We’re back from the Hollywood Hills, which is a topographically crazy place to build houses. Each one sits on a precious lot that has been carved into a slope.
L.A. being a city of cars, parking is obviously at a premium here. These two parking spaces, hemmed in by unattractive cinderblock walls next to a beautiful home, are worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The real Rich People houses have garages. This four-story manse has two, and yet a third car is parked outside, in the sun.
It’s a Chevy Volt, you can see it’s plugged in. These people are rich and eco-conscious.
It’s presumably parked outside regularly. You can see that this house has, on the wall next to the parking space, what must be a desirable feature in L.A.: A retractable sun awning.
Other cars with shorter driveways, which often seem to be located on the “bottom” sides of the road, are parked more chaotically. This guy’s got two race-ready Porsches (or maybe a buddy’s visiting) and no place for the second one.
If the grass under the front tire is dead I could confirm that this second car is regularly parked like this, but I could hear someone inside the house and I wasn’t willing to start crawling around by the car to investigate. The friend that I’m staying with up here keeps a gun in the house, so maybe her neighbors do too. I like you guys but I’m not willing to be mistaken for a car thief and have a couple hot ones pumped into my torso so that I can write you an Urban Design Observation post.
Here’s another Volt with an aesthetically-unpleasing parking position. This reminds me a lot of Tokyo, where you just stuff a car into whatever nook you can.
The owner could get it off the curb entirely if s/he parked it parallel to the front face of the house, but then s/he would block the doorway. Behind the Volt you can see the black door leading to a garage. The fact that the garage is oriented like that, rather than perpendicular to its current position, says a lot about the limitations of building the house on a steep slope.
Here’s another house built on a steep slope. It’s been broken into three separate residences, judging by the mailboxes. (I’m going to get to mailboxes in a minute.)
Something about this house caught my eye, so I kept staring at it until I figured out what it was. It’s this funny little push-out window that appears to have been retrofitted.
It appears to exist only so that plants can be placed in it. I can’t say why but I feel certain that’s the kitchen and the plants are just over the sink.
I passed this house and was again struck by how good exterior wood looks out here, compared to in New York, where it all looks like shit. Having four seasons really beats the stuff up. California sun is either kinder, or they replace it more frequently out here.
Speaking of wood I saw this privacy screen that appeared to have had parts of it removed.
I got closer to see why; had it been damaged?
None of the nail holes look like they’d been torn out at an angle, but maybe something had been thrown through the middle of the missing pieces?
In the end I couldn’t figure it out, and wondered if maybe it had to do with the garbage cans, like maybe the garbage truck needs to be able to see them from the street in order to know that they have to empty them. I don’t know. Why am I even thinking about this. Sometimes I hate being curious. Don’t be curious, folks, is my message to you. Also, give up on your dreams.
On my little walk I started looking at mailboxes to figure out how many residences each house I passed held. Then I noticed that there’s no consistency of mailboxes out here, no HOA or anything like that. You just buy whatever you want.
Like this one.
This looks like the mailbox that Indiana Jones would place in front of his house.
He’d have a story about how he found it in one of those countries that ends in -istan, and how it once held the ashes of some venerated Emir whose shrine he desecrated. You would tell him that he already told you the story but he wouldn’t listen and would talk over you until he got to the end of the story and you would stare at the ground and just kind of nod.
Lastly, my eye was drawn to this sleek modernist one on the right.
It’s almost pretentious, the way the pop-up flag is, defiantly, not a flag at all but a trapezoid.
This mailbox definitely judges all of the other mailboxes around it. And the more I think about it, the more I find that displeasing. This mailbox thinks its shit doesn’t stink. Eff you, modernist mailbox. The other ones are good too. Even Indy’s stupid stolen urn mailbox.