Monday, November 9, 2009

The Path Not Taken for Awhile



Eight years ago, this house was a scenic spot on my favorite run. It’s in the southern area of Pasadena, not far from the Ritz. Or whatever they call the Ritz these days. I never considered the house beautiful, maybe it had been originally,in the 20s or 30s, but too many owners had imposed too many ideas involving too much plaster and stucco. Still, no one could tamper with the basics: Large property, beautifully situated, vast view, privacy.



Regardless of the messy front, the house belongs in the mansion category – and, as one might say of a bad face lift, the sides and back are still of interest. Eight years ago I would have guessed…five million? Maybe more.

About the time I moved from the (adjacent, i.e., not rich) neighborhood, the new owners had developed an obsession with knock-off statues. Lions and tigers and bares. The bares were mostly Roman or Greek, mostly women. The grass was brown as always, but I recall pipes and columns laid out across the acreage, presaging a grand project.



When I left the area, I just forgot about it all.

I don’t know why I took a run down that road today, but I did. The house is for sale. I jogged up and down the street a couple of times, then happened to lean against the main gate for a rest. And I happened to note there was no lock on the gate. And I happened to lean a bit harder. And it happened to squeak open. Well, hallo, and I accidentally tumbled inside. It was one of those long tumbles that took me through the front yard and the back acreage, and, whoa, up to the front door, down to the service porch, reeling up a balcony, then twirling around the hall window until I was nose to glass. Balance is so tricky on a hillside.



The statuary is the least of the problems today. Foreclosure is the main one.

How odd to get up close and personal with an area I had cared about in the past, for whatever reason. I mean, how odd to visit shoe to step, forehead to glass. And what had they done. What had they done? Home Depot steps lead here and there, and the green green grass, shockingly, isn’t vegetable or even mineral. Let me put it this way, don’t light matches anywhere close to the lawn.




I felt thrilled, I felt sad. Like meeting a famous old racehorse that everyone has so forgotten, they don’t even lock the paddock.

Don’t worry old chap, I said, and brushed off a layer of leaves from the porch. Someday someone will shine you up and no one will ever know a plaster Venus posed on Astroturf by your front door.

And I sat on the steps and thought about a lot of things, just so the old house would have a few secrets on me. Just so we'd be even.

47 comments:

  1. Bares! I love it. Any freezes?

    Nouveau riches shouldn't be allowed to buy grand old mansions.

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  2. Nice bones. You have me feeling sorry for a house now. How is that possible?!

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  3. Probably infested with rats and snakes.

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  4. There's something almost tragic about a grand house that has been rehashed into something gaudy and plastic...I love your description of how you happened to stumble in...

    May the gods of wonderful old mansions take pity on this old relic and grant the old place the honor of owners who will restore it to it's deserved glory...

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  5. I think it's the Langham Motel 6, right?

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  6. Oh, Lions and Tigers and Bares! You have a killing wit, and it will be the death of me one day, I know it! I fear it, yet I cannot turn away! Another lovely piece, KB!

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  7. What a shame. I love old places like this.

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  8. I love your clumsy little trespass-so cute, so endearing.

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  9. Did you run barefoot?

    This is really cool. Too bad the door to the house wasn't open.

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  10. I know that house. It took me awhile to get the bare/bear connection. I can give "it" but I seem to have a harder time interpreting "it".

    I'll have to swing by with Mary and visit. If it were a bit farther south, law enforcement would have been on you like white on Webers. I was going to say rice but thought it would be taken the wrong way. So easy to do on the web.

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  11. I figured if I were approached, I'd plead a real estate blog. Yeah, I know, sounded lame to me too.

    I took lots of photos, just in case I never get in again. There's one of a small but rather formal-looking grave. Kind of Sunset Boulevardy.

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  12. I read somewhere that having money doesn't improve your taste, you just want a lot more of the same old stuff. Susan Cheever I think? The painted brick ain't got no soul but the door and the painting and the awning supports hint at a lighter, more thoughtful touch. I just have to wonder what all those empty pedestals are for.

    I enjoy these little jaunts, especially knowing your next posting could possibly be about the vagaries of the local police department.

    PA, just think of this as the water cooler.

    wv hydra

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  13. We are lucky that you run with your camera! Imagine the stories the walls could tell you! I want to know more...

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  14. I love your story about this old house, and I agree.....it need some renovation.....or maybe not.

    Even though your pictures are perfectly angled, I’m not able to read your T-shirt slogan.

    It’s always nice seeing YOU again!

    Maybe my glasses have to be cleaned.

    About this real estate blog, forget it.

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  15. Always amazed at your moxie. I guess too much money spent on statuary and not enough on mortgage payments.

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  16. Are you all leaving it up to me to comment on the knobbly knees?

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  17. Julie, I love this knees.

    I want to see them again.

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  18. "and I accidentally tumbled inside" I hate it when that happens. I more than once tumbled into a camera shop. Then tumbled into a cigar and scotch shop.

    But I digress. A sign of better things to come for This Old House. AstroTurf?! WT...H?!

    Actually, we could use some lions, tigers, and bares out here in Generica...er Suburbia. Same difference.

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  19. I'm delighted and inspired by your tumble through the gate. You make me want to go out and do so myself.

