Seems to me that Michael Walker is doing the whole book-blog synergy the right way, and creating a readable and valuable Los Angeles neighborhood website. (I'd say this even if he wasn't advertising the book somewhere over on the right; at least it's there this week.) Walker's book is Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood. He is sprinkling the blog with reviews, snippets from interviews about the canyon's heyday with Graham Nash and the Byrds' Chris Hillman, observations of the canyon's sunsets and even a bobcat sighting. He also tries to set straight the legend, known to generations of Angelenos, of the Harry Houdini house ruins pictured here.
One of the enduring legends of Laurel Canyon is that of the so-called Houdini house—the ruins, actually, of an 11-bedroom villa at the corner of Willow Glen Road and Laurel Canyon Boulevard across the street from another storied property, the log cabin where Frank Zappa and his extended family held court in the spring and summer of ‘68—supposedly built by the illusionist at the height of his career.
Both properties are suitably mysterious, pocked with caves and traced by winding paths with stone-encrusted benches, grottos, fountains and other J.R.R. Tolkien mise-en-scene. Among other apocrypha, there’s supposedly a secret tunnel beneath Laurel Canyon Boulevard that connects the properties—”I never found out if that was true,” Zappa said.
He wasn’t alone. Everybody in the canyon, it seems, has a version of Houdini-house reality—but the real reality is that Houdini himself probably never lived there.
Another discovery through Walker's site is that Lloyd Thaxton has a blog. Thaxton was a founder of Tiger Beat magazine. "The Lloyd Thaxton Show" was the highest rated musical program on TV for eight years, starting in the 1960s. He has later television credits up the wazoo, including writer-producer-director on more than 200 segments of "The Today Show" on NBC and producer of the old show "Fight Back! With David Horowitz." He writes, "When I was doing the Lloyd Thaxton Show, I was living in Laurel Canyon myself. It was not unusual to go to the Canyon Store just down from my house and see Cass Elliot of the Mamas and Papas buying groceries, or the Byrd’s David Crosby pulling in on his Triumph Bonneville motorcycle with his cape flowing behind, or Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, or the Turtle’s Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman." Thaxton also gives some fun behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the Byrds' appearance on the show.
Photos: Laurelcanyonthebook.com, Lloydthaxton.blogspot.com