Advancing North: The Treadmill of Civilization


Photo by Hector Sanchez
Photo by Hector Sanchez

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Civilization, as it is known to exist in Van Nuys, marched north on Sepulveda, and has now crossed Oxnard.

LA Fitness opened yesterday, many many square feet of ellipticals, treadmills, racquetball courts and indecipherable machines aimed at every body part on human bones.

Occupying the very spot where couch potatoes worshipped, Wickes Furniture, the new gym promises to bring an active lifestyle to an area where the Gluteus Maximus is almost extinct, and 16-year-old girls are considered anorexic at 300 pounds.

Bow-fronted, brown, low, and wide, the corporate architecture echoes its clientele. Doors open graciously, in the LA way, onto a wide parking lot, around which spin the orbiting stars of Wendy’s, Costco, Fatburger, CVS and Star Kitchen.

The new building turns its back away from the Metro Orange Line Busway. The Bus Rider and The Pedestrian will have to take the long walk around the north side of the building and enter through the parking lot side. Clearly this structure was designed somewhere in Texas, possibly by someone unfamiliar with Google Maps.

This morning I took an unguided tour of the interior which begins with a pool, an iconic symbol of sunny Southern California, placed indoors at the shady and dark NW corner, near the check-in, with many windows open to viewing for arriving and departing members. The wet old man in the Speedo will be the first image implanted on future arrivals.

But the equipment is, to use a reality TV word, amazing. There are dozens of aerobic machines, now equipped with iphone ready TV screens, so that sweat and heavy breathing can keep an eye and ear on Bill Reilly and Anderson Cooper.

Assembled like a marching army regiment are treadmills, bikes, weight machines, free weights, racquetball courts, and the most important feature of all: walls of mirrors.

Rusted stall doors, pee on toilet seats, un-flushed shit, the smoldering smell of cum in the men’s sauna, 400 lb weights left on leg presses, arguments, indifferent and constantly quitting trainers, torn shower curtains and clogged sinks, stolen wallets and broken-in windows in nighttime parked cars; all these future events have yet to happen here.

For now the glory is in the opening.

The carpeting is new, the paint is fresh, we are older but our gym is newer, and if we go here everyday, and eat healthy, we may live out the rest of our lives here in Van Nuys.

Budweiser Opening in Van Nuys: 1952


Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser groundbreaking, Van Nuys, 1952
Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser groundbreaking, Van Nuys, 1952

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Budweiser

TOP:USC Digital Archive
LOWER 2: LA Public Library

55 years ago, the opening of the Budweiser plant on Roscoe Blvd. was a big event. Costing $20,000,000
and employing 1500 workers, the plant was a large contributor to the post-war prosperity of Van Nuys.

In 1957, the NAACP launched a boycott of Budweiser beer. An NAACP spokesman said that there were only two “Negroes” employed by Annheuser-Busch in their entire Los Angeles operations! Here is a more detailed article about the racial prejudice black workers faced in the 1950s.

Busch Gardens and Bird Sanctuary was part of the complex and a major tourist attraction for many years until it closed in 1976. Here are more photos of that attraction.