Sunday, March 23, 2014

Commute Curiousity

It used to drive me crazy that there was no way to live simultaneous experiences at once; this is what would give me a sense of longing when I used to be on buses or driving through neighborhoods in states I'd never been in before, and I would be lucky enough to look into someone's living room for a second if they had their curtains open, their lives on momentary display for me like the set of a play about the secret richness of the lives of common men.

I'm a boring old bag now so I don't have those thoughts as often, but yesterday when I was stuck on Santa Monica Boulevard forever, I did get to wondering again about what the interiors of some of these wrecked-looking buildings looked like.  Like, what is the story with some of these places that I love to look at but will never have first-hand experiences with.  It occurred to me that with careful research I could at least figure out a little bit about these ghost-frequented Los Angeles mysteries.

Gold Diggers

It's true that I've always been curious about what it's like inside Gold Diggers, but I didn't bother doing too much research on it, because, ironic as Angelenos like to consider themselves (I'd call it boredom), every place that was an authentic depressing hang out that resembled scenes from Barfly is now blithely called a "Dive Bar," and while it's true that old men who live within walking distance who "aren't in on the joke", as the saying goes, often frequent these bars, or strip clubs, in an authentic way, there comes some witching hour, like 10 pm or so, when these landmarks of a lonely alcoholics' safe place turns into a hipster place.  Nonetheless, when i'm stuck in Santa Monica Blvd traffic, i still do wonder what it's like inside.

The Old Sears Building
after and before

This Sears building has been closed since the Rodney King riots.  Unfortunately I couldn't find any photos of the interior, either in its heyday or in its ruin.  There has been a plan for some time to turn it into a mixed use building, the whole lofts on the upper floors/storefronts on the first floor thing.  I read the L.A. city Planning commission report on it, but surprisingly, it was a snoozefest.  I thought there aesthetic stipulations were interesting though, especially the amount of detail:

Environmental Impact Report Conditions (MM)
5. Aesthetics
a. All open areas not used for buildings, driveways, parking areas, recreational facilities or walks shall be attractively landscaped and maintained in accordance with a landscape plan, including an automatic irrigation plan, prepared by a licensed
landscape architect to the satisfaction of the decision maker.

b. Prior to the issuance of a grading permit or building permit, a plot plan prepared by a
reputable tree expert, indicating the location, size, type, and condition of all existing trees on the site shall be submitted to the City of Los Angeles Department of
Planning and the Street Tree Division of the Bureau of Street Services. The plan
shall contain measures recommended by the tree expert for the preservation of as
many trees as possible. (MM)
c. Any trees removed during project implementation shall be replaced by a minimum of 24-inch box trees in the parkway and on the site, on a 1: 1 basis, to the satisfaction of the Street Tree Division of the Bureau of Street Services and the decision maker.
d. Removal of trees in the public right-of-way shall first require approval from the Board of Public Works. All trees in the public right-of-way shall be provided per the current Street Tree Division standards. (MM)
e. The genus or genera of the tree(s) shall provide a minimum crown of 30 - 50 feet.

f. Every building, structure, or portion thereof, shall be maintained in a safe and
sanitary condition and good repair, and free from graffiti, debris, rubbish, garbage,
trash, overgrown vegetation or other similar material, pursuant to Municipal Code
Section 91.8104. (MM)
g. The exterior of all buildings and fences shall be free from graffiti when such graffiti is visible from a public street, public walk way or alley, pursuant to Municipal Code
Section 91.8104.15. (MM)

h. The subject property including associated parking facilities, sidewalks, and
landscaped planters adjacent to the exterior walls along the all property lines shall be
maintained in an attractive condition and shall be kept free of trash and debris.
Trash receptacles shall be located throughout the site.

i. Wall (Trash and Storage). Solid masonry block walls, a minimum of 6-feet in height,
shall enclose trash and other storage areas. There shall be no openings except for
gates. The areas shall be buffered so as not to result in noise, odor or debris
impacts on any adjacent uses. The area shall not be adjacent to any single-family
use. Recycling bins shall be provided at appropriate locations to promote recycling of
paper, metal, glass, and other recyclable materiaL. Trash pick up shall take place
only between 7:00 AM and 8:00 PM Monday through Friday, and 10:00 AM to 4:00
PM on Saturday. There shall be no pick up on Sunday or legal holidays.

They don't expect their mixed use building to be instantly covered in graffiti, apparently, and for the residents' trash bins to be odorless.  Shalimar-soaked masonry walls?

The Harvey Apartments

This building has particularly intrigued me for years.  it looks like such a flophouse a la Bukowski or Fante novel.  

none of these are my own photos, by the way.  They are from Google Street View, except for the one of the interior of Gold Diggers, which was from their Facebook page.

It's sort of funny that this is the building most mysterious to me, because there is actually a fair amount of demystifiying press on it.  

This story appeared on the CNN Justice site:

In brief, back in 2010, a popular celebrity publicist, Ronni Chasen, died in what was an apparent suicide, but the details surrounding the suicide were suspicious, and there was a person of interest involved in the death, who was holed up in the Harvey Apartments, where he ended up shooting himself dead in the lobby.  True to my Harvey Apartments fantasies, it's described in this article as  the type of place where "[t]here's a lot of screaming goes on and hollering and the kind of ruckus you wouldn't find in the traditional apartment complex."

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