Tarzana Is My Heroine

a poet considers the imaginary and reality of Tarzana

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Tarzana Is My Palimpsest

Since my mother died five years ago January, I’ve criss-crossed Tarzana scores of times. If my car had left marks (like lain rubber), the town would be a Pollock of lines, angles, and loops everywhere I’ve driven.

If my tires had been dipped in paint, the town could in fact be painted red, with the red and black lines all tangled up.


Tarzana Is My Palimpsest

Tarzana Is My Palimpsest (Coco Owen)



The vectors and loops I’ve driven add texture and depth–but they write over that page recording my mother’s last illness, which began Christmas Day of 2007 and ended when she died less than a month later.

The day she died was one of those freakishly unseasonable winter days. The gas-jet blue January sky was unclouded. After she was gone, something like a film of plastic fell over the board-and-care home and over her room, where I stayed with her body until the mortuary people came.

Once I stopped crying all the time, went out for groceries, cooked dinner, and paid the bills again, I started to make tracks up and down Ventura Boulevard as I retraced the page recording her death. Imagine my car as a huge paintbrush, as

I drove

south on Mecca, west on Wells

north on Corbin, east on Burbank

south on Lindley, west on Oxnard

south on Wilbur, east on Ventura

& up Nestle past Palora

to _________  [unspeakable street ]

where she died.

I started rewriting the story of my life by reviewing her life-story. Her life and her death starred in an elegiac group of poems I wrote, because I could keep her alive there–if only in the past tense.

[She wouldn’t like that I’m writing about her.]

I write about Tarzana, though the errands I run, the walks I take, the bike rides, further obscure that page in my mind that recorded her death. It’s become a palimpsest text–layers and layers of posthumous scribble.


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Something Rotten In Encino

One of my friends, someone very interested in Valley civics, pointed out that it would be cool if I talked about community issues on my blog sometimes.

She mentioned the Encino Neighborhood Council elections, for one thing–how the voting process seemed mysterious, etc.–and that even she only found out about the election the day before it happened.

And I said, “What neighborhood council?” Meaning that Encino, to me, is some vague area around Ventura Blvd. between the Galleria and White Oak Ave. Other than that, Encino is where my house is.

“I’ve never thought of it as an actual town,” I said.

“Exactly,” she said.

So the doings of the Encino–or any other Valley Neighborhood Council–are way off my radar (though I did attend a small, private gathering with Congressman Howard Berman before the Nov. 6 election).

But the photos below show something that *is* on my radar and has been for 12 years, but I guess I never thought there was any local city entity to appeal to because I don’t have a sense of who or what is responsible for my community.

What is on my radar is this suppurating eyesore on Louise Ave.

It must be some perverse kind of Fountain of Youth, because I’m pretty sure it’s been oozing like this since I moved here in 2000!

You can tell where the water is leaking from the otherworldly color of the fetid algae. Look at how the light-post base is corroding.

Maybe the city agency responsible (identified in photo #2 as the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Public Works) will come fix it someday soon?

Now that I’m thinking about it, there must be some number–like the LA City number where you report potholes–to call. I just haven’t bothered to do it, because I’ve been an apathetic citizen of ?? …. Encino, er, Los Angeles.

Now you see a more tangible reason why I’m confused about Encino-as-a-town: L.A. seems to be responsible for fixing this Encino street. So I live in Encino, but get my city services from LA.?

Got it.

Well, I hope LA Street Services finds time to come and fix this. Especially because their sister agency, the Dept. of Water and Power, is intermittently threatening to bust anyone caught watering on the wrong day.

How about they bust LA Public Works for this12-year-old leak and counting?

I do have to admit that the burnt orange color is pretty awesome, but still!

Having written this, I went and googled the Encino Neighborhood Council. There is one, and they have meetings every 4th Wednesday of the month. The election my friend was referring to happened September 29, though it does look like it was announced in July–but maybe only on the Council’s own website. Here is the website: www.encinonc.com.

Now I have a place to go with my complaint about the oozing water leak, though for all I know, people may have been trying to get this fixed for years!

But somehow that seems unlikely.

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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!