Another beautiful Southern California day. A little girl and her corgi drawn carriage.
As Loe said on KickStarter:
“Many people think they know LA, but there is one extraordinary district that seems forgotten to all but a few: West Adams.
Home to the greatest architectural treasure West of the Mississippi of Victorian, Queen Anne, Beaux Arts, Egyptian Revival, Mission and Craftsman homes, the stories of West Adams are just as wild as the houses.
Which is why I need to do Untold LA.”
Click over to KickStarter to see the beautiful homes, all located in West Adams, featured in Loe’s video.
We have been told that the police have made 100’s of arrests in our area since June. As impressive as that sounds, you know what? The only number I care about is ZERO. Zero women standing on the corner selling themselves. Zero pimps parking on my street. Zero traffic from Johns. Zero used condoms in my yard. Zero girls getting beaten up. Zero children being robbed of their innocence. Zero attitude from my elected officials who somehow seem to think this is all an accepted part of living in South LA.
I have asked a pimp to please move his car because it was blocking my driveway. I have looked out my dining room window only to see a man getting oral sex in his car. I have stepped over used condoms to get into my vehicle and pulled condom wrappers out of my garden. I have been unable to sleep at night because ‘Johns’ keep driving around and around the block waiting for a prostitute to become available. I have seen women standing on the corner at 7am wearing long shirts or maybe very, very short dresses with no underwear while young children walk past them on the way to school. I have been awoken in the middle of the night by 2 pimps beating a 13-14 year old girl because she didn’t want to sell herself and “just wanted to go home!”
Now imagine this was happening outside of your house. Imagine the neighborhood children are your children. Imagine the elderly ladies who are afraid to go outside are your grandmothers. Imagine the 14 year old girl who is walking her dog and getting cruised by men looking to buy sex is your niece. Now imagine this wasn’t happening for one day or one week, but every day for over one year! How would you feel? What would you do?
Maybe your first thought is we need to move. Ask yourself who is going to buy a house with 4 prostitutes standing in front of it?
Maybe you think you would call the police, Vice, the police Watch Commander or Captain? When we first started calling the police they often wouldn’t show up even if we called multiple times. Prostitution is considered a low level crime, often referred to as a victimless crime, so if something more pressing like a murder or robbery is occurring the police do not respond.
Now that the police are more responsive, it still takes them about one hour to respond unless they already happen to be in the area. Vice has started conducting 1-2 stings a month in our neighborhood. Things are “improving” if you consider prostitution happening 3-4 nights a week instead of every night and 2 or 3 girls standing on the corner instead of 5 an improvement. The police are making an effort but it isn’t enough. They need the cooperation of the judges, lawmakers and City Attorney.
What about City Counsel? We had a community meeting with LAPD, Vice, City Attorney and representatives from Councilman Bernard Parks office about prostitution in June of this year. At that time it was recommended that the City trim trees and install brighter lighting or additional lighting. It is now September and the trees have not been trimmed. A representative of Bernard Parks confided that they haven’t trimmed the trees in our district in over 2 years. There is no additional lighting, although I was emailed a handy petition that I could get all my neighbors to sign stating that we would pay for the cost of the additional lights out of our own pockets each month! Keep in mind I live in one of the lowest personal income Districts in Los Angeles.
I am treated more as an annoyance than a person looking for leadership and help from my elected officials. The fact that Councilman Parks earns over 14k a month and does nothing about the street prostitution happening in our neighborhood makes me absolutely irate. Los Angeles City Council members are some of the highest paid in the country.
Why isn’t Parks working closely with LAPD and the City Attorney’s office to get tougher on pimps, Johns and prostitutes? Why isn’t he heading a Prostitution Task Force or think tank to come up with creative ideas to solve this problem? Why isn’t he doing ANYTHING except blocking the neighborhood twitter so he doesn’t have to be bothered with the problem?
Maybe you would think of getting more involved and trying to create a positive change? I contacted groups working to help women leave prostitution. One group wanted to come into the area one day a week with a Prostitution Diversion Program. The group is not moving forward at this time with their plan because they would have to get accredited by the City to work in our area, and jumping through the hoops required by the City is supposed to be a nightmare.
South Los Angeles has it’s own Prostitution Diversion Program run by the City Attorney’s office. This program is only available to first time offenders, which disqualifies the vast majority of women and men (our area also has male prostitutes) arrested for prostitution. Most prostitutes choose not to participate in the program because on average they spend only 1-2 days in jail, and are often released from jail in a matter of hours due to overcrowding.
The judges often sentence prostitutes to probation. When a woman can be serving six different probations at the same time for prostitution arrests, you have to wonder how did the system get this broken?
Why aren’t multiple offenders sentenced to a mandatory Prostitution Diversion Program or community service to be served in the community where they committed the crime? I would love for the pimps and Johns to come pick up the used condoms off my street instead of me. Who do you think cleans up the discarded, used condoms in front of our homes? The homeowners.
