Not often is Van Nuys convinced it is a community, but last night, about 40 of us pretended it was, and gathered in the Columbus Avenue School to hear LAPD’s Senior Lead Office Vince DiMauro talk about the crimes that are a trademark of our district: prostitution, gangs, tagging, noise, and vacant properties.
We were in a well-ordered academic hall, which I had last seen at my elementary school, Lincoln Hall in Lincolnwood, IL some four decades ago.
An upright piano, lunch tables stacked into the walls like Murphy beds, a state and a national flag on either side of the stage, a cop speaking kindly to attentive citizens, present among us were these venerable elements of American civic life and values.
And then Donna from the Mary Magdalene Foundation got up to present her plea for the prostitute as victim, which set off some incendiary cerebral explosion in one of the candidates, who found her characterization of whore as human indefensible. His outburst provoked some other outbursts, but the uproar lasted only briefly, and back into good manners we went.
Middle-aged and older women provided, as they usually do, the moral backbone of the meeting. Voices, articulate, erudite, educated, spoke of grating and gross indecencies in the hood: thumping boom-box music parties, tagging, pot smoking derelicts, trash, litter, burglaries. Looking around at the room, at some of the carefully lip-sticked pale faces, nice tailored burgundy jackets and lovely little pink cardigans, one temporarily forgot that outside these school doors life was grosser, poorer and coarser.
Some of the attendees last night came out and admitted to being long-time residents of Van Nuys. One man moved here in 1958, others had been here since 1965, 1973, 1979. They had stayed here, lived and loved it, every bit as much as Sandra Tsing-Loh hated it. And it was those lovers of Van Nuys who go to community meetings. And dare to imagine that life can lawful and orderly, clean and respectful, decent and courageous.
Optimism, inserted into despondency, can be revolutionary.
Without cars, without traffic, without parking, Los Angeles would be a much pleasanter place.
Rage, anger, aggression all the lovely emotions that cars and drivers emit, all of it would go away.
But until that day, we have parking lots, and we have people who abuse handicap parking.
My late father was handicapped for five years, going from cane to walker to wheelchair, so I have a particular familiarity with disablement. Now my mother walks with a cane and also has a sticker to hang from her rear view car mirror.
I am temporarily not old or disabled.
This morning, as I was driving away from LA Fitness in Van Nuys, a woman turned in front of me, and pulled her Black VW Rabbit right into the first disabled person space near the gym entrance. She got out of the car, a woman about 35, in her spandex and sneakers, fast going into the facility. I shouted out to her, “This is a handicap space”. To which she replied, walking fast, “I am a handicap…”
Parking Enforcement Bureau
Later on, I decided to report her. And this is where it gets funny. 818-752-5100 told me to call 818-756-8438 and when I called 818-756-8438 they told me to call 5100 again and press “option #2″. Then I called 5100 and a person answered and said there was no option 2. I told her I wanted to report the illegal use of handicap at LA Fitness on Sepulveda near Erwin. She said, “Sir, I need an address. Erwin at Sepulveda in Van Nuys is not an address.” I went home and turned on my computer and called them back with the proper address: 6161 Sepulveda. Then they asked me what cross streets the address was near! The answer: Erwin/Sepulveda.
It’s a small matter, one of the small illegalities I often mention in this blog. Yes, it’s just abuse of a handicap placard. Compared to murder, assault, drive-by shootings, or a meth lab, it’s not much. So just let it pass. Let the trash pile up, let the taggers tag, let the streets be swamped with garage sales, let the whores work, let the johns get blown, let the dogs bark all night, let it go baby, let it go….
Van Nuys Burglary Detectives are reporting serveral residential burgalries took place over the weekend in the area of RD991 (Mullholland Drive to Beverly Glen to Valley Vista Blvd. to the 405 Freeway.) All of these took place during daytime hours.
Several other burgalaries also occured in RD966 (Woodwan Ave to the 101 Freeway to Fulton Ave to Chandler Blvd.) Suspects are described at four male Hispanics, 20-25 years old driving a 2004-2007 Totota Camry or Nissan Altima metalic gold in color. Suspects were also discribed as wearing LA Dodger apparel.
In many of these burglaries the suspected enetered through open attached garages which gave them access to the residence.
