West of the 405, on Victory and on Vanowen, the vast spaces of Van Nuys open up to parks, golf courses, airport runways, and planes taking off and coming down. The skies are bigger, the vistas wider, the winds windier. And the potential for escape and discovery beckons on foot or bike.
Once this area was the domain of the Joe Jue Clan, a Chinese-American family whose large asparagus farm, near Vanowen and White Oak, flourished from the 1920s-50s. Surrounded by tennis courts, the old family barn still stands.
Driving east near Woodley last week, I passed 15931 Vanowen, three mid-century semi-detached houses with horizontally paned windows. Lined up like planes in a hangar, the sharp, upward, angled pitched roofs pointed, like arrows, towards nearby Van Nuys Airport.
Curious, I returned last night, near dusk, with Andreas Samson, and explored the teeming urban apartments and semi-rural side streets along Vanowen, Gloria and Gaviota. And we stopped to investigate 15931. (built 1947)
Van Nuys, or Lake Balboa, as this area prefers to call itself, is deceptive. Along the main streets, the apartments are packed, full of working Latino families, the backbone of California. Last night we bumped into an old friend from the gym, a Guatemalan guy on Gaviota who owns a restaurant on Sepulveda and was returning home, in his pickup, exhausted.
Along the side streets, an old world still co-exists with the newer slum dwellers. There are large, deep, expansive properties, many planted with citrus trees, up and behind fences and gates, behind iron. Armenians, Latinos, and Asians bought up these fortified compounds, built up houses and rental units, or let the dry grasses and dirt take over.
Contrasts are everywhere: the picturesque Spanish casa from the 1920s next to the peeling frame shack, the lushly watered front yard of native flowers and the concrete paved SUV car lot. Guns and roses, skateboarders and speeding cars, a man hitting golf balls on his front lawn.
On Kittridge at Gloria, ferocious pit bulls kept by a friendly, toothless woman behind a broken-down dirt yard sit next to an Armenian owned limousine company, a home business behind lion bedecked gates and stucco pediment and columns.
Rich or poor, native-born or naturalized, the predominant domestic style is violence deterrence. Gates, alarms, barking dogs, steel, concrete, cinderblock, “no trespassing” signs. Each property, born sweet, evolves, like an enlisted soldier, into battle-hardened, tactical, offensive, lethal toughness.
At 6652 Gaviota, one unfortified mirage appeared: a sweet, middle-aged woman on her front lawn in a house-dress, watering a large tree with a garden hose.
We stopped to talk to her, startled by her openness and friendliness, her casual banter (“I was born and raised around here. I have been renting this particular house for 32 years”), intrigued by her whole retro setting and persona: white frame house with porch, tree swing, steel awning windows and asphalt driveway, and her manner of attire, mid-century Kansas farm wife. An American flag on a pole stood off in the distance, a skinny rail of a young man came down the driveway to fetch mail from the mailbox.
We took some photos of her, and continued our walk, ending up, as all walks in Van Nuys must, in the presence of the Holy Trinity: La Iglesia, La Lavanderia, and El Licor. (Allan’s Liquors).
The Wild Bunch Blog has some interesting photos (supplied courtesy of Richard McCloskey) of the cars, guys and girls who cruised along Van Nuys Boulevard some 41 summers ago.
These young people and their gas guzzling muscle cars were enjoying their last summer of cheaper oil.
In 1973, after the Arab-Israeli War, OPEC got together and helped create the first “Energy Crisis”… and a gallon of gas went from 33 cents a gallon to as high as 60 cents.
1972 was also the summer of “American Graffiti”, a film which nostalgically looked back 10 years earlier to 1962, a time of greasers, cars, hanging out, and being young.
Now we look at these photos, themselves archival relics, and wonder how Van Nuys was ever so young, so thin and so very white.
It was blustery, cold, and windy. The skies were full of fast moving malevolence and I was speeding east on Vanowen, coming from lunch at Evergreen on Sherman Way, burning off fuel and the last evaporated remnants of Soju which also means “burned liquor” in Korean. I was sober, but I was sad, just my nature, brought into more vivid clarity after I saw an old friend for lunch who now lives in Boston and will not be returning to LA.
I was in my car, in my head, listening to Sylvia, David Raksin’s 1965 movie soundtrack about a mystery woman from back east investigated by a new lover in Los Angeles.
