It’s one of those beautiful California springtime mornings where the faint scent of flower blossoms lay lazily in the air, and the sun gently warms your face. We begin to walk up the driveway as the large white gates to the Beverly Hills home start to open as if it’s yawning itself awake slowly. We are greeted midway to the house by a dapper young man, smartly dressed, with a warm smile and friendly disposition. He helpfully gathers some of our equipment bags as he leads us up and into the house.
We are offered water and coffee as we begin to unpack and set-up for our interview. The background noise is that of faint laughter coming from one of the rooms in the back of the house. Suddenly, the sound of high-heels on the wood floors grow as we hear someone enter the room from behind us. We turn as a beautiful blonde, perfectly put together with a gentle smile, walks in. She stretches out her hand and with a soft, angelic-like voice, introduces herself as Jade Mills.
We wait in the elevator as it climbs to the top of the beautiful Brentwood office building. Video and photography equipment hanging loosely off our shoulders as we push our way from the elevator and into the hallway. The doors in front of us read “The Agency.” We are about to walk into one of the most creative, modern, and successful real estate agencies in the nation. However, what we’re buzzing about is what’s waiting behind those doors for us, the Principal and Partner of The Agency, Santiago Arana.
With our calls dropping and text messages being passed back and forth at a snail’s pace; the dramedy of trying to give directions to someone you have limited contact with ensues. Anyone who has spent time driving the winding hills of Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles can relate to the frustration of the horrible cell phone service. However, adding to that, we admit that we mistakenly scheduled the interview for 5 pm, on a weekday, in Laurel Canyon. Yes, we know. We know! If you are familiar with Los Angeles, or this area, I can imagine you’ve just felt some sort of rush hour PTSD at the thought. About an hour or so goes by until we finally are able to navigate and direct the commercial real estate mogul, Jay Luchs, to the interview location. Slightly stressed and a bit anxious that he had been driving around for that long, essentially lost in the hills, we rush to the gate to greet him. We begin to express our apologies, but before we can continue, he starts laughing. Neither annoyed nor disgruntled he explains that during this fiasco he turned on to a street and he saw chickens crossing the road. “I’m serious you guys! There were actually chickens, crossing the road. Look, I took a video of it!” He opens his phone and shows us a video where you indeed see chickens on the road and can also hear Jay’s muffled laugh coming through the phone recording.
Parking on the historic Laurel Canyon street, the ghosts of rock n roll royalty coupled with the faint spirit of the 60s and 70s hippie haven era, envelops us. Back in its hay day, Laurel Canyon was one of rock music’s most legendary LA neighborhoods. Home to countless famous musicians, who defined the very essence of the Sixties California sound. They included Neil Young, Carole King, Leon Russell, Stephen Stills, Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Jimmy Webb, and members of The Animals, and The Turtles. Director and writer Lisa Cholodenko once described Laurel Canyon as “Kind of lazy and kind of dirty and kind of earthy and sort of reckless.” Today, that free-spirited flower power vibe still lingers faintly in the air like a whisper, albeit hard to hear over the honking horns from LA traffic avoiders. The route is now filled with locals, evading the 101, trying to get into the city before having to text their bosses, “I’m sorry, I’m going to be late, traffic is horrendous!”