Reseda, reconsidered

Reseda resists public affection. Of all the old neighborhoods of the Valley, it has the least curb appeal.  Or to put it another way, it’s the last shopping district in LA without a Starbucks.  Or a Pinkberry, or Chipotle or anything of that nature.  A mixed blessing, perhaps. Driving down Sherman Way one sees all the blight of Van Nuys and Panorama City, but without the abundant street life, colorful murals, food trucks, swap meet stalls and teeming commerce of more populated areas.  Reseda is the place grandma refused to leave, and the kids hate to visit.  It’s where the Old White Valley and the New Valley of the Asian/Latino working class coexist in uncomfortable equipoise amid a parade of empty storefronts.  Or, to put it another way, Detroit.  Earlier this year, I posted a rather snarky photo array of Reseda on a Sunday afternoon which was, in retrospect, a little unfair.  Last week, driving home in the late afternoon,  I stopped for another look around:

Out of business this summer
Out of business this summer, after 40 years
No longer selling books
No longer selling books
Glatt Kosher, and zero reviews on Yelp
Glatt Kosher, and zero reviews on Yelp

Okay, maybe this isn’t helping. A lot of Reseda is like this.  There’s no avoiding it. But then there are still thriving old school establishments like this:


And this:


And this:


And of course this, which I wrote of last week, the reason I stopped the car in the first place:


Maybe its the rosy light of an early evening in Autumn. Maybe it’s the fact they are still toughing it out with Target and Home Depot just up the road, or just the spirit of the holiday season, but I am resolved to be more respectful of Reseda.  I leave it here:

Waiting for walk-in traffic
Waiting for walk-in traffic

Fittingly, the Love Thyself Barbershop.  ‘”All are Welcome”.


Rent me, $19 per day


In the beginning there were human sign twirlers, otherwise known as directionals, out-of-work actors dancing on street corners with cardboard arrows pointing traffic toward badly situated pizza parlors and Cash for Gold clip joints. Then came the wavy inflatable balloon men: air dancers, doing the freak in front of used car lots. Now we have robotic wavers, hot skinny mannequin bitches in suggestive clothing grinding a sign like a pom-pom, a kind of zombie-Sisyphean performance art for the road trade, dawn til dusk.  At $19/day, they come cheaper than actors. We call that progress.

Ark II


You see a lot of this around the valley, on streets with overnight parking: the dilapidated RV or camper truck squatting five nights a week on one side of the street.  Generators purring away into the night, dogs growling from within when you draw close.  The sagging chassis and the certain sad, salvaged look. This one would be the definitive model.    Imagine it in its prime. One could build a TV show around the thing.

Freddy’s photo shoot


Suppose you’re 48 years old and you get laid off after 18 years at the same firm. You go from a mortgage-paying professional salary with benefits to bupkes, overnight.  Do you a) hit the couch and wait out your 99 weeks of unemployment; b) start drinking; c) join a multi-level marketing outfit and start clipping friends and neighbors; or d) hit the gym and follow your bliss?

Freddy, a walking advertisement for choosing D, just booked his first acting gig as a zombie in a Payday commercial.   Who knew?

Freddy’s Claritin audition


In February, Freddy got laid off from his law firm after 18 years.   With age 40 in the rear-view mirror, and nothing to lose, he has decided to indulge a long-held desire to act.  This morning he got a call back for a Claritin commercial.  He didn’t hesitate to offer a dramatic reading in the driveway, much to the amusement of Rosa.


‘Do you suffer from allergies….?’