Columus Day.

There is new construction fencing and green tarps in front of 6505 Columbus. A building permit has been created for a new single-family house on the one-acre site of the former Rancho Perfecto which I wrote about in 2019. 

The idea that the land will be graced with just one single house is ludicrous. Every property in the neighborhood is stuffed to the gills with accessory dwelling units, vehicles or marijuana gardens. And, in 2021, any one house on a given lot in Los Angeles must self-procreate.

The property is near the corner of Columbus and Hamlin. It is across the street from the blue sign, “Columbus.” Mrs. Tweddle, a writing teacher, resides opposite this lot and runs a school for writers, You Tell Yours . A couple of blocks north is the Columbus Avenue School. All around there are signs, schools, teachers and the word Columbus

Columbus is everywhere.

But the new sign is 6505 Columus.

A bad omen for that architectural phrase: God is in the details.

Given the paucity of refined signage what will the new house look like? 

I expect high walls, cinderblock and iron, and a lot of concrete to park large vehicles, Hummers, SUVs, dump trucks, and monster trucks. There will be high security cameras and floodlights all around, and perhaps a triple story, double front door leading into a vast marble hallway with plastic seating and a pool table. The style will be Home Depot on the Range.

This was once a pretty nice place to live, before the city and state went to hell.

On January 15, 1950, this property and original house was listed in the LA Times at $22,500. 

Large 6 rm ranch type with 1 ½ ba. plus guest house, rumpus room & bath, laundry house, tool house, large double garage with storage closets. Patio, lighted badminton court, bbq and plenty of shade and fruit trees and roses. 

Does anybody these days desire a badminton court?

Maybe badminton would improve the neighborhood.

Letter From a Neighbor to Councilwoman Nury Martinez

My neighbor, who has lived in Van Nuys since 1979, is aghast at its condition and appalled at the utter lack of leadership in correcting its continuing decline.

She wrote a letter, intended for Nury Martinez our Councilwoman and now the President of the City Council.

I agree with everything in it. Our community is dying with rampant lawlessness and political leaders who mouth platitudes but have no guts to fight for the forgotten taxpayers and residents of Van Nuys.

Here it is:

“As a long time resident of Van Nuys, 42 years, I have watched its steady decline with dismay.

Among my many concerns is the appalling lack of investment in upgrading and maintaining the city center. All the city buildings are here: the courthouse, the police station, the library, train/bus stops etc. This should be a center of pride for the city, but instead it is a fenced off desert with no landscaping, few trees, garbage and litter everywhere.

Old Post Office

I understand that the homeless problem has impacted all, but other than DTLA or Venice, we are the worst.

3/5/18 Bessemer at Cedros.
Van Nuys, CA 90401 Built: 1929 Owners: Shraga Agam, Shulamit Agam

At one point, a few years ago, Van Nuys Blvd. received a grant titled something like “Beautiful Streets.” There were plans afoot to utilize that money to help VNB from Oxnard to Victory but nothing ever was accomplished. What happened to that money?

In the past I have been to several Van Nuys City Council meetings and found them to be a joke. Most of the Council members seemed preoccupied with eating pizza, nothing was accomplished and many did not even live in Van Nuys.

Once upon a time Van Nuys was a charming little town with thriving shops, and restaurants and a pretty City Center. Now it is a filthy, sad and neglected relic. Come take a drive Along Van Nuys Blvd from Oxnard to Roscoe and tell me if you would feel any pride in living here?

Van Nuys, 1938

At least clean up the median on Sepulveda Blvd between Haynes and Le May. Clean it, plant trees and maintain it. Clean up the constant trash along the streets.

This list could go on and on but it would show that you care if you would just do this much, it is the least you could do and it’s a start.

And is it not illegal to litter? What about a litter free campaign and enforcement of the law? LA used to be one of the cleanest cities in the country now it is the filthiest.

My heart is breaking. Please help us!

And if you cannot, let us know whom to vote for who can.”

Work From Home, Help the Homeless

Sofa by Kardiel

They live in trash camps beside the freeways, under bridges, or along the train tracks. You know they are around when fire trucks speed down the street to put out their fires. Perhaps you’ve seen their gardening, the charred acres of blackened trees in Woodley Park?

But you are happy because you work from home, perhaps in your condo in Studio City, or in a rented house in the Hollywood Hills, earning $85,000 a year to assist a non-profit in expediting relief programs for unhoused individuals.

Flush with money from Mayor Garbageciti, (now in his seventh year of misadministration) blessed by the kind intentions of Washington, applauded by those who imagine that a city and state that allows vagrancy of 100,000 people, is somehow going to end the blight and destruction of the Golden City; this is the shining hour when, at last, the absolute desecration of urban life by filth, trash, feces, squalor, crime and disorder ends. 

