Oh, the Places I’ve Been.

Through a series of odd circumstances and some semi-questionable “adjustments” to our resumés, my daddy (actual father, not pimp) was able to get himself, Max, my sister, and me badges to the Cannes Film Festival this year. That Cannes. In France. Fancy times.

We left two weeks ago with very confused delusions about what the film festival might be like. After all, this is a pretty serious deal for film folk with pretty serious movies being shown to pretty serious celebrities who stand on pretty serious red carpets. When we saw Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany (+ baby!) board our plane out of JFK, we thought to ourselves, damn, this is going to be pretty serious. We had the same thought when we came out of customs to a small crowd of paparazzi. “You came!” I cooed to the expectant cameras, none of which flashed.

The thing about Cannes, though, is that it’s really more of an industry-networking type of event, with lots of producers taking lots of meetings with other producers from all around the world. The ample number of film screenings, day in and day out, are largely incidental to the other things going on. Seeing as we are not technically actual movie-makers or distributors, we did our best to blend in like we totally belonged there and tried to take in some good films. The weather was uncharacteristically terrible most of the week we were there, so sitting in dark theaters seemed like a good idea for a couple of days.

There were no celebrities the rest of the week, and only a couple noteworthy films among a sea of pretty terrible movies. Apparently if you want to make a horrible horror film that’s one part Saw and one part Vacancy with a hefty dose of angry orphans and stupid drunk 20-somethings, all your dreams can come true and that movie can show at Cannes! Albeit with an audience comprised only of me and my family, but still. It was there.

The last movie we saw had been a Japanese horror flick about a ghost that haunted a high school class, the most noteworthy moments of which were the unlikely deaths (impaled on an umbrella, head chopped clean off after running into a steel cable) and the fact that the protagonist wore a shirt simply reading the word “chummy,” spelled-out in rhinestones, during the latter half of the film. It was after this that, the weather finally cleared up, we decided that perhaps the time had come to get out and see the city.

So Max and I split off for a few days to walk around. We didn’t have much planned, we just walked and ate and walked some more. It was hard to decide what to take pictures of because everything was so picturesque. Coming from the States, it’s easy to forget how old Europe is. We had to keep reminding ourselves that it was real, since you get the sense that you’re on a very detailed movie set or at Disney World.

Speaking of pictures, I’ve basically taken to using my iPhone camera for everything and running the photos through Instagram on the fly. I still feel a little stupid about intentionally making my photos look unrealistically old with a bunch of filters and a hokey tilt-shift feature, but I can’t help it. I love my Instagrams—these little snapshots that couldn’t be easier to take and edit, and I actually want to look at afterwards…which is more than I can say for the hundreds of digital photos that I used to shoot on trips like this, which then stagnate in my iPhoto library waiting for me to do something with them. (you can check out all of my Instagram photos here!)

On our last full day in France, Max and I hopped the train into Nice without any real intentions or expectations. Beautiful. Even though we maybe  should have been exploring the city in a more all-encompasing, adventurous sort of way, we quickly found the beach and just decided to stay. Bathing suits were quickly located at a nearby shop and we even found perfect inexpensive turkish towels to lay out on that will make excellent summer bath towels after they’ve gone through the wash a few times. Our bathroom doesn’t ventilate well, so these towels should help keep that whole hot-weather-smelly-towel phenomenon at bay.

After about a week in France, we packed up and headed to Los Angeles for the holiday weekend, where my sister lives and the family all flew in to hang out for a few days.

Coming from New York, LA is always a bit of a shock to the system. It’s so huge, and there are so many distinct areas, spread out over very long distances with very heavy traffic in between them. No matter how many times I go, I always leave feeling like I didn’t get to do very much since simple plans always seem to become logistical clusterfucks, each activity somehow becoming an all-day affair. My twin sister Laura lives there, and I stir the turd about this with her constantly. She doesn’t understand why anyone would willingly choose to live in New York, and I have a similar sentiment about Los Angeles.

On Saturday, Max and I took a little trip to the Eames Case Study House. If you don’t know anything about this house, you’re in for some fun reading (you can start with the Wikipedia page, here). Built in 1949 as part of Arts and Architecture Magazine‘s Case Study House Program—essentially aimed at imagining the possibilities for post-war American residential architecture—Case Study House #8 (along with a smaller, coordinating studio space) was a collaboration between husband and wife duo Charles and Ray Eames and was built from pre-fabricated, factory produced parts in a matter of days. The whole program is super fascinating (you can still look at all the original articles on the Arts & Architecture Magazine website), and something that I have spent far, far too many hours researching. But I always seem to come back to Case Study House #8 because it really is perfect.