A blue open house sign on the corner of Louise and Vanowen advertised “Andy and Autumn”, two realtors. Alliterative and suggestive, it took my name, suggested a short story or film noir (“Susan and God”?) and reflected the weather: gray, moody, autumnal.
I drove up one of those gross cul-de-sacs packed in with remodeled ranch houses, where architects had gone shopping like some go to Ross or Marshalls, and had come out with bags full of bargain facades, cheap and badly made, in English, Spanish and Persian Colonial, slapped onto one-story houses crammed all together with big garages, big cars and big people.
Here live successful and normal people doing well in life.
Come look at them.
They live behind the smoked glass, the shutters, the awnings, the iron gates. They live inside air-conditioning ten months a year. They get their news from Fox News and their feelings from Facebook.
Andy and Autumn’s open house (at 6606 Lasaine Ave. in Lake Balboa) had an open door, opening into a dark, high ceilinged entrance. I knew, before I stepped in, that I was back in Barry and Helene/Frances and Paul territory, my relatives in Woodland Hills and West Hills. I was in their kind of home, built in the 1970s, covered in wall-to-wall brown carpets, beamed ceilings, red vinyl kitchen tile and dark brown cabinets with de-luxe garbage compactor and overhead florescent light fixture.
The only authenticity missing was a large boiling pot of chicken soup with onions, carrots and celery cooking on a July afternoon in the San Fernando Valley and a red-haired, nasal-voiced woman yelling, “Herman! Your sister is on the phone!”
There was a second floor, up a flight of brown-carpeted stairs, and four or five small bedrooms with brown carpet, and three bathrooms also in brown carpet.
Other buyers walked through the house, young couples and old couples, one looked Jewish and one was definitely Muslim in her head covering. The world may be exploding and angry, but here in the San Fernando Valley we are all Americans, dreaming of ugly houses we cannot afford and hoping for deliverance from unavoidable debt and unintended celibacy.
I spoke briefly to the realtors standing in the dark 1970s living room, a dark space from a dark decade where light rarely entered a house except from television.
I told them I was a writer and a photographer and gave them a card. And then I walked out, down a sidewalk, past the other pleasant and plastic monstrosities, architectural travesties, brutes in vinyl , gruesome and deformed; proudly and pitifully unaware of their unimaginable homeliness.
One beastly residence had two octagonal porthole windows, crooked vinyl panes, a Spanish tile roof and a pipe railed 1980s balcony clashing violently with a five-armed ornate lamppost, all elements fighting a generational war of ornament.
A few minutes on some streets in Lake Balboa, CA can induce vomiting.
I drove off, in my car, and went south down Louise, made a left on Victory and ended up inside a two-car garage in another pocket of the San Fernando Valley where my battles continued online and alone.
For a few weeks now, Yummy Dogs, a Van Nuys purveyor of New York style Sabrett Hot Dogs, has been haunting me with their tweats, imploring me to stop by and see owner Rick and his food cart on his stopovers in Lake Balboa and Calabasas.
Today I met owner Rick Feldman (b. 12/12/74), an affable and sweet man in a baseball cap who was born in Southern California, but spent time in my old neck of the woods, Skokie, IL. His white sneakers unintentionally gave away his Chicago origins.
He previously worked as a landscape contractor but brain surgery forced him to relook and reevaluate his life, and he decided to sell hot dogs, a fun and less stressful job, he claimed, than overseeing construction. He lives in Lake Balboa. And is married to a woman, an arrangement once widespread.
On this partially sunny day, he was in the back parking lot of a dark glass office building along Sherman Way, not far from the Van Nuys Airport. Streams of deskbound young Latinas in black tops and black bottoms, taking their only exercise of the day from office seat to car seat, poured out of the building, followed by those men in name tags, blue shirts, and goatees who populate this part of the San Fernando Valley office world. Many stopped by to try the various incarnations of carne doggeria: the Spicy Dog, the Jumbo Spicy Dog, the Veggie Dog.
Rick, pulling the steamy dogs out and into waiting buns, chatted and served and directed the customers towards his international array of condiments: powdered cumin, dry and yellow mustard, Sriracha, Tabasco, and pepperoncini. He talked up his self-roasted coffee, brewed and served a la cart.
In his new venture, under the bright umbrella, he seemed happy, happier than most anyone without a hot dog cart.
