On Today’s DnA: Billboard blight

Besides having Sir James Dyson on today’s show, whose super-sucky products I have always patronized—from my pink vacuum cleaner to the only hand dryer I have ever taken a photo of (I seriously dried my hands three times)—a highlight has to be concerned citizen Dennis Hathaway talking about getting tough on billboards. It’s serious business, I suppose, so much so that the Planning and Land Use Management committee has indeed approved a new sign ordinance which means it will now go before our city council. But I had to laugh when I saw the image that Frances posted on the DnA blog to illustrate the kinds of clutter that the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight is fighting against:


That was pretty much the view out my bedroom window for three years. And I have to say, I never minded it. Actually? I liked it.

I know what you’re thinking. But I ask you to think, for a moment, about the tourists, because when you live in Hollywood, you become an honorary tourist every time you leave the house (and if you move to Hollywood, and are somehow expecting this not to be the case, my friend, I believe Tujunga is calling your name).

Now think about those people—perhaps even you—exiting the 101 and heading south on Highland, cruising into Hollywood for the first time. You want to see ads for three movies, one car and one Renaissance festival (?). You want to see Seth Rogen. You want to see HOLLYWOOD!

Across the universe

You want to see movies not only plastered on billboards, but plastered on buildings!

Another bad wrap

And come on, you gotta hand it to people like Asics for converting this building into a shrine of sweat.

Protectors of your money

And Wachovia, who conquered it next, transforming it into a veritable castle, complete with two-dimensional knights.

Plug it in, plug it in

Actually, I thought this one was rather clever.

Semi-Pro synergy

And I was always impressed with the (accidental?) synergy between ads.

Everywhere fires

Okay, I admit it was a little creepy when that single bionic eye was watching me sleep for all those weeks.

The critic

But sometimes, being the only lit object in the sky made for a fantastic cinematic image.

Good evening, Oscars.

If not the most appetizing.


And if you caught the right billboard, at the right moment, with the right backdrop, with the right message, the effect was nothing less than…well, you get it.

You can listen to DnA on KCRW live every 3rd Tuesday at 2:30pm PST, by podcasting through iTunes, or by streaming the audio at any time by clicking the little ‘Listen’ button underneath each show’s title on KCRW’s website. Be sure to check out the DnA calendar this month, freshly restocked with delicious items. And as always, if you know of any design or architecture events in Los Angeles—or have any good billboards to show me—please send them my way.

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  • http://www.emdashes.com Paul

    Great article, Alissa! Looks like the debate over “Billboard control” dates back a while. Check out this Time article from 1957: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,867610-2,00.html

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