Friday, December 22, 2006


Oh why, why, why do I forget what city I live in? It's true I moved here from Chicago in 1983, so I've had some time to get adjusted, but still... One thing I miss from Chicago (besides the pizza and the gyros and the Chinese food) is a good hot dog!

That is why, when driving to work down Spring Street, I was excited to to see a new banner flying announcing the opening of "Lofty Dogs" at 7th & Spring.

But on closer inspection, "Lofty Dogs" was no hot dog stand. Instead, a place for wannabe Paris Hilton's to purchase an outfit for their pooch. I couldn't go out without a doggie outfit to match my handbag darling! We aren't even going to talk about the stores that sell lovely leopard print boots to go with the doggie coats! This from a sister blog "View from a Loft":
"you can see the opening line of Christmas canine clothing at...(with) " appointment only"

Just as the sigh of disappointment passed my lips...and before I had left the unofficially named "gentrification zone", there it was, at 5th and Spring: Weenez.

Alas a suspiciously yuppie name apparently betrays not so good hotdogs. Weenez only ranked a 2 star on Yelp.Of course, in the name of research I'll have to try one myself. Not sure if I'll try the Chicago dog or the LA version (which hopefully doesn't come from Lofty Dogs down the street!).

Catch a mini-review in the post "Downtown Dogs".

Sunday, November 05, 2006


EXTERIOR: Manhattan Warehouse District. Apartment dwellers live above boarded up shops. A row of grimy windows with chipping paint line the third floor.

A man stands by a door leaning on the buzzer.

A woman's voice over the speaker approves the visitor

The window opens and a woman's hand reaches out and tosses a set of keys down. The man catches the keys with a one-handed scoop.

How many times have I seen this scene in movies? More than a cliche it is a defining mood-setting essential for all city folks living in walk-up apartments.

That being said...I now live in a walk-up, and having walked up (and down) and up to greet a visitor, receive a package, retrieve a newspaper..I was looking for an alternative. I could toss the keys down, but had to go down to lock the door behind anyone leaving.

A friend of mine (let's call him "McGyver") constructed a clever weighted device; a long stretch of fishing line, with a weight at both ends (a screwdriver attached to the bottom end, was a place-holder for the test run).

I waited anxiously as McGyver lowered the screwdriver down to street level. But just as it reached the desired level, he felt a tug. "I've got a big one!" he cried. But before the words left his lips, the fishing line fell lifeless.

Someone had stolen the screwdriver!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Years ago, my father introduced me to Modern Art. As a little girl, I remember the impression seeing Mondrian at the Art Institute of Chicago made on me. I also remember being bored to tears when he dragged me around exhibitions of modern furniture. I may have, if I had any reaction at all, wondered why anyone would care who designed what chair. I didn’t get it.

But suddenly the idea found purchase, when at forty years of age, I found myself sitting in front of a furniture store looking at what I somehow knew was known as the Barcelona chair—in red leather no less!

That chair simply had to come home with me and then little memories from the past emerged and I began to read about the designers and to discover that so much of what I had seen in stores and homes had been, in fact, classics of the modern variety. The mind twisting part was that I found that so much of the distinctive furniture in the trendy high end stores today were designed back in 1925.

TANGENT: This led me to wonder about the word modern. I have to admit—to not do so would be dishonest—that my perspective on the subject had been formed when reading Tom Wolfe’s fabulous send up of the art world in 1975. At the time, the New York Times called Tom Wolfe’s book "The Painted Word" his “…most successful piece of social journalism to date". What fascinated me in the book—which I fixated on from that point forth—was that the word modern, wasn’t modern! I really enjoyed his discussion of the post-modern, etc. and the art worlds struggle to find the right word to describe what was actually current. How could modern be old-fashioned? We are certainly in a fix.

As usual, I am taking forever to get to my point, which is this: my house was finally shaping up, clean and flowing, punctuated by the “metro” coffee table and “Barcelona" chair. One evening I walked out into my living room and was startled by the starkness. It gave me a cold frightening feeling. Instead of the peace of openness and the calm of nature, I had a feeling like cold steel, like hospital. Now what in the world does temperature have to do with feelings? All I know is that it was opposite of that cozy warmth you get when you come into a friends tiny living room and plop onto the tweed sofa. This is NOT what I was aiming for. I wanted beauty; I wanted something free of clutter, a perfect simplicity. But what did I have? I was scared to be in my own living room. Hmmmm.

