You stick around long enough, you see many things come to pass.

As one who has begun more than one Sunday at Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch and finished it with a cocktail at The Abbey in West Hollywood with a stop along the way at Runyon Canyon, and not found any of it to be in contradiction, I’ve had a front row seat to the gathering storm.  My personal creed: I will not renounce gay marriage, and I will not renounce Christ, may no longer be welcome in either house.

Digniquality is the mash-up argument one grasps for when trying to extract from the Constitution a Solomonic expression of popular will.  Which is a fancy way of saying the Court would have wiser not to have taken the case and let the democratic process play out in the states for a few years.  Healthier for the country.  Easier for me.

Christians are a cheerful bunch. In my great Jesus Tour of the Valley, I’ve yet to walk into a church and failed to find a friendly face, nor hear good music, occasionally transcendent music.

Ironically, I can say the same for gay establishments.

Where does the judicial sanctification of same-sex marriage leave us?   With a new class of Officially Despised Persons, formerly known as faithful Christians.  The media will honor no distinction between standing for traditional marriage and George Wallace blocking the schoolhouse door.  The Court has now mandated it in Law.  There will no longer be private space in the public square. All will be put to the question.  Half the country will be baptized Heroic, Noble, and Good;  the other half will be hounded from polite society. Haters. Bigots. Worse.

Most gay people I know will be happy to call a win a win and leave it at that.  There is, however, a media cadre much more interested in the arrival of SSM not as the freedom to kiss, officially, at the courthouse steps, but as a legal high ground for going after the tax-exempt status of churches.

The real world doesn’t always work the way judges would like it to.  What was intended to be a capstone on a ten-year argument just blew the foundation out from under civil society.  Trust me, I’m reporting direct from the pew.   Churches know they are under siege, and they’re digging in.

Mr. UpintheValley would like to see his support for gay marriage not come to grief.    The Constitution has been a sturdy truck, for over two centuries.  There is freedom for disagreement within it, for irreconcilable world views to share space on the same block and the same workplace.   Speak up for that disagreement.

Solzhenitsyn put it well when he wrote, ‘live not by lies’.    Thank you for use of the hall.

How does this movie end?
How does this movie end?

A Proclamation on Behalf of The Pimp

US Supreme Court

Amidst the anticipation of this week’s Supreme Court decisions regarding gay marriage and Obamacare, yesterday with quiet fanfare the great edifice of law put scales to the question of Sepulveda Blvd motels.

Our motels! Our hooker strip!  Us!  Right here in the Valley!

In Los Angeles v. Patel, the Court struck down municipal code § 41.49, which allowed the police to inspect motel records without a warrant, specifically to identify patrons paying cash and staying less than 12 hours.  Meaning, hookers and johns.

The decision was argued on fourth amendment grounds, with much discursive argument as to what constituted a private record and whether motels met the definition of a ‘closely regulated’ business, and what exactly was an undue burden on owners.

Short version: The vice squad now needs to go before a judge to make a garden variety motel bust.

Shorter version:  That’s never going to happen.

Subtext:  A tacit admission by the motel owners association (Patel) that street prostitution represents a significant percentage of their bottom line.  Enough so, they were willing to go to the Supreme Court to hang on to it.

The winners are…well, you can guess.

The Court did not hear the testimony of Kat Stacks, former prostitute, turned hip-hop groupie and now as-told-to-author:

“I got turned out by a nigga when I was 14 and he was almost 10 years older than me and he my baby daddy. He gave me my new name and my tattoo…I was wit him for five years, and I was faithful, I did whatever he wanted and I worked seven days a week…I seen girls working on crutches cause they Daddy broke they leg…He put me out on the track in New York. Once I went through that horrible experience he put me in white places where I won’t get hurt at, but he first had to put me in a place where I could go through all this shit and learn not to be a weak bitch.”


All three women justices voted in favor of the motel owners.  Make of it what you will.

Cask! We Have Received…

Roderick in the milky twilight
Artist and photographer between pints in the milky MacLeod twilight

Living in Van Nuys for a decade one can nearly expire of a particular cultural malady called If only…. 

If Only there was X, like they have in Echo Park…

If Only there was Y, like they have in Eagle Rock.

If Only Z would happen like it happened in NoHo then Van Nuys wouldn’t be quite so….dreary.

If Only gives way to Why Can’t We? Why Have We Not?  Fee, Fie and Woe is us!   Unfair, we say!  Behold the self-pity of the geographically disadvantaged urban hipster, wandering his Sinai, kvetching.

We can’t be alone in thinking this.  There must be others, kindred spirits stranded in our midst, leaving the neighborhood as we do to spend our money. Lord, hear our cries.

Then MacLeod begins…as a t-shirt.  A rumor of a t-shirt, really, seen at the gym.

There’s a brewery in Van Nuys now?    If only… 

You mean they’re not actually brewing beer yet?  It’s an auto repair shop?  That figures. It’ll probably never happen. At least the t-shirt was cool.

They’re doing it on Calvert Street?  Are they crazy? No one will ever find the place.  I give it a month.   Too bad.   They seem like such nice people.

Beautiful Amy and her Kindle
Beautiful Amy, her Kindle and her Spree

Then MacLeod opened its doors and beer lovers in-gathered from the neighborhoods, in singles and pairs, to find we were part of a lost tribe. We had been passing each other at the gas station for years, sharing a tertiary overlap in the Venn diagram of Los Angeles.  And now we were met.

Macleod poured the ale, and it was Good. And the place had a sleek modern retro look, as though different decades had been telescoped into a single frame. Sort of like the woman in the picture above.

