when i was growing up in new york and connecticut i imagined california as looking like this. palm trees and architecture that looked nothing like the center hall colonials of connecticut or the tenements and skyscrapers of nyc.
and then when i first started coming to l.a i was amazed that this was a CITY but that people primarily lived in houses. and granted, many of the houses in l.a are kind of ugly and beige.
but then there are these perfect little jewel box mid century houses, reminding me of my post-adolescent l.a/california visions. and i guess one could argue that architecturally these mcm houses aren’t as arbitrary as norman castles or swiss chalet in the desert.
i mean, architecture like this opens itself to the outdoors but keeps the sun at bay when necessary. and it has the quasi-privacy screen, sort of saying ‘well, we like our privacy, but it’s ok if you peek a little bit’. the paradox of exhibitionist privacy.
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.
one of the reasons i moved to los angeles is because i wanted to spend more time looking around the gigantic west. because, to state the obvious, the west coast of the u.s is very different from the east coast.
i grew up on the east coast, and the east coast is great, but it’s generally fairly small and cute and subtle. then you go out west and everything is gigantic and un-subtle. the east coast has cute colonial towns. the west coast has bizarre sprawling megalopolises. the east coast has hills. the west coast has giant mountains. and when i moved to l.a i vowed to explore the weird and beautiful and baffling areas around l.a. and top of my list (well, near the top of my list), was mt baldy.
like many people i first heard about mt baldy when leonard cohen moved there, to live at a zen monastery near the top of mt baldy. i assumed that mt baldy was some remote and mythical place, far, far away from los angeles. but, as is often the case, i was wrong. mt baldy is an hour away from l.a.
so today i drove up to mt baldy with some friends. we drank coffee at the mt baldy lodge. we had sandwiches in one of the 18,000 state park hiking/camping areas. and i took pictures of this little stone house.
i took pictures of this house because it’s perfect. it might not be architecturally significant, but it fits into it’s landscape about as perfectly as a house can ever fit into a landscape. and even though its an hour away from los angeles in 2013 it feels as if it’s fallen through a time portal (as does, fantastically, most of mt baldy) from 1935.
it doesn’t employ new or cutting edge building materials or building techniques. it wasn’t inspired by marcel breuer. but it’s amazing and perfect in it’s own way.
so, here’s a little stone house surrounded by trees in the middle of mt baldy.
i just got back from weekend 2 at coachella.
and it was great.
i could indulge in hyperbole, but really, it was great.
i could also make more of an effort to expand my lexicon of adjectives.
but until then i’ll make do with: great.
on saturday morning i woke up early (one of the accidental benefits of not being hungover) and took a drive out to the salton sea.
now, the salton sea is one of the most remarkable, wrong, beautiful, apocalyptic, baffling, compelling places in california, the united states, the northern hemisphere, and possibly (see aforementioned hyperbole), the world.
it’s just so odd and wrong and amazing.
the beaches are made up of crusty animal and fish and crustacean bones.
the water is brown-ish and filled with dead things.
and a majority of the land surrounding the salton sea is abandoned and empty and apocalyptic (baking in 100 degree heat for most of the year certainly makes everything seem even emptier and more apocalyptic).
here’s some information on the salton sea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salton_Sea
while there i took a bunch of pictures, but i’m including these, of an abandoned gas station and video store (maybe, i say as a southern californian eco hippie, gas stations will someday seem as antiquated and out of date as video stores? yes, you can roll your eyes. but it’s still a nice idea. says the hippie. with no hair). i especially love the stark and boxy utilitarianism of the gas station. throw in some sheets of glass and you could have an empty and apocalyptic glass house or farnsworth house.
if you were at either coachella weekend: i hope you had a great time, and thanks for letting me dj.
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.
well, i’m saying that to myself.
for the last couple of weeks i’ve been in new york and colorado, and now i’m back in megalopoliptic los angeles.
i’ll put up some odd (and hopefully interesting) architecture photos tomorrow, but for today i wanted to put up a quadryptych (i’m inventing words, probably because i’m tired) of the american west from aspen to los angeles.
see, the east coast of america is nice. i grew up there. it’s small and cute and generally kind of charming in a small and cute way.
and the mid-west of america is big and flat and filled with corn. which is nice. i mean, who doesn’t like corn?
but the american west (rocky mountains and west) is just huge. and vast. and, for the most part, empty and otherworldly.
the east coast, where i grew up, is filled with people, pretty much from boston down to key west. there are some nice empty bits (like, say, maine). but for the most part it’s pretty crowded. pretty, but crowded.
and then you come out west and there’s just space and emptiness and more space and more emptiness (ok, there are crowded bits here, too. like, say, southern california, but generally it’s pretty empty).
and even the crowded bits are all about an inch away from vast stretches of emptiness (my house is a 30 minute drive from 2,000,000 acres of state park, for example. and then beyond that: desert for a few thousand miles).
so here are 4 pictures of: colorado, utah, california, and los angeles, all taken within a span of about 90 minutes (thanks to the modern miracle of air travel).
back to buildings tomorrow.
i hope you had a nice weekend.