…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


We live in a crappy neighborhood. Actually, we live on the crappy fringes of an "improving" neighborhood, which is to say that we are too close to the boulevards—the streets that contain almost all the registered sex offenders who pop up when we search our zip code at California's Megan's Law website—to be properly considered within the improvement zone. When our crotchety Realtor first saw the house we proposed to buy she said, "You know you're right next door to that apartment building," as if we had somehow missed the 50-odd-unit stucco monstrosity overshadowing our single-story ranch home. "That'll bring your property values down," she said. Right! That's why we can afford it.

Corner houses in crappy neighborhoods attract trash, big trash: discarded furniture, spent tires, vats of medical waste. A sofa was dumped at our curb several weeks ago, prompting my partner to call "large dead illegal animal pickup," our nickname for the L.A. sanitation bureau service that schedules collection times for, among other things, bulky items, dead strays, and illegal dumps. We first used this service to have a dead possum removed from our property, and we've since had to call perhaps a dozen times to have as many thousands of pounds of jetsam carted off. The bureau's versatility challenges us to imagine removals that hit on all three of their major categories for pickup, such as dead Komodo dragons, which are both fairly large and very illegal. The bureau also collects quantities of horse manure, a service we've never required, and operates something they call a HazMobile, which will come in handy when those vats of medical waste appear.

Several weeks on, the sofa is still there, and it isn't getting any prettier. Trash begets trash. I think it's a law of physics. So a sofa will naturally attract a fugly lamp or two, and before you know it a broken coffee table arrives and you have a corner group. Our situation isn't as bleak as that of the Hollywood neighborhood where I park my car during work hours. For months I've walked by a growing pile that has come to include a mattress and box spring, a broken recliner, a decoupage experiment gone horribly wrong, a pressboard desk, a lamp, several bags of trash, and the de rigueur sofa that started it all. And a growing stench signals that certain passersby can't resist the urge to urinate on impromptu dumps, giving the whole enterprise some credibility as a community art installation. I'm guessing its longevity doesn't indicate any fondness on behalf of the neighborhood's residents but rather the dilemma faced by apartment dwellers: You must be a property owner to schedule a large dead illegal animal pickup, so if your landlord is off-site and unresponsive, you're SOL.

While I feel more fortunate than the Hollywood apartment dwellers, whose hands are tied when their "garden" apartments become city dumps, I am less fortunate than a certain resident of Mulholland Drive, whose snaking vista road I drive every day on my way to work. I involuntarily smirked one morning as I rounded a curve and saw an upended couch leaning against the Italianate stone wall of a Mediterranean-style villa, a property that likely last sold just north of $2 million. I thought, OK, fair's fair, no one is above the odd dump; all is right with the world. But the very next morning that couch was gone, and while it's possible the owner paid to have it carted away himself, it's likelier that his address is simply more motivating than mine to the folks at large dead illegal animal pickup.

We'll give it another week before we call in a second report, and if it comes to that, we may tell them that it's not so much the corner group we mind but the dead Komodo dragon who has come to rest there. It's worth a shot.


Blogger sporksforall said...

I'll kill a Komodo dragon (worth a shot!) if it will make things happen sooner.

3:37 PM  
Blogger scout said...

No, silly, if you kill it, we'll have to pay for an oversize pickup instead of getting an illegal-dumping pickup for free.

4:05 PM  
Blogger treecup said...

I like to think of myself as "a decoupage experiment gone horribly wrong."

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We just moved to LA (Hollywood & Normandie) and notice the sofas that pop up regularly on our street giving a new home for homeless guys and a new place to store bags of filth and other novelty items. I dunno how people anywhere can live like pigs - Seattle was so frigging clean, but here...i dunno. Thanks for the blog, at least we know its not just us thinking 'wtf'...

1:40 PM  
Blogger Rotten said...

OMG, I just read this while in search of the Big Trash pickup website. I too live next to hoodlums at the beach and must deal with the fact that they seem to have an endless amount of desks, sofas, lamps, tv's, etc... that they insist on leaving next to our carport. They have their own dumpster as well and insist on using it as well instead of their own. They always seem to so this on a Saturday so we can't even get in touch with Big Trash until the beginning of the week to tell them and then, we have to endure the bums sleeping and pissing on the furniture until they finally decide to pick it up. I don't know if you are still living in the same neighborhood, but I hope your trash wows are getting better.

8:36 PM  

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