What would you call a store with a business model founded on bulk liquor at warehouse prices, discount cigarettes, snack foods in family-sized portions, and an abundance of opiate-based medications? Toss in an aisle or two of wart remover and tampons and we call it CVS pharmacy. Sav-On, Osco, Caremark, all duly devoured, new CVS stores are going up like kudzu all over the Valley. Clean, bright, and always with ample parking. Like Burger King if Burger King was a smack emporium. Considering for a moment the leading causes of sorrow and disease in America…what would God call it?
This used to be the worst block in the valley, and the locus of the first civil anti-gang injunction in Los Angeles. So bad was its reputation, up to only a few years ago pizza franchises would refuse delivery to any address on Blythe Street, even in a different neighborhood. Now, on a Tuesday afternoon, bikes are left, at least momentarily, unattended.
If you frequent the Orange Line bike path or LA Fitness on Sepulveda, you may have seen him before. He sleeps in an old RV parked on the street. By day, he pulls his….lawn chair/rolling pallet around Van Nuys with his menagerie of dogs. Some ride, others trail alongside. There used to be five. Now there’s four. Women bring him dog food. And money. He doesn’t panhandle. The contraption does the work for him.
A half mile long and thirteen feet high, among the longest murals in the world, spanning California history from the pre-Columbian period to the 1980’s. The brainchild of Chicana artist Judy Baca, it was re-painted in 2011…the colors remain vivid and bright even after two years in the sun. Worth seeing before it fades again Coldwater and Burbank.