I expected the place to be overrun with a bunch of tourists, but we were alone for almost the entire duration of our visit. Seeing the house in real life was like seeing a celebrity. It was smaller in person, but somehow more magical too. It was really real, not just a place that exists in photos or short films, but an actual structure with metal and glass and wood and cement. Because I was obviously having a super-geeky-nerd-fanboy-freakout-moment, the very kind and gracious guide thought we’d be best served by just wandering around ourselves, taking in the house in our own private way.

The house is in various states of restoration and repair and right now the ENTIRE living room (furniture, curtains, all of it!) has been transported to the LACMA for exhibit, so I’ll admit that it wasn’t exactly the picture that I had in my mind. But that hardly seemed to matter. I could imagine it all there, just the way Ray left it. Her flowers and plants still line the front walkway. The same housekeeper has maintained the house for 30 years now, so small delicate flower arrangements were randomly placed around the naked interior, apparently just the way Ray liked them.

After probably about an hour of wandering around, our guide approached us again and even let me ring the doorbell, which is a ceramic instrument on a rope pulley-system, custom designed for the house. Then, since nobody was around, she offered to let us watch a few short films out on the patio space between the house and the studio on the office’s iPad. She dragged a couple shell chairs out and we set them up in a corner near the retaining wall, facing the house, under the shade of the eucalyptus trees and a large evergreen. Surrounded by the potted plants and the trees and the weathered wood, our feet planted on the brick pavers and our eyes darting between the iPad screen and the house, as if it might all disappear, for a moment I think I finally got the whole L.A. thing. If it could be like this, well, why would you go anywhere else?

Unless, of course, this was waiting for you back in New York.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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Leave a Comment


  1. 5.31.12
    Jackie said:

    J.E.A.L.O.U.S! Great photographs – love the Disney thing :)

  2. 5.31.12
    Alicia said:

    I hated Los Angeles for decades until I was able to drive myself around, with someone I loved, doing cool stuff that we wanted to do. Just like you did.

  3. 5.31.12
    Chris said:

    cute dog contest, GO


    ok, tie.

    Glad you saw some good in LA — it can be great if you find a neighborhood to live in that you never want to leave.

  4. 5.31.12

    What an awesome adventure you had!

    (And I too have seemingly replaced my digital camera with my Instagrams. I love ’em. Shamelessly.)

  5. 5.31.12
    Luce said:

    But you have readers in Nice ! (at least one) You should have said you were coming !

    • 5.31.12
      Daniel said:

      Crazy! I’m sorry, I guess I should have!

  6. 5.31.12
    Luce said:

    Glad you liked it here anyway :)

  7. 5.31.12
    Amanda said:

    I have been waiting for an update ever since seeing your first Cannes Instagram photo. Your life honestly sounds like a movie. I am so jealouusss of your adventures!

  8. 5.31.12
    bethh said:

    Boy do I feel dumb. I always thought Charles & Ray Eames were brothers! And wow, that house is so cool. I’m going to have to make plans to visit LA again.

  9. 5.31.12
    jbhat said:

    Back to back fantastic trips! What fun for you guys.


  10. 5.31.12
    Damien from Singapore. said:

    I chuckled about the bit about LA vs NY. I’m on your side – totally. NY organic, real, colorful, diverse, REAL…. LA… well,… everything opposite!
    Aren’t you the lucky one to visit the abode of Charles and Ray!
    Anyway I’m a Fan… love your quirky insights, and creative endeavors. My only gripe?
    Update more frequently dude!

  11. 5.31.12

    I’m so glad you guys enjoyed Nice. That pebble beach that you and Max are sitting on with your beautiful Turkish towel is just the most perfect beach ever. The last time I was there, I floated all day in that ocean water. I felt like I was soaking in a giant, warm bath. Just curious, did you guys venture up into the hills to see the cascades that overlook the impressive city shoreline? Nice is great but my all time favorite city in the south of France is Marsielle! That city is like being in Morocco where all the boys are so damn cute and everything looks like it’s about to fall apart!

    As far as Los Angeles is concerned, I’m not a big fan but the Eames Case Study House is amazing! Listen to Mekko, New York City is still where it’s at! Thanks for sharing your great travel photographs. I’m not afraid to say that I enjoy looking at instagram photos even though I’ve never taken one before!

    Pug hugs from Mamma Biscuit and family!

  12. 5.31.12
    bfish said:

    Yep, that face was definitely saying “poor pitiful me, I need my daddies” — so cute! Who took care of her while you were on your adventure? Also love your pictures; thanks for sharing.