Saturday, September 16, 2006



Living in LA makes me think about the future; evoking endless possibility. The City built on a desert without any water; the dreams built in Hollywood (the real Hollywood being a rundown dusty place, punctuated by shuffling homeless).

But when exactly is this future? So many visions of the future are already in the past.  Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four”? a horrible version of the future where Big Brother was always watching; The Y2K? a problem that would shut down the modern world; “2001: A Space Odyssey”? a computer that would kill before you could turn "him" off...

The sci-fi version of the future painted in Blade Runner was set in 2019; another future I have a reasonable chance of living to see. William Gibson must have been thinking about the sky in Blade Runner (or the LA sky) when he penned “the sky was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel” in Neuromancer. In a funny synchronicity, Gibson's book was published in 1984. I think Orwell would have approved.

Blade Runner was loosely based on a novel by Philip K. Dick “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Although "Androids" was set in a fallout-clouded future version of San Francisco; when Ridley Scott made Blade Runner he moved the scene to Los Angeles--a City more plausible given the air quality of Los Angeles.
Even the history of Los Angeles somehow evokes the future. It must have spoken to Ridley Scott too; because he chose one of LA’s oldest buildings as the set for the home of the creator (of the androids).

As if history does not turn in on itself enough, the Bradbury architect cited Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” as the inspiration for his design. If Bellamy’s novel wasn’t the first science fiction novel (circa 1887), then I don’t know what was. In his novel he put forth his vision of the year 2000. Thus we have a novel written in 1886 about the world in 2000, influencing a design in 1895, used for a movie in 1984 about a future in 2019.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


It all started with my article on Silver Lake and Lincoln Heights. Understandably, my comments touched a nerve in the community. I would leave it at that, but in pursuit of a deeper understanding I read through one of my critics website. At first I found that we had a lot in common (favorite local restaurants, similar experiences, etc.). Even (to my surprise) this description of what I had notoriously referred to as the "Ghetto Vons".

On his "Tour of Lincoln Heights", the second entry under "Places to Avoid" was the very Vons I made reference to:
Grocers (or is that gross-ers?) to the ghetto, the local Von's is stocked with the items they figure "ghetto" folk consume: isles of Kool-Aid, Instant Noodle cups, bargain brand sodas, cookies, and chips. And they sure do get consumed as those are the only items they put on sale every other week. But despite the fact that the locals spend their cash and food stamps at this warehouse of carcinogens, the Von's bureaucrats are still scared by the events of 1992, the potlatch of commodities that nullified the exchange economy, and have equipped their local outpost with the imagined defenses against bread riots. Yes, this Von's is surrounded by the giant black gates meant to keep out rioters and looters.
El Chavo (the author of the quote above) said it much better than I ever could:
It is one sad excuse for a grocery store and typifies the commercial offerings made to the poor and disadvantaged.
Buoyed up to find we had so much in common, I continued browsing thru the website. There I found thought provoking comments on gentrification (something I give a lot of thought to these days), but then....I saw it--a link to a website called Mission Yuppie Eradication Project.
Before I get to the "good stuff" on that site, here was El Chavo's lead in to the link:

... note to arty rich kids: don't stay here...(laugh) at the kitschy-ness of East LA and then go back to Silver Lake. I've seen how quickly you spread in an area, drive the rents sky high, infest the place with tacky pop culture and dis-connected cynicism, and then boot the locals out. Don't make us start a chapter of the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project down here! You've been warned. (emphasis mine)

The Yuppie Eradication site was hilarious and representative of the wit that makes Northern California so unique. But as I read on I got a creepy feeling that this wasn't tongue in cheek. It was a website that advocated violent resistance (what they refer to as "controversial methods") as follows:
Tips on Making Yuppies Pay
  • Vandalize their cars: Mercedes, Lexus, Porsche, Jaguar, and anything that your family wouldn't be able to afford. (emphasis mine)
  • Throw shit at Yuppies as they drive by, especially if they are on their cell phones.
  • Don't patronize Yuppie establishments.
  • If you are sitting with friends near Yuppies, spread rumors about increasing crime in the neighborhood.
  • Organize your community against developers who help gentrification.
  • Organize your co-workers against your Yuppie boss.
  • Work with your neighbors to find out who owns what in your neighborhood
  • When Yuppies invade it means higher rents, so organize a neighborhood Tenant's Association to keep a lid on rents.
  • Don't listen to Yuppie radio stations, which includes your local NPR affiliates.
"That does it", I thought, bashing Porsche's AND NPR??? To quote a favorite movie "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

Oy. Signing out.

