Dear John…

Yeah you, douchebag

Yeah you, douchebag

“Your car has been seen on Sepulveda Blvd, a known area of street prostitution.”

“If you aren’t soliciting, you have no reason to worry about finding one of these letters in your mailbox. But if you are, you and your wife or family will have something to discuss at dinner. This letter will discourage you from returning. Soliciting for sex in our neighborhoods is not okay.”

“Our license plate readers are everywhere.”

Sincerely, Nury Martinez 

Since my car is frequently seen on Sepulveda Blvd., I guess I can look forward to receiving many such notices like this.

Mrs. UpintheValley‘s car is on Sepulveda twice daily. In fact,  she’s in the habit of frequenting the known prostitution hot spot that is the Jon’s supermarket parking lot, the better to prize meat for her husband.  No, really.  You don’t think…?

Gee, and to think we were sharing the same bed all these years.

Morning, Ho

Working the commuter trade

Sepulveda, 8 AM

Seeing a gaggle of booty-shorted women working a corner in the harsh, unforgiving morning light, one thinks: who does this?  Who pulls over in the middle of the commute, in full view of the yoga moms and clock punchers and school buses and negotiates a curbside transaction for full release? 

Men do.  Otherwise these ladies wouldn’t be here.

The Daily News profiled an undercover operation not long ago, in which the first john nabbed was suddenly surrounded by his wife, mother and kids, all yelling at the police demanding to know why he was being arrested. It turned out he was procuring his…date…down the block from his house. In daylight.

Men. We stupid sometimes.

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.”

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

‘Yo no soy una puta mierda’

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Sepulveda, Sunday afternoon.  A blogger we all know is biking to the gym.   Up ahead he sees a…potential photo subject…promenading along the sidewalk, a celebration of booty short, thigh tattoo and wedge clogs.

As he reaches for his trusty point and shoot, a utility van cuts to the curb in front of him, interposing between photographer and subject.

The van driver honks at the woman.  Two short demanding beeps. Turn your ass around, business is at hand.

She spins on her heel, displeased.   She lets him know.

“Yo no soy una puta mierda, mother—–”

The driver is confused.  The Woman Presumed To Be a Ho advances angrily on the Man Who Would Be Her John. She slaps the front of his van.  He shrugs, looks at her in bewilderment, as though to say, ‘what was I to think?’

“Yo no soy una puta mierda!”  And off she clomped.

Cindy vs. Nury, Part Deux

Matching lipstick and dress? Wedding ring on display? Check.

My lipstick matches my dress? Check. Wedding ring on display? Check.

Nury Martinez has Good Hair.  Even by lofty Latina standards,  Latinas being naturally advantaged in all matters coiffure, Nury has gorgeous, telenovela quality hair.  That’s my takeaway from last night’s ‘debate’ between her and repeat challenger for la jefa of Council District Seis, Cindy Montanez.

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Cindy’s no slouch in the hair department herself, though.  She’s abandoned the pantsuits of 2013 and adopted a kind of I-shop-at-Costco-just-like-the-rest-of-you-Van Nuysians look. And I can prove it, see? I just toss it carelessly over my shoulder along with my sensible bag and push my own grocery cart across the lot to my minivan. 

If I didn’t know she pocketed over a million dollars in taxpayer money from a pair of political patronage appointments while waiting for the party machine to clear a seat for her, I’d almost believe it.

Now wait a minute, you might be thinking. What kind of misogynistic nonsense is this?  These women are professionals. One of them is your councilperson. How dare you dissect their appearance. For shame.

Well, they didn’t leave us much choice in the matter. Because there wasn’t a whole lot of substantive distinction between the two.

They’re both Opposed to Street Prostitution. Opposed! Asked what they do in the way of interdiction both women emotively delineated the state of play on Sepulveda Blvd and left it at that.  This re-describing the problem in lieu of answering the question would prove to be the operative template of the evening in all questions relating to Van Nuys.  Budget shortfall?  Tough decisions need to be made. Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour?  It’s hard living on $10/hour.  It requires further study. Developing Van Nuys Blvd?  It used to be nicer when we were growing up, now it’s blighted. We should work with the business community to improve it.

