Friday Night Lights at MacLeod Ale


I stopped by MacLeod Ale in Van Nuys last night.

The mood was low-key. Scottish music played. People sat on stools in the cool air-conditioning. The servers were jokey.



Brewer Andy Black, serious and studious as usual, was in back testing his brew for sugar content.

At the new wood tables up front, people sat, drank beer and ate pizzas and truck food from Haute Burger.


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This good looking couple came all the way from Haskell Street in Lake Balboa.

And outside the brewery, as night closed in, the dented cars and steel fences stood motionless as another long, hot day on Calvert Street went dark.

Calvert St.


The Nowhere City Goes Somewhere


Yesterday, near downtown Santa Monica, on a strangely cloudy and drizzly summer morning, I drove west, unintentionally, into blocked roads, past barriers and bulldozers.

Men were tearing down buildings, punching holes in plate glass windows and digging trenches.

The long winding humanitarian project known as the Expo Line had made its way from central Los Angeles, sweeping through Culver City, catapulting by bridge and track into West Los Angeles and finding itself and its destination next to the Pacific.



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The empty shell of Midas, a beautiful Spanish Revival structure, lay in ruins, a stomach full of bricks and wood, its ornate ornament ready for obliteration.

50 years ago, the novelist Alison Lurie wrote a novel, “The Nowhere City” set in some places along the soon-to-be-demolished houses in the path of the Santa Monica Freeway.

Yesterday, near downtown Santa Monica, I saw the sequel to that book.

After half a century, the Nowhere City Goes Somewhere: on foot and bike and rail.









Ed Ruscha’s Aerial Photographs of Van Nuys: 1967

Edward Ruscha [roo-SHAY] (b. 1937) has had a long career in Los Angeles making poetry out of banality. His photographs of Los Angeles apartment buildings, gas stations and other drive-by scenery was ground breaking art in the 1960s.

Twentysix Gasoline Stations ( Source: Oliver Wood. License: All Rights Reserved.)

Twentysix Gasoline Stations
Source: Oliver Wood. License: All Rights Reserved.)

“26 Gas Stations” (1962) ,with its now widely available Rockwell Standard Font, has been copied so much it has turned Rusha into cliché.


I found these fascinating studies of parking lots seen from above that Ruscha made in 1967. They show Van Nuys (and North Hollywood and Sherman Oaks)  paved over and baked in sun.  Patterns of suburban development, diagonal lines and box stores, trailer parks and shopping centers, become cubist abstractions from Ruscha’s bird’s eye view.

These are all in the collections of the UK Tate Gallery. They sell for many thousands of dollars, are collected by wealthy people, and hang on the walls of large homes from East Hampton to Knightsbridge.

When you are sober, remember:  some very important people in the art world consider aerial photographs of Van Nuys’ parking lots as collectible art.

14601 Sherman Way

14601 Sherman Way

7133 Kester

7133 Kester

7101 Sepulveda

7101 Sepulveda: ED RUSCHA Parking Lots #20 (7101 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys), 1967/1999 Gelatin Silver Print image: 15″ x 15″ / paper: 20″ x 16″ Signed and editioned in pencil verso Edition 9/35 $8,500 framed Walker Waugh Director Yancey Richardson 525 West 22nd St. NY, NY 10011 Tel: 646.230.9610 Fax: 646.230.6131

14655 Sherman Way

14655 Sherman Way

14425 Sherman Way

14425 Sherman Way

Fashion Square, Sherman Oaks

Fashion Square, Sherman Oaks

6610 Laurel Canyon

6610 Laurel Canyon



“Hi, Neighbor” Queen Candidates: May 4, 1951


Officiating at a beauty contest: actor William Demarest who became “Uncle Charlie” on TV’s My Three Sons (1960-72)

“Hi Neighbor” queen candidates at Valley Municipal Building in Van Nuys, CA, May 4, 1951.

Actor William Demarest, Marlene Morrison, Janet Samprenant, Marine Sergeant Bob Fowler.

(Photo: USC Digital Archives)

Van Nuys: 1926



At the corner of 15856 Sherman Way , Van Nuys, 1926.

Wagner-Thoreson appears to be a real estate broker and they are offering one property, a 3-bedroom house at $2350 and another sign advertises 7.5% terms with $1,050 down.

This area today is west of the 405, and just east of Van Nuys Airport.

Photo: USC Digital Archives/ Dick Whittington Collection

The Whirlpool.

Cancer, homecare, medicines, hospice, chemo, wheelchair, bone cancer, lung cancer, cough syrup, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Remeron, Sinemet, Morphine, adult diapers, sponge baths, bowel movements, stool softeners, rehab, oncologist, nurse, radiation, constipation, oxygen, Stage Four, terminal, incurable, cremation.

For seven months I’ve swum in a whirlpool of ugly words.

Yesterday, again, I went down to see my mom at her apartment. One homecare worker was leaving, another arriving. I came in with four bags of groceries and went back to the bedroom.