If you have any additional information please call Van Nuys Burglary Detective Robert Kraus at firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-374-0031.
The following post has nothing to do with Van Nuys….
Looking back on events and news stories that once excited or amused Southern California, I came across this odd story found in the USC Digital Archives Collection.
It seems that in 1960, a group of San Fernando Valley women wanted to attend a meeting of the San Gabriel Humane Society. And they were excluded, which caused a ruckus, requiring a cop to come and restore order.
At the center of one photo, an old disabled woman, sitting in a wheelchair, covered in a plaid blanket, wears a fur hat, and is attended to by a young actress in a fur stole, Lily Fontaine.
The whole scene is very Hitchcockian, infused with a newsreel documentary feel, but somehow feels other worldly, very Twilight Zone. The women, stocky, frumpy, self-assured, are dressed in the workaday woolen dresses and coats of that time, and had gone somewhere out of their comfort zone, deep into the San Gabriel Valley, for humanitarian reasons. The motorcycle cop is like the mirrored sunglasses cop in Psycho (1960) who pulls up behind Marion Crane asleep in her parked car and knocks her awake.
Old photos show old fashions, clothing that was meant to cover up and to theatricalize. Ordinary events: car crashes, people eating lunch, women standing around, look interesting to us. They are interesting because the participants are in costumes: they are on a stage, they are emoting with sartorial gestures. Women in capes, women in furs, women in hats, women in earrings, women in heels; these are special and ornamented and enriching.
Most likely this photo depicts an utterly banal and boring event. But it looks like something fun because of the formality of the wearers.
What mission they were on, we cannot know. But they were stopped from completing it, and left outdoors, to commiserate and to contemplate, one day, 52 years ago.
“Photographer: Swaim. Date: 1960-01-21. Reporter: Swaim. Assignment: Humane hassle. 37/38: Group of woman [sic] (part of the 30) who were excluded from meeting of San Gabriel Valley Humane Society. They claim to be members. In wheelchair in center is Mrs. Elizabeth Cummer of Studio City. Stooping to talk to her is Lily Fontaine, Encino actress. 25: Shot from outside fence, showing San Gabriel officer who was sent to keep order.
Even in 1951, there were some unsavory people in Van Nuys.
Just like today, the derelicts tended to be good looking, tanned, tattooed…and some even wore leather pants, something not even attempted by modern criminals. Seemingly self-absorbed and stupid, they were unaware of how lucky they were to live in the immediate post-war era, a time before rock and roll, satellites, the Edsel and the Corvette, or pocket radios.
This photograph is from the Los Angeles Examiner Collection at the USC Digital Library Archives, and is dated May 15, 1951.
Only 24 months ago, I served on a jury in a civil case in downtown Los Angeles.
So once again, this week, I was back on jury duty, incarcerated downtown at the Los Angeles County Criminal Courts Building, a block long concrete columned behemoth, entered into, below-grade, through metal detection and guard inspection, where jurors, law enforcement, lawyers and defendants pour into packed and aging elevators lifted up to wait in assigned rooms and airless lobbies.
Disinterested, lazy, unschooled, unaware, constitutionally illiterate, heads and eyes sunk into ipads and mobile phones, we potential jurors and dispensers of justice sat in a large room as loud speakers called off our names and turned us loose into lines for jury selection.
Duty and obligation, law and punishment, boredom and frustration, the mind of the jurist is guilty of all these thoughts, guilty upon entrance into the court building, in fear of punishment for violating orders, controlled and commanded by authority.
Rules, numbers, badges, deputies, bailiffs, witnesses; the mind reels as the minute hand on the clock, slowly, ticks and tocks, and then, mercifully, lunch time, an hour and a half to eat and walk around Grand Park and downtown, and then, at 1:30, you are back in the courtroom.
This is the only job left in America with an hour and a half lunch break.
Do people lie under oath? As the judge questioned 35 potential jurors in my group, it seemed that every one of us was gainfully employed and heterosexual, with children in college, unbiased, open-minded, without prejudice. Does that sound true?
The judge, white-haired, kindly, articulate and Anglo-Saxon was cast in MGM studio munificence. In his world, all men have wives, they work, their children grow up and get educated and get jobs.
With great relief, I was rejected as a juror, and released into the daylight of downtown Los Angeles.
