Here are some additional photos from my exploration (along with “Up in the Valley” pal Andreas Samson) as we walked in the commercial neighborhood along Van Nuys Boulevard from Sherman Way to Saticoy.
John’s Barber Shop (14435 Sherman Way Suite 105 Van Nuys, CA 91406) has only been open a year, but has garnered a devoted local following. I found them, again, on Yelp and went there today for a $15 haircut. Third generation barber Jerry said that owner John also comes from a long line of barbers. The styles adhere closely to the current “fade” trend evocative of the 1950s with greaser hair and short razor thin back and sides.
Near John’s in another expansive mall, south of Sherman Way, one finds a variety of ethnic restaurants including Tacos Mexico (7140 Van Nuys Blvd Van Nuys, CA 91405) housed under a red and white taco shaped roof. Many reviewers give it high marks while some express the usual hatred for Van Nuys itself.
“The best Al Pastor tacos EVER!!! The marinated meat is heavenly and the seasoning is just perfect.”
“I know there are thousands of divey taco stands all over Southern California and I have tried quite a few, but I feel completely lucky to have found this little gem located in a shitty part of Van Nuys.”
“On this dank and dark corner of Van Nuys (with pawn shops, ATT Mobile units, and laundromats).”
Oddly placed Korean BBQ: Duk Su Jang (7126 Van Nuys Bl.) which has been around for a long time but is not getting any good reviews from Yelp: “Extremely Poor customer service, not so fresh vegetables, ok meat, high prices, dirty and old building.”
Architecturally, logistically, aesthetically, the landscape of Van Nuys Boulevard at Sherman Way reflects the lowbrow tastes of the 1980s and 90s when small shops were cleared out and vast blacktops of asphalt and ungainly malls proliferated. On a hot day, this is one of the hottest places to walk, un-shaded by trees, drowning in exhaust fumes, and a nightmare for pedestrians to navigate with lumbering buses and speeding cars.
Van Nuys reaches the acme of ugliness at this point: cheap, crass, tacky, devoted to car and fast food, obesity and environmental degradation.
But within this suburban hell, there are many small businesses that are making money, employing people, and greasing the economic engine of the San Fernando Valley. A largely Latino population runs and patronizes the stores, shops, services and eating establishments, often paying cash for everything from transmissions to groceries.