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816 Pacific Ave., Venice: The Bad Haircut

816 Pacific Ave., Venice: The Bad Haircut
Wendy Gilmartin

Did you ever go to a SuperCuts and ask for the cheapest haircut? 816 Pacific Ave. in Venice is the building equivalent of that bad decision.

Or maybe you've been the lucky recipient of one of those free do's from a local beauty school -- the kind that leaves you considering a wig? This apartment building is like that, too.

You know the one we're talking about -- the hatchet job that left you with the too-short bangs, the mess around the ears where they left it shaggy in a couple spots, the long-tamed but now revealed cowlick popping up again on top because they chopped too much off. It's the bad haircut you got before you had to go to your prom, your wedding, a hearing -- the one that left lasting damage.

On the other hand, 816 Pacific also looks like a jack-o-lantern cut by a 5-year-old with a machete. The Craigslist for-rent ad for this place must have read: "Steps from the beach," "Venice central" and "You're going to fall down on an uneven surface and land on something sharp."

The off-center pitch of the roof is a complete mystery, since the pointy gable is as fake as they come, much like the faux clay tile job on the neighboring apartment (which goes only a quarter of the way back and then stops). 816's Gumby head wraps around the front of the building -- the rest of the building has a flat roof, leaving us wondering why they wasted the money to buy the shingles. It's a party-in-the-front, business-in-the-back prosthetic that's been stretched off-kilter for some unknown reason.

No doubt the inside is filled with Tim Burton-esque funhouse rooms and hallways that stretch or get smaller as you walk in further. Maybe there are bathrooms with 4-foot-tall ceilings, stairs that go to nowhere and trapezoid-shaped bedrooms where a twin bed or any other normal piece of furniture would never fit. One can only dream of what's behind the severe slope of the front wall. Maybe a patio table with one leg shorter than the rest and a family of coneheads suntanning on triangular lawn chairs?

Despite its bold asymmetry, the strange construction choices exhibited in the bad haircut building at 816 Pacific Ave. keep it somehow in perfect, syncopated step with Venice's wacky vibe. The runny rusty streaks dripping off the upper patio give it a weathered, beachy charm, and its vast, white front wall is a welcome canvas for Venice's famous street artists and budding taggers.

There's even a hint of landscaping at the sidewalk -- and all hope for the bad haircut lies here. Right down in the crack at the corner of the building, one tiny, pathetic sprout is trying its best to grow fast and grow tall -- some day maybe branching out big enough to cover this hideous thing. Good luck, li'l buddy.

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