For the erection of storage sheds behind high fences on freeway offramps will persuade those who have fallen into drug and alcohol abuse to move their dozens of trash filled carts and begin reform!  

To perpetuate the madness of a declining civilization, there are now many executive positions in a new industry that will keep you; college educated, highly skilled, they/them/he/she; comfortably employed with benefits for years to come.

The homeless crisis is now a permanent industry, as real as the movie studios and oil wells once were. It is the new future of California. And it fits in perfectly with performance virtue signaling, to pretend to be doing socially beneficial acts while skimming public money into private pockets. 

Common sense would have once required all homeless persons to register with the police. Then they would have been monitored. The sick ones would be sent to mental hospitals or treatment centers. The bad ones would be sent to jail. The single ones would be sent back to Kansas. The ones who refused help would be arrested.  

And nobody would sleep on the sidewalk. 

But to maintain law and order, a special type of government worker, with a blue uniform, badge and gun is required. And they, my friend, are not welcome.

For now, the word police itself is toxic, a derogatory word to describe beasts. Let us, try then, to live in a nation without any law enforcement, to erect a new country where 400 million people are self-policing.

The experiment in lite, invisible policing is well underway in Los Angeles, and we lucky ones who live here in 2021 are now under strict rules as to how we may express ourselves, and what words we may not use. But those who wreck, defile, and implode in their own life are invited to perform in public to bring down the rest of us to live inside their mental and physical hell. 

In this modern era, private words are punishable but public acts that endanger life, health and security are permissible. It’s enough to make housed people want to set their own houses afire. 

But don’t fret about it. There are high paying executive jobs, working from home, snuggled up on your couch, in the air-conditioning, attending Zoom meetings and sending out memos to government entities who are earnestly working to end the very thing that keeps them employed. 

As they say on Instagram, it’s so amazing!

Around the Neighborhood.

Since the pandemic began, in earnest, last March, one of our routines is the morning walk around our neighborhood.

The fact that most of us live and work at home, self-incarcerated by choice or duty, has produced a strange life. Beside the societal disasters that befell our nation in 2020, the ordinary existence of the citizen is to wander out and wander back in.

Wandering out, in the morning, or when the light is beautiful in the late afternoon, I captured some images of our area with my mobile and edited these on VSCO.

Kester Ridge is basically a 1950s creation of good, solid ranch houses between Victory and Vanowen, Sepulveda and Kester. On Saloma, Lemona, Norwich, Noble, Burnett, Lemay and Archwood the houses have endured, and only a few have been completely demolished or aggrandized. 

But the persistent trend is the ADU, the conversion of garages and backyards to multi-family dwellings. Many of these houses are rentals, and the ones that are owned also rent to others who may live beside the owners.

A few years ago this seemed problematic, and the idea that our backyard behind would sprout a second house four feet from our property line was unimaginable. But now we also have a gray box 4 feet behind us, 30 feet long and 15 feet high and we are OK with it, as long as the dogs, the noise, and the marijuana don’t also move in. 

Meanwhile, the ranch houses, the sidewalks, and the garages without cars stand silently and passively, unaware of their portraits.

Letter From a Homeless Man

From the LA Times article, “Garcetti’s A Bridge Home Homeless Problem Has Mixed Results.”

A formerly homeless addict refutes all the tolerant and feel-good ideas that are bandied about by Garcetti and other enablers. Here is what WEHO LIBERAL said in a letter to the LAT:

“I’m someone who once was homeless multiple times, but always stayed in shelters no matter what. NEVER, ever camp outside! It’s a dead end and that behavior is only for people with serious behavioral problems, alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness. If you lose your housing? You do NOT camp outside. Period.

I’ve posted multiple times about homelessness on LAT over the years. The last time I did, Nita Lilyveld (not sure if I spelled her name right) wrote about 2 young homeless people in their early twenties that I reached out to offering support and even to take them to dinner. After 2 or 3 texts between one of them where they kept saying they’d follow up with me, they flaked. No more texts. They didn’t follow up or stay in touch.

I am done with this nonsense. And I say that as a liberal Democrat who supported all of these shelters being built. Enough is enough. My mother was mentally ill her entire life and constantly refused treatment.  Even when I was struggling with my own addiction, I ALWAYS made sure I had shelter.

I live in Hollywood.  You see these people every day.  I see them sitting or lying around their campsites when I leave for work. I come home from work and they’re still there, doing nothing but eating, urinating, defecating, some listening to the radio or watching TV on their phones. But they are always there and they make zero effort to change their lives or better their situation.

