Thursday, January 12, 2017

Los Angeles Is...Defined By Its Street Signs

The streets of Los Angeles are not just mere infrastructure, but they create geographical identities, local cultures, microcultures and sub-cultures, and become the live stage of the urban theatre of daily life in The City of Angels. And the most significant identifier of those streets are the City's street signs.

Since The Militant is celebrating his 10th anniversary online this year (#StayMili10), he'd like to revisit one of his most legendary, epic posts.

On March 24, 2011, The Militant wrote a post on the history of street sign styles in Los Angeles.  It gave Angelenos the ability to distinguish between Blue Blades and Black Blades, Shotguns and Trapezoids.

It got such a reaction that it became the second-most read post ever on This Here Blog, and it also prompted a sequel later that month, going back farther into the history of Los Angeles street signs.
In fall of last year (meaning 2016, we can say that already), Filmmaker and Mar Vista resident Ian Rutherford completed a clever short film, $500 and four months in the making, called "LA.Is" that describes, though images of Los Angeles (and some neighboring city) street signs and set to a spoken-word poem (voiced by Tania Hunt) some of what Los Angeles represents.

Observe, and enjoy:

"The idea sort of came about just by driving around L.A.," Rutherford explained to The Militant via email, on the origins of his short film. "I'm a location scout and I kept seeing signs that were fun and unusual. Future street was the one that sort of convinced me to pursue the short. Also, I knew about Rutherford street several years ago and that was always in the back of my mind pushing me to do something."

Rutherford filmed the signs starting in June, 2016 and spent his weekends filming them, guided by a working Google map.

He also wrote the poem himself.

"Some verses came to me beforehand (sunset/sunrise). Some verses were written in the car (detour/chase/marathon). It was a slow writing process until I found the cadence in my head. Once I had that, it wrote itself...Every verse references something I love about L.A., even though it may seem abstract to others (future/vintage/future i was thinking about architecture, like Googie and Mid-Century). The only topic I didn't cover in verse is food. Never found the right way to express myself there."

Great work, Ian! The Militant was smiling under his camouflage bandana mask. No pictures of course, but take him at his word. Militant Approved! 


Scott Trimble said...

AWESOME VIDEO by a fellow location scout colleague and friend. Thanks, Militant, for posting this! :-)

IR said...


Wanted to let you and your readers know that 'LA.Is' will be screening at the Newfilmmakers LA 'Through These Lenses' Event on Saturday, July 8th. Roughly 15 short films that showcase Los Angeles will be showcased in the program.

I've seen a few of the shorts and they are high quality (in particular, 'Home/Town' is very moving).

The event is free and anyone can register here:

#NFMLA #ThroughTheseLenses