The West Hills section of the
San Fernando Valley, tucked away on the far northwestern edge of Los
Angeles County, is a slice of what that sprawling suburb must have been
like during the 1950s: white, rich and for the most part, free
from the crime that has gripped many of the surrounding neighborhoods
since the 1970s. The houses are huge and white and sell for half-a-million
in a soft market. There are no signs of the ethnic restaurants and temples
that in recent years have given the Valley flavor; this is the land
of speed bumps and Presbyterian churches and afternoon lessons with
the local tennis pro. In West Hills, Little League baseball is a religion
the way high school football is in parts of Texas.
Jesse James Hollywoodaccused drug dealer, murderer and one of the FBIs most wanted grew up here playing baseball, and he even pretty good at it. He was a short kid, and like a lot of smaller boys he tried to make up for it in the weight room, power lifting and taking supplements. He was hyper and a little anxious and wore a scowl on his face as if it were a favorite tee shirt.