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An Insider's View


Howard Levine

Howard Levine

Los Angeles Circa 1990



I relocated to Los Angeles in 1990 from San Francisco. 

I was a die hard 49ers fan, love San Francisco, and hated L.A., but out of love of money I wanted to make the move. 

The day I drove my wife and my new born baby girl down to the "Valley", was the day after the riots. My wife commented on how the traffic was really not that bad, of course there was a curfew and no one was out on the street, they were hold up in their houses with riot shot guns, just in case anyone came a knockin'. 

The first day i walked into the Vivid offices, Steven informed me that i would need to take some dollar day money to CPLC. A big distributor that sold a bunch of Vivid for a spiff. No problem, where are they located? Florence and Normandy. Hummm, that sounded farmiliar. Oh yeah, I saw it on the news last night. That was were Reginald Denny got the shit kicked out of him while being dragged from his truck. Ground zero of the L.A. riots. You must be kidding! I just picked up my new Mercedes 190 and Steven wanted me to go to my death on my first day with cash in my hand. This was a bad idea. So I armed myself with a Thomas guide and headed into the war zone to meet Christian Mann. 

I must say i was scared shitless. I remember getting off the freeway and seeing nothing but burned out buildings. It looked like what I would imagine Kabul looks like. Behind these huge gates was CPLC. I dropped off the spiff money and got back in my car to get out of there before it got dark. 

What did I sign up for? 

 Things got a lot easier from there, I tried not to go beyond Van Nuys. We were in a building with a warehouse and a strip of other businesses running along our driveway. When one of the businesses would move or go out of business, Vivid took that space. Soon we took all of them and then started taking all the spaces on the other side of them. Those were the good old days, smoking in your office, Wendys burgers for a 15 minute lunch. 

I was a much younger man then.

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