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All Night Menu Volume Three
All Night Menu is a history of Los Angeles told in five installments. Each booklet contains eight non-fiction stories titled after specific addresses. Buildings are demolished, populations pass on, and neighborhoods change. Addresses do not. Even addresses with no history are full of it. Streets never seen still have names and numbers—in case, someday, they are found.
Volumes One and Two visit the first surf shop in Venice; an interracial dance studio on Melrose; and a university of tattooing on the amusement pier in Long Beach. The characters include a female matador hiding out in Pasadena; the Canoga Park kids who inadvertently invented BMX; and the ex-surfer whose Compton roller rink hosted South L.A.’s first hip-hop shows.
In Volume Three, released February 2017, the map expands. In Lynwood, an incongruous duo reinvents the lost art of pinstriping. In Valley Village, a British embroiderer puts the finishing touches on dream suits for country stars. American Indians on Skid Row repossess the parking lot of an all-night fried shrimp stand. At East L.A.’s oldest handball court, schoolchildren and ex-cons alike adopt a Japanese grocery owner as their personal Mother Theresa.
The format of each booklet is consistent: single images paired with succinct paragraphs, printed in black ink on kraft stock. The individual stories are short so that the range of subjects can be far-reaching. Each new volume builds on previous stories to gradually unearth a cohesive portrait of an unwieldy place. By the end of the series there will be five booklets and 40 addresses covering all time periods, subcultures and sections of the city. Los Angeles is vast and amorphous. This booklet is small and precise. It is not a walking tour, a visitor' guidebook, or a street atlas. It is a periodic index of lost heroes and miniature histories. Its only objective is to make the invisible equal to the visible.
Praise for All Night Menu
“The writing is clear, unvarnished, inferential and direct at once. The subjects are essentially unknown. And yet, in this silence, this anonymity, the story of the city is revealed. The result is to invest these nondescript corners of Southern California — addresses in Van Nuys, Hollywood, Pasadena — with a grace, a dignity. All Night Menu offers Los Angeles to us on its own terms. It is a small book, published in a limited edition, a showcase and an artifact.”-David L. Ulin
All Night Menu is written and designed by Sam Sweet, who publishes the series on his own imprint. His stories for the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the Oxford American are collected at samsweet.info. He lives in Highland Park.