(Like all posts here at City of Angels 2, in editing phases)
These are words that show up in police reports about crimes, all over the country, words that never used to be used in the fifties and sixties, even seventies. Don't know when we sunk this low into the level of crimes taking place - Sandra Cantu, Shaniya Davis, Caylee Anthony-
In Tracy, California, the same town where Melissa Huckaby got a 9 year old girl to go into the church basement with her, where Huckaby performed some kind of sex act using a foreign object, apparently not expecting to damage the little girl so badly she died, there was also a teenage boy chained to a fireplace and tortured for more than a year, until he escaped and ran through a parking lot into a gym in boxer shorts with a chain still on his ankle crying, "Don't let them get me."
The torture case and Santra Cantu's murder are slowly working their way through San Joaquin County court, as the State of California forces them to keep laying off people who work in the courts. Tracy, California, that's in the desert part of a batch of small towns between San Francisco and the Sierra Mountains, one of many rural areas of California today where methamphetamine is about the only thriving industry, and sex offenders can live free of monitoring.
In that same town, Tracy, Sandra Cantu was subject to something horrible before she died, likely similar to what her murderer Melissa Huckaby experienced at the hands of her grandfather, a pastor in one of those fundamentalist Christian churches that thrive in education free rural California. The pastor grandfather apparently has had some strange stories in his background concerning sex molestation himself.
Melissa Huckaby murdered Sandra Cantu on March 27, 2009, just as closing arguments were taking place in the county seat courthouse. In Fresno Superior Court the previous month Cardinal Mahony and several bishops had gotten up and testified that they knew nothing about sexual predators in the Catholic Church, they knew nothing about Anthoney Herdegan who the Santillan brothers accused. Just as the closing arguments took place in that trial nearby, Melissa Huckaby went a little more nuts than usual and allegedly killed Sandra Cantu after accidentally sticking something up her too far.
The murder took place in the Church of Christ where her grandfather is the pastor.
In that same town last year, a young boy today known as Kyle R, stormed half naked, covered with bruises and running sores, a CHAIN AROUND HIS ANKLES- he rushed into a gym, hollering, “Don't let them get me, don't let them get me.” He had escaped, using a key his kidnappers dropped, he was able to get away apparently during an outing with the three people who lived in the house in Tracy. They had him chained to somehting in the car and he escaped-
The teenage boy had been held prisoner chained to the fireplace in a rental home in Tracy, California, for almost an entire year. In December 2008, the boy escaped and ran into the gym. Later reports said his ankle was permanently twisted from being chained up so long, during his captivity his captors would strangle him until he went unconscious. They fed him endless pills and liquor to keep him groggy.
There are very few reports about this horrible crime discovered in December 2008, but about two days after the boy escaped and they arrested the kidnappers, the police stopped speaking in public about it, the warrants got sealed.
November 9th this year they were supposed to have a pre-trial hearing for a trial that was set for February. Instead on November 9, they took the trial off the calendar, sealed everything, and there is almost nothing more about this case in the news anywhere.
This poor boy, talk about living with PTSD, what is he going to go through the rest of his life.
The kidnappers were able to get the boy in the first place because he had run away from a foster home and was on the streets. He was age 16 when he escaped, though they say he looks about 10 years old because of malnourishment the last year…
Tracy is just a short buzzard hop to Lake Tahoe, where the girl was held prisoner for 18 years even having two children by her imprisoner.
This is the state of the state of California.
Here in East Hollywood, as soon after the first of the month as possible, I have this errand I have to run, I go the the check cashing place at Hollywood and Normandie, cash my paycheck for such an enormous fee I refuse to even look at the receipts, then put the money orders in the stamped envelopes for all the bills and cross to the one mailbox that is left in our neighborhood, at Hollywood and Normandie.
See in this neighborhood, they think the identities have been stolen because of people diving into mailboxes in the middle of the night and grabbing bills and things out of the mailboxes.
