Our Lost Vitality


Sepulveda and Erwin, Van Nuys, CA. Housing, it seems, is everything these days, the foremost topic on the minds of Angelenos.  Those who can afford it fear those who cannot. Fearsome, it seems, is our ragtag army of many thousands of un-housed vagrants who have established anti-communities out of shopping carts and tents, and made…

Looking East For Ideas.


  On these torrid July days, when the temperature is 105 degrees, and a walk down Van Nuys Boulevard near the Orange Line Metro stop brings you face-to-face with people sprawled out on the sidewalk, living in tents, sleeping on dirt, it is instructive and bracing to think of other civilizations, such as Japan, where…

Small House in Japan (Why Not Van Nuys?)


The architectural blog Dezeen has a cornucopia of outstanding designs from around the world. They have many projects from Japan, including small homes, which the Japanese have constructed all around the densely populated country. The Gap House, by MUU Store Design Studio, (shown above) only covers a total area of 200 square feet, yet it…

Foley’s Donuts and North Hollywood (via Japan and Vancouver)


On a recent visit to Vancouver, I met a naturalized Canadian named Christopher Foley, who by coincidence comes from a family that settled into the San Fernando Valley in the early 1930s. Chris lived in both the SFV and San Francisco and later emigrated to British Columbia. He showed me, in his digital scrapbook, some…

Alleys and Architecture.


(Photos: Andrew B. Hurvitz) Last year, on a visit to Japan, I discovered alleys that were¬†vibrant, clean and functional. In a¬†country where 127m live on land mass that is smaller than California, space is put to good use. Little houses, imaginatively designed, are integrated into narrow streets and alleys. (Photos: Dezeen) Whether an entrance is…

Young Asia.


They were young when we boarded Singapore Airlines at LAX, bound for Tokyo. 22 men and women, flight attendants, smooth skinned, well mannered, and slim, women with hair pulled back wearing Sarong Kebaya. Graceful, smiling, polite, they maneuvered in and out of the aisles, pushing carts, pouring tea. The flight left on time and touched…