Humint Events Online: Laurel Canyon and Me

Monday, July 07, 2014

Laurel Canyon and Me

One reason the whole Laurel Canyon book (reviewed in the post below) resonated with me was my own personal association with Laurel Canyon.

I grew up in Studio City, very near the north mouth of Laurel Canyon. In fact, the street I lived on was "Laurel Grove"! I used to hike in those of hills around the canyon all the time when I was a teenager, and I drove through Laurel Canyon a couple of hundred times over my lifetime.

My first memory of Laurel Canyon was when my mom would take me to her work in the summer time in downtown LA, and we would drive through Laurel Canyon every day. This was about 1967 to 1969 -- around the peak of the music scene there. I remember at one point I was learning to read bigger books and I read "Bambi" to my mom as we drove down the canyon.

The canyon always seemed kind of creepy to me. It is a deep and curvy canyon, you drove at the bottom of the canyon for some time, and it is not a trivial route. The canyon always seemed dark and kind of mysterious. The highlight was always seeing the ruins of the Houdini mansion, and early on I heard weird stories of the place. There were stairs that went up the hillside and disappeared (see pic).

I always wanted to explore that place, but it was closed off.  I also remember how along the side of the road, just like doors in the side of the hill, where apparently you took stairs up to a house. This sort of thing:

Also, in the canyon itself, the houses were not that nice, and it always seemed like an unpleasant place to live. Little sunlight, constant traffic, and just a weird vibe.

The houses in the hills above the canyon were quite nice, of course. I didn't spend too much time there, though for a couple of years, my mom taught at Wonderland Avenue Elementary, which serves a very ritzy neighborhood in the canyon.

I knew a couple of kids from school, who lived in the canyon. One guy was of German origin, who lived in an extremely rich house in Laurel Canyon. I can only imagine what his German father, might have been up to. Though I don't think the father was old to enough to be a WWII-era Nazi.

Anyway, it's a fascinating place that I've moved away from long ago. But I can't wait to go back and have some time to explore.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is nothing to explore. the traffic is terrible there - in fact the traffic on both the valley side and hollywood side is so congested that it takes an hour just to get to laurel cyn from either direction and there is no where to pull over so god help you if your car breaks down. also, people in general are dicks and most of them like to think that they are race-car drivers so they tail-gate your ass all the way thru the cyn. oh at least there is one convenience market about 1/2 way thru so you could at least pull over there.
all in all i don't recommend the place to anyone.

8:41 AM  
Blogger spooked said...

thanks-- I forgot about the traffic. Certainly it's miserable during rush hour...

8:55 AM  

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