My next door neighbor stepped outside to find two older gentlemen surveying her house closely. "May I help you?" she asked. The men jovially introduced themselves and said that they used to live in her home in the 1950's. My neighbor was on her way out the door and couldn't chat, but urged them to send a letter to share some history on the place. Surprisingly, they did. You gotta love the old timers.
Here in Studio City, you're considered a good neighbor if you keep to yourself. No one knows anyone else and the only thing everyone knows is which house Cybill Shephard lives in. Not only did the former tenants give her a history of her own home, but of the whole neighborhood. They summed it up with one sentence, "This was a real studio neighborhood."
In this aptly-named Studio City, CBS Radford is but a few blocks away. I often pass the lot when walking the dogs. These days, with paint-by-number suburbs in faraway "drive 'till you qualify" neighborhoods, everyone chokes the freeways on their studio commute from God Knows Where. But back in the 50's, ordinary people could afford to buy houses in Los Angeles proper. They could hold onto entertainment industry jobs, so they bought family homes in the shadow of the studio lot and bicycled to work.
Our neighborhood may be a mix of McMansions and Cape Cods, but according to the letter my neighbor received, these streets were rows of quickly-built clapboard shacks, and they all worked for the studios. My next door neighbors were dog trainers, and their pet was their bread and butter. The dog's name? Lassie. Yep, THE Lassie.
I knew that the old lady who built our cabin died in the living room, but now she has a name. Anita Carney. She was apparently a wannabe society lady. An eccentric who was single, but had enough money to buy this plot and build a rustic cabin, defying the architecture of her neighbors. She was fanatical about her garden and ignored her neighbors, who found her pretentious.
The pages of the letter written to my neighbor were riveting. Between Lassie's dog trainers, movie music composer John Williams (he did the score for Star Wars, Jaws, Indiana Jones, etc.) and all the Mad Men-type "hanky panky" happening between the young polyester-clad couples in the 50's and 60's - it was a studio neighborhood indeed.
The only reference to the L.A. River I've ever heard is in Rabbit Fur Coat by musical genius Jenny Lewis. In a town full of rockers, why isn't the L.A. River sung about more often?
A lack of inspiration.
It's not so much a natural phenomenon as it is mountain runoff from insecticide-heavy Beverly Hills lawns and home car washes. Lord knows we don't have rain to fill up a river. Encased by concrete and resembling an open sewer, it's lined with graffiti, not fish. So imagine my surprise when I caught a rare glimpse of the river by a downtown bridge. First of all, the river actually had water in it. Second, there were hundreds of birds splashing, strolling and sleeping. They didn't die upon contact, and that's pretty inspirational.
Should we be surprised that the masses didn't appreciate Arrested Development when it was on network TV? Come on, this is the country that allowed for Two and a Half MenandThe Nanny,
starring Fran Drescher. Dumbed-down sentimentality is the way to
America's heart, especially if the characters talk nice and slow,
followed by a comforting laugh track, that informs the lowest common denominator when it's time to be impressed.
What happens when you remove the laugh track, have characters speak at regular speed and throw in a witty script? Magic, like we've seen on 30 Rock, New Girl and Arrested Development. And for the latter, the minority has banded together in a unified voice, and this time it was heard. Netflix has been working exclusively with the cast to film and broadcast a much-awaited fourth season, airing this Spring.
To celebrate this, I thought I'd share photos from a very special Arrested Development exhibit, from the amazingGallery 1988 in Los Angeles. Enjoy, and start planning your Netflix viewing parties!