ok, i was in australia and i went to an exhibition of george nelson design and furniture. which is sort of architecture.
see, george nelson is probably my all time favorite furniture designer, which is why i went to the exhibition and why i’m including the pictures here. but, the caveats:
- i took the pictures on my phone, so they might look kind of crummy.
- it’s not really architecture.
- it was in australia, so in addition to it not being architecture, it’s really not even remotely l.a architecture.
but george nelson was an amazing designer. which i think over-rides the caveats.
right? ok, i’m glad we agree.
ok, i’ve been remiss in my architectural blogging
mea culpa, i’m sorry. my sad, paltry excuse: i’ve been really busy. i know, cheap and paltry.
also i haven’t been in l.a that much as of late (i’m currently in sydney, heading to singapore tomorrow. did i mention that i might actually be asleep while writing this? it’s true).
in lieu of a fully fledged architectural blog update i’m going to post a listing to the sowden house (one of the most interesting houses in the world, probably) in the hopes that someone i like buys it, as it’s near my house, and that way i will, in theory, have more friends.
someday soon i’ll have more of my own actual photos to post. in the meantime: the amazing lloyd wright house.
back to sleep.
assuming i’m not already asleep.
or good morning.
i truly have no idea.
i was in las vegas on sunday, and while there i went in search of ye olde las vegas.
see, when i first went to las vegas i assumed it would somehow resemble the ye olde las vegas as depicted in pictures of dean martin in 1958. which, without judging, it didn’t.
i mean, new las vegas is big and bright and kind of fascinating in it’s own brobdingnagian way. (oh, and ‘brobdingnagian’ is a real word, i didn’t just make it up. jonathan swift made it up. along with lilliputian).
but when i go to las vegas i still go searching for the last remaining vestiges of the old las vegas. which is today’s building.
a hotel on the strip, cowering in the shadow of the mandalay bay. it’s kind of a sweet little mid-century hotel, with a few little mid-century details, and i’m working under the assumption that it has about 30 seconds until it is eaten by something new and brobdingnagian (again: that’s a real word). and again, i’m not maligning the giant new buildings in las vegas. i mean, they are a product of the ethos of las vegas, so it would be absurd to criticize them (plus the disco dancing fountains at the bellagio are pretty cool, and whenever/wherever there’s a rollercoaster in the middle of a city it’s probably a good thing).
so, here are some pictures of a tiny little mid-century hotel, 30 seconds away from disappearing under the tsunami of new, brobdingnagian (i figure if i use this word enough it’ll creep into common usage) modern las vegas.
so, on october 2nd, 3rd, and 4th i’m playing 3 shows at the fonda theater, here in glamorous (ahem) hollywood.
these 3 shows will be the sum total of the shows i’ll be playing as the world tour for ‘innocents’. meaning: the entire world tour for ‘innocents’ will consist of 3 shows at a theater in my neighborhood.
so. some people had been asking:
why the fonda?
why only 3 shows?
well, ‘why the fonda?’ here’s my list:
- it’s filled with the most amazing hieronymous bosch frescoes (as you can see in the pictures). i don’t know who painted them or when, but they’re huge and amazing and remind me of when i was 7 or 8 years old and first saw ‘the garden of earthly delights’ and thought to myself ‘wha..?’ i still believe that hieronymous bosch must’ve had an extra gland in his brain, most likely producing vast amounts of dmt.
- it’s a goldilocks theater, meaning it’s big enough for good production but small enough so that everyone in the theater can see the stage and the performers.
- the people who run it are very nice and interesting.
- according to google maps it’s 1.4 miles from my house, so i plan on walking there for every date of the 3 day world tour.
- it’s a building that just feels filled with strange l.a history. almost every inch of it comes with a ‘i wonder what happened here?’ narrative attached.
- it’s not new. l.a is filled with amazing old theaters, and i fully believe that they need to be preserved and supported. it seems criminal to me that people are building new theaters in l.a when there are countless old theaters that are architecturally significant and amazing and falling into disrepair. so, musicians and audiences: support old theaters.
