Bessemer St. Van Nuys, CA near the Orange Line.

On these torrid July days, when the temperature is 105 degrees, and a walk down Van Nuys Boulevard near the Orange Line Metro stop brings you face-to-face with people sprawled out on the sidewalk, living in tents, sleeping on dirt, it is instructive and bracing to think of other civilizations, such as Japan, where human beings live under more benevolent and intelligent rulers.

Instead of parking lots furnished with the shopping baskets of homeless people, instead of garbage piles on the sidewalk, instead of empty streets filled with only the cries of mentally ill men and women, Japan offers low-rise, modern houses where children are cared for, and people work together to make contributions to society.

Every day we live amongst a remarkable level of filth, violence and rampant barbarity in Los Angeles; thinking it normal that a Trader Joes manager is shot dead walking to her store entrance to see what the commotion is; or that a camping father with his family is murdered, randomly, in Malibu State Park; or accepting as “normal” the idea that 100,000 people sleep on sidewalks, and RVs and cars, and live in tents in the city of the Kardashians, the Cruises, the Broads, the Carusos and the Spielbergs.

How can so much money, so much power, so much fame do so little for their city? How obscene it all is.

Near Cedros and Calvert, Van Nuys, CA.
Empty Buildings on Delano near VNB.
Slum Housing on Cedros.   Owners: Shraga Agam, Shulamit Agam 




There are places where guns don’t kill people every single day, and children live in clean, well-cared for apartments and houses next to spotless streets, where the trains run on time and people stand in line to wait for the next one to arrive.

We can’t completely transform what Los Angeles is, but we ought to engage our imagination to other places where they do a far better job of taking care of people and emulate those finer qualities of faraway lands.



Location: Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan Project Year: 2017

Photographs: Studio Bauhaus / Kenjiro Yoshimi

Source: ArchDaily

Van Nuys.

4 thoughts on “Looking East For Ideas.

  1. Are the families depicted in the Japanese photo array living on the dole? Are they upper middle class? A lot of the Westside looks like Japan.

    Aren’t you really saying we have no floor in LA and Isn’t this a plea for a minimum civic standard for people on the bottom? This may be achievable, but not with an open border.


    1. It used to irritate me, the idea that they would come here and just as the late Jonathan Gold said and stay in Beverly Hills and rent a car and go to Rodeo Drive and Century City and Santa Monica and then explain to you what LA is.

      I thought the NYT had broken its habit of condescension but its always such an easy thing to do.

      My thoughts on having lived in NYC and then moving here and being a displaced snob is that NY is insecure actually. It is used to defining itself by categories: Connecticut, Upper East Side, Tribeca, Jersey. And then what school you went to: Yale, Harvard, Princeton or maybe no school at all and you are a cop, a fireman, a doorman. It already knows you before you have a chance, and it puts you in a high or low position.

      For example…..

      This woman, who was a “Commissioner” at the NY Port Authority and lived in affluent Tenafly, NJ thought it unfair when two Tenafly cops pulled her children, PHds from Yale, over for non-registration of their car. She berates, belittles, talks down to the two cops while elevating her title and the education of her children over the law. She typifies the East Coast and New York area elitism:

      Los Angeles confounds the New Yorker because there are no high or low categories here. The whore who paints and opens an art show is just as revered as the taco truck guy and if you are unemployed, obese, tattooed, live in Palmdale or Van Nuys or Venice or Beverly Hills, none of it matters. Yes, some are snobs about better weather near the beach and who can argue that. But mostly this city is mixed up and unquantifiable and this disturbs the Upper East Sider in khakis who just came from East Hampton and has a writing assignment with the NYT and has to make sense of LA and will dip into his bag of cliches to write an article and get paid.

      LA is walkable, and you can travel around it on bus or train or bike. You can eat well, for cheap. And there is a group of people here, quietly, remaking the city which will be quite different from now in 10 or 25 years.

      To the NYT, its always 1975 and Woody Allen is god.

      Liked by 1 person

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