Commended in the PEN/Architectural Digest Award for Literary Writing on the Visual Arts (2001).
In this free-wheeling guided tour to the cityscape of Southern California, from movie-star mansions to the alleys of the homeless, urban planner John Chase combines gossip, anecdote, archival research and tabloid-worthy self-revelation, grounding architecture as a multidisciplinary art.
Speeding across the California landscape, Chase pauses frequently to see whats really there: not just what the movies have taught us to expect, but the range and variation of the built environment that occupies what he calls everyday space.
An urban designer as well as an important architectural critic, Chase explores a myriad of locales and examines their architectural features from the gay community space of West Hollywood, to the stucco box apartment complexes of the 1950s, to the truly weird mix of domestic arrangements in Venice Beach, to gated communities, to some of the historic houses of Hollywood and Beverly Hills and to the most recent transformations of the casino architecture in Las Vegas. At once learned, witty and ironic, Chase makes the mundane world of Southern California vistas come alive on the page.