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Jan 8, 2016

Today’s story is about a family business that sells nothing. Alan Zorthian and his daughter, Caroline, are the owners and operators of Zorthian Ranch. It’s hard to say what their jobs actually are – other than being Zorthians.

Alan’s father, the artist Jirayr Zorthian, built the ranch more than seventy years ago. It resembles a sprawling village built of out of driftwood and washing machines, perched on the northeastern edge of L.A., beyond Pasadena and Altadena, over a wobbly bridge and up a dirt path.

Jirayr Zorthian’s most famous work of art was this ranch – the homemade buildings and sculptures as much as the legendary parties he threw there: parties where Charlie Parker performed to an increasingly naked audience; parties where Andy Warhol and Richard Feynman rubbed shoulders with Buckminster Fuller, and they all wandered around amid the goats and the bees and the artful piles of junk.

The ranch’s future is uncertain, and so The Organist sent a radio producer, Jen Rice, to find out what remains of Zorthian’s weird legacy.

Photos of Zorthian Ranch by Jen Rice and Amanda Siegel.

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