This is The Valley.
The San Fernando Valley.
This is where the maids get on the bus in the morning at 5 am and three buses later and a walk up the hill get to work by 8 to clean the houses of people that stopped cleaning their own houses when they stopped living in the valley.
This is where the gardeners start up their 1987 Toyota pickup trucks load down with lawn mowers and leaf blowers and hedge trimmers and 5 gallon Gatorade coolers and honk their horns 3 blocks away for their brother-in-law who overslept and at 6 am is still guzzling a cup of sweet café con leche as he runs out the door.
This is where high school junkies score at the quickie mart and dash off to shoot up under the overpass before homeroom, and potheads get high behind the garage and then get on the bus that takes them to Hollywood instead of to English class.
This is where the gangbangers help their mamas take in the groceries and pick up their baby sisters from school.
This is where the garages are rehearsal studios for the next guns and roses or radiohead or for the mariachi band that’s playing at the quincinera for the grand daughter of the lady that works at the Laundromat at night.
This is where artists live next door to Armenian grocers and the man whose wife makes the tamales he sells from his cart on Sunday mornings. The tamale man, he comes so early that someone has to wake up in time to catch him or else you wind up running all over the neighborhood because no one else makes the tamales so good.
This is where you learn the music of the ice cream truck that sells the chili lollipops that make your lips chapped, and the shaved ice cart that has the best vanilla cream, and the corn man with the corn you have to eat outside because the butter and mayonnaise will drip on the carpet, and the pizza guy who makes the word pizza sound like a stacatto chirp, and the produce truck that arrives just in time to get fresh tomatoes for dinner and the fruit wagon where you can get a whole bag of sliced cucumbers tossed with salt and lemon juice squeezed from a lemon pulled from a backyard tree.
Its where grocery carts litter front yards and little kids count their change out at the liquor store for candy or soda in the afternoon.
Its where English is not a mandatory language because Spanish, Armenian, Persian, hindi, Russian, Korean, and Vietnamese are all tangled up in a single block radius and the common language has nothing to do with vowels and grammar anyway.
This is The Valley – the Nativity Scene of the American dream.