Free: Charles Phoenix Union Station Show

The grand landmark, and the gleeful lover of local landmarks, pair up for a night of retro Southern California slides.

As we pose before the perfect wall or artwork, in the ideal color combination that complements the hue of the aforementioned wall or artwork, and we plan, as we pose, exactly where we'll post the picture, and what we'll say, and the people we'll tag, we might pause and remember how photographs often went down, just a few decades ago.

Some sneaky friend likely snapped us as we inhaled a huge glob of onion dip, or with our eyes half-closed, or with a dribble down our shirt, or all three, simultaneously.

Casual photography could be all a tad more impromptu, over all, back in the day, and a bit more mid-century and retro and kitschy and wacky, too. Look in a family photo album from decades back and you'll likely find a caboodle of pics where no one is even looking at the camera.

They're just doin' their thing.

This is where Charles Phoenix, the Ambassador of Americana, steps in. Mr. Phoenix, author, humorist, and social commentator extraordinaire, has spent years seeking out and collecting slides from a half century ago (and earlier). Those slides depict us, and our parents and grandparents, at our off-the-cuff best, not to mention our huge-finned cars, and tinsel-laden Christmas trees, and polyester bell bottoms, too.

Now Mr. Phoenix, who presents a number of engaging slide shows around the region each year, is hosting a free, that's right, free, slide show at Union Station on Friday, April 21.

This is, like, le ultimate for venues, in terms of Charles Phoenix's history-loving cachet and verve. Another le ultimate moment? This is the charming entertainer's first slide show at the train-famous landmark.

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Doors swing wide at 8 o'clock, so get there early, early, early. We mentioned this was free, yes?

Free, we tell you. Free.

The theme is "Southern Californialand," so you know you'll see swimming pools and patios and cars and bowling alleys and drive-thrus and probably Disneyland and probably freeways and all of the staples of our home from days gone by.

Well, we still have those things, which is nice and very handy. 

But let's not dare pit the sometimes "gotcha"-like, "I wasn't ready" nature of casual photography of the mid-century to today's ultra-curated pursuit of the perfect picture.

Both turn out some pretty stellar and sometimes surreal snapshots, for different reasons, and both are to be celebrated for their individual strengths and quirks.

Perhaps some history-loving entertainer, centuries from now, will be hosting presentations featuring the social media photos of today. But, really, could anyone fill Charles Phoenix's super-stylish vintage shoes?

No one could or would, is the right answer, and we wouldn't want them to, no sir. Long may our Ambassador of Americana reign.

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