Tarzana Is My Heroine

a poet considers the imaginary and reality of Tarzana


Storybook Ranch Homes

Here are snapshots of a few storybook ranch houses I’ve seen around Encino, north of the Boulevard. These homes epitomize what my favorite retro home blog, Retro Renovation (http://retrorenovation.com), would call “mid-century modest” homes.

Fortunately not too many of these homes have been torn down to build Spanish-style McMansions–as happened to one very lovely barn-red storybook ranch home on the corner of Hayvenhurst and Adlon a few years ago. Some of you may remember the house I’m talking about….

I love the pale yellow exterior of this first house below, and of course the diamond-pane windows on the garage too!

Look at the mix of horizontal and vertical batten boards here (behind the white picket fence!)

I love storybook ranches in barn or carriage red with white trim

Look at the little dovecote tucked just under the eaves

This house below is so attractive with its row of diamond-paned windows, pale green exterior, and the peeling bark of the gum or melaleuca tree in front.

I have in mind starting a project of getting a photo of every storybook ranch in town.

Maybe you can help!


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Tarzana Is Our Montmartre

Next to the Clandestine Rabbit tattoo shop is a gallery (make that “gallery”) with framed prints lined up on the sidewalk. They are total schlock–the same kind of mass-market, faux street art that’s for sale along the quais of the Seine or under the arches on the Rue de Rivoli, or yes, in Montmartre.

The last print, of Michael Jackson, (see below) is so hideous, it’s almost a good bad. It has some neon-Pop dynamism. The other images are stale visual treacle and the cheapest, most slip-shod of prints.

And who are these seƱoritas? Who are these matadors? Is it dumbed-down Spanish art the gallery owners hope will find a home in the local Spanish McMansions?

If you look at the framed prints in the shop window’s reflection while also squinting, you could think you were in Montmartre for a millisecond. You also need to be looking when there’s a harsh sun glare half-blinding you.

But there are no tourists, and that is sound as much as sight. Tarzana’s sidewalks are quiet, except for the traffic. That spoils the Montmartre-for-a-second effect: there are no tour buses idling and spewing exhaust, no Japanese tourist groups, no street vendors hawking African trinkets, no Americans in luau wear!

What looks in Tarzana like the classic tourist-trap-cum-sidewalk-art display is on a sidewalk with no passersby. I find that funny and even absurd.

Tarzana is no Montmartre–but, at least at this sidewalk spot, it has some of the same art!