Tarzana Is My Heroine

a poet considers the imaginary and reality of Tarzana

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The Ooze In Encino


Water is still seeping from that pipe on Louise Ave. that’s been leaking for 10 years. I wrote about it in a previous post, under the title “Something Rotten In Encino”: https://tarzanaismyheroine.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/something-rotten-in-encino/. And now I’m starting to get annoyed, so I’m going to keep writing about it until a) it gets fixed, or b) I figure out who can get it fixed.

The morass of moss, algae, and rust-colored gunk around the leak is almost big enough to qualify as a city pond. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but it is an overly healthy muck habitat.

I bet mosquitos breed there in the summer too. Hello West Nile virus!

So I wonder what it will take to get the LA Bureau of Street Services to fix this? I posted a photo and note about this eyesore on the Encino Neighborhood Council Facebook page, but no response there–at least so far!

Now I’ve found a page on the LA Public Works website where problems with street drainage can be reported.

Let’s all report this!

The page has a form which asks for the address or location of the drainage problem. The location is south of the Louise Ave./Rochelle Place intersection in Encino on the west side of the street.

Here is a link to the form for reporting a problem:


Maybe if more people report it, we can get some action on the ooze!


And in case anyone is curious and wants a close-up so they can identify the species of algae, moss, or what have you, here you go



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Tarzana Is What Paradise?


Tarzana Is What Paradise?

It is a finite neon thing;
A flame-out orange & spiky thing.
I think it is a final thing
I’m coming to understand.


Paradise, acetylene torch,
Lights us up but casts a shadow


Taking the shape of possible fates
Unrecognized as our own doing.


Tarzana is a paradise
Of Canada geese & lost dogs.
It is jungle-fevered profit made
Off twice-removed celebrity.


What paradise has lost its birds?
Has busy streets, but empty stores;
Not enough parks? These late fall
Days bring forth something amazing,


Something I didn’t realize before:
Birds-of-paradise die. Fall will
Come for what’s ready and what’s not,
For the citrus and the root crops.


It comes to the year-round summer
Spoiling us for anywhere else.
Our heaven is a tropical
Bloom wilting in the desert weather


Of someone’s paradise idea.
Whoever planted these flowers
Forgot they die. So did I.
Tarzana is my told-you-so.


from Big Sky to “No Sky”

Here is an evocative poem by LA poet Martha Ronk on landscape and the work of the artist (and she comments on the work of the poet too as being “to suggest order” while “making things appear . . . the way they do in normal vision.”)

I don’t know which of Adams’ many austere but beautiful images of L.A. and environs Ronk’s poem below refers to. However, I think this particular image Adams made of the San Timoteo Canyon on the outskirts of Redlands, where I grew up, echoes the description of the landscape and evokes the feeling-tone of the poem.

Robert Adams, San Timoteo Canyon.
From California: Views

No Sky

after Robert Adams’s California: Views

No sky                a gray backdrop merely and absence
and below: the scraggle of dusty fronds, the scrub oak and scrub jay
whose abrasive noises sharpen in response.

Shadows proliferate in deep furrows                no sky above
merely a scrim registering conical thrusts, a heightened flurry &
outlines of branches, the dead ones slowly petering out.

magnificent ruin       the cut through the field       blasted chaparral

As I understand my job, it is, while suggesting order, to make things appear as
much as possible to be the way they are in normal vision. . . . 

Go to http://poems.com/poem.php?date=15663 to read the entire poem.

[Poem originally published in the Boston Review (Nov/Dec. ’12)]

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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.


2500 Random Things, part II: 3 Views Of A Tree In Encino

II.   3 Views of A Tree In Encino

When I got back to the Valley after Matias’s book party and reading, I pulled over in Encino to take a photo of this quarter moon which just seemed to hang off the left of this tree lit up near the Baha’i Center on Balboa.

Tree With Moon

Then, when I was trying to get a good shot of the moon and tree, this happened. I have no idea how!

Blue Tree

The next morning I went back to see what the tree looked like in daylight. Here it is–without the streetlight or moonlight or the blue effect. Just a tree on a nondescript street corner.

Daytime Tree
Daytime Tree


After juxta-posting [to coin a term] 2500 Random Things About Me Too and these 3 versions of a random tree, I realize I don’t even know what kind of tree it is . . . !

