Monday, August 24, 2015

News In Brief: August 24, 2015

A brief, local round-up of local news you can use, briefly.

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Canoga Park High School Releases Its Popular 'Mindset List' for 2015
Among the entries on the much-anticipated compilation of cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering as freshmen at Canoga Park High this fall: "...The internet has always been a part of their lives but in most cases, both of their parents have not. They've never worried about polio, scarlet fever, or smallpox but are the first generation to face the ongoing challenges of an unprecedented bullying epidemic. The antiquated, quaint practice of covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing is completely alien to them. The ability to share pictures of one anothers' genitals has always existed, but a sense of modesty or propriety has not. They recognize the music of 'Gangrene' but not the symptoms of it on their self-gauged earlobes. 'Tagging' has always meant something other than using a price gun to apply stickers on merchandise at an after-school job. 'Homework,’ ‘respect,’ ‘accountability’ and ‘paying attention in class’ are not phrases they recognize." The list is compiled annually by Arlene Butler, a tenured history teacher who “stopped giving a shit a few years ago when [she] got tired of competing with smartphones for [her] students’ attention and [is] now just trying to coast into retirement.”

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Salvation Army Offers Back to School Values
The Salvation Army Family Store on Roscoe Boulevard is hoping to be your “one-stop back-to-school shop, for school supplies and such,” according to Donation Intake Coordinator Trenice Campbell. “We do have many items to choose from, like pencil boxes, Magic Markers, notebooks and whatnot. I even saw a paper-pad that the children can use, you know,  to do their lessons on. It says ‘A Letter from Denise,’ so if their name is Denise, they’re good to go.” Prices start at just 95¢ for some smaller items, but Campbell cautions that “with those Magic Markers, now we don’t check the boxes, so I don’t know if any are missing or they’re dried out or anything. Just so you know.”

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School Staffer, Dollar Tree Under Fire For Insensitive Poster
A local discount store has come under fire for selling materials deemed ‘culturally insensitive.’ “I can’t believe this was considered a ‘teaching aid’” said Canoga Park Elementary teacher Sondra Pasquali when she saw a ‘Citizenship’ poster using such highly charged terms as “responsibilities” and “U.S. Citizens” on her wall on the first day of classes last week. “I immediately called the police to report a hate crime.” A teacher’s assistant, Judy Maxwell, has admitted to hanging the poster and “will be dealt with accordingly” according to a statement by the Los Angeles Unified School District. “I still don’t understand the problem,” shrugs Maxwell. “I saw it at Dollar Tree, thought it was good for learning about government — even used my own money to buy it. Anyway, I had the kids write angry letters to the store so everything’s good now.” 

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Canoga Park Library “Free Lunch for Children” Program A Success
The Canoga Park branch of the Los Angeles Public Library System offered free lunch to children each Monday through Friday from 12:30 pm to 1:30 p.m. this past summer. With the school year starting and LAUSD teachers once again in charge of feeding their students, the program has been discontinued, allowing local librarians to take off their aprons and get back to their usual librarial duties: babysitting the homeless, mentally ill and indigent. However, the program was deemed such a success that plans are underway to remove the library’s underused “Early Readers” and “Kidz Corner” sections and install a sundae bar and chocolate fountain for the 2016 summer season.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Future of Lautner-Inspired Modernist Home ‘CostcoSphere’ in Jeopardy

By Michale Hemmingway, Quilt staff


The innovative and eye-catching house located near the corner of Roscoe and Canoga Avenues, in the highly-desirable Rosconoga neighborhood, is in danger of being razed.
Castle In the Sky: Rising some 40 feet above the ground, the architecturally-significant home
'CostcoSphere' is the latest notable structure to be threatened by the wrecking ball.  Staff photo.
The trianglar-shaped house, nicknamed the CostcoSphere due to its proximity to the Canoga Park warehouse retailer ‘Costco’ and low test scores in LAUSD geometry classes, was built in 1986 and has been a fixture on local architectural tours ever since. But with Costco scheduled to close September 11th (and relocate to the new shopping center ‘The Village at Westfield Topanga,’) the iconic structure’s future is literally “up in the air,” as it shares a nearly 12-acre lot with the big-box store, which following recent trends in West Valley development is destined to be demolished to make room for — experts predict — 197 single-family homes, 356 condominiums, 486 apartments, 673 low-income housing units, or some combination thereof.

