Take the Copper, Leave the Drywall

Tweaker…picking the remains, Van Nuys.

The timbers, I notice, are well-preserved, straight-grained and true.  Old growth, probably. You can’t get it anymore, at any price.

Anything hockable has been stripped, hauled off in shopping carts and bartered at the scrapyard, then converted to crack cocaine and exhaled,  unsatiated, in a fit of tachycardia in a tent by the Orange Line.  The metals will journey onward via container to Long Beach, then China, which will melt it down and sell it back to us as a consumer good.

In a couple days, perhaps tomorrow, the carcass will be demolished along with the other homes and taken to the landfill, save the fireplace masonry, with will be salvaged by the specialist, and retailed for a buck a piece at Balboa Brick.


Bamboo flooring! Oh, the hopes someone once had for the place.

…and a swimming pool, even though the backyard abutted the 405. The concrete will be broken down into aggregate and live again, as some sort of structural underlayment, perhaps as a breakwater.

In six months the lots will be consolidated and a six story Bento Box apartment building will sprout in their place.

I think of the Moroccan tile we installed over the summer.    How satisfying it felt as the back butter grabbed the floor and the corners met precisely, within 1/32 an inch of tolerance.  How permanent.

Rebecca Has No Tent

Life on twenty pounds of copper a week
Life on twenty pounds of copper a week

After a summer without a sighting, I found Rebecca tonight in the scrubland behind the 405.

A woman was sitting on the Metrolink tracks, lacing up her shoes, bellowing incoherently into the ailanthus: Whag-gle!  Whah-gul!  It took me a moment to realize she was trying to say “White Eagle”. I walked through the bushes in the direction the woman was shouting and found Rebecca dragging her cart across the dirt.

She’d lost a little weight since May.  It hadn’t been going well.    The Valley was pretty well picked for scrap. The battalions of the white favela had seen to that. A weeks work of scrapping net a little over 20 pounds of copper coil. A steady drop in metal prices meant the Raymer street yard was paying $1.60/lb.  Her old man was drinking it away in front of the 7-11 at Roscoe and Sepulveda.  They had been living on Orion for awhile but had recently gotten bounced by local merchants. Before that, The Narrows. Before that, Saticoy.

Someone had stolen her tent while she was at the recyclers.  She had no money for a new one. She was on the move.

For the time being, they were sleeping behind Jack in the Box until they figured it out it.