My childhood building blocks weren’t Lego, but rather my father’s rusty 1950’s Erector set. Judging by how much I enjoyed The Lego Movie, I didn’t know what I was missing. The fantastical comedy adventure opening this week showcases all the color and potential in those tiny Danish toys. The movie even has cameos from the vast army of Lego mini figures: Batman, Abraham Lincoln, and a tiny mariachi musician all show up to crack wise. Kid Chris would have flipped for a president in a miniature stovepipe hat.
All this joy over Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene blocks reminded me of the Pomona home of Bruce Emerton. Bruce is a librarian and one of my secret research weapons (what with his vast archive of Californiana). About a decade ago, he started covering the walls of his 1954 Cliff May house with plastic brick. The dining room alone took about three months to assemble. “I have no idea how many Legos are on the inside,” Bruce told me. “I will take to the grave how much these walls cost me!” One wall on the exterior was covered with much larger bricks, but Emerton removed those after a windstorm toppled some of them, and he grew tired of lookie-loos trespassing to get a peek. The exterior wall was made from lower priced Canadian Mega Bloks. “I had to go to about 30 Wal-Mart and Target stores… most only had a few bags,” Emerton said. “It took almost a year to get enough.” Check out Bruce’s blog Architecture On The Edge for tours of Palm Springs, imaginary TV architects, and my favorite entry: The Cow Sheds Of Chino.
Photographs by Bruce Emerton