In matters pertaining to the Great Wide Realm Over Which the Council Has No Authority, they offered opinions freely.  Alternative energy?  Yea. Fracking? Nay. GMO foods? Double Nay. Free trade? We should be very concerned, but…yes. Er, unless it takes away American jobs.  Then no. Sort of the way they both favor alternative energy mandates, as long as they don’t raise electricity rates, which of course they do and which have already locked in a 30% surcharge on every DWP bill for life.

These were not helpful questions for undecided voters, frankly, and the moderator would have done better to skip them.

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Which brings us back to…presentation.

Cindy, I have to say, came off well in that respect.  She grew on me as the meeting wore on.  My ears pricked up at the mention of the civic impact of aesthetic improvements in San Fernando.  It made me wish she showed up at my house as promised 18 months ago.

You can file this under condescending remarks from a white guy, but she’s articulate.  Nury….I’m not sure what’s going on there. She’s hanging on to a rather baroque accent for a college graduate raised in the United States.  This may be an entirely political calculation for all I know. In the absence of policy differences, each side appeared to be utilizing semaphores to hint at who they were and whose votes they were seeking.

As a side note, Nury packed the room with shills who punctuated her pablum with orchestrated clapping and cheering. This was off-putting, and toward the end of the meeting skirted the edge of outright intimidation. Not an attractive look for an incumbent.  She would be well-advised not to repeat this if there’s to be a return match.

**Andrew Hurvitz was in attendance as well and, as always, has his own amusing take: Power For the People’s Own Good.

The shooter at the Palm Tree Inn

Do I look familiar?

Do you know me?

It would be hard to miss this guy, don’t you think? Nineteen days after gunning down two men outside the 7-11 at Roscoe and Sepulveda, one-eyed, face-tatted, heat-packing, quick-on-the-trigger Angel Santana was apprehended at the Palm Tree Inn…a block from the crime scene.   The motel was also the ‘residence’ of DeShawn Miles, one of the victims.

To quote Capt. Todd Chamberlain of the LAPD:  “There’s something more to it than race, whether it’s gang, whether it’s some other activity.”  Hmmm, I’m stumped. What other sort of activity could this be?

Somehow -for 19 days- this guy was at large in the neighborhood, despite having his face on TV.  I don’t think that speaks well of a lot of people.  As it happened, I walked through North Hills twice in that period, with camera and dog, and was confronted at one point by a tattooed sh**head straddling his bike and warily eyeballing passerby on Sepulveda.  He wanted to know how long ‘I’d been working with the police’.  I chalked it up to random street hassle at the time.  Now I wonder if there wasn’t more to it.

He was parked in front of the Palm Tree Inn.

Two or three things about North Hills

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Two weeks ago two men were gunned down in front of the 7-11 on Sepulveda and Roscoe.   Their address was listed as the Palm Tree Inn.  Last night, fresh off watching Her, I walked up Sepulveda into North Hills.  I saw the usual women working the motels. Also people pushing churro carts and selling flowers.  Day laborers carrying duffel bags to the launderia.

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On Parthenia St, a man in front of the Igelsia Evangelista beckoned passerby into a service which was about to begin.  He handed me a religious tract.  ‘It’s important information. It is good for you. I promise.’   It explained how Christ would bridge the gap between sin and everlasting life. There was a place on the back for me to sign my confession.  Across the street another service was beginning at the Ministerio Cristiano Dios Con Nostros.  There weren’t enough chairs and people stood in the doorway.   Around the corner a man with a bullhorn stood behind a chain link fence beseeching people playing futbol at the North Hills Rec Center to repent and join him. His church was large and empty.

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I walked up Langdon Street and saw people emerging from their cars with creaky limbs after a long days work.  I saw people standing shirtless in open windows, their bellies hanging out in the evening breeze.  The shrieks of children playing in a scrum behind fortified gates of garden apartments filled the air.  Mattresses and couches were piled up on the sidewalks awaiting bulky item pickup.  Men with neck tattoos pushed baby strollers while their baby mamas kept up a steady patter of conversation.  People repaired their cars in the street. Gypsy merchants sold goods out of vans double parked in driveways.

On Sepulveda a police officer was talking to two prostitutes.  ‘I heard someone’s daddy was killed recently over at the 7-11.’  They shrugged indifferently.  In front of the Palm Tree Inn, a gang banger straddling a bicycle saw my camera and wanted to know how long I’d ‘been working with the police’.  I ignored him, and continued south, back to Van Nuys.