Arrival Story: Roxanne Steinberg & Oguri

Departures Arrivals Roxanne Steinberg Photo by Moshe Hacmon.jpg

KCET Departures asks, "What's your or your family's Los Angeles arrival story?"

Today, we hear from dancer, Body Weather Laboratory, Venice co-founder and Venice resident Roxanne Steinberg. Her partner in each of the above is Oguri.

"I'll start with Oguri. He came here because of our relationship. We met in Japan in 1987. I visited Japan often in the late '80s because of my work in dance. Oguri came to Los Angeles 1990, and we got married that same year.

"We met through dance and decided we would make our life here. We met in a place called Hakushu, Japan, in Yamanashi prefecture. It was on a farm called Body Weather Farm.

"I was born here, at Cedars Sinai Hospital, in the beautiful art deco building that's now the blue Scientology building. My mom was born in the same building.

"My grandmother - my mother's mother - came out here because she was working for Carl Laemmle, who was a cousin. My great-great (I think it was) grandfather gave Carl Laemmle his first job in Germany.

"My grandfather came from a film school in England. When he came out to America, Carl Laemmle returned the family favor and helped him get his first job in New York. My grandfather met my grandmother in New York. She was a secretary in Laemmle's office.

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"Laemmle had sent my grandmother a letter - 'please take care of this gentleman, he's new to the country, he's a good guy, or something such.' They dated once in New York and it didn't last.

"My grandmother came out to California to work in the studios and then when my grandfather decided to come out, he walked into 20th Century Fox with a bunch of rattlesnakes. My grandmother was at the desk.

"He couldn't get a job at first, so he made a short movie about - it was some kind of western or something in the Southwest. They ran out of money on their trip and couldn't get back home so what they did was they caught rattlesnakes, they took out the venom, and they did a snake show. They made the gas money.

"My grandfather arrived in California and I guess he had this handful of snakes that he tried to sell to the studio or something like that. He walked into the office and my grandmother was there and he was like, 'What are you doing here?'

"They got together again. He convinced her to date him. They got married and made a life here. They lived in North Hollywood.The little film didn't survive a fire at the developer. Film was so flammable in those days.

"My father's parents lived in Rochester, New York. My great uncle Abe had a liquor store out here, at Adams and Central, and found a kind of a mom-and-pop liquor store potential space in Highland Park. He told my grandparents, 'There's this opportunity out here for you to open a liquor store in Highland Park.'

"They took the train out in 1945; my father was seventeen. And he lost his watch on the trip - he took it off to wash his hands and left it behind. The train arrived at Union Station just days before the first a-bomb went off and a month before the end of WWll.

"They lived in Highland Park, very close to the liquor store. The liquor store isn't there now. I think it's a hardware store. He took me on a tour, and I have a video or audio tape.

"I feel lucky to have been born in such a great city. It certainly doesn't lay out like Paris but holds its own multifarious intrigues."

-- Roxanne Steinberg
(as told to Jeremy Rosenberg)

Photo: By Moshe Hacmon, courtesy of Roxanne Steinberg

*'Arrival Stories' curator Jeremy Rosenberg used to work there as well.


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