"The cliffdwellers cling precariously to the brush-covered slopes of the Hollywood hills, sharing the common perils of fire and flood. In the late fall, when the humidity drops and a warm wind whips through the canyons, the hills may suddenly explode with flame. In the rainy season, when the naked cliffs crack and slide, the mortgaged wickiups come tumbling down. But the true cliffdweller always returns to his wildlife refuge. He trades in his charred Porsche, patches his pool, rebuilds his house-with-a-view and again settles down to enjoy the comforts of his mountain lair." ...
"Laurel is Southern California’s semi-tropical version of Manhattan’s East Village. Mediterranean villas dating back to the first hoarse days of talking pictures are hemmed in by dilapidated shacks owned by absentee landlords. The canyon’s natural fire hazards have been intensified of late by shaggy young nomads who turn on in the blackened ruins of burned-out mansions where Theda Bara may once have dined. The daily life of the community swirls around a small shopping center, “The Square,” which boasts the old-fashioned Canyon Country Store and a pleasant cafe, the Galleria."--1970 article from Holiday magazine on what it's like to live in the Hollywood Hills.
So many silly faux-facts in this LA Weekly listicle about Autumn in LA, so let it be said, this naturalized Angeleno born in New York longs not for "the seasons" or Autumn in New York" but rather for the winds Raymond Chandler mythologized in the following quote the Weekly is so smart to remember: "There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Ana's that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen..."
Very proud to have my John Lautner houses-in-film essay in the winter 2013 edition of VQR. If you'd like to read the text and see the great photos, most by Elizabeth Daniels, in full size, here's the PDF. You can also read the text more easily here. And be sure to catch other great pieces in the issue -- which, really, is a great print book to buy and hold -- by Mickey Rapkin, David Kipen, and many others. Here's how to subscribe.
I will be posting related material throughout the week. Please stay tuned! -- Adam Baer
Today I have an essay on NPR Music about Tanglewood as My Family's Transcendental Homeland. It's also about Tanglewood as a homeland for story, and why storytelling keeps alive the things that we love. It's positioned on NPR'sclassical side but while I would never want to encourage anyone not to check out that site, I want to make it clear that I call artfully composed music written for the concert hall "concert music." I hope that this piece will appeal to people who listen to a variety of musical genres -- like me. The mentions of EDM, Tears for Fears, and Jane's Addiction are not just inclusions for color but signifiers that hopefully help render a full picture of our musical world. The piece may also appeal to you if you've ever failed to fit in somewhere and had a crush on radiant European musician who allowed you to kiss her. All good things.-- Adam Baer, @glassshallot
Naturally, I thought long and hard about what kinds of supplementary material I could offer on my blog. But we sadly only present words and stuff we can roll and/or bake into Web code Glass Shallot. In that spirit, then let me offer a small chunk of text my editors and I had to cut at the last minute for page-space. It concerns the first dispensary I visited in Hollywood, one of the shops LA will close, where the system -- and the product -- actually worked very well. (Text below)
"More concerned with convenience than finding a boutique shop that sold Valrohna chocolate cupcakes, I first visited Druggie Christmas Tree Girl’s dispensary: a dank space above a seedy Hollywood motel, manned by a hulking Middle Eastern guy with a shaved head, wearing an elegantly dizzying Ed Hardy T-shirt. He screamed my name the way some thug had screamed at Jason Statham in an action movie I once reviewed. Naturally, I trusted him.
“What iz dis?” the guy asked, taking my letter through a little hole in the wall that separated the real store from the waiting room.
“It’s my doctor’s recommendation," I said.
“I never see something like dis, yo.”
“Well,” I said, “It’s real.”
“I see dat, dude. But I still gotta call.”
Yes, this sketchy drug-dealer type was calling a nationally lauded physician because of me.
He left the window, I heard some mumbling. He reappeared minutes later.
“You in,” he said. “He OK it.”
“You spoke with my actual doctor, not some nurse or assistant?” I asked.
“Totally,” he said. “Now whaddayou want?”
I walked into a tiny, smoky space through a cage-protected door, and he showed me some 10 canisters of fragrant weed. I asked for something to alleviate pain – nerve pain, if that meant anything?
“Bubba Skunk,” he said. “That’s you shit.”
“That’s my shit,” I concurred, handing over $50 for a pill bottle filled with buds.
“How much should I use?” I asked.
“Howev much you want, homeslice.”
Then I left, and as I waved my new drugs around the seedy eastern side of Hollywood Boulevard, as a man in a doo-rag drove by me on a miniature bicycle powered by a tiny motor, my wife grabbed the bag and told me to hide it.
In May’s Men’s Journal, I have a one-pager
about Big Sur in the wake of last year’s wildfires. In the piece, I
write about an awesome collection of yurts overlooking the Pacific ocean called Treebones. My wife and I hung out in Big Sur for this piece in November ‘08, on the weekend that Santa Barbara's Montecito area lit up like a roman candle, and
on which there were crazy winds that shook us, and a fair amount of our camping
friends in Ojai and beyond, all night long. Why Lina and I continually end up in oceanfront
mountains during wildfires and windstorms is beyond me. That said, we’d been to
Treebones before, and we’ll return. There’s nothing like it, and it’s only perhaps
too rustic for the Woody Allen wannabe who can’t hold down his lunch west of the Mississippi. But
if you want a little supplement to the MJ piece, I thought that I’d post some of a long and bewitchingly cool interview with Treebones’s unusually decent founder, John Handy, a recently
indoctrinated volunteer fireman and green-building pioneer who used to work as
a toy executive down in super-serious LA, eventually decided to leave the so-called grid, and now owns a Big White Tanker and
lives in Henry Miller’s woods, where it’s nice and natural, and no one wants to
stick you with dirty needles for your change from the Korean fried chicken
place. Here, if you haven't opened the PDF yet is the Q&A. For more about traveling to Big Sur, here's the MJ piece, which is also available on their Web site. --AB