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Board to Death
Posted by Grady Miller on Sep 16, 2007 - 7:53:58 AM

VARIOUS— Since West Hollywood, the creative city, is a petrie jar of things to come (witness the law against plastic surgery on pets and the recent city council condemnation of inter-galactic violence, lauded by Ed Asner) expect copycats from Echo Park to Watts.  What are we talking about?  No less than the biggest, hottest architectural fad to sweep the southland since illuminated cabanas and sidewalks.

          Window boarding.

          You can’t go half a block without seeing a vintage bungalow or apartment building from the 50s, its windows replaced by fresh, unweathered plywood.  This daring new stylistic touch creates a harsh, minimalist, fortress-like appearance that will be the envy of neighbors as residents live in unparalleled privacy, secluded behind nice broad sheets of ply board.  (At Tashman's Hardware, they report a plywood shortage, due to the growing demand of people wanting to board up, and environmentalists are promoting reforestation and the need to plant new plywood trees).

        "There used to be a market for fixer uppers, now boarder uppers are hot," coos real estate agent Tammy Venal.  "Architecture lovers are lining up to snatch up large mid-century apartment houses, and boarding them up faster than you can say escrow."

        One of these is Mad Dog, a self-described indigent, who frequently hallucinates that his cellphone is ringing, although he doesn't own a cellphone.  Mr. Dog let us take a peek at his "boarder upper" on Hayworth Ave.

        The interior is airy and spare, decorated with some Mother Nature-designed cobwebs.  "The milk crates and the stool you see there, we found on the street where I found my mattress and overcoat.

There's a lot of good stuff," he says, drawing meditatively on his pipe, which gives him a professorial air.  "You'd be amazed at what people throw out.  But it's funny how they never leave any drugs."  

        Why more and more West Hollywoodians are opting to board the doors and windows of their domiciles is obvious.  It's a heck of a way to discourage peddlers.  Besides that, one fastball zipping through the plate glass from the neighbor kids, and it's shattered.  Like they say, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.  But people with boarded-up windows can throw as many stones as they like.

        Crazy weather is another factor fueling this architectural trend.  With colder and longer winters, people want to leave old Jack Frost out on the doorstep.  "Wood is natural insulation material," says a spokesman for the National Weather Service, recently merged with Homeland Security in order to save on stationary costs.  "Boarding up is a sound alternative to high heating bills.  When that tornado hits, people with boarded windows are already prepared.  And in case of flooding, the window boards can also be used as a flotation device."

        This new fashion of window boarding hasn't been a hit with all neighbors.  Rosie "Nosey Rosie" Witherspoon, who lives next to a boarded cottage grumbles as she shuffles along with her Frank Gehry-designed, tubular aluminum walker (its unconventional design requires her to walk assuming the shape of an 'S').

         "I do begin to wonder about my neighbors with the boarded-up windows and become suspicious of the wild parties and goings on they must have.  If it's so much fun, why can't I see in?  What are they doing in there?"

        Rosie, meet your neighbor Mad Dog.  Mad Dog, Rosie.

She is taken aback by his stringy hair and glazed eyes.  He stumbles on one of her aluminum walker's flying buttresses, then recovering his savoir faire, he offers her his peace pipe.

        "Don’t worry," he assures her.  "It's medicinal crack."


Cliffside Malibu




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