Outside a new wind blew, clearing the clammy air and fetid particles away. The great classical spire of City Hall stood over the new green park and I reached into my backpack and pulled out my camera.
And I walked down to Pershing Square, just enjoying the walk, that feeling of freedom, a photographer on foot.
And I thought of my family friend, for just a second, sitting in prison in Cancun, accused of murder. How must it feel to lose your liberty and be turned over to the state, under the indifferent machinery of “justice”?
And I walked more, down to the area near Skid Row, where the streets are packed with indigent and beat up black men, ravaged by misfortune, soaked in alcohol and sadness, hanging on in the sun and pleading for mercy.
What made them different from me? Nothing but luck, the luck of being born into better conditions.
This was yesterday. This was downtown Los Angeles in 2012. But it could have been any year.
And then I came back on the train and the bus to Van Nuys where reality is the home computer in front of me.
According to an email letter sent out by Van Nuys LAPD Senior Lead Officer Steve Underwood….
A37 and A19 areas are undergoing some personnel changes.
A37 has not had a working Senior Lead Officer for the last 18 months.
But on November 4th, 2012 Officer Underwood will again be 9SLO37
And A19 is covered by Van Nuys Area Officer John Larsen…but only temporarily.
A37 and A19 are secret code names for various sections of Van Nuys.
If residents of either A37 or A19 see crime they are urged to report it to either the new officer or the temporary officer assigned to that district.
“Community members and friends,
A change is upon us. As many of you know there has been a bit of movement in our
Van Nuys Area Senior Lead Office. It is SLO Steve Underwood’s turn to move to another basic car area.
There has been a vacancy in the Greater Valley Glen area also known as A37. This area has not had a working permanent Senior Lead Officer in approximately 18 months. Effective Sunday, November 4th, SLO Steve Underwood will be 9SLO37, again serving a large portion of the community south of Victory Boulevard.
The area known as A19 is still in good hands. Van Nuys Area Officer John Larsen
(email: email@example.com) also effective Sunday, November 4th will be temporarily assigned to 9SL19. Officer Larsen has a thorough work history and has served the Van Nuys community for over four years. His experience will be an asset to the Senior Lead Office. Officer Larsen can be contacted from my City Cell phone number (818-731-2566). While the names may change the cell phone numbers will stay the same.
I will do my best to introduce Officer Larsen to the A19 community and make the transition a smooth one.
This change is not intended to create a negative affect but instead it’s intended to be a positive transition and strengthen the greater Van Nuys Community.
Please, contact Officer Larsen a help him continue to make the community strong and safe.
It has been my distinct pleasure serving the people that live and conduct business in the A19 area. I am not leaving the SLO Office or the Van Nuys Area and can still be contacted through my email.
I look forward to seeing you soon,
Van Nuys Area, LAPD
Senior Lead Office
From the always wondrous USC Digital Library:
On June 11, 1951 there was a shooting at a Van Nuys liquor store.
Wounded was Frank M. Bailey.
Last Wednesday evening, August 22nd, a speeding teen from Glendale jumped the curb at Magnolia and Ben and decapitated a fire hydrant and concrete light pole. 4,800 volts of lethally electrified water gushed out. Two women, Stacey Lee Schreiber, 39, and Irma Zamora, 40, raced to help and were killed when they stepped into the high voltage water. The teen driver survived.
Curiosity and morbidity drove me over to Ben Avenue in North Hollywood yesterday. I parked near the accident corner. A woman placed flowers at a temporary shrine where many candles and hand-written notes expressed grievance and condolence.
Ben Avenue needs no more pain.
Broken sidewalks and brown lawns, dog shit and peeling paint, rattan blinds pulled down outside windows, the 5200 block of Ben Avenue is a hanging-on kind of place oddly jumbled and cheaply built, where 1940s houses sit next to 1960s apartments and nothing seems permanent but the certainty of sadness, decline and loss.
And something tragic and preventable blew in here last week, and murdered without reason, two innocent women who knew nothing but empathy for their executioner.
Victor Davis Hanson lays out a compelling and logical argument why illegal immigration is immoral in the National Review.
A new LAPD blog, http://nw91401.org/ focuses on community issues, especially crime, for those residents who live in 91401, a zip code district of Sherman Oaks bounded by Burbank Blvd on the north, Chandler Blvd on the south, Hazeltine Ave on the west, and Woodman Ave on the east.
