Waiting for the Bus on Sepulveda

Bus Stop Crebelley, Vaud, Switzerland © 2013 Gerald Verdon

Bus Stop
Crebelley, Vaud, Switzerland
© 2013 Gerald Verdon

Later this year, friends and family from Zurich, Switzerland will visit here in Van Nuys. In that lovely nation public transport is dignified, clean, cheap and abundant. (see photo above)

The visitors will see Los Angeles with Swiss eyes, a city where trash sits on Sepulveda in both human and inhuman formations. Only Disneyland and Magic Mountain will come close to presenting an ideal city. That’s our American dream.

But for the bus riders who must wait in the sun, without protection, for 30 or 45 or 60 minutes, before a bus arrives, for these people trudging up to work at low paying jobs putting bagels into bags, or unloading boxes, imagine how their day starts before work?

Imagine they must sit here at the beginning and sometimes the end of their day. And think of what this says about Los Angeles, that our bus system is so neglected that people are treated no better than garbage.

What do Mayor Garcetti and Councilwoman Nury Martinez plan to do about this?

734 Bus at Sepulveda and Busway, Van Nuys, CA.  By Andy Hurvitz

734 Bus at Sepulveda and Busway, Van Nuys, CA. By Andy Hurvitz



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.


The Police, the People and the Prostitutes.

CVS, Erwin at Sepulveda, 9:30am

CVS, Erwin at Sepulveda, 9:30am

A few months back, April 17, 2013, to be exact, this community held a meeting at the Columbus Avenue School led by LAPD Officer Vince DiMauro. The topic on everyone’s mind was prostitution, its egregious and omnipresent existence a fact of life on our streets.

The group was well attended and there was seeming agreement that the vice problem was under control. Officer DiMauro assured us that what we thought was a growing problem was actually getting smaller as the LAPD monitored and restrained the famed whore motels, so the Room #37 Blow Job and Penetration Special at the Voyager, was now conducted in cars on Hamlin, Lemay, Burnett, Columbus and Kittridge.

Anecdotal stories are now pouring in from neighbors that the whores are back and bigger than ever.

The morning drive along Sepulveda now includes fat blondes in fishnet stockings, stiletto heels and pink satin dresses; and skintight pink leggings longingly leaning against the light pole at Erwin and Sepulveda. A neighbor, who works nights, assures me that when he returns home at Midnight there are more walking women than drivers in Van Nuys.

The idea that prostitution is under control because it’s out of the motel room and into the streets is ludicrous. What we see and know is what’s going on. The evidence of illegal activity is as apparent as the abandoned couch along the sidewalk.

There was just an election in this ungoverned section of Los Angeles and a new Council Person, Nury Martinez, will represent District #6. Along with her upcoming appearances at Cinco de Mayo festivals, she should take a walk on Sepulveda, camera in hand, in the morning, afternoon or night, and see the spectacle for herself.

Love in an Inhospitable Place.


The railroad tracks have been here a long time, at least since 1937, when they came to California from Tennessee.

They were hammered down through orange groves and alongside citrus packing facilities.

They are still here, near Raymer and Sepulveda, in an inhospitable place, now settled with high security storage containers, barbed wire fences, metal recyclers, auto repair, and a crooked, concrete-walled river surrounded and imprisoned by tall, spiked iron.

All Aboard Mini Storage



W. of Raymer St. BridgeVan Nuys, CA.

At sunset, when the heat has broke, on a summer evening, you may come up here and trespass, viewing Van Nuys from its backside, learning its ways by seeing it in its golden gruesomeness. If any planner had sought intentionally to build monstrosities that defy humane and civil urbanity, he could do no better than emulate this dystopia.

Raymer Street Bridge is a pedestrian bridge, perhaps the world’s ugliest, deformed and graceless, a steel structure reeking of urine and feces, trashed with discarded beer bottles and marked with violent paint in glowing hues. From atop the bridge at late day, the panorama of hazy mountains and the valley are at last tamed into something soft, artistic and implausibly romantic.

Young friends, or lovers, skateboarders and strollers, they come here to talk and to kiss, to ride their boards on the glass-sharded concrete; to ponder and dream in a landscape where nothing is ennobling or spiritual. They are defiant in their gentleness, renewing love and humanness, while all around them, an indifferent, mean and feared section of Los Angeles tells them, in so many words, welcome to hell.


Raymer St. Bridge


Advancing North: The Treadmill of Civilization

Photo by Hector Sanchez

Photo by Hector Sanchez


Civilization, as it is known to exist in Van Nuys, marched north on Sepulveda, and has now crossed Oxnard.

LA Fitness opened yesterday, many many square feet of ellipticals, treadmills, racquetball courts and indecipherable machines aimed at every body part on human bones.

Occupying the very spot where couch potatoes worshipped, Wickes Furniture, the new gym promises to bring an active lifestyle to an area where the Gluteus Maximus is almost extinct, and 16-year-old girls are considered anorexic at 300 pounds.

Bow-fronted, brown, low, and wide, the corporate architecture echoes its clientele. Doors open graciously, in the LA way, onto a wide parking lot, around which spin the orbiting stars of Wendy’s, Costco, Fatburger, CVS and Star Kitchen.

The new building turns its back away from the Metro Orange Line Busway. The Bus Rider and The Pedestrian will have to take the long walk around the north side of the building and enter through the parking lot side. Clearly this structure was designed somewhere in Texas, possibly by someone unfamiliar with Google Maps.

This morning I took an unguided tour of the interior which begins with a pool, an iconic symbol of sunny Southern California, placed indoors at the shady and dark NW corner, near the check-in, with many windows open to viewing for arriving and departing members. The wet old man in the Speedo will be the first image implanted on future arrivals.

But the equipment is, to use a reality TV word, amazing. There are dozens of aerobic machines, now equipped with iphone ready TV screens, so that sweat and heavy breathing can keep an eye and ear on Bill Reilly and Anderson Cooper.

Assembled like a marching army regiment are treadmills, bikes, weight machines, free weights, racquetball courts, and the most important feature of all: walls of mirrors.

Rusted stall doors, pee on toilet seats, un-flushed shit, the smoldering smell of cum in the men’s sauna, 400 lb weights left on leg presses, arguments, indifferent and constantly quitting trainers, torn shower curtains and clogged sinks, stolen wallets and broken-in windows in nighttime parked cars; all these future events have yet to happen here.

For now the glory is in the opening.

The carpeting is new, the paint is fresh, we are older but our gym is newer, and if we go here everyday, and eat healthy, we may live out the rest of our lives here in Van Nuys.