Gaslighting of America

This was NoHo, two months ago

How long did they think a free people were going to accept this?  Now that warm weather is here again and we are approaching herd immunity, oh, how the little Commissars of Public Good, the unaccountable issuers of edicts desire this belle epoque of Maximum Karen to continue.

We will have a vaccine before the end of 2020, said the President Who Shall Not Be Named. Nonsense, declaimed the doctors of Twitter medicine on cable news. The week after the election it was announced we had two.  Everyone will be vaccinated by April, said President W.S.N.B.N. Oh please, said the blue checkmarked Experts. Not a chance. Fact check! This week Biden announced 90% of Americans will have a vaccine available by April 19th, within five miles of where they live.

There is a preference cascade about to happen. People are on the verge of de-masking themselves.  Without permission. With the edifice of Soviet-level disinformation crumbling, what is Karen, Inc. to do?  Hmmm…oh I know, new strains! Mutations, from dark and distant continents. Not scary enough? Try this. The vaccine may not work after six months, a year…some point in the future.  If everything just re-opens, how will we incentivize people to do what we say?

A passport.  Yes, a vaccine passport, for safety. To enter all places of business. To travel. To attend school or have dinner. To partake of America, first display your checkmark of good citizenship.

The architecture is already in place, on your phone. So convenient!  Now the vaccine is no longer tied to health, it is tied to freedom. Take it away, Naomi Wolf:

“…it’s not about virus, it’s the data. The vaccine is an excuse, a Trojan Horse, to get you to agree to a platform that is ALREADY 360 degree surveillance, geolocation, turns society off and on.
“Once this platform is ‘mandated’ you can no longer opt in or out of out as you do when you sign ‘I agree’ to terms and conditions on a website. You’ll be FORCED to ‘agree’ in order to work, socialize, travel. Then any functionality – social credit system that turns PayPal off..”

Naomi is a lefty. I can’t tell you how refreshing this is.  One of the unexpected oddities of 2020 was the exodus of dissent liberals from woke media to the Substack platform: Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Andrew Sullivan and Bari Weiss…to make a fearless witness against the perfidy of woke cancel culture.

Remember, we off-gas data from our phones perpetually. Think of your digital ghost as a form of opposition research against yourself. The virtual You is in the hands of five corporations with a clear political agenda and a willingness to act on it.  They have already assembled a social credit score for you in all but name. They have used it to make money off you for years, now they will use it against you to implement restraints on behalf of government bureaucrats. Restraints which the government is prohibited from enacting.

This is the passport, ladies and gentlemen. When they ask, show them this.

Now take your mask off.  You’re being gaslighted.

Shantytown, Inc.

There is nothing quite so permanent as a temporary solution, to quote a friend of mine.

Ad hoc structures sprout like fungi across the cityscape, cobbled together by the People of the Favela from found materials. Kiewit/Shea and the Army Corps of Engineers have nothing on the 77th MethHead Mobile Assembly Brigade.  They get it done overnight.

These domiciles cost the public nothing except sanitation, aesthetics, fire safety, petty crime, our collective dignity and quality of life, i.e., property values.

So what would we pay to rid ourselves of eyesores?

Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News

How would you feel about $8,600? That’s the price of a two-person Pallet house in a Tiny Home Village. Considering the alternative: $700,000 “transitional housing” apartments with granite countertops and a ten-year horizon line, this a bargain.  Sounds good to me.

Fonda Rosing/Hope of the Valley

On Monday the first Tiny House hamlet in L.A. opened on Chandler Blvd in NoHo.  Forty 8×8 cabins, each with its own A/C unit and WiFi. Communal showers and support services for 75 people.  A second Village is due to open this spring, adjacent to the 170 freeway near Valley Plaza.

There are numerous publically-owned slivers of ground like this, many tucked in enticingly out of the way locations across the county.  The Pallet houses can be trucked in and carted away as needed, allowing for flexibility and, crucially, impermanence. Call it Ad Hoc Plus.

But…
You knew this was coming, right?
You’re living in Mayor Garbageciti’s City.
Where the public trough has no bottom.
Where Shantyown, Inc. is King.

The true price of these Pallet houses, to the taxpayer: $130,000.

Scratching your head on this one?  Let the Times summarize for us:

A breakdown provided by the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering shows that the contract provides $1.5 million just to prepare the site.

It also includes $122,000 for underground utilities, $253,000 for concrete pads (one for each shelter), $312,000 for an administrative office and staff restroom, $1.1 million for mechanical, electrical and fire alarms and $280,000 for permits and fees.

Additionally, the city has budgeted $651,000 to connect to the street sewer line and $546,000 in design, project management and inspection costs.

The key phrase is concrete pad. The houses were designed to be dropped off on pallets, or any manner of wooden support, and relocated when circumstances desired, much like a job site Porta-Potty. Impermanence is their nature.   Anchoring it to concrete is making a temporary solution an ever-lasting one.

