Signposts in North Hills

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I wasn’t sure what to make of this lady, whispering to herself while blowing kisses and making peek-a-boo faces at passing cars.   It was Sepulveda Blvd, but then one shouldn’t judge by appearances.  She was the first person Giles and I encountered on our walk tonight.  Sort of like a Wal-Mart greeter for the neighborhood.

The extra Z is for better sleep

The extra Z is for better sleep

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Turning east from Sepulveda, I encountered a street I never heard of with the Salinger-esque name of Memory Park. It was one block long and appeared to be the last bastion of white holdouts from the old days.  I saw two Clint Eastwood in Gran Turino-type guys tinkering in immaculately well-organized garages, one with an American flag hanging un-ironically off the front porch.

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The other house hosted ‘Fun Daycare’,  with a frolicking babysitter-in-a-miniskirt graphic.  I don’t know what to make of this.  Daycare shouldn’t be jail, but should it be this frivolous?  Is it a pitch subtly geared toward sleazy fathers dropping off kids?  It seems like a sly visual joke for a slasher movie. But then again it could just as possibly be entirely innocent, and probably is.

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Then there were these signs,  scattered up and down the boulevard.    This is the info it provides:

How To Pick-Up Girls And Have Them Call You You Will Never Have To Call Girls Again

There are only general rules, you need details becasue every situation is different.

1. Stop spending money in taking girls out to dinner, quit buying flowers and other things. Instead, use that money to pay her to help you wash your car, clean your house, etc.

2. You must pay her by the hour. You clock her in when she starts, and clock her out when she is ready to go home; pay her in cash before she leaves: that is the reason why she will call you again. Never take advantage of her by having her around you for free becasue she will not call you back.

3. The only proble is that they get lazy after the 3rd day and want to relax and have a good time on the clock, but since you are a ‘nice guy’ you will let her (on the clock)

Procedure

1. Send a money order for the amount of minutes you want to buy for consultation $2.00 per minute, $20.00 minimum (10 Minutes)

2. Don’t forget to give us your phone number and name. ( We file by phone numbers)

3. Use text til we call you. We’ll call you once we receive your money order (no checks) then, we’ll schedule a time for a phone meeting that is convenient for you.

Send Money Order Made Out To:

Mark Barton

1317 North San Fernando Blvd., Burbank, CA 91504

According to Google Maps, the address is a mail drop.

Ghost Mall

Valley Plaza ain't what it used to be

Valley Plaza ain’t what it used to be

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Great location, right off the 170, plenty of parking….lots of dead stores. 180,ooo people live within a two mile radius of Laurel Canyon and Victory.   Most are homeowners. Many of these homes are near the half-million dollar range.  But they drive to Burbank instead.

There were plans as recently as 2011 to redevelop as a mixed-used residential lifestyle mall along the lines of Americana at Brand.   Those have gone to the same civic graveyard as the one to redevelop the Montgomery Ward site in Panorama City.  Neither developer was from the Valley. That’s the problem with being a colony.  Absentee owners have no social disincentive not to sit on their holdings.  Blight today will be worth more tomorrow, so let it be blighted.  The City and the CRA will cut a fatter deal next time around.

Post Office no more

Post Office no more

Coffee shop no more

Coffee shop no more

No more, no more

No more, no more

Yeah, the 70's

The 70′s, no more

Atlas shrugged, Here

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Here, a short walk from the orchard that is now the Northridge mall, Ayn Rand wrote much of her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged.  There she is on the upper right,  Alisa Zinov’eyvna Rosenbaum of St. Petersburg, Russia, with her signature bobbed hair, holding court behind a moat designed by Richard Neutra.  That’s Tampa Blvd. in the background, lined with eucalyptus trees, the farmer’s windbreak of yore.

Rand came to the Valley as a screenwriter for hire and an intellectual curiosity piece. She left with the manuscript of perhaps the most influential book of the 20th century, if reader’s polls are to be believed.   Among the eucalyptus and the koi and the orange trees and occasionally Barbara Stanwyck on horseback, Rand composed the epic of John Galt, and the philosophy of Objectivism, aided by dexedrine and a thousand packs of cigarettes.

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Serious People smoked then.  Without a cigarette, you were naked.  You lacked the baton with which to conduct the orchestra of your obsessions.

Rand returned to New York.  Following publication, people came to sit at her feet and touch the hem of her garment.  A chosen few were invited beneath the folds for further study.  She was the closest thing to an intellectual rock star you could be in this country -as a woman, that is- and she behaved accordingly.

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The house, built in 1935 for the film director Joseph Von Sternberg, was a modernist showcase of steel, concrete and glass…water-cooled by the moat. It was razed in 1971 to make room for, well, you can guess.

Walking to Target

First we saw two people in a bathtub

First there were two people a-frolic in a bathtub

Then this lady committed seppuku

Then this lady committed seppuku

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Then this girl appeared out on nowhere and asked if she could use my phone.  She ‘needed a ride’.

