Skip to Content
Art

PhD in Los Angeles: What Happens to Mattresses on the Streets of Hollywood?

LA_PHD

Welcome to PhD in Los Angeles, a new series on L.A. Taco where we examine scholarly articles about our beloved city. First up is an essay by native Angeleno Stefano Bloch. Bloch is a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Urban Studies Program and the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown University.

Hollywood as waste regime: The revalorization of a cast-off mattress as film prop is an article originally published in City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action. Dr. Stefano Bloch takes us on a tour of L.A.'s rarely seen or discussed scavenger community-- mostly new immigrants trawling the city's streets for semi-valuable waste, in this case mattresses left on the sidewalk. These stained and soiled castoffs are worth $3-$5 each to recycling factories that strip them for parts and use them to create discount refurbished mattresses for the consumer market.


Next we learn about the role of scavenging in a capitalist society as Bloch takes us through both a scholarly tour of the role scavengers play in consumerism and waste regimes, and a global tour of sites where such activities take place.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 9.43.00 AM

Eventually we arrive back in Hollywood, where we examine another often overlooked industry that relies on repurposing everyday objects-- the prop house. Prop houses provide the realism that filmmakers crave through these of thousands of reclaimed and reused objects that are collected in vast warehouses around the city. Bloch notes that "As a crucial part of a film’s overall aesthetic, set dressing and props— like wardrobe and set construction—play a privileged, albeit often unacknowledged and underappreciated, role in a film and within the larger cultural economy."

The article goes on to examine the role of props, recycled items, the transformative power of film, and the role Los Angeles itself plays in the many films in which it stars-- often as a recycled and degraded version of itself. We also see the lifecycle of a mattress made famous on the silver screen. You can read the entire piece below:

https://lede-admin.lataco.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/Bloch-Hollywood-Mattresses1.pdf

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Protester Whose Testicle Exploded After LAPD Officer Shot Him with ‘Less Lethal’ Firearm Receives $1.5 Million Settlement

Benjamin Montemayor had been protesting on Hollywood Boulevard for several hours on June 2, 2020, when at least 50 police officers descended upon his group and began firing munitions at the crowd, according to his civil rights lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court.

May 17, 2024

Westlake’s Oldest Gay Bar Set to be Demolished

Opened in the early 1960s, the Silver Platter has long been known as a safe space for immigrant gay and transgender communities in Westlake. The building dates back to the 1920s.

May 17, 2024

What To Eat This Weekend Around L.A.: Salvadoran Fried Chicken Sandwiches, 48-Hour Pho, and Tacos Placeros

Plus, a new Enrique Olvera-approved monthly "mercadito" in D.T.L.A., a new arepa spot with patacon burgers that use fried plaintains for buns, and more in this week's roundup.

May 17, 2024

The 13 Best Tacos In Boyle Heights

Boyle Heights is arguably the city’s most important local taco galaxy in the larger taco universe that is Los Angeles. Remember, this is Boyle Heights! It's not East L.A., and it is most definitely not just some vague place known as “the Eastside.”

May 16, 2024

Here Are All the Restaurants (and the One Taquería In the Entire Country That Got a Star) On Michelin’s First Ever Mexico Guide

Europe's Michelin Guide recognized both Baja Californias, Quintana Roo, Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Nuevo Léon. Most of the usual nice restaurants got stars, but there were some questionable omissions. Also, in a country teeming with life-changing street food, only one taquería in the entire country was awarded "1 star."

May 15, 2024
See all posts