Cratchit-ville, USA


The man who lives here works for a living, itinerantly, with his hands.   This is one of three illegal casitas tucked into the backyard of another house, each cobbled together from found materials.

For the longest time Rod had a tool van parked on the street with “Hire a Handyman” painted on the side.  Not long ago it disappeared without explanation.  He might have sold it to pay for something he shouldn’t, but I didn’t pry. Yesterday I encountered him trying to push a broken down RV with no windows into the driveway. His arm was in a cast. The transmission was missing, but it rolled, and he thought it might make a useful storage for his tools. I pushed it up the incline with his car, then he cranked it the last ten feet with a come-a-long strapped to the porch post, so the gate was able to close.

With the closing of the gate, one small problem was resolved. Fresh ones beckoned. The RV windows needed to be replaced to keep rain from getting in and harming the tools.  There was the longer matter of re-establishing his presence around Van Nuys without a work van that said ‘Hire a Handyman’ on the side.  Or should he get work, how to fit his tools into a two-door rice rocket with no muffler and expired registration tags.  Or, if he got pulled over, how to replace the muffler.

Working, poor. An endless chain of $200 problems.  A man does himself honor everyday he doesn’t throw in the towel, crawl under a blue tarp by the railroad tracks and sign up for public assistance.

My friend Johnny has a lot more on the topic of itinerant labor, up in the Bay Area.   He’s well worth reading.


Lemme tell ya 'bout white chicks
Lemme tell ya ’bout white chicks…

Hot, flirty, white girls….they’s coming! To Van Nuys!   They bringing yoga and chopsticks and spaghetti strap tops with them.  How lucky can a town get?


Welcome to Sherman Circle, a strategic hamlet of 340 units, plunked down amidst the muffler shops and storefront pentecostal churches of upper Van Nuys Blvd, which is in another county, apparently, unmentioned in the brochure. Single bedrooms start at $1900, and the ladies are already un-packing,  rocking them low-rise, distressed denim skinny jeans.  See?  They getting ready to do pilates and spinning and…is that a white dog in the picture? Why, yes.

IMG_4055 (1)

They going to hang out by the pool in bikinis flexing their toes in the sun, and contemplate craft cocktails and the lint in their navels, and…who is that dusky person, upstaging the tableau?  Shoo, fly! Shoo!


High terraces contemplate the low patio.  The low patio contemplates central air. The once and future Van Nuys, lips together, teeth apart.