Another One Bites the Dust

They disappear before you ever really notice them. I'm talking about houses. Simple little one-story family homes that have been sitting where they sat for 40, 50, 60 or 70 years on lots double the size of the homes themselves. Evidence that once upon a time in Southern California it was considered something of value to have a real yard. So a couple weeks ago I was taking a walk in the neighborhood when I saw the signs of imminent doom on one particular house: the head-high chain link fence with a green tarp surrounding the property. A few days later, the house was gone completely. Nothing but churned earth and a single backhoe parked on the lot. Now, just this last week, they're already marking the perimeter of the new thing that's going up there. The new thing that's sure to be just like like all the other new things going up in this neighborhood over the last few years. It's the great Spanish McMansion, The faux-Tuscan plastic townhouse, those golden/sand-colored, clay tile-roofed behemoths that have been taking over the town. There will be no yard, but there will be a shiney new Lexus in a shiney, basin-like driveway for sure. Now, this latest old house that I mourn was nothing special, I have to admit. It was the last house on that particular block on that particular side of the street. An off-white/ grayish stucco dwelling sandwiched between the 1970s-era mini-motel-style apartment building on one side and the back wall of the Albertson's supermarket on the other side. I seem to remember a Chevy El Camino parked in the driveway. I think it was brown. Other houses that I've seen go down recently had similar characteristics; they were smaller than the lots on which they sat, they were not beautiful or even particularly well maintained, and didn't draw attention to themselves. I think it's that last characteristic that makes me mourn their demise. They didn't draw attention to themselves. They were humble, unpretentious. They reminded me of the Southern California neighborhood I grew up in, where nobody made a show of their financial status and where luxury was having a front lawn for your kids to run and play on and a back yard for your dog to run and crap in. That was then and this is now. It's a whole new culture that's coming up in these here parts, and I feel more like my grandfather all the time. (Everett Pearce circa 1980: "These kids today....they gotta have their dope and their rock and roll") I'll let you what kind of status-symbol vehicle I see parked in the driveway a couple months from now when they finish the thing.

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