Tarzana Is My Heroine

a poet considers the imaginary and reality of Tarzana

Leave a comment

Can Any Good Thing Come Out of Tarzana?

I just came across the work of a poet who was born in Tarzana. Her name is Iris Cushing, and here is her bio:

“Iris Marble Cushing was born in Tarzana, California. In 2011, she was a writer-in-residence at Grand Canyon National Park. Iris is an editor for Argos Books in Brooklyn, and for Circumference, a journal of poetry in translation.”

Poster for Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona...

Poster for Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is her poem “Twain” from the online literary journal Two Serious Ladies:

after Shania

It is Sunday evening
You’ve been out

Who with

Whose hood did you pop
Whose coozie sleeved your Bud

while rigs whistled down I-10 unheard
Whose truck has your lawn been under

Whose screen door have you sprained
Whose fingers tangled your fringe

From whose lacy things have you come un stained

Whose braids have you un done
while I was asleep out in the bed

Whose field have your boots been under

Whose longhorn has your rodeo circuitry
or prize belt your buckle cinctured

Whose boots burnt skinsnake garters
moongut skyhigh mindshaft

For all the barbs in a wire mile

Who’s been tanned by the same sun
that done tanned you


Shania Twain, live in Wembley, UK

Shania Twain, live in Wembley, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s another poem of Cushing’s that I like very much. It’s from a “Poet’s Sampler” of her work in the prestigious Boston Review. I like that the poem takes the Western movie genre as its theme and MO. (See my earlier post titled “Tarzana Is A Dead-End Western,” which gives Tarzana the Western treatment.)


Start with a Western:

Thunder in the Sun or The Searchers.

A horseback fight scene:

cowboys in a dust shroud settling a score.

Start with that, and omit the guns:

Arms outstretched, men gesture with hooked fingers.

They squint first, and jolt when they seize the air.

Then omit the cowboys.

Saddles flap.

The horses run from each other, swerving their long heads.

A bronc the color of polished oak disappears into a canyon.

Omit the horses.

Omit the pressed shoeprints, hooved echoes.

A tumbleweed cushions its empty center;

the cliffs are warehouses containing their exteriors.

The river valley moves into distance.

The sun sets.

There’s wind that carries the smell of something living.

Your shadow, proof of your depth,

spills from your feet to fill the place it falls.

Then, omit the landscape.




Leave a comment

Tarzana Drivers: Watch Out For Bobby Brown

Bobby Brown

Bobby Brown (Photo credit: Infinite-Ink)

According to Encino-Tarzana Patch’s “Breaking News,” Bobby Brown just got his second DUI in Tarzana early this morning. This time he was boozily cruising Ventura Blvd. @ Corbin when they got him. Last time it was boozy cruising on Victory @ Wilbur.

Read the full story here: Bobby Brown Shouldn’t Drive in Tarzana

I think the folks on the eastern edge of Tarzana need to know when BB leaves the house tipsy or goes out to party. (Where does he party?) Don’t we have some kind of informal neighborhood celebrity watch? How about the paparazzi do some community service and let the rest of us know when the B- & C-list celebs are running amok? That would be more useful than when they buzz our houses with their helicopters while trying to get their Britney pictures!

Leave a comment

Tarzana Is Our Montmartre

Next to the Clandestine Rabbit tattoo shop is a gallery (make that “gallery”) with framed prints lined up on the sidewalk. They are total schlock–the same kind of mass-market, faux street art that’s for sale along the quais of the Seine or under the arches on the Rue de Rivoli, or yes, in Montmartre.

The last print, of Michael Jackson, (see below) is so hideous, it’s almost a good bad. It has some neon-Pop dynamism. The other images are stale visual treacle and the cheapest, most slip-shod of prints.

And who are these señoritas? Who are these matadors? Is it dumbed-down Spanish art the gallery owners hope will find a home in the local Spanish McMansions?

If you look at the framed prints in the shop window’s reflection while also squinting, you could think you were in Montmartre for a millisecond. You also need to be looking when there’s a harsh sun glare half-blinding you.

