January 12th, 2009

My hood

For those of you who might still be laboring under any misconception about the glamorous life of the Hollywood writer, I thought I'd walk you around my neighborhood a little today.

First off, I don't live in Hollywood - which, if anything, is even more crime-stricken and filthy than my valley area of North Hollywood. My street is fairly normal mid-American where I am, with trees and a mix of houses and apartment buildings and the new utterly horrific 4-story condos that were recently built right across the street from me and will surely fall over in the first 5.5 quake.

But the fun starts two blocks away, where the liquor store sits on one corner and the run-down hotel crouches on the other. Because of the pay phone in the liquor store lot, this used to be the favored corner for junkies to connect; one friend of mine still calls the intersection "Shooters' Row". Well, the cops sort of cleaned out most of the junkies (who I suspect really just moved on with the advent of cell phones), and left the digs to the hookers, who periodically appear like grazing herds, until the cops bust a bunch of them again. Three nights ago, I saw one step out of a car at the intersection, exchange money with the guy behind the wheel, and promptly head for the liquor store. Who needs television with all this going on?

We're also the territory of one of the most vicious gangs in California, the Vineland Boys. You may have read about a house that was shot up in a gang rumble recently, with a bunch of people killed as a result. Yep, that shoot-out took place about four blocks from me.

This morning, coming into work, I waited at the notorious intersection while an obvious gangsta walked his pit bull. This guy was classic - must have weighed 250, permanent glare, shaved head, nasty dog on a chain - except that, on top of that shaved head, were three little curls, like this:

His body looked like Bluto, but the top of his head was total Betty Boop. I can only assume he had to adopt that hairstyle because his parents hadn't named him Sue.

Welcome to my world.