    I'm sorry for people who lose their homes. It's a terrible, tragic thing. But foreclosure on the most recent owners was the best thing that ever happened to this house.

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  20. Gosh, I never thought I'd feel sorry for a mansion. Nice "up close & personal" piece.

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  21. Those pesky unstable doors. Just an accident waiting to happen. I am inspired to lean just a little bit harder next time.

    It's sad, but I think I'm glad this place is getting a rest for a little while.

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  22. Great recounting of your escapade. I remember the lions and used to walk around there when I also lived, ahem, adjacent.

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  23. I love how you 'happened' to end up doing oh-so-many things ;)

    I always get a bit sad when I see a for sale sign too. Maybe the owners still wanted it, but I always end up feeling sorry for the unwanted house...

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  24. tumbled in? LOL! Amazing how that works. Gotta agree tho---more money spent on the house payments and less on cr@ptastic statues etc, maybe they'd still be in the house. astroturf? c'mon, really? oy!

    bares...love it.

    If it is house I am recalling, a friend lived in it many years ago. Have no idea if she was related to the owners or the live-in help or? Just know I dropped her off and she went inside (tho, using your technique, maybe she DIDN'T live there afterall!;-).

    The Ritz...I have such a hard time calling it that---t'was always the Huntington Hotel and for a few years, my mother had an office in one of the darling buildings nearby...things change so much over time!

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  25. How lovely and sad, at the same time.

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  26. Accidentally pushed the gate. Did you try to accidentally open the front door by sliding a credit card? I did a few door pushes in Paris and found some good stuff.

    I'm still laughing about the astroturf and plaster goddesses. That's so south Florida! Sorry B2, but it is!!

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  27. Don't forget: It's always a new DAY!

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  28. Man! I wanna talk to that house.

    No. I wanna listen to it.

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  29. V! Where did you trespass--er, door-push--in Paris?

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  30. P,
    I was a French poulet at first, although I longed to bust into every great doorway and see what was inside. Peter showed me how to just "push" and see. My last day in Paris when I had NOTHING to lose, I just acted like I lived there! Found some nice courtyards and a French Stranger I posted a while back. Next visit? I'll be ruthless! :)
    V

    PS Hiker, glad you were ruthless.

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  31. Alas! The demise of The Huntington. It had been a favorite after-opening spot for artists. A dear friend left L.A. after it changed - uhmmm - ownership.

    As for the Bares. I love bare breasts. Just check out my work. That is, was, before The Skies. I am curious about that painting. A copy probably.

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  32. Yes, the old Huntington Hotel. I met it about a year before they tore it down. Talk about your plaster reproductions.

    They used to have the cutest little pub there, think it was a stand-alone building.

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  33. I love you all… and I’m always trying to be serious here.

    Pub…. I never noticed that one!

    Ah, it’s cold here! Down to zero, in the night, and THIS is RUTHLESS!

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  34. Who the hell is ANONYMOUS? I just need to know. Well call me nosy.

    And Shanna, I loved bare breasts at one time, but now mine have flown south. Sigh.

    Hiker, may I just make this observation. Your blog is getting pretty close to our Eric's PDP blog where the commenters all talk amongst themselves. It's like a techy party line! :) Or maybe a virtual cocktail party. I think that sounds more fun.:)
    V

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  35. I rather like thinking of it as a virtual cocktail party...where's my wine???

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  36. Yeah, ya gotta watch your step, all right. Hey, another great ending. Love the old racehorse comparison too.

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  37. Doesn't the host of this joint provide the cocktails? After patiently going through all of people, even a canine needs a drink.

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  38. Ah Chieftess, I was kind of hinting for a whiskey sour.

    (Unknown guests? Don't ask me Virg, I have no idea.)

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  39. Hmmmmm, a virtual whiskey sour at our virtual cocktail party??? Get the maraschino cherries out!!!

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  40. Mr. Earl steered me to the Hiker's blog becuase the discussion had evolved to a discussion about breasts. Thanks Mr. E!

    Now the Huntington, I used to go there 40 years ago for weddings and special events. Then, they tore it down after one of the Earthquakes - the Whittier Narrows, I think. What was sad was they made the decision several months after the earthquake and then gave like three weeks notice meaning many weddings and banquets were cancelled with little advanced notice. But, I have to say they replicated the original one very well. It's still a grand, if not old, place. And it will always be the Huntington, regardless of who owns it.

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  41. Well, it looks like I missed all the drinks and boobs.

    I hate it when that happens.

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  42. btw, KB, when's your birthday?
    Anyway, either Happy:
    Pre-BDay
    Post-BDay, or just
    B-Day!
    Whenever it is, please post a pic in your Birthday outfit.

    I don't know which B-Day number it is for you. But, it doesn't matter since I'm bad with advanced math.

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  43. Happy Birthday Hiker!!! Whatever day it is, hope it was/is/will be a happy one!!!

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  44. So all you have to do is go to
    Design
    Comments
    find the spammer's comment (not mine)
    check the box next to it and mark it as spam
    While you're there, you might see other comments the spam filter found. You can also mark those and delete them; this teaches the spam filter what is spam and what isn't, thus sparing you these blowhards in the future.

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