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HOME: Stories From L.A.

What do we mean when we talk about home? A podcast from Bill Barol.

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Episode 2: In Their Room

On a warm May day in 2005 a crowd gathered near a freeway embankment in Hawthorne, CA and turned its gaze to a house that wasn’t there. Nobody knows where inspiration comes from — but was the little house that once stood at 3701 West 119th St. the one place above all others that made The Beach Boys sound like they did? The story of the Beach Boys Historic Landmark is a story of exaltation and something darker, of light and shadow, and of hard lessons learned. Music: “Surfin’ (Rehearsal)” by The Beach Boys “In My Room” by The Beach Boys “Don’t Worry Baby” by The Beach Boys “The Rocket” by Wintergatan “She Thinks Herself Immortal” by Jim Rooster “Seasong” by Jelsonic Thanks to Harry Jarnagan and Peter Ames Carlin.


22 Sep 2015

Rank #1

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Episode 3: One Man’s Town

This week it’s a story about Amboy, CA, a ghost town 30 miles from anywhere on the old Route 66, and the chicken magnate who’s spent a fortune trying to keep it from collapsing into the desert sand. Can Albert Okura really hold back both history and nature? Read more about Amboy here and here. You can find a video about Albert, his right-hand man Charlie and the town here. MUSIC: All the music in this episode is by the wonderful Podington Bear, a/k/a Chad Crouch of Portland, Oregon. Crouch has composed and performed hundreds of instrumental tracks that he distributes freely for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license. You can license his work for commercial use here, or buy his recordings here.  The tracks used in this episode are: “Cascades” “Ah Clouds” “Pong Delight” “Going Forward Looking Back” “Flicker and Burn” “Gentle Marimbas” Thanks to Albert Okura and Charlie Aceves. Albert Okura (left) and Charlie Aceves: Amboy, August 2015


7 Oct 2015

Rank #2

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Episode 21: Kodachrome, Pt. 1

Color slides were once the state of the art in family photography — vibrant, immersive, ubiquitous. So ubiquitous, in fact, that millions, maybe billions of them survive. This week it’s a conversation with midcentury pop culture expert Charles Phoenix: What can we learn from the vast shadow world of orphaned slides about the way we used to live in our homes? Music: “Leaves In The Pool,” by Podington Bear “Diamond Bossa Nova,” by Francesco de Masi “Clog Dance,” by Dick Walter “Spills,” by Blue Dot Sessions “Kingbeat 9,” by Podington Bear Thanks to Charles Phoenix, whose “Disneyland’ Tour of Downtown Los Angeles returns on November 27. Tickets are also on sale for his Retro Holiday Slide Show in Brea, CA December 17 and 18. Read Richard Baguley’s essay on Kodachrome color slide film at Medium. There’s also this lovely video by Deborah Acosta at The New York Times. 


17 Nov 2016

Rank #3

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Episode 4: A Monk in Venice

Andy Puddicombe left college at 22 and spent a decade tramping the world before returning to the UK and landing, eventually, in Los Angeles. He’s lived in so many countries that he has trouble recalling them on demand. How did his travels, and his training in Buddhism, alter the way he thought about home? Photo courtesy Andy Puddicombe, Headspace.com This week on HOME: The winding road that led an ex-monk from Bristol to Venice Beach. Music, once again this week, by the prolific and generous Podington Bear: “Gamma Ray” “Sienne” “Little Dipper” “Kitten” “Teen Bean” “The Falls” “Peas Corps” Here’s an article I wrote on Headspace, the Web-and-app-based meditation platform founded by Andy and Rich Pierson, for Fast Company. For more information, visit Headspace.com.


20 Oct 2015

Rank #4

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Episode 19: Almost Utopia

What happens to a utopia that never got off the ground? Bits and pieces of one, an experiment in postwar living for the masses, are hiding in plain sight in the hills above Sunset Boulevard. Architect and author Cory Buckner talks about Crestwood Hills, a Modernist vision for a cooperative future that never quite arrived. MUSIC: “Melange,” by Podington Bear “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive,” by Johnny Mercer “Bargains Galore,” by Stuart/Crombie/Dennis Barry “Solan,” by Podington Bear “Pink Gradient,” by Podington Bear Thanks to Cory Buckner, whose excellent book on Crestwood Hills is available here.   Video: The Siegel family moves into their brand-new Crestwood Hills home in 1950. Groundbreaking, October 1947 (Courtesy Cory Buckner) Buckner House (formerly MHA site office): Photo by John Dooley


19 Oct 2016

Rank #5

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Episode 15: Belushi, Bette and Beverly Hills

The process by which one place stops being home and another starts — it’s a mysterious thing. It happens, most often, when we’re not paying attention. And sometimes, as it did for comedy writer and transplanted East Coaster Janis Hirsch, it happens in stages. First she started to feel at home in Los Angeles; but it was only later, after a series of addresses and a run-in or two with Bette Davis, that she landed in the exact place that would be, finally, her home. HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network. NEW: The HOME mailing list is live. Sign up now for instant-ish notifications of new episodes, behind-the-scenes information about the show and bonus content. It’s free and ad-free, and we promise we’ll never ever ever sell your address or otherwise use your information to annoy you.  Music: “Domestic Fun (a),” by Ernest Tomlinson “Prismatone,” by Podington Bear “Wook,” by Podington Bear “Star Prizes (a),” by Tony Kinsey “Lena Sequence,” by Roberto Prgiado “Jackie,” by Podington Bear “Fashion on Parade,” by Ronald Hanmer “Playmate,” by Podington Bear Thanks to Janis Hirsch and Larry Shulman. 