Sherman Oaks is increasingly dependent on blogs which connect neighbors and publish crime and safety information.
This happened at my house in Van Nuys last week. Someone knocked on the door and asked if “Byron” was here. I answered the door (without opening it). I noticed the suspect had backed up his pickup truck in my driveway. I captured his license plate. I called the LAPD.
This is from Woodland Hills LAPD:
Advisory Message has been issued by the LAPD – Topanga Station.
Wednesday June 22, 2011 1:24 PM PDT
Information regarding burglaries taking place in the Woodland HIlls area.
Within the past couple of months, Topanga Division has had a string of residential burglaries in Woodland Hills. The suspects in these burglaries have been kicking in the front door of the house when there is no answer to a knock or door-bell ring. Historically, burglaries occur in the daytime when people are at work, as this is when there is a less likely chance that they are going to be seen or caught.
Since there are a number of residents in the area who stay home in the daytime, you may experience or have already experienced a solicitor who knocks on your door. When you open the door, they may appear surprised and come up with a quick response as to why they were at your door such as, “Sorry, wrong residence” or “I’m looking for somebody.” Whatever the excuse is, be cognizant of their description and of any vehicles they arrive/drive away in. They could be casing your house and checking to see if you are home.
A few weeks ago, on Wells Drive and Canoga Avenue, a resident approached the inside of their front door after someone knocked. The victim quietly looked through the peep hole and observed a tall, medium build, male Black wearing a baseball cap standing on her porch. As the victim quietly moved to open the door the suspect kicked it in believing that no one was home. The suspect was then confronted by the victim, and fled from the location.
We believe that the suspects are moving around the area in a vehicle and possibly working as a team of 3-4 people. There will possibly be a “lay off” person who approaches your door, and a “look out” person on the sidewalk or in the vehicle on their cell phone. In the past, the suspects have been known to reverse their vehicle into the driveway of the house and park there, as if they live there. The suspect vehicle has also been known to leave the house and wait down the street while the suspects ransack your property. The suspect’s vehicle will return after they have gathered all your belongings and placed them by the door. The suspects can be male or female.
Be on the look-out for this type of activity and contact 911 if you believe that the suspect could be casing your residence or your neighbors. If it is possible to safely do, please get a license plate number of the suspicious vehicle. Please forward this and any other pertinent information to your Senior Lead Officer. For full details, go to https://local.nixle.com/alert/4703971/?sub_id=264372.
What if you were at home around Noon and there was a loud pounding on your front door?
You went to answer it and a young Latino said, “Oh, hey. I was just looking for Byron”.
When you told him there was no Byron at this address, he said, “OK thanks!”
And if you went out and followed him, you would see that he had backed his gold pickup truck into your driveway and that he had a CA License 8M59236.
A truck full of boxes. Backed into a driveway of home where he was not expected…..
Would you not think that this person was casing the hood and intending to find houses where nobody was home?
This is what happened here today and all people should be aware that this type of suspect and dubious and possibly criminal activity is going on all over the city.
And if this person was truly looking for Byron…I hope he finds him working at LAPD’s Van Nuys Division.
From SLO/LAPD’s Ron Carter:
Last night (Monday) our Officers responded to two (2) underground parking lot robberies, where the suspect was armed and property was taken by force from the victims. The location of these incidents was in the 15200 block of Valleyheart Drive in Sherman Oaks, in the 15000 block of Victory Boulevard and a third in North Hollywood, but the method used was similar for all of them.
The suspect was described as a Male Black, Gray sweatshirt with hoodie and a dark bandana. He approached the victim and pointed a handgun. The suspect demanded money and jewlery. The suspect took cash and then went through the victim’s purse, fleeing on foot.
Please remember that if you are entering your parking structure, it is important to first scan the exterior as well as the interior, before you enter or exit from your residence. Check your side-view and rear-view mirrors as you enter, making sure that there is no one standing nearby waiting to follow you into the parking area. It is common for these criminals to wait for a car to enter, let them pull forward into their parking spot and then sneak into the garage while the gate is still open or closing. As a good neighbor, it would be recommended that you practice this technique and let it become a habit which will keep you safer and also help to keep your neighbors safer as well.
