Wednesday, August 4, 2010

1039 Ardmore Ave.

This is a photo of the original David Mann acrylic on paper Psychedelic Love Temple. Note that the bike is yellow, but the Roth print has an orange bike instead. Also, even though Roth's name is prominent on all of Mann's poster prints, David would always "sneak in" his name somewhere in every painting. In this case, his name is across the front of the rider's jacket, right above his left hand. Sometimes Mann's name was in a really obscure place, you have to look hard sometimes....

I'm sure by now, everybody is familiar with the Ed Roth/David Mann painting The Psychedelic Love Temple. I thought you'd all like to know a little background history on the inspiration for Mann's painting, and see a picture of the actual "Temple".........

....and here it is, The "Psychedelic Love Temple", 1039 Ardmore Ave. Los Angeles, CA.

This is the only image that I know of that shows the Temple, and I pulled the movie still from the 1967 Roger Coreman/American Intl. LSD exploitation movie The Trip, written by Jack Nicholson, and starring Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, and Susan Strasberg as the main characters. Supposedly, the Temple was used as a backdrop for several other movies of the time, but I can't recall seeing it any other time on film. The Temple appears in the first 5 minutes of the movie, and there were also scenes shot in and around the Temple front exterior area and interior. As a sidenote here, Nicholson originally wrote the screenplay for The Trip with himself in mind for the lead part. It was at Coreman's insistance that Fonda be cast in the lead, and Nicholson finally agreed with that to sell his screenplay.

Here's what I've been able to find out about the history of the Temple. The Temple was built in 1881, at the end of the California Gold Rush. It was known early on as the Ardmore Mansion, then sometime in its history was home to a spiritualist for 33 years, and known as the San Souci Culture Temple then. In the early to late '60's it was still listed in the L.A. phonebook as the Ardmore Arms, so it must have been converted over to apartments at some time. It's during the early '60's when it was finally abandoned.

I remember skipping out of High School at lunch time in '67, for the rest of the afternoon, to go Downtown to see The Trip on the big movie screen. It's an OK '60's timepiece movie, and you can find it on . It also has a good soundtrack done by The Electric Flag, credited in the movie as The American Music Band, who's members included Mike Bloomfield, Buddy Miles, and Nick Gravenites.

A photo from the Choppers article, showing the big LOVE/sEx letters painted in the middle of Ardmore Ave., in front of the house.

Almost a year after seeing The Trip, the April '68 issue of Roth's Choppers Magazine came in the mail, and in it was an article written by "El Jake" (possibly Jake Jacobs?) entitled "Turn On With The Walls". As I went thru the story and accompanying photos, I realized that the "Psychedelic Love Temple" he was talking about was the same place that I had seen in The Trip. I further realized the movie, the article, and the subject of one of David Mann's more recent paintings for Roth's posters were all one one in the same.

Here's a shot I pulled from the movie, of the same LOVE/sEx lettering on the pavement. From this shot, the camera pans from the street up the hill to the front of the house. Notice the movie prop bikes parked in front of the Temple are Suzukis and Hondas, not outlaw choppers.

Now, I'm going to put together both some information from the Choppers article, and some other pieces of the story I've found. It seems that the Barons M/C for some reason left San Diego sometime in '65, and migrated up to L.A. Thru word of mouth, they found out about the Temple, which at that time was abandoned, and already a centerpiece in the "acid tests" going on in L.A. then - LSD being legal at the time. It was also known as a hippie "crash pad" of sorts as well. The Choppers article also pointed out that the Temple was located "...near the center of Los Angeles' black section".

The Barons (later known as the Barons Of The EARTH MC), led by a guy named Rowland, decided to move into the Temple in '65, and managed to run electrical power, and soon after, water into the abandoned building. How they accomplished this is any body's guess. Now, the Barons as far as I can tell, weren't a 1%er outfit, but more "hippie bikers" with a little harder edge. Once the utilities were in place, it became even more of a party central than before. The Temple became a commune of sorts, with everybody from wandering hippies, to artists and musicians, to both local and national MC's all dropping in all hours of the day and night.

