Crazy Guy’s House.

16 02 2009

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There are 3 things that instantly come to mind whenever I think of the suburbs.

There’s The Wonder Years. This sick with nostalgia feeling of different, goofy, outdated, salad day moments in all these different suburbs and Navy housing units that I grew up in. And this isn’t a recent phenomenon. Generations of Americans have been raised in the suburbs since the post-WW2 boom and they each have their own goofy, outdated, corny memories of growing up in those housing units that are special to them.

There’s swimming pools & punk rock. There’s everything from the Bad Religion punk rock, Blink 182 suburban punk rock, and straight edge punk rock as a rebuttal to the conformity of the suburbs. During the droughts of the 1980’s Los Angeles homeowners would let their backyard pools run dry to conserve water and that in turn directly created the vertical skateboard movement. Last year, people were abandoning their homes because they couldn’t make their mortgage payments in such great number that there was an explosion of West Nile virus in southern California because nobody was maintaining all these polluted swimming pools. Punk rock & The Law of Unintended Consequences.

And then there’s The Home Owner’s Association, the mafia of the suburbs. Drunk on power and accountable to no one, they are The Law of the suburbs. Leave your Christmas lights or Halloween pumpkins out too late after the holidays and the first time you’ll get a warning, the 2nd time you’ll get a ticket. If you want to build a fence or make a landscaping change you need their blessings. If you want to paint your wall you have to get written permission from them beforehand. Even if it’s the same color. Revolutions have been fought over slighter grievances.

That’s why Crazy Guy’s House is so ironic.

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At 90 some years, The Outer Sunset has got to be one of the oldest suburbs on the West Coast. Yet, there’s no Home Owner’s Association out here. Because there’s no way in Hell that this house would exist in any other suburb in California that had one. I’m part of the David Best fan club and I’m all for transforming trash into art…but sorry, sometimes trash put up on a pedestal is still just trash. Crazy Man’s House is a windmill of crap. On a windy day you can hear Crazy Man’s House from half a block away. If I lived near this guy it would drive me crazy over time, yet in the 14 years that I’ve lived out here not only has he not been forced to take his shit down, but dude has actually added to his collection.

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That’s why life in The Outer Sunset is so surreal. Like a David Lynch movie. Or a bad youtube video. It’s own little piece of the Twilight Zone where the laws of physics, zoning violations, and common sense don’t always exist. It’s very weird.

Nice purple succulents though –

crazy guys house succulant

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Little Boxes

7 02 2009

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I’m familiar with the repetition in The Outer Sunset. I’m a Navy Brat and a product of the suburbs. The suburbs were tattooed onto my personality’s basic operating system at an early age. Most of the people I knew and grew up with were from the suburbs. You can take one basic floor plan, tweak it a few different ways, and then zerox that off to build entire blocks. Entire neighborhoods. Entire zip codes. They’re building a new suburb near my parent’s house in San Diego that will be bigger than the city of San Francisco. The cycle of Life continues…

Henry Doelger is the Easy E of American Architecture. I really dig this guy. As a child, Henry Doelger supported his family by selling bathtub gin and homemade beer at his “hot dog stand” in Golden Gate Park during the early 1900’s. As an adult, Henry invested the profits from that endeavor to buy real estate and build homes in the sand dunes of The Outside Lands. People called him crazy, but the man built a big chunk of The Outer Sunset and became one of the godfathers of this art form that we now refer to as the suburbs.

The song “Little Boxes” was written about a piece Henry Doelger did in Daily City. What’s ironic is that song is now the theme show for Weeds, a show about drug dealers who rent homes under aliases and use them just to grow pot. These days pot growing houses, along with the sex slave prostitution human traffic racket are the dominating black market cash crops of The Outer Sunset.

What’s funny though is that The Outer Sunset really isn’t cookie cutter art.

It really isn’t.

There’s a lot of diversity and guts out here. It’s very unique like that.

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And this is one of my all time favorite pieces. To me, it’s the architecture equivalent of a Frank Sinatra song. Good art never goes out of style.

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The Friendship Bench House.

3 02 2009

The Friendship Bench

This is one of the more unique houses in The Outer Sunset.

There are a lot of hills in San Francisco and a lot of old people in The Outer Sunset. These homes sold for 5-6 grand when they were first built in the 1930s and 1940s. There was a time when you could be a blue-collar working class kind of guy and have the ability to mortgage a house in San Francisco. Now these homes are starting off at 600 – 700 grand at the low end. There are a lot of senior citizens that are on a fixed income and live off of cat food, but they live in and own a million dollar house. And they have hills to climb on their way back from the store, which is what makes the Friendship Bench very practical. Let’s check it out.

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Nice little Mr. Roger’s homes in the background.

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And there’s even a suggestion box right above Dinosaur Island. Nice touch.

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That’s what’s neat about living in The Outer Sunset. People have a lot more freedom (for better or worse) to adapt their homes into something unique that matches their personality. From across the street you may not even give it a second glance if driving by, but trust me, the Friendship Bench can be a lifesaver for some people when trekking home from MUNI or grocery shopping.