Field trip to York Avenue

A Yelp review in process

A Yelp review in process

“You need to stop writing right now and you need to put on your shoes and leash up the dog and we need to go to Highland Park right now and have a vegan donut.”

“Now, now? Or soon now?”

“Now. We have to celebrate my NEH grant.”

“Didn’t we already do that?”

“I want to re-celebrate.    Justin loves this place.

Just like that, my Sunday was shot.

Justin is one of Mrs. Upinthevalley’s vegan Yelp friends. When Justin comments, Mrs. U delights.  I am dragged around town by another man’s whimsy.

The donuts were as promised: vegan, gluten-free (allegedly) and invaded the pleasure points of the mouth like the Marines taking Omaha Beach.  The battle was bloody and brief, but decisive.  Normally given to portion control, she emerged from the store with a box of three, and we dispatched them without restraint.  Note the fingers of her right hand vainly clutching previously consumed remnants.

We had reached the point in the afternoon where post-hypothalamic regret frequently sets in.  Oft-heard phrases include:  “That was disgusting,”  “I hate myself,” and “I’m never eating (that) again.”

Not today.

“Lets walk this off and get another. How many miles do you think that would take?”

Mrs. U, NEH-winner, master teacher, ModCloth brand representative, reduced in three donuts to a family car-pawning crackhead picking through the pipe residue for another hit.

Is that the blueberry one?

Is that blueberry?

So we set out on foot through Highland Park, a neighborhood we had once dismissed as too ghetto to buy a house in. Which in retrospect we must have gotten confused with Glassell Park.  This side of Mt. Washington is another world.   The comparisons to Van Nuys were dismaying to say the least.  Let the self-loathing begin:

Historic preservation

Historic preservation, for starters

Bespoke masonry

Bespoke masonry

Bike parking spaces, with cozies

Bike parking spaces, with cozies






DIY wisdom


This picture says it all. Even the weed sprouting from the crack in the sidewalk isn’t really a weed, rather a pricey decorative grass of the type one sees fronting higher-end remodeling.

Guess what we didn’t see.  Tagging.  Swap meet stalls. Winos, methadone addicts and parolees.

The only thing standing between Van Nuys Blvd. and York Avenue is five years of civic leadership.  Oh, wait…


Why even go there?  Let’s resume our happy perambulation through Hipsterville East:


That’s more like it.

A Town Called Nice


There is a town, due east of North Hollywood, where police leave their patrol cars on Friday evening to assist elderly people, frail and disoriented,  across the street.


Coincidentally, it also still retains stores from another era, like Battery Hut, and Al Summerfield’s Train Shop. How such establishments manage to stay open on a commercial boulevard in this day and age, I have no idea.  Well, actually I do.  I could insert a number of snarky things about the political climate of the City of Los Angeles right here, but I’d rather leave you with this:

God Bless America

God Bless this officer. God Bless America.

Exit Ghost


When we’ve lost the ability to share the public square together because so many of us want such radically incompatible things, something’s got to give.  Apparently it’s the statuary.

I can’t help thinking they seem to know.  Like Jessie the Cowgirl from Toy Story 2.

Then again, maybe the new owners of the house were just re-thinking the landscaping.

The last summer of drones


You know this isn’t going to last much longer, don’t you?

Mounting a GoPro camera on your personal falcon to fly around the Valley at tree-top level…obeying your commands, delivering messages, packages….sniffing out backyards, taking inventory of the City from a vertical perspective, that’s just too cool and/or creepy and/or empowering, depending on your view.

Soon, the people’s airspace will be subject to regulation. Everything ten feet off the ground will be a subsidiary of Google.  The City will withdraw the air from the public domain. It’s only a matter of time.

There’s my snarky libertarian thought for springtime.

Way of the Cross




If you are mocking someone this Easter season, ask yourself why.  Maybe these mockeries are not you.

If there is someone you are not speaking up for, ask yourself why not?  Where is your tongue?  Why do you lurk?

Human nature is a constant.  We are not perfectible.  But we can be a little better today than we were yesterday.