The Simi Valley has always felt a bit creepy to me. It's home to the Santa Susana Pass, where Charles Manson and his "family" lived, on Spahn Ranch. It's also an epicenter for sudden brushfires that always roar out of control. Also home to Simi Valley is Bottle Village.
Constructed by "Grandma Prisbrey" (who scowls at you from the official website), it's a little city made of glass that she salvaged from junkyards. It's advertised that it's open to the public "by appointment," but when no one on the fuzzy, vintage-sounding answering machine called us back, we took matters into our own hands. Driving into the blistering heat of Simi Valley, we pulled up to see a tall, locked gate and a trailer inside. We hoped no one was in the trailer, and we hoped for no guard dogs, as one person in the party hopped the fence to get a good look inside.
The light glinting off the glass was beautiful, yet haunting. Pictures exposed immaculate craftwork, but total dilapidation. Particularly Cleopatra's Bedroom. One can tell it was a beautiful shrine with a raised bed and billowing curtains, but disintegrated into a dusty pile of scraps.
After wandering fearfully through all the tiny sheds, it's a bit strange to jump back over the fence back to Los Angeles. One moment you are looking at decrepit doll heads on stakes, and the next moment, you see a man tinkering with his Chevy in his garage, Eagles on the stereo.
To see this place means to break in, because no one will call you back. I don't blame the owners of the property. With a lack of support for the arts, this folk art shrine is nearly dangerous to walk through. I blame the idiot taggers and wannabe gangsters, who would no doubt descend upon this place with backpacks filled with spray paint.
I say break in. It's totally worth it.