We's in California

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Van Nuys at Night

Since we already broke rule #1. Don't Live in Van Nuys, I thought I may as well break rule #2. Don't Be Outside in Van Nuys Past Dusk Wearing All Black (Even Your Hat) Carrying a Camera with No Lights on Your Bike.
The whole San Fernando valley is surprisingly dark at night, considering the sizeable population. Major streets run in perfect symmetry, cutting the valley into a perfect grid and are well lit, but the moment you turn off onto a street with houses, it turns pitch black. This is a typical street in
Van Nuys at night. Look at that picture of nothing, amazing I know.

This is an intersection I cross regularly on my bike. Every morning it makes my day to see 37 shopping carts strewn about the grass by the bus stop. Apparently this issue has been brought to the attention of the civic gods of Van Nuys, and there's a hot
line floating out there somewhere that you can call to get shopping carts picked up within 24 hours. I'm thinking of calling it and reporting these particular offending carts, recording my voice during the conversation, then buying an auto-dialer, then programming it to dial in at 6 am every morning so that when I ride by on my bike at 8 I quit blacking out and falling off from flashbacks of pushing carts for K-Mart in Brandon when I was 15. The people who do this need to be held responsible. But I digress. Often.

Around the corner we emerge upon another great Van Nuys institution: The Spearmint Rhino. If you've had a rough day at the office and consider yourself a gentlemen of higher social and moral standing, you will not stoop to the level of the other 17 strip clubs in Van Nuys, you will head straight to the Rhino. The parking lot looks suspiciously like the one in front of a Calabasas strip mall. That's weird. This must be the type place where hot babes are just dancing to pay their way through college. Since 1993. Must be med students.

If Winnipeg taught my anything, it's that businesses in any i
ndustry with the word "adult" in it is situated in a predominantly industrial part of town, and here it is no different. With auto mechanics, warehouses, and the like stretching out from the epicenter that is our second floor apartment, you never knows what you will stumble across in your wanderings through the industrial wasteland. Behold a graveyard of K-Mart K's.

With that, as if ordained by the stars, we return to the subject of K-Mart for the second time in one post: surely a sign of profound writing. And speaking of the profound, Here in Van Nuys has been added to my (horribly outdated and untended) blogroll because he keeps me in the know, Van Nuys style. I stole an orange from his tree when he wasn't looking. Thanks Andrew.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Nobody here knows what a tuque is.

They've never heard of it. A Canadian from Ontario says they all called it a "sock hat".

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cults: Good or Bad?

Until we moved out here I never realized how many famous cults came from and continue to come from California. I guess a lot of them arose from the "let's do weird stuff" vibe of the 60's, and I hear the 60's were pretty big here. Off the top of my head I can think of several: Charles Manson, Heaven's Gate, Prius owners, and Jim Jones. And I'm not event into cults! In order to learn more about cults and to educate myself to perhaps one day prevent myself from joining a cult unawares, we went to see Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple at the Nuart, a movie house in Santa Monica.
Intermittently you can tell that the film industry is still active in LA, as the director of the documentary, the editor, a former member of the People's Church, and someone who's aunt died in Jonestown were present at the screening and interacted with the audience after the movie. Films about Jonestown have been made before, but apparently this is the first one to fairly portray those involved. Many others basically followed the formula: Man starts cult, man tricks stupid people, people commit mass suicide and murder. This film seemed to make the point that nobody just up and joins a cult, and I think they have a point there. You join a movement, or a student group, or in this case a church that became very very paranoid about the CIA, FBI, and the US government. I'm certain that many of the seemingly extreme bizarre cults that come and go seem very normal at the start but eventually you get in over your head and it becomes harder and harder to leave until it's too late. I know from experience, I used to belong the Winnipeg Microsoft .NET users group. Computer joke, just trust me, it's hilarious.

For my generation Jonestown is a vague story as it happened 3 or 4 years before we were born and I can't ever recall ever talking about it with someone my age. I'm sure that for most of us all we really have as a frame of reference are those terrible pictures of hundreds of dead people lying around in bright colored clothing. I never knew the details of what happened and watching them slowly come out in this film is quite an affecting experience, which culminates in the playing of a horrifying audiotape of that final day. Next time you're thinking of watching Miami Ink because there's nothing else on: watch this movie. Unless it's a new episode then, you know, weigh your options. Now that I think about it watch Miami Ink, you can always rent the movie.