A month came and went and MacLeod didn’t close its doors.  Then another, followed by another, and Macleod kept pouring, and patronizing local artists.  Somehow people kept finding the place.  The Venn diagram expanded.

Now a year has gone by.  It’s hard to believe, because it seems much longer. So embedded it is in the shifting fates of the neighborhood the timeline of Van Nuys history now has a new point of demarcation: Before and After MacLeod.

The one-year anniversary is Sunday. Cask and Ye Shall Receive.   You can buy tickets here:   https://www.facebook.com/events/820734644669933/

There will be a caskapalooza of thirteen different local breweries, music by the Brilliant Gypsies and beer poetry by the talented Sam Wagner.   Our working-class Brigadoon has one up over everyone else.  I am Van Nuys, hear me kvell.  Thank you Jennifer and thank you Alastair for all you have done.


A private esplanade on Valleyheart


As bicyclists, birders and New Urbanists have long been aware,  there exists in digital space overlapping fever dreams of a Greenway along “51 miles of the LA River”.  A Google search will retrieve dozens of mock-ups.  This sublime alternative Los Angeles, we are given to expect,  is due to arrive by 2020.  Golden Road has already issued a commemorative IPA in celebration, sort of making it official.

Fifty-one miles would, by default, include the Valley.  Except that it won’t.  Unless one believes the western perimeter of the Valley is Universal City.  Cause that’s as far as the Greenway is going to extend.

Sssh. Don’t tell anyone.  People are too busy lining up for photo shoots with our money.

Besides, who bikes in the Valley?   Who walks, for that matter?

Los Angeles is spending $600 million replacing the viaduct between the Arts District and Boyle Heights with a mixed-use architectural showcase.  One block parallel to another bridge.

There are plans in motion to build a park atop the Hollywood Freeway. Price tag unknown.

The development of the Downtown to Elysian Valley segment of the Greenway, including parks, is going to run a billion dollars.

What are we getting in the Valley, west of the 170? This:


We’ve all seen Chinatown. We know the score.

To give the appearance of inclusion in the great Greenway, several short discontiguous pathways, a half mile in length, have been scattered here and there: Radford to Whitsett, Mason to De Soto, and now the most recent: along Valleyheart, between Sepulveda and Kester.  One can’t complain as to the landscaping. It’s very nice.   But disconnected from each other and from the rest of the system, they serve no practical purpose for the general public. One cannot pedal to the Zoo, and thence down the Glendale Narrows to Downtown, as I did yesterday.

They are, in effect, taxpayer-built private esplanades for the people who live nearby.   No one else will be using them. One gets the feeling people in those neighborhoods wanted it that way.

This is our Angeleno moment: Dubai in Hollywood, Detroit in the Valley.

Speaking of Detroit, Andy Hurvitz has urban renewal schemes for parking lots up in Van Nuys:

Future Gardens of Van Nuys?

Chaos, coming


You can feel it out there on the street now. Twenty years of sound public policy going up in smoke.

Along the Metrolink tracks, where I once saw two or three parolees and drug addicts during a single walk, I now see twenty.

At the North Hollywood Metro station, I step out of the car and a grown man on a child’s bike starts circling me as I cross the parking lot, making a whoop-whoop sound, circling tighter and tighter, till he’s almost clipping my knees, muttering incomprehensibly. A radio hangs from his neck on a string, blasting pointless static.   The Sheriff’s deputies who monitor the plaza entrance don’t lift a finger as he moves on to the next unsuspecting commuter.

On the train I meet two men with prison-issue telephone scars.  Two, in five minutes.

At home I turn on the TV and the mayor of Baltimore is granting “those who wished to destroy, the space to do that as well,”  to a backdrop of burning liquor stores and pharmacies.  The district attorney follows up by indicting six police officers for murder for failing to secure a prisoner with a seat belt.  In the ensuing month Baltimore records it highest murder rate in 40 years. Seemingly sober people appear on cable panel shows scratching their chins, wondering if cause and effect could be related.

The distance between those who effect policy and shape our discussion of it (The Clerisy, to use a term of art), and the rest of us has become unsustainably wide. There is a particular species of American who waxes sanctimonious about Social Justice but would never tolerate Section 8 tenants on his block for five minutes. They love chewing on phrases like mass incarceration, comfortable in the knowledge the parolees are headed for Van Nuys.   Such people are ascendant now.

The chaos is coming west.

I’m old enough to have seen this movie before. It doesn’t end well.

A Walkable City

Between the bungalows
For a million five, you can walk home on this path…
...this could be your neighbor's dooryard
…and this could be your neighbor’s dooryard.
The once and future bungalow
Behold the once and future Venice bungalow
Ponder the class struggle
Ponder the class struggle
The abandoned churchyard
Consider the riddle of the abandoned churchyard…
The value of modernist sculpture
..and the wit of modernist sculpture…
$650 lawn chairs made from scrap lumber
….and the spectacle of $650 lawn chairs made from scrap lumber.
The mystery of cross neighborhood political theater
Indulge in obscure cross-neighborhood political resentment

“Is Santa Monica a parasite to Venice? Every minute southbound planes leaving Santa Monica Airport, turn left over our blocks. Northbound ones turn right over the ocean so as not to disturb the rich white people north of Montana.  Santa Monica benefits at our expense with preferential parking, dog park use, only citing non-SM bike riders.”

For $1.5 million, you can bitch about the truly advantaged folks next door in Santa Monica, living at your expense.

Or you can get back in your car after a wonderful afternoon under a darkling sky and return to Van Nuys, where tagging is tagging, alleys are for dumpsters, and nobody walks anywhere.