see, l.a is a random city. or, rather, a city of randomness. and random things. and a twisted unicorn spaghetti approach to cohesion. and because l.a is random i believe it would be odd to make any attempt to either shoe-horn or force any notions of cohesion onto it. even if involving dangling participles. like the last sentence. sorry.
now, this building. house. bunker. it’s a random house in a random setting. it’s modern and kind of brutalist and boxy. it’s also grey, with dark windows. all well and good, but it presents a whole host of questions.
like, for instance, who wants to build a grey modernist box house on a desert hillside underneath blue skies and eucalyptus trees? i’m not saying it’s a bad choice, it’s just not necessarily the first choice many people would necessarily make when confronted with a building lot on a hillside surrounded by azure skies and eucalyptus trees.
i actually like this grey box house. it’s simple and austere and utilitarian and it makes very little sense in it’s site/context, but it makes perfect contextual sense in a sprawling urban environment that’s fantastically devoid of cohesion.
i mean, a house like this could’ve been anything. it could’ve been a beige hairball (as in: coughed up by a predator). or it could’ve been a norman castle or a spanish hacienda or a mies inspired rectilinear glass box or a lautner spaceship.
it could’ve been anything. and it’s a grey assemblage of boxes and dark windows. which is great, i guess. baffling when scrutinized, but great. cohesion is for sissies.
maybe that’s a new slogan for los angeles. along with: ‘los angeles, the first city of the apocalypse.’
p.s-i’m also including a picture of a giant cross with downtown in the background. it has nothing to do with this house. except that they’re in the same neighborhood. ok, thanks again.
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.
here’s a quick one.
i was hiking around my neighborhood earlier today and i saw this little house (well, it looks little from a distance, maybe it’s not actually so little up close).
it’s nestled bucolically at the base of some hills and forest, and is possibly inhabited by some benign grimm’s fairy tale character (assuming there are benign grimm’s fairy tale characters). which, of course, is nice. but which, of course, in most circumstances, is rarely all that remarkable. except in this case the house in question is about 1/2 a mile from the center of densely weird hollywood and about 1/4 mile away from one of the busiest freeways in the united states. which, as someone who was born on 148th st in nyc, still seems odd and strange and kind of magically remarkable. that there’s almost no delineation between the urban and natural in l.a, just some odd and random demarcations that rarely, if ever, make much municipal sense.
for instance: you’ll be driving down a street in my neighborhood and looking at a big expanse of trees or scrub brush and wondering: is that a park? is it part of the reservoir? is it someone’s property? is it brigadoon? is it where elephants go to plot the demise of their human overlords? can i hike there? will i get shot? and these are all equally valid questions.
quotidian urban sprawl juxtaposed randomly with relatively untrammeled nature.
oh, and sorry for the big-ish pretentious grad-student-y words, i didn’t have a lot of friends growing up so i spent my summers reading my mom’s books rather than playing outdoors with the normal children.
oh, a p.s/codecil to the update about the bridge…
chris nichols sent me this picture of the bridge when it was an actual bridge. apparently at one point it was a real, actual bridge, for real, actual trains. but given l.a’s less than amazing history as regards public transportation it’s now just a gathering of giant concrete pilings in the river.
poor l.a, always eating the best parts of itself.
here’s architecture and a bird.
first, the bird. technically it’s called a ‘turkey goblin’. actually technically and taxonomically it’s probably not called a turkey goblin. but my friend misty, with whom i was hiking, decided that it’s a turkey goblin. so, henceforth, turkey goblin.
and the architecture. or engineering. or, a bridge. or a part of a bridge. or, to keep this going, a bridge and some giant concrete pilings that look like they were supposed to be a bridge at some point but ended up as not quite a bridge.
i’m sometimes impressed by things that required unimaginable time and resources and energy and money to be built but were then never quite finished. as i’m assuming is/was the case with these very big concrete pilings built in the middle of the los angeles river. or maybe they serve a purpose, other than just being brutalist and photogenic.
the bridge serves a purpose. it was designed with a specific utility in mind, i’m assuming, and it now satisfies that utility, letting cars and people go from one side of the river to the other. but the pilings? giant and immovable? they just sit there, waiting for a railway bridge (i’m guessing) that will never materialize. like giant concrete miss havershams. just sitting and slowly succumbing to entropy and birds.
in other news: it was a beautiful day and you might have figured out that los angeles has a river (named, imaginatively, the los angeles river) and very few people seem to hang out at the river but it’s beautiful and covered in strange birds, like the aformentioned turkey goblin.
ok, i hope you had a nice weekend.
hi, i hope you had a nice weekend.
i’m going to state a sad and self-evident truth. which is: there are a lot of crappy houses in l.a. some of them are endearingly crappy. some of them are just crappy. and i’m not judging what goes on inside these crappy houses, as i’m sure that lots of smart and well intentioned and creative people do interesting things inside these beige crap palaces. but there are a lot of them. and it can be depressing.
in between the beige crap-shacks, however, there are some gems. like this house, by richard neutra (i think it’s by neutra…don’t skewer me if this isn’t a neutra house. someone said, ‘i think that’s a neutra house’, so i’m just repeating what i’ve been told…i’m ignorant. happily so).
it’s a perfect internationalist modern gem of a house, with just the perfect amount of goldilocks style entropy. long and sleek and rectilinear, with perfect little clerestory windows and even a couple of cats in the windows (not sure if you can see them in the pictures). oh, and i’m not implying that perfect mid century jewel box gems of houses need to have cats in the windows, but clearly it helps, generally speaking. little mid century cats, ideally, wearing glasses and smoking pipes and talking about the wonders of fiberglass.
it warms my heart that in between the beige crap-shacks of l.a there are these amazing little modernist wonders. and maybe as i become more enlightened i’ll be able to see the beauty and wonder in the beige crap shacks. but for now i just think they’re crappy. unlike this gem. which is the opposite of crappy.
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, so there’s an architectural style from the early/mid 20th century that is either called ‘moderne’ or ‘streamline moderne’ or ‘houses that look kind of like grounded ocean liners’.
and l.a has a lot of these ‘streamline moderne houses that look vaguely like ocean liners from 1930’. not enough, as they’re pretty great, but still: a lot, comparitively speaking.
and this one is arguably the prettiest of the bunch.
because it also sort of looks like a corbusier inspired french/parisian house from 1930, but with palm trees sitting in the background (and uninspiring beige houses on either side of it).
also, i’m advertising my ignorance here: i know nothing about this house. i don’t know who designed or built it. nor do i know when it was designed or built. but it’s beautiful. and it looks like like a grounded and amazing ocean liner. albeit a modest/small grounded and amazing ocean liner.
it does sometimes make me sad that when people/developers put up new buildings they rarely seem to aspire to put up beautiful and interesting buildings, but rather throw up (apt choice of words) a handful of generic beige vaguely missionary houses.
i apologize for editorializing, but the world doesn’t really need any more generic beige houses. but the world would benefit from having more houses that look like grounded, futuristic, art deco ocean liners. like this one.
there, i’ve editorialized.
dear developers: please make more houses like this. and fewer generic, beige houses. if possible.
oh, ps. here’s the wikipedia page on ‘streamlined moderne’. oh, and i’m not sure why they tacked the extra ‘e’ on the end of ‘modern’. but it makes it almost impossible to say out loud and not sound really pompous. try it, say ‘moderne’ out loud. see, it’s pretty awkward, huh. like you need a cigarette in a 10” long cigarette holder and noel coward playing in the background.
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.