So I lent her the phone and she proceeded to talk for ten minutes about how Julio needed to come over right now and ‘smoke her out’. Cause she wasn’t gonna take Araceli’s b*******  anymore.  She was tired of it.  She was done with that, so done with that, you have no idea how loco and she needed to get high and she was tired of everybody’s stupid b******* and no one listened to her anyway.

She got down into a squat and rotated away from my gaze,  murmuring and gesticulating.  Finally I walked around into her field of vision, and she turned away from me, annoyed to have her privacy intruded upon.

‘I’m just going to be a minute.  Okay?  Jeez.’

She took another five.

She handed the phone back without thanks and started throwing rocks at a metal pole.

I see two lessons here.  Always take the railroad tracks instead of the street. Don’t lend your phone to strangers.

Up on Shady Oak Road

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Question: do you think you’re allowed to drive on this street?

Apparently not, right?   I mean, it’s…PRIVATE.   Clearly marked by signs.   In fact it’s so private, they had to tell us twice.

PRIVATE ROAD!

This means you, interloper.  All you little people from the grim wastes north of Ventura Blvd can turn around right now.  No trespassing, loitering or entry without permission.  Don’t make us call the police.

Why would anyone proceed any further?  What would compel such insubordination?

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Well, there’s this.  One of three trailheads into Fryman Canyon.  A public access point to a public park waiting at the end of a public street, paved with tax dollars.  And all the million dollar views beyond.

If you just tell people from Van Nuys they can’t drive there, they’ll never use it, right?  It will be privatized, effectively, for the benefit of the hillside gentry.   Like they did at Malibu, and Lake Hollywood, and Runyon.

There used to be something in America called a daily newspaper.   We even had one in Los Angeles.  I miss them.   They were staffed by middle class people, even working class guys occasionally, with a sense of civic pride and a keen moral barometer for public offense committed by the privileged. This is exactly the sort of petty outrage they used to feast on.  But that was a different country.

Portrait of working mothers on Sepulveda

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The Classy Lady was a valley institution for decades.  It would be difficult to imagine a sadder strip club.  There was no cover, which should tell you something right there.  There was no VIP room. You could buy a pitcher of Coors Light for $8.  Cheapskates would hang out by the pool table in the back, pretending to play while taking in the view free of charge.  Management didn’t seem to mind. The ladies would wander by with a tin cup and ask for money for the jukebox, and by money I mean coins.  They would clomp the two steps up to the pole and grind it out for a couple singles on the tip rail, or frequently nothing at all.    There were women working with fresh C-section scars and moonscapes of acne on their derriere.  The place was annexed to a gas station and a store which sold rims.  I can’t believe it’s actually a strip club, was the instinctive reaction.   Sort of like wandering in to your own private David Lynch film.  For the women it was not even a waystation on the road to perdition, but perdition itself, in which one panhandles naked without remuneration.

It shames me to say this, but a couple years ago, after regaling dinner guests with a description of The Classy Lady, they demanded to ‘see the ugly strippers’ for themselves.  Off we went. Only now the strippers were of an entirely different quality. They were thin. They were tone.  They had skills.   There was still no cover, and no one was putting money on the tip rail.  In the depth of the recession.

But you do what you have to do, when you’re a working mother.

Classing up the place

Classy no more

That’s all done with now. Sort of.  Classy has been gutted, expanded and replaced with Synn.  In keeping with Nury Martinez’s self-promoting ’45 day ban’ on adult business, all the strip clubs on the boulevard have renovated and enlarged, like the cup sizes no doubt, in the new, improved Synn Gentlemen’s Club.

Portrait of a working mother

He's so handsome, I can't speak properly

He’s so handsome, I can’t speak properly

Trivia question: How many working mothers were stuck on the Sepulveda Pass Thursday, the minutes passing like hours, waiting to get home to their kids? How many woman-hours were lost waiting for the 405 to clear?  How about all the working women trapped on Metro buses?   How many kids left at home to their own devices got into trouble while Gwyneth paced her Brentwood estate with a Marlboro Light and a glass of wine telling everyone to get their s*** together already because He Is Coming. He Is Almost Here, Bitches.

Yeah, the rich are different. They can make the entire city wait.

Yeah, the rich are different. They can make an entire city wait.

If you’re one of the swells who brought the city to a standstill for the 30th time in the Obama era perhaps it is easy to mistake the President for a Dictator-in-Waiting:  “It would be wonderful if we were able to give this man all of the power that he needs to pass the things that he needs to pass”.

Unfortunately for Gwyneth, (and Julia, and Ben and…) the power to pass things comes from the consent of the little people, the ones stuck in their cars on their way home to the Valley.  You can’t just write a check to banish their tacky, backward little majorities from the village square, as appealing as that might sound.  But I can understand how she might get confused. Having working mothers at your beck and call can do that to you.