Tag Archives: South Central

I’m on Crenshaw Boulevard and no one is reading Proust

The long ZZZ

Don’t I ever do anything but stare longingly at the 405 carpool lane, I thought, as I stared longingly at the 405 carpool lane.

As if the thousands of brake lights flashing in front of me wasn’t a clear enough indicator, I peered deep into my phone for confirmation. Google Traffic was a river of red dotted streaks where there used to be freeways. I had time to kill. I decided to sing the only Christmas song I could remember.

“On Denver, on Dover, on Dubai and Blitzen. On Helsinki, Reykjavik, strippers and vixens…”

And so the song went as I went from the 405 to the 10 East.

I exited on Crenshaw Boulevard. I drove south again. South toward South Central Los Angeles.

South Central Los Angeles: once home to African American Males With Attitude (Or A.A.M.W.A.). Now home to Central American immigrants, Kendric Lamar, and two lesbian poetesses who just want to be left alone.

I spotted a postal employee and wondered whether he had read Chuck B.’s novel on being a man of the post in Los Angeles.


I leaned back my seat. When in Rome… I was practically supine, leaving what happened in front of my car to fate. Fate, I laughed to myself. I was driving along Crenshaw Boulevard.

In these types of neighborhoods, instead of having a Starbucks on every corner, there’s a liquor store. Instead of people standing outside texting or pretending to read Proust, people are talking, and they’re talking loudly. Almost all of them are talking to themselves.


But I had a job to do. I turned right off of Jefferson and headed south. I drove very slowly so as to not miss anything such as: the man selling vacuum cleaners on a basketball court or the gentlemen wrapping tin foil around street lights.

I pulled up to the address I’d been given. It looked like all the other houses on the street: impenetrable. There was a fence and about ten signs that warned of a malicious, but yet unseen dog that would kill if push came to trespass.

Typical home south of the 10

The door opened. A Hispanic woman in either her thirties or seventies opened one door then another and then another. She peeked her head out, store-bought blonde, and asked me if I was here about “the drapes.”

The meaning of drapes was seemingly endless, but I surmised, in this instance, drapes was likely code for either cocaine, heroin, bath salts, speed, crank, meth, immigrant sex slaves, locally-produced sex slaves, “hot” iPhones/iPads/MacBooks, pirated DVDs featuring Catherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher or Chinese Democracy—the album.

“Yeah, I’m here for the drapes.”

“Come in.”

“Um, is there a dog I should be aware of?”

She laughed, waved me in. I gulped then sprinted all seven steps to the door. Once I got there I didn’t feel much better.

It was a mini-factory within a house. It looked like the inside of a meth addict’s mouth. And I was inside, which pretty much meant I was making-out with a meth addict. (Not to make light of meth addiction or the destruction it causes to mouths, but I’m trying to make it clear that this wasn’t Versailles, yo.)

I handed the woman a blank check for $500 dollars.


“I don’t have any cash,” I said. “Sorry.”

With an acrylic nail she tapped the trash bag on the table. The table was tall and crowded with rolls of material and carpet. Across the table, a few Hispanic women pretended to not notice that I was hyperventilating. I was hyperventilating because while all this was going on I was bracing myself for the moment when I would be clubbed over the head with a drain pipe from some abandoned home which I would likely wake up in—if I ever woke up—from my forthcoming bludgeoning.

“And that one, too.”

Three little boys, maybe seven years old, tossed another bag on to the table.

“O.K.” she said.


She nodded. I threw the bags over my shoulder and made for the door. I figured I was either walking out of there with the bodies of two recently slain gang members (age: 8 and 10) or twenty odd kilos of Colombia’s Most Stepped On.

AA esta cerrado... entonces?

I threw the bags in my trunk, turned on the ignition and held my breath until I was on the freeway again and west of La Cienega. I passed five cops, forty-two transients, three white chicks, fifteen ads for Mexico’s most flavorful beer and one apartment complex called The Rosa Parks Villas.

What did I do with the bags? Well, I did what anyone would with trash bags of unknown contents procured in South Central. I dropped them off at an elementary school in Encino.

(This is in no way an admission of guilt. Any bags found with cholito corpses are merely coincidental. Any bags full of contraband with a decent street-value may be returned to sender: 1825 Wilcox Ave. #1, Hollywood, CA 90028)

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Manny Seeks Roommate!

Manny is reformed, but the state of California didn’t deem him so. They didn’t feel the need to. His crimes weren’t heinous enough to warrant that sort of assessment. Though I believe he deserves some sort of recognition: a diploma, an all expenses-paid luxury cruise, a hounds tooth blazer, etc. After all he turned himself in. Sure, he was on the lamb for a year before he checked in with L.A. County, but he went in of his own accord. He went in because he had “one on the way.” He turned himself over because he was going to become a father.

That was July. He’s been a free man for a couple months now. His girlfriend, some a Boriqua from East Los is the mother of his son Evan. Yeah, the name caught me off guard too.

Today I saw Manny down at the handball courts in Venice. This is where I first met him. This is where we became friends. This is where I’ve lost to him every weekend for almost three years. Venice is a bit of a hike from Los Hundreds, but Manny likes the beach and you can usually get a court here without much of a wait.

