and now a random one.
yesterday i went for a walk on my street and took some random pictures of random houses. plus a picture of a landscapers hat on a tweety bird doll in the back of a pick up truck.
all of these houses are perfectly nice, but on their own i probably wouldn’t be inclined to devote a whole update to one of them.
and i’m ashamed at the syntax in that last sentence. eesh, what, was i raised in a barn? my grandmother would be ashamed.
in any case here are some random and odd mid-century or mid-century inspired or just plain odd and random houses on my street. oh, and one moderne house, like a tiny ocean liner. and aforementioned tweety bird in a hat.
there are lots of other nice houses on my street, i just randomly decided to take pictures of these. nice mid century-ish houses baking in the hot march sun.
as tonight is the oscars i thought i’d put up a picture of the hollywood sign.
well, actually the back of the hollywood sign.
i love that the hollywood sign has become this iconic image, representing l.a universally, far and wide.
what makes it amazing is that originally the hollywood sign was erected as temporary advertising for a real estate development.
originally it said ‘hollywoodland’ (the name of the real estate development), but the ‘land’ part fell down.
paris has the eiffel tower, nyc has the empire state building, rome has the colliseum, and l.a has a big old sign advertising a real estate development from the 20’s.
which, if you dislike l.a, you probably see it as a symbol of the quick, vapid, and disposable nature of l.a culture.
or if you like l.a (as i do) you see it as something kind of odd, modern, accidental, impermanent, and endearing.
so here’s to the world’s most famous and recognizable real estate development advertisement.
ok, happy academy awards.
ok. this house has fascinated me for a few years now.
here’s what i know:
- it’s in the middle of hollywood.
- it’s hidden in plain sight.
- it doesn’t seem to have a driveway.
- it might not actually exist.
- i can see it from the other side of the canyon, but when i’ve tried to look for it up close it disappears.
granted, there might be banal and pedestrian explanations for why it doesn’t actually exist and why it seems to disappear when i look for it up close. but who wants banal and pedestrian explanations for things that are interesting and mysterious?
to that end:
i almost feel that humanity as a whole suffered a great loss when cartographers stopped writing ‘here there be monsters’ at the edge of ocean maps.
why not just keep writing ‘here there be monsters’?
that’s way more interesting than writing ‘here there be some normal cities you’ll probably never visit.’
or when the monster at the end of scooby doo was revealed to be a local hardware store employee.
why not leave things vague?
to be clear:
i’m not saying that there are monsters in this little cabin.
i’m not saying anything about it, except that it might only partially exist, like a little urban rural brigadoon.
it could, of course, be the home and headquarters for a group of crime fighting animals. i’m not saying it IS, but if someone forced me to come up with
an explanation of how and why there’s a driveway-less cabin in the middle of hollywood i’d be forced to say ‘it’s the home and headquarters for a group of crime fighting animals.’
during the day they hang out and sleep and put things in their scrapbooks, and at night they run down the hillside to fight crime.
which might also explain why my neighborhood has a surprisingly low crime rate.
and yes, this is ostensibly a blog about architecture.
and p.s-yes, in case you’re wondering, this hidden in plain sight cabin is in the middle of an urban sprawl of 15,000,000 people.
ok, i want to write something insightful and germane and erudite about this crazy plant covered house.
but instead i’ll just write that it’s a crazy plant covered house hidden in plain sight in the middle of hollywood in the shadow of paramount.
and it reminded me that if you come to l.a and see only banal beige buildings then you’re not looking hard enough.
there are countless treasures hidden throughout l.a (especially in weird old hollywood), but you have to make an effort to find them.
see, going to nyc and finding the empire state building is easy.
going to london and finding big ben is easy.
but coming to hollywood and finding completely odd and baffling old estates that are completely covered in vines and plants and trees, like some residential angkor wat, is trickier.
but they’re everywhere. you just have to look.
it’s almost as if hollywood presents this banal facade to the people who give it a passing glance, but it reveals phenomenally odd and interesting details to anyone who’s willing to take the time to look closer.
i love this odd angkor wat-y vine covered crazy house, sitting on a random side street in hollywood, just waiting for anyone to notice it.
p.s-oh, and don’t be fooled, even the banal beige buildings have odd and byzantine details and histories and secrets.
