The Portland-based architect — who has designed everything from the floating Fennell Residence to the magical Miyasaka Residence in Japan — mines his spiritual, emotional, poetic and structural depths to create his “from the inside out” architecture. TREATS! meets one of the masters of organic architecture to talk wood and stone, learning to design in reverse order and how to “solve the problem in a beautiful way.” by Joe Donnelly
Originally published in Malibu magazine
El Porto is the perfect Santa Monica Bay surf break, though not because a coincidence of underwater geography makes thewaves there a little bit bigger and more consistent than most local breaks. That helps, but to me it’s so perfect because its inherent contradictions incorporate our strange, dichotomous relationship to the ocean. El Porto’s beach and waves, source of personal pleasure and sometimes even transcendence, are located in the shadow of so many ripe metaphors for our local ecology — the City of Los Angeles’ Hyperion Sewage Treatment, the El Segundo Power Plant, Chevron’s oil refinery. You can sit out there in the lineup and look out into a vast open ocean framed by the headlands of Point Dume to the north and Palos Verdes to the south and be taken by the strange beauty of this place — the way our urban landscape is constantly colliding with nature. Then, look up into the sky and watch jets taking off from LAX for points around the world burning horrific amounts of fossil fuel as they go, passing over the refineries where oil is turned into gasoline, over the towers of the power plants, over the endless spider web of freeways, over the tankers anchored in the bay. Where else do the seemingly conflicting needs of modern man and eternal nature come into such stark contrast?
Originally published in The Surfer’s Journal
A Sandow Birk Omnibus
THE GUEST OF HONOR IS DRESSED IN SLACKS, SENSIBLE SHOES, and a button-down shirt that was possibly ironed. Handsome in a retro, California beach boy way, with hair neater than a dry gin martini, he looks more like someone who stepped out of a Jan and Dean song than a heretic stoking the flames of fatwa. Still, the woman with the salt-and-pepper hair, turquoise jewelry, and the pack of American Spirit cigarettes in her overcoat pocket is palpably agitated. She’s pretty much taken over the question-and-answer session.
Originally published in The Surfer’s Journal (photos are ©Morgan Maassen)
MORGAN MAASSEN drives onto a crowded Stearns Wharf and nearly takes out a half dozen pedestrians on his approach. Not because he’s aggro, but because he’s enraptured telling me about Sandspit, the notorious break just a strong 9-iron chip across a lagoon from the end of the wharf.
Sandspit fires just a few times a year, but when it does, the channel-funneled wave wraps around a rock-made breakwater into very shallow water and “jacks up into the most perfect barrel,” says Maassen. “I’ve seen guys get thrown into those rocks and come out with holes in their bodies. It’s one of the most advanced waves in California.”
Originally published in Huck Magazine
There was a tipping point in surfing history when the door of possibility was busted open wide. And Shaun Tomson dealt the final blow. As the first South African World Champion, his transgressive energy helped legitimate surfing as a professional sport. But the determination he showed back then was nothing compared to what came next, when his family was rocked by tragedy.
Originally published in Flaunt
The looks and all that shit can be handled. On any given night, you can bump into 50 women with movie star/model looks (who may actually be movie stars or models) just walking blindfolded down Abbot-Kinney—where Olivia Wilde conveniently (for her, since she lives around the corner) meets for an early Friday dinner on a cold October eve. The looks are easy. It’s the other stuff that’s going to make this difficult. So, damn you, Ms. Wilde, for being smart, funny, passionate, compassionate, interesting, easygoing, and, to top it all off, for having cheekbones even the wildest Irish rose could only dream of. This is the stuff that makes you want to care and not just stare off into the distance while actor X prattles on about his or her art. There’s a word for it—oh, yes, charming. That’s what she’s got, charm. And, like all charismatics, it starts with her eyes. Olivia Wilde née Cockburn may have chosen her stage name in honor of Oscar, but it’s also a double entendre betrayed by her eyes. Alert, alive. Fierce and playful. Confident. Dancing, like a ballerina or a boxer. They’re ready for war, peace, or just a laugh. Even before the waiter arrives to take your drink order, it’s all there on the table. Up to you. Damn her again.
Originally printed in Surfer’s Journal
Take Las Virgenes Road from the 101 Freeway and drive into the heart of Malibu Canyon past hoary Mulholland and keep going to Piuma Road. Then, take a left and climb through the rolling hills up toward the mountain peaks and find Las Flores Canyon Road, the downward glide of which will take you to the sea-breeze side of the slope and the easy-to-miss cul-de- sac where Jim Evans lives. Getting there is the stuff of “Dead Man’s Curve” nightmares. Kids high on downhill skateboarding daredevilry pass going one way while nin- jas on rice rockets scream by going the other. Overhead, red-tail hawks interrupt an otherwise spotless blue sky. It’s a perfect afternoon for Malibu mythmaking.
Originally published in the LA Weekly
IF WE WERE BACK IN Wes Anderson’s native Texas, the plate of food he’s showing little mercy might be called the Morning Roundup or the Wildcatter’s Special. Unfortunately for my wallet, we’re in a booth at Kate Mantilini on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills and here it’s called Barry’s Breakfast and costs about four times more than it has any right to. Anderson spears an Italian sausage link (butterflied and grilled), bites off a chunk, holds the remains in the air for a moment and confesses, “It’s my second breakfast.” Despite that, he’s more than game when I suggest splitting a side order of pancakes. The thin man’s unexpected voraciousness reminds me of the last time I saw him.
Originally published in LA Weekly
Lately, I’ve been spending time in some pretty far-flung places — Paris, Indochina, the Alps, the Deep South, England, the apocalyptic future (isn’t it always?). You see, I read a lot. So after a steady diet of sprawling novels with fancy conceits and exotic locations, it felt like a sort of homecoming when I stumbled upon Richard Lange’s 2007 short-story collection, Dead Boys. His book brought me back to a Los Angeles I recognize like a long-lost friend. It’s a place of dead-end donut-shop regulars, bleak apartments, last-chance motels and men struggling with present circumstances and past regrets, who, at the end of the day, can often do no more than admit, “Christ, things get away from you.”
I’m deep into a harrowing Diane Sawyer special about hillbillies in Kentucky (a cautionary tale about the pre- and post-natal effects of Mountain Dew if ever there was one) on a cold and stormy night in early March, when something slams into my front door, causing me to jump off the couch.