Along the pretty streets in the lush neighborhood north of Victory, west of Sepulveda, on Peach, Orion, Firmament, and Lemay Streets, there are numerous roses at the peak of bloom.
The flowers sit on properties with big lawns, round driveways, mature trees, picket fences; all-American looking estates, many dating from the 1940s.
Most still retain an open appearance, but on Peach, especially, the iron walls of garish and hostile security fences have broken up the grand openness and quaint neighborliness that once marked this district.
Up on the second floor, a muscular, middle-aged salesman with high Charles Bronson cheekbones and slicked back hair stood in his Zaaz exercise shop waiting for customers who would get on a machine, plunk down two grand and vibrate their bodies into athletic form.
His name was Eddie. He was born, Italian-American in East Cleveland, OH. I met him many months ago and we stopped again to speak today at Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks.
I may have been walking around the mall in a catatonic state of Zyrtec. Tired, not going anywhere in particular, I had just browsed Apple laptops, tried on Hugo Boss jackets and was gliding on the second level of the mall like a cloudy whisper of oceanic fog.
Empty, adrift, morose, I was swimming in circles, unmoored from the sea of purpose and ready to be hooked by Zaaz.
Eddie noticed my dourness and asked how things were going. And then he spoke of his own spiritual self-affirmations, his belief in the Lord Savior Jesus Christ, of good things ahead. And he asked me what I believed in.
I told him I was born and raised a Jew, Bar Mitzvahed but not a believer. So he stepped up on the machine, an exercise pulpit palpitating with electric vibrations, and from above he spoke down to me, a congregant, about my heritage, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, Joseph and Mary and God. He talked of shalom, and peace, and evil in the world, his formidable biceps holding tight to the handles and shaking with impulse and motion.
Still moving on the whole body vibration machine, he revealed his own doubts, his down days when he had no money, his deflated acting career. He spoke of his intimacy with Jesus, the touch of God, the God who had once been a man and died on the cross to save the world and return it reborn.
He got off the machine. And stood down on the marble floor, feet planted firmly, looking at me, man-to-man, eye-to-eye as a mall choo-choo train chugged and whistled past.
He then wrapped up his short sermon with a quote from Proverbs 2:7:
“He will keep the salvation of the righteous, and protect them that walk in simplicity.”
We shook hands in earnest. And I walked from J Christ to J Crew in search of my next ministrations.
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.
Actor Noah Gillet
in Van Nuys, CA
photo by Andy Hurvitz
The Hollywood Advisor called yesterday as he usually does, four times a year, from his car, stuck in traffic, on the 101.
I am on his speaker phone and he, I imagine, is exiting at Cahuenga trying to merge into traffic, as he tells me the latest promising development on the next show that he might sell.
He is a font of upbeat news, always pushing forward, always going to the next meeting, always sure that the suits will green light his latest pilot.
He tells me there is a job I would be perfect for on the next show that hasn’t been sold. My talents and my interests would fit in just right. The last person he told that to was hired, turned out to be a disaster and they are no longer speaking.
The Hollywood Advisor, eager to get me going, into paying work, productively outputting something prosperous, told me I should do a travel blog of the San Fernando Valley because he knows some American women in Italy who write about Tuscany and he thinks it can be done for Reseda too.
He is a smart guy, quick as a whip, always ready with a pitch, and a self-taught expert on fine dining, child rearing, network broadcasting, international travel, women and their needs, investment strategies, elder care and where to find to find the best food truck on Abbot Kinney.
I have no pitch to sell, just a vaguely formed idea about a cinema verite web series on the characters who live on Hamlin Street in Van Nuys.
In the past few months I’ve read “How to Be Gay”, “Hemingway’s Boat”, “Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg” and “Touched With Fire” about manic depression and artists. I write a blog, I take photographs, I wander the San Fernando Valley and ride the train down to Silver Lake always recording, in words and images, what I see.
What have these books done for me? They expanded my mind and left me penniless.
The Hollywood Advisor advises that he doesn’t know who would buy my Hamlin St. show should it ever be produced. He has to run. He is late for a meeting. We will talk again sometime in late summer.
Down the street there is a place where they are stocking beer and wine on shelves, checking people out, entering telephone numbers and emails into the database, loading boxes off trucks, unpacking and unloading shipments of spirits, and other liquors.
