Van Nuys: 1926


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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

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.

The Art World


 

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6/4/14

Yesterday I went, as I have for almost six months, to visit my Mom, ill with cancer, now in hospice, at her apartment in the Marina.

She can’t walk now, so she is either in bed, or lifted onto a chair, wheeled over and pushed out, into the sun, or more often, up to the TV, where many hours of daytime talk shows play without end.

She asked me to sit down, next to her.

She said there was an explosion of news about cancer cures and people whose terminal illness had been cured through “miraculous” immunotherapies. Would I look into this she asked?

Told that she was Stage 4, incurable, sick with bone and lung cancer, she has accepted the news, but fought it through inquiry and denial. She told me she was coughing more because she had caught a cold.

Loretta, her live-in caregiver, brought my mother into the living room, to vacuum the bedroom. The bedside phone rang, and Loretta handed me a call from Direct TV.

I answered in the voice of old gruff Junior Soprano. I told the woman we were retired people, uninterested in her offer, and hung up. My mother laughed, hoarsely, and said that she loved that voice I used.

She is still fully there, her mental capacity undimmed, even as life seeps out and the monstrosity of dying cells takes over.

I made a lunch of grilled salmon and roasted garlic, rice, fruit salad, plain yogurt, and hot green tea. If healthy eating were enough to insure health this meal might defeat cancer.

After lunch, Loretta wrapped my Mom up. And I pushed Mom in the wheelchair down to vote in the Marina City Club, where more old people manned tables and passed over registration books, which my mother let me sign.

I stood next to her and fed the flimsy two-holed ballot into its plastic holder, and began to read the names of politicians to my mother, who only knew one, Governor Jerry Brown. We read each page: names of candidates and parties running for offices; all enigmas.

Is an ignorant voter more dangerous than an intelligent one who abstains from voting?

We turned the ballot back in, having punched only one hole and we were given stickers that read: “I have voted”.

I took her to the park across Admiralty Way, a running and biking path between the speeding cars and the tall buildings.

Behind the Ralph’s parking lot on Lincoln, there was a small opening in a fence, and I walked down to see if we could get through it. I judged that we could, and I pushed my mother in her chair over the asphalt onto the bark’s decline, through the fence hole and past the dumpster into the parking lot.

She hadn’t been inside a store in six months, and now, where she had once driven herself and walked in, she sat as she was pushed past edibles.

We picked up extra virgin olive oil, aluminum foil and wheeled back to the Marina City Club.

 


 

I seem not to cry much when I visit, acclimated am I to the new grimness.

I became, in the last six months, a high-ranking soldier: inspecting the medicines, giving orders to the homecare workers, pulling in supplies, taking over financial, legal and medical decisions, signing papers, managing staff and bringing drugs to the ill and dying, issuing directives for non-resuscitation and cremation.

I had no training, only a sense of duty, obligation and rightness.


 

When I left yesterday, in the late afternoon, I kissed my mother on the cheek and held her hand, and wandered out into the wind propelled in blank distraction.

From this time afterward I existed in a suspended and stoned state of mind, up on Abbot Kinney drinking wine, and later, intoxicated, walking up alleys and behind buildings camera in hand, anesthetized and numbed.

A woman sitting on the sidewalk, not homeless just sad, stopped me and asked me about my camera. Tina introduced herself. She told me her husband was divorcing her and taking custody of their two children. She asked if, one day, I might want to take photos of her and the children. She told me I should volunteer at Venice Arts and teach kids photography.

I was on wine so I was kind. I listened and gave her my card.

I think I will be like this for a while, even after my mother dies.

Peace will settle on me like a healed burn.

 

 

 

 

 

Alleys and Architecture.


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(Photos: Andrew B. Hurvitz)

Last year, on a visit to Japan, I discovered alleys that were vibrant, clean and functional.

In a country where 127m live on land mass that is smaller than California, space is put to good use.

Little houses, imaginatively designed, are integrated into narrow streets and alleys. (Photos: Dezeen)Cave-by-Eto-Kenta-Atelier-Architects_dezeen_1sq dezeen_Small-House-by-Unemori-Architects_0sq House-by-Tsubasa-Iwahashi-Architects_dezeen_1sq House-in-Fukasawa-by-LEVEL-Architects_dezeen_3sqa KKZ-House-by-International-Royal-Architecture_dezeen_ss_50 Monoclinic-House-by-Kazuko-SakamotoAtelier-Tekuto_dezeen_sq Switch-restaurant-and-residence-by-Apollo-Architects_dezeen_3sqa

Whether an entrance is in front or back makes no difference to a Japanese house.

What counts is the integrity and artistry of the architecture.

LA, and the entire state of California, has an extreme shortage of affordable and civilized housing.

Why not emulate Japan and make use of our alleys, the back of our buildings, and enormous asphalt parking lots to create civilized spaces for residential development?


 

Sherman Oaks alleys below.

Photo credit: Andrew B. Hurvitz

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Memorial Day: Sawtelle Veterans Home


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Soldiers’ Home, Views of Los Angeles, California, courtesy, California Historical Society, CHS2013.1297.

Courtesy: California Historical Society

May 15, 1994.


Twenty years ago, I packed a large green duffle bag, boarded a plane and flew from New York to Los Angeles.

