This week, six scenes from all over Los Angeles (okay, including one in Joshua Tree). Footage of a neighborhood council meeting, obtained through a public records request. An unusual guard animal in El Sereno. A renowned musician at the Día de los Muertos celebration on Olvera Street. Two different stargazing trips — one successful, one not so successful. And an anxious dog at a punk show. We’re REALLY going on a little journey across LA together.


Nancy: You’re listening to Smogland Radio.

Broadcasting from the ocean, Olvera Street, and that one house on your block that’s always under construction… 

I’m your host, Nancy Meza.

Welcome to a new episode of Smogland Radio, a production of LA Public Press. Each episode, we’re gonna be going on a little journey across LA together.

Remember that this is your news podcast about the city we all hate to love and loooooove to hate. 

But first… Smogland Radio is made possible by our amaaazing donors and supporters. If you haven’t done so yet, you can become a supporter at

Today on the show… we’re gonna do something a little different.

We’re really going on a little journey across LA… together.

We’re bringing you six scenes from across Los Angeles, from the past couple months. All recorded — or obtained — by our newsroom and contributors.

And we’re starting… In El Sereno.

Do you hear that sound?

That is the sound of a duck. 

Having grown up in LA, I have seen many DIY and unique home security systems in use. 

From aggressive signs that read “nevermind the dog, beware of owner”, to build-it-yourself fencing, to your nosy neighbors who keep track of everything that happens on the block, to people’s pets!

Basically, LA loves a home security system that isn’t actually a literal home security system, cuz damn, those things are expensive! 

And this home security system is a duck… that lives outside a house on a busy street in El Sereno. 

Our audio director Carla Green went out to El Sereno to meet the guard duck. She ended up also meeting the duck’s uncle.

Carla: Excuse me, is this your duck?

Julian’s uncle: That’s my brother’s duck.

Carla: That’s your brother’s duck?

Julian’s uncle: His name is Julian. He’s been there for a while.

Carla: His name is Julian?

Julian’s uncle: Yeah.

Nancy: Because of course, the guard duck would have a name … and fans! 

Carla: Okay, I just came to record him because I’d heard about him as like a guard duck. Who guards the property. Is that the idea?

Julian’s uncle: I’d say so, because he guards the house more than the dogs. But he is very friendly. Everybody stops by and pets him. If they get a chance to. He’s pretty chill. He’s been here a year and a half, two years now.

Carla: Great. His name is Julian, you said?

Julian’s uncle: Yeah. It’s different when everybody stops by because you never see a duck in the front yard. You always see dogs and cats and so forth. But a duck? Everybody stops by.

Carla: I’ve never seen a guard duck in my life. Until today.

Julian’s uncle: Me too.

Nancy: By the way, Julian doesn’t just quack. He also attacks… Or I guess you could say… pecks.

Julian’s uncle: You might have to take him to the studio. Give him an interview.

Carla: That’s a really good idea. I don’t know if Julian would want to.

Nancy: Shout out to all the family pets out there that play multiple important roles in their homes! 

Next up… We’re going to Tarzana. Deep in the West Valley.

We’re at a meeting of the Tarzana Neighborhood Council. At the Tarzana Child Care Center, in a short little building on a dead end street right next to the 101.

There’s a police officer there. Senior Lead Officer Daryl Scoggins. He’s been giving the neighborhood council a presentation on crime statistics.

Scoggins said that crime was down, actually. But he — and the members of the neighborhood council — aren’t really talking like crime is down. They’re talking like crime is an urgent problem. Even though their own data and findings show otherwise. 

Tarzana NC Speaker 1: Daryl, what can we do about the burglaries? It seems like south of the boulevard. It seems like the numbers is growing, at least what I see online, comments etcetera.

Nancy: And Scoggins has a suggestion of what to do.

Vote out Gascón.

SLO Daryl Scoggins: Do you want me to be dead honest?

Tarzana NC Speaker 1: Absolutely, always.

Daryl: Vote different. 

Nancy: They seem specifically worried about burglary. Which, Scoggins claims, progressive District Attorney George Gascón has made into a “ticket and release” crime.

Daryl: A ticket and release on nonviolent crime.

Tarzana NC Speaker 1: It’s like fishing. Catch and release?

Nancy: By the way, that’s not true. There has recently been reform in the cash bail system, but the change Scoggins is talking about wasn’t even made by Gascón.