I have the calculator out, running the numbers, and coming up with $73,446 per unit.  Into whose pocket is the other $56,554 going?  The Times is incurious on this point.

The City of Riverside erected an identical village in December, same manufacturer, for $21,ooo a house.  In Washington and Oregon, they’re getting them up for $12,000.

The journey from $12K to $130K is the distance between necessity and avarice, between a city that works and one that doesn’t.

NoHo, Alexanderplatz

In the beginning of the Valley portion of our lives, we almost bought a house on this street in NoHo, a few blocks from here, but we hesitated because the neighborhood was zoned for apartment buildings, which until recently meant 1960’s dingbat courtyards, two story, eight units. A cluster of tapia palms growing where the pool used to be.  A metal gate in the front.

There were maybe two buildings like that on the block.  That was too much for me. Think of all the people we’d have coming and going!  It wouldn’t be…neighborly.   So, Van Nuys for us.   Little did we know.

Now, NoHo is Berlin Alexanderplatz.  Extruded mid-rise transit oriented development, built to curb,  ground floor retail, six floors of windows and balconies, design schemes running from Bento Box to discount Art Moderne, varied enough to disguise the monotony of identical rooflines.    Low installation cost, high return on rent. Hundreds of people per lot, instead of dozens.

In Los Angeles the height limit on wood framing is four stories, so in the first years coming out of the recession, that’s what you saw in most places. Then the money got so good…the human tide of urban enthusiasts willing to drop the the annual salary of a midwesterner on a two-bedroom apartment so profligate,  the land values so overheated, it made more sense to drop the popsicle stick skeleton onto a two-story concrete podium and fatten the profit margins.  Two plus four is six, and a 50% markup.

An Instagrammable Life is the sales point. Live here, feel Adjacent to Something.    You know you must be part of something because there’s yoga downstairs and a pokè bowl at the corner. Everyone is pretty, near-pretty or pretty good at faking it and busy shedding the skin of their former lives.

People who live in these buildings don’t actually ride public transit. The people who pull shifts at the pokè bowl? They ride the Orange Line and live in squalorous dhimmitude behind metal bars at the Canoga Palms with telenovelas and Call Of Duty blaring from every window, box fans twirling six months a year, hot diapers and curry wafting through the courtyard.  The Valley primitive, loud and intimate.

NoHo Alexanderplatz is Disneyland for millennials. Few millennials can afford it, yet here they are. Someone’s paying their freight, because the math never adds up.   Another civic truth we don’t say out loud.

The most successful actor I knew, a guy who appeared on network television consistently, six figure income, an actual face on a billboard, he lived in NoHo, but it wasn’t in a building like this. He lived -for years- like a mouse on a ground floor unit without A/C, tin foil on the windows to reflect the sun, and saved his per diem until he could buy a condo. He knew how quickly it could end.

Lifestyle Porn may now be LA’s primary industry, since nobody pays for actual porn any more. What happens to NoHo when people stop subsidizing the pretty ones?

Bikestock Comes to the Valley

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Earlier this week I was concerned my fever dreams of bike-centric development for the Valley would founder on the shoals of low turnout.  Ours would be the first CicLaVia in which no one from the neighborhood showed up.  In my more cynical moments, the Valley can be reliably disappointing.

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It didn’t take long to see my concerns were unfounded.

Really unfounded.  For a few hours Ventura Blvd was Beijing, 1972.
For a few hours Ventura Blvd was Beijing, 1972.
Except with more dogs
Except with more dogs…
And Go Pro cameras
…and Go Pro cameras
And street dancers
Street dancers.
Whole families with sno-cones
Whole families with sno-cones
Everybody got their freak on
Everybody got their freak on
Cigar, Big Gulp and gold rims.  Enough said.
Cigar, Big Gulp and gold rims. The 818, tableau vivant.

Night Soliloquy

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Do not forsake this woman, whatever you do.

Forget cheating on her.

If you do, do not fall asleep with pruning shears in the house.

Don’t tell her she needs to lose weight.

When asked for the truth, tell her what she wants to hear.

If you’re becoming bored, feign delight.

Cause there is no way you are breaking up with her.

She will have something to say about that.

Like she did the last guy.

The mystery of Norah’s Place

Quarter to eight and not a soul in the joint
Quarter to eight on a mid-summer’s eve and not a soul in the joint

There are certain mysteries of the Valley I have yet to unravel, and one of them is how this restaurant manages to stay open without customers, despite having, after Pit Fire grill, perhaps the second best location on Lankershim Blvd.  Great corner building. 270 degree visibility. Natural feng shui. Easy parking.  Foot traffic most restaurants would kill for.  Ample room for sidewalk tables. A neighborhood on the come up…a live theater district in short walking distance. And yet…every time I go by…empty!  How is this possible?

Maybe it has something to do with the food. Or the service. Or the decor…it just cries out for Gordon Ramsay.