Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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from Echo Park

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The Plumbean Report

Spotted in Echo Park:


I have spent much of my life thinking about weird houses, loving them and loathing them -- including the weird house I was raised in. It is a row house, on a corner lot in Washington, D.C., built in 1877 and, during most of my childhood, completely covered in ivy, which at times covered various windows and sometimes during summer grew in. Despite being embarrassed by it, I always had a protective streak toward the ivy, which my mother refused to have trimmed except away from windows and doorways. Despite eventual persecution by some of her neighbors.

There is a spectrum of weird houses, from highly intentional, sometimes precious yearnings for otherness to uncontrolled/uncontrollable manifestations of otherness. This cow house is a piece of theater. But it's on one of Echo Park's extreme side streets, near Sunflower Ave. No one goes there unless they are very lost, wandering, or on their way to one of the houses on the dead end streets in this far north part of Echo Park. Which is part of what makes it such a surprise.

Plumbean: If the reference doesn't mean beans to you, it's from a children's book, The Big Orange Splot (Daniel Manus Pinkwater) in which Mr. Plumbean, who lives on a "neat" conventional street transforms his house into a psychedelic vision of tropical splendor, to the upset of his neighbors. He says, "My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams."


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