Monday, March 2, 2015


Hello March!
Life is busy. I'm back teaching at RMIT. Working on my novel and various other bits of writing. I'm watching Breaking Bad and reading Sea Hearts. Operating a few years behind the zeitgeist, as ever. I went and saw Mogwai and I'm surprised nobody exploded or spontaneously combusted. Today I found a very nice black velvet jacket and broke my No Spend March rule. (Really, I shouldn't have been in there in the first place.) My copy of The Baby Maker arrived in the mail, a 1970 film starring Barbara Hershey. I remember it for a few reasons: 1) the scene where Barbara is playing beach volleyball and gets her period on her white short shorts, 2) the scene where feminists protest in a picketline and 3)I'm quite sure that Babs catches a funicular to the Chemosphere. (But I thought this recently with Petulia and was saddened to find that Julie Christie's funicular scene was leading not to Lautner's whack-beautiful dreamhouse but an altogether different dreamhouse in San Francisco).

My article about Los Angeles and houses was printed in the Age the other week.

It starts like this:

“Why shouldn’t people build their houses in the shapes of pagodas, their grocery stores in the shapes of Turkish baths, and their restaurants like boats and hats, if they wanted to? Let them build, and tear down and build again; let them experiment.”
  • The Nowhere City, Alison Lurie (1963)

It is a luminous morning in Silver Lake. I’m dressed and caffeinated and waiting for 9.30, when the architecture tour will begin. Our guide and driver is Laura Massino Smith, an art historian and ex-New Yorker who fell in love with LA’s bricolage of architectural styles and promptly moved here, in the manner that people seem to. Some people come to LA to press palms with Marilyn Monroe in the cement outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I like all that, too, but mostly, I come for the houses. They are not like the ones we have at home. There are pastel-painted bungalows, Moorish palaces, Spanish haciendas, sixties spaceships, witches cottages, faux chateaus and Victorian-Italianate mansions. There are also ordinary houses, ugly houses but I don’t register these. Part of the charm of being a tourist is being able to walk around with your eyes half-closed. “It’s hard to laugh at the need for beauty and romance,” Nathanael West wrote, “But it is easy to sigh.” 

And what are holidays if not sighing fodder?

Continue here to read the rest.

I have been on a big reading binge about Rudolph Schindler ever since this trip. And dreaming of ways to get back. Next time I will go to Schindler House  - I love this blog post and photos about it. How perfect to have a house with your partner but still have your own space and studio and a communal garden. Very democratic. I approve.

1 comment:

  1. If we ever get out of No-Spend March and reach Rich-as-Gatsby Decembers, I hope you'll take me on an architecture tour to celebrate. Loved your words to bits and looked up all the houses. The Less than Zero house! The Storybook houses! Also, was v. excited by the jacket purchase. Feel need to respond pictorially with jacket of my own (purchased during Frugal February). Will warn you though ... xox