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.
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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
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