(Sounds like entry-level work except this company is as competitive and selective as Yale University)
They wear red jackets and they pass out red cards to customers and when you come here on some afternoons there is an extremely loud and jovial fat man making jokes and entertaining himself at the register, thrilled at his own wit and eager to laugh it up for everyone.
(Seems crass but the crowds love him)
A few times a year the wine goes on sale and you can buy two bottles for the price of one plus five cents.
On Fridays it gets crazy here when the customers who shop here get off work. They pour in like madmen and run like hell to get to the cold beer and warm tequila.
I had once worked in retail and I vowed to not work in it again. That was at Ralph Lauren in New York, at the flagship store, back in the early 90s, where I waited on such nobodies as Tom Selleck, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Onassis and Elizabeth Montgomery, four of the five of whom are now dead, but hardly forgotten.
Ralph Lauren and his brother Jerry would come in and chat me up and ask me about business. Mrs. Auchincloss, Mrs. Scribner, Mrs. Radziwill, Mr. Bernie Madoff, Ms. Michelle Klier, all my billionaires, all my customers, all were satisfied.
I’m not bragging. Just telling it the way it was.
So now I live in Van Nuys. I’m not young. I think I can work in a big box beverage store, so I fill out the 30-minute online job application.
And there is one, big, fat, irritating part where they ask you multiple choice questions and ask you to check each one such as:
When I work I:
1. talk cheerfully to people I meet
2. speak to people in a direct and candid manner
Don’t both seem admirable? Isn’t cheerfulness as important as candor?
Which attitude best describes you at work:
If a customer comes in and asks me a question about wine I will try to be positive, but I sure will be careful when loading glass bottles of beer.
These are just a few of the hundred multiple-choice questions that are used by Bevmo to separate the wheat from the chaff or perhaps the wheat from the hops. The application is tedious and time-consuming.
Days later, I call Olivia, the Van Nuys Bevmo Store Manager to ask her if she has received my online application.
“Hmm…what’s your last name? Ok. Here it is. Oh I’m sorry. You are a RED. I’m not allowed to proceed to interview you. YELLOWS and GREENS are good. You can take it again if you like. Looks like you did not pass the multiple choice assessment questions.”
She offers no explanation.
I have merely been defeated by a color, stopped by stoplight as unknowable as God herself.
Bevmo, Bevmo, Bevmo…..
You are continuing Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red baiting. Only now the reds are applying for work.
And they won’t get hired until they turn green.
50 ft. Intervals, Corner of Boylston and Dartmouth Streets, Looking Across Street to Trinity Church and Copley Square, a photo by MIT-Libraries on Flickr.
Youth, athleticism, joy, freedom; the thrill of running and competing, a multi-ethnic spectacle participated in by all ages, by men and women, going by, past the great buildings of old Boston, the Trinity Church and the Old South Church and the magnificent front of McKim, Mead and White’s BPL; down Boylston Street, hearts beating, blood pumping, legs moving; eyes, hearts, brains in the tens of thousands, taking it all in, the wonderment of urbanity and the ancient tradition of the marathon, transported to modernity, in the Athens of America.
And then death and dismemberment in a garbage can.
Smoke and darkness, blood and limbs, broken glass and fallen people and screams of horror.
In tears, with heavy hearts, we mourn this senseless act of violence.
You think you know Van Nuys.
And then some small remnant of old property appears. And you are pulled back into a long lost world: unguarded, spacious, verdant, shaded, open and expansive.
It happened a few days ago, when I was traveling on Sherman Way and turned up Katherine Avenue, west of Hazeltine, to avoid late afternoon traffic.
As I approached Valerio, I saw the old San Fernando Valley in an apparition: a few large parcels of land, shaded by large trees, a ranch house set back from the street, unenclosed by fences, iron, brick, or barking dogs.
I returned last night with Andreas from Up in the Valley to explore the neighborhood.
At 14203 Valerio, we found a long driveway, headed with a sign of a family name: “The Schaefers”, and beyond, in the distance, many rose bushes, the long exterior eaved porch; all the indicators of normalcy and domestic tranquility that once presented itself in abundance around these parts.
I was surprised that some industrious Armenian had not bought up the land, torn down the houses and erected a cul-de-sac of concrete and columns, but there it was, a lone sweet house, a place that seemed welcoming, not hostile, unafraid and hopeful, a residence of grace and generosity, without violent defenses, grotesque proportions and malingering meanness.