20 Jul 2016

Rank #6

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Episode 5: Growing Up 818

There’s the San Fernando Valley, the one you can find on a map… and then there’s The Valley, the one that exists in the culture, whose notoriety far outstrips its size. How did that happen? How did it come to be that you can mention The Valley to people in Milwaukee or Toronto or Tokyo and they’ll know what you’re talking about? And what does it mean to call The Valley home? This week HOME looks at the tangled legacy of a place that managed to be both the iconic American suburb and an industrial powerhouse that cranked out everything  from beer to cars, and moon rockets to The Brady Bunch. For more on the history of the San Fernando Valley, visit the Valley Relics Museum. MUSIC: “Holiday Commercial,” by Alan Hawkshaw “San Fernando Valley,” by Johnny Mercer Theme from “The Brady Bunch” (Season 1) “It’s Not Unusual,” by Enoch Light Photo: The Valley Relics Museum, 2015. Thanks to Denny Tedesco, Kevin Roderick, Hal Lifson and Tommy Gelinas.


4 Nov 2015

Rank #7

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Episode 8: A Home, A Murder, A Mystery (or two)

Up in the manicured hills of Los Feliz, a neighborhood that boasts at least three famous murder houses, the one with the weirdest history may be the Perelson house… where, deep in the night of December 6, 1959, a husband and father of three lost his fragile grip and went terribly, shockingly crazy. But the story only starts there. Why did Harold Perelson snap? What does it mean when, without warning, the safety of a family home is shattered from within? And how do you explain what’s happened to the house since? Read blogger Jen Clay’s account of a 2012 trip to the Perelson house here. That’s her photo to the right. Thanks to Jeff Maysh, whose “The Murder House” is the definitive work of reporting on the Perelson case; Scott Michaels of Dearly Departed Tours; and Yolonda E. Lawrence. Special thanks again this week to the fantastically talented, prolific and generous Podington Bear, a/k/a Chad Crouch, whose work is an invaluable repository of music that’s free for non-commercial use.  MUSIC: “Epiphany,” by Podington Bear “Dark Matter,” by Podington Bear “Strikes Again!” by Podington Bear “Preservation,” by Podington Bear “How Fortunate The Man With None,” by Dead Can Dance “Corridor,” by Podington Bear “Velcro,” by Podington Bear “Got Spark,” by Pdington Bear


10 Feb 2016

Rank #8

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Episode 7: Unmaking a Home

When an elderly parent dies after a long life of lovingly acquiring things, she leaves behind more than memories for her kids. She leaves something much more tangible: The things. So many, many things. Is it things that make a home? This week, to kick off Season 2, it’s a story of life, death, memory, loss, Christmas, trash bags, and what it means to unmake a home. One housekeeping note: With this episode, HOME joins such excellent shows as You Are Not So Smart, Futility Closet and Gweek on the Boing Boing Podcast Network. I’m delighted to be partnered with one of the smartest, liveliest names in online culture. bb MUSIC: “Plastic Glare,” by Podington Bear French cafe music by David Lewis Luong “Summertime Outing,” by Dick Walter “Jack,” by Podington Bear “Christmas,” by The Metro Strings “Bated Breath,” by Podington Bear “Cradle Song for A (Interstate B3),” by Max Richter


27 Jan 2016

Rank #9

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Episode 20: Everything Must Go

Some stories don’t end when you think they do. Some stories just pause. And then they sneak back around and whap you across the back of your unsuspecting head. So here’s one I didn’t expect to revisit, although maybe I should have: Part 2 of Episode 7, “Unmaking A Home.” Music: “Driftwood,” by Podington Bear “Trailing Comma,” by Blue Dot Sessions “Something In The Distance,” by Scott Holmes “Empires,” by Scott Holmes “Bless,” by Podington Bear “Busy Life,” by King Palmer “Hard Won,” by Podington Bear “By Grace,” by Podington Bear Special thanks to Ellen Barol, Peter Clark and Jennifer Cecil.


3 Nov 2016

Rank #10

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Episode 22: Kodachrome, Pt. 2

Who were we? How did we live, and what did it look like? The vast archive of castoff slides captures, in vivid colors, images of the American family at midcentury. But the stories that go with the pictures are most often lost, and we’re left to create our own, and reflect on millions of conscious decisions to untie the knot of memory. (Click slides to embiggen) MUSIC by Podington Bear: “Motivate” “Poise” “Wilt” “Aria Area” “Arp Arc” “Gymnopedie 2” Thanks once again to Charles Phoenix.


