What Happened to the Movie-Star Mural Near the Hustler Store in Hollywood?

Readers Ask Chris about a windowless building in Pasadena, a bygone Venice bakery, and more

For answers to more of your burning questions, visit the Ask Chris archive.

Q: What happened to the huge movie-star mural that was near the Hustler store in Hollywood?

A: Like nearby freeway overpasses and apartment buildings, Eloy Torrez’s mural Legends of Hollywood came crashing down the morning of January 17, 1994, during the Northridge earthquake. The Hollywood Arts Council hired conservators to move the pieces to the artist’s Echo Park home with the intention of selling shards of Marilyn Monroe and Fred Astaire to pay for a new mural. But Torrez says he “dropped the ball” after a few years and hired a team of, um, curators from outside the Home Depot to haul the five-foot-tall stacks to the dump. A decade later, though, he went on to paint a very similar mural that now adorns the auditorium at Hollywood High.

Q: I’ve been yearning for Pioneer Bakery’s sesame-seed Italian bread. Does anyone still make it?

A: The Garacochea family’s landmark bakery in Venice operated for nearly a century before it was torn down in 2007 to make way for condos. While the family sold off the Pioneer brand, the Garacocheas are still making bread. Extea, the family’s commercial bakery, supplies bread to a host of local eateries, from Tam O’ Shanter to Lawry’s. On the retail side, the closest to that original sesame loaf might be the classic Italian bread made by Frisco Baking Company, which can be preordered from Vince’s market in Atwater Village. However, Extea’s John Garacochea, the great-grandson of the bakery’s Basque founder, was so moved by your note that he offered to bake a loaf for you personally, with compliments from Ask Chris.

Q: Why doesn’t that massive Bank of America building in Pasadena have windows?

A: The imposing modernist monolith on Marengo Street was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone in 1974 to house more than 1,000 employees of BankAmericard, the first bank credit card in America (later reborn as Visa). Its huge, windowless rooms offered security for the giant mainframe computers used to process payments. The building’s new owners plan to punch windows through the travertine and finally bring light into the vast darkness.

Q: How can I dispose of my worn-out American flag?

A: The U.S. code calls for damaged flags to be destroyed in a “dignified way.” Nonprofits collect old flags and ceremoniously burn them. Drop your Old Glory off at the VFW Hall in Redondo Beach, and vets will deliver it, with salute, to the Covanta renewable energy plant in Long Beach. There it will be turned into electrons that power local businesses like nearby L.A. Custom Apparel, which makes a line of face masks adorned with broad stripes and bright stars.

RELATED: How long were drive-in theaters around before the first one opened in L.A.?

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