Outside of the core residents (the Barons) people stayed for a few days, or a few months. Rowland always had local bands set up in the central round "great room" playing rock & roll almost every night. One of the bands who played there regularly, known as United Gas, then Christopher (their first album Christopher, for Metromedia Records, had the group's album cover shot inside the Temple) recalled that on any given night ".....hundreds of motorcycles would be parked at the curbs" for the partys. The band also recalled the "Baron's Punch" that was always available. It was made from Kool-Ade in a large container, with everybody who attended tossing in whatever various hallucinogens they happened to have with them. From there, the other guests were free to drink from the "punch bowl" as little or as much as they wanted. Sounded like you had to have a pretty good head to handle that mixture. The band also said that the bottom of the container "....looked like mud" at the end of the night, from the resedue of all the caps and tabs that had been tossed in.

This photo also comes from the Choppers article. It shows Baron Rowland, the head of the Barons MC, and the Temple, standing in the "great room" - the big, round, central area of the Temple you see in photo #2 .

There are a lot of holes in the story that I haven't been able to fill in, and there is one thing that I've always wondered about - how the hell were the Barons and their "guests" able to live there, and pull this whole thing off for 3-4 years??? How were they able to go almost non-stop like they did without running afoul of the Police, the City of Los Angeles, the Building Code Dept., the utility companies, and the neighborhood itself (it being soon after the famous Watts riots of '65)? From personal experience back then with the LAPD and the LACO Sheriffs, I can't understand why they didn't raid the place constantly. Both Dept.'s intolerance and subsequent treatment of anybody that was a minority, a hippie, biker, or anybody else they determined not to be an "upstanding citizen" is legendary. They in no uncertain terms delt out their own brand of law enforcement. But, from what I understand about "squatter's rights", unless the actual landowner objects to the presence of people on his property, there isn't much the local law enforcement can do to evict the tenants.

I haven't been able to find out any info after late '68 as to what eventually happened to the Temple, or its residents.
When I got to L.A. in '70, I asked around about the Temple, but nobody seemed to know about it anymore, which isn't surprising. By that time the whole counterculture scene in L.A. was on its last legs, and fading fast, mostly due to Police crackdowns and the infusion of heroin,speed, and coke that was replacing the hallucinogens and reefer of the past. The Flower Power Days had long since wilted. Unless I run across somebody who was actually there, I'll probably never know. I guess that's what legends and tales are made of, and I guess that's why I'm writing this for you today.

Here's the same room in another movie still I pulled. The area of the room that Rowland is standing in, in the previous picture is just to the left of this scene. Here Bruce Dern is introducing Peter Fonda to Dennis Hopper (the "guru" of the hippie pad), and their LSD connection. Hopper is in the movie all of 5 minutes. LSD became illegal in Ca. on Oct. 6, 1966.

Now, the Million $ question: Where in L.A. is/was the Temple actually located? You would think that by typing in the address into Google Maps or the like, and going to the "street view" feature, it would pop right up. Not so. It seems every enclave in the L.A. area has an "1039 Ardmore Ave." or a "1039 Ardmore St." - both North and South. Usually when a street is called out by its name, it's usually a "north" street. I've seen some locations in L.A. on Google maps, but the neighborhoods don't look anything in the "street view" like they did in The Trip, or the Roth article, nor are they in the area described in the article.

From the Choppers article, we know it was located "...near the center of Los Angeles' black section", which from the time period I would assume meant some place near Watts. And, if you look at the cryptic Dave Mann's Love Temple painting, and guess that the crossed Freeways he's painted in the lower rt. part of the painting are the 110, and the 10, then with where he's put the signpost for "1039 Ardmore" touching down in L.A., with the searchlights representing Hollywood to the NW, that's about right for it's location. But, I can't find any Ardmore Ave. in that area at all. The closest I came was a N. Ardmore Ave. that ended a couple blocks short of the address at Santa Fe, by the L.A. River.

If anybody has any more real information on the Temple's history, or was there back then in '65-'69, or knows where 1039 Ardmore Ave. actually is, or what's there now at that address, let me know:
and I'll do a followup and post it here for everyone to see. Somebody out there has got to know more about this.


mind pill said...

again...... another great post. like i`ve said before, when is the book coming out, loaded with stories and photos. i`m patient. i can wait.

tiptopdadddy said...

+1 on mind pill, great stuff Rich.

lifeisfuct-diekruzen HEAVY KLOTHING said...

GREAT post,book please..

J-Rod said...

You have me wanting to search for this now, Rich. Damn fine job.

Ea$yCo said...

great read man..Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.