid during that time. And someone did try to outbid me, actually, bidding the same amount (a mere $1.50 over the starting price) as my max bid, then giving up. Gosh, for just 50 cents more...

So, very much in the spirit of the MIGHTY Wayne McAllister's work, I will soon (hopefully) be the owner of 53 California "roadside" postcards, plus this book, plus a May 1966 National Geographic (with an 84-page article on California). (84 pages? Really?) All for the cost of three venti Frappuccinos.

I know some of the postcards are used (i.e., desirable), but it isn't always clear which ones. I'm already charmed with thoughts of the "Pixie Family Motel" in Anaheim. That's a new one to me. And is it a family of pixies, or pixies for the whole family, or what? Synthetrix already has it, of course. but you're currently reading what will soon be only the fourth Google result for the phrase.

(At times like this, I think of the Robin Williams' movie Toys. Remember it? Best if you don't, really. Anyway, there's this part where Yeardley Smith's character starts going on about something gross - I think it involved poo? bathtubs? - and by the time she is done talking, everyone is just staring at her. Williams leans in and whispers, "This is not a shared experience." When I start getting the yip-yippies over something like old Disneyland or Vegas architecture/motel culture, I want you to know there is a small Robin Williams on my shoulder who whispers to me. However, it's gotten to where I can flick him off without even turning my head. Sorry.)

But back to Tijuana.

The Agua Caliente was a casino/resort in the days of Prohibition, before there was a Vegas (okay, before there was a Vegasy Vegas), when SoCal'ians had to cross international borders for shiny gambling, drinking, and shows in the middle of a wasteland.

McAllister was nineteen years old when he built it, and wow. Just wow. Unfortunately, I'm not finding any fanboy websites with lush photos like those in the book. Boggle. Where is the retrophotography? The geocaches? What is this, ten years ago? Do I need to reinstall my Netscape 3.0?

Okay, so just trust me that it's very WOW. And that it's Beyond Sad that the entire property pretty much burned down before I was born. A few remnants, including this gorgeous minaret, still stand. Here's a postcard of the racetrack. (The only part to sort of survive after 1935.)

These links won't last, all being from eBay, but here are some postcards that qualify the "wow":

  • The Gold Bar (I don't know why they give the date as 40s-50s when it was closed by then)
  • Fountain (terra cotta gargoyles not shown, but there is a plane - the property had its own airport)
  • Not a great photo, but I'm very curious about the message

Oh, bother. If no one has a photo of the lavish inlaid-tile barbershop, the lobby with its Aztec chandeliers, or the neo-Islamic/Spanish Mission spa, then it's not worth it. You'll have to check the book out for yourself.

I'm happy to see myself taking a little formal interest in architecture. It may tentatively foreshadow someday having personal design style, and that may lead to some colour in this living room, other than brown. (Even the plush animals on the TV, a gift of two meerkats and two ferrets from a teacher who considers donations to the World Wildlife Fund to be the best form of tithing, are brown.)

05 May 2008 |






Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)