Except, in this case, it was a group of fiery women activists celebrating Los Angeles air pollution’s “Un-Happy 21st Birthday” at the Ambassador Hotel in Nov. 1964. Afton Slade, president of the clever activist powerhouse Stamp Out Smog (SOS) knew how to attract public attention for her cause. Create a dramatic backdrop (Mid-city’s historic Ambassador Hotel), frost the treat (literally) with tasty icing and skull-and-crossbones poignancy, and use the gimmick to lay out the case for urgent action against air pollution on one of its anniversaries. Where Nov., 1943 fits into the arrival of the gray murk we’re not sure. For us, the fumebank rolled in earnest into downtown in July 1943.
Dates aside, the remarkable dent that SOS put in Southern California’s smog crisis, while also germinating the seedling fields of feminism and enviromental awareness, are explored vividly in our new book, Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles, which incidentally debuts on Oct. 14. We tried writing it with a premium on attitude and pop-sociology, and hope you can metaphorically taste Mrs. Slade’s cake (we’re thinking chocolate with a hydrocarbon swirl) by the time you’re done.
This classic picture comes from the Los Angeles Times photo archive held at UCLA’s Special Collections Dept. Terrific, eye-watering stuff there. Link.
Just wondering: what do you give an environmental malevolent that has everything on its big day?