4 cool friends



barron wolman: photographer and publisher.
david mesa: architect
eric chavkin: former student at sci-arc, architectural critic, and architectural bookstore owner.
jim cooper: teacher, high school counselor, and brother in-law



barry wolman:

in 1962  i was  living with wife joanne and daughters christine and lucia in a woodie goodie apartment complex on sepulveda blvd in palms the west side of los angeles.


i working for an architectural firm in downtown  los angeles doing architectural apprenticeship. smith, powell and morgridge.


barry wolman a photographer   connected up with me to do a book on the architectural greats in los angeles, of frank lloyd wright, schindler, neutra, etc.  it did not happen, but barry used his photos to get future work.


i met barry through gunard, a wild german architectural friend.  barry was close to his wife. barry had done a stint in counter intelligence in germany and had german connections.  gunner, i met at work,  he pointed out a Bernard Maybeck Packard showroom in los angeles that i tried to save, but was destroyed. my effort  got press and a lot of connections.  Gunard a tortured soul eventually committed suicide.


i was fired a year later from smith and williams in Pasadena for having the wrong attitude  and decided to give architectural tours  in my Volkswagen bus of los angeles, write a book with Barry to attract clients. augmented with a molded ceramic pots that Barry backed.   this venture lasted 3 months before i went  to san francisco and found a new job with
anchen and allen.  ironically barry ended up in san francisco and we continued our pottery quest and being close friends.


from san francisco i went off to cranbrook on a full scholarship for a masters in architecture,  and barry stayed in san francisco and did the magazine “rags” a fashion magazine on the hippie tie dye era. barry became the photographer for the rolling stones magazine and covered wood stock. barry did a book on the photos and continued to give lectures and shows until his death.


barry came from money and was never broke and could sponsor our projects.  i sent letters for support which he backed..    he looked at me as an  artist architect, but to pull this off one has to go all out with start up funding, barry was  practical with his money, and the ceramic pot business lacked funding to promote. 


he had his own airplane which he enjoyed. 


he photographed a gallery show of mine in walnut creek in 1976 on the biomorphic biosphere.


he became a book publisher and was successful at that. doing a beautiful book on the golden gate bridge.   in his wild days he did a book on women’s breasts.  

 
he had a house in williams  which was north of san francisco  on 5.  i visiting him, and  ended up in a road house with live loud music and dancing which erupted into a brawl,  all fascinating to me,   barry was small in stature and not physical and sensed danger,  he demanded we leave.


barry had a lovely ballerina wife  juliana that ended in divorce.  he always the ladies man. small in stature,  a good listener, and had money,  women found him harmless and adorable,   but hard to get him to commit.  
Barry obituary in the new York times showed he had powerful rich friends,  i asked for those names, but he kept me out of his fame world.


his last major effort to hook up with me was in joshua tree in 2017 for a gallery show i had.   he got swamped in Santa Fe and could not make it.    when i discovered he had Lou Gehrig’s disease, i told him to go all out natural. and i found things on google to explore.  but he said he had a great doctor and went the western medicine way.    his last emails in 2020 saying he was dying with lou gehrig’s disease, als,  and it was awful, he could not talk anymore. on the phone. 


an accomplished artist. lived an exciting positive life that will be missed.   a good friend .


see  barron wolman  obituary in the guardian,  new york times etc.  which applauds  his life. 

david mesa architect:


david was a student of mine at cal poly pomona in 1969-1971 and we were close until his death last spring.of 2021.


david’s father a native american  was a semi pro baseball player.  he and his mother both alcoholics and david was beaten as a youth by his father on a regular basis.  his brother was a couple of years older,  so david got his brother to make a fake id card to allow david to go into the army.  since he was a native american the army made him a radio operator.  while on night patrol with us rangers in vietnam , a girl on a water buffalo opened up with an ak47 and blasted the patrol,  as luck would have it,  the radio on david’s  back saved his life and he ended up in the hospital recuperating  once they found out he was 16 years old he was discreetly discharged from the army. 


he returned to the states and ended up in  junior college, where he had natural drawing skills and eventually was rewarded by being accepted into the architectural program at cal poly. pomona.  ray kappe related to david graphic talents and got him a grant in aid to clean up the facility. david  sleeping in his car and under tables as needed.


