Jesus, R.I.P.

IMG_8633

Jesus was driving on Willis Avenue Sunday night, when he was cut off by another car. At the stoplight on Roscoe Blvd., he exited his vehicle and approached the offending driver, intending to confront him.    In response, five shots were fired through the window, and the car sped away. Jesus died in the street. His family watched the craziness unfold from inside their car.

A father of two, reduced to a sidewalk shrine of novena candles in 30 seconds.

No words were exchanged.

Rage, rooted in the French Latin: rabies.

We speak of rage as something we fall into, or are thrown into,  like a pit. Perhaps it is somewhat different. Perhaps it is the moment the Holy Spirit leaves our body.  A wrinkle not only in time but an interruption in the flow of consciousness.  On any given day we might be triggered in some way, expend our rage in a Reichian moment, then come back to ourselves.  But on this day Jesus Alejandro Benitez Jaimez encountered someone more rage-filled and intemperate than himself, putting his soul at hazard. He threw caution into the void and from the void the Devil extracted his due.

There are those who disagree with a spiritual interpretation. Rage is purely chemical, they feel.  A chain reaction out of the hypothalamus. As random as weather.

Imagine a blue fin tuna swimming off the coast of Japan, ending up on a sushi plate.  Why that particular fish, out of all the fish in the world?  How did it wind up in that particular net, hoisted into a certain boat, sold at auction X, to distributor Y,  and put on a pallet to Long Beach, and not to Singapore? Was it destined for my belly, and no other?

Rage-and-anger-fresco

We may feel, and indeed be, very small on a planetary scale. But we retain moral agency over the forces of light and darkness within us. When a garden variety traffic annoyance triggers a fight-or-flight response, something else is going on. I submit the Spirit has been abandoned.

Goodbye, Eucalyptus

First, we get rid of the trees
First, we get rid of the trees

It had to happen eventually. The carcass of Montgomery Ward on Roscoe Blvd, empty for fifteen years, our weed-sprouted, broken asphalt slice of Detroit-on-the-Pacific,  is about to be transformed into Icon at Panorama, a discount version of The Grove.  Or something with chain stores, anyway.  Sometime in 2019.

DSC_0027-A

Why it should take so long is a mystery.  For now, the trees, ghostly sentinels from a lost episode of The Walking Dead, have met the chainsaw.

DSC_0018 (1)

Trunk-burnt,  twisting from the asphalt toward a merciless sun, defying the death to which they had been consigned by the abandoned schemes of commerce.  A foreshadow of life after people.

CicLAvia comes to Pacoima

IMG_4134

This guy rode the entire course backwards
This guy rode the entire course backwards
Fat white lady crosses street, causes commotion
This lady waddled into the street, causing commotion
Speaking of white people....
Speaking of white people….

Today was my fifth CicLAvia, and the first in which I’ve seen the forum used for an organized protest.  Pacoima (90% Latino) is an odd location for White People (TM) to take their message of chastisement of Other White People.    Was the idea that few white people would be there to see, or be insufficient in number to reach critical mass and begin to jeer?    A message on their Facebook page exhorts people to show up at CicLAvia en masse to Stand Against White Terror.

White Terror! Right here in River City Pacoima!

As I took this picture a white woman rode past and called out to them in an encouraging, sing-song voice ‘to vote for Bernie’.

Otherwise, they were ignored.  A group of LAPD officers, the principal target of their ire, followed at a discreet distance, for their protection.   You know, from the aggrieved white supremacist contingent laying in wait in Pacoima.

This is the real Pacoima
This is the real Pacoima
...and this.
…and this.

Lost! Black Kitten!

IMG_1766

No matter how bad/annoying/bloating/unhappy your Thanksgiving was, alternatively, you could be living on pavement under a tarp in the shadow of Living Spaces.  The locus of your holiday concern could involve getting the cat back.

How many people live under that tarp?  How many kittens?  What happened at 6 PM, when someone’s back was turned?  We called the number, but it was disconnected.

There was a shirtless man waist high in the tarps this afternoon. He told me someone did find the kitten,  across the street at the gas station, then took her home to his apartment.  When he saw the signs, he told the squatters he would bring her back.  When he got home from work, the cat had escaped again and was roaming his apartment complex at Valerio and Lennox..

The Tarp Man is going to put up some new signs, near where the cat was last seen.

“God be with you,” I told him.

“God is always with me,”  he replied.

He wore a ring on his wedding finger.

Now let’s all enjoy our third piece of leftover pie.

The Blue Tarp Exodus

Moving Day
Moving Day, again…

IMG_1343

The white favela, having been forcibly dispersed from its redoubt along Cabrito Road two months ago,  re-established itself in small clusters around Van Nuys.   The largest of these was adjacent to the Smart and Final, which was, in a hat tip to the Law of Unintended Consequences, a mere hundred feet from the old favela, but ten times as visible from Van Nuys Blvd, or to anyone coming out the Home Depot parking lot.  I was there yesterday buying beer for my coolies my friend Marcus, who was helping me terrace the front yard with native succulents.  This is was what we saw when we pulled into the parking lot.  The cashier told us business had been off 30% in recent weeks. Smart and Final was suing the city and there was a hearing scheduled for the 29th.

IMG_1364

This morning we returned to the Depot for more soil, and lo, the blue tarps were gone. The street swept bare of all traces of the encampment.  A few police cars were parked at the end of the block. A city vehicle was collecting debris.  It was the 28th.

Gone, baby, gone.

IMG_1365

But not really. All over Van Nuys, the favela was on the move.

IMG_1367

Their barrows heaped with shoddy, temporarily abandoned here and there, while they went back for the rest.

IMG_1370

IMG_1368

They will circumnavigate the un-policed areas of the Valley until they gather in such numbers as to be a recognized nuisance again. And by recognized, I mean the next time the City receives a notice of legal action on a corporate letterhead.

Winter is coming. They won’t be going North.