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.”

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