i crited and encouraged david.  david graduated and went off into the world of drafting in large offices. living in an allyn morris  duplex in  huntington park   when sci-arc started david was an assistant of mine in a drawing class.  there he met carla, a blond beauty from orange county that was rebelling and david and her fell in love.  the wedding in the bradberry building, the classic wrought iron buiding in downtown los angeles wth open cage elevators in a central couryard interior space.  the best of the best.   they had two children together. a boy and a girl.


carla threw a birthday party for him at the  frank lloyd wright hollyhock house and served hamburgers, his favorite food.  david was appalled,  but it make perfect sense to me.


when i was working on the green machine i was invested in the stock market and got a wind fall profit,  so i decided to hire david to head the office.  well the stock market collapsed and i lost almost everything .  what the government funded for the green machine was not enough for david to live on with his family,   david had given notice to l his boss kirt meyer, so he had to ask for his job back.   which was a real downer for david, because kirt meyer was abusive to david.  a screw up of mine that hurt david.  


karla left david and it crushed him,  i living in santa monica regrouping myself after being no longer with sci-arc and returning from oregon to try and make a go of it with jan mardian.  eventually getting an opportunity to go to nicaragua,   i and david investing in nicaragua with roger lewites a former student of mine, who promised huge returns and being part of a new major land development with all the right connections.   roger’s  uncle herty lewites who eventually became the mayor of managua..   david liking the country, but wary of the place for good reasons. 


lucia small my film maker daughter interviewed david for her film  “my father the genius.”  david at ease and confident with his comments.  


i did end up building significantly in nicaragua   but left in 2005.   david having his own office and working for the parks and recreation of los angeles which got him security financially  building a major remodel residence for himself in highland park next to the pasadena arroyo.david helping me financially when i went belly up in oregon.


tragically david had a stroke that left his right side paralyzed   i there in 2015 to help him,  but all hopes vanished of a recovery and he was in pain and depressed..  my last visit before the pandemic,   he saying i was his father and he wanted to die.


so sad,  because i lived in the desert and visited him so seldom.  he refusing to talk on the phone.
a tough life that had  happy times, but tragic health and relationships brought him much pain.

eric chavkin:


up for the moment eric.  constantly on stage.  a student, critic, and friend.


a vivid memory of eric doing the PRISYADKA (Russian Squat Kick TUTORIAL) at a party of mine with my jewish folk song record.


his death was so unexpected and a shock to many.  what he meant to people was so different and wide spread.jay his younger brother lawyer provided background.


eric raised in new york, his mother wanted a child, so they adopted eric,  the joy of his parents  lives until a natural birth six years later of jay and his brother mark a couple of years after.  then all the attention tuned to his brothers and eric was desperate for attention from his mother.  his mother degrading him and his accomplishments.


eric was my student at sci-arc,  wanting to fit in, but at the same time questioning everything with other professors. he repeatedly being thrown out of classes.  he was into math and science and attended ucla and left it all to come to sci-arc.


he prided himself on challenging people.  ray kappe calling him ” the negative one”. his mentor was a professor called john knight, the aim of john was  to tear everything in architecture down, according to one of his students,  michael scanlon.   i was the one that got john his job at sci-arc.  john asked many questions,  we had a mixed relationship,  respect,  but at any moment could disagree. john  made students think, which was respected. 


eric and jan mardian were  lovers for years while students of mine.  jan mardian and i years later hooking up as a serious couple for four years.  jan in grieving tears at the celebration of erics death. jan recalling eric and her breaking into sea world and he talking to the dolphins, eric making his own class at sci-arc where he analyzed visual advertising.. describing the obvious and hidden meanings of the images, text, color, pitch etc.


eric spent a lot of time reviewing my work.  on the hong kong peak competition he did a descriptive story line with jan mardian,  eric taking all the credit, the description was cool and inventive.  on architnet he wrote i was the hesitant father of the green movement.


“Glen has the scope, the variations of forms and uses, the sheer output and again size. These are not Malcolm Wells bird-houses or gentle or underground works, This is in your face green. That’s why I look at Glen as the Big Daddy, The Father of Green Architecture. The works resonate like manifestos.”

