Tag Archives: 1999

Scumtown

sears

On my experience living in Los Angeles 15 years ago, I wrote this longish piece: (which later appeared in my book “SideQuests“)

Scumtown

Have a look at the havoc of this place.
Oh, I bet it used to be great,
but just look at it now.
It’s a scumtown.

A long time ago, while watching the James Bond movie
“Goldfinger,” in a studio apartment in
what was once West Hollywood,
during an opening sequence, when the camera closes in on
a spectacular resort in Miami
(always notice the beautiful dive),
I uttered this seemingly obvious remark,
“I bet Miami was a great place back then…before all the immigrants.”
My friend whom I was with seemed mildly irritated
by the comment for what he perceived as it’s implied
“subtle racism.” And maybe he was right,
but it’s something one could go on to say
about a great many once great places.
On my first full day in Los Angeles,
my first impression was a Sears on Santa Monica and Western
which I would come to refer to as “third world Sears.”
There were hordes of people stampeding throughout the place,
and clothing strewn about everywhere, with reckless disregard
for the generally accepted and often excessively anal standards
of your average department store. This is not your average
department store, but as the US continues its transition toward
becoming a third world country,
where such refugee camp swap meets represent normalcy,
it soon may be. I wasn’t thinking about that, though. All I could think of was that at one time it must have been a wonderful store,
and anyone involved in the building of the building
or who had worked there in it’s heyday
would be appalled and saddened
at the looted corpse of an establishment it had become.
More comically, there is a place on Sunset called “The All American
Burger,” where there literally did not appear to be one American working there.

But of course appearance isn’t everything, so there may have been.

The Los Angeles experience is one that can be summed up
in the episode of “The Simpsons” where they go to Hollywood,
and as the tour bus passes a famous landmark, the tour guide
points toward a seedy vacant lot with a few bums milling about
and says; “Uh, for those of you who always wanted to see the famous Brown Derby restaurant…that’s where it used to be.”
When I was a kid we lived on a street with a string of townhouses, where everyone knew each other, and all the kids(and often parents) played together in each other’s yards.
Everybody on the block was like your family, and every house was like your house with the only difference being that yours was the one you slept in at night.
There’s no question that there are thousands of neighborhoods as yet unaffected, where all that stuff still happens, new places being
constructed where in the future it will happen, and of course it probably already didn’t happen back then in places where it had once happened.
Still, it’s always sad to see something doesn’t happen and will never
again happen somewhere that it used to happen.
What’s happening?
It’s like in “Back to the Future II” when
Marty Mcfly travels to 2015, and is elated to discover
he will live “Hilldale,”(a lush neighborhood in his own time)
until he learns it is really just a future ghetto,
just as in the first film when he goes to 1955 and sees
how “Lyon Estates” was a promising new development in the 50′s,
but would become a subpar subdivision by the 1980′s.
That’s about enough lenses to desensitize more than one of one’s senses.
After all, it’s tense enough even without all the tenses.
These days it seems one can’t walk 50 feet without being harassed by an aggressive bum asking for money, or some self entitled hurricane Katrina refugee who responds with threats and belligerence no matter whether
his request is politely declined or even accepted.
For those with number counter syndrome,
they can never have enough
They always want more numbers to count.
To them, the ambiance doesn’t.
But to some of us, ambiance matters!
and there’s no arguing with the feeling of an experience.
It is what it is.

Spending an afternoon watching Cary Grant
mountaineering about Mount Rushmore in “North By Northwest”,
and directly following that by a trip to one’s nearest
gihugic mega mall (and I say “nearest” because these behemoths are not worthy of the term “local”), one can intuitively, inductively, reasonably observe, this place has gone down the tubes. And if not,
then they don’t know or don’t care what they won’t miss.
To that people always say something along the lines of
“the 50′s and 60′s weren’t really like the way they were portrayed in
movies.” And yes, it’s true that life for all wasn’t exactly as depicted
in old Rock Hudson and Doris Day films,
(after all Rock Hudson was gay!)
But so what?!
It may not have been entirely like that, but whatever it was,
was certainly nothing like this.
Either wall it off, or wall me in.
There’s nothing out there.
Nothing left but to be left
to the sanctuary of one’s own imagination within.
Have a look at the havoc of this place.
Oh, I bet it used to be great,
but just look at it now.
It’s a scumtown

I still think about that Sears a lot. It was a beautiful old building in the heart of the city. I thought about how proud the people must have been the day they finished building it. I went there to buy some jeans thinking it was going to be a normal department store, but when I walked in, there piles of clothing and products literally everywhere. You couldn’t even walk through the place….just a total disaster and it was as if the employees and the swarms of Spanish speaking customers were completely oblivious to it, like it was a standard for an establishment that they were just fine with. I was somewhat against it before then, but that was my red pill moment on immigration.. where I just said to myself “hell no, I’m not down with this.”

Most people think of California as liberal, but Southern California was once a bastion of Barry Goldwater conservatism, and look at it now? Look at Anaheim, where Disneyland is. It’s garbageville. Same with the high desert, the San Fernando Valley, Riverside, I could go on and on.

Here is the telling Urban Dictionary entry for Pomona, CA:

Pomona:
a ghetto ass place, where it use to be such a popular and lovely place. it was an attraction for stars, but not anymore.. now its an attraction for the cholos and shit. its mostly hispanics, some blacks and cambos, and fewww whites.
aye foo, where’d my homie go?

he went to some kickback in pomona.

That’s the new California. If you’re super rich you can live in one of the pockets of gated communities and price out the riff raff and isolate yourself from the richness of mass immigration…for a while, until they vote away enough of your money or the public schools become so ghetto that you decide to move.

We don’t need to import millions of impoverished people from ragtag third world countries. We have all that we need and then some.

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