No one would touch a mailbox up to a few years ago. It just was something you didn't do.
Some people say the mailboxes are gone because of post office budget cuts, they can't afford picking up so much mail. Whatever, there are plenty of mailboxes on the other side of Highland, but there are hardly any mailboxes in this neighborhood anymore. No more corner red-white-and-blue boxes, they just all got picked up and disappeared one day a few months ago.
So I can take care of everything at Hollywood and Normandie. Cash my check, buy my money orders, upload cash onto my prepaid card, and go to the mailbox, the only one left in this part of town is on that corner.
In the check cashing place yesterday, this grungy man, he’s behind me, and I finally get to the window of this combination check cashing, local grocery and liquor store at Hollywood and Normandie, I'm doing my transactions, signing checks, passing papers back and forth to the guy behind the bullet-proof glass and metal contained structure in the store.
And goofus behind me, this Russian or Armenian old man, one of those guys with dirt sunk into the cracks in their faces and fingers because bathing daily is not part of their custom. He pushes up right in my intimate space with the banker through the little hole and he starts shoving in with something he's got grasped in his fist. Please, he says, “All I need is one copy, thirty cents, please, I go now? ahead of you, please, I only have to make copy, please please.”
Well he was pushing aside the wrong person.
I had just come from a phone call with my landlord, trying to get them to clean the feces out that have leaked from the wrecked plumbing under the bathroom floor. I had just come from dealing with shit under my feet first thing when I get out of the bathtub.
Dark. Even on the brightest of L.A. sunshiny days the area around Hollywood and Normandie is dark, probably emanating from the sidewalks. In L.A. the only way sidewalks get clean is if the store alongside the sidewalk cleans it. Every individual store owner or renter has to find a way to steam clean his own little patch of sidewalk. As a result the sidewalks only get steam cleaned in neighborhoods with money. None of the store owners can afford to steam clean sidewalks in this part of town, they're already being drained dry by ever increasing rents in this free market third world exploit them ‘til they're depleted entity that is Los Angeles.
Okay, you have to live here to get this, I’ll try to describe it.
For years, the sidewalks have accumulated molecular globules of grime, dust, human detritus, and of course gas and oil fumes from all the cars. Because concrete is not a truly flat surface but instead has little crevices, and since the sidewalks all started out as nice white almost totally flat concrete, today years and years of accumulation of all those molecules and globules and various organic tissues falling off the humans and birds - all that chemical compound falls onto the sidewalks as molecules, then slowly over the years seeps down in the uneven concrete to the lower crevices.
So the sidewalks in East Hollywood are not white, but rather polka dotted with these uneven round black-ish splats, molecules of chemical leftovers from trash and a thousand sneezes, all in little globules that look like uneven oddly off kilter blackish polka dots that line the sidewalks from one block to the next. Except in places such as in front of the check-cashing dust covered corner grocery where I have to stand at least once a month. There the globules have all combined and the sidewalks are one black giant globule of grime.
And there's no place else to walk.
I am a regular at the check cashing place and the checks from the agency in Burbank where I work are always good, so they love me, they make a good fifty dollars off me by the time I walk out the door, because I use almost all their services, although I'm not sending money to Mexico. I may move to Mexico though someday for their government funded medical programs …
Okay I'm already fuming as I stand in the check cashing line, trying not to think about why I can't get a checking account right now, knowing this month's check cashing is going to cost more than usual because the check is bigger than usual. To counter my mood, I use anger management, and I'm almost singing and dancing as I get to the bullet proof glass behind which the “banker” sits in his little room cluttered with extra cartons of cigarettes and other overflow inventory from the grocery.
I talk into the tiny window, “I'm bringing you a lot of business today, neighbor. I need to cash these two checks, buy these money orders, and upload this much onto my Western Union card."
