today i’m putting up pictures of one of the most famous and beloved modern houses in l.a, the lovell house.
i’m not quite sure what to say about it, as it’s a legendary house and acres of accolades have been, justifiably, heaped on it over the years. so what i can say, in my simplistic way, is that it’s amazing and perfect. see, that’s high brow architecture criticism.
ok, it also fits perfectly and idiosyncratically in it’s environment, it probably is bright and filled with light (remember: i’m a creepy architecture stalker and i generally take pictures of things from the street), and it employed building techniques that hitherto hadn’t been used in domestic/residential architecture.
oh, and it was in the movie ‘beginners’, which is one of my favorite movies of the last 10 years.
i love how it sits as a collection of rectilinear boxes and lines in the middle of an overgrown l.a griffith park environment. i’m not sure who lives here, but they’re lucky.
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’.
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.
ok, i confess that i generally tend to take pictures of: old houses and weird houses and houses that are kind of falling down and houses that are succumbing to entropy.
today’s house is neither old nor weird nor falling down nor succumbing to entropy. i see it almost every day, as it’s in my neighborhood, and even though i see it every day it invariably strikes me in that it’s a fairly rare example of good, new, tasteful, and relatively site sensitive architecture.
it was designed by francois perrin, who is a french architect living and working in l.a.
personally, and subjectively, i love how it’s restrained and sculptural, and how it subtly references a lot of iconic l.a mid-century case study houses.
it’s also a really deft example of employing materials that might not always be thought of as cohabitating benignly (like cement and wood) in a very challenging location (a hill-side with an 80 degree slope). and no, i’m not being paid to write advertorial for this house, i just think it’s really tasteful and great, and stands in stark contrast to the thousands of beige crap-shacks being erected by rapacious developers.
thanks, and have a nice weekend.
now i’m going to put on my low-rent grad student hat for a second. or a minute. or for however long it takes me to write about semiotics and from a low-rent grad student perspective. (oh, to be clear: ‘low rent’ meaning the quality of my writing, not the value of this real estate. i’m guessing this real estate is fairly pricey, as it’s in west hollywood).
when i was at uconn and suny purchase i really, really wanted to go brown and study semiotics. why?
- i love semiotics (before they stopped calling it semiotics…sniff).
- brown was fancy but progressive.
- my girlfriend at the time went to brown and lived on thayer st.
- i couldn’t afford brown.
- i probably wasn’t smart enough to go to brown.
- they stopped offering semiotics as a major.
so i was left as a lowly philosophy major at one of two state schools (both of which were great, go team(s)).
now i’ll be pedantic for a second, ok?
you might ask (or not), ‘what is/are semiotics?’ well, and in a very simple and grossly reductionist way, semiotics is/are the study of signs and symbols and the way in which we process them and give them meaning and respond to them.
most of what we experience is fairly neutral. a flag is really just some dyed fabric stitched together. but it can compel people to fits of rage or joy or loyalty or despair. but it’s just fabric. semiotics is, broadly speaking and applied to just about everything that triggers a reaction in us, the study of why people have emotional and intellectual reactions and responses to something like a flag, which is really just some colorful fabric.
but i don’t want to go on and on about semiotics (although if you corner me at a party i will talk to you for days about semiotics and they way in which all of our lives are spent (tyrannized, even) having ostensibly hard-wired reactions to things that are not in any way comprised of any inherent meaning).
but: this blog update.
here’s a house. or an almost house. which led me to ask some questions:
- is it being built or deconstructed?
- what utility does it have in it’s extant form?
- when we look at it are we seeing it for what it is or what it represents in terms of potential?
- how do we overlook what it actually is (a bunch of wood, cobbled together) and only see what it represents (a potentially finished house)?
- what amazing cognition is involved in extrapolating from a bunch of wood into a finished house?
- does it have aesthetic merit in it’s extant form, and if so what?
- see ‘7’.
it’s an interesting challenge, i think, to see this construction for what it is, divorced of any potential infused future utility.
it’s wood. kind of sculptural. defining a space, but without creating a space in a traditional, architectural way. it has no roof, it would be pretty crummy at keeping out bugs and wind. it wouldn’t be great at giving anyone a place to shower or sleep. but it’s still remarkable in and of itself. and can we judge a structure for what it is and not for what it represents and what it triggers in us?
someone might look at this and see a waste of resources. someone might look at it and see egregious socioeconomic inequality.
someone might look at it and see a place to eventually make popcorn and watch ‘30 rock’. or someone might look at it and see some odd post-modern sculptural land-art commentary on our predatory patriarchal rigid society. or none of the above.
ultimately, though, it’s wood. and some concrete. and some nails. but that’s not what i see, or, i assume, what any of us see.
and it’s fascinating that we see what isn’t so much more clearly and easily than what actually is. we see what’s represented far more than what’s actually in front of us.
and yes, that’s semiotics, at least from my perspective. and it can be applied to almost all of our conditioned emotional reactions. so says the college dropout blogger musician who really has no qualifications to be writing about architecture and/or semiotics. except that i like both.
