May 18, 2007

Department of Redundancy Dept.

A traditional oddity of living in the San Fernando Valley is that while it's almost all part of the city of Los Angeles, one's mailing address does not include the words "Los Angeles." Unlike in Chicago, where every single resident's city address is "Chicago" and the famous neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Bridgeport, and Uptown are merely unofficial monikers, in the Valley part of LA, your official address includes your local unofficial neighborhood name, such as Sherman Oaks, Encino, or Tarzana (yes, Tarzana is named after Tarzan -- author Edgar Rice Burroughs used to live there).

This gives local homeowners' associations an incentive to split off nominally from the big, heavily Latino and thus unfashionable neighborhoods such as North Hollywood, Van Nuys, and Canoga Park. Home prices go up when the nicer parts break off and give themselves less tacky-sounding vibrant names like Lake Balboa and Valley Village. New names have no official legal significance -- everybody is still under the thumb of the city of Los Angeles -- so real estate interests have a fairly free hand.

Not every new name is felicitously chosen. For example, in the dead flat middle of the 345 dead flat square miles of the San Fernando Valley, near Valley Community College, is the newish "community" of Valley Glen, whose homeowner's associated started calling itself that in 1998. "Glen" is a Scottish word meaning "narrow secluded valley in the mountains" (which Valley Glen definitely is not). In other words, "Valley Glen" means "Valley Valley."

That reminds me of the impassioned speech by Wesley Snipes's wife in Ron Shelton's "White Men Can't Jump," where she begs him to stop wasting his time on the basketball court so they can afford to move out of the Vista View Apartments: "All I care about is getting out of the Vista View apartments, because there ain't no 'vista', there ain't no "view", and there certainly ain't no vista of no view."


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

11 comments:

Riot Nrrd said...

There are two cities named Brentwood in California, one (famous for two certain murders and one possible one) in the LA area and one up near San Francisco.

New Yorker said...

In New York City, the only people with the words "New York" listed in their postal address are people living in Manhattan. This is a legacy of the fact that the city consolidated only in 1898, and everyone kept whatever their preconsolidation address. A plurality of New Yorker's still use "Brooklyn" as their mailing address.

Steve Setzer said...

A dale is a valley. So "Glendale" is also "Valley valley".

Peter said...

The much bigger city of Glendale also means "valley valley," as dale is a dialect word from northern England that means valley (as in the expression "hill and dale.")

Ross F said...

The Australian city of Townville springs to mind.

Peter said...

In New York City, the only people with the words "New York" listed in their postal address are people living in Manhattan. This is a legacy of the fact that the city consolidated only in 1898, and everyone kept whatever their preconsolidation address. A plurality of New Yorker's still use "Brooklyn" as their mailing address.

People living in Queens have it even more complicated. They can't use "New York" as the city name in their mailing addresses, for as you note that applies only for Manhattan, and unlike the residents of Brooklyn, the Bronx or State Island they can't use the borough name either. Queens is divided into three sections for postal purposes: Long Island City, Flushing, and Jamaica.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the ever popular "La Brea Tar Pits." La brea of course means "the tar," so you're visiting the The Tar Tar Pits.

Anthony said...

Riot Nrrd - there is one city in California known as Brentwood, in the Central Valley (far eastern Contra Costa County). The other Brentwood is just a neighborhood of LA.

Speaking of redundancy, there is an incorporated city, near Palo Alto, called "Los Altos Hills".

Anonymous said...

People living in Queens have it even more complicated. They can't use "New York" as the city name in their mailing addresses, for as you note that applies only for Manhattan, and unlike the residents of Brooklyn, the Bronx or State Island they can't use the borough name either. Queens is divided into three sections for postal purposes: Long Island City, Flushing, and Jamaica.

I'm in the trucking business, and I was going to say this. Whenever freight gets shipped to NYC, Manhattan is "New York, NY" The
Bronx is "Bronx, NY" Brooklyn is "Brooklyn" and Queens is always broken down further. I'm looking at a bill of lading right now to Long Island City, NY 11107.

REO Spudwhacken said...

Anthony posits:

Riot Nrrd - there is one city in California known as Brentwood, in the Central Valley (far eastern Contra Costa County). The other Brentwood is just a neighborhood of LA.

but consider:

Date of Birth:
19 May 1959, Frankfurt, Germany more
Date of Death:
12 June 1994, Brentwood, California, USA. (homicide) more

However, another imdb entry has been apparently corrected from "Hawthorne, CA" (and not Hawthorne, NJ, home of another bleach blonde) and "Brentwood,CA", as such:

1 June 1926, Los Angeles, California, USA more
Date of Death:
5 August 1962, Los Angeles, California, USA. (drug overdose) more

I have an uncle who lived in the Canarsie section of, I believe, Brooklyn (or was it the Bronx? Both starting with B, it confuses me...) who always used Canarsie, NY on his mail. It got there.

Riot Nrrd said...

I think the "other bleach blonde" was born in Miami. Trick question: which made more movies?

The Beach Boys were, incidentally, from Hawthorne, CA, as well.

Most back of the tracks kids from the LA area will have "Hawthorne, CA" as their COLB city because that's where the public hospital is. Or was, for many decades. See John Gilmore's latest book.