Drive west on Saticoy St., past the 405 and turn right/north, onto Densmore Avenue.
You are still, according to Google Maps, in Van Nuys. (all apologies to Lake Balboa, which seems to have some fourteen boundariesaround its neighborhood.)
On Densmore, near Stagg, you’ll find, as I did, a neat, monotonous, hard-working district of small companies; mostly hidden behind bricks and barred windows.
Creative Age Productions at 7628 Densmore is there. They publish beauty magazines. Nailpro, Eyelash and Dayspa are some of their best-known publications. These titles are often competing with mirrors for customer attention.
They are neighbors with: Superior Shipping Supplies, New Rule Productions, Regency Fire Protection; and Kedem Properties, 7752 Densmore, which sounds like a Kosher wine but is actually a commercial property company.
Black Sheep Enterprises, at 15745 Stagg, manufactures theatrical and stage drapery, a specialty one cannot buy off the shelves of Target.
The Katsu-Ya Group at 15819 Stagg owns nine sushi restaurants around the Southland. They are incongruously housed in a white and brown brick Mexican style building with arched designs.
And the American Rubber and Supply Co. at 15849 Stagg St. has been in business since 1947 and is a supplier of industrial rubber products. Your car mat, your yoga mat, and your kitchen mat, next to the kitchen sink, might have all come from here.
New Rule FX at 7751 Densmore makes special effects props and supplies for movies, TV and theater. If you need piles of fake US currency, realistic cheeseburgers in rubber, or a room full of exploding balsa wood furniture , then this is the place to shop. Their free-floating, fantastical, imaginative fantasies are constructed behind a dismal, prisonlike façade of white cinderblocks and steel bars.
Where Stagg St. bisects Densmore Ave is Mission Industrial Park, announced by a two-posted, two-fisted, old Western kind of sign with raised letters on a wide wooden board hung 20’ high over the street. It welcomes you to a white-walled alley of various buildings presumably under one owner who felt compelled to establish an identity for her vastly unremarkable assemblage.
We went all around here, on public sidewalks, a few days ago, to shoot some photos for a mens’ fashion brand called Magill Los Angeles.
James and Carter were the models.
James was 19 and had long blonde hair and said he was born in South Los Angeles but had moved with his father to North Dakota. He was now living in New York City and visiting Hollywood to strike up a modeling career. He had the dazed and confused 70s aura from juvenile and stoned Reseda. He works at McDonalds now but may well be famous in 2029.
Carter, actor, came from North Carolina and was well-read, articulate and sensitive to both words and pollen.
The day was sunny, the wind was blowing, the boys were happy and we went to eat tacos later at Tacos Hell Yeah which they said was their best ever meal in LA.
Those industrial compounds, like the Stagg/Densmore District, are the hidden places in the San Fernando Valley that nobody knows about.
Tidy, productive, industrious, they are the old lifeblood of Los Angeles, where your late Uncle Bernie, with the cigar in his mouth and the bad gallbladder, set up shop after the war and bought a three bedroom, rock-roofed ranch up on Zelzah Avenue with a delightful kidney-shaped pool.
He had little patience for tears, or men who didn’t know the difference between a wrench or a pliers, having served up ice cream at Montgomery Ward until he enlisted in ’42 and saw action at Guadalcanal. He was never bored, because he was always busy, and you vowed you would never become Uncle Bernie but you’ve done quite worse, haven’t you? He had work and a family, and a company, and a paid for house and you made fun of it, but now life laughs at you.
Aside from the work that goes on inside these shops, there is nothing to do in this area for someone in search of stimulation. Densmore and Stagg and parts around here are boring, without street life. Yet men and women in these enterprises are engaged in work, absorbed in inventions, and creating products that are, in many respects, quite interesting.