1949 and 1953: Two Aerial Views Over Panorama City and the GM Plant.






From the USC Digital Archives comes these stunning aerial photos over Panorama City and the large General Motors Plant. The top on is from 1949. And then one taken four years later on January 13, 1953 showing the rapid growth of the area.

Some 15,000 new homes were built in 1953, and some 30,000 new structures added. The vast agricultural landscape was transformed into a suburban, single-family section of Los Angeles, peopled by young families with children.

The map shows that the streets, 61 years later, are still the same. The vast GM Plant closed in 1992 and is now occupied by “The Plant” shopping mall. Panorama City still teems with new arrivals.



There were 120 narcotic “Norco” tablets in the prescription bottle on March 31st.

Six days later there were seven.

The medicine was supposed to be administered to an elderly cancer patient, bedridden, in pain.

But the physical therapist probably stole the medications, stuffing 100 or more pills into his pockets.

And yesterday that was the morning news, in my life, at 5:30am. Later I drove down to Marina Del Rey and reported the “burglary” to the sheriff and filed a police report.

A mollusk on a mattress: my mother.

Unable to lift, eat, or wash herself.

A cancer victim.

A crime victim.

Dependent on live-in home care workers, visiting nurses; tethered in fragility to life, eaten away by lung and bone cancer, yet strangely alert and intelligent to her bodily decay and the circumstances around her.

I was angry, nervous, agitated, betrayed. And my mother spoke from her horizontal position and said, “The important thing is to remain calm.”

My command center was my phone, electrified with texts.

Dr. G refilling the L-Dopa.
Dr. H refilled the thyroid.
The handrails were delivered.
How could the PT spend 14 hours in five days on physical therapy?
Who lost the Access Transport card?
We need eggs.
They won’t refill the Norco without a police report.
The premium blue disposable underpads arrived.


The day was hot and windy and blinding.

And then the sun slipped down and left the last hues of light over Venice.

Calmed by a glass each of beer and wine I walked on Abbot Kinney after 7pm, moving past shop windows, past bored clerks staring into cellphones.

Everything at that hour distracted as I wandered in and out of pretty stores.

Lubricated and intoxicated, I went into Elvino Wine Shop. I tasted a Croatian Red and walked out with a French Bourgueil Cabernet Franc.

I was wandering involuntarily now, sadness sedated, lulled into a dark gray perfume store furnished like a laboratory, lined with clear glass bottles.


“Spray the Santal on your left hand,” she said.


And then I was in my car driving in darkness over Beverly Glen.

The love theme from Spellbound played.

I saw Ingrid Bergman holding onto Gregory Peck, wrapping him in love, rescuing him from collapse, guiding him through danger, analyzing his dreams, fighting his delusions, saving his life.

CicLAvia Event: Sunday, April 6th 9am-5pm


This Sunday, April 6th, from 9am-5pm, Wilshire Boulevard, from Downtown LA to Fairfax, all six miles, will be free of automobiles and entirely owned by pedestrians and bicyclists.

The event was created by CicLAvia, an organization promoting healthier and humane alternatives to the dystopia of LA’s car enslavement. 100,000 people are expected to attend this free event which can be walked or biked along any starting point.

Public transportation is the best way to get there.

Those traveling near this area by car are warned that traffic will be nightmarish.

Day of the Oncologist.

On Tuesday, February 11, 2014, the Los Angeles sun rose at 6:41am and the sunset at 5:33pm. And I was driving east on Wilshire, through Beverly Hills, in the last hour of daylight, transfixed at the odd lull of creamy illumination, under gauzy skies, light that lasted long; accompanied by slight winds, cool and oceanic.

That day I had gone with my mother, a homecare worker, my brother and a nurse to visit two doctors, one an oncologist, the other GP.

The oncologist was down in El Segundo, a Japanese-American in slim gray khakis, and thin herringbone tie tucked under a natty Tattersall shirt. He spoke, quietly, unpromisingly, about six weeks of radiation and how cancer might be attacked in the lung, how its curative program might weaken the body. He advised two scans: a PET and an MRI to further determine if the malignancy had travelled to brain and bone or beyond.