“The exhibit at Assembly consists of several presentation models and lots of renderings, which are more like illustrations or painting. The imaginative renderings are what sets Small apart. They are all done by him, they are inventive not fantasy, and illustrates his proposals in a matter-of-fact scientific way. When asked who are his inspirations, almost none are architects. They are mostly engineers, scientists and philosophers. His latest renderings are proposals for a prototype Eco-Village in Nicaragua, and the Tropisphere, a suspended tensile framework to green cities.”The organizer and curator of the exhibit, Assembly and Archinect’s own Orhan Ayyüce, has put together a smart, focused, visual overview that also includes several lectures, workshops, a book and a screening of the documentary film MY FATHER THE GENIUS.a close friend of eric was orhan ayyuce architect, professor  and critic who broke down while describing his relationship with eric.  orhan saw the tslent of eric and had him write articles and bounce ideas around.  always close 


i once got him a job at dowarsky architectural firm,   he lasted a couple of days and i was told he was useless.  so the very thing he loved he had limited skills to make happen.  but he could crit and write.   barbara goldstein recognized his genius and had him write for the la architect magazine.  she now connected with stanford university distinguished career institute. 


eric married to the late allison a librarian for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. she abused him,  because he could not deliver the money for her life style.  he desperate for her love after she left him.  while together they were guests at all the big movie events in los angeles.  eric loved that.


the last  20 years eric was connected to moe, an Egyptian who shared with eric an enterprise of breaking into  houses and renting rooms to the destitute homeless. eric eventually ending up in the mid wilshire  in a spanish apartment with moe and transit renters.  erik having tons of books from two book stores he owned  that went belly up.   he got major investors to contribute like ray kappe, greg davis and martin mervel.  eric selling books on line when needing money.


unbeknown to me eric had a lawyer brother jay who stepped in when eric was broke and needed legal help.  jay coming to his rescue and paying his rent and carrying the rental contract.  jay having fond memories as a boy of eric his older brother chasing bullies away and protecting him and his younger brother mark .   jay understood eric and his limitations and greatness.  a kind soul and brother.


he treated my family kids fondly and will be missed by a broad array of friends.

photo by christine small

jim cooper: 


who is this tall blond basketball player, coming out from michigan to west LA.  that attends antioch college in yellow springs ohio,  to be close to my older sister phyllis .  a long ways to come for a summer date? 

i the young teenager was clueless why anyone would be interested in my sister.  jim wins her hand over bud,  the life of the party dark haired marlon brando,  he making the same trip west to court my sister.


the perfect uncle that had the large backyard that was the playground for all our eight kids.  he with my super clean sister phyllis,  had the dishes done 15 minutes after eating. surfing,  hiking, campfire beach parties  orchestrated in the beauty of southern california. 


jim a high-school teacher and counselor  his passion orchestrating  elaborate all school assemblies for peace .  refusing to be an administrator   because he wanted to be close to the students and disliked school politics.


many a fierce basketball game we had on his driveway court,  and later shooting horse when i was limited with movement,  he running around retrieving all loose balls and climbing a local mountain peak daily.


jim the silent backer of my work.  always sending architectural pictures and encouraging comments of my work.  when i in financial need coming through with the serious money to help me.


he proof read my blogs for awhile,  but found my writing style challenging.  but helped me when needed.

we so different with  political  views,  having many after dinner discussions.  my sister dying at 56.


jim confiding in me he suffered from depression saying he had not fulfilled his potential.  he receiving a personal letter from president ford for graduating top in his medical school in the army.   being the perfect home body, he saw in me the adventuresome one.  he, like my mother ,accepting my life style and never condemning me.  the bridge to connect all in the family.  helping my mother after my sister’s early death.


jim loved oregon, but never made the move,  recently telling me to go back to oregon.


yet after his death,  an unexpected stroke at 90 years,  all in the family backyard celebration, were  in agreement he was the best  brother, father, uncle, grandfather ,great grandfather, husband, friend,  brother and sister in law .  a testimony to a life cherished by many that will be missed.


in summary of my four friends it was evident that i relate to people that challenge the status quo, there is bond of being the outsider.  all of them respecting my work and encouraging me,  which is important in my dicy world.  i fortunate and grateful  to have had time with them.


glen

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3 comments

  1. Great you had these 4 people in your life Glen, and they could all see your amazing talent. Sorry they are no longer with us.

  2. hi dan,
    thanks for the understanding note
    this whole death thing of “thanks for the memories” is all around me at my age.
    the youth in control of the uncontrollable.
    here and now is what we have with a path for a future.
    the secret being to do something positive while we are here.
    glen

  3. glad i read this! you certainly have had an interesting and full llife…good that you are writing about it too! i am trying to get my writings done also before the memories fade too much. the process of reminiscing is arduous however and often sends me off on tangents that i never will be able to write about as they are too complex and multilevel! i hope we will further develop a friendship also in our remaining years…

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