She was in bed.

The TV was on. I think it was “The View”.

I sat down on the carpet in front of her bed, the only way she can see me, straight ahead.

Bertha came in with matzo ball soup. I ate two bowls. She fed my mom a few bites.

In the afternoon, I took my mom for a “walk” in her wheelchair.

I picked her up, limp and frail, and moved her from the horizontal position on the bed into her chair. Seated now, I put the pedals on, guiding her weak legs and purple feet into position over the pads.

I squeezed a pillow behind her curved back, and pulled her arms up into a zippered sweatshirt. I draped and folded a blue terry cloth blanket across her lap. Sunglasses went over her eyes, a hoodie atop her head.

I pushed the steel chair and the woman in it out of the bedroom, past the front door of the apartment, into the elevator riding down, through the dark parking garage. And out into the brilliant sun, out into the fresh and salty wind.


A key opened the locked steel gate along the long dock where cruisers, sailboats and yachts were docked. Between the boats and the buildings, that’s where we went.

The hi-rise, swinging sixties apartments along the Marina, with their curved balconies, they were made for tanned stewardesses, white shirted pilots, Irish-American boat captains, cocktails on the sea, cigarettes and sex, lovemaking and laughter.

Architects and developers back then, like now, were drunk on youth, novelty and modernity.

Nobody was supposed to get old. Nobody was meant to come here disabled, wrapped in blankets, pushed along the harbor watching other people have fun. Wheels were the Red’68 Bonneville Convertible- not the walker and the wheelchair.

We walked past Killer Shrimp and crossed the asphalt to the other side where they were renting paddleboats and paddle boards. I pushed my mother to the end of a dock inside the lakelike Mother’s Beach.


On the dock, my mother in her chair, me pushing her almost to the edge, a sinister thought entered my mind.

I thought of Technicolor Gene Tierney in “Leave Her to Heaven”(1944) where she let a crippled boy, her husband’s brother, drown in a cold lake.

If I had the evil gene of Gene I might act on hard and cruel impulse and push mom into the water, an act of mercy perhaps, saving her from the eventuality of dying in bed from fluid in her lungs or some other unforeseen killer.

Instead, I pulled back and fastened her brakes. I took out my phone and photographed my living mother motionless on the ocean dock.





Hours later I was at the Whole Foods bar with Travis, drinking a Scotch Ale, listening to a ravishing real estate agent, talk about her teen son’s abusing father, and her fight to cure her child.

Pretty, like the actress Susan Lucci, she grew up in Venice and talked as if she had sold many millions of dollars of houses in the new rich bohemia.

My buddy, much younger, broader-shouldered, deeper-voiced and all man, listened to her as she massaged him with her eyes.

She showed us pin-up shots of her on the Samsung screen, sexy images that made me ask, intoxicated as I was, what exactly she was selling.

Around us in Whole Foods, was the whirlpool of beauty and freaks that swirls in the aisles among the organic fruits and vegetables: tall women, muscular men, old women in running shorts; beards, tattoos and pegged pants, rolled cuffs, razor cuts, canvas bags, kale and 90% cocoa chocolate bars.

Travis and the real estate agent left, going their separate ways, but I stayed longer, waiting for the beer to wear off. I amused myself by photographing the green-eyed young clerk Joey.

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I am not an alcoholic, but I now can see, with ease, the attraction of numbing pain, blocking sadness, loosening tension. I will willingly submit to its temporal benefits and consoling pleasures.

As I did last night for a few hours after dusk.



One day soon, I will come down here to Venice and Marina Del Ray.

And my mother will be gone.

And I will think of these months, the ones that came about in 2014, where sickness and impending death arrived without warning.

And I will remember the endless summer of insipid profundity, the strange and incongruous times of illness and fun, the months on watch seeing her decline in Marina Del Rey.

Who dares to die in a place where pleasure pushes along unimpeded on bike, in swimming pools, on jogging paths, on tennis courts, at volleyball games?







Wendy’s: 6181 Sepulveda, Van Nuys, CA

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The parking lot at Wendy’s (6181 Sepulveda at Erwin) is full of trash. It has been that way for many months.

The scene: shopping baskets full of garbage, discarded clothes, fast food containers, and all the litter that a Wendy’s can produce.

Conversations with the man who cleans the parking lot at Wendy’s, along with a visit to an employee at Wendy’s has produced no results. They tell me that the responsibility for cleaning belongs to LA Fitness Van Nuys, even though the towing signs along the cinderblock are all “Wendy’s”.

LA Fitness takes care of everything in their newly paved area, but Wendy’s takes care of nothing except what is directly around the sidewalks on their building perimeter.

Why is this tolerated?

Sheer laziness and neglect and the refusal to take responsibility and pride: that is Wendy’s doing.

The victims are anyone who lives in Van Nuys and the surrounding community.