Eat Not the Pig, Say Hot Vegans

What is prosciutto?
Prosciutto, me?

There are two forms of persuasion in the militant vegan arsenal:  Behold The Horror, and Wouldn’t You Rather Be Pretty? If I didn’t already know this cause I married one, both were in abundant evidence at the VegFest at Woodley Park Sunday, which I was dragged to attended willingly!  Let’s gets started:

Horror #1:  Are you going to let this happen?
Horror #1: Are you just going to stand there and let this happen?
Beagle Face
#2: Beagle Face. Say no more.
#3: Wait, there's more. Enter the VR kill floor
#3: Wait, you haven’t seen the kill floor
On the other hand, hula hoops
On the other hand, hula hoops…
Ignore his Ugg boots
Ignore his Ugg boots. Watch the lady in the green kerchief 


The star attraction: Freelee the Banana Girl and her amazing torso, all the way from Australia, posing with star struck teenaged girls. She claims to eat 30 bananas day, and posts YouTube videos where she frets about becoming too skinny.  She also denies any use of supplements.  Cocaine, for example. Or Marlboros, or liposuction.  Plant-based gains! Everybody suck it!  Consider not Occam’s Razor. Enjoy the view.  I have no reason not to be persuaded.

The last summer of drones


You know this isn’t going to last much longer, don’t you?

Mounting a GoPro camera on your personal falcon to fly around the Valley at tree-top level…obeying your commands, delivering messages, packages….sniffing out backyards, taking inventory of the City from a vertical perspective, that’s just too cool and/or creepy and/or empowering, depending on your view.

Soon, the people’s airspace will be subject to regulation. Everything ten feet off the ground will be a subsidiary of Google.  The City will withdraw the air from the public domain. It’s only a matter of time.

There’s my snarky libertarian thought for springtime.

Welcome to Cratchit-ville

Home sweet casita
Home sweet casita, only $900/month

Last week I gave a co-worker a ride home.

‘Pull into this alley here. Now turn into this service alley.  Now slow down…stop here. This is it.’

What, this?

I was looking at a pair of hinges embedded in a wooden fence, next to garbage cans.

‘Yup. This is it. Thanks for the ride.”

“Is there a crazed ex-boyfriend lurking around your life?”

“My landlady won’t let me use the front entrance.  She is very adamant about it.”

She reached over the wall, grabbed a string and the wooden slats parted about thirty degrees and she slipped through. The ‘gate’ closed behind her, Bat Cave-like,  then looked like an ordinary fence again.   There was no street address or unit number to mark where she lived.

A few days later, it got cold.

‘There’s no heat in my place,’ she lamented.   Ask the landlady to fix the furnace, we suggested.  It’s Christmastime.

‘There’s no furnace.’

No furnace?  No wall heater? 

‘My apartment is kind of attached to the garage.  I don’t think it’s legal. I wanted to buy a space heater and deduct it from my rent, but she won’t let me.  Arguing with her about it is like trying to grab water.’

The person of whom I am writing is a) white,  b) educated,  c) sober,  d) works two jobs, like everyone else north of Ventura Blvd.   Van Nuys may not be Vladivostok, but a heat-less domicile is her lot this winter and she’s resigned to it. One might consider her at a slight advantage to the other tenant, the one who lives in the garage proper, who also has no heat…plus no insulation. No kitchen, either. $600.

Turning right at the corner, I was back on a street of ordinary mid-century homes in White Van Nuys, otherwise known as Lake Balboa, lined with sweet gums shedding the last of the autumn leaves.   Nothing suggested the parallel world of Bob Cratchit-like cells, small, cold and dismal, concealed just beyond the hedge work, from which certain homeowners profited handsomely.

There is a deep sub-culture of illegal units in Los Angeles.  Historically it has served the needs of the extended immigrant family: second cousins tucked away in converted Home Depot tool sheds.  The City has never taken it on directly because this would mean addressing the larger issue of the vast population of undocumented laborers concealed within its borders, without which the Westside would cease to function.  The Problem which has No Name in Polite Society.  We can’t enforce laws relating to citizenship so we don’t enforce laws relating to those would exploit the legal disadvantage of the undocumented.  Once you carve out a zone of immunity in civil society, it doesn’t stop with Hondurans. We all take a step back in the direction of Dickensian London, toward a Manicheanistic world of the propertied and the un-propertied.

Welcome to Cratchit-ville.

Signpost at the oasis

Anything to bring in the trade
Anything to bring in the road trade
I'm not sure it's working
I’m not sure it’s working

I hadn’t heard of alkaline Kangen water and had to look it up.  It promises to promote good digestion, reverse aging, fend off cat allergies, ameliorate acid reflux, restore pH balance, ease arthritis pain, among other maladies.  Then again, as with so many products hawked by 2 AM cable TV pitchmen, it may do none of the above.   Tony Robbins loves Kangen water. Make of that what you will.

Here’s an alternative suggestion:  ICE COLD BEER $4. A/C ALWAYS ON

Springbok, 10 AM

Germany 1, USA 0
Germany has just scored. One person on the patio is happy.

I spent the Ghana-USA match chatting with a guy from Guadalajara, now an American citizen,  who candidly told me he had a public breakdown, with tears, on the patio of Springbok in 2010 when Mexico was eliminated. In the round of 16. If they got past the quarterfinal this summer, he couldn’t be responsible for himself.

Both Mexico and USA have advanced to the knockout round. Only Belgium, Argentina, Netherlands and Greece stand between the joy of the past two weeks and a city-dividing, household-dividing, bullets-in-the-air, flags-on-trucks, beer-bottles-in-the-streets test of loyalty in the semi-finals. What then? A moment of truth for Los Angeles.

It could happen
Dual loyalty on Delano Street

Just off Woodley, next to the airport

House proud, Van Nuys version
Trailer proud in Lake Balboa

I’m consistently amazed when I meet people to find they’re paying $700-$900 for a room in someone’s house. In the Valley. In one of those don’t wear shoes inside don’t watch TV in the living room don’t take a dump in the bathroom without lighting up a Glade and preferrably not at all don’t have people over don’t park in the driveway never bring GMO food into the kitchen confine yourself to the left side of the third shelf of the fridge arrangements.   People with mortgages and insufficient income go on Craigslist and summon forth strangers to service their debt for them, while somehow acceding to demands to leave invisible footprints in a two-bedroom house. I’m further amazed people who work retail, or do digital piece work or hustle gigs as production assistants are paying these prices.   But this is the way we live now in Los Angeles, doubled and tripled up together, somehow making it work. By comparison,  a funky Airstream trailer next to the Van Nuys airport has a certain appeal.  Note the tidy mise-en-place. The front porch coziness.   It almost looks inviting. Until you consider what it would be like in July.

Still life, with flags and flowers
Future housing, with flags and flowers

What’s the alternative?  Well, there’s this…and in the near future, the cargo container, the next resource material in the New Urbanist architectural movement.  The door is already open, beckoning us…