• December 17, 2005

Tales From The Hood

This Los Angeles Life, ,

On a warm summer afternoon David and I were doing the typically mundane task of unloading groceries from our car. A little black hatchback car erratically pulled up to the stop sign at the intersection catty corner to our house. I didn’t really pay much attention at first but soon heard a commotion coming from inside the vehicle. Suddenly, a fairly average looking man jumped out of the car and roughly pulled a woman out behind him. This instantly caught my attention. I was halted dead in my tracks by the words the man was yelling.

“I’m the pimp! You’re the ho! Give me my money bitch or I’m going to hurt you.”

The fight continued along these lines for several more minutes. Then there was something that I didn’t quite understand about being from East Los Angeles verses West Los Angeles. This man, the pimp, was apparently from West Los Angeles and because of this fact the woman was lucky. If he had been from East LA she would be dead, but, because he is from West LA, he is more compassionate. The woman did not appear to be intimidated by this information. On the contrary, she seemed angry and defiant. She mentioned seeking employment opportunities with a pimp who “hadn’t lost his mother (insert the mother of all expletives here)-ing mind.”

A neighbor’s sprinkler was watering his lawn, I could hear the sound of children’s voices playing in a yard up the street and in the distance I faintly heard an ice cream truck rattling it’s bell and playing “Pop Goes The Weasel.” In the middle of our tranquil summer setting was this absurd exchange straight out of a really bad made-for-tv movie. I stood in the yard, transfixed, mouth agape.

The pimp saw me standing in the middle of my yard staring at them. He pushed the woman back into the car, drove around the corner, parked and pulled the woman back out of the car to yell at her again. By this time David walked up to me and asked what was going on. After I told him he ran inside and dialed 911.

David waited on hold for 10 minutes before he reached an operator. The 911 operator said they couldn’t do anything since we didn’t have the car’s license plate number. She instructed us to get a license plate number the next time this occurred. David requested that a squad car be sent to our location anyway. By the time David hung up the phone with the police the pimp and ho had resolved their dispute and driven away. They were long gone by the time the police drove through our area 45 minutes later.

Comments { 9 }
  1. Jocelyn

    I can truly relate to this, although these types of incidents are not common- they do occur on our street from time to time.

    One classic instance was when a woman was yelling (at 5am Sat am coming home from a night of who knows what and lost her keys) to her guy upstairs in the apt. bldg. 2 doors down from us, “Let me in you drug dealer- asshole etc…”
    We called the police and they came, let her into HER apt., kicked the guy out and then after they drove away, he stood there yelling up to the apt. “whore whore whore whore…” etc… We called the police again and he went away. I have to say (and sorry to)that our police response time is alot better than yours seems to be.

    Most of the troublemakers don’t last on our block though because they eventually get kicked out of their apartments for causing too many problems. Thankfully, but I wish the landlords would check their tenants better and not rent to these people in the first place.

    Anyway, sorry for the ramble- but I really do relate to this stuff. Sometime I should post on some of the characters in our hood: Froggy (neighborhood drunk) and Scottie (another neighborhood drunk). Sad characters really.


  2. Aaron

    I too can relate. I live in Connecticut, in a city that is more like an oversized town. However, we do have gang violence and the like on a regular basis. In ’95 and ’96 I lived in an apartment complex with about two-hundred units. Most of the people I met seemed very nice, pleasant almost.

    However, our complex abutted against two other complexes, one of condos, the other town-houses. It seems that this densely populated of an area was home to the largest drug dealers in the city. In fact, as I discovered about a year after moving in, my 50 year old Mid-East Indian neighbor, who sat on his back patio all year round, was a dealer. The backpack that sat next to him was his daily supply!

    It must have been the tenants’ reputations, because never once was there a break-in or damage to our cars or apartments. The downside to living there, was that every 15 to 20 days there would be sporatic gunfire. Sometimes it would be just a single gun-shot, others, it would be a dozen. My first experience was with a three person shoot-out, at about 2:30am, on a Sunday night.

    Needless to say, I was quite happy when I moved across town into an apartment house between a construction company garage, and a biker bar!


  3. Barb

    Indeed this brings back memories of a certain neighborhood in Portland where I lived in the late 70′s. In fact it was my first CRAFTSMAN home and it was a gem. But the neighborhood was not what a small town girl was used to! I had a screaming witch next door who regularly spilled out here frustration at her poor kids and the neighbors in general. A steady stream of pimps in their big boat cars kept her company. Life has changed for us, though–we’re fixing up a 1917 bungalow here in Butte, Montana, and so far screaming ho’s and pimps aren’t much around!


  4. Ana

    I know that you didn’t mean to insult anyone and you have every right to describe people in any manner that you feel the need to, but as I was reading the above I noticed that the two Hispanic wrongdoers were indeed described as Hispanic, but the other wrongdoers did not have a race/ethnicity attached to them. Maybe I took it personally, maybe not, but nonetheless, I just could not get past it.

    We have some of the same troubles, but ours are not ethnically divided but rather a matter of socio-economics across the broad spectrum of Americans that live in our fine City.


  5. heather

    Ana,

    Our neighborhood in West Adams is a cultural mix made up of mostly African American and Latino families. There are a few Asian families and Caucasians living here as well. I am the minority in our neighborhood and refered to as “the white lady who lives on the corner.”