2 Dec 2016

Rank #11

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Episode 12: Home With A Side of Fries

It looks like a Hopper painting plunked incongruously down on a busy commercial street in West Los Angeles — The Apple Pan, home to freshly-baked pies and what hamburger aficionado George Motz says may be the best burger in America. But the affection Angelenos have for The Apple Pan only starts with the food. It’s an oasis, a rock, a spot out of time, essentially unchanged since the day it opened in 1947. It may not be the kind of place where everybody knows your name, but if you’ve been going there for a long time, as it seems like most of its customers have, it is the kind of place where the countermen most likely know your order. Warmth, familiarity, stability in a rapidly-changing landscape… aren’t these some of the things that make a place a home? Music: “Feather,” by Podington Bear “Equazione,” by Gianni Ferrio “Flute A La Carte,” from Capitol Complete Production Music “Route 66,” by Bobby Troup “Forecasting,” by Podington Bear Thanks to Sunny Sherman and Martha Gamble of The Apple Pan, 10801 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. George Motz of Hamburger America visited The Apple Pan a couple of years ago for his Travel Channel series “Burger Land.” Here’s an excerpt. And what are the odds, I happened to be having lunch there that day. That’s me half-obscured by the register at 00:38, sitting (uncharacteristically) on Hector’s side. Here’s a piece I wrote for Forbes when the great Manhattan burger joint Prime Burger closed its doors in 2012.  This episode concludes HOME’s second season. We’ll be back in June with all-new stories; subscribe and you won’t miss a thing. 


9 Apr 2016

Rank #12

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Episode 6: Ghosts of The Carlotta

The venerable Villa Carlotta — home to show business A-listers in the Golden Age, and later to a generation of young actors, writers and musicians  — sits, a hollowed-out shell, on Hollywood’s Franklin Avenue. It may or may not be about to undergo a transformation into an upscale hotel. What happens to a community when it’s driven from the place where it’s made a home? One resident stubbornly hangs on, battling for the soul of a building that once buzzed with life and energy. MUSIC: “Home,” by Henry Hall and his Gleneagles Hotel Band “Twine,” by Podington Bear “It’s All Forgotten Now,” by Ray Noble and His Orchestra “Tuesday’s Tune,” by Herschel Burke Gilbert “Toccatta and Fugue in D Minor,” by Johann Sebastian Bach “Zombie,” By Johnny Fever (Sam Fuller) “Csm,” by Podington Bear Photos, top to bottom: Carlotta exterior 2008 by Stinson Carter.  Carlotta lobby 2015 Carlotta lobby 2014 by Stinson Carter Carlotta courtyard 2014 by Stinson Carter Carlotta courtyard 2015  Thanks to Sylvie Shain (above). For more information on the campaign to save the Villa Carlotta, see its Facebook page. Read Stinson Carter’s excellent piece about The Carlotta in Vanity Fair.


17 Nov 2015

Rank #13

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Episode 18: Cooking With Mihrette

What happens when you bring a kid from the other side of the world into your home forever? How does it change what home means to her? And to you? This week it’s the story of one mom, the daughter she chose, and the way they keep Ethiopia alive in the home that’s now theirs. PROGRAM NOTE: This is the last episode of Season 3. See you back here in October for Season 4. Subscribe to the newsletter for updates and between-seasons bonus content.  Can the Web series be far behind? Cook With Mihrette here. Music by Podington Bear: “Poppyseed” “Pink Gradient” “Airlift” “Windy”


31 Aug 2016

Rank #14

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Episode 14: Rose, Mercedes and The Days Of The Dead

Actress/writer/artist Rose Portillo lives in the house she was born into, in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles. It’s the annual scene of her legendary Day Of the Dead parties, and it was the setting for her family’s story of ascension, assimilation and culture clash — as well as the long, wary dance of accommodation, spanning life and death, that Rose has performed with the formidable spirit of her grandmother, Mercedes Mendoza Portillo. Music: “Los Chucos Suaves,” by Lalo Guerrero Y Sus Cinco Lobos “Pachuco Boogie,” by Cuartato Don Ramon Sr. “Solido “Joaquín,” by Dacita & her Orchestra “Ay Jalisco,” by Jorge Negrete “Chicano Boogie,” by Cuartato De Ramon Martinez “Chicas Patas Boogie,” by Lalo Guerrero Y Sus Cinco Lobos “El Bracero Y La Pachuca,” by Dueto Taxco Con Mariachi Caporales Del Norte “Los Blues,” by Don Tosti Y Su Trio Altar photo from Day Of The Dead 2009 (upper left) courtesy of CJ Gronner. Thanks to Rose Portillo, Roger Bowers and Mark B. Perry. To learn more about Young Theaterworks, go here. 


6 Jul 2016

Rank #15