The issue is that we all seem to be in a hurry these days, myself included, and this prevents us from taking simple precautions that are necessary anywhere at home, in the State and across the Country and abroad. Criminals are the same everywhere and are becoming increasingly keener in their use of technology, disguises and distractions.
What do I do if I see a prowler loitering nearby to my parking garage, you may ask? Well, first of all, stay focused on your surroundings and if you are feeling uneasy, do not enter the parking lot. Go around the block and return to see if this person is still there. Depending on his actions, this may be a “911″ call for a “prowler suspect there now“, or for any other criminal actions that you observe. Stay calm, but try to give a good description of this suspect, including gender, descent, height & weight, clothing and any unusual features. If this person is seen running away or leaving the location, please try to give the Operator a direction of travel so Officers can try to locate this individual and determine his/her business in the area.
Please remember that your Police Department does not want you to become confrontational, but to obtain this information from a safe place. You are extremely valuable to us and we wouldn’t want anything to happen to anyone.
Thank you for all your hard work to make our communities safer and for taking the time to read this and distribute it to other family, friends and neighbors. “
S.L.O. Ron Carter
from SLO Ron Carter, LAPD, who works in the Van Nuys area:
Dear LAPD Family & Friends,
Some of these items were identifiable by name, but there were other items that cannot be readily tracked back to their owners. If anyone has had any collectable “Betty Boop” items taken from the scene of a car break-in (BFMV) please contact the Van Nuys Auto Detectives at (818) 374-0020. We are also looking for the owners of additional items, such as many car stereos (possibly unreported by the car-owners) , Leather Bags, belt-buckles, back-packs, motor-cycle helmets and assorted other items. If you can describe any of the items that were recovered, please call our Detectives.
At two of the recent break-ins along Colbath Avenue, there was nothing noted as missing, however, these criminals have taken paperwork, personal bank statements, smaller items, etc., so please re-examine your vehicles if you reprted the windows smashed but found nothing apparently missing and then contact our Detectives or myself.
From LAPD Senior Lead Officer Ron Carter who works in the Van Nuys Division:
Sunday, December 26, 2010, 4:22 PM
Dear LAPD Family & Friends,
Just wanted to give you a little taste of the outstanding Police-Work that is being accomplished in your communities.
On December 22nd at about 5:00 p.m. I overheard a radio call regarding an Assault with a Deadly Weapon and shot-fired in the 14400 block of Kittridge Street. The Victim had been pistol-whipped by a gang-member, who thought that he was also a gang-member. Well, he wasn’t and as he was struck with the weapon, a shot went off, missing the victim.
Units arriving put out the vehicle description and suspect description and within a half hour or so, the vehicle was located by one of our Gang-Units. The driver turned out his lights and tried to evade our officers, who stuck with him.
The suspect crashed his car along Hart Street (13900 block) and a foot-pursuit began. The suspect knew the area, since his parents lived there and tried desperately to get away from officers. He was trapped within a one block area and after a lengthy and extensive search by the Canine Units (K-9), our Gang Officers, Patrol Officers, Air-Ship (Helicopter) and some help from the community with calls about a prowler in the area, he was eventually located hiding to the rear of a residence along the 6800 block of Ranchito Avenue.
The weapon used in this and other Assaults in the area and in Mission Division was recovered and this bad-guy, who was on parole, is now headed back to prison. No one was seriously injured and a career criminal was removed from our streets. Lots of calls came to me while we were standing on the perimeter watching for the suspect to jump out and run.
I want to remind you that if you have Police in your area, especially with the helicopters and dogs being sent out for a search, please stay inside your homes, with the doors locked, lights on and remain inside until you hear the helicopters leave. While searching for an armed suspect, we had many residents trying to drive through our perimeter and really not aware that anything was going on. Our job is to keep you safe and get the bad guys before they get away. In this case, he did not get away and your patience during this 4-5 hour search was most appreciated.
This is only one of several outstanding arrests being made daily by your Police Department. The Basic Car officers for my Basic Car (9A19) today arrested a heroin addict with a slide punch (used to smash windows) and several GPS devices and other electronic devices taken from BFMV’s (Burglary from motor vehicles) in the area. Great arrest and Officer Amores does it again. This arrestee is likely responsible for most of, if not all of the rampage that happened in my reporting district 0926 from the 22nd to the 24th. Again, valuables being left in cars is attracting these bad-guys.