And under that reform… burglary isn’t even necessarily a QUOTE UNQUOTE “ticket and release” crime.

And by the way… when the courts eliminated cash bail for some offenses, it was an attempt to incarcerate less people, specifically because we are in a county where our carceral conditions have repeatedly been shown to be alarmingly inhumane.

Here’s tape of what happened in that meeting, obtained by a public records request from our very own city reporter Elizabeth Chou.

Tarzana NC Speaker 1: I’ll tell you what’s disturbing, Daryl, maybe you can expand on the reports we had. We had a shoplift at a smokeshop on Ventura Blvd, the owner capped off three rounds all of which went across the boulevard, fortunately it didn’t hit anybody. We had persons appearing to be about to commit a burglary right on the border of Encino and Tarzana. And the woman inside capped off a number of rounds. Apparently it didn’t hit anybody.

Daryl: Yeah, fired off a warning shot.

Tarzana NC Speaker 1: That’s kind of disturbing.

Daryl: People are getting tired of it.

Tarzana NC Speaker 1: The guy on Ventura Blvd worries me, because it was daytime and they did go across the boulevard.


Tarzana NC Speaker 2: How many times can someone be caught and released, before …

Daryl: Every time we catch them.

Tarzana NC Speaker 2: So there’s no limit? Somebody could do it … 

Daryl: On nonviolent, no. Look if we arrested somebody in a stolen car, took them to jail, they steal another one, they come back, the same officers arrested them again, and went through the process again, and they just get released again.

Tarzana NC Speaker 2: So when you say vote different, is there somebody that’s running that is gonna change that? I mean, we could vote different, but if nobody that’s running is recognizing that, and changing their stance on that … 

Daryl: You gotta remember, Gascón ran on that’s what he is going to do. And people voted him in.

Tarzana NC Speaker 3: Look I don’t think all of this is appropriate. I don’t really care about his political views … I don’t care who he would want us to vote for. It’s cops like this … there’s a reason why …

Daryl: I answered the question of what can you do.

Tarzana NC Speaker 3: There’s a reason why Gascón did get elected. It had a lot to do with racist cops like this.

Tarzana NC Speaker (unsure who): Wait a minute, let’s not start calling names. Okay?

Tarzana NC Speaker (unsure who): I care about your views, Daryl. Thank you.

Nancy: That was the Tarzana Neighborhood Council, talking to LAPD senior lead officer Daryl Scoggins.

Liz: Hi, this is Liz Chou. I just wanted to say that I reached out to LAPD officials for comment and they said this incident is actually part of an ongoing personnel complaint investigation. LAPD Captain Brian Wendling of the West Valley Division said in an email that the investigation is open and has not concluded so he could not provide me with any further comment at this point. The department’s PIO also emailed saying that they had no statement although they said that they are investigating, I also reached out to senior lead officer Daryl Scoggins for comment but had not received a response as of the release of this podcast. Please keep an eye out for my story about this incident which will be on the LA Public Press website soon.

Nancy: Next up… I wanna take you to Olvera Street.

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than Dia De Los Muertos in LA, and celebrations at Olvera street are always extra special 

It’s when the smell of copal (sage) fills the air as musicians, performers and aztec dancers guide participants into ceremony to welcome the dead, our loved ones who have made the transition into the spirit world, back to us. 

And there’s one person who’s always there… The flute guy.

The flute guy is a staple of Olvera street not just on this day of celebration, but almost every weekend 

With his Andean Pan Flute (an instrument native to pre-columbian Peru, Paraguay and Bolivia) he serenades Olvera Street regulars AND visitors with interpretations of popular songs, his own compositions, and old songs he ensures continue to live in our collective human memory. 

On this day, as we remembered our dead, the flute guy also shared a very special Carnavalito composition called el humahuaqueño.

With his mastery of this precolumbian instrument he always makes me feel like I am transcending space and time.

Here’s flute guy.

Now… we’re going to Bad Dog Compound, a DIY venue right off Glendale Blvd. In Silverlake. 

Our correspondent Paisley was there with their dog. At a trans drag punk show. They were waiting for a punk band called Precious Child to go on.

And then, the nitrous balloons started to pop. And their dog Lavi got scared.

Here’s Paisley.

That was our correspondent Paisley and their dog, at a trans drag punk show at Bad Dog Compound.

