Tarzana Is My Heroine

a poet considers the imaginary and reality of Tarzana

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Three Views of Dusk–Encino

Winter yields to spring.
I’m left with
three images of dusk—


One is a nondescript skyline, seen
from the Bank of America
at Ventura & Libbit;

a cement wall
foregrounds the parking lot



Then a stand of Washington palms
the rose-gray sky

first clear, then

blurred, showing
how winter’s hush
effaces things.



Storybook Ranch Homes

Here are snapshots of a few storybook ranch houses I’ve seen around Encino, north of the Boulevard. These homes epitomize what my favorite retro home blog, Retro Renovation (http://retrorenovation.com), would call “mid-century modest” homes.

Fortunately not too many of these homes have been torn down to build Spanish-style McMansions–as happened to one very lovely barn-red storybook ranch home on the corner of Hayvenhurst and Adlon a few years ago. Some of you may remember the house I’m talking about….

I love the pale yellow exterior of this first house below, and of course the diamond-pane windows on the garage too!

Look at the mix of horizontal and vertical batten boards here (behind the white picket fence!)

I love storybook ranches in barn or carriage red with white trim

Look at the little dovecote tucked just under the eaves

This house below is so attractive with its row of diamond-paned windows, pale green exterior, and the peeling bark of the gum or melaleuca tree in front.

I have in mind starting a project of getting a photo of every storybook ranch in town.

Maybe you can help!

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As I go around the Valley, I often see some bit of visual poetry or installation art-in-the-wild which catches my eye.

Here are a few things I saw recently:

@ Balboa x Balboa off ramp


@ Encino Oaks shopping center


There was this evocative scene in an alley just off Ventura Blvd. near Hazeltine


And perhaps my favorite: Theophile Gaultier’s slogan “L’art pour l’art” (“Art for art’s sake”) slapped onto a sink drain at Crave Cafe in Sherman Oaks.


Is it possible it was just by chance that the bilingual pun on the word “pour” was stuck on to a drainpipe? I think not.

After a quick Google search, I’m guessing that the sticker is actually an ad for the L’art Pour L’art mixer events created by Baha Danesh.

Their slogan is “connect. collaborate. create” (Nice!) and this is their website:


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Valley Skyscapes

I really like the look of the skyline in the fall. I think the light has just a little more crispness to it and not just because of the cooler temperatures–perhaps it’s because the sun’s angle is tilting more northward toward winter.

Some of these are October photos and the last ones are now, early November.


@Sherman Way, looking east

Yolanda x Ventura Blvd.


@ Encino Ave. x Ventura Blvd.


Laurelgrove x Ventura Blvd., looking east


Ventura @ Laurelgrove, looking west

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Tarzana Is A Small-Time Thug

iMob Sticker With Shadows

So here’s my question: why put this sticker on the base of a light post in a parking lot? Is it tagging-as-advert for the app? Is it “Kilroy was here” to other iMobsters?  Are they recruiting? In Tarzana? I looked for the Facebook address given under the iMob logo. Can’t find it. I did find out there are 40,000 users.

You may be asking, what is iMob? And you may say, look, the advertising worked because you’re writing about it!


So iMob is an iPhone and Facebook app–but of course you knew that. When I find it on my iPhone, the app’s blurb says: “Start off as a small-time street thug and work your way up to a iMob Boss [sic].” It goes on to talk about all the crime and mayhem you can cause. Such as, “Silence your enemies.”

Tarzana is a small-time thug.

The people I see around this parking lot when I come to eat lunch at Town Burger look like non-thug adults, 30s to 40s, who park and cross Yolanda to get to the Starbucks or Yoga Works or TJ Maxx. But half of them may be playing mobster on iMob. Someone is–the someone who put the bumper sticker on this lightpost.

High-school boys in uniform hang out in the lot. Small groups of guys, usually, talking and teasing each other. They look like they might leave an iMob sticker there, without committing any petty crimes.

Maybe they don’t because they’re decent guys; or also because two or three security guards are always walking the parking lot behind the stores and patrol Safari Walk along Ventura Blvd., from Whole Foods down to Children’s Place. Looking for small-time thugs and iMobsters, I guess.

I’m going to check the West Valley crime report and see what kind of real-time crime is going on while amateur thugs plan virtual, iMob mayhem.

Every time I’ve been to Safari Walk lately, there’s a landscape crew trimming the small trees along the Blvd. The crew wear drab olive-green uniforms. Two weeks ago, a young man from the crew was doing a particularly careful and stylish job on a young tree. I thought about going over and complimenting his work, but I felt shy and didn’t.

I’m a small-time coward.

My husband would say that was a crime of omission. Ok, there, I’ve confessed.

This is why Tarzana is small-time: the dramas are smaller (which is good), the crimes are pettier, the vandalism sillier, the boutiques are cheesier, the city planning’s haphazard, and the food’s just passable. It’s the small-time town our own smallness deserves.

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I started driving down the Boulevard toward Tarzana, trying to get a better feel for its boundary streets. I know the eastern edge is around Lindley, and I remember in general where the sign is. As juxtaposed with this city limits sign, these banners now posted along the street perfectly pose the question I am considering here: Is Tarzana limitless?

Is she a limitless subject? Is it the perfect pretext?


Am I obsessed with Tarzana only because my parents died here?