p.p.s-the photos here that look like photos of plants are actually photos of the house. literally the house is almost completely covered by and obscured by trees and plants and vines. i think it’s mini hogwarts in southern california.
ok, this is an odd one.
a generic and generally unremarkable hollywood apartment house.
so, why am i including it here?
because it seems like a time capsule. well, to me at least.
plus i somehow thought it was photogenic, with the dark blue sky peeking out from behind the hundreds of tiny puffy clouds.
and i have a strange love for l.a architecture that at one point seemed kind of lively and hopeful and over time has suffered the slings and arrows of entropy and mildly benign neglect.
l.a is full of entropy and mildly benign neglect.
most big cities don’t have the space to allow for entropy and benign neglect, but l.a is gigantic and sprawling and as such is in many places a petri dish for entropy and benign neglect.
and as i’ve mentioned before, you never know what’s going on inside of these entropic and mildly neglected places.
old tv stars watching qvc, tattoo artists making orange juice, musicians tuning guitars, armenians reading armenian magazines, mexicans studying for their lsat’s, etc etc.
and now i think i’m rambling.
although most likely i’ve been rambling since i sat down in front of my computer.
oh, i also like that this slice of aging hollywood optimism still has an old-timey tv antenna on the roof.
as always i assume it only LOOKS like an old-timey tv antenna, and that actually it’s an alien transmitter sending information and coordinates to our future alien overlords.
ok, today’s update is sort of about the absence of architecture.
which sounds pretentious.
but it really is about the absence of architecture.
which might be pretentious.
at least i didn’t write ‘architectural forensics’.
although i guess i just did.
enough self-deprecating caveats:
here’s the story: i was going for a hike and i stumbled upon the ruins of the buckminster fuller house that used to exist in hollywood.
it was torn down ages ago (and possibly shipped to the smithsonian institute?), but for some reason no one else has seen fit to build anything else on the lot where once it stood.
so instead of the buckminster fuller house or a new generic beige suburban house we have a hillside strewn with mid-century
house ruins. and me, the quasi-intrepid creepy architect voyeur, taking pictures.
some of you might know that bucky fuller is one of my heroes. and i’ll be honest, even hanging out in the ruins of his once proud geodesic dome got me kind of excited.
maybe on monday i’ll get back to taking pictures of actual houses rather than their ruins.
but for now here are the ruins of the bucky fuller house in hollywood.
oh, and i’m going to try and include a picture of the bucky fuller house as it was before it was torn down.
to be clear: my pictures are the black & white ones that look like ruins.
the picture that isn’t mine is full color and of the actual house as it once was.
i’m including today’s house for a few simple reasons:
- i was driving down a random street in hollywood and i saw this nice little house and decided to stop for 90 seconds and be a creepy house voyeur and take some pictures.
- it’s an unexceptional, albeit very nice, mid-century house. and i really like the fact that l.a has an abundance of unexceptional, although very nice, mid-century houses.
- to continue with ‘2’, i like the fact that there are enough nice mid-century houses in l.a that you can drive by them and only give them a passing, glancing bit of attention. a simple, ‘oh, look, a nice mid-century house. huh.’ and i’m stating the obvious, but there aren’t too many cities possessed of an abundance of nice mid-century houses.
- see 1, 2, and 3.
- i like lists.
- i’ll be honest, these few pictures don’t really do the house justice. it wasn’t an unexceptional mid-century house. it was a really, really nice mid-century house, all suspended on steel posts and surrounded by trees. maybe i’m saying it was ‘unexceptional’ because my pictures aren’t so great.
- to wit: exceptional house. unexceptional pictures. mea culpa. self-flagellation. etc.
- i think the list has become as long as it needs to be.
- mitt romney’s wife, ann, spent over $70,000 on her dressage horse’s care last year. oh, wait, no, WE (the taxpayers) spent over $70,000 on mitt romney’s dressage horse, as the $70,000+ that they spent on their dressage horse was a tax deduction. considering that we (the taxpayers) spent over $70,000 on mitt romney’s fancy horse last year shouldn’t we at least get to ride around on it every now and then?
