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92. (399.) Night of the Comet (1984)
Shame on me for not having seen this film earlier. Catherine Mary Stewart (better known, I suspect, as the love interest in The Last Starfighter) and Robert Beltran (beter known, I'm sure, as Chakotay from Star Trek: Voyager) fight zombies and the government in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles!

I should point out that the zombies in this film are decaying humans with an expiration date, not the supernatural, brain-eating Romero zombies that I typically find so intolerable. This movie is more sci-fi than fantasy, but it really is better classified as a horror/comedy. If you can't laugh at the end of the world, what can you laugh at?

I should also point out that the final scene of this movie takes place outside 333 Hope Street, Los Angeles. If that address sounds even vaguely familiar, it's because I have commented on it before. Here's a hint: it's big and orange and convenient for Hollywood to use as a backdrop.

Yep, once again, it's "Four Arches" by Alexander Calder in the background of a movie. I've now spotted "Four Arches" in movies filmed in the 80s, 90s, and 10s. The piece was installed in 1974, so I'm only missing two decades to complete my viewing collection. Fortunately, Wikipedia has a list for me to start working on.

While that's all very noteworthy, what motivated me to post about this movie here today is a prominent and amusing Superman reference in the movie's first 10 minutes. See for yourself:

Hot chicks who know all about Superman? Yes, please! Of course, if Superman were in this movie, the comet would never have endangered the lives of everyone on Earth. Superman may not be able to save everyone from every tornado or random shooting, but he's got these world-ending kinds of emergencies covered.

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As tends to happen in my world, twice in the past month I noticed a large, orange abstract sculpture in the background of my popular entertainment.

Four Arches

84. Boiling Point (1993)
They should have called this film Room Temperature, but even that might have been stretching things. In this Dennis Hopper vehicle hijacked by Wesley Snipes, the sculpture can be seen in front of a crooked lawyer's office. The art is far more memorable than the movie.

95. The Muppets (2011)
The sculpture looks far more suitable as a background for those colorful Muppets in this movie that is as entertaining as Boiling Point is boring. Specifically, the sculpture is implied to be beside the "Richman Oil" building where the villain hangs out. Is it any coincidence that this work keeps appearing in buildings that house scumbags?

Thanks to publicartinla.com, I now know that the sculpture is an Alexander Calder original titled "Four Arches." Installed in 1974, the 4-story work still stands outside 333 Hope Street, Los Angeles, in what is now known as the Bank of American Plaza. Bank of America? That might explain the scumbag connection.

If you'd like a better view of the sculpture or the plaza, give Google Street View a try. (Isn't living in the 21st century awesome?)

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Ah ha! After months of wondering, I've finally found it. "It" is the name and location of a statue that has been looming large in recent months on my television: an orange, double-helix fountain sculpture.

I first noticed the sculpture late last year in a Sprint Mobile Broadband television commercial. It was background set decoration. Big and bright orange, it stands out from a typical back drop. Because it appears in a commercial, I assumed that it must be in Los Angeles, where most commercials are shot. Yet within days, I spotted a Dockers television commercial when a man in business slacks runs in front of it. The Dockers' ad prominently featured San Francisco landmarks.

Now I HAD to know where that statue was, featured as it was in two television commercials running simultaneously, apparently featuring two different locations. I was especially curious as to this statue's location, perhaps even because such a large, noticeable object was completely unnecessary for the products' sales pitches. (Though let's face it: I don't have a laptop computer, and I'm not wearing slacks. I've been paying too much attention to these commercials. come to think of it, I probably pay too much attention to all commercials. But that's why they run them, right?) Google searches on "orange fountain sculpture" in "LA" and "San Francisco" turned up nothing. That statue could have been anywhere.

But tonight I caught a break! The statue was featured prominently as "Kirby Plaza" in New York City during tonight's "Heroes" episode, "The Hard Part." (I fully endorse NBC's "Heroes," by the way. It's great television.) As I suspected, the name "Kirby Plaza" was fictitious, an homage to Jack "King" Kirby, the man most responsible for the look of modern comic books. (He's so important, he has his own museum.) Thank goodness for obsessive fans. One show fansite mentioned that ARCO Plaza was a planned shooting location for the episode. A few clicks later and eureka! (That's "eureka" as in, "I found it," not "Eureka" as in the also Wriphe-endorsed show on the NBC-owned Sci-Fi Channel.)

Double Ascension

Summarizing from publicartinla.com: the steel statue, titled "Double Ascension," was installed in 1973 in ARCO Plaza in Los Angeles. The statue was designed by Bauhaus professor Herbert Bayer as the first in a series of Los Angeles public art pieces aimed at helping to revitalize downtown LA. Bayer originally named the piece "Stairway to Nowhere," but ARCO executives didn't much like that title (for obvious reasons), so it was changed.

The plaza, a virtual city-within-a-city, has since been renamed City National Plaza after City National Bank bought the buildings after they were vacated by ARCO following ARCOs assimilation by BP. There seems to have been some concern that with new corporate owners would come changes to the site. Instead, the sculpture, seen from several angles here at arcitectfad.com, has been embraced by City National and become something of a motif for the new owners' decorations, serving as a pattern for the surrounding tables as well as the logo for the building's website. I also discovered that in addition to the recent commercials and television appearances, the piece was in the movie Pretty Woman.

The plaza are managed by Thomas Properties Group (TPG), which also manages LA's Universal City, home of and General Electric's NBC Universal Studios. Filmed at Universal City is a television show called "Heroes." (Did I mention how good that show is?) Does this make "Double Ascension"'s recent media exposure coincidence or conspiracy? You be the judge. Meanwhile, I'll keep my eyes out for an appearance of the statue on "Eureka" just in case it shows up there.

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To be continued...

 

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