There were no large SUVs, pit bulls, cinderblock or steel window bars. This was Van Nuys as it once was, up until perhaps 1975, a lovely place to live.
There was a large unpicked grapefruit tree in the yard, an old tree, another symbol of the post WWII days when organic was the only type of eating, and unselfconscious Californians ate well in their own backyards.
This house and this land will probably not survive in its present incarnation much longer. If there were a Van Nuys Historical Society it might honor this home with a citation. But for now only the camera can capture what was and what still is.
One of the delights of living near Van Nuys High School is watching a car full of kids park nearby, hang out for a while, and then deposit bottles and drug paraphernalia curbside before driving off.
Another nail in the coffin of commerce on Van Nuys Blvd: the 63-year-old Van Nuys Army & Navy Store, Inc. at 6179 will close down in a few weeks.
Standing on the SW corner of Delano Street, the distinctive store with its red, white and blue lettering was one of the last remaining outposts of the old Van Nuys, a loner amidst pot shops and bail bondsmen.
The Army and Navy store, opened in 1950, held its ground against blank faced government buildings, retail white flight, and another human invasion from sub-Americana that dare not speak its name.
Inside the store were stacks of Levi 501s, military dress pants for $5.00, dark wool pea coats, special forces and 82nd Airborne caps on shelves, munitions and camouflage vests, rubber boots, Anti-American Confederate and Pro-Communist Che Guevara Flags for those of exotic political tastes; Vietnam era bumper stickers still silently yelling hostility and anger 45 years later, ammunition cans and olive drab parachutes, scratchy wool blankets in plastic, cotton Marine t-shirts, and survival kits for backyard campers or overseas fighters.
This was a store where friendly faces sold goods once used to fight enemies. It was a democratic place where the solemn savagery of war was put on sale for anybody to buy at rock-bottom prices.
It was a piece of Van Nuys when this boulevard bustled. Now it’s another dying locale on a street were even the litter is moving on.
More and more I have been leaving Van Nuys, going downtown, to Hollywood, and Silver Lake and riding the Orange Line Bus to the Red Line Train.
When I first started doing this, in 2005, you would purchase a day pass that allowed you to take that paper ticket, get on the bus and walk into the train and do the same thing in reverse.
Now there is the TAP system where you load funds onto a plastic card which you “tap” every time you enter a station.
No longer are there any humans in the Red Line North Hollywood station, so I assumed that one tap before I got onto the bus was all I needed for a one-way trip. I was wrong.
You must tap when you get on the bus and then you must tap when you get on the train. So two taps each direction.
Each tap deducts $1.50 from my card. No signs advise a rider about how to use the card. You are expected to know.
On the train, things have changed since 2005.
There are people drinking beer, people smoking on the platform, people playing radios inside trains.
I never once have seen a law enforcement person riding a train or standing on the platform. Maybe my timing is just poor.
I wonder how they know who taps their card, who is eating or drinking on the train or the platform.
Metro is not a bad system. I think it is pretty clean. It is certainly expanding and getting bigger. Pretty soon you will be able to ride a train from downtown to Santa Monica.
But it needs to be watched and monitored. Because this is Los Angeles. There is a need, by some segments of the population, to destroy anything clean and worthwhile. They will mark it up and make it dirty. They will scream and run wild and do whatever they want to.
And then nobody will want to ride the train or the bus.
And that will be a shame.
Art Institute of California building, North Hollywood, a photo by LA Wad on Flickr.
A few days ago an ad popped up on my Facebook page to study graphic design at The Art Institute of Hollywood. So I clicked it and said I was interested in more information.
Two minutes later the phone rang.
The Art Institute was calling and they wanted to speak to me about visiting their shiny, glass, black skyscraper school on Lankershim near Magnolia.
I was connected to a woman who interviewed me and learned everything private about my financial and career conditions, and about why I might want to study graphic arts.
By Good Friday afternoon, I was at the luxury campus hi-rise, a gloriously slick and modern edifice, landscaped with tall palms and clumps of ornamental grasses, tended to by security guards and flocks of skinny young artists on skateboards, gliding past with black skin and tight jeans.