They ask me for cigarettes, they ask me for money. Their laziness and refusal to change infuriates me. I was homeless, multiple times. I’m sick and tired of LAT columnists like Steve Lopez and Nita Lilyveld pleading to help people who simply do not want to help themselves–or in the case of Lopez, only interested in finding a charity case that they can champion in press and on TV for his own ego.  No, I do not care to hear about how hard Nathanial Ayers’ life is when he refuses to take his medication that would help save his life and better his living situation. My own mother refused treatment for years so I have zero sympathy for people like him who literally are victims of their own refusal to simply do what could get them housed and improve their lives.

Look, being homeless and living in either a shelter or housing provided by local government was no picnic and no fun. I was miserable. My addiction was my responsibility and I deal with it and take responsibility for it. But Lopez, Lilyveld and others like them have their own faults and shortcomings, too.  It’s morally right to have compassion for others, absolutely.  But people who refuse to help themselves even when others try to help them and move Heaven & Earth to do it are not worthy or deserving of compassion.  They are not money pits; they are emotional black holes who will drain the time, energy and resource of everyone around them because they refuse to do what they need to do.

I’m living paycheck-to-paycheck. Yes, I’ve been lucky and yes, I have white male privilege. But as an incest survivor and an HIV+ positive drug addict in recovery, I no longer buy what Lopez, Lilyveld, LAHSA and others like them keep preaching. It is infuriating and it’s becoming obscene. I tried to help 2 homeless young people less than half my age last year after reading about them here.  For God sakes, I offered to feed them more than once. They kept making excuses and then just stopped reaching out to me.

I am done with supporting this policy and their behavior. We all need help sometimes. God knows I spent years exhausting people and it took me a long time to get my act together. But sooner or later, you have to reach deep down inside yourself, confront your problems and change your behavior as much as possible to save your own life.

I am not perfect and all of my problems are not solved. But as someone who sees homeless people every day who sit around all day doing nothing, my compassion for all but a select few is pretty much drained and gone.”

Mike Mandel, Photographer, San Fernando Valley, 1970s


The New Yorker has a photo essay about Mike Mandel, who was born in 1950, studied at CSUN, and made a large body of photography here in the 1970s.

His work reminds me of the people who grew up here during that time, kids who were lucky to live a good life in houses with swimming pools, competent neighborhood schools, low cost college, and the ability to just do nothing, or everything, on foot, on bike, in car. Some are alive today, living in Encino or Woodland Hills or Studio City, inheritors of $2 million houses with $780 a year property taxes. These photos are their youth.

They had a rollicking good time in the past 70 years: getting high, going to concerts, having lots of sex, traveling everywhere and coming back to a freeway and shopping center universe in a city where only making yourself happy was considered the most profound errand in life. 

The late 60s and early 70s was a subversive time with the Vietnam War, racial protests, and the Generation Gap. Anyone under 30 was thought angelic and gifted with great insights into human nature. Anyone over 30 was held responsible for all the hypocrisies and injustices of society.  The Baby Boomers blamed their parents for conformity, environmental ruin, war and segregation. Yet these pissed off kids truly enjoyed a lucky period in the world, partaking of all the freedoms and leaving the bill for future generations.

The late 60s and early 70s imitated the time we live in now with cooler temperatures, unfiltered cigarettes and the insulted assurance that this country and state worked well for white people, and if everyone just got down, baby, and spoke their, like, mind, why, hey man, there was nothing that couldn’t be achieved, like even landing on the moon or dating Jane Fonda.

In the arts it was a time of blunt honesty, just showing things as they were, in music, movies and photography. There was group therapy, of just saying what was on your mind, no matter how embarrassing or crude or cruel. “Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice” captured that quintessential Southern California moment with its wry satire and takedown of the sexual revolution within married couples.

But there is nothing malicious or mean in Mandel’s work. It’s childlike in its openness, sweetness and curiosity.

If you had a camera, and practiced photography professionally, you went out and shot photos of suburbia, of people driving in cars, or you were goofy and put yourself, like Mike Mandel, in the middle of the photo with strangers. You saw the humor in ridiculous juxtapositions of people and environment: the shirtless slab of guy in the butcher shop, the suede coated beauty next to the space laser game, the old lady on her driveway with her boat and garbage can, the double cowboy hatted dude with a box of popcorn next to the bumper cars.

Now these images are a historical record of a lost time. And we value their freedoms, dearly, as we endure temporary incarceration and social isolation during this pandemic.