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What is this sign, located in Venice Beach (I think?)
May 20, 2013 2:48 AM   Subscribe

In Michael Palin's "Around the World in 80 Days", there's a shot of a building with an interesting sign. It says "EARTH SPACE SCIENCE ART FACT FICTION FANTASY".

Originally I read it as "ARE FACT FICTION FANTASY" and was really intrigued. After looking again I realized it's actually "ART". Sign is visible at 4:10 here.

The only search results I found related to the movie. Someone else posted a screenshot here.

Anyone know what this place is? The show aired in 1989, and I think it was filmed in the fall of 1988.
posted by dubold to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Whatever it is, I'm pretty sure it's not there anymore. I live in LA, and I'm around Venice Beach often and I've never seen it. To me, it doesn't look like it's on the building in that screenshot. it looks more like it's on the frame of the bike rack. Presumably it was one of the bike rental places that they still have around there. (They'll rent bikes to tourists for the day.) I'm guessing it was an ad for a local sci-fi bookstore or comics shop.

The boardwalk looks largely unchanged since 1989. Palin, not so much.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:43 AM on May 20, 2013


The smaller text to the right appears to read "???? ??????? ON SALE NOW".
posted by zamboni at 4:00 AM on May 20, 2013


It is not a sign promoting Small World Books is it? The Yelp reviews on the linked page would seem to indicate that they have been around for some time - also the store seems to be hidden behind a café in a way which would require street signage to bring in customers.
posted by rongorongo at 4:16 AM on May 20, 2013


Also there is this review of Small World books in which they point out that the store has been open since 1976 and that a piano player regularly is located opposite it.
posted by rongorongo at 4:53 AM on May 20, 2013


There's a street sign barely visible right in the middle of that screenshot which quite possibly says "Speedway". According to Google Street View, Speedway is very close to the 1407 Ocean Front Walk address of Small World Books. I'd say that's a darn good guess. Even if it isn't right, I bet it's close.

Actually, Speedway runs parallel to the beach front, so it could actually be just about anywhere. So, maybe not.
posted by themanwho at 5:15 AM on May 20, 2013


Also there is this review of Small World books in which they point out that the store has been open since 1976 and that a piano player regularly is located opposite it.

At 3:39, look just to the left of the guy with the drink - the awning(?) is labelled "SWB BOO...".
posted by zamboni at 6:52 AM on May 20, 2013


At 3:39, look just to the left of the guy with the drink - the awning(?) is labelled "SWB BOO...".

And note that we have this contemporary photo showing the same "SWB" abbreviation.

There is also a shot of the sidewalk cafe at 2:48. This is the same cafe - with attached bookshop - today.

The shot with the bike rack on it does not look like it was taken immediately outside SWB - but it does look like several of the establishing other clips were - and that there would not have been a reason for the crew to go very far away from that point in order to take the bike stand shot. Plus there is the evidence that the piano players still play immediately outside the building and the bookshop and that "art", "fact", "fiction" and "fantasy" are all genres SWB sell to this day. The article mentions that John Cleese is a visitor - so I'm sure that another Python would not be a massive surprise.
posted by rongorongo at 8:57 AM on May 20, 2013


IT'S AN AD FOR OMNI MAGAZINE!
The smaller text to the right appears to read "???? ??????? ON SALE NOW".
actually reads OMNI MAGAZINE ON SALE NOW.

The triangle support on the right reads THE MEEK WILL INHERIT THE EARTH - THE REST OF US WILL GO TO THE STARS. The yellow block in the middle of the support is actually a bumper sticker campaigning against CA Prop 96 and 102.

Thanks, Thomas Barta on Flickr!
posted by zamboni at 3:13 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


This notion is a bit out there, but if you could view this in high def, you might be able to confirm or deny it. Could this be a banner ad for OMNI magazine? The text to the right of the word "fantasy" could read:
OMNI
Magazine
On Sale
Here

Just a thought. And so far I can't find anything to confirm or deny it. OMNI is archived here, so you might find that text in one of the volumes form that decade. Alternately, you might be able to get a higher res version of the video and read the text from that.
posted by zueod at 3:22 PM on May 20, 2013


Incidentally, Omni is available on archive.org. Here's the October 1988 issue.
posted by zamboni at 3:22 PM on May 20, 2013


Annnnd...preview!
posted by zueod at 3:22 PM on May 20, 2013


I emailed Small World Books last night and received this answer:

That's definitely Venice Beach in the youtube clip, but not my bookstore. It looks as if it is just a random bike rack on the boardwalk.

The OMNI magazine connection is great. In my youth I spent many Saturdays in the public library reading OMNI; absolutely love their graphic design as well as the content.
posted by dubold at 1:13 AM on May 21, 2013


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