Los Angeles Is Breaking My Heart

Dear Los Angeles,

Remember me? I am Jack, a native Angeleno. Yeah, that is right- I am that rare breed the L.A. Native. I showed up on the scene 42 years ago at Kaiser Sunset. I lived through the Sylmar quake in ’71 and the Northridge quake in ’94 not to mention a host of smaller and lesser known quakes as well. I was 23 when the LA Riots broke out and drove through some interesting events on my way home from Vermont and 6th to the Valley.

I have seen, experienced and or read about floods, fires, landslides, high speed chases, car jackings and more. I have lived and died with the Dodgers and the Lakers. I am a graduate of your public school system. I know your streets Los Angeles because I have walked and or driven through the city and I do mean all of the city. Westside, South LA, Koreatown, the Valley and more- I know them all. I am the white Jewish kid who wanders into little holes in the wall to in search of great food and we have a lot of it. I’ll match our restaurants famous and otherwise against any other city in the world.

When I got married- it was in Los Angeles. When I bought a house it was in Los Angeles. When we started our family it was here in Los Angeles. Even though there were other cities that offered cheaper housing we stayed because Los Angeles was home. I have long been a staunch defender of the City of Angels. Ask around Los Angeles and you’ll see that I have gone toe-to-toe with celtic fans in boston and argued with wannabees from detroit. I have slammed cleveland more times than I can count- which really isn’t fair because…it is cleveland.

But lately Los Angeles has been killing me. My oldest child is more than half way through 4th grade. He is enrolled at a private school and has been his entire life. I am losing sleep trying to figure out how to keep him and his sister at their school. My goddamn hair is falling out and my stomach hurts because we have a dysfunctional public school system. I am killing myself to take care of these kids because I don’t trust LA Unified. There is something very, very, very wrong with this. I know a million success stories that all started out at public schools here.

Because I grew up in a time when our schools were admired and it made sense to send your kids there. But now, now it is different. Now my friends that are teachers tell me that there are good schools for my kids. They tell me that they exist and they even name some- but they aren’t in my neighborhood. And the neighborhoods that they are in aren’t places that I can just pick up and buy a house in.

It makes me angry Los Angeles. I want to run through the streets screaming What the Fuck. I want to grab people and shake them. I want to take some of you, punch you in the nose and then hold a mirror in front of your face so that you can see the blood. I want you to see yourself bleed so that when I say that the city is bleeding you have some sense of what that means.

When I read columns like this one I want to scream again. Read the entire column and you’ll scream too. Why are our firemen not being given the proper equipment to use. Why are they using air compressors to fill the tires. Why are they not fully staffed. Tell me that this excerpt doesn’t make you angry and I may beat you over the head with a blunt object.

The air compressor isn’t a critical piece of equipment, but it’s emblematic of the effect of cuts both big and small. In a money-saving move, the Fire Department uses”rolling brownouts”,putting trucks and crews out of service on a rotating basis. Mike Eveloff, an alternate board member of the Westside council, jokes that at any given hour in the same fire district, you don’t want to be the second person to have a heart attack.

The calendar on the wall at Station 92 shows that for the next 12 days, one truck crew will be idle, and staffing will sometimes be at half the full force of 12. Last weekend, members of 92 were covering for a station in Woodland Hills and stopped into a Home Depot to investigate whether they could speed up the paperwork required by the city for the purchase of the air compressor.

It is infuriating and it is just one story. I don’t have to work hard to come up with more. I should provide links to stories about potholes and sewer lines that explode, but I just don’t have it in me to sift through some of that now. In part because I am foaming at the mouth mad with Frank McCourt the so called owner of the Dodgers. He and his ex-wife Jamie took a proud franchise and have turned it into a joke. It is not just because these self absorbed, greedy assholes took more than a $100 million from the team for their own selfish needs.

They own the team and they can use that money how they want…I suppose. And I am sure that there are lots of other people whose own stories are worse than what you read about dear old Frank. But they don’t own my Dodgers. Yes, I said my Dodgers because I grew up during a time when ballplayers spent most of their careers with one team. Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey- that was my infield as it was for millions of other Angelenos. I love the Lakers but I remember a time not so long ago when the Dodgers owned Los Angeles.