But there are no tourists, and that is sound as much as sight. Tarzana’s sidewalks are quiet, except for the traffic. That spoils the Montmartre-for-a-second effect: there are no tour buses idling and spewing exhaust, no Japanese tourist groups, no street vendors hawking African trinkets, no Americans in luau wear!

What looks in Tarzana like the classic tourist-trap-cum-sidewalk-art display is on a sidewalk with no passersby. I find that funny and even absurd.

Tarzana is no Montmartre–but, at least at this sidewalk spot, it has some of the same art!





Leave a comment

Clandestine Rabbit And The Stuffed Coyote

I went back to the block where the Chocolate Crocodile shop used to be to see what’s there now. Now I remember why I forgot–it’s a shop selling electronic cigarettes. Ok, sure.

What really did catch my eye was Clandestine Rabbit, this tattoo shop. Great name and stylish signage, right?

The kick-ass rabbit is also adorable in a pugnacious kind of way–though who ever heard of a boxing rabbit? A boxing kangaroo, yes. Rabbit? No. Maybe there’s some cultural reference or literary allusion I’m missing here.

I was just looking at the shop from the sidewalk and taking these photos when I saw a stuffed coyote through the window. Ok, that was worth a closer look!

The guys working there were friendly and said I could take a picture of their coyote. Since I’m the still-waters-run-deep type, I didn’t mention that it was for my blog about Tarzana. Maybe I’ll go back and show this post to them and ask more about the coyote.

The shop itself is attractive, with cool tattoo designs up on the wall, along with other mounted taxidermy animal heads.

What I want to know is why the coyote is mounted in an unlikely tableau with peacock feathers, long-stemmed grass, and dried eucalyptus? The grass and eucalyptus sure, but the peacock feathers?

Even though I get tired of the coyotes who drive our beagle crazy because they use the trail behind our back fence as their personal freeway, I do prefer them alive to stuffed!

P.S.   Wait! I get it now: rabbit, boxing rabbit, coyote . . . very dead coyote. So this is where rabbit wins one round in the endless coyote vs. rabbit saga.

“The Valley Is Way Cooler” via the New York Times

Maybe I’m the last person to know, but I just found this feature about the Valley in the NY Times from July 2012! He likes us for our sushi, drinks, burgers, and parks, and because we’re a place to put down roots and relax rather than a place–like the Westside–to posture and strive.

Re. the sushi, I’ll have to try Go’s Mart in Canoga Park. That’s a new one for me. My regular sushi place is Hirosuke because, because, because. Well, because they’ve given me what I call my “sushi name”–Coco-san. And they know my kids. And I really like the Lemon Roll.

Leave a comment

Corbin Canyon

Yesterday I decided to try and drive the boundaries of Tarzana. I had a map app open and tried to follow it as much as possible, but the city’s boundaries only follow streets on the north, east, and part of the west edges of the city.

The eastern boundary street is Lindley, while it’s Victory to the north and Corbin to the west.

The southern boundary abuts Santa Monica Mountains land and isn’t accessible by foot–unless you are James Bond with a helicopter or a roof-hopping ninja. The map below is an overview of Tarzana. I like it because it’s pink. Here’s a link to an “Official Boundary Map of Tarzana” from the L.A City Council by way of the Mills Realty site: http://activerain.com/blogsview/1996387/official-boundary-map-for-tarzana-ca

One thing I did discover while trying to drive along the western boundary of Tarzana along Corbin is that there’s a thing called Corbin Canyon. Never heard of it!

The first photo below is where Corbin dead-ends at the canyon. The second picture is of Corbin Canyon itself, taken from Ellenita (or maybe I was on Aleman Dr. at that point. I can’t remember!).

Ok, so it isn’t anything close to the Grand Canyon, or the stunning Grand Canyon of the Pacific (on Kauai), but it’s our grand canyon!

End of Corbin Ave.

Corbin Canyon

Corbin Canyon