The Nadir.

DSCF2605It is doubtful that Van Nuys Boulevard, especially that languishing, forgotten, distressed stretch between Victory and Vanowen, has ever been as low, neglected and poor as it is today.

No longer do the homeless hide in alleys. They are now set up on the sidewalk, their belongings piled into shopping carts, covered in tarps.

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At the 99 Cents Only Store, a steel gate guarding a delivery door is pulled back. Towels and curtains hang over it, and behind it are black feet in flip-flops.

There are other sleeping humans on the sidewalk, and the black woman with the black feet in black flip-flops is not unique.

From 2003 to 2013, Tony Cardenas served on the Los Angeles City Council in the 6th District covering Van Nuys. He was elected to the US House of Representatives from California’s 29th District and now represents Van Nuys in Washington, DC.

The man who calls himself “The Honorary Mayor of Van Nuys” is George Thomas, also the President of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council, also the publisher of a newspaper called “The Van Nuys News Press” which “features stories on everything, but especially golf and travel.” Recent stories featured whale watching in Hawaii and the Kahalu’u Beach Park Condo on the Big Island, a “Property of the Week”. Mr. Thomas, who is also a resident of Agoura Hills, is currently running for state senate.

These are just two men, Mr. Cardenas and Mr. Thomas, leaders of Van Nuys. They do not live here. They may not even care about here. Their careers, not their community, are foremost.


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To say that Van Nuys and its Boulevard is without leadership or vision is obvious. This once thriving district of Los Angeles is now on intoxicated autopilot. It is careening fast into oblivion and may one day be as ill and impoverished as Skid Row.

With the “revitalization” of downtown Los Angeles, the mentally ill, the drug and alcohol addicts, and the other lost men and women of the city have to go somewhere.

They are going North by Northwest to the San Fernando Valley.

The ghost citizens arrive unwelcomed, their presence an uncomfortable reminder that we all are just one paycheck away from ruin, one illness away from financial catastrophe.

They have their carts, we have our cars; they have their hovels, we have our homes; they are unemployed and we are consultants.

We took our shower this morning but we resemble them more than we admit.

The homeless are the new pioneers, the new settlers of Van Nuys. They will come here to live on the sidewalk, in the alley, in the box behind the dumpster. They will multiply into the thousands, and Van Nuys Boulevard will be an outdoor city of tents, defecation, boxes, shopping carts, and the smell of urine in 110-degree heat.

Developers may snap up the cheap building. They may come here and build, that may be a good thing. But what are the larger solutions to end the dumping of human beings into the street? How will this street reform and repent itself? Will a few benches and a few trees and a Starbucks on the corner change the larger malaise?





Your Dogs Are Your Children.


“At The Wagmor we understand that your dogs are your children. We go above and beyond the normal expectations and look for ways to make your dogs experience special. Being away from you can be traumatic and we understand that. We provide a calm, loving and supportive environment and always use products that are chemical free. We use the quietest dryers with heat control to ensure the comfort and safety of your pet. We use top of the line shampoos and conditioners and we take pride in being one of the first dog spas to offer Oxygen treatments and Aroma Therapy. While your dog is with us we will make sure he or she is happy and content. We hope you will become part of The Wagmor family.”

At The Wagmor in Studio City, the family dog can get a specialty haircut for $100, oxygen treatment for $18 or de-matting “for severe cases” at $60.

Across the street from the Wagmor, at Wylder’s, pet services include sonic teeth cleaning, acupuncture, massage therapy and psychic pet readings.

Further down Ventura, Healthy Spot offers nutrition consultations, non-anesthetic teeth cleaning, wellness clinics, pet photography and a grooming salon.

To those who are terrified of pet food impurities, Healthy Spot assures, “we understand that dogs are more than just pets; they are family. That’s why we’re committed to providing, even the most discerning pet owners, with a full range of wholesome, organic food lines as well as a wide selection of safe and eco-friendly toys, treats, training tools, grooming products, and services. We track every pet food recall and stock only the highest quality products. Rest assured, if it’s Healthy Spot approved, it’s safe.”

1-Collages 1-Collages4There are good people, moral people, and compassionate people in Los Angeles.

Some of these people might support gay marriage, universal health care, affirmative action, gun control, and organic food labeling. They are aghast at Mr. Trump’s comments about female anatomy, disabled reporters, Muslims and Mexicans.  They nuture their children. They teach them tolerance. They tell them that a transgendered teen deserves respect and understanding.

Yet what in God’s name is going on with seeing and ignoring human beings living, sleeping, eating, defecating, and wandering the streets of Los Angeles, and all around Studio City, while dogs are being treated to luxury spas and psychotherapy?

There is a woman who has lived on Ventura Boulevard making her home on a bus bench for the last year! Her home is in front of two banks, Citibank and Union Bank.


People are eating out of garbage dumpsters.

They are going around unwashed and unfed.

They have mental health issues that are not treated.

They sleep in alleys, under bridges, alongside railroad tracks.

They make beds in parking lots and sleep on the asphalt.

And there are many dogs in Los Angeles who live better lives than people.

How can we drive our Range Rovers up to the pet spa and spend $200 on canine hair stylings when we can’t take care of a man or a woman on the street?

How sick and misplaced, decadent and dehumanizing are our priorities?




Sunday Morning Victory


On a Sunday morning along Victory, east of Kester, the wide street is mostly empty.

It is also empty on Van Nuys Boulevard.

And the only person on Friar Street pushes a shopping cart with her belongings.


Under the dull fog, Van Nuys might be sleeping late.

Sleeping off Cervezas.

Many work on Sundays, but some do not.


Here are sidewalks without trees or humans.


Cars speed past the ghosts of late The Modern Era.


Where medical doctors practiced the most advanced medicine in 1960.


Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson were the Presidents.


And confident young builders hired talent young architects and erected thin paneled office buildings along thriving and newly widened Victory Boulevard.


Men worked at jobs back then. They wore suits.


Women smoked and wore high heels and lipstick and gloves and called themselves ladies.


And kids got in trouble, riding skateboards on the sidewalk or chewing gum in class.


It was a troubled time when blacks were called negroes.


And men were sent off to fight war in Vietnam.


But Van Nuys was still fine, still humming along: safe, secure and industrious.


We live in a rich nation. But all around us, people sleep on benches, and push their belongings in shopping carts.

People sleep on the sidewalk in front of the Chase Bank which has assets of $2.6 trillion and is the largest bank in the United States.

They are sleeping under the arches of the Marvin Braude Center, seat of the government of the City of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley.


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Marvin Braude Center

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And what you see today can break your heart.



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Anna & Vartan: Victory Bl.

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Friar St.

Friar St. View SE

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State of the Union

Chicago, IL
South Side

“Tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children. Let’s prove that there is no better place to do business than the United States of America. And let’s start right away.

Part of our rebuilding effort must also involve our housing sector. Today, our housing market is finally healing from the collapse of 2007. Home prices are rising at the fastest pace in six years, home purchases are up nearly 50 percent, and construction is expanding again.

But even with mortgage rates near a 50-year low, too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected. Too many families who have never missed a payment and want to refinance are being told no. That’s holding our entire economy back, and we need to fix it. Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates. Democrats and Republicans have supported it before. What are we waiting for? Take a vote, and send me that bill. Right now, overlapping regulations keep responsible young families from buying their first home. What’s holding us back? Let’s streamline the process, and help our economy grow.” -Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, 2/13/13