When I casually asked Manny how his son was I expected the usual: he’s walking now, he’s talking now, he’s learning how to, etc. Instead Manny says, “Oh, I didn’t tell you? He’s gone. His crazy ass mom took him to Laughlin.”

I didn’t follow. “Why?”

“We got into it. She doesn’t like that I smoke, but it’s not like I smoke around the kids (kids plural. Manny is raising the Boriqua’s other son whose father, a Salvadoreno convict was sent back to San Salvador after committing his twenty-third felony.) It’s not like I blow kush in their faces. It’s not like I beat her ass and fuck other bitches. I go to work. I pay all the fucking bills. She lives in my house. I push the stroller. I change the Pampers. I do all that shit. Plus, I was smoking when I met her, so what’s the big deal?”

“I see.” Although I can’t imagine him pushing a stroller. “How did you just let her take Ethan though?”

“Evan, marica. She got into it with my brother then shit blew up. I can’t have that.”

“You can’t have that?”

“Hell no. So I sat them down and we had a good talk, you know? And everything was all cool, but then in the morning I woke up and she had taken my car and the kids to Laughlin.”

“That’s fucked up.”

“Hell yeah. She’s crazy.”

“Which is why she shouldn’t have Allen.”



“She’s depressed and shit–taking all kinds of pills that she gets from her mom.”

“How does her mom get them?” Inquiring minds want to know.

“That lady?” He shook his head. “I don’t know. She knows all sorts a doctors and shit.”

“So what are you gonna do?”

“And she keeps texting me ‘tell your little bitch to stop calling me.’ And I’m like what little bitch?”

“What little bitch?” I ask.

“Little bitch?” he put his hands up in the air. “I’m not thinking about that. I’m trying to see my son.”

“She’s making it up? The little bitch, thing?”

“Yeah, aint nobody calling her,” Manny says. Which only answers half of my question.

“You probably should get your kid from her.”

“And now she wants me to pay her phone bill because they don’t have metro PCS in Nevada.”

“What else are you paying for?” Dissolution law may be on my horizon.

“Pre-k. Two hundred bucks a week.”

I give him my most serious, I know nothing about your life, fatherhood or the law, but you should listen to my advice because we’re handball buddies[1] look. “You should probably do this through the courts.”

“I got the receipts.”

“Oh,” great. He’s got receipts.

“Anyway, I told her I want to come out and see the kids and she tells me she’s not ready for that.”

“How long has it been?”

“Almost a month. And I’ve got Wednesday and Thursday off so I wanna drive out there.”

“So do it.”

“She’s got my car.”

I love Manny, but I don’t know his last name or whether he’s legally allowed to drive so I pray he won’t to ask to borrow my ’67 P1800 ES, my pride and joy that shouldn’t really be driven on the freeway or above thirty-eight MPH for that matter. “Do you want to borrow my car?”

“What?” He looks over his shoulder at the parking lot. “That blue thing? Man, I wouldn’t take a ride to Mar Vista in that thing.” He’s smiling, but probably not kidding. “I can get a car. I’ll take my brother’s. It’s mine anyway.”

I decide not to delve into the complexities of their fraternal relationship. “So what are you gonna do?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know? Manny, you’re a reformed man. You went to jail for your son. Put a roof over his head. You became the surrogate father for some convict’s kid in the name of love. There’s some Boriqua hopped up on antidepressants and opiates driving your kid in your car around the third largest city in Nevada[2]. You’re not getting “yours.” It’s time to take it.”

“Fucking white people,” Manny snickers.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I toss up the handball. “You know I’m part Native American, right?”

“After all that fucking talking you owe me a beer.”

“Deal. Where? Although, I should mention I am petrified of your neighborhood. I follow @Emptythefuckinregister on twitter and people are always getting fucked up by where I think you live. Do you follow that account?”

Manny laughs, “That’s too bad because I was just about to ask you if you were looking for a place. Now that my girl and the kids moved out I’ve got two empty bedrooms.”

“Did they pay rent?”

“No, but my brother did until yesterday.”

“What happened?”

“His girl had a kid so they moved into her parents’ house.”

“Sounds cozy.”

“Think about it.”

“Where do you live again?”

“South Central.”

“Yeah, I can’t do that. Is there even a Trader Joe’s down there?”

“Well, if you know anyone.”

“I’ll keep my ear to the ground… or my eyes peeled. Or…”

“What the fuck is you talking about?”

“I know what I’ll do. I’ll put it on my blog.”

Manny just shakes his head.

“So where we gonna get that beer?” I ask.


“Club?” Who knew? Manny likes shopping in bulk too.

“Sort of. It’s a strip club. Free to get in and they’ve got beer.”

“Sounds charming,” I say.

“You can drive.”

-The Neapolitan Mastiff

[1] Handball buddies… that sounds way more homoerotic than I intended.

[2] Actually, I have no idea how big Laughlin is or what the Boriqua was hopped up on. Maybe she just took a bunch of prescription allergy meds. You never know.

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