i guess i have a presumptuous request/challenge: try to look at things (like this structure) for what they actually are. and when we
extrapolate and see things for what they represent (flags, republicans, saxophones, houses, globes, etc) it’s potentially interesting
to just become aware of the fact that we’re having a reaction to our own perception, not necessarily to the thing we’re observing or interacting with.
i’m not sure where my love of abandoned buildings comes from. or, syntactically, i’m not sure from where my love of abandoned buildings comes. in any case: i love abandoned buildings.
when i was growing up i used to spend hours and days:
finding abandoned buildings.
breaking into abandoned buildings.
wandering around abandoned buildings.
the abandoned buildings i played in as a child were all relatively old and victorian (which made them even creepier and fantastic). whereas l.a tends to have abandoned mid-century buildings, like this amazing, abandoned hotel. at least i think it’s a hotel. or was a hotel.
now it’s just a big, abandoned, beautiful modern building either waiting to be rescued from entropy or quietly observed by weirdos like me as entropy ravages it further. all the while writing run-on sentences, which i also love.
this particular abandoned building piques and keeps my interest because it clearly as at one point was a brand new building filled with mid century hipsters and swingers doing mid century hipster and swinger things (involving cocktails and lava lamps and prescription medication, one assumes). and now it sits moribund, with great lines and great bones, but moribund.
some buildings (old victorians, etc) seem like they were old when they were new. other buildings (mid century, etc) seem like they were designed to be forever new and futuristic, which makes their inevitable slide into entropic dissolution even more jarring, and strangely beautiful.
like abandoned space stations, almost. which, possibly, this is.
ok, have a nice weekend.
as it’s grammy weekend i thought i’d take some pictures of the iconic and legendary capitol records building.
well, i also thought i’d take some pictures of it because it’s a fantastic and fantastically anachronistic building, representing a time when record companies were huge and powerful and the music business was annually growing from strength to strength (even if the musicians themselves were routinely shafted in the process… oops, sorry had to get in a word for all of the musicians over the years who’ve been treated like dirty step-children while the executives at the record companies made tens of millions of dollars). but this building. it’s a great building, practically and conceptually.
it was designed (or so i’ve been led to believe) to look like a big stack of 7” 45rpm records, with a gigantic stylus (needle)pressing down upon the top record. everything about this has become amazingly anachronistic, as 7” records disappeared ages ago, and at this point the record business could be better understood as the i-tunes/mp3 business. no more records. no more needles (ironically there’s a needle exchange in the shadow of the capitol records building, but for a very different type of needle).
but the anachronism, as represented architecturally, is charming and amazing and endearing and chilling (in that it represents a dead and dying industry). a form that had great relevance when it was conceived and built now just looks like a super-cool round building with a big weird spikey thing on top.
i guess it’s also worth remembering that this building was a shining beacon when pop music was elvis and frank sinatra and the beatles. and now pop music is, well, it is what it is.
i won’t malign the state of pop music, specifically, but i will state the obvious: it’s not the beatles or simon and garfunkel or the clash or nirvana or alice in chains or marvin gaye or stevie wonder or bob marley or bruce springsteen or the rolling stones or rem, even though it once was.
it’s not idiosyncratic individuals who made challenging and beautiful and fascinating music that inspired hundreds of millions of people.
i won’t say what the world of pop music is. but i’m happy to state the obvious and point out what it isn’t, and what it used to be.
perhaps the demise of the record business has less to do with piracy and mp3’s than it does with the gaping maw that separates what the pop music world currently is as opposed to what it used to be.
sorry to be cranky, but music is precious to me and it breaks my heart to see it treated like trash. and, oops, the capitol records building is great architecture.
ok, in my limited wisdom i’ve decided that these rocks can somehow be considered as architecture. my criteria being: people have used them for thousands of years as places to hide or sleep or eat or make star trek episodes.
so, thus: architecture. even if they were built by tectonic forces a very long time ago and not by swiss guys in prada glasses. (which, of course, is not to malign either tectonic forces or swiss guys in prada glasses).
these are vasquez rocks, named after an outlaw who used to hide out in the then unnamed rocks to evade the law. i’m guessing, by way of deduction, that his name was mr. vasquez.
i’m also including them because:
- they were immortalized in an episode of star trek wherein kirk battled a lizard creature for the entertainment of higher beings (and me, and you, probably)
- they are in los angeles and i don’t know of too many other cities where you can drive for 30 minutes and find yourself in the middle of the desert surrounded by crazy gigantic jagged rocks that have been immortalized in/by star trek.
yes, door to door it took me 35 minutes to get to vasquez rocks.
granted there was no traffic, which is rare.
and granted i probably drive a few too many miles over the legally posted speed limit.
but so does everyone, so i just see it as me partaking in massive and unintentional civil disobedience.
en route to giant rocks.
and no, i didn’t try to build a cannon using sulfur in order to vanquish the lizard creature foe.
mainly cos there wasn’t any sulfur.
nerds know of what i speak.