Tarzana Is My Heroine

a poet considers the imaginary and reality of Tarzana

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Aloha, Tarzana

I found another ad for the Los Angeles Steamship Company I wrote about in the previous post

Hawaii ad

I surprised myself when I wrote “Aloha, Tarzana”, because Tarzana, and the Valley in general, seem far from the Land of Aloha. Malibu maybe seems closer, but the Valley? But I’ve found some more images showing the connection between the founder of Tarzana and the Islands, meaning that Burroughs went to Hawai’i, but he sent Aloha back!

Here is Edgar Rice Burroughs (from the back) at Pearl Harbor

ERB at Pearl Harbor

ERB at Pearl Harbor


I also discovered, looking through an online Burroughs archives, that he had gone to Hawaii on the Matson steamer, Lurline, in 1935. That was five years before he moved there for a few years in 1940. I also saw, from that collection of letters (www.angelfire.com/trek/erbzine22/erbz1049.html), that he stayed first in Lanikai–a beautiful neighborhood and beach on O’ahu–, then apparently moved to Kapiolani Blvd. in Honolulu, near Waikiki.

Here are a couple of images of Lanikai Beach, on the Windward side of O’ahu.

Lanikai Beach - Saturday morning around 8am

Lanikai Beach – Saturday morning around 8am (Photo credit: ShaneRobinson)

English: Sida fallax (habit and view Mokuluas)...

English: Sida fallax (habit and view Mokuluas). Location: Oahu, Lanikai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now here is an even weirder tidbit I found alleging to recount a conversation about Burroughs between two soldiers on O’ahu:

Burroughs was became the topic of conversation between Jim Petersonand a major who was a Burroughs fanatic, while the two were preparing to defend the Kolekole Pass at the Waianae Range. Peterson doubted Tarzan of the Apes would be able to navigate the difficult terrain of the Waianae Range. The major went into a lengthy and unavoidable speech about Tarzan – telling Peterson Tarzan had “got around a lot” in his many adventures – before going on to John Carter on Mars, Carson Napier on Venus, and then Burroughs himself. When learning the author had spent a good deal of time on Oahu, Peterson wondered if Burroughs’ stay was a way to get away from his eager fans.


I’m still looking for a photo I saw showing a group of Hawaiian musicians playing for an event at Burroughs’ estate in Tarzana, but haven’t found it yet. I’ll post it when I do!


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L.A. – Honolulu

I’m vacationing on Maui at the moment and saw this card with an image of a vintage poster advertising the L.A. – Honolulu steamer. At the bottom it says Los Angeles Steamship Company.


I didn’t realize there was a steamer line out of L.A., though early travel between the mainland and the islands was obviously by ship. The first two ships for the L.A. line — “The City of Los Angeles” and “The City of Honolulu” — were repurposed German vessels captured during WWI. The first ship left L.A. harbor in 1922.

Here’s an article about the steamship company:


Later, Edgar Rice Burroughs–creator of Tarzan and founder of Tarzana–had sold his ranch and moved to Hawaii with his second wife–though she soon left him and returned to the Mainland.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked in ’41, Burroughs was playing tennis with his son at one of the hotels. No one took the antiaircraft gun noise they were hearing as anything more than an exercise at first.

Burroughs’ nonchalant description of that day led to him becoming a columnist for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and he went on to work as a war correspondent from the Pacific.

Read more about his wartime writing from Hawaii here:


and here, in this chapter excerpt from the book Tarzan Forever: A Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Creator of Tarzan:


Here is a photo of Burroughs either leaving Hawaii or arriving by steamer (see all the leis).


I saw a photo on the ERB, Inc. site that showed Hawaiian musicians performing at Burroughs’ ranch in Tarzana. That must have been before he moved to Hawaii in 1940, since he had sold the ranch before he did that. So did he already know some Hawaiians? Had he already visited Hawaii or learned about Hawaiian music and culture?

I’ll do some more sleuthing in the ERB archives and see if I can find that photo again and some more background. When I do, I’ll post it!

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Tarzan, Jane, And The Chamber Of Commerce

My husband spotted this new sign for the Woodland Hills-Tarzana Chamber of Commerce at Peet’s in Tarzana when we went there for coffee this morning.

Chamber of Commerce Logo

Chamber of Commerce Logo

At first I didn’t see that the logo included an image of Tarzan and a lion, because the logo is all green. After I took this photo, a woman came up and said, “Oh, I love it when someone notices the Chamber of Commerce logo!” She said that there would have been more colors for Tarzan and lion on the right except that it would have been too expensive to produce. Here’s what the image–from the cover of Tarzan and the Lion Man–looks like in full color:

Tarzan and the Lion Man

Tarzan and the Lion Man


The woman who talked to me was Jen Svejda, Director of Business Development for the Woodland Hills-Tarzana Chamber of Commerce (http://www.woodlandhillscc.net/index.php), which includes, she said, some 800 businesses and is the largest Chamber of Commerce in the Valley. We chatted about how the economic downturn had affected the area (not as bad as it could have been) and the enthusiasm that lots of local Chamber Ambassadors have for this area–to the point, Jen said, of coming out on weekends and painting curbs on their own time!

Jen is very enthusiastic about her job, and she admitted she played the part of Jane at the Tarzan Centennial Celebration at Safari Walk back in August (2012)!

Speaking of Jane now rather than Jen, a new book called Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan just came out. It’s by historical novel author Robin Maxwell and tells Jane’s story from Jane’s point of view–with the support of the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate.Here is a link to some blog posts the author wrote about writing the novel and her interest in the Tarzan story: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/09/edgar-rice-burroughs-and-darwin-revisited-the-science-of-jane#more


from Big Sky to “No Sky”

Here is an evocative poem by LA poet Martha Ronk on landscape and the work of the artist (and she comments on the work of the poet too as being “to suggest order” while “making things appear . . . the way they do in normal vision.”)

I don’t know which of Adams’ many austere but beautiful images of L.A. and environs Ronk’s poem below refers to. However, I think this particular image Adams made of the San Timoteo Canyon on the outskirts of Redlands, where I grew up, echoes the description of the landscape and evokes the feeling-tone of the poem.

Robert Adams, San Timoteo Canyon.
From California: Views

No Sky

after Robert Adams’s California: Views

No sky                a gray backdrop merely and absence
and below: the scraggle of dusty fronds, the scrub oak and scrub jay
whose abrasive noises sharpen in response.

Shadows proliferate in deep furrows                no sky above
merely a scrim registering conical thrusts, a heightened flurry &
outlines of branches, the dead ones slowly petering out.

magnificent ruin       the cut through the field       blasted chaparral

As I understand my job, it is, while suggesting order, to make things appear as
much as possible to be the way they are in normal vision. . . . 

Go to http://poems.com/poem.php?date=15663 to read the entire poem.

[Poem originally published in the Boston Review (Nov/Dec. ’12)]