Three Civic Oddities Outside Parthenia Street

I stumbled upon this DWP EV charging station, in the slightly-but-not-quite hoody enclave of North Hills East, mounted to a pole like a payphone, while bending down to pick up dog poop.

You just park and plug in.

Except you can’t right now because…the pump lurks below eye level, tucked demurely behind cars.  You’d never know it was there, unless….you already knew it was there, or were walking by.

But not for long. The City is going to re-designate the spaces EV only. Which would be lovely if the neighborhood, thick with apartment complexes operating at 150% of capacity, were a hotbed of Tesla ownership, which it isn’t.

The charging station is not for the locals, rather one in a network of 350 distributed around the city “so EV drivers can travel seamlessly across… service areas.”   If you’re returning to Encino in your Model S, and your battery is dying in North Hills, you’ll have a place to recharge once they repaint the curb and start ticketing the little people.

The very next pole sticking out of the ground has a sign banning overnight parking for a certain type of vehicle.

This type.  The kind which people live out of, but aren’t suppose to in Los Angeles, even though they were designed for expressly this purpose.

You can own an RV, but you can’t park it on the street. You can live in it, but only if its parked in your driveway.   You definitely can’t live in your RV on the street. But you can camp on the sidewalk indefinitely under a blue tarp or cardboard box or improvised pallet cabin, because…there is nothing to which the City of LA can affix a ticket.  You are outside the social contract, and in a small yet crucial way, free of obligations.

By carrots and sticks City Hall manipulates the transportation infrastructure, hoping to influence human behavior.   It moves the needle modestly while raising enormous sums from the public.

At the corner, we reached the graceful, sweeping curve of the Pacific Electric Red Car San Fernando line, orphaned 60 years ago.  Nothing has been done with it in that time. Not a dog park, not housing, not bike lanes, not retail.  Not even parking. People dump their old couches here.

Alternately, you could put in a trolley route, through the thickets of apartment buildings, seeing as how light rail is back in vogue. The rails are probably buried just beneath the asphalt, awaiting excavation.

If you’re keeping score at home, the civic hierarchy runs like this:
1. Tesla drivers
2. Valley landlords
3. Homeless people
4. Working class public transportation riders
5. RV people

An Artist’s Work

No ranch dressing needed
No ranch dressing required

I spent an inordinate amount of time last week meditating on our trip to P.F. Chang’s and why it outraged me so much.  On Friday at work, Bruce the Chef brought me a scotch egg.  I ate it standing up, on the loading dock, during my break.   It clarified a few things.

Peasant food, done right, can be the most satisfying meal you will ever know.

If the food is shiny on the plate, you’re in trouble.

If you can’t see the core ingredients in their original integrity, you are about to get ripped off.

Look… Mother Earth has been recreated in layers. A lightly breaded crust, a mantle of sausage meat, pinkish, not over-cooked, a core of egg white enfolding a bright sunflower of yolk, the molten core.  Each element in its proper portion, complementing the others. To add a dipping sauce of any kind would be a diminishment of the whole.

Free to me, four bucks to you at MacLeod.  All pleasure, no regret.  I had to remind myself it’s actually a fried product.  Bruce likes to mock himself as “a lunch lady at a grocery store”, but he knows enough to pick a quality egg, and honor the gift of the layer.

It made me feel bad, almost, for the grifters behind the grill at P.F. Chang’s. What goes through one’s mind, night after night, watching the stingily portioned shreds of bulk-issue beef shank from Restaurant Depot disappear into the breading, corn syrup, and branded “flavoring” in the giant wok, then fried until there’s nothing left of the source material but a memory? A dish that requires a picture on the menu to make the suckers at table 57 believe what they’re eating remotely matches the title.  Because their hypothalamuses are telling them otherwise.  You must have gone to cooking school of some kind. How do you live with yourself?

Cheap scotch. The kind they sell in half gallon plastic containers on the bottom shelf at BevMo.

Too harsh? Here’s a review:

"Food"
“Food”, $17.95
A chef's work. Made in Encino.
A chef’s work. 

Okay, I’m letting it go now.   Bruce’s pork pies and Scotch eggs will be at MacLeod on Sundays from time to time.

Way of the Cross

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If you are mocking someone this Easter season, ask yourself why.  Maybe these mockeries are not you.

If there is someone you are not speaking up for, ask yourself why not?  Where is your tongue?  Why do you lurk?

Human nature is a constant.  We are not perfectible.  But we can be a little better today than we were yesterday.