Stop, Thief!


Yesterday, around Noon, I went to meet my brother for lunch near his office at LaBrea and Wilshire.

I was early. We weren’t meeting until 1pm so I took a walk along the south side of Wilshire heading west, passing Detroit, Cloverdale and S. Cochran.

On the north side of Wilshire, I saw a middle-aged Asian woman in a green apron chasing a red-haired, plaid shirted male east towards Detroit. She was screaming, “Stop him! Stop him!” He kept looking back and outran her, eventually boarding a bus parked at Wilshire and LaBrea.

I ran too, crossing the street, breathlessly getting on the bus and telling the driver, “You have a man who just robbed a store on your bus. He is in back. I am calling LAPD!”

The driver waited. I called LAPD and reported a “hold-up” of a store on Wilshire and that the suspect was aboard a Metro bus. The police operator made me repeat the description of the suspect several times (“red hair, plaid shirt, middle-aged, white”).

I stood next to the bus, on the sidewalk and waited. The bus and its passengers, including the suspect, waited.

Then after about ten minutes, cops arrived.

Two police cars, including one unmarked, pulled behind the bus, shoved the rear engine cover up and crouched down, drawing their guns. Another car of cops went in front of the bus, and the police told us to all get out of the way.

I ran to the corner with others, and we watched, behind building at LaBrea, as the cops worked.

Then the driver got off and pointed at me, and a cop, his silver gun drawn, rushed at me and told me to put my hands up, to face the wall, to get down on the ground. His partner also ran at me, and I yelled, “I’m the one who called the police!” My hands up in the air, guns aimed at me, I was suddenly endangered and suspected of something. I don’t know what.

I was told to hand over my wallet and ID. And then I was allowed to put my hands down. The officer asked if my current address was the same as the one on my driver’s license.

“Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir…”

The suspect was removed from the bus, laid down on the sidewalk, handcuffed, and the other passengers got off and ran to another bus, parked down the street.

My brother came out of his office in the Samsung Tower, crossed the street, and asked me what happened.

Sweat poured down my face. We walked over to a restaurant for lunch. I ordered an iced tea, sat down at a table, wiped my face with a napkin and told him the true crime story.

Later, after lunch, I walked down Wilshire to find the lady who had been chasing the robber. I found her inside a little Korean convenience store. The cops had already visited her. Speaking not much English, she thanked me for my apprehension of the suspect, an action that might have ended my own life.

She gave me a cold iced tea.

Oh, and she said the thief had stolen three packs of cigarettes.

Christmas 1948: Van Nuys


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These 1948 clippings were just sent to me by Phil DePauk, who grew up here in the 1940s and 50s and now lives in Virginia. The photo of Van Nuys Boulevard at Christmas, however, is from an unknown source but is also dated 1948.

Mr. DePauk has a large collection of photographs and memorabilia, some of which is related to his family’s former business, photography.

Before regional shopping centers, Van Nuys was a regional shopping center, centered on a street, Van Nuys Boulevard. There was a streetcar running up and down, diagonal parking, and many thriving businesses.

And there was a Van Nuys Christmas parade attended by many.

Flames turn five businesses into ruins on Van Nuys Boulevard – LA Daily News


LA Daily News (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)

What stood here before. (7/12/06) photo by Here in Van Nuys.

Flames turn five businesses into ruins on Van Nuys Boulevard – LA Daily News.

Epitaph for the 20th Century.




General Motors Century Cruise, originally uploaded by Zane Merva.

As big and powerful and immortal as GM once was, it could not survive in a nation that had no policy for reducing its dependence on oil.

Think about it. For 30 years, GM has been struggling. And that is just about the amount of time that the US has been involved in an ongoing “Energy Crisis”. When the price of oil goes up, people drive less or think about buying smaller cars. When the price goes down, the drivers go back to larger cars and trucks. What company could possibly produce vehicles to withstand this constant instability of fossil fuels? Would you expect McDonalds to stay profitable if beef went from $10 a pound to $300 in one year?

Give GM some credit. They have revamped and improved their autos so that they are just as good as anything Tokyo produces. Quality is not the issue, the national lack of an energy strategy is. It influences everything from terrorism to Iraq, from sprawl to global warming.

The car makers have missed one point in these years, however. They would have been better, all along, if they had been forced to produce energy efficient cars, and cars that did not emit pollutants.

Instead, we’ve spent the last 30 years in a fantasy where we can consume all the deadly oil we want, and then wonder why our planet and our industries and our way of life is standing under the executioner’s rope.