vivianThe Hancock Park-adjacent neighborhood bordered by Larchmont and Van Ness to the west and east, and Melrose and Beverly to the north and south is really a gem. Quiet, tree-lined streets front well-kept single-family homes in a variety of styles, along with duplexes, quads, and a smattering of larger multi-unit apartment buildings.

As a student attending Hollywood’s Le Conte Junior High I lived some of my 7th and all of my 8th and 9th grade years on Wilton Place just one block further east of Van Ness and I would regularly bike or skateboard through there for the welcome respite and change of scenery it provided. See, Wilton was something of a dividing line.  East of it to Western and beyond there was much more intrusion in the way of boxy 1950s and ’60s era apartments, and the residences that remained just seemed a bit shabbier and wearier than those standing a bit more confidently behind the much greener lawns west of Wilton where time seemed to march much more slowly.

In all my explorations past though I never found The Vivian — or let’s just say it never registered. But it did after getting ticketed on my bike this summer and as a result diverting my course to avoid the stop sign at Larchmont and Clinton where it happened. Now, as I make my way north up Larchmont from Beverly I turn right at the light at Rosewood, a block south of Clinton, and take that east over to Bronson and there’s The Vivian on my left before I get to Melrose and head further east.

Besides being an old-style apartment building with an absolutely unique name, its most charming feature is its simple still-working neon sign that I’ve long wanted to snap, but didn’t until I forced myself to pull over on my way home Friday night.

Being that neon’s as beloved by me as it is a difficult thing to capture with a handheld camera it took several exposure adjustments and snaps until I got one that did it justice (click the image for the bigger picture). If any tenants chanced glances out their windows they would have seen me somewhat self-consciously trying and failing not to look suspicious. Soon I was on my way toward home and the weekend that awaited.

With its stone’s-throw proximity to the hallowed fortress of Paramount Studios to the north, if The Vivian’s sign could talk I’d bet it could no doubt tell of shining down upon the joys and sorrows of a procession of would-be stars living there while trying to storm that castle and make their Hollywood dreams come true.