The Trump Re-Election Campaign in Los Angeles.


On foot to LA Fitness on Sepulveda this morning, I passed Wendy’s near Erwin. 

It was about 7:30 AM, and the restaurant wasn’t opened yet. There were no cars in the takeout lane. 

But there, in the alley, sitting along the curb, across from the takeout window, was an old woman squatting and peeing. Her urine came out and ran down towards the sidewalk. I just kept walking.

Later on, after the gym, she was asleep on the bus bench.

A temporary home.

There are no adequate words to describe the degradation and humiliation that public defecation brings to both the perpetrator and the witness.

Her normal biological action did not rank up there with the tens of thousands who live in group tents, in trash camps, along sidewalks, under bridges, within public parks in the City of Angels on Hiatus.

Just one of many living in the filth and neglect of our city.

But this is reality in LA and in so many other cities like Seattle, Portland and San Francisco that once thought such acts unthinkable. All these cities hate Trump. And all these cities call themselves sanctuaries.

A sanctuary to me is a holy place, a reverent place, a place kept scrupulously clean because people worship there and respect the ideals that make a place a sanctuary from all the evils of life, all the injustices. Inside a sanctuary there is quiet, and calm and peace and you go there to pray and find solace. There are churches, there are mosques, there are synagogues, there are temples, there are parks and courtyards that are sanctuaries all over the world.

What kind of sanctuary is present day Los Angeles?

We don’t have a single public park un-desecrated by trash, shopping baskets, sleeping drunks, tents. Perhaps 30% of the bus stops are makeshift homeless homes, pushing out legitimate bus riders who wait on their feet in the blistering sun.

Woodley Park, 2018.

We have a hapless and synthetic mayor, Mr. Garbageciti, whose public pronouncements are so ineffective that they carry the weight of a meme.

In every car and in every kitchen across Los Angeles people of every political persuasion are asking: how can this be happening?

As hated as Trump is in this state, with every illegality and breakdown of law and order, ordinary liberal minded and tolerant people in California are moving away from the Democratic Party ideals of understanding, empathy, government regulation or government program, and hankering for a strong man or woman who will take drastic, emergency and militant steps to stop the disease of allowing people to live and do everything publicly they should be doing privately. 

The surprise that awaits liberals in 2020 is that anyone should be surprised when Trump is re-elected. .

Our Lost Vitality


Sepulveda and Erwin, Van Nuys, CA.

Housing, it seems, is everything these days, the foremost topic on the minds of Angelenos. 

Those who can afford it fear those who cannot.

Fearsome, it seems, is our ragtag army of many thousands of un-housed vagrants who have established anti-communities out of shopping carts and tents, and made bedrooms, bathrooms and living rooms out of bus benches, trains, bridge underpasses and alongside our freeways. Covered in dirt and tortured by circumstance, pulling three bikes with two legs, they remind our fortunate ones that life often goes bad even for the good.

3/5/18 Bessemer at Cedros.

SB50, the state proposed override of single family zoning, struck terror into the hearts of many in Los Angeles who feared that the single family home, housing twelve unrelated people, might soon be replaced by twelve unrelated people in four houses on one lot.   

“Leave it to Beaver” (circa 1959) the imaginary ideal of Los Angeles.

“Leave it to Beaver”, “Dennis the Menace”, “Hazel” and the rest of the 1950s and 60s back lots of Columbia and Warner Brothers are how many, now aging, but still ruling this city, think of Los Angeles, and how it should look. 

When Dennis the Menance came home he didn’t enter into a lobby with an elevator. When Dr. Bellows drove up Major Nelson’s street, it was clean, tidy and sunny. 

Home of Major Anthony Nelson, “I Dream of Jeannie” (1965-70)
The cast and crew of the remodeled “Brady Bunch” home in Studio City, CA. (HGTV)

HGTV is now remodeling the real life home in Studio City that was used as the location for Mike and Carol Brady and their bunch, recreating in reality a 1970s home, inside and out, following an architectural blueprint from the set pieces of an inane, 50-year-old television show that seemed saccharine the night it premiered in 1969.

