Sunday, November 4, 2012

Art appreciation

There's this place I like to visit not far from where I live, about three miles by crow, six miles by Ford Fiesta, and much further away than that both financially and socially.

Al is my calling card to this extremely wealthy little hilltop. Because he's handsome in that generic black lab sort of way, when we walk the hood, people think we're neighbors. They beep-beep the horn, stop us along the way and say, "So good to see you again; it's been toooo long."

You're telling me.

"I know," I say. "And you look great!" And they generally do, too. Look great, I mean.

I drove up there yesterday, with Albert riding shotgun. On the way, it grew painfully obvious my shotgun had been rolling around in some dead organic material or another. I'm guessing squirrel, but then, I'm an optimist.

Oh Albert, I sigh, zooming down the windows, what will the neighbors think?

Albert doesn't mind the smell, dogs never do. They wear stink like merit badges, and favor a complex palette of odors -- odors that tell a dramatic story preferably one that ends in death and decay. We humans try to keep life's rich pageant out of our nasal passages.

We're better at the visual stuff. Dogs are not amused by complex images; Albert, for example, hates representational art, particularly animal statues. They look right, but smell wrong, especially the private parts. Should he eat, chase, fight, or hump them? Only after multiple visits to a particular statue can he finally relax his standards and enjoy a "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" moment.

A walk of a couple miles from the Rose Bowl brings us here. It looks like the aftermath of a violent head-on collision between the Titanic and a mountain cabin.

My favorite houses share a sloppy sentimentality, they're places where Jo, Amy, Beth, and whatshername could light the fire and wait for Marmee.

Mid-century moderns would die of shame if they ever had so much as a lace curtain or comfortable chair.

I can't smell this mid-century's private parts, but after multiple visits, have grown to appreciate what's going on conceptually. In a ceci n'est pas une maison kind of way.


  1. All those tube lights or whatever they are. Wonder if it is terrific from inside.

  2. The architect must have favored WWII bunker design. I want to shoot it with a Howitzer.

  3. Came over from "Leaves of Grass"....
    What a fascinating house/boat--whatever. Very intertesting. And I LOVED your description of Albert and other dogs and their love of! Beautifully said!

  4. My dog earned his third skunk merit badge this weekend. We're so proud.

  5. I noticed this habit of exchanging waves and greetings while visiting small town, mostly rural America recently. I propose it derives from leading an un-stressful life.
    Unless you listen to farmers discussing wheat prices in a small town bar. I admit to eavesdropping over the worst Bloody Mary I was ever served in my life. When in Rome ... stick to Bud Lite.

  6. Love your description of "life's rich pageant" (as according to dogs). A good essay! :)

    Interesting homes you're walking by. Art has its place. But I do favor a home that feels "homey" to live in, and furniture that's comfortable to sit (or sprawl)on.

  7. Thanks for the photos of the Bubble House. I thought it was an unfinished project, but now it looks like it was meant to be that way. Did Albert find a lawn dressed with steer manure, the dominant fragrance in my neighborhood? Abby loves to roll in her kill, but thankfully nowadays it's only a rubber ball or frisbee.

  8. Bandit, I feel your pain. I had the best Bloody Mary of my life last weekend - or was it the weekend before that - anyway, I had the worst this past Friday night. And the barkeep asked me how it was and all I could say was that it was wonderful, amazing, it was just that bad. I think Albert would have loved it, KB.

  9. Love the houses, especially the first one. All gardens and vegetation are beautiful.
    The architecture of the last house is peculiar... but the garden is also gorgeous.

  10. Fantastic: "They wear stink like merit badges." I tend to forget dogs' most charming tendencies.

    The house that was a ship--stuffy as I can be about cases of LookAtMe, that's so over the top that I can't hate it. If you've got gazillions-dinero, and you--no Communist sharer, oh no--are hoarding it, you might as well fly your oddness like some outrageous neon flag. It still makes a great target for dog piss.

    (Too many adjectives?)

  11. Jean, what I could spy with my little eyes was lots of artwork inside. Who knows -- maybe Albert can get me an invitation.

    Pierre, I'll be a Howitzer isn't some kind of camera. I'm in Banjo's camp on this -- thump it with a trumpet. "We're rich! We're rich!"

    Lady of the Hills - Hi! The stories those noses could tell...

    Bandit, save that for your book title.

    Ms M, growing up, we had Danish modern in the living room, which is why we were always in the family room.

    Bellis, steer manure -- if only. Bubble House, that's a great name for it.

    Sonia, you're right, the vegetation is beautiful. I wonder if it takes a lot of work to make it look so natural.

  12. There are too many perfectly crafted throw away lines here. I've lost track--

  13. I call it post modern nautical with randomly placed galley openings.

    btw: painted my bathroom that same color of "Homeland Security Puse" when I lived in East LA. It matched the Flintstone bedrock linoleum I found at that close-out flooring store above the 10 on San Gabriel blvd.

    Because I have taste.

  14. I just can't get into modern architecture. It's so....boxy! Or, maybe it's like the collision of the Titanic and a cable, like you said.

    And I recently discovered, amidst the thousand books Jeff got me for $200 (remember, a couple of years back) a copy of Pilgrim's Progress. I could send it to you to peruse whilst you sit with Jo, Meg, Beth and what's-her-face waiting for Marmee.

  15. "Ceci n'est pas une maison." You slay me.

    This seems the appropriate place to tell you about a dog my husband once had, who got skunked. John and his then girlfriend read on the internet that tomato juice would take care of the smell, so they soaked poor Jones in tomato juice and tied him outside for it to dry. Needless to say, it didn't work.

  16. Why do I feel like popping a pimple, right now?

  17. Des, no pressure, but I'll bet you have the connections to get us inside.

    PA, that's puse? You're the expert of course, but I would have said cerulean.

    Marjie, Meg, yes Meg. But you forgot Amy. I'll post a picture later of a perfect Little Women house that's a few blocks from mine.

    Petrea, been there. And it smells like skunk spaghetti.

    Carolynn, just a month on the Canadian prairie and you're going bush.

  18. I'm not really understanding this, but I Like the way you wrote it.

    Nevertheless, it's also painfully obvious to the reader that your shotgun may have been rolling around in some dead organic material or another. I'm guessing compost.

  19. Wonderful, as usual. Albert opens all the right doors, doesn't he?

  20. I suppose that it takes a lot of work to make it look so natural and beautiful. I admire these owners, they did a good job there. :)

  21. Oh, I could live in that first house. Looks like a cozy retreat, especially with all that stacked firewood. I'll pass on the "puse" spaceship. (PA obviously drew from a different box of crayons than I when she was young.)

    I love how Albert is copilot on your house tour. I'm just sorry your car now smells like mine.

  22. Puse? Think you meant puce. Here is the Wiki link:

    This is more than you ever wanted to know about that peculiar color, especially the flea droppings part.

  23. What a joy to read this after a long drive and lots of politics. The pace of your words made me feel like I was walking with you and Albert.
    Waving to neighbors is small town and the sort of thing I enjoy about living in NW Pasadena. I love that folks are getting back in the habit of nodding or waving acknowledgements at intersections.

  24. Bubble house architect info here:

  25. This post is a thing of beauty. Even the house in early Modern Nautical.

    No more-perfect words have ever been written of the olfactory situation of the dog.