Thursday, 16 August 2012
Danny Sugarman on Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles
"The landlord delivered an eviction notice and I was given thirty-five days to leave the premises.
Every day I went for long drives through the twisting, turning, slender, tree-shaded streets of Laurel Canyon, eyes peeled for 'For Sale' signs.
It's been said there is a gold record for every acre of land in Laurel Canyon, which is another way of saying a helluva lot of rich musicians live there. Alice Cooper was living somewhere in the canyon and Keith Moon was rumoured to have recently purchased a house there. Doors' drummer, John Densmore, used to live there before his divorce, but his ex-wife Julia stayed on eventually having Allman Brother Barry Oakley's son a short month before Barry followed Duane Allman to the grave in a motorcycle accident of his own. Joni Mitchell had been living there for years and titled one of her albums, Ladies of the Canyon in honour of it. John Mayall, another local, was less subtle and released an LP called simply, Blues from the Canyon. Frank Zappa lived in Laurel Canyon ad Carole King had a house in the hills there. David Crosby owned a big brick estate tucked atop the canyon just under Mulholland Drive.
Harry Houdini built his castle in Laurel Canyon and it's eroding structure sits alongside Laurel Canyon Boulevard like an ancient ruin, alive and smothered with miles of ivy, almost pre-historic monstrous palm trees jutting up and above the decaying architecture; marble stairways twist and rise and disappear into nowhere. On Halloween, bands of freaks hold seances to contact his spirit. Stories of his ghost being sighted among the crumbling walls and ruins abound in the canyon. Anyone who had tried to redevelop the property or made an indiscreet psychic trespassing had, it was said, met with a violent and untimely death. The canyon was supposed to be magical. But it was also said to posses a curse. Stories of unsolved deaths were abundant. The canyon attracted many of the nouveau riche artists, yes, but less known and more curious was the fact that no one ever seemed to stay long and almost always left in a hurry, under dramatic and mysterious circumstances.
Laurel Canyon was funky, naturally woodsy and wild, musical, artistic, and endlessly hip. Even the cops were cool. The hillsides were lush and green with an abundance of vines, wild flowers, and trees: pine, oak and palm. Summer nights smelled of jasmine while the days were filled with the scent of eucalyptus. Houses were pushed up on hillsides, hundreds of tiny stairs windind and stretching up to reach them. Some of the hillsides were so steep, and houses so precariously perched atop them, outdoor elevators had to be installed to make the climb. Quaint cottages sat next door to Spanish adobe residences; redwood cabins and mini Tudor castles resides on streets with rustic-sounding names like Lookout Mountain Road, Appian Way, Kirkwood Drive and Outpost Avenue.
There was nowhere else I wanted to live, nowhere else I would even consider. The best thing about the house we did find. It was on Wonderland Avenue."