- it’s in hollywood. and i’m fascinated with and baffled by hollywood and all of it’s weirdness and faded glamour and random cheapness and byzantine degeneracy and surprising old beauty.
and why only 3 shows?
simply: so that i can spend more time at home in my studio working on music. when i go on tour i sit around a lot (cars, airports, hotels, etc), and when i sit around i can’t spend my time making music. and pretty much all i want to do in life is stay home and make music. so, thus: a 3 date world tour.
at some point i might do real world touring again, but for now i hope to spend as much time as possible at home in my studio working on music, and i can’t do that when i’m traveling all the time.
i hope that doesn’t sound too selfish, but i fully believe that life is short and should ideally be spent doing what you love. and, simply, i love being in my studio working on music. and i can’t do that when i go on tour (as i have a studio filled with weird, old equipment that is temperamental and doesn’t like to travel..).
ok, so here are pictures of the fonda. i hope you like the gigant-o hieronymous bosch frescoes as much as i do.
and hopefully see you soon.
p.s-i’m including a picture of the ‘gregory peck’ star out front. technically it’s not architecture or a part of the theater, but gregory peck is one of my favorite people/actors, so i thought i’d include his star. i guess it’s vaguely ironic that he’s one of my favorite actors, as he did try to kill my namesake in ‘moby dick’.
ok, what do the following things have in common?
- the beatles
- water slides
- frank gehry’s disney concert hall
well, from my perspective, they’re all so great that they generally don’t need random bloggers such as myself to draw attention to them.
but every now and then it’s worth taking a minute to acknowledge things that are big and great and self-evidently big and great. like, for example, gehry’s disney concert hall.
i mean, i don’t know if this would be considered hyperbole, but i think it’s one of the greatest buildings conceived of/designed/built in the last 100 years. i know, that’s saying something. well, to be clear, it’s saying that gehry’s disney concert hall is amazing. which it is.
for some reason it always reminds me of eero saarinen’s arch in that the scale of it is so much greater than you would imagine it to be, it employs super heavy materials in a very effortless and delicate way, and it doesn’t exactly look like something that would’ve been designed and built by humans.
if you resist the hyperbole that this is one of the greatest buildings in the world i would disagree with you but probably acknowledge your opinion. but if you tried to say that it’s not one of (if not the) greatest buildings in l.a then we would probably have to battle with chinese throwing stars.
of course i’m not the first (or even among the first million) people to sing the praises of this building. that’s why i’m hesitant to sing it’s praises, as it’s kind of akin to writing about the merits of ‘let it be’. and even if you find the gehry concert hall to be too random or odd you have to, at the very least, admire it’s inventiveness and utter uniqueness. well, insofar as you can qualify ‘uniqueness’. i mean, if something’s unique then it can’t be ‘very’ unique or ‘utterly’ unique, right?
in any case, i love this building and i maintain subjectively that it’s one of the greatest buildings in the world. there. gauntlet thrown. because it’s an amazing building. and, plus, you might not know (even most angelenos don’t) that there’s a cute little shady park behind the concert hall.
there, grand space alien architecture and even a shady place to eat your sandwich.
to be very clear, i dont’ know what this is.
ok, i take that back. i do know what this is. it’s a big black floating metal box sitting in the middle of a forest. to be more specifically clear: i don’t know why it exists.
i has no windows, nor does it have any plumbing or electricity. which leads me to the only rational conclusion one can come to when confronted with a big black metal box in the middle of the woods. which is: it’s an alien observation pod. or condo.
but regardless of it’s intended or unintended utility i posit that it’s great architecture. i mean, if i were an architect (which, clearly, i’m not) i would look at this big black metal box in the woods and say to myself, ‘who, that’s cool’.
and i imagine many architects strive to make buildings and structures that are, simply, weird and cool. which seems like a noble and valid pursuit. i mean, of course architecture ideally would involve the creation of spaces that serve real world purposes and have nice quotidian functionality. but some architecture can also aspire to just be odd and interesting and cool. like this big black accidental box in the woods.
oh, i looked around for alien footprints but found none. but, of course, aliens are clever and would probably not leave obvious footprints. and/or they were hovering over the ground.&nb ssp;or both. i saw no hovering foot prints either. but to be honest, i don’t know what hovering foot prints would actually look like.
i’m in nyc. and it goes without saying that nyc is chock full of amazing buildings. but here’s the issue: most of them have been photographed and documented a few trillion times.
so, i mean, i could go take a picture of the seagram’s building or the chrysler building, but i figure i’d rather search out something a little bit weirder. and today’s building is one of my favorite odd-ball buildings in nyc. it’s tribeca’s ‘synagogue for the arts’, as designed by William Breger (who was a student of Walter Gropius, the bauhaus bigwig).
decades ago i remember walking by it with a friend of mine and we had a pretty heated pro-con debate regarding the relative merits of this buildings. i was pro. he was con.
my pros were: it’s bizarre, it has no windows on the facade, it’s sculptural, it stands in stark relief to every other building in nyc (except the guggenheim) as it’s curvy and weird when almost all other nyc buildings are exclusively composed of right angles, it looks like an odd fluid wave, it kind of looks like a candle flame or a scroll, and etc.
