An Invasive Species

Mr. UpintheValley was weeding the yard this week … his exertions caused him to free-associate…and he was reminded of the strident opposition anti-gentrifiers have to art washing.  In Van Nuys, weeds are weeds, but if you’re defending Boyle Heights, art is weeds. Art on the walls begets pop-up stores, which in turn beget poke bowls, which beget Lime scooters, leading, inevitably, to the dreaded/welcomed Bento box apartment block and people posting to IG while crossing the intersection on scooters on their way to have dreaded/welcomed poke, all but daring the locals to tap their brakes a moment too late.  Abstract this, sidewall beardo guy…

It’s an invasive species, proclaim the nativists, this malediction/bloom of white hipsters. Murals are a semaphore for an invading force which should be resisted at all costs, by direct action if necessary… all are on a continuum…and a good example of how one can be correct on the facts but still get the politics wrong. Urban neighborhoods are nimble in their mutability, everchanging,  and in Los Angeles more than anywhere else we circle back to the origin along a genogram that often reads: Smith->Jefferson->Lopez->Chen->Smith.

After weeding,  I made my way to the Sepulveda Basin, where I frolicked in sheaves of wild mustard, shoulder high…such joy among the wild bunnies and predatory birds…only to read later at home I had been celebrating a pernicious weed siphoning resources away from native plants, encroaching on the habitat of local fauna.   Officials have a list of such plants..they call it The Evil 25.  And there I was…dancing like the demented villagers in The Wicker Man, exhausting synonyms for yellow, welcoming the invaders, abetting evil. Also, I like both gourmet coffee and pretentious ramen, making me trebly bad.

Invasive species can be defined as alien to the local ecosystem and whose introduction causes economic or environmental harm to human health.  They compete with natives for limited resources. They alter the habitat they enter.  They are difficult to eradicate.  Encountering no natural predators or environmental restraints, they multiply rapidly and set up colonies.

We note the obvious in the privacy of our cars on the drive home but speak it aloud at our peril.   If this is okay, why can’t I park on the freeway and take a nap on my way home when I get tired of driving?  Why can’t I throw my trash in the Pacoima Wash? Why can’t I join the Free State of Jones when the whimsy strikes me?  Why don’t we call things by their rightful name? How did we come to surrender so much common sense in the course of a decade?  Why do we genuflect before obvious lies in the hope of dodging condemnation?

In short, shouldn’t we be viewing bad policy decisions as weeds?

Perhaps this fruit of local government should be added to the invasive species list.

Like usury, which makes a gain from money itself, not through the means of exchange it was intended for, but by replicating endlessly through interest, Los Angeles government is self-breeding.   Its offspring is more government.  Rather than being a conduit of public will, it manufactures consent for bad policy through patronage. It funds advocacy groups which petition the city “do something” about the issues from which those same groups stand to profit…in a feedback loop of gluttonous virtue.

2007 advocacy: Stop enforcing the law. Let them camp in the street.
2019 advocacy: Camping in the street is shameful.  This crisis demands a permanent flow of money.  For us.

For $500 million, we could purchase housing in less expensive regions of the country for every street person in LA.  Here’s the deed. Here’s your bus ticket.  Done.  Prop HHH raises $355 million per year. How many are we housing with that, and why are we doing it here?

When everyone in the picture is applauding themselves, without irony,  it’s time for Los Angeles to do what New York did in the ’90s: get back to first principles.

6 thoughts on “An Invasive Species”

  1. Returning the free association to your half of the court……

    Your genogram is missing “Silverstein”. How many people know that before Calabasas and Encino, before even Fairfax, there was Boyle Heights? There are still a few Jewish remnants, I suppose, but not many. And to be very blunt —–the locals get their shorts in a wad over a couple small neighborhoods in Boyle Heights? I think artsy hipster-doofuses are as silly as they come….but a decrepit, ignored and forever declining backwater of a barrio is a preferable alternative? Here’s a deal – we’ll let you keep Boyle Heights…..can we have Anaheim back?

    Mustard. Normal people see fields of brilliant yellow flowers. Only the most super-strict and sensitive environmentalists – of the type found at places like the El Segundo Times – get in a snit over mustard. Technically invasive, but they hail from a very similar climate in the Old World. Walking along a trail myself a few days ago I noted armies of bunnies, squirrels and lizards who don’t seem to mind. See also: Eucalyptus. There IS one invasive species that is so destructive it merits efforts to quarantine and remove – arundo donax, that bamboo looking stuff. Most of the rest are a waste of time.

    HHH. You have a mayor who spends 100% of his time virtue signalling and no time actually mayoring. Check in on his Twitter feed if you don’t believe me. Pretty sad. Just in the past twenty years of so we have created an entire Homeless-Industrial Complex that, now entrenched, cannot be eradicated, and will only grow. Actually “solving” homelessness is not even on the radar.

  2. Excellent analysis of our city which creates avoidable problems then makes them permanent so we can have new bureaucratic, non-profit agencies to stop what shouldn’t be started at all: trash camping.

  3. What people tend not to discuss re: housing is the ever widening income gap. We had the same problem back in the early days of the twentieth century and it gave rise to both communism and fascism. The 1950s middle class was artificially induced into existence with labor and tax policies. It wasn’t a naturally occurring arrangement.

    1. Income gap IS a problem. Simply helicoptering money is NOT the answer.

      However…an honest question: We know what the situation was like here in the early 20th Cent. We all know about the Guilded Age, Roaring 20s, and Robber Barons. What I do NOT know……what was the situation in Europe during this same time – the very countries that gave us Fascism and Communism? There was Weimar, but that was very unique. In other words – was the gap as wide in UK, France, Scandinavia, et al. as it was here (or purported to be here) during the same eras ?

    2. You’re absolutely correct on the genogram. In addition to Silverstein, there should be Armenian and Persian names as well. I was simplifying for argument’s sake. Great comment JayDee.

    3. To your point, would white middle-class Republicans and centrist Democrats trade a hard border and ’90s style urban policing for a French healthcare system and all the government mandates which go with that? I would say yes, but that wasn’t the case even five years ago. This would put a floor under the working-class and create some civic unity now lacking.

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