White World


W is for a whited world.

Letter W

It was a condemned building. I knew that because about eight years ago, I had snuck into it with a partner in crime to scout for shooting this parkour video. The place looked like a gutted abandoned motel. It felt unsafe as we trailed its wrap-around balcony on the second floor. It could’ve crumbled at any second, so I decided not to use the location for our video.

Driving by years later, the way I had hundreds of times on Sunset on my way home from Silver Lake, something unexpected happened: I saw white. And I nearly got into an accident.


I swerved and pulled over on the next block to try and make sense of what I’d glimpsed, a surreal world of white in the midst of everyday traffic.

All-white palm trees reached to the sky and surrounded a brilliant white structure. It took a moment to recognize the building as the formerly dingy eyesore I’d snuck into years before where I’d probably breathed in asbestos. It had been transformed into something remarkable, and I needed to understand.



I locked my car and ran over to the bar across the street from the white world to grill the bartender.

It was an art installation. A normal enough explanation, and a good lesson: if you can help it, don’t look for ways to demystify your miracles. But I was impacted enough by all the white — all the weird beauty — that I didn’t find the answer too anti-climactic. Such a simple idea and application, and yet, it transcended its own simplicity with a powerful, outer-worldly effect.


The installation would be temporary, according to the bartender, and the white would eventually wash off.

Yet a year later, it hasn’t. Maybe it’s because we haven’t had much rain in Los Angeles. But I don’t look too closely when I drive by. I don’t want to taint my first memory of the miraculous white oasis on Sunset.


~ Part of the A to Z Challenge ~
A post a day except Sunday for the month of April to cover topics beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Events always real, names always changed.

Cathartic Monkeyism returns in May.

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  1. Paul · · Reply

    So cool GG! At first I thought it was a lighting trick -washout. As long as it doesn’t harm the trees, I think it is brilliant. And the Heinz Ketchup commercial is hilarious – love it but I’ve never seen it play on the TV. It should.

    I gotta tell you your white art brought back a memory. Back in early 2000’s Beijing was bidding for the 2008 summer Olympics. I arrived there in October of 2001 with a business group investigating the profitability of a major Canadian Health Services Manufacturer establishing facilities in China. As a part of our investigations we interviewed the business attache to the Canadian Embassy in Beijing. She was explaining to us how the central government still had great influence and power in decision making in the country – even down to the level of the individual. As an example she told us that when the Olympic Committee had been welcomed for a tour and discussions not long before our arrival, the gov’t had wanted to put forward a good face to the visitors. In order to do so, they painted the fronts of all the houses along the motorcade route (not the backs or sides, just the fronts). They also painted all the lawns and other grass areas green as if the grass were flourishing. In fact the grass had a hard time growing in the bad air and soil of the area and the green paint killed it completely. It looked very strange because in their rush they were not very careful and other things got painted green as well – curbs, walls, pavement, some small animals, tree trunks, phone poles, fire hydrants, parking signs, etc. Ha!

    Anyway, very cool post GG – totally surprised me and thanks for the memories. 😀

    1. I’m just going to say it: You’re my favorite reader. The devotion and loyalty you show is unsurpassed, your stories and comments, first-class. I didn’t mean to rhyme, but I guess you bring out the poetry in me.

    2. What an insane and interesting story! And yet another job and journey for you.

      I wondered about the white harming the palm trees too. It’s hard to imagine that it’s completely harmless, especially since the last time I drove by, everything was almost as white as ever.

      The Heinz spec commercial was for a contest put out by Heinz. They did things backwards: first their judges picked a handful of the entries, then the general public got to vote. I guess it wasn’t too family-oriented in their book, a guy jumping across buildings and whatnot. I think if they had the general public pick the finalists, it would have made it.


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