Letter From LA: April

Posted on May 16, 2021
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April is the first month of spring (in the Northern Hemisphere; down under it’s autumn). Generally it’s tax time and the annual return of the Lyrids meteor showers. It’s also Financial Literacy Month, National Poetry Writing Month, National Grilled Cheese Month and Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month. This year, April began with the birth of my third grandchild, Foster, a seven-and-a-half-pound boy, who joins Dahlia (six years old) and Sawyer (three). Foster had a little bit of jaundice (common, I’ve been told) but is home now and is thriving. They live with mommie Elizabeth (our daughter) and daddy Alex in the city of Lake Isabella (population 3,466, in the southern Sierra Nevada, in Kern County, California, just adjacent to the Lake Isabella reservoir, which was created in 1953 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). The area is a destination for hikers, boaters, water skiers, fishermen, birders, hunters, wind surfers, kayakers, and even white water rafters, since the dam sits at the foot of the wild North and South Forks of the Kern River; it’s also home to these three beautiful kids.

Letter From LA April



 

April was a busy month for me; several websites that I run (and host for friends) got hit by nefarious malware, which wreaked havoc with the blogs by embedding viruses on some pages, and by altering search engine results (Google would redirect visitors to foreign websites selling mail order Cialis and Viagra; for my technical friends, this is called “Spammy SEO Keywords”). One site, LAPotholes.com, was hit so hard that I couldn’t even log in to my administration dashboard to try to sort things out. I finally bought a suite of powerful anti-malware programs that allowed me — after considerable work — to sort things out. This took up a lot of my time, which is why it’s been a month since my last Letter.

 


 

Although the curse of COVID-19 still lingers around the world, Los Angeles — like much of California — has opened up. That means that bars, restaurants, massage parlors, amusement parks and gyms are open again, and the streets are filling up with people and cars. In Hollywood, that means that tourists, partygoers, bar-hoppers, exhibitionists, the homeless and the crazies have taken over the sidewalks and intersections. Several years ago the city decided to turn the intersection of Hollywood and Highland (where the Dolby Theatre and the Acadamey Awards normally exist) and the intersection of Hollywood and Vine (near the legit Pantages Theatre) into scramble crosswalks — allowing pedestrians to cross in any direction (Westwood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills have had such intersections for years). This also means that there are no right turns on a red light, putting an end to one of the hallmarks of Western Civilization. If you happen to get stuck at one of those red lights and have to wait for pedestrians to cross in five directions, you might as well bring a book or listen to a symphony on your radio … or people-watch during the interminable wait for a green light. On one recent Saturday evening, all four corners of the Hollywood-Highland intersection was alive with the flora and fauna of Hollywood night life. On the Dolby theatre side of the street, a tall, wiry young man had set up a boom box and was wildly free-form dancing to loud hip-hop music (actually, he had long-dominated this corner for almost a year, dancing his head off even during deserted weekends). Not to be outdone, across the street in the shadow of the Hollywood First National Bank building (built in 1927 and vacant since December 2011) a group of eight or nine young men had set up a table loaded down with speakers and amplifiers; they were playing hip-hop and trap beats and dancing the Afl and the Roller Skate. On the SouthEast corner of the intersection a bearded young man’s sign asked us to repent and, across the street on the Southwest side, another man was selling tickets for one of Hollywood’s many bus tours (there’s more than a dozen companies offering bus tours of Hollywood). Later this year, as more and more tourists arrive, the free-form dancer and the hip-hoppers will be replaced by hordes of comic book superheroes (Iron Man, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America) jostling for tips from camera-wielding tourists; more sophisticated teams of break dancers and street performers will show up angling for tips. Where are the Hare Krishnas when we need them?

Letter from LA April


 


 

I read the news today, oh boy:

Several news outlets in LA have reported that violent crimes were up in April, but property crime was down. Killings began to surge in Los Angeles after the onset of the pandemic — similar trends were reported in other cities across the country. In 2020, Los Angeles recorded 347 homicides, a 36% jump over 2019, and the first time in more than a decade that the annual figure had surpassed 300. (Last year, murders in Los Angeles County spiked nearly 200%). In Los Angeles City proper, according to police chief Michel Moore, the number of people shot in 2021 so far has increased 73% compared to this time last year: 445 compared to 257. Additionally, the city has experienced a 20% increase in motor vehicle thefts this year. Moore added that property crime has decreased by 2,725 incidents compared to this time last year, with decreases in residential and commercial burglaries, theft from vehicles and personal thefts. As a reference point, murders across the United States rose an estimated 25% in 2020, according to preliminary data from the FBI, the largest increase since modern crime statistics have been compiled. Is there a connection between staying at home during a pandemic and killings? One factor: boredom and social displacement, unemployment and a bad economy can make people more desperate and cause them to turn on each other. So, with the pandemic slowing down, and the streets again flooding with people, we can only look forward to more property crime and fewer bodily injuries.

 


 

My apartment is right across the street from the Gardner Street Elementary School in west Hollywood (not West Hollywood) and now that the schools in LA have reopened, I again get to hear the sounds of children playing, laughing, screaming. One of the greatest soundscapes in the world.

Til next time,

Harley

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