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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Half-Pink House.

For much of the time that I worked at Paramount Studios, I had an office that overlooked Gower Street.
Gower Street was usually featured in stock footage of the entrance of RKO Studios in the thirties and forties,with cars to match.
RKO went out of business, and my office, which used to be part of RKO, was now part of Paramount.
I don't know what you'd have seen if the cameras were turned around and you'd have seen the other side of Gower Street in the thirties and forties.
But if you'd looked out of my window in the seventies, what you'd have seen was a very seedy, slum-like neighborhood, populated primarily by Mexicans.
I'm not attempting to be racist here.
I'm just reporting the facts.
You didn't want my office because of the view.
It was a nice, roomy office, but the view was not one of the selling features.
I always tried to avoid driving down Gower Street to go to work.
I usually took Vine Street directly to Melrose Avenue, which at the time was also pretty seedy, but didn't seem as inherently dangerous as
Gower Street.
I did this because I was deathly afraid of finding myself stranded on Gower Steet trying to fix a flat tire.
This was NOT a safe neighborhood.
Even though it was right next to a major movie studio.
I tried very hard to ignore my exterior surroundings as much as possible.
Many days, you'd find me with the window shades pulled down.

But one day, something rather extraordinary happened.
I pulled up the window shades, and noticed that one half, (the left half, from my point of view) of a two-family house was painted bright pink.
I don't mean just pink.
Shocking pink.
The kind of pink you might associate with Pink Elephants.
Or the Pink Panther.
Or Pepto Bismol, but much more intensely bright.
The other half was gray.

This caused interesting things to enter my imagination:
The first, of course, being "Why is anyone doing this?"
The second being, "Why only half the house?"

You'd think that discussions between the two owners would have led to some negotiations and perhaps arguments as to whether this was a good idea.
And some settlement would have been reached to avoid this eyesore.
But maybe the two parties hated each other.
To quote the late, great Fats Waller, "One never knows, do one."

Now, I've never considered myself any kind of architechtural aesthete, but even I knew that this was an atrocity.

Literally two months went by.
I'd look out my window and see a half-pink two family house.
The other half remained gray.
And the owner of the gray half had to have been worried about the loss of property value of his home, being planted directly next to the pink half.
Not that the house could have been worth that much to begin with.

I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Would the owner of the pink half revert back to gray?
Or would the owner of the gray half bite the bullet and go pink?

A month after this, I opened the window shade to my office one morning, and the matter was resolved.
The two-family house was now entirely pink, in the exact same shade as the other half.
The concession was made.
Or perhaps the owner of the gray half found the pink starting to grow on him.
We'll never know.

In any case, it was Peace in Our Time, but the house now looked twice as atrocious.


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  1. When you can't afford paint sometimes you have issues like this-sometimes even the color is what was left-or a poor idea. Since I've worked in LA in these areas and worse, and do work in a Hispanic neighborhood now, I'm fairly immune to the feelings I once had of safety-in that I have seen "it all" but I went into that area where you were-there was a lot of music and culture there as I recall-interesting area. i ate in a fantastic place there, good tortas.
    Once in South Central outside of 93rd Street school I saw a house painted school bus yellow, which is a particularly ugly shade. I asked the kids. In 1987 or so I often asked things they would react to but not answer straightforwardly. So they went through a lot of reacting-I was teaching at that time primarily African American kids. Very dangerous area. Anyway someone -I think one of the aides, shared with me how it was probably paint they got either free or in a deal or as she said, "maybe it was real free" but I looked at it as just such a strange thing to do. I got an incredible amount of flack but I home visited a couple of those homes,around it, because at the time drive bys were so serious-I had a couple students that had family ill and one child who had serious illness. Anyway the inside of one place was so intolerable, the other just lovely. I used to think if only people understood these conditions and hoods schools would be supported, but of late because of the vilification of teachers-so on, I've lost that hope-anyway I'm headed back to work where you'll find one house the darkest brightest shade of blue ever. It would be cute if it were a Victorian, but a tiny house in a hood...not so great. Thanks for sharing this story.

  2. Another good one. Here's a picture of, yes, a Pepto-Bismol colored brownstone in the New York county of Kings. Yes, Brooklyn.

  3. I looked at your brownstone. It literally pales
    in comparison to my half-pink house.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."