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Architecture? For sure!

We're all shaped by our experiences: where we grew up and what we've gone through, who we've known and when we lived.

So I've thought a lot about the negative experiences that initially inspired me to make Fantastic Jack, but that's for another post. Lately I've been thinking about something positive, something that influenced me profoundly in my childhood: architecture.

It all started with a Google search for reference photos of some of the distinct buildings that populated my childhood. Somehow it became a Googie search.

'Cause I’m, like, totally a Valley Girl.

As a kid I loved shopping with my mom at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. That's where, bizarrely enough, I discovered my love of architecture.

I was somewhere around five years old, and yet, at my favorite place in the world, I was bored. 

Father's Day was approaching, so my mom had taken me to pick out a present for my daddy. We'd gone to literally every store in the mall and I was over it. Usually I found myself fascinated by the faux columns and architectural accents of Structure, but I was tired. So, while my mom browsed, I climbed into the overstuffed leather chair near the dressing rooms.

As soon as I'd gotten settled, a large book on the coffee table caught my eye. Fallingwater. Indeed water was perpetually falling on the cover, worn and torn, lush evergreens framing a small waterfall with a modern-looking house perched above. I realized that a person--some guy named Frank Lloyd Wright--actually built a house into a waterfall. I hefted the book onto my lap and flipped past pages of essays, captivated by the photos. 

I decided I had to have this book. Unfortunately, the uncooperative sales associate insisted it wasn't for sale.

My mom promised me she'd take me straight to Crown Books in Encino to buy the book to get me to leave the Structure store. After one more glance at the book, we left.

Driving along Ventura, my mom called my daddy from the cellular in her Corvette. I heard the hesitance in her voice as she informed him of the price she'd noticed below the barcode: $55.

So we continued on to Crown Books.

My search today started with the Galleria, and proceeded via streetview down Ventura the other direction. I was looking for iconic, nostalgic buildings and signs. When I got to a carwash where Tyrone meets Beverly Glen, I stopped.

One of my last memories of my dad was a casual conversation while waiting for a carwash at the Handy J on Ventura Boulevard in summer 2005, the summer before he passed away.

I was particularly close to my dad, probably 'cause he took me to school every morning 'til I turned 16.

We'd stop on the way for breakfast: at Lamplighter--originally and now Corky's--for French toast made with cinnamon bread that I'd dip into the maple syrup I swirled with whipped butter, at Mort's for the vanilla rainbow sprinkle cookies at Bea's Bakery next door, at the newly opened Noah's Bagel at the La Reina Center for a cream cheese-slathered blueberry bagel washed down with Stash licorice tea.

I miss those mornings.

Maybe it's a tacky tribute--that is, after all, what architecture critics thought of Googie--but I'm including a remixed recreation of that carwash mashed up with Googie elements in Fantastic Jack.

I'm planning to incorporate a lot of the places we went, ordinary and otherwise, as a reminder of where I'm from, where I've been. Hopefully you'll see the La Reina Center and Lamplighter in some capacity.

I didn't end up becoming an architect in the traditional sense, but I still build: I build experiences and worlds.

Like, totally!

/Ashley

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