He takes my items, there is a caffeinated back and forth as he throws my checks back at me to be endorsed, I put my left front finger on the little device that reads my fingerprints until it beeps, my identity is unquestioned.
Okay. I'm watching banker do his business, all of a sudden right on my back, hovering over my left shoulder, this big man with grizzle on his face that just blends in with his cheeks and the winkles, his skin dark but not quite black, he’s pushing right past me, saying in either an Armenian or Russian accent, “Please I just need one copy, thirty cents, please, just one copy.”
In his fist, which he's thrust on top of my pile of papers in the little wondow, he has his social security card and a picture ID, and he’s almost on top of me, hovering, implying I should step aside. “Please, he says, I only need one copy, can I please,” and he starts to just step in in front of me, as if it’s understood I'm going to be a polite little old white lady and let the poor old Armenian bust in.
Well he didn't know he was interrupting probably one of the angriest little old ladies from here to Pasadena.
I swung around, the motion forcing the old guy back a step and I said, “Hell no, wait in line until I'm done just like everybody else. I'm doing my business here, don't break in on my business." I'm back at the window, the banker-grocer whispers thank you, but I'm not done. Back to the grimy man I yell, "It's not like you have to get back to work or anything."
He stood behind me and I wasn't done. “In fact you're standing too close to me, get back, get back,” I made him move back a good three feet farther away from me than he was already standing, whimpering.
Hmm. It was funnier yesterday when I planned to write it....
My neighborhood is a cultural intestine digesting the fruits all America’s wars since the 1950s. The Koreans to the south, they're thriving, they never even tried to assimilate, just created Koreatown on Wilshire Boulevard and kept on living their lives. Their banks aren't closing.
But the war refugees that filled these buildings in East Hollywood in the '70s and '80s are Southeast Asian and Central European.
They were just airlifted in here, dropped and forgotten, left to fend for themselves with subsidized rent and a monthly social security check, plus all medical care. Most of them have been sitting here in that same situation ever since.
You can’t blame them, I don't even know if the Amenians or Thais wanted to come to the USA in the first place.
One Armenian lady at a dry cleaner’s did open up and talk to me, she’s about my age but young enough to have learned at least some English since she got here. At the cash register, she by rote said to me, “How are you today,” and I said, “Sleepy.”
She said, "Is there anything else you need," and I said, "yeah a good night’s sleep."
She laughed, and nodded saying, "I'm in this store here every day, every day." Then she leaned back and her face became serene and dreamy.
“In my country, we would take one whole month vacation each year. That was with paid vacation. And never this working 12, 14 hours a day.” Then she got businesslike again, took my money, made my change.
So here I am in this neighborhood living among the refugees of America’s decades of mistakes, which I guess includes the decades America allowed the Catholic Church to turn pedophiles loose on their parish populations.
I guess my daughter and I do belong here after all, among the population of refugees that got dropped off and forgotten.
Back at my house I had to holler at the landlord, argue. He was just going to change a part of the toilet and leave the stained flooring behind. I had to stand there like a lumpen rock and be emphatic: "I will be in the L.A. Housing Authority Office first thing in the morning, first thing in the morning, if you don't pick up that bathroom floor and clean everything up underneath it and replace it."
The guy was starting to shake. He got on his cell phone.
I continued to Holler "The L.A. Housing Authority. I will go there."
Into his cellphone the guy was talking to Jose and I'm running around 'til I find the Spanish English dictionary, trying to look up this word he's saying, sounds like "oleo," it's Oler, as in "to smell."
I repeat, "The L.A. Housing authority first thing in the morning."
In his cell phone he's whimpreing, "No deja me, no deja me." Don't leave me here with this hollering woman.
End result: I'm supposed to get a new bathroom floor this morning.
"And you're going to clean up all the feces from under it."
He left with his sackful of whatever he had cleaned out from under the toilet.
And then I shook for the next hour or so. Maybe I'm still shaking. At some point it feels better to just be mad.