Can any arborists or tree lovers out there help me with this? Matias?

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Tarzana Is My Ripened Fig

It’s the end of fig season, but my new tree has only been in my Encino yard for two years so the fig crop was a total of one: just one perfectly wrinkled purple fig. It was petite, but buxom of bottom. Here is a close-up of some of the tree’s disproportionately large leaves. The one in the center could serve as a plus-size cover-up.

All leaves and no fruit

In 2009, I wrote two pieces (slightly revised here) for the “Give A Fig” blog of independent L.A. publisher Les Figues Press, where I’m on the board and curate the literary salon, Mrs. Porter’s. [N.B., Les Figues means figs in French. See http://www.lesfigues.blogspot.com.] I’m re-posting the pieces here, in honor of my one shapely fig:

1.  April 16  (re. Fig Etymology)
So here’s the fruit of a little armchair etymology tracing the connection between figs as fruit and Les Figues. “Fig” is feague—‘whipping’ or ‘beating,’ from the German fegen—‘polish.’ Feg = fake flattery = “fig shower.” “A fig tree displays its roots.” It also descends from sycophant, from sykon (Greek) also “vulva.” Yes, the fig/female genital connection is as old as the Greeks and older (see below).

On fig reproduction: “The tiny flowers of the fig are out of sight, clustered inside the green ‘fruits’, technically a synconium . . . In the case of the common fig the flowers are all female and need no pollination.” (California Rare Fruit Growers, http://www.crfg.org). Who knew the Inland Empire was a hot bed of fig hybridization? — the “Excel,” “Flanders,” “Judy” and “Len” varieties originated in Riverside or Pasadena.

N.B. I’ll remind you figs aren’t the only fruit where a whole stands for a part that’s a hole. The pomegranate, la grenade, does that too, & in the same Romance languages.

Figs are also fig.ures—they’re the dope on tropes, as in representation, con.fig.ured. Which shows off another con our forked tongue pulls off: con (French., n.m.), is “idiot” and “female genital,” pardon my French.

Fig. leaves keep covering up women already under/between covers (of themselves) — ‘down there’ where fig. figs literally symbolize.

Fig./fig, try out this: “I like to make things that look like one thing even as they contain another….”

Fig leaves are large; they’re cover-ups. Leaves go figure. “Leaves”—as a fig.—as pages of a book. Pressed figs. Paper was skin first, papyrus, then wood by-product. Paper grows on trees, & books would be made of fig. leaves, cover to cover.

2. March 3  (“Figs Do Put Out”)

Figs and Les Figues have started to meld in my thinking about ‘the Southland’ — the fabulous media market of Greater Los Angeles. We’ve cultivated orange groves, olive trees, pomegranates, avocados, vineyards, and figs forever, wanting to be Mediterranean. And more, the Southland has always been sold as a Heaven on earth. A bill of goods, you may say.

In church, they teach the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree as a lesson to ‘ya about having faith and the need to put out the goods. The tree got cursed for not putting out. My theory is that ministers use the story as a way to chastize their wives secretly, in public.

It’s true that figs don’t put out. You can’t ship them. They’re not commodifiable. They don’t keep. They’ll never be a lollipop flavor. You don’t put figs in a rum fool. When fresh, they ooze, then rot, attracting gnats. Figs are strictly hand-to-mouth. You can’t pick figs by the handful. To pick them requires deliberation. You cradle the bottom of the fig in your palm, put a finger on the sappy white stem and snap the stem from the branch. Otherwise you blow the top.

Figs do get themselves into jams. They like a chocolate bath. They sit on their netherworlds and deliquesce, wasp traps. Oh fig, thou art sick!

“Conceptual poetry is poetry pregnant with thought.” (Charles Bernstein)

I have a fig tree at my childhood home in Redlands. More figs fall than we can eat. They plop on the ground, bottom-heavy; bruised and stoic odalisques posing in a random yet constrained pattern under the leaf canopy. They may be staging a critique of Christianity’s prejudice against figs, fags, & fogs of doubt. Or it may be a visual poem honoring the slow food movement & innovative writing by women. That’s how figs put out, here in the Southland.