Tuesday, February 22, 2011

100th Birthday -- and no cake?

Today, Van Nuys, the unincorporated center of the mostly unincorporated San Fernando Valley, turns 100. Like most 100-year-olds, it looks a little worse for wear.

I wish I could say that I was anticipating this day, but I didn't even realize today was the day until I chanced across this story yesterday:


(Note that the Daily News has it under "Breaking News.")

My opinion: The town's biggest improvement, if the article is correct, is that Van Nuys is no longer a dry town. Could you imagine?

This Saturday, there is apparently a celebration of sorts at the Orange Line stop in Van Nuys, which is just about in the heart of what we called BVN as kids, or Barrio Van Nuys. It says a lot about a neighborhood when its blight is somewhat ameliorated by the presence of government buildings and car dealerships.

In fact, a little research has revealed that the party began six months ago, or was at least scheduled to start then:

For those of you who don't read the press releases, I'm from Van Nuys. Born, raised, and latchkeyed. So this whole 100th birthday should mean something to me. I'm having a spot of trouble finding the excitement. I think that's indicative of one of the facets of L.A.: There definitely is a sense of community among Angelenos, but it takes more work to realize it than it does in other parts of the country.

Or maybe I just don't care about my hometown that much. I mean, I can go home again. Hell, it's only about 10 minutes from my apartment. I suppose the urge to go home has never materialized because I've kind of never left. Also, Van Nuys is still in its economic downstroke; the redevelopment hawks haven't swooped in yet. It won't be cool to visit Van Nuys again for about another decade, I'd guess.

I also can't go home again because it's not home. And I don't mean because my mother moved out of town. I mean because communities, in L.A., anyway, have a temporary quality to them. If the people cycle through Los Angeles as often as it seems, is it any wonder communities here don't feel the same as they did even five years earlier?

Makes me wonder what the next generation is going to think when Van Nuys celebrates its 125th anniversary. "Doesn't feel like home to me -- ever since the guppies (green yuppies) came in and turned the fast-food joints into lofts. The economy turned around, and all those quaint check-cashing legalized-loansharking places went out of business. Hell, the billboards aren't even in Spanish anymore."


Dave Meyer said...

As soon as I look up "ameliorated" I am going to post a helluva comment,

Joshua Jones said...

I'm reading this at work in Van Nuys (kenrichsounds.com) so it was sort of cool to find this out. I'll have to spread the "breaking news"...

Janice MacLeod said...

Having trouble finding the excitement is a BAD thing?