And now… 

Luna: Hello everyone!

We’re going just a BIT outside of LA, BUT still in our same galaxy to a place that I think most people will be familiar with.

Luna: Reporting here from Planet Earth. Um, we’re at Joshua Tree National Park.

These are my friends, Luna and Fernando. They went star watching in Joshua Tree recently… equipped with Celestron star watching binoculars that I lent them.

Luna: we’re here to watch the Perseids meteor shower.

It’s a myth that you can’t see any stars from LA.

Luna: Oh shit, oh my god!

But sometimes it’s still nice to get out of the light pollution and smog that surrounds us… to re-center and reconnect… with the floating rock in space that we inhabit as a species 

You really don’t have to go that far out of the city to see the Milky Way, and seeing its spiral arms illuminate the desert sky is something I highly encourage every human I come into contact with to see… especially my friends! 

Here’s Luna and Fernando.

Luna and Fernando: You have anything to say Fernando?

I’m just stunned at the beauty that is Joshua Tree.

All the lights out.

It feels like every second. There’s another one. Do you see it? There’s one right there.

I feel like the stars are getting closer by the second. Yeah. I see the Milky Way. The Milky Way is right here, huh? I see, we’re right under it. We’re right under it. So the stars, but you can see the whites, of like, of our little galaxy. It’s so crazy. So we are um, We, we made it deep inside Joshua Tree, up to, what’s it called?

The Trail of Horrors. The Trail of Horrors. Horrors. Horrors. Not horrors, horrors. Horrors. And then we walked, we took the trail, we took the trail deep inside, uh, we’re gonna weigh as much people as we can, and we find a cute little spot amongst the… There’s this big rock formation in front of us. And there’s a bunch of plants and Joshua trees.

And it’s like no one around us, which is awesome. And no light, which is cool.

I know you can still hear some cars pass by us, but rest assured we can still see all the stars. The galaxy is very bright tonight. We still see the car, it’s so beautiful.

And we got Nancy’s binoculars We have Nancy’s We have Nancy’s It’s all set up right here In the wrong direction Sorry Nancy We’re gonna fix it right now But we’re gonna admire the stars real quick Cause the Milky Way is happening right now It’s so crazy I mean the the meters are happening And then, so watch the meters for a bit Passing And then we’re gonna look at the Milky Way And the binoculars But the mirrors move so quickly, when it’s like a bright stream of light in the sky.

And then, joop, go away.

I like this spot. This spot’s really nice. The stars right here are crazy. One, two, three. You, you see them? Yeah, it’s like perfect. One, two, three. There’s another one! You saw it? I didn’t see it. I saw it from like the side of my eye.

I like this spot. This spot’s really nice. The stars right here are crazy. One, two, three. You, you see them? Yeah, it’s like perfect. One, two, three. There’s another one! You saw it? I didn’t see it. I saw it from like the side of my eye.

I always wonder where they land. Where do they go? I feel so envious. They get to travel the stars. Yeah, so these, this meteor shark comes from a comet. I forgot what the comet’s called. But, they’re little breakage, breakages from the comet. So pretty.

It’s kinda scary, huh? It feels like, it just feels like they’re all gonna come at you. Yeah. And these super bright ones right here, they’re the planets. Mmhmm. That’s such a trip.

They do, like, fly upon us, huh? There’s so many.

One thing that I’ve always noticed when I’m looking at the stars, Mm hmm. Like, I hate when people are like, Oh yeah, it’s fake, it’s a simulation. Like, there’s no way, there’s nothing in this world that I can simulate this.

Nancy: Okay… last up on the show today… We’re going to Santa Monica beach.

With my binoculars. Again.

As I attempt to get away from the city’s light pollution for star watching purposes… only to be met by a thick layer of fog and calming waves.

Smogland Radio is produced by Phoenix Tso and Carla Green. I’m your host, Nancy Meza. We’re a production of LA Public Press, a non-profit newsroom for Los Angeles.

Eduardo Arenas made our music, and Jaime Zacarias made our show art. Special thanks to the Robinson Space where we record this podcast! 

Additional music by Epidemic Sound.

Also – we’re a newsroom funded entirely by donations! 

If you like the work that we do, you can support us by becoming a member at slash donate. 

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Thank you so much for listening.

We’ll see you right back here in a couple weeks for our next episode.