The author tells of how he once loved the Case Study houses, commissioned from several modern architects by Arts & Architecture magazine in the years after World War II with the goal of developing a new style of housing in southern California, and why he eventually came to see those houses as part of what holds Los Angeles and other Californian cities back from classically urban levels of density and functionality. He argues that the “house culture” instilled by the Case Study houses and other single-use, single-family-house-oriented forms of residential architecture have caused more problems for the Californian city than even its oft-criticized “car culture.”
The author, a resident of Los Angeles's Koreatown, travels to Seoul in order to compare the Korean culture where he lives with the culture of South Korea's capital. There he finds that, while he has spent years in Koreatown dreaming of the Korea he would one day experience, South Koreans have developed their own California dreams, which manifest in the clothes, advertisements, and businesses seen all around Seoul, as well as in the conversations he has with Koreans. Even the establishments in Korea’s forward-looking capital city that preserve the Korean past, such as a 1970s-themed music bar, present their own versions of the Californian dream.