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.
caveat, this is sort of a self-involved and potentially obnoxious architecture update, as it involves my house.
ok. one of the reasons i moved to l.a was to have more space. having lived in nyc for decades i had become very, very accustomed to living in very small spaces. and i like small spaces. but then l.a beckoned, with it’s promise of guest bedrooms and washer/drier rooms and guest bathrooms.
space. which, along with light and nature, is the most precious urban commodity (well, i guess friends and family and health could be included). but space.
many of my friends in nyc and london have an almost resigned, defeated, and fetishistic approach to space. i’ve seen new yorkers turn closets into offices (or in my case: a closet into a bedroom. i still sleep in a closet when i’m in nyc. granted, it’s a pretty comfy closet). i’ve seen londoners turn tiny attics into guest bedrooms. and so on. no effort is to small to increase the square footage of a new york or london apartment by even a few feet. and then there’s l.a, with it’s sprawling gigantic-ness and it’s HOUSES. people live in houses here. with guest bedrooms and space.
so, when we were renovating my house we got around to renovating one of the guest bedrooms. a beautiful bedroom overlooking hills and a lake. but when the house was done i realized that i already had a couple of guest bedrooms, and no desire to have more guests. so rather than have another guest bedroom i decided to have the strangest of urban luxuries: an empty room that has absolutely no purpose.
i know, it seems like an absurd indulgence. and i guess it is. but i have a room with no purpose. just a beautiful empty room. sometimes it gets used for yoga, sometimes people use it for meditating, sometimes people use it for sleeping. but most of the time it just sits quietly on it’s own, calm and empty, almost like my own james turrell room.
i hope i haven’t offended you with my empty room, or with these pictures of an empty room. i can see how new yorkers in particular would have a particular antipathy towards an empty room. which might be one reason why more and more of my new yorker friends are moving to l.a.
the other night i was talking with a friend of mine about the ‘hidden in plain sight’ aspect of l.a architecture.
and, more specifically, what you see from the street isn’t always representative of the house/building and what it actually is.
here’s a case in point:
my friend ruttiger (name changed to protect the ostensibly innocent) lives near me in a house that from the street looks, well, a little bit dumpy.
when seen from the outside with it’s black metal door it kind of looks like a crystal meth dispensary with shrubbery. although that sounds very old timey, like ‘ye olde crystal meth dispensary’.
in any case, it looks sort of dumpy and kind of run down.
but then you walk in the front door and you see gigant-o (that’s a technical term in architecture circles) windows looking dramatically
out over the hills and mountains and griffith observatory and downtown.
to illustrate this i’ve taken 3 pictures.
picture 1 is from the outside, showing the crystal meth dealer facade. and pictures 2 and 3 are taken from the deck.
oh, i’m also going to include a picture of the living room, as it doesn’t really look anything like the black metal door fronted facade of the house (oh, and the cowskin on the floor isn’t a repudiation of my vegan principles, as i neither ate it nor rolled around on it naked).
but the person who lives in this house is from texas, and i think the cowskin is her childhood pet.