“The [CostcoSphere] is historically significant because of its obvious Lautner-inspired design,” writes Sara-Emily Taylor, of the blog Guttered LA.  “To see it destroyed would be a true architectural and cultural tragedy the likes of which we haven’t seen since that dark day in Santa Monica when they took down the big Arby’s hat.”
The CostcoSphere's spacious living room, as seen in a real estate
ad from the mid 90s. Courtesy Canoga Park Premiere Properties.
Designed by the firm Corporate Signage of Issaquah, Washington, and constructed by Chatsworth’s own Industrial Steel Fabrication & Installation, the elevated home is further recognized as a rare, later example of the Modernist style built more than two decades after most architectural experts consider that specific movement had reached its apex in the early 1960s.  

According to MLS records, the 2,300 sq. ft., 4-bedroom, 2.5 bath home was last sold for $459,000 in 2010, with advertisements from that time heralding its “wonderful flow-through,” “a center courtyard perfect for a really tall tree,” and “panoramic views of NAPA Auto Parts, the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and the growing contingent of day laborers loitering around Home Depot.” Its main selling points, however, were likely that it is “within easy walking distance to bulk-shopping and free-sample-eating” as well as being “conveniently located near Xposed All-Nude Gentlemen’s Club.”
The CostcoSphere's kitchen has never been updated and is most often breathlessly described
as "amazing" on 'time-capsule' real estate blogs each time the property has been on the market.
An emergency meeting of the Canoga Park Friendly Neighborhood Council aimed at staving off the historic home’s destruction was held last night and attended by members of the Los Angeles Preservancy, the North-of-Saticoy Institute of Architects, the LA Municipal Trust for the Ensavement of Buildings Built Some Time Ago; and web-loggers, or bloggers, from online internet websites LAish, All Up In Your Valley, LA Contemplated, and Blog of the Valley of San Fernando — many of whom were excited to visit Canoga Park for the first time. 

Those hoping to save the unique home delivered impassioned pleas during a meeting that dragged on well into the wee morning hours, until representatives of the owners reluctantly agreed to postpone the demolition of the house to allow would-be preservationeers time to file sufficient paperwork to tie up proposed plans in red tape, squash any impending deals for the property, scare off potential investors, and send the upcoming project into bureaucratic purgatory for the foreseeable future.
CostcoSphere's modernist living room was designed with enormous wall-length picture windows to take full
advantage of the magnificent views of the surrounding neighborhood. Photo: Canoga Park Premiere Properties.
“While we’re realistic about our slim chances of permanently saving it,” admits Taylor after the meeting and on her way to finally see the CostcoSphere in person after having learned of its existence last week, “it’s important for us to waste a lot of other people's time and money, because old things are neat.”

Monday, August 3, 2015

BREAKING: 8/10ths of Iconic ‘CANOGA PARK’ Sign Stolen

By Burton Cantara, Quilt staff.


The sign welcoming visitors into Canoga Park from its eastern border has been vandalized, with 8 of the 10 letters spelling out the words “Canoga Park” having been pried loose and stolen.

The stylized and artistic sign, one of a pair installed in 2005 in celebration of Canoga Park being named an “All-American City” — a prestigious and coveted citation awarded by the National Civic League that honors the communities in which citizens, government, businesses and nonprofit organizations demonstrate successful resolution of critical community issues such as vandalism and theft — is located on the north side of Sherman Way just west of DeSoto Avenue, in Canoga Park’s bustling Shermoto neighborhood. (Its twin, located at the other end of town, at Sherman Way and Shoup, in the bustling Shermoup neighborhood is, as of this printing, intact.)

“I’m devastated,” exclaimed Donald Culross, head of the Neighborhood Beautifization Committee with the Canoga Park Friendly Neighborhood Council. “I came here to El Gallo Giro to get one of their tortas, and happened to look up while getting out of my car, and [the letters] are gone. 