On the flight, sitting beside me: Julie Garfield, daughter of actor John Garfield. She was an acting teacher and gave me her card.

I rode a van from LAX that travelled circuitously through the old city. It climbed up hills and down into the worn and painted-peeled stores along east Sunset, eventually making its way into the San Fernando Valley.

I moved in with a college friend- a tall, lumbering 31-year-old woman in pageboy hair, in therapy, in torn blue jeans and white oxford shirts. She rented a two-bedroom house on Teesdale Avenue in Studio City for $1,200 a month. And worked as a freelance TV producer (Woodstock ‘94; Saturday Night Live).

When I arrived, she was sitting on the back sunroom porch, smoking and talking on the phone. A high school era VW Bug convertible was parked in the driveway.

“You know what I mean…” was her introduction to endless monologues about her recent breakup with a comedian. She slept, until 10am every morning, on a white puffy bed under a chandelier, kept many cans of diet soda in the refrigerator and never emptied her ashtrays.

I paid her $100 a week and told her I would stay until I found a job and could move out.

I looked in the back of the Hollywood Reporter and mailed out resumes. And followed up with phone calls, eventually getting hired as PA for a small production company on Laurel Canyon.

It was summer in the San Fernando Valley: headaches, afternoon naps, walking down deserted Moorpark to a sweltering ice cream parlor with plastic sheeted windows. And working out at Bally’s basement gym in Studio City, a strange, creepy place where old guys masturbated in the showers all around me.

I had run away from New York, from my parents in NJ, setting up a life in a city I really didn’t like.

At the end of the summer my roommate was due to return.

On September 10th I cleaned the house and waited for her arrival. But she didn’t show up. She later called and said she had changed her mind and would come back September 19th. Then September 19th came and went and she wasn’t home. She never phoned.

On September 30th, her father called from Woodland Hills and said his daughter would be coming back on October 2nd. He asked me to leave her key under the back door mat. She arrived on October 5th. Without apology or concern. It was her house. Right?

It was my first introduction to the intrinsic selfishness of Los Angeles: the glib invitation, the plan forgotten, the lunch date blown off, the return flight missed, the good parent stepping in to save the bad adult child.

I learned that for some of the people who live here, only they matter.

She really didn’t care. Who was I? Somebody who lived in her house, cleaned and cared for it, planted flowers, washed floors and changed light bulbs.

We later fought because I told her that I had an overnight guest in her house sometime over the last four months. She screamed that my $400 a month did not give me the right to have friends over. She threw me out. We never spoke again.


That summer I went online for the first time and learned that there was something called the Internet with a dancing wizard whose wand conjured up websites.

That summer I drove around Burbank and Hollywood dropping off tapes to post-production facilities and learned what motion control and Barham Boulevard were.

That summer I ate alone at a Thai restaurant on Ventura Boulevard and met my future partner.

That summer I watched KTLA as a white Ford Bronco went down the 405 while helicopters, reporters and cameras tracked it for miles.

That summer I learned that there would no longer be front store entrances to enter, that I would go from parking lot to parking lot, that my walking would be on the treadmill and that restaurants stopped serving food at 9pm.

That summer I learned that summer would go on past September, into October and November, and start again in February.

That summer I came to a place where people without jobs own houses and cars, bad restaurants are beloved, and a friend’s success is the saddest thing on earth.


There would be no more clouds or rain. And the quaint old houses with front porches were inside Warner Brothers’ back lot.

Part of me died twenty years ago, the part that saw my life as a crew-necked male ingénue wandering the historic streets of Manhattan; invigorated by life, by potential, by the thrill of urban exploration.

Part of me died inside, even when the outer part found love, bought a house, wrote stories, took photographs, and woke up in a house surrounded by fragrant flowers and glistening grass cut and manicured weekly.

When the first hot days bake the asphalt and the blowing desert winds set in, I am carried back to the summer of 1994, my first summer of exile, when I blew here like pollen to the western edge of southwestern America.

Regretful

Angry

Sad

Futile

Directionless

Wandering

Aimless

Mercurial

Lost

Haunted

These thoughts. Did I carry them always?

Or were they brought out of me, the day I came to live in Los Angeles?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ralph’s Sherman Oaks.


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At twilight, last night, the new Ralph’s in Sherman Oaks, stood glistening under cloudy skies.

 

Dressed up and standing alone on the corner of Hazeltine and Ventura: metal panels and squash-colored inserts, coffee-tinted siding alongside creamy towers.

 

And a profusion of plants everywhere, succulents in the thousands, and grasses, and trees and roses and brown bark, bark laid down in trenches all around the building, even along the loading dock.

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Hygienic, modern, urbane, green.

 

Friendly to pedestrians and the disabled.

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A bright RED plastic sign with the oval circle encircling RALPH’s FRESH FARE.

 

A new supermarket had come to Sherman Oaks, vaulting over old timers and neighborhood groups and homeowners fearing “urban” might bring the shvartze, the illegal and the hipster to this corner of the valley.

 

But at 7 pm last night there was no sign of humanity on the sidewalks around Ralph’s.

 

It had passed the Los Angeles test for a great building. It looked good and kept the streets clean and empty.

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


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1953

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.

Anesthetized.


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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.

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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.

Roses
Oranges
Cedar
Vanilla
Violet
Leather

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

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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


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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.