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California Crazy and Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture Paperback – June, 2001

6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A hot-dog joint shaped like a puppy, an antique store replicating a Japanese temple, Van de Kamp's windmill-shaped bakeries, houses resembling beached boats these are just a few of the architectural curiosities featured in Jim Heimann's California Crazy & Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture, an expanded edition, including 386 color and b&w illustrations, of his California Crazy of nearly 20 years ago. SoCal pop culture devotee Heimann (Sins of the City, May I Take Your Order?), a graphic designer and historian, has tracked down more examples of the "California Crazy concept" from all over the country. He maintains, however, that it originated and still exists mainly in Southern California.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

It's hard to beat Minnesota and Wisconsin for great big fiberglass fish and game deployed as roadside advertising, equally hard to outdo the Left Coast for imaginative commercial edifices. Unfortunately, the king-size kitsch, most of it built in the first half of the twentieth century, that Heimann showcases is vulnerable to changing patterns of development and humorless crusaders for good taste (back to your castle, Prince Charles!). Heimann shows the Pup, a hot dog stand in the shape of a giant, spotted mutt, in its pristine original form and as it looked in 1940, festooned with signage and an odd carbuncle on its snout. The visually arresting contrast says much about the mutation of commerce and commercial display over the decades. Although the book is mostly illustration, the accompanying text is vital and incisive. Anyone who has ever been dumbstruck by a giant cement statue of Paul Bunyan or a restaurant in the shape of a hat ought to love this album of outre architecture. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; New edition (June 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811830187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811830188
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jim Heimann is a resident of Los Angeles, a graphic designer, writer, historian, and instructor at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He is the author of numerous books on architecture, popular culture, and Hollywood history, and serves as a consultant to the entertainment industry.

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is a must-have for those of us who love the lure of the road and all it has to offer. It's sad that a lot of these wonderful icons of Americana are vanishing, but it's great that people like Jim Heimann are preserving it for future generations to see. I highly recommend this book -- lots of great photos and interesting history in a nicely organized book!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on April 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I bought this book when it first came out in 1980 and I recently noticed that a new addition was available. Well worth getting too, more pages, extra subjects (cars for instance) updated bibliography and a sparkling new layout. Author Heimann feels that architectural historian David Gebhard's term 'Programatic' does not quite capture the flavor of these buildings, I propose calling them FUNTECTURE.

A new chapter, not in the original book, is 'Current Condition' which has twenty-two photos, in color, of buildings now standing and they all look very smart and well cared for but wait till you see the photo on page 169, this shows the amazing headquarters of the Longaberger company in Newark, Ohio, famous for making baskets and that is exactly what the building looks like, seven stories high with two carrying handles reaching up to the sky...only in America! You can see and read about this lovely bit of whimsy on their website.

You will really enjoy this book if you are a fan of roadside America, especially if you have lived in California and maybe remember some of the weird buildings that are no longer around.

***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
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Novelty architecture is fun! I fondly recall the now defunct Disneyland fast food restaurant called Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant--now I have to travel to Disneyland Paris to experience it. "California Crazy" doesn't feature these two theme park icons, but does have hundreds of photos and illustrations of buildings, statues and even automobiles and gives a brief history of this often crassly commercial architectural style. Called "California Crazy" because of the high concentration of novelty architecture in California, buildings that resemble something other than boxes or warehouses are found throughout the United States. Try locating examples of novelty architecture in your area.
I volunteer at an Air Force museum near Ogden and one of the things I did with my edition of "California Crazy" was to bookmark the dozen pictures of aircraft-themed architecture. I left out the flying saucers--and I may have missed a few aviation references--but the B-17G bomber on page 152 perched atop the Bomber Service Station on Highway 99 (1947 photo) was noteworthy because the bomber's interior seemed to have public access--the B-17G wasn't mere decoration.
It will take some effort finding buildings that aren't your standard box. Automobiles count--the famous Oscar Meyer Wienermobile is pictured in "California Crazy" but not the Batmobile.
Have some fun! Buildings don't have to be boring.
You can even design a dog house to resemble a dog--just don't be too surprised if that "big dog" terrifies your pooch.
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