his con was that he thought it was weird an ugly.
to this day he thinks it’s weird and ugly, and i think it’s one of the best buildings in nyc, especially as it hearkens back to a time in nyc when real estate was cheap and architects could be truly experimental (kind of like parts of l.a today). as new york increasingly becomes a very cohesive theme park for the very wealthy i like to visit buildings like this, as a reminder that nyc still has some awesome weirdness hiding out on it’s side streets.
ok, i don’t know what this is. nor, to be clear, do i have any interest in knowing what it is. or what purpose it serves.
from my perspective it’s a giant plastic people mover tube that goes from nowhere to nowhere. maybe it has a real world utility.
i don’t want to know what that real world utility might be. but isn’t it amazing?
this giant long plastic centipede.
what if it’s a time travel portal?
or is that too obvious?
maybe it connects wormholes?
i’m working under the assumption that yes, that’s what it’s designed and built for. i’m including it in my architecture blog because it’s architecture. someone designed it and someone built it and it holds people (as far as i can tell. well, it held me for a minute while i was inside taking pictures).
it’s nice that it’s clear, so that when people go from wormhole to wormhole they can look outside. that’s very considerate on the part of the architect and engineer.
i ran into someone at sage in echo park the other night and they asked me, ‘i know you have your studio in your lautner house, but what does it look like?’ so… here’s my studio.
i know, it’s small and underwhelming (just like some musician architectural bloggers i know). but i’m including it because:
- it’s where i work
- it was challenging building a small personal recording studio in a lautner bedroom. the challenge was to respect and not compromise or damage lautner’s paneling and original millwork. (also, to be honest, some of the wood in the lautner house was in REALLY bad shape, so we had to go out and try to replace the damaged wood with newly stained wood that matched lautner’s original work. it was challenging.).
- i’m putting out a new record in the autumn and i thought i’d put up some pictures of where i work.
(and, a caveat: in taking/posting these pictures i’ve learned: it’s hard to take beautiful and artistic photos of a small bedroom studio… so, mea culpa).
ok, basically: i’m a bedroom musician. my first studio back when i was 18 years old and had a tascam 4 track was in my bedroom (eventually a basement, but it started in my bedroom). then i moved to an abandoned factory and my studio WAS my bedroom. then i moved to a slightly less abandoned factory and once again my studio was my bedroom. then i renovated a small loft in manhattan and put my studio in the bedroom and decided to sleep in a closet.
yes, glamorous and true. the bedroom in my loft in nyc is soundproofed and has good air conditioning, so that’s where i put my studio. and the closet in my loft in nyc is kind of cozy, so that’s where i sleep. and now i have my studio in a bedroom in los angeles. granted it’s a bedroom in a very interesting john lautner guest house, but it’s still a little bedroom.
many of my friends have HUGE GIGANTIC AMAZING STUDIOS. but i’m just one little guy, so why would i need A HUGE GIGANTIC AMAZING STUDIO? plus i like working in small spaces (maybe i was a monk in a past life. or, given my veganism and sobriety, maybe i’m a monk in my current life. or maybe i’m just little and dull).
so, architecture. a beautiful but crumbly john lautner bedroom that we turned into a small one person recording studio (oh, p.s-i apologize for not tidying up for the pictures, but this is architectural blogging verite). trying to make it efficient and practical and sonically sound (no pun intended) while respecting all of lautner’s original work and detailing was, as i mentioned, the interesting and challenging part of the renovation. and now that it’s renovated and nice and small and functional it’s where i work on music and where i made/recorded/wrote all of the music for ‘innocents’, my next record.
oh: much less glamorously… i keep my drums in the basement. maybe someday i’ll take pictures of my drums in the basement but i can almost guarantee that no one wants/needs to see a picture of a basement filled with drums and microphones.
and oh, i’m off to tahoe and nyc and canada for a few weeks, so my architectural updates won’t involve l.a for a little while.
p.s any fans of musical gear will notice that 99% of my musical equipment is kind of old and broken down. for some reason i really love old and broken down musical equipment (thank you ebay). especially as i try to make music that has a quality of vulnerability it just makes sense to use broken down equipment that also has a quality of vulnerability. or so i believe. plus old equipment smells nice.
p.s.s i also have really good alarm systems at my house, so just because i’m going away doesn’t mean anyone will be able to break into my house… or, rather, you could break in, but THE LAW would be here real quick. so, no ‘bling ring’ (or ‘analogue drum machine ring’) will be happening here, i’m guessing.