  13. 5.31.12
    Linde said:

    First I’m obsessed with your blog! I used to live in NYC & if only I could have been so motivated to make my spaces look as nice. Secondly, you turned me onto The Brick House and my obsession with her blog is basically unhealthy…so thanks. Lastly, my close friend works for one of the Eames family members and we consistently put “picnic at the Eames house” on our summer bucket list and have yet to do it. Your post inspired me to get focused on the awesome opportunity to take advantage of an insider peek and a picnic in the summer sun! I’m doing it! Keep blogging or I might have to go to therapy.
    Just Say Native

  14. 5.31.12
    Snail said:

    AHA! I knew it! Jet setting? Check. Lounging on a beach in a dreamy locale? Check. Arm candy? Check. Skinny? Check. All signs point to you being a skinny little villain. (The handsome embezzling kind, not the creepy experiment kind.)

    But sheesh. Villains sure do seem to live the good life. And don’t worry, not being a consistent blogger makes you more real and accessible and enjoyable. The reason we read your blog, aside from your fabulously villainous wit and creative flair, is that we don’t have time to write our own blog, along with various other shortcomings. So we understand. We still cry. And then you post pictures of France and shit, and we cry harder. But we understand.

  15. 6.1.12
    ming said:

    I felt the same way about LA–as in I didn’t understand the hype–until two winter breaks ago when I flew into LAX at night and the sprawling lights of the city really did feel like something out of a movie. Then I woke up the next morning and the air, even if it’s filled with smog, had such a crisp ocean feel to it, and the light had a dewy glow just like in old photos when vaseline was rubbed on camera lenses.

    Still, there’s almost a too good to be true feeling about it all and I couldn’t imagine actually living there all year round…vacation is good enough for me, and I’m hoping to make it back there again in mid-August before I start school again :)

    Oh, and congratulations on winning Small Cool!!!

  16. 6.1.12

    Thanks for posting, we missed you – I’m going to start working on some movies for Cannes 2013. Do they accept youtube videos?

    • 6.6.12
      Daniel said:

      Maybe! Ha!

  17. 6.1.12
    suzanne said:

    It’s so awesome that you made it to the the Eames house! I went a few years back and walked around with a big goofy grin on my face and my hand over my heart to keep it from bursting with joy. The tour guide must of thought I was doing some deranged pledge of allegiance to Charles and Ray.

  18. 6.1.12
    Care said:

    “Stir the turd”?? Never head that before, but I just giggled like a little school girl.

    I live in California ( silicon valley ) & have been to L.A many, many times and dream about the day I can move to NY!! Team NY here!

  19. 6.1.12

    i live in ventura. tiny beach town about 1 hour north of LA.
    i’m between LA & santa barbara.
    next time you are on the west coast…you gotta check out santa barbara. lovely!
    not france lovely…but pretty darn lovely!

  20. 6.2.12
    Simone said:

    I wondered why you were so quiet. But no dinners with Brad and Bono? No parties on Diddy’s yacht?
    Anyhow, next time try taking the train from Nice to Genova, it is right on the shore of the mediteranian, takes you all day and then in the evening you get off the train and step into something that looks like a lifesize (and slightly scary) Piranesi etching. Gorgeous. But Nice is very nice as well.
    Wow great adventure, have a wonderful weekend!!!

  21. 6.2.12
    Simone said:

    P.s. So jealous about the Eames house I won’t mention it at all!

  22. 6.3.12
    harriet Hieatt-Smith said:

    I live in Oxford, England and am a fan of your blog. So imagine my surprise to read that you too spent some time on Nice beach during the Cannes film festival. If only I’d spotted you, I would have asked you to watch my bag whilst I had a swim (paddling on your own with your handbag above your head isn’t actually much fun).

  23. 6.3.12
    Furpants said:

    What a great trip — Cannes, Nice and #8! And yes, the secret to appreciating LA is a quiet patio with plants and if you are lucky, a view.

    • 6.4.12
      Simone said:

      The secret to appreciating any place is a quiet patio with plants and -if you are lucky- a view.

  24. 6.5.12
    caroline said:

    Amazing! I love Cannes and Nice, Montpellier which is further inland is beautiful too. Your adventures at the Eames house reminded me of my brand new yet original and authentic (a rare feat here in France) rocker. You can see it here: http://bunniesandstripes.blogspot.fr/2012/05/charlie.html

  25. 6.7.12
    Sara H said:

    BEST BLOG EVER… the only one I use as a vehicle for procrastination religiously.

    • 6.7.12
      Daniel said:

      Thank you!

  26. 10.10.12
    erin said:

    I’ve got an upcoming trip to LA and a to visit to the Eames house is at the top of my list. So, inquiring minds want to know ”“ did you tour just the outside or did you go for the interior tour of the main level?

    Eep! Can’t wait to see it!

    Thanks for the always hilarious posts.

    • 10.11.12
      Daniel said:

      We just toured the outside…I don’t think they let normal people inside, but it was under construction anyway while we were there. The house is so much glass, though, that you can really see most of the interior from the outside!