    Another white woman with red hair happens to live 1 block up from us. Our neighbors often think we are the same person although we look nothing alike except for having the same skin tone and a similiar hair color.

    My point in bringing this up is that people who are Latino or Afican American classify me as the “white” lady when they refer to me. I don’t think they call me the white lady on the corner because they are harboring any ill feelings against me because of my ethnicity. I don’t take it personally.

    It was certainly not my intent to single out Hispanic people as being bad or, to quote you, “wrong doers.” It WAS my intent to be descriptive in my writing. I can see your point that adding the race of the teenagers does not necessarily add anything to the story. I am wondering if I was insensitive or was I just being racist? It wasn’t my intent to be either but does that change anything?

    As you pointed out, I did not mention the race of the other people I wrote about. Any of those people could have also been Hispanic. Would it change anything in your mind if the crack dealer was Hispanic and I chose NOT to include that in my description?

    If I had been writing about something positive in subject matter would it have been ok to mention a person’s race then? What if I was Hispanic? Would it have been ok for me to state that the teenagers were also Hispanic? If not ok, would it have been less bothersome?

    I am not trying to be contrary, I find it hard to follow all the rules of what is and isn’t politcally correct. And, what about all the people who follow the rules of political correctness but don’t really feel that way in their hearts?

    I don’t agree that race isn’t a factor that divides the Haves and the Have-Nots. Most of the people at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder are one color and those at the top tend to be another. I am not in any way saying this is right or endorsing the status quo. But, to push socio-economics as the great divider is, in my opinion, naive at best.

    Living in West Adams, I have learned that racism comes in all colors.


  6. heather

    I hope my response to your comment doesn’t come off as an attack. Your post served as a catalyst for me to write about some of things I have been thinking about for a while. I admire and appreciate that you put what you felt out there.

    I will consider the implications of stating a person’s race when I write in the future.

    Respectfully,
    heather


  7. Ana

    Heather,

    I don’t feel attacked and maybe I am naïve, a bit, or maybe I’m just generalizing and using the City in which I live as the measuring stick. We are 40% Hispanic in our City and out of those 40%, less than 10% have college degrees and are on the higher end of the economic ladder. We also live in a community where most of the residents have been here for a long time and are basically blue collar and white. I guess you can call me racist, but I truly do not limit myself to other races or ethnicities, I am a racist against my own ethnicity also, hence the reason why I believe racism is a matter of socio-economics.

    It is obvious that you are not a racist and I apologize that you thought that was my opinion by my comment. I just feel that we sometimes use race/ethnicity in our descriptions without considering the opinions that are being formed of us or the implications that they may have on others.

    I am defensive when it comes to Hispanics because I am one and maybe because we are still a minority and sometimes still are or feel discriminated against. If you would have attached a race to the other wrongdoers in your story, I would have felt better, then the Hispanic description would not have stood out and I could have moved past it and would have read the story for what it was.

    You are correct, the Haves are usually one color and the Have-nots another. That was restated over and over again during the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe. I can only see that statistic becoming more balanced in the next 15 – 20 years.

    Lastly, I apologize if I insulted you in anyway. I love your website and I think you are a wonderful person. Hang in there, it is restorers like you that I am grateful for. You start the improvement/redevelopment process in a neighborhood and that, in the end, benefits us all.

    On a lighter note, my husband finally (after almost 2 years) gave up on our bathroom and “let” me hire our handyman to finish the job! One more week! I am truly not a DIYer.

    Ana


  8. capata

    Imagine my surprise in discovering that my down-the-street-neighbor has a website about fixing up her house — and then finding myself casually mentioned as Another White Woman who lives up the street!

    Anyhow, having been through your house when it was for sale, I am impressed with all that you have accomplished in such a short amount of time. We have been in our house (a 1907 Craftsman) since 2000 and have barely scratched the surface on what needs to be done!

    Saw your passing reference to the Block Club — cleaning up our ever-improving neighborhood is as much a labor of love as restoring the home it encompasses. I encourage you to renew your interest in civic engagement — we need more passionate people to fight the encroachment of greedy developers and participate in the many community-based organizations that advocate for neighborhood issues! Transforming the “ghetto” is a lot like playing the lottery — you can’t win if you don’t play…


  9. Ursula

    Heather;

    This story about pimps and ho’s is hilarious. I would love to have you and David as a neighbor. I was born and raised in an upper middle class community, and as the years past, the neighborhood transformed from block clubs, and respect for one another to the “hood”. After having my third child my husband and I relocated to the suburbs and were exposed to suburbia’s way of living, it was nice while the children were young, they were able to wake up and see deer, rabbits, and other animals. They could catch frogs, toads, turtles and bring it home to scare the bageeses out of me. However, with all that said, there is nothing like living in an urban neighborhood. The respectful people you encounter and the genuine love for family. This is what you and David bring to your “hood”. I hope that you share your love for self improvement with others face to face. When I read your posts, I feel as though I know you, and yours. It would be grand to have neighbors that “do” improve rather than talk about it and do not pack up and move in the middle of the night because there are different people living in the same cul-de-sac. Because in reality there are pimps, ho’s and drug dealer in all communities, they may have different names like escorts, massage parlor, or service their clients in a more discreet manner, but the services or products sold and the destruction it causes is the same.



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