Just a day or so ago, more than $3,000 in lap-tops, Mp-3 and other electronic devices was taken from the rear of the Norm’s at Sherman Way and Woodman Avenue. These items were in plain sight and unattended. Please lock them in your trunk if you are not able to take them home and please remember to remove the charger from your cigarette-lighter. This is also a clue that other items may be in the console. Together we can make a difference.
Happy New Year from your Senior Lead Officer and Van Nuys Division!
S.L.O. Ron Carter
VAN NUYS – A male motorist was shot to death early Friday morning as he drove in Van Nuys, a Los Angeles police officer said. The shooting occurred about 1:15 a.m. on Vanowen Street near Sepulveda Boulevard.
The victim was driving eastbound on Vanowen Street when someone fired at his car. He continued driving after being shot until his car crashed into a fence, the officer said.
Gunshot puts man in hospital on Thanksgiving Day
11/25/2010 – VAN NUYS – A man was shot and wounded in Van Nuys and was in stable condition at a hospital Thursday, a police sergeant said.
An overworked friend, who works on one of those ghastly afternoon talk shows, called me on Sunday from his job and asked me if I might appear on “Dr….” to speak about Bruce Beresford-Redman.
I will not. I will only write a few words here.
The story, as many know it, involves the murder of Bruce’s wife on a family vacation down in Cancun.
Monica and Bruce were unhappily married and then she was unspeakably dead.
Even when you know someone for over 30 years, as I know Bruce, one cannot see into every recess of his mind. One can only appraise actions, and impressions, and various highlights that come to mind…….
Bruce is very smart. Sarcastic, witty, well read, arrogant and quiet. He is tall and strong, with those squinty eyes, broad shoulders and a hyphenated name that inspire others to attribute masculine qualities and unspoken wisdom to him.
Bruce was my brother’s friend and business associate, and brought out to Hollywood and pushed into the lowest and least artful side of the television business. Like a log floating down a river of gold, Bruce sailed into some good paying jobs, working on idiotic reality shows with long hours and zero art.
As far as I know, Bruce had no love or passion for entertainment. He merely worked hard and got into a certain line of work. He hated executives. He hated bullshit. He hated Hollywood. He never socialized. He didn’t drop names. He wasn’t impressed with Bel Air or the back lot. He had no great dream of producing something of substance. He just went along and pitched and hoped he might make a buck. He had no goals but somehow he achieved them.
And he met his wife the same way. She may have gotten him excited, early on, but mostly they were miserable and he was stuck. Passive, lazy, unfullfilling, desperate were his days of matrimony. He may have had a way out of his storyline, but he lacked a writing partner.
In his dealings with my family, he was stalwart, loyal, supportive, kind, sweet, strong and respectful. Nobody that knows him ever saw him lose his temper. He never was arrested. He never swung his fists. He had no tattoos on his body. He didn’t take drugs. He hardly drank.
He seems to have slept with women other than his wife. I have no statistics to verify but that must be a very rare condition and certainly worthy of worldwide condemnation.
If there was any aesthetic side to Bruce, I never saw it. He dressed like a slob with sartorial indifference. His wedding invitations were sent out by email. He hung out with big smelly dogs and he wore big smelly shoes.
He bought an ugly house in treeless, flat Gardena whose backyard was paved with concrete and entombed with cinder block walls. He bought another house in Marina Del Rey, a vertical McMansion along a busy siren plagued street across from a sewage filled lake. He sold the Marina house and moved with Monica and their two children to a foggy, lifeless retirement type housing estate in Rancho Palos Verdes, 45 minutes from LA, where every home looked like every other. He was only in his mid-30s, but he had thrown in the towel.
Marooned on a peninsula, living in perpetual fog, surrounded by silent neighbors, haunted by low clouds grazing the top of his 5,000 square foot ranch house, he spent his free time with his kids in a small yard with big plastic toys.
He traveled to partying and celebratory Brazil and rumor had it that he didn’t socialize with his wife’s boisterous family and friends. He camped out in a room by himself.
His great moves and loves and purchases were all consumed without passion. Drolly and languorously and amorphously he worked, married, procreated, mortgaged, philandered, vacationed and perhaps, killed.
