Friday, May 4, 2007
I don't think it taxes the imagination to picture this streetcorner littered with Humvees and women in clanging jewelry, teetering on high heels, on their way to an afternoon bar-b-que at this pink palace. Too loud. Too long. Too excessive. Too much wax on every surface of car, counter and face in sight. It's all just too much. Suppose there had been a sidewalk involved, where would it go? How long can that lawn take to mow? Whatever the gardner's making -- and I'm betting it's the wife -- it's too much. Forget about a bounce house for the kids parties. "Who needs a lawn? Mommy said to go play in the chef's kitchen. It has a sub zero!" Can we talk about scale? The columns, the chimney, the house! We all know the house is too big for the lot. Why don't they? "Do I look fat in this?" "Yes!" Before they spent two million dollars on this house why didn't someone -- anyone -- tell them how wrong it is? Sure silicone-injected double-D's dressed in pink are fun to look at, but, ultimately it's a freak show and not a place you want to live. I think what I'm trying to say, is that if this house were a person, this is who it would be:
Thursday, May 3, 2007
One is forced to wonder, if Anne Frank had wound up in this attic, would she have survived as long as she did? If the Nazis didn't kill her, certainly, the oppressive ugly of this mess would have. This house is not in need of a contractor to remedy whatever personal demons were being worked out during its construction; it's in need of a mental health professional. One could probably take a stab at a diagnosis just from looking at the, a-hem, "design." There are steps leading to a front door -- but where one would expect to enter, alas, there is a wall. Perhaps the owner is aloof, distant, "closed-off" or just batshit crazy. It's as if a Victorian cottage were entombed in a block of concrete unable to make a Houdini-like escape from its captor. Help! My house is being held hostage! Someone call 9-1-1! Whatever was going on in the mind of the person who planned out this job (Although doubtful there was much of a planning stage. More likely, "grab a beer and some stucco and let's go!") one thing can be guaranteed: someone happened on a rummage sale at the church. "All windows must go!" They're everywhere. And where they don't fit, plywood will have to do. Perhaps the church-like windows offer hope. Pray for forgiveness.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Welcome to palazzo palooza. Here Renaissance art multiplies faster than Angelina Jolie’s family. After putting in one pint-sized version of Michelangelo’s David which was greeted with an uproar by the neighborhood metrosexual aesthetes, the owner engaged in his own cloning experiment that resulted in more than a dozen mini-Mikes gracing the driveway. I think he stopped short. What these driveway sentries need is a realistic body paint job to rid them of their tastefully monochromatic white. Red pubic hair, anyone? Renaissance means “re-birth.” But in this case it looks more like after birth. There’s ugly and then there’s aggressively, in your face, make-your-neighbors-sign-a-petition ugly. This house is the later which has caused it to become a Los Angeles tourist attraction. Rarely is such an aesthetic achievement so richly rewarded outside of Las Vegas. Although the fact that the owner has created this monument to bad taste intentionally takes just about all of the fun out of it. You can almost feel the house winking at you from its wrought iron curly cues. Watch for the t-shirt stand. Although I must say I’m a bit disappointed by the clashing Italian statuary and the French fleur de lis. It's too timid a gesture. I would have hoped for a more provocative juxtaposition. Something more imaginative. Say, a terrazzo mosaic of OJ Simpson’s Bronco running over Lady Justice. Or better still, a window etched with an image of Osama bin Laden holding a knife to the throat of a big-eyed kitten. All in good time.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Now, I'm all in favor of mixed marriages. Ebony and ivory. One world. One people. Many gifts from many lands. But sometimes you just have to admit when it's not working. There may just be built-in tensions. Her family was in a Japanese internment camp. His family put them there. Maybe it wasn't meant to be after all. Maybe the karma isn't right and the chakras are the wrong color. I don't know much about feng shui, but you can arrange your vases all you want and stick them in your power corner and you're not going to erase this house's strong sense of ugly. Separately, the two halves of this house may work. Together, they say "we hate each other." In fact this house is saying "We hate ourselves. You think you don't like this house. Try and live here. You try and be comfortable traipsing around in a kimono and high-button shoes." They may have tried to make it work once. I mean how many Victorian homes have you seen topped by Japanese tile? Or spare Japanese facades slathered in stucco? But the magic ended, the music stopped and they just decided to coexist in mutual hostility. This is the Kim Basinger / Alec Baldwin of houses. Next thing you know one half of this house is going to release an audio tape of the other half of this house calling their architect a "pig". That would be bad. Accurate, but bad.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
If there's one complaint I have about the Craftsman style, it's that it's not tall enough. As even Starbucks knows, "tall" is just the starting point and things ought to get taller from there. Here, someone finally makes a bungalow tall enough. We're talking tall. I mean, someone put some Shaq in their shack. Many improvements have been made upon the old school craftsmanship of the arts & crafts style. Let's start with these factory-made aluminum windows. What the hell kinda craftsman can churn out 500 windows an hour like a Chinese schoolgirl? None. That's who. Besides, who wants to dust a house full of carved wood? It's like living amongst your Grandpa's scrimshaw collection. This is the 21st century; thank god someone knows what that means. Wood is so yesterday. Wrought iron is the way to go - every chance you get. But why so tall? For the children. How do I know there are children? Simple. You know those optical illusions in kids' magazines? You loved them once. This house has them built in for the dozens of children that must live here. Look at those second-story windows. Is the arrangement of those windows symmetrical? Just barely not. Fooled you, didn't they? Endless hours of game-playing joy for the kids. Good times. Now, go relax with the family and a pitcher of iced tea on the third story sundeck - the ideal vantage point from which the kids can egg the neighbor's house. Go ahead, live a little. You can't offend them more.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Innovation lives here. If you can't decide if you prefer a round window or a square one, I say, by all means, use both. And preferably, use them both in the same window. The result is the arched window in the square frame. A true innovation. There. Look, there it is, on the, what is that? Third? Fourth story? But the innovation doesn't stop there. The owners were so enamored of the split level form that they wanted to split it a couple more times. It's truly revolutionary, like the first time a scientist split an atom. In both cases, however, the resulting atomic waste contaminates the surrounding area for years to come. But the occupants will be safe because they are ensconced under that red skylight, which will certainly fend-off any harmful rays. I guess they needed the skylight on that mid-floor after neglecting to put any kind of a window on the face of that wall. Let's talk about those brown stripes. That's, afterall, what gives this home its Tudor quality. Or is it a Japanese Shinto screen? Either way, it's that kind of exotic detail that neighbors must admire and will boost the sales price of this beauty. I do fear for the unsuspecting buyer who purchases this rambling manor only to discover some rotting corpse tucked away in a crazy corner - I nominate the corner that sort of is hanging off the left side of the house like an unwanted flap of skin awaiting the plastic surgeon's scalpel.