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2014 - "Become Ocean" by John Luther Adams (CalArts BFA 1973) named winner of 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Music [story]
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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Dec 16, 2012
Darryl Manzer

Darryl Manzer

OK, I’ve moved back, but for the past three weeks I have not been in the SCV when  it came time to write this missive.

This week I’m in Las Vegas. Yes, that place where I can leave all that I own and be told that it is a lot of fun.

I drove here. Got a new car and had to try it out on a long-distance trip. Well, not that long. It does get a lot more miles per gallon than my last guzzler.

For the first time in my life of driving through Baker, it was raining. I guess that huge thermometer saw some pretty low temperatures.

Getting to Las Vegas, I was in for a shock. I’ve flown here, but it has sure grown a bit in the last 30 years. That was the last time I was on the streets of this city. Reminds me of Valencia … without trees.

I try to tell folks about the fields that were the major feature of the SCV back then. Few trees. Lots of onions and carrots. Sometimes I think the only way the Hart football team won a game was when the wind from the west pushed the odors from the onions and the stockyards and the other team gagged. We did have a great band.

That growth has turned out well. At least we don’t have half-finished condo and shopping mall projects rotting away with broken windows and rusting steel columns.

View of Vegas from about the last time the writer saw the Strip.

View of Vegas from about the last time the writer saw the Strip.

I like the desert. Vegas is no longer that. It doesn’t seem real. All of this seems to have been placed in an area that can’t support human life. At least it couldn’t, at one time. Our local native Americans could live quite well in the SCV before the Spanish came to town. Plenty of water and food and great places to put the small shelters on the sunny side of the hills. Yep, the Tataviam just about got it right.

Later we started putting houses all over the hills. Stevenson Ranch crowds the ridge tops and spills over to I-5 with a quality of sameness that stifles the soul. Gotta love HOAs.

I’m happy there are still neighborhoods in the SCV that don’t have neighbors who want to tell you how to trim your yard or what color you can paint your house. I just can’t imagine an HOA in the older parts of Happy Valley. What a laugh.

In all my years in the Navy, the surface ships were haze-gray and the submarines black. Do we have to have all of our homes some form of faux adobe or light brown dirt?

One thing the Victorian era did – when they weren’t covering chair and piano legs – was to have brightly colored homes with painted trim that contrasted and sparkled. Unlike now, when we have imitation adobe stacked on hillsides in endless rows.

I used to ride horses there, and hunt.

If you want to see how real homes should look, check out Mentryville or Heritage Junction, or the homes in the older parts of Newhall. Those were neighborhoods where you could say things like, “Turn left and look for the yellow house on the right. It is the first one you’ll see.”

Didn’t need a GPS then. No voice telling you where to go as you drive. Glad I had that here in Vegas, and I hope the voice can get me home before there are more changes to our valley again.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

 

 

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