The Whispertown 2000 by Brandon Herman in Laurel Canyon, Hollywood, USA

This photo was made with members of the band The Whispertown 2000 at this house that belonged to someone in the lead singer Morgan’s family.  I think it was her uncle.  Or grandfather.  The house looked completely untouched from the era when it originally became trendy to live in the canyons, when the likes of Brian Wilson would be hosting members of the Manson family at his own home in that same neighborhood.  Morgan told me I would love it, and I did.  The thing about this image that’s quintessentially L.A. for me is the overgrown foliage next to the old pool.  There are so many different topographies and settings that someone could look at and say, “Oh, that’s Los Angeles.”  But this is a face of Los Angeles I love: synthetic manifestations of Southern California “urban” dwelling carved into the jungle of the Hollywood Hills.  And this isn’t the super sleek contemporary version of living in the hills as executed by some hot current real estate developer.  This is modest luxury belonging to a time that has passed, like an aging starlet retired to a life of quiet privacy in her old mansion hidden behind a gate.  But I’m sort of a romantic.

Name:Brandon Herman

Place you live: At the base of Beachwood Canyon–one of the “canyon neighborhoods” of Hollywood–Los Angeles, CA.

Place your photo was taken: Laurel Canyon–another canyon neighborhood of the Hollywood Hills, but further west towards the Sunset Strip–Los Angeles, CA.

Occupation: Artist, actor.

Preoccupation: Dance class.

A perfect day in L.A.?  Honestly, I love a rainy day in L.A.  That’s the law of supply and demand at work, isn’t it?

If someone was visiting, what must they do?  Drive Mulholland.  It’s a road that traces the ridge line of the Hollywood Hills–the separation between L.A. and The Valley.  I guarantee that rounding those curves from behind the wheel will recall at least a little of that giddiness of first getting your license.  And the urban sprawl spread out below you seems endless.

A perfect meal in L.A.?  I’m allergic to an impressive list of foods and have an unusual diet, so I mostly eat at home.  But I like this kind of healthy diner in West Hollywood called Hugo’s.  They have a “Build Your Own” section of the menu so I can be as picky as I want and the interior reminds me of the nicest dining hall on a college campus.

What is the best thing about L.A.? Smoggy sunsets, palm trees back-lit by twinkling lights.

What is the worst? The distance and grandness can be isolating.  It’s not like New York where you’re in it and it’s on top of you whether you like it or not.

Little known fact? That Los Angeles had streetcars?  I don’t know, do people know that?  I didn’t.  My grandmother was telling me about taking these streetcars over from the valley when she lived here in the 20’s and I thought she was confused.

Where is your favorite place in the world? Oh my goodness, the world is far too vast for as limited of an answer as that would be.  I love to explore so I’d take moving around and seeing lots of places over picking one to call favorite any day.  I love big cities and I love staying in hotels, especially really old ones.  How about some lists?  Places I’d love to return to: Edinburgh, Tokyo, London, Paris, Montevideo, Berlin, Rome, Portland, Miami, New York.  Places I’d like to see: Reykjavik, Beirut, Hong Kong, Cairo, The Hamptons, Bangkok (and Thailand in general), Fairfield (Iowa), India (but I don’t know what cities), Antarctica.