- yes, ‘9’ had nothing to do with architecture. but it’s an election year and mitt romney scares the bejeezus out of me. i mean, far be it for me to judge, but he seems to have no soul.
ok, i promised some updates featuring buildings with honest to goodness architectural significance, so: here’s a building with honest to goodness architectural significance.
a rare oscar neimeyer designed round spaceship building in the middle of l.a (well, the middle of west hollywood, which would be on the outskirts of l.a if you lived in east l.a).
apparently oscar neimeyer designed this amazing building in 1974 for a plastic surgeon and then it was bought in the 80’s by mark mothersbaugh from devo (i’m going to name-drop; i learned these things from mark when i was over there the other day).
i’m posting black and white pictures but if possible i highly recommend seeing it for yourself(ves), as in person it’s bright, swimming-pool green.
although now that i think about it i don’t know of too many bright green swimming pools.
so i guess ‘swimming pool green’ kind of makes no sense.
how about…7-up green?
or shamrock green?
you get the point: it’s bright green.
in context it’s amazing and random, as it’s surrounded by some egregiously banal west hollywood architecture. but smack dab in the
epicenter of tawdry west hollywood there’s this amazing oscar neimeyer designed green mark mothersbaugh spaceship.
more grimy hollywood.
or: grimy hollywood adjacent.
i know, i go on and on about the ‘hidden in plain sight’ aspect of dirty l.a.
to wit: that you can be walking down the grimiest street in los angeles, working under the assumption that everything around you is unrelentingly grimy, but be amazed to find that countless odd and beautiful and remarkable buildings and homes and, in this case, monasteries can be inches away from you, hidden in plain sight.
within a few hundred yards of this monastery you could buy: gas, tacos, class-a narcotics, dusty antiques, pilates lessons, more class-a narcotics, and etc.
or you could walk onto the grounds of this monastery and buy banana bread made by the monks and/or nuns (ok, maybe it’s a convent, i’m not sure, to be honest).
and when i took this picture there was a ginormous traffic jam on the 101, just a few dozen yards away.
but here on the little monastery (or convent) all was quiet and still.
it’s a monastery (or convent) hidden in the middle of grimy hollywood. and it’s a beautiful, sylvan, quiet, bucolic (which might be the same as ‘sylvan’, or just a little bit different) monastery (or convent).
there’s a long and odd and amazing history of different religious and spiritual groups settling in hollywood. from catholics to theosophists to scientologists to buddhists to 7th day adventists to satanists to presbyterians to jews to muslims to snake handlers and etc.
the scientologists tend to have the gaudiest and most ubiquitous buildings, whereas clearly the catholic monks(or nuns)have the most concealed
and restrained building(s). at least as regards this monastery (or convent).
so, here’s hollywood at it’s loveliest and most random.
ok, i don’t really expect anyone else to understand or like these pictures.
not that they resist understanding by being terribly sophisticated or subtle or nuanced.
it’s just that they’re not architecturally significant.
and they’re not very attractive.
but i love them (and the subject matter depicted therein) because:
1-they represent grimy hollywood, which is still filled with these unintentionally (i’m assuming) gothic, run-down houses.
2-it’s the middle of hollywood and the residents of this house have a car fenced in in their front yard (i grew up poor and white trash, and even in my poor, white trash childhood i never saw a car behind a chain link fence in someone’s front yard).
3-it was a sunny day in hollywood, but somehow this house sucked up the sunshine and just looked kind of ominous and malevolent, even though it’s surrounded by tropical plants.
people have always loved the l.a noir of philip marlowe and raymond chandler and chinatown and l.a confidential, but usually people like 1940’s l.a noir for it’s dark and gritty overtones. but hollywood in 2012 still radiates and emanates a disconcerting darkness in lots and lots (no real estate pun intended) of it’s grimy corners.
i mean, i look at a bleak fortress like this house, with it’s chain link fence and fenced in beat up car and i wonder, ‘what goes on in here?’, ‘what has gone on in here?’, and ‘what will go on in here?’
i’m guessing that the current owners are former paramount executives who are now breeding some special type of alligators bred only to eat steroids and crystal meth and disembowel adorable teddy bears.
that’s what i’m guessing, anyway.
i love this weird gothic sun baked fenced in fortress.