If you bypass Checkpoint Charlie, and sneak in through the still active oil fields of Baldwin Hills, you can find this hip and in-demand town firmly nestled in the armpit of the Santa Monica Freeway and the San Diego Freeway, two of the most heavily travelled roads in the country, making it impossible to get to or from trendy, trendy Culver City.
Originally occupied by the Tongva-Gabrielino originals for over 8,000 years, the area was taken by the people who deserved it more, and developed by Harry Culver, who coined the phrase “All Roads Lead To Culver City,” which in fact was not even close to true at the time – it was in the middle of nowhere.
But before long, the movie industry discovered the cheap real estate values, disregarded the methane hissing from the cracks in the street and the bubbling crude trickling down from the nearby hills, and built major studios like RKO and Desilu and MGM, putting Culver City on the map for good. Tiny little homes popped up all around the studios so crew people could work very long hours, go home, take a nap, and go back to work making your favorite movies.
Once the real estate boom forced people to find affordable housing farther and farther away from where they wanted to live, Culver City became a mecca for new homebuyers and trendy hipsters.
Young attractive couples now wander the streets, dining in quaint bistros and trendy gastropubs, visiting galleries and buying and fixing up cute little bungalows and post-war gems.
Eventually, these same magazine cover couples make the big transition from having a pricey pure-bred pet to having a child, and before long these now tragically and unexpectedly tired couples are shocked to discover that their darling little 2 bedroom, 1 bath investment just doesn’t cut it when the second child surprises them.
So these same couples, whose “make it work” wardrobes have transitioned to sweat pants and private school t-shirts, make the practical decision and move to Chatsworth because “you can get a darling ranch house with much more room for the money,” only to discover later that those very practical flat streets eventually drive them freakin’ crazy, and just how many takeout meals from Pizza Hut and Applebee’s can the human body stand anyway?
Now these former members of the Cool Piercings and Flavor-Saver Club pack up the car and move even farther away to West Hills just to try and break up the flat suburban cookie-cutter vistas with the occasional hill, and comfort themselves with the thought that “at least we haven’t moved to Valencia, because if we did we’d really have to just check out.”
As their former nightclub tan skin begins to weather, they begin to pine for the days before kids, between tattoos, so very long ago when they used to work for little money and long hours in “development” at the studios, or worked on music videos with long-forgotten glam hair rock bands, and got to go to award shows where slime flowed like crude oil and they could afford to go out to dinner.
And they think, “Ahh, those were the days, weren’t they honey? Maybe once the kids are grown, we could start our own production company and move back to Culver City . . . ”