It is heartwarmingly creepy to see the now white-haired kids throw a football in an astroturf backyard, retirees feigning juvenile excitement as a synthetic reality show impersonates their old sit-com and pumps new advertising blood out of Geritolized veins.

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Woodley Park, 2018.

But life is not a syndicated sitcom. What’s on TV is not what’s beyond our windshield.

We live in Los Angeles, and die a bit here, day by day. The city is getting worse in every imaginable way: housing, health, transportation, taxes and education.

Homeless on Aetna St. Feb. 2016

On the roads, in real life, in 2019, cars are now parked and packed alongside every obscure street because it takes four working, driving adults to afford one $3,200 a month apartment.

Building more apartments doesn’t mean more cars, it simply means less apartments. And less apartments means more rent, so Los Angeles keeps eating itself up in contradictions of cowardice and myopia.

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Japan

As I travel around Los Angeles and see all the enormous parking lots and one-story buildings alongside eight lane wide roads, I wonder why we are so unable to build enough houses to house everyone.

California is not nearly as crowded as Japan, yet that country ingeniously designs small dwellings that artistically and creatively provide homes for every type of person.

On the website Architizer, I found the work of a firm called Atelier TEKUTO.

Homes shown on Architizer by Atelier Tekuto are really tiny, but they are built solid, with each dwelling quite individual in style and form, an irony in a country where every black haired man coming from work is dressed in a white shirt and dark suit.

But Japan somehow pulls together the artistic and the structural to provide enviable and well-designed homes in well-protected, spotless communities. Violence is rare, except yesterday, but nobody goes out at night fearing random mass shootings, it is safe to say.

We can’t, or should not, want to remake the depravity of our dirty, violent LA into clean, peaceful, obedient Japan, with its fast trains and scrubbed sidewalks, but we might borrow some of their ideas. After all, we conquered them in 1945, can’t we take home some intellectual souvenirs?

Imagine if Van Nuys took the courageous and innovative step to redo the large, unused parking lots behind all the abandoned shops on Van Nuys Boulevard with a mix of little houses like these and perhaps some larger structures several stories high?

What we have now is this:

Don’t we have a Christopher Hawthorne now, Chief Design Officer, working under Mayor Gar[BAGE]cetti? Former architecture critic at the LA Times, he may know one or two architects from his old job. Perhaps Mr. Hawthorne can take action?

What have we got to lose? 

We are so far down in quality of life that we must engage our energies to pursue a remade Los Angeles.

A city that does not harm us but lifts us up.

As Japan shows, you can have enlightened ideas without living alongside mounds of trash and outdoor vagrancy.

There is no logical connection between toleration of outdoor garbage dumps and political tolerance in general. In fact the worse our surroundings get, the more people will turn right and maybe even hard right.

Vine St. From Hollywood to Melrose.


Today I went down to Hollywood for a meeting at Paramount Studios.

I parked at the Orange Line lot, near Sepulveda and Erwin (2/3 of which is now leased by Keyes to store unsold new cars), bought a $7 Metro pass, and took the bus, which connected to the Red Line subway at North Hollywood. I rode three stops and disembarked at Hollywood and Vine.

Compared to other times on the train, there was definitely a boosted security presence. Some cops were checking passes at North Hollywood and four LAPD cops boarded a train at Highland and rode it for a few stops.

The pathologies of LA are now deeply embedded in the transit system. Many homeless were riding the train with their belongings, and at Vine I heard jostling and two men arguing with “fuck you” screamed loudly. Other times I’ve ridden the train and with smoking, eating, feet on seats, loud music, and absolutely nobody doing anything about it.

But considering how much might go wrong, the ride was all right, and I walked, for a few miles, along Vine and arrived on time for my 11am appointment at Paramount where everyone smiles and says thank you.

 

Vine/Lexington

In black and white, editing out the poverty, Vine Street presents itself as a neat and tidy noir place. There is Stein and Vine Drums, the DWP Service Building, erected 1924; Bogie’s Liquors, the Army/Navy & Earthquake Supplies, and Camerford Avenue, a street I never heard of until today.