A sweet Vaca Negra at the security desk, stuffed into spandex, handed me a check-in clipboard, and minutes later I was ushered into the offices, past the cubicles, into a room where an admissions officer filtered my eligibility into his academic actuarial tables, and proceeded to assess whether I, 51-years-old and out-of-work, formerly working in TV Production, but now employed by Word Press, Pinterest and Flickr, might make a good candidate for this career builder college where the average graduate makes close to $30,000 a year and finds fulfilling work in online cartoons, illustrations, digital packaging, and assisting other artists.
Answers that once would have disqualified me for school, were now the exact ones I needed to enter: gay, middle-aged, in need of work, looking, exploring. Any heartbeat with a credit line was welcome.
We rode the elevator up into a brilliantly outfitted and equipped school, a place where tall smoked glass windows overlooked the exciting metropolis of North Hollywood and Toluca Lake, rooms of unending concrete floors and acres of Mac computers. Every corner held more computers, and the library, a place once filled with stacks of books, now held long tables of electronic screens.
Smiling broadly, the admittance lady led me on a tour of walls and galleries, filled with student projects: Project Runway Catwalkery, environmentally sensitive water bottles and graphic labeling, photography of smokestacks and digitally altered women who represented “The Seven Deadly Sins”. All in all, it was a creative mesh and mix of all the aspirations of the school and meant to persuade me that any idea, no matter how banal, might be sold and packaged to a wider audience.
We passed one poster that advertised an emergency number. to answer the serious problems faced by 18-22 year olds: roommate problems, parent problems, car trouble, relationship headaches. There was a number to call if it all was too much to handle. Such is life that no number exists for emergencies once one graduates from college.
Back in the room, it was like shopping for a car at Galpin Ford. The unveiling of the numbers and the sticker shock: $49,000 for a 1.5 year associates degree in Graphic Arts and a $99,000 price tag should you want to complete a bachelor’s degree. When I expressed shock at the numbers, the finance manager was called back in, but he was busy, so unlike Galpin Ford, I was free to walk out back into the sunshine noir of North Hollywood where muscles and 24-Hour-Fitness provided a tranquilizing visual after a tour that promised a future that nobody but a sucker could afford.
Unknown to me, until last night, there is a street party on Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank on the final Friday of every month. Scores of food trucks park, people pour onto the boulevard, shops stay open late, and the whole community comes out to shop, eat and socialize.
This being Burbank, the crowds are friendly and law abiding. There are not homeless people asking for money, gangs of kids playing loud music, or random garbage sales of crap on blankets littering the street offered by “undocumented” sellers. It works well, it’s pleasant,open to the public and seems untainted by fear.
Photo by Andy Hurvitz
I voted in an election today to choose a new mayor, members for the Board of Education, a Community College District person, and a City Attorney.
I don’t know any of the people, save for Eric Garcetti, who my friend likes and taught tennis to when he was a young man.
“He always was polite. He is a Rhodes scholar.”
Poor Wendy Gruel did not get my vote because her last name recalls bad prison food like watery porridge.
Armed with my LA Times print-out and reading glasses, I walked from my house over to the Voyager (Adult) Motel and entered a room where one table was full of elderly attentive volunteers.
I forgot my wallet and asked an older woman if I needed ID. “Not in America!” was her feisty reply. She directed me over to the other side of the room, to a table staffed by young, multi-cultural texters who barely looked up when I walked over to them.
“Thanks for the ballot.”
“Huh? Oh, no problem.”
I took the strange and clunky, elongated ballot, put it into the plastic holder and used the short pen pointer to make holes next to the names I didn’t know.
After voting, I got a small sticker.
And then I remembered another upcoming election….
For the past few weeks, I have had door knocks and emails from two men running for the City Council District #6 seat, unknown Derek Waleko and unpronounceable Dan Stroncak. The seat was formerly held by fat huckster and do-nothing, now Congressman, Tony Cardenas.
City Council District#6 election will be on May 21, 2013.
Not today but on May 21, 2013.
Got that straight?
An election was held today in which less than 20% of voters will participate. Another election will be held on May 21, 2013 in which very few will vote, for City Council District #6, a desperately dirty, tired, poorly run area, populated by some beautiful but neglected homes, overrun by crime and illegalities, both small and domestic, large and international.
In our pocket, couches and condoms are street décor, and the local bird is a helicopter.
Who will come and focus their energy, attention and resources on Van Nuys?
If not me, who then?