Monday, January 29, 2007

L.A. Stories

Tips For Voyeurs
Think Eames, Schindler, Neutra, Lautner. "There is mid-century gold in the hillsides of Los Angeles," writes Kim Stevens in art ltd. But "unlike cities like New York or Chicago, which parade their architectural masterworks along the strands of grand public boulevards, Los Angeles is a more private city. Many of its finest architectural gems are private residences, which are often tucked away out of view." Yet there is hope for us peekaboos. Stevens reviews her faves and tips, suggesting a number of architecture tours. The MAK Center and L.A. Conservancy top the list.

The Secret Hills
Los Angeles, that "meta-urban, eccentric sprawl." And yet, you only need to drive a few miles to be in the wilderness of the hills, western-style. Curbed LA dug out a wonderful description by Pico Iyer, which turned up as an English lesson in the FT Deutschland, of all places: "A reminder, easily forgotten if one looks at posters and postcards and Baywatch, that in LA, as in Rio or along the Côte d'Azur, all the secrets lie in the hills."

Grand Discussion
Nicolai Ouroussoff takes a look at Gehry's downtown scheme for the NYT: "The project offers a lens on the conflicts that continue to define the identity of downtown Los Angeles today: the tension between the fortified cultural and business district at the top of the hill and the vibrant Latino district to the east; between traditional East Coast planning formulas and this city’s informal urban landscape; between its high-culture aspirations and its pop-culture ethos. How Mr. Gehry negotiates all this could determine whether downtown Los Angeles will ever matter to anyone but civic boosters and curiosity seekers."

Name Calling
How many nicknames does L.A. have? Will Campbell asked the question on Blogging LA. His suggestions: City of Angels. Lotusland/Lotusville. Double Dubuque. El Pueblo. City of Quartz. Hollyweird. Tinseltown. The Big Orange. City of Flowers and Sunshine. Readers chip in: lost angels
Hell. Smell A. Los Angles
. The Akron of the West
. Los-Ang-Guh-Leez. The City of La Ciudad
. The Grid
. The City
. Smog Central
. Shakytown. A Hundred Suburbs in Search of a City

Los Angeles Plays Itself

This extraordinary documentary is "about the way the imaginery space of cinema intrudes upon the actual space of our lives, so that the L.A. of the movies becomes a kind of separate reality unto itself." Not available on DVD because of the rich material it contains = hefty copyrights, but it will show again at the Cinematheque's Aero on February 23 & 24. "A must see for LA history buffs and movie enthusiasts."

Culver Discovered

Culver City turns up on the NYT radar. "Once considered a place to drive by on your way to somewhere else, [it] has become Los Angeles's newest stylish neighborhood, a magnet for lovers of the arts, good food and culture. One part Hollywood nostalgia, one part modern design, the city-within-a-city now inspires expressions like nascent Chelsea and L.A.'s new restaurant mecca." [related]

Redesigning the City

Mindy Farabee brews over the current debate on the future of Los Angeles in CityBeat. "There are parts of the city that are so ugly they could kill you," she starts. "A growing number of planners, architects, activists, designers, M.D.s, policy makers, and fed-up residents, have begun vocally positing the radical notion that people live in Los Angeles – and it is people who actually own the streets of Los Angeles" [...] "People are starved for that atmosphere of liveliness and activity, that good old-fashioned civic experience," says a local planner. "Those places exist, but Los Angeles is not a particularly civic-minded city." And such inward-looking erstazes as CityWalk or the Grove don't cut it. What the city needs is to de-fragment itself, i.e. connect the dots.
photos: 1 Julius Schulman/3 Gehry Projetcs/others Google Images