Back in Hollywood, there are hucksters and con artists all around Vine near the W Hotel.

One guy came up to me with a hunk of cash in his hand and said, “You got a $20 for a ten and five and some ones?”

I said, “Let me see what you got.”

But he refused to unfurl all the cash. Then he said, “C’mon man. I just interviewed for a job at Starbucks and I got to get to Oceanside and I’m short six bucks!”

I said, “I’m sorry,” and walked off.

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

The House on Kittridge and Other Matters


Last night, one of our periodic public safety meetings was held at the Columbus Avenue School.

For once, the walking prostitute was not Topic A.

Instead, a sitting house represented the newest threat.

 

14926 Kittridge
14926 Kittridge

Seems 14926 Kittridge, a pleasant and recently remodeled single-family home, west of Kester, was sold to a group (The Village Family Services) that intends to turn it into a residence for young, troubled people.

Nobody in the community was informed. There were no hearings, no forum to stop the project. And now the neighbors were angry.


 

On hand was Councilwoman Nury Martinez’s Asst. Field Deputy, Guillermo Marquez, a pleasant young man in suit and glasses whose unfortunate job involves fielding complaints from every constituent reporting couch dumping, homeless encampments, abandoned houses, illegal sign posting, gang tagging, and now the addition of a troubled youth house in a quiet neighborhood that has enough trouble with troubled adults.

Councilwoman Nury Martinez
Councilwoman Nury Martinez

Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian
Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian

Also on hand was Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-CA) who represents something called “46th district, encompassing the central-southern San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.”     I never heard of him or knew I lived inside his kingdom, but apparently he is descended from other important Armenian-Americans having worked for Councilman Paul Krekorian.

He represents our district, which includes pushing for the conversion of the Orange Line Busway into the Orange Line Railway. We have a great bus system, with beautiful trees and a beautiful bike path, but it seems it must be turned into a train because not enough cars get hit by buses to make it work.

When I asked him about the wretched condition of the center of the San Fernando Valley, the district of Van Nuys, he was at a loss for words. The redevelopment and revitalization of this lost and neglected downtown does not fall under his power. That belongs to “city leaders” not “state senators”.

This is where I, bad in math, good in geography, become baffled.

Van Nuys is in the state of California. Mr. Nazarian is our state senator.

But only for a section of the San Fernando Valley. Which encompasses Van Nuys.

He is our Assemblymember. He represents a part of the Valley. He is not the mayor, or the councilman, or a representative, nor does he fly to Washington. But apparently he is someone in elected office who works upon our behalf.

Van Nuys Boulevard: Jewel of the San Fernando Valley.
Van Nuys Boulevard: Jewel of the San Fernando Valley.

 


 

Then we heard from one of the best speakers of the night: Senior LAPD Lead Officer Erika Kirk in the Van Nuys Division.

Shiny, smooth, combed dark hair pinned up, about 30, compact and well-spoken, gleaming silver badge and pressed navy uniform, she reviewed all the small bad things going on around us: kids hanging out in cars smoking pot and throwing beer bottles out the window, the empty dark house at 15102 Hamlin owned by Kathy Jo Bauer and a frequent location for crime, a falling down fence at Haynes and Columbus, negligent property owners who tolerate illegal dumping at the Casa Loma College.

Most of these situations have gone on for five or more years. They are intractable and confounding. But she assured us she is working to resolve them.

 


The problems that have afflicted this neighborhood are often flung at the police or elected officials who are asked to “just do something!”

But what can one say, for example, about a continually littered and neglected mini-mall at 14851 Victory, owned by a wealthy Bel Air man, Ori B. Fogel, who cannot even hire someone to sweep the curb in front of his stores?

Until the day comes when the errant slumlord gets a $10,000 fine, or the woman who refuses to clean up her abandoned houses faces $75,000 in criminal negligence, the property criminals will do what they have always done, milking and neglecting while earning money even as the community of Van Nuys suffers.