Pushcart Lady vs. Wheelchair Panhandler: who do you think takes home more money in an afternoon?
Downtown LA has two faces. Street level blight and architectural grandeur overhead. Two adjacent worlds not necessarily in opposition but now a symbiosis of urban life. Those who are drawn to the aesthetic of Tribeca West cannot wish away Skid Row. Those who live a blighted life cannot wish away the new, moneyed intrusion. Inevitably one must give way to the other, but for now its sort of a draw.
‘I told you where it were already. I told you. It be in the back, underneath the bed. Inside the bag, underneath the bed. INSIDE the bag. Told you that already. It be right there. Right where I left it. Then somebody else took it. I left it where I left it. I hanging up now. F*** you, I hanging up.’
The City of Los Angeles would like the riders of the Metro system to know that it is Concerned. About Teen Prostitution. And Sex Trafficking. In case you stopped off for a quick one at the Palm Tree Inn before you got on the train today, and are at this moment skulking away from the scene of the crime twirling your mustache like Snidely Whiplash it would like to remind you that you are an abuser. Of children! If you witnessed such transactions and didn’t report them, well….you a neglector! Of helpless teen girls! An unindicted co-conspirator! We need to be on the lookout! Report in! The City needs to know!
The ProtectLAKids website offers helpful tips for us:
A young woman may be a victim of trafficking if she:
- Looks fearful or depressed, and is not on her own
- Is being closely watched
- Does not have possession of her paperwork or money
- Shows signs of physical abuse
Alternatively, she may be a victim of trafficking if she:
- Is standing on Sepulveda Blvd with her hoo-hah peeking out of her shorts, rain or shine
- Has a barcode tattoo on her neck evident when she ducks her head in and out of car windows.
- Always walking against the flow of traffic, a phone tucked to her ear, but her lips aren’t moving
- She ‘lives’ at any of the motels between Oxnard and Nordhoff
- She’s offering ‘dates’ for $35 at the bus stop in the middle of the afternoon commute
Until the Committees of Concerned Bureaucrats figure out where Van Nuys is on the map, and the ABC’s of nuisance abatement, we’ll all keep our eyes peeled for those morose teenagers dragging teddy bears.
And then….you get off the 405, in North Hills….
There are a few reasons why this bothers me, besides the obvious. For one, this has been developing for at least half a year. The Parthenia St. undercrossing happens to be one of three in the Valley featuring a 144 foot long mural: Los Pajaros -Birds- of California. On Roscoe, there’s the Bear Mural. On Nordhoff, there’s the Fish. All delightful, if not quite Pasadena-like, and all painted by local students. On the North side of Parthenia, unremoved tagging has obscured much of the work. Here on the south side, what started as a small encampment of a single shopping cart and a plastic tarp has expanded like Ewing’s sarcoma over the entire sidewalk.
The City of Los Angeles in its majesty has decreed any blight along the 405 or Metrolink right of way no longer to be its responsibility. The underside of these structures are in effect consigned to a civic state of nature, even if they face a heavily-used public street in a densely populated neighborhood and kids have to step off the sidewalk onto a busy thoroughfare to avoid the debris field.