Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Having Arrived

William Krisel sketch of a 'Pod House'

Our Indian Canyon Neighborhood has two neighborhood parties a year; one in the fall and another in the spring. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to get together and share local news, gossip, city and community events. Volunteer opportunities abound with the annual Festival of Lights (Christmas) parade and for Modernism Week. It’s a chance for many neighbors to get involved in their community once again during the season. It’s also a chance to see old familiar faces that went north, south, east, and west during the summer months.

For an introverted writer such as me, it’s a wonderful opportunity to observe and make mental notes on some of the diverse, eclectic and fascinating folks who live around here. As accomplished as so many of them are, there doesn’t seem to be any ‘one-upmanship or haughty attitude among the lot. I’ve come to believe that the one common denominator among these folks is their casual attitude toward success. Few if any are trust fund babies. Most have earned their place in the sun. A lot of them are DINKs (duel income, no kids). In short, they’ve’ arrived’ but don’t feel the need to call attention to themselves. I admire that quality in anyone but especially with this group.

When our neighborhood was first planned, it was the city’s southernmost development and considered quite a distance from downtown. Originally built in the late 1960’s, Indian Canyons is comprised of primarily midcentury modern custom homes designed by such noted architects as Dan Palmer, William Krisel, Stan Sackley and others. The first residences were situated around a golf course, now called the Indian Canyons Golf Resort.

Everyone was excited about visiting the party house for this fall. It’s known in architectural circles as the “Pod House.” It’s an original design from the world famous desert architect William Krisel. The house consists of a series of octagonal forms clustered together. It’s been remodeled several times and has been updated but still manages to stay true to its original desert form and function.

These neighborhood parties are a casual affair in dress, demeanor and conversation. No one is trying to impress. A few of the uninitiated who come with that ‘I’ve arrived attitude’ very quickly realize there is always someone else with a bigger house, more exotic collection of cars, better beach house, mountain chalet or condo in the Big Apple.

Success comes in many shapes and forms. L.A. is notorious for its A-lister parties where perceived success is everything. There, in the smog bowl, people feel the need to show their success through their opulent homes, a herd of vintage cars in the driveway or art pieces on the walls. Other folks wear their success through implied or real power and influence. Fortunately, few of those A-lister types show up at our parties.

Instead there seems to be a common pattern among the folks here in the desert to downplay their success. They’d much rather go about their business in a very subtle way and not call attention to themselves. I like to play the speck on the wall observing all the goings-on and making mental notes for future novels, plays, etc.

Sharon loves to mix and mingle with the crowd. There’s usually a parcel of good-looking, sharply dressed dapper young men all schooled in the fine arts of food, fashion and architecture. And every one of them safe. Sharon, of course, is in her element; working the room like a scene right out of ‘Hello, Dolly.’

There’s always someone new to meet and usually they come with an interesting story to share. For example, at one of our first parties I met a new neighbor of mine. Turns out, he is the chief pilot and head mechanic for Disney. The mouse has six corporate jets hangered in Burbank and they circle the globe on a daily basis. The first time I met him at the fall party he had just flown in from Paris and was in Dubai before that. Another neighbor was in ‘the movie business’ in the sixties and seventies. “I was in most of those awful B-movie biker films, playing sidekick to the chief villain,” He told me with a laugh. “Usually I got bumped off by the end of the movie.” Now he acts and directs in local theater productions in his retirement.

Sharon met a fellow artist whose work graces galleries on Rodeo Drive and New York. They like to huddle in the corner and talk ‘art talk’ most of the night. Another non-descript individual is a big L.A. developer.

I’ve always told my kids not to brag about themselves. ‘Let others talk about you,’ I’ve coached them, ‘they will probably embellish what they say. If you said the same thing, it would sound like bragging. If they talk about you, it sounds better than it probably is.’

I believe you show people who you are by your actions, not your words. Talk is cheap. Actions are seen and believed. My neighbors seem to abide by that rule. Nice bunch of folks.