I am reminded in Bruce’s entropy and vacuous achievement of Mr. Sheldrake, the cheating boss, played by Fred MacMurray in Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment”. He explains his infidelity to Fran (Shirley MacLaine):
But just ask yourself — why does a
man run around with a lot of girls?
Because he’s unhappy at home –
because he’s lonely, that’s why –
Sometime yesterday morning, someone walked up my neighbor’s driveway, opened a wooden gate, and smashed a windowpane on a French door, breaking in and burglarizing the home.
It was creepy, frightening, invasive and disgusting. Nobody was injured, but a computer and a TV were stolen.
The house is so close that I can see the burglarized door from my bathroom window. And I have lived here for ten years and I am keenly aware of the ever-present threat of crime that permeates life in Los Angeles.
Last week someone was shot at the intersection of Sepulveda and Victory. That is considered normal and not even worthy of conversation.
The petty crimes are what I see, the quality of life infractions that drive me crazy. People who sit in their cars and then throw food wrappers and sodas into the gutter. Cars that run red lights. Skratchitti etched into public bathroom mirrors and service station gas pumps. Illegal garage sales that go on 52 weekends a year. People living in the street and people walking the street for sex.
But these are outside of the home. When a stranger invades your house, and burglarizes, you feel diminished, weak, vulnerable, angry and dehumanized.
And though ADT and the LAPD tell you there are ways to fool criminals, we all eventually pay for the lawlessness of our city and neighborhoods.
Pulling into my favorite falafel restaurant’s parking lot in Studio City today, I noticed that a corner store had been converted in a medical marijuana dispensary.
The storefront had frosted glass windows, a white cross inside a green square sign and a reassuring slogan: “healing the community since 1996.”
With every new dispensary and with every sign that marijuana is being normalized I feel sad.
I voted for the recently defeated Proposition 19, which would have made some possession of marijuana legal and under state jurisdiction. I did it because prosecution and enforcement of marijuana is truly a waste of time and money.
But Marijuana is still a grand waster of humans, nonetheless.
I grew up in 1970s, when smoking pot was a badge of coolness for many a non-student, non-jock. Around 8th Grade, many unpopular, un-athletic, un-achieving kids gathered in friend’s basements or along the railroad tracks and smoked reefer. Perhaps that is a grand stereotype, but smoking pot was the anti-hero way of gaining admission to a bad club.
Many of my friends smoked, and I occasionally got high. And in those days of high metabolism when I could eat anything and still have a six-pack, the brownies, potato chips, ice cream and Oreos were consumed guiltlessly and eaten ravenously.
One winter break, I flew from NJ to Southern California and visited a friend who kept a bong in his bedroom. While his parents watched TV out in the Living Room, we took hits inside his room.
Suddenly, I felt like I was out of my body. My heartbeat shot up. My head was flush. I was dizzy and I was terrified. I walked out of the bedroom and into the other room and told his parents what we had been doing. I collapsed onto the couch and started screaming and demanded they call the paramedics.
The next day, I recovered and slept. But for years afterward, I had a visceral fear and hatred of pot. I thought that the drug had caused my panic attack, but my panic actually was induced by my own mind.
Marijuana doesn’t endanger lives. But it degrades them. Daily smoking erases the sharp outlines of a personality and softens and stupefies language, laughter and alertness. There is a dull and amorphous sound in a pot smoker’s voice after he is high. The half-open eyes, the dragging feet, the slouching posture come as naturally to a pothead as broad shoulders do to gymnasts.
And pot smokers ignore how the harsh smoke might poison lungs, or contribute to lung cancer. They deny the bad and the ill effects because their pro-pot ideology demands a religious adherence to pro-drug dogma. Yet, we need to be on honest terms with pot because it is here to stay.
The worst part of the medicalization of marijuana is the hypocrisy of pretending that the clinics are a type of pharmacy. 98% of the people who go there are not sick. They want to get high. So why pretend that a doctor needs to write a prescription for it? Why continue with the quackery that marijuana is medical? It is a recreational substance that coincidentally helps some sick people feel better.
The sad feeling that comes over me when I see a marijuana store is the triumph of a lie. Why can’t we just use it and admit it and just be done with it?
We don’t need smoke and mirrors. We just need honesty.