But as much as he knew, he admitted he didn’t know everything. And what course my mother’s lung cancer might take, he could not say. His understated reverence for discreet diagnosis drowned out by his patient’s unceasing, hoarse, gurgling, sick cough.

The day was full of wheelchairs and waiting rooms, insurance cards and doctors smiling with closed lips.

Later on, I was trapped in my car, on the 405, sitting in a vast unmoving ribbon of automobiles stretching from Culver City to Bel Air, so I got off at Santa Monica Boulevard and drove east, just to move.

And it was in Beverly Hills, a place I despise, that I found solid peace under partly cloudy skies.


On Linden and McCarty Streets, there are many old, lovely houses, well mannered, and discreetly elegant, some with small libraries behind bay windows, white siding and wood shake roofs, and old Spanish houses, not small, not grandiose, comfortably gracious and visually palliative.

I walked and looked, and found a few signs that said, “No Subway under BHHS”. Surprisingly none said “I Love Global Warming” or “Let’s Drive More SUVs and Promote Lung Cancer”.

This habit, of looking at nice houses, I inherited from my mother, an old hobby, learned in Chicago, driving past center-hall colonials she wished she lived in; then later on, in the 1980s, driving in her 1972 Delta 88 convertible down President Nixon’s street in Saddle River, New Jersey, not far from her new home in Woodcliff Lake, past that wooded estate where the 37th President lived.

Beverly Hills, CABuilt 1927

My walking tour of Beverly Hills ended near 220 S. Linden Drive, in front of an empty 1927 house, recently sold, where a cracked driveway, open garage and sagging second-floor window porch left evidence of past life. Silent, abandoned, a lot on the street.

Who owned it? Who valued it? Who furnished it? Who made love here? Who woke up and who went to bed here? Who drove up its driveway every night imagining that those nights coming home would go on forever?

Woodman and Riverside, Sherman Oaks, CA, 1932

Here are two astonishing photos, startling to our eyes, showing how open the San Fernando Valley was 82 years ago.

Today this area is completely urbanized, home to Notre Dame High School and Fashion Square.



Keyes Van Nuys Rents METRO Busway Parking Lot.






The publicly financed METRO has found a new way to earn some cash.

They are renting out about one-third of the Orange Line Busway parking lot to Keyes, Keyes, Keyes, Keyes in Van Nuys.

The lot, at Erwin near Sepulveda, was built, in the LA way, for bus riders to park their cars while they ride their bus and bike.

Someone very wise and very powerful at METRO must have concluded that most bus riders don’t own automobiles. So why not earn some bucks renting an enormous expanse of asphalt, planted with many hundreds of trees that lies fallow and unused?

The lovely neighborhood which abuts this lot to the north has been justifiably paranoid about proposed development plans which have included hundreds of town homes, office buildings, and potential additional retail stores. Hemmed in by the 405 Freeway, nightly helicopters, noxious fumes, prostitutes, trash, illegals and pimps on Sepulveda; oil storage tanks, psychics and speeding psychotics, the homeowners in these rose-covered cottages can do little about their immediate environment but rent out their properties to movie companies.

Perhaps a very large car park, rented out on public land to private industry, is a good thing. Nobody makes noise. Parked cars are silent and quite neighborly.

So for now the publicly paid for land is being used in that most characteristically Angeleno way, as a home for cars.

Griffith Observatory, 1930s






Courtesy of Nathan Masters, I found these fascinating vintage images which the USC Digital Libraries recently added to their Dick Whittington Photography Collection.

They show a family or friends (Dufay?) on what seems to be a Sunday type of outing, in the mid 1930s, up to Griffith Observatory, which had opened on May 14, 1935.

In the midst of the Great Depression, or perhaps because of it, people took care to dress up in dignity and elegance.

LA Fitness Van Nuys.

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Fast-food wrappers and soda containers litter the parking lot of the LA Fitness on Sepulveda in Van Nuys.

For at least five months, discarded lumber, illegally dumped, has lain scattered.  Members on their way to step class or leaving the gym scarf down burgers, fries and dump their refuse right on the pavement.

The culture of Van Nuys.


Lovely 24 Hours in the San Fernando Valley…