I remember a time when people didn’t want to walk up to Frank McCourt and say Fuck You! It wasn’t that there weren’t problems or hiccups with the team. The O’Malleys and Fox have things that they had to answer for too, but this assault upon a Giants fan is incomprehensible to me.

Look at this:

Dodgers owner Frank McCourtcalled it “tragic” that a San Francisco Giants fan was beaten and critically injured in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day, but McCourt said he was satisfied that the Dodgers have done everything they can to make the stadium as safe as possible.

“You could have 2,000 policemen there, and it’s just not going to change that random act of violence,” McCourt said Saturday.

Read that whole post and you’ll see that McCourt never reached out to the injured fan or his family. Why not Frank. Why didn’t you send a card, flowers or offer to pay for his medical bills. Is it because you are afraid of a lawsuit. I can’t imagine why, especially when your former attorney is suing you.

Los Angeles- this isn’t how it is supposed to go. We are supposed to make movies about drama- not star in them. It is not right. It is not too much to ask for our city leaders to do more than fiddle while Rome is burning.

Los Angeles, you are breaking my heart.

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  1. Mo April 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I’m a Bay Area girl, but moved down here in ’89 (damn, that’s a long time ago). I moved from the O.C. to 6th and Gramercy just a couple of months after the riots (rents were cheap). This is my adopted home town but it’s so disappointing sometimes. The mayor is a camera-loving, attention whore who can’t manage to do anything but spend our money poorly. The public school system is so unwieldy, they almost have to break the whole thing up and start over. We moved to the SCV when my youngest stepson moved in with us because otherwise he would have had to go to Venice High. (Poor kid was already at risk; no way would we put in him that environment.) We can’t keep a football team in the area, and McCourt ruined a great franchise. And no he didn’t do NEARLY enough to make sure the stadium was safe. There aren’t enough guards, or off-duty (or on-duty for that matter) police officers. They aren’t patrolling the parking lot like they do at Angels Stadium. To make matters worse, this is not a small-business friendly city—they make it impossible for people to start and operate businesses, businesses that would bring jobs and money and homeowners.

    Sorry for the rant, but it IS heartbreaking.

    • Jack April 14, 2011 at 11:58 pm

      I had a bunch of friends who went to Venice- they’re all professionals now. Funny how time changes things. I agree with you about Mayor Climber. He is far too interested in photo ops.

      There is so much potential here, so much opportunity. I am consistently shocked that we can’t seem to get it together. It really makes no sense to me.

  2. carrie April 14, 2011 at 6:34 am

    I’m a native of Long Beach and get you 110%.

    “Because I grew up in a time when our schools were admired and it made sense to send your kids there. But now, now it is different. Now my friends that are teachers tell me that there are good schools for my kids. They tell me that they exist and they even name some- but they aren’t in my neighborhood. And the neighborhoods that they are in aren’t places that I can just pick up and buy a house in.”
    – The reason we moved out of state, for our kids to have a better education because we couldn’t afford to live in the “right” neighborhood.

    • Jack April 14, 2011 at 11:55 pm

      Hey Carrie,

      How is your 3DS treating you. 😉 It is a thought that has crossed my mind many times. When my son was born he had 5 great-grandparents and 4 grandparents all living in LA. It seemed wrong to move then so we didn’t.

      He’ll be 11 later this year so there is a long way to go before he finishes school. We’re going to have to make some kind of change.

  3. Stan Faryna April 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Speak your heart, Jack. That’s what I’m talking about in my post about America needing you http://wp.me/pbg0R-9e

    P.S. I was there for the riots and a few other things. And, yeah, the eats are unmatched.

  4. Jared Karol April 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Although not a native of LA (or fan, for that matter) I appreciate the devotion and love you have for your city. Living in Oakland, I face similar issues, and the one that resonates with me the most is the school one. I have three and a half years to figure that one out. . .

    • Jack April 13, 2011 at 11:07 pm

      School is the most important issue bar none for me. If I had come up with a better solution than the one I have now life would be much easier.

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