Up until recently, the letters spelling out “Canoga Park” on the sign have consisted of C, A, N, O, G, another A, P, a third A, R, and K, roughly in that order. Since the theft, which occurred sometime between maybe March or April of this year and yesterday (based on reports of residents remembering the last time they happened to look up at the undamaged installation), the sign consists only of a single A and an R. 
Sign Stealed, Defiled: Canoga Park's distinct and artful curved I-beam located at Sherman Way & DeSoto
Avenue has had all but two of its letters pried from their moorings. Some suspect the villainous 'Spellbinder'
from the 1970s Children's Television Workshop series 'The Electric Company.' Most, however, admit to not
knowing the reference and presume it may be the work of some of Canoga Park's local vandals. Staff photo.
“Holy crap, did I just cross back over into Arizona?” asked an unidentified man who looked up at the sign as he stepped off the westbound Metro bus 162, on his way to Gallo Giro to get one of their tortas. “I just got out of there last week!”

“People are becoming confused,” announced councilmember Milt Haggerty at an emergency meeting of the Canoga Park Friendly Neighborhood Council earlier tonight. “They leave Winnetka, walk across DeSoto...and suddenly they have no idea where they are. They think they’re in Ar. What the hell is ‘Ar?’ Our town is losing its identity, people!”

Prof. Morris Detzer.
Photo: Mimi Detzer
“Maybe it’s time for a new identity!” announced Morris Detzer, Pierce College Winnetka's professor of radioelectrochemistry as well as the head of its literary department. “Leave the sign! We’ll be ‘Ar’ now — it has a nice Baumian / Tolkienian / Brontëian / Swiftian / Seussian ring to it. Plus it's the atomic symbol for argon. And what is more noble than the noble gas argon? Christ knows we’ve all inhaled enough of it and who knows what else over the years from lax safety measures during decades of manufacturing by all those defunct aerospace plants!”

While most attending the meeting booed and shouted him down, one man adjusted his man-bun and stood up to defend the idea. “I agree with the professor,” began Brian Rauschebart, 28, a former website designer and craft beer brewer, and current small business entrepreneur/cab driver. “Let’s go with Ar, but when we say it, we can totally say it like pirates: ‘Arrrrrrr!’  We’d be like the pirate capital of the world, and hold a Pirate Con every year — bring in a lot of business and tourism. And the fact that we’re not even on the water? That makes it like totally absurd and genius. Yeah. It's, uh, yeah, kinda brilliant...? I say we stick with ‘Ar.’ Or, rather, ‘Arrrrrrr!’”

Sgt. Frank Gannon.
Photo: LAPD.
With pandemonium threatening to break out, Sgt. Frank Gannon, a detective with LAPD’s Topanga Station, took the podium to try to assuage the crowd's mounting unrest and bring the focus back to the matter at hand — the defaced sign.

“My partner and I are investigating the situation. We’ve been over to the area where the crime was committed and interviewed a lot of folks in the area, at least those in El Gallo Giro. Got us a coupla those tortas there, too.

“We’re working on a number of leads. To be honest, this one had us stymied until we talked to ol’ Ben, the desk captain back at the station. Sure, maybe ol’ Ben hasn’t walked a beat in years, but...well sir, you need someone to figure out a crossword clue or a word puzzle...why, ol’ Ben, he’s the first man I’d talk to. Good ol’ Ben.”

The tense and increasingly exasperated crowd settled down somewhat with the mention of the beloved desk captain and murmurs of agreement and appreciation briefly filled the Canoga Park Community Center.

A Study In Contrasts: At top, the vandalized (east) Canoga Park sign on a cloudy day. Below, its
twin, located at the border of tony West Hills, and shot against a cloudless blue sky. By viewing the
formerly identical signs simultaneously, forensic experts say it's easier to pinpoint the areas where
damage has occurred. For example, note all the parts that don't read "CANOGA  P   K." Staff photos.
“So now, thanks to a bit of crackerjack detective work by ol' Ben," continued Gannon, "we’re focusing our attention on local gang members. Specifically, Paco Kang. And Cagan Pok. As well as Kapa Ngoc, and Cagno Kap. Oh — and Can Gopak. And Paga Nock.

“And also Gana Pock, Gack Pano, Nack Poag — did I say that one? — and, let's see: Ag Na Pock, Cang Ka Op, Cang Ka Po, and uh, where's that list...? Here we go...and about, oh, 650 others. By the sound of the names, we think we might be looking for someone affiliated with a Filipino gang...but we’re not ruling out some sort of character from 'Star Wars,' either.

“We just hope at least one of these people actually exists. Or, mister, we’re back to square one.”