Odds & Ends Around the Valley
The saga of three hefty, single guys moving from the ‘burbs to the city would usually be weak sitcom material, never mind news.
But Tosh, D.J. and Genghis are in a (weight) class by themselves, tipping the scales at more than 350 pounds each. Their table manners do not include the use of knife or fork--or a table--and their style of dress could only be called wild.
Animals in the truest sense of the word, as in lions.
Since negotiations are under way to transport these lions from their shelter at the Wildlife Waystation in Little Tujunga Canyon to a new home at the Los Angeles Zoo, this may be your last chance to see this trio in a bucolic park setting.
The leader of the pack, Tosh, who’s almost 9 years old and 400 pounds, was found several years ago in chains in a junkyard in Central California acting as a guard dog before he was brought to the Wildlife Waystation.
Genghis, who is 8 and about 450 pounds, is known for sneaking up and biting his feeders on the behind, and he complains about everything like the New York native he is. He was brought to the Waystation about 7 years ago from a private zoo when the owners found out that grown-up lions are not just big kitty-cats.
D.J., who is almost 12 and weighs about 375 pounds, is a sunny-tempered, happy-go-lucky kind of guy, as well he should be. When he was taken off a truck in Nebraska by Humane Society officials, he was on his way to a slaughterhouse to become lion steaks for an exotic-fare eatery.
Over time, the folks at the Waystation introduced the cats to one another and the lions melded into a living group over the years.
Martine Colette, who founded the Waystation 15 years ago as a shelter for abused, orphaned, abandoned and unwanted wild and exotic animals, says the only reason she is considering allowing the trio to go to the zoo is that they are such a “magnificent group, with such an incredible history,” and she wants to give more people a chance to see them.
So if you are still operating under the delusion that fraternity houses are populated by stoned-out, wild-partying, pre-traumatic-death syndrome John Belushi clones, you should check out the Cal State Northridge Sigma Alpha Epsilon house.
At the corner of Keswick Street and Etiwanda Avenue.
Two miles and a culture shock away from the hullabaloo of campus and the Northridge fraternity houses, the SAEs live in suburban semi-splendor, in a largely Latino neighborhood, in a two-story frame house done up to look like a red barn.
The bad part of living off- off-campus is the high crime rate in this area, which results in lots of stolen car stereos, according to former house manager and current resident Daniel Loscos.
The good part is that the house has six fairly private bedrooms, two kitchens, four baths, a good-sized pool, a Jacuzzi and a brick restaurant-like bar, all for a little more than $3,000 a month, shared by about 10 guys.
The rest of the 30 to 40 members drop by for mixers, meetings and other activities, like one recent SAE party.
Members went around the neighborhood in the afternoon telling residents about the night’s party and explaining what security and noise-control measures had been taken.
Off-duty Los Angeles police officers were hired to make sure there was no trouble. Only invited guests got through the door, and when they did, they were carded. Only people with proper ID were allowed to indulge, alcoholically.
Everyone’s car keys were taken away, and no one who had been drinking got them back until his or her designated driver showed up.
“We don’t fool around,” says Loscos. “Our national organization sets down guidelines that we follow because we can’t afford not to.” If they don’t live up to the rules, they risk losing the insurance that covers the house and its activities.
But no one seems to be mourning the party days of old. “We manage to have fun and keep out of trouble,” Loscos said.
But, like other campus-sanctioned sororities and fraternities, they don’t have much luck recruiting.
“The Greek tradition is not strong at CSUN,” says Josh Parry, another SAE member. “We’re in the middle of rush now, and the people just don’t come out.”
Susan Rousier and Patrice McCoy have a dream, and they are taking applications now from others who would like to share it.
McCoy, who has taught dance for years at the Moro-Landis studio at 10960 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, has long wished to begin a Southern California dance company for youngsters.
It is a dream that Rousier, her former student and now assistant, share. They hope the future dance company will perform all over Southern California.
“We finally decided there was no time like the present to try to put it together, even though many parents are having to cut back . . . because they are financially strapped,” Rousier said.
To attract children from 6 to 13 to the auditions, the pair figured out what they thought it would take to get the 30 youngsters they hope to attract.
“We got the studio rent-free for our class sessions, and we agreed to cut our usual per-class fee from about $9 to $4.50 or less. If a youngster shows talent, but is not able to pay even the $4.50, we will adjust the fee downward, to nothing, if that’s what it takes,” Rousier said.
There may have to be some sacrifice on the part of the students and their parents, as classes for the group will be held Saturday and Sunday.
Rousier doesn’t see it as a problem.
“For years the parents of young Olympic-bound ice skaters and gymnasts have make the time commitment so their youngsters get a good start,” she said. “This is going to be the Olympic training school of ballet.”
Mickey Dantz was about to get kicked out of another parking lot, and while he had lost his parking place, he still had his sense of humor.
Dantz, who said he used to own an art shop near Laguna Beach, is now selling framed prints from the back of his black-and-gray Ford van.
He says the economic downturn was part of the reason his shop went out of business, but that he also tried to sell too many original pieces of art that were done by his friends.
“I had one friend who was trying to get $650 for a broken surfboard that he’d painted gold and called ‘Selling Out.’
“I also carried a line of plastic parrots that another friend bought for about $5 each, painted neon pink and green and tried to sell for $50 each,” he said, laughing. “I’ll give you a real price if you want 20 of them,” Dantz said.
He has been working the Valley lately because he has been crashing at a friend’s pad in North Hollywood. On this particular day he is trying to interest the local Gelson’s customers in his prints when he is politely asked to move his things from his spot in the parking lot.
Dantz said he usually stakes out a vacant lot somewhere where the chances of getting booted are slimmer, but he couldn’t pass up giving this upscale market’s customers a shot.
Dantz said he is going to try to earn enough money to ride out the bad economic times before borrowing money to reopen a shop. He doesn’t mind having to schlep around this way, but he said he doesn’t like people trying to put him down.
“What I am doing is honest, and I’m not bothering anyone,” he said.
“I just hope that when people see me, or someone like me, trying to make it the best way we can, that they understand we are worthy of their respect. We haven’t given up trying. We aren’t asking for a handout. We still have our dreams,” he said.
“I’m usually the most far-out person in any room, but at the MTV Awards I felt like the only Earthling.”
--Sherman Oaks man to a friend