Ogdenville, North Haverbrook…Van Nuys

Coming in 2033, or 2057. Or maybe not at all.

Lyle Lanley stopped by. He has a monorail to offer us.

It’s official. Two consortiums have been hired to submit plans to LA Metro for the decades-in-discussion Sepulveda Pass Project.  Numinous configurations have been proposed over the years but the finalists are:

Sepulveda at Weddington

1) A $6 billion monorail above ground from the Expo Line in West LA to the Van Nuys Amtrak station, splitting the 405, or:

The Bechtel version
The Bechtel Map

2) A $10 billion heavy rail line (think NYC) running underground from UCLA to Sherman Oaks, coming up for air just south of Valley Vista, then becoming an aerial over Sepulveda Blvd.

Stranded in traffic, we are to weep in envy as it zips over our heads.

Both plans terminate at the yet-to-break ground East Valley Metro line on Van Nuys Blvd. Both hang a hard right at Raymer Street and claim to reach the Bundy Expo Line station in 20 minutes.

All that infrastructure headed right for Mr. UpintheValley’s backyard.  Who knew?  I would feel like a rather cunning real estate buyer if I didn’t know how long this will take.

It would be the biggest public works project in California since…High-Speed Rail from Bakersfield to Modesto. The 405 in the Sepulveda Pass is the most congested stretch of freeway in the United States. In a reasonable and rational world we would have built this instead, built it 20 years ago, or at least during the four years we spent widening the roadway, but here we are.

The terminus

The Raymer Street angle fascinates me, having walked through this low rise industrial neighborhood for years: granite yards, supply houses and weed shops.  The Favela sprouting at the edges.  The two rail lines need to intersect somewhere and the Amtrak/Metrolink station would make it a 3-for-1.  But there is no getting around the fact the train would be going to a location which for now lacks housing.

To make it pencil out, the area will have to be rezoned mixed-use residential.  What am I saying? Nothing has to pencil out. We are in the uncanny valley of architectural renderings and near-futurism.  Wait till the Sherman Oaks and Bel Air Homeowners associations get into the mix.

As an opium dream its frigging awesome.

Two or three things about Her


We watched Her last night and were given a glimpse of Los Angeles in the Near Future, as nice liberal Hollywood folks would like it to be.  It is a city which looks a whole lot like….Shanghai.  Except with white people.   Lots of white people.  It’s a Los Angeles without houses. Or traffic. Or strip malls.  Or bodegas. Or any Latinos.  Or manual labor of any kind. Imagine a Benneton ad airbrushed of two-thirds of the faces, and plunked down into a utopian city designed by Apple.   The characters all work in social media, spend their days interacting with technology, and are whisked home on silent trains to glass-box apartments with polished floors.

Who polishes these floors?
Who polishes these floors?

This bright future is of course only physically possible through the off-screen labor of a vast blue collar army, from construction to maintenance, who apparently live far away in a forest somewhere and stitch things together like the birds and squirrels in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.  When beta male Joaquin Phoenix sits across from Olivia Wilde at a restaurant, unseen hands whisk plates away and refill glasses. Everyone is coming home from a shopping excursion at an expensive boutique, or enjoying an outing vaguely associated with cultural enrichment.  There is no drudgery and nobody’s fat.    It’s a paradise on earth for tech nerds. In addition to Olivia Wilde,  Theodore, slump-shouldered in his high-waisted pants and buster browns, manages to attract and spurn Rooney Mara, Amy Adams and a fourth unnamed hottie who physically embodies Scarlett Johansson who in turn embodies the voice of the O/S of Theodore’s new computer and with whom he has fallen in love only to have the operating system outgrow him and leave for another O/S inspired by Alan Watts, the man who introduced Zen buddhism to America.

Trust me, it makes sense in the context of the film.

If the future as seen by Spike Jonze is one is which cubicle workers live on a scale comparable to one-percenters today, they seem to be…if not miserable, then oddly unfulfilled by all the ease and gadgetry.   Anhedonia hangs over Los Angeles like a cloud.   What does this portend for the clock-punchers and strivers of Van Nuys, the invisible people of the urban forest?