The cornfield, the sod farm and what once was

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Not a corn maze.   A working cornfield, awaiting harvest.  Any one want to guess where this is?

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Valley Sod Farm, North Hills.  If you bought a lawn in the past ten years, it probably came from here.

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Nostalgia mural, NoHo Arts District.  The story of Valley development in three pictures.  Water brings orchards. Orchards give way to subdivisions. Subdivisions require lawns and landscaping.  Houses with big lots give way to apartment buildings.  Apartment people get stir crazy, feel the need to take walks.  The city entertains the walkers with fanciful depictions of the orchards that once were.  And yet!  The quirks of development are such there remains today strange pockets of the old Valley primeval, fertile and abundant, tucked just out of view. Like a huge working cornfield a mere frisbee toss from the boulevard, and all those harried parents, inching forward, one light at a time, on their way to a ‘pumpkin patch’ in a parking lot.

You are not alone, except when you are

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If one finds oneself on the uppermost floor of the parking garage of the Topanga Mall, gazing north and east across the great plain of  the Valley, overwhelmed with melancholy, and entertaining the five-storey plunge to Canoga (or at this particular spot, the two-storey drop to the food court roof) and a not exactly instantaneous death ….there is a number you can call. As a friendly reminder for the fence-sitters, there is a sign like this about every thirty feet. Or, as an alternative, you can take the train:

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There are a number of street crossings like this at critical junctions in the Valley.  This ending is instantaneous.   You can feel the gravitational pull of the locomotion splitting the air, rattling femur and ribcage, even while tucked safely in your car at a legally mandated remove behind the crossing gates.  Imagine standing on the tracks, the distance between you and the Surfliner closing by the second.  Many people have. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, have taken this very route, and yet there are no signs anywhere, no numbers to call.  We find them in pieces scattered over the length of a  football field, goodbye notes folded into their backpacks.  Exactly one person has jumped from the top floor of the Topanga Mall. Make of it what you will.

Nearly evening in NoHo

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Wonder what the difference in life expectancy is between here and Van Nuys? Or Pacoima?  Bet the insurance companies know. To the month. The Valley could do with more bike/walking paths. As it happens, a network of paved routes already exists atop the concrete channels of the LA River system.  It just needs to be opened to the public.