What is the answer? I have thought to myself a million times, “Can we please have a hooker-free night?”
One thing I know for sure, the chance of me sitting quietly by and turning a blind eye to what is happening? Absolutely zero.
Over the past 2 years street prostitutes, pimps and Johns have invaded our once quiet inner city neighborhood. You may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging much lately. It is hard to get excited about paint colors and wood trim when there are people engaging in illicit acts directly outside of our house. I have a lot to say about the prostitution plaguing our community, but am still trying to find the words. I am so heartbroken over this situation, but I am also really angry. More to come…
I was recently interviewed for an article in the Los Angeles Times about the prostitution in our neighborhood: West Adams neighbors fight for their streets.
David gave an earlier interview to Intersections South LA on the same the same topic: South LA neighborhood fed up with prostitution.
Our area even has it’s own twitter page!
Several other articles have also been written about the prostitution happening in our community:
South LA neighborhood meets about prostitution problem
On the corner, making a living collides with quality of life
Making a difference in south Los Angeles, one block at a time
Last fall I had the pleasure of visiting the Ruthmere House in Elkhart, IN. I couldn’t get past the gorgeous ceiling in the foyer. I snapped the photo you see with my cell phone, but in person the ceiling is absolutely stunning. The colors and design are historically accurate to 1910.
I would love to paint something like this on our dining room ceiling.
The Ruthmere website has an online reproduction of the 1910 Souvenir Booklet featuring photos of the house when first opened to the public upon completion. It is fascinating to see how the home was furnished.
See photos of stained glass windows, wall murals, floor tile and more.
If you enjoy touring homes, Copshaholm is located in near-by South Bend, IN. Have lunch or dinner at Tippecanoe Place. There are also two Frank Lloyd Wright homes in South Bend, although I don’t think they are open to the public. Both South Bend and Elkhart have many older, beautiful homes.
We were recently at a restaurant and I fell in love with this wall! I love the color, texture and large faded text.
The vintage industrial lights are perfect with the wall.
I can’t quite see this look in my bungalow…but the wall color and industrial lights are amazing.
Wallpaper patterns and borders from 1911
Sherwin Williams paint and design services advertisement from around 1910
The above Sherwin Williams advertisement was accompanied by the following text:
“This dining-room illustration demonstrates that very dignified and attractive effects can be obtained without over-decoration. Even with its attractive wall effects, beamed ceiling and fine furniture, the general effect is simple.”
Decorative schemes for a dining room or den.
Wallpapered dining room. The adjoining room is also wallpapered.
Wallpapered living room.
Dining room stencil ideas.
Children’s play room. Oversized wallpaper panels are repeated for great effect.
Art Nouveau wallpaper patterns. Aren’t these great?
Ever wonder how to clean your walls?
Maid vacuuming the walls of an upper class home, early 1900s.
After we graduated from college, my friend Amy Jo and I moved into an apartment located in downtown Indianapolis. It was a charming little place. Built in the 1920′s, it featured arched doorway openings and sconces on the walls, 2 bedrooms with a Jack and Jill bathroom in between. It also had a living room, dining room, small kitchen, and a front and back entrance. The front entrance had a dramatic hallway leading you into the living and dining rooms. The unit was positioned on the corner so light streamed in through the many windows along three sides of the apartment. A bonus feature was the back of the apartment faced an open field and high school track. We would walk around the track several times a day. The best part about the apartment was the price. We split the $500 a month rent and could actually afford it on our minimum wage salaries.
After we moved in we realized that we were the only white people living in the apartment complex other than the property manager. The realization wasn’t a negative one, simply an observation. Early one evening we heard the woman who lived above us screaming a stream of obscenities out the window at her boyfriend who was standing in the parking lot adjacent to our dining room windows. The crescendo of her words accelerated to the point where they became jumbled together and unintelligible. Her words kept coming louder and faster, without pause. At regular intervals her boyfriend bellowed back, “Ghetto bitch! Ghetto bitch! Go get your hair done. You’re a ghetto bitch. You live in the G-H-E-T-T-O, bitch.”
That was our first realization that we lived in such a bad part of town. The whole fight culminated with our neighbor’s boyfriend storming off into the open field behind our apartment and firing a round of bullets straight up into the air. At that point Amy Jo and I dove to the floor of our apartment. We were shocked by the brutal, raw emotion of the exchange. That fight was completely outside our frame of reference for the world.
I looked at Amy Jo and said, “I guess this means we live in the ghetto.”
She quipped, “Yeah. We should get some tee shirts printed up. GHETTO BITCHES.”
That experience was good training for living in our current neighborhood.
The Pimp – Ho Fight
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.
The discussion in the Comments refers to the continuation of this article: More Tales From the Hood