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Bloggers exploring Google Maps

Times Staff Writer

A knife sharpening truck parked outside of O.J. Simpson’s old Brentwood address tops the list of curiosities captured in Google Inc.'s street-level photographs of Southern California.

Others include unflattering snapshots of passers-by, a woman gazing out her window in Encinitas and a sea gull above La Jolla caught mid-flight dropping a surprise below.

Bloggers have been scouring Google Maps since Tuesday, when the Internet giant updated its Street View feature to include photos of Los Angeles, San Diego and other Southern California cities shot from vehicles mounted with panoramic cameras.

“There’s the voyeuristic element,” said Callum Prentice, a San Francisco software engineer who started Streetviewr.com in June to collect images from the first cities captured in the new Google feature. “You see a snapshot of a guy climbing the backside of a building, and you wonder what the back story is.”

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His Streetviewr blog received 20,000 visitors the day after Google’s Southern California upgrade, with many posting links to slices of life captured in the Southland maps.

In La Jolla, a man in a green wetsuit makes his way into the water with a surfboard. Another man is caught giving an intimate concert, strumming his guitar in Balboa Park in San Diego.

Some of the images resemble Southern California postcards, such as the Ferrari parked on Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive and the bikini-clad woman spinning Hula Hoops around her hips in San Diego.

In the Street View photograph of the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, a “Star Wars” storm trooper appears to be chatting amiably with Darth Vader.

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“First Los Angeles post and (quelle surprise) it’s related to the movie business,” its Streetviewr caption reads. “The farce is strong in this site.”

As Google’s vehicle rolled down Jupiter Street in Encinitas, it snapped a photo of retiree Mary Currie framed in the window of her beach home.

When notified by The Times, the 80-year-old retired dry cleaner said she found it disconcerting to have her picture appear in an online program for all the world to see.

“You ought to be able to look out your window without getting your picture taken by someone you don’t even know,” she said.

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alex.pham@latimes.com


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