Friday, May 9, 2014

Local Entrepreneur Sees Good Future In Canoga Park’s First Psychic Reading / Daycare Facility

by Michale Hemmingway, Quilt staff


The traffic heading down Loma Verde and turning onto Arminta is steady in this residential neighborhood; it starts early in the morning and continues late into the night. The drivers  - some, cheerful mothers and fathers, happy to be dropping off their children for the day; others, mostly young women, anxious, nervous, or upset - wanting to know whether they’ll find love, or fortune, or both - all head to the same location: the charming two-bedroom, mid-century house in the middle of the block with the sign in the front yard.

“It was a no-brainer,” says Mary-Lynne Landesmann of the new day care center she opened late last year. The thirty-eight year old single mom of three goes by the professional name Madame Maria and has been running her own business - “Arminta Psychic Advisor & Tarot Card Readings” from her home in the tight knit Lomaminta neighborhood for six years now. Adding a second business, though unrelated to the first, seemed like a natural fit. “I’m here all day anyway giving readings, and now that I’m taking care of my grandkids during the week, it made perfect sense to, you know, do child care as well,” she tells the Quilt.

With home-based psychics and home-based child day care being Canoga Park’s two biggest industries (massage parlors and thrift stores are tied for a distant third), opening a facility that offers both services definitely fills a niche for a population that's as superstitious as it is prolific.

In fact, Canoga Park’s business license department gets so many applications for the two fields, their forms now include specific options for each of them. “We’ll probably have to change that into ‘Psychic Reading AND Day Care’ or at least add a ‘both’ check box after them, and pretty soon,” says Chuck Kritchman, senior clerk at the Canoga Park Office of Finance, whose experience has given him a knack for anticipating new trends in local commerce. He reports that since February, five other psychics have filed applications to offer children's day care services, and eight day care centers applied for business licenses allowing them to give psychic readings. Additionally, another sixteen individuals, all would-be first-time business owners, submitted applications to offer both services.

Canoga Park's business license applications may soon be changing
to reflect shifts towards dual businesses operating as one. Staff photo.
Back on Arminta Street, the genial Landesmann, a zaftig, gregarious figure in a paisley caftan, maroon kerchief and preponderance of costume jewelry, admits juggling two distinctly different operations under one roof keeps her busy, but she enjoys it. Her biggest challenge: Noise.

“It does get loud. You try going into a trance for a customer when you’ve got eight screaming four-month olds in the back of the house and Elena isn’t around to shut them the hell up because ‘my boyfriend’s car broke down.’” She finishes in a mocking tone as the employee she mimics, Elena Prohaska, walks into the room looking for an ashtray.

“You give me sh_t, lady, I take off right now. Watch me,” the young woman threatens, as she stabs out a Parliament in a glass dish on the table. “I got eighteen kids back there an’ I’m sick of them. An’ there [are] four more coming after eleven.”

Madame Maria calms her down with a dismissive yet friendly wave of her arm, a dozen colorful bracelets clicking and clacking as she does. “Aaah, go get yourself a beer from the kitchen and settle down. And get me one, too, honey.”

A sign advertising Mary-Lynn "Madame Maria" Landesmann's bustling
psychic advisor and child daycare businesses on Arminta. Staff photo.
Sometimes, though, the clamor her boisterous young charges make can work to Landesmann’s advantage.

“I used to have this woman come in who was going through a bad divorce and the ex-husband took off with their five-year old,” she explains. “So she wants to know where they’re at, since the police couldn’t find them. Well, one of my regulars, little Teddy Horwath - who between you and me is a whiny little priss - is back in the living room there and starts crying ‘I want to go home! I want my Mommy!’ and like that. Well, this b_tch hears it and thinks it’s her kid, crying out from beyond or some sh_t. Let’s just say that woman was a believer after that. She paid me double. And she kept coming back until the goddamn cops caught the ex and returned the kid to her. Damn, I had a good thing going there for two, three months.”

Kidz Klub Day Care, open 8 am to 6 pm and located in a room in the back of the house, features
the "Fun Corner" loaded with an array of toys and books to keep kids happily occupied. Staff photo.
While the fortune-telling business has always been lucrative, her new child care enterprise is positively booming - with local residents dropping off three, four, five, in some cases all of their children before they head to work, the hair salon, the mall, or wherever it is they go for the day.

But despite how prosperous things are for her now, the medium is still looking - appropriately, some might say - to the future. 

Says the ambitious psychic-cum-sitter, “I gotta find out how I can sell medical marijuana. That’s the big thing now. I mean, have you been on Reseda Boulevard lately? And getting the weed isn’t a problem. Between my daughter’s three baby-daddies, that I got taken care of. But I got a feeling getting the license is going to be a real pain in the ass.”

A knock on the door signals her next customer and the accomplished businesswoman ushers in her ten-thirty appointment: a 17-year-old girl whose timid, frightened look belies an undercurrent of rage.

“What can Madame Maria do for you, child?” says the seer as, in one fluid movement, she takes the proffered twenty, slips it into a pocket and then gently clasps one of the girls hands in both of hers.

In The Cards: Madame Maria reads the tarot for a typical Canoga Park
teenager looking for answers to typical teenage problems. Staff photo.
“I want my boyfriend to stop f_cking around on me an’ sh_t. I want him to marry me or if he don’t do that an’ he keeps f_cking that little whore Valeska Stoica, I want to get even with him an’ sh_t. Like revenge an' sh_t.”

Madame Maria slowly lays out her deck of tarot cards, theatrically murmuring quiet clucks and gasps with every few flips of the cards before making her pronouncement: 

“Sweetheart, the spirits advise you to allow yourself to become with-child by him. It is, they say, the only way for you to achieve either, or perhaps both of your wishes.

"And then when you need day care,” she hands the young lady a business card, “You keep us in mind.”

No comments:

Post a Comment