Can you believe it’s been almost a year since our lives were turned upside down by the onset of the pandemic? Although signs of hope are glimmering now, it’s clear all the challenges of 2020 didn’t magically evaporate with a flip of the calendar page, and no doubt there will be many twists and turns in the road ahead. There couldn’t be a better anthem for this moment than the song immortalized by one of Toluca Lake’s most famous past residents, Frank Sinatra: “That’s Life.” For this issue’s cover feature, it thrilled us to hear the tale of this ageless hit straight from its author, Dean Kay, and learn about his wild ride of a career through the music world. While not literally the puppet, pauper, pirate, poet, pawn and king described in his lyrics, he’s been a performer, songwriter, music publisher and industry advocate, as well as a devoted family man and a neighborhood resident for over 55 years. Let’s take his song’s message of perseverance through the vagaries of fortune as a guide for the year ahead.
That sense of tenacity is shared by dedicated public servant Alice Roth, the aide to City Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and David Ryu who’s helped the people of Toluca Lake for nearly two decades with her hard work and can-do attitude. “You have to find the strength to look beyond any obstacle,” she tells us. “That has always been and will continue to be my motto.” Sadly for us, she’s moved on to a position in a different district, but our profile in this issue gives us the chance to say our goodbyes, as well as reflecting on the inimitable Tom LaBonge in the wake of his recent passing. Their contributions to our community will not be forgotten.
At least a few things remain constant through life’s highs and lows, including our beloved local landscape. Since strolling and driving around the neighborhood has been a sanity saver for so many in these stay-at-home times, it inspired us to investigate how our familiar streets got their names. Not surprisingly, it turns out that the stories of the people, places and even plants reflected on the signs we pass every day offer glimpses of the diverse history, geography and development of the Toluca Lake area. We hope our article will help you see these well-known sights with fresh eyes and feel, at least briefly, like a traveler within the safety of your own hometown. (And, if exploring the nearby real estate motivates you to make a move, be sure to check out our resource guide in this issue, where eight local pros offer their expertise on buying and selling in this market.)
In closing, we commend Toluca Lake’s residents, stores, restaurants, entrepreneurs and civic institutions for weathering these turbulent times with community spirit intact. Please continue to stay strong, stay safe and support your neighbors and local businesses — especially all of our wonderful advertisers! — during this year’s inevitable ups and downs. To lift a few lines from Dean Kay, we’re confident that our Toluca Lake world will keep spinnin’ around, and together, we’ll pick ourselves up and get back in the race.