Monday, July 31, 2006


Waitin’ for that train
Waitin’ for the train, yeah
Take me, yeah, from this lonesome place
--Jimi Hendrix

“you have rented space in the imagination of the city”
-- Joseph Giovannini, Architect

Preface: Why is it that every LA story seems to have a seamy side? OK, I have to admit that’s part of the charm of this city. Maybe a seamy side of New York or Chicago is just so…expected. But something about the image conscious city, the glitterati, the posing and the California dream (one of plentiful orange groves, palm trees, bikini clad babes and idyllic beaches)…is the perfect setup. All is not as it seems. It seems appropriate to quote Jack Nicholson playing Jake Gittes in Chinatown here "You may think you know what you're dealing with, but believe me, you don't." Noah Cross (John Huston), 1974

Foreword: The ink is not yet dry on my post on the recent demise of the South Central Farmer’s Garden, when another chapter of LA History (featuring doomed gardens) has captured my imagination. Oddly enough the Annenberg Foundation features a role in both garden stories. This story is one about corn…or at least I thought it was about corn when I started to write. I now know it is a story about politics, prejudice, perseverance, and …the railroad.

The story begins a long time ago in a far away place. It was San Francisco in 1870. Southern Pacific was going to build a railroad and they needed cheap labor. Enter the Chinese immigrant. They came by the 100’s and then by the 1000’s and they laid track and they built that railroad and they didn’t stop until they reached Los Angeles. And when they were done, tired and broken, the idea of a return passage to the old country was a cost prohibitive dream. So what did they do? Well, the ones who could farm leased land and grew vegetables, and those who could not, set up shop. Those shops ran the gambit from mysterious apothecaries to illicit dens of opium.

And so was the birth of the first Los Angeles Chinatown. By 1890, a community of 3,000 Chinese lived in a 15 block neighborhood with over 200 businesses.[1]

It began with a train and it was to end with a train although that was to be some sixty years later. It was 1933 when the demolition began. Southern Pacific railroad had brought them there and now it was Union Pacific that wanted them out. So eager were they to begin construction of what was to become Union Station, that they actually began the demolition a week before the City Council approved the action.

The story of where the people went is at least a book chapter in itself. A story well told by Lisa See in her book “On Gold Mountain”[2]. The short version (so that we can get on to the corn) is that a new Chinatown was established in it’s present day location, in 1938.

The Present: this is not a cornfield?

First there is a mountain, then
there is no mountain, then there is
---There is a Mountain, Donovan

In May, 2006 I moved into my new place in Lincoln Heights. On arrival, I complained about the neighborhood, the gangs, the graffiti, the dirty sidewalks. Fearing I was missing something very special, my visionary landlord (and favorite architect), wrote to me:

“I see the area as a jambalaya of industrial, residential and commercial properties with a mixture of communities (Chinese, Hispanic and artist/gentry), and urbanistically, as the junction of the Arroyo and LA River (and therefore the oldest settled part of LA, occupied for millennia by the Indians), and the birthplace of modern LA, because of the railroads”. [3]
He continued:
“I actually prefer this grit to suburbia…I don't see the area for the stereotypes but for the infrastructure because it has the depth of history and the making of diversity.”[4]
And the truth was that as I looked more closely…I did become captivated with my neighborhood. Every day I drive across a bridge over the Los Angeles River, past old railroad yards. To my left, an old warehouse just purchased by a local nonprofit and now adorned with bright green and yellow leaves, and to my right an… old … ugly … patch of land. Or is it? (Look closely Pamela).

Sometimes it is hard to hear the whispers of history when looking at something as bleak as 32 desolate acres of mud, gravel and weeds. And maybe I wouldn’t have listened…if it weren’t for the artistic inspiration of Lauren Bon. Looking at that same land, where I saw an ugly strip of dirt, somehow, Lauren conceived of something quite different…She envisioned corn…and a lot of it. And she turned that vision into a reality, first forming a limited corporation, NotaCornfield, LLC., then garnering a grant from the Annenberg Foundation (okay it probably doesn’t hurt that she was an Annenberg granddaughter and a trustee of that foundation), but funding opportunities aside, this artist brought the necessary public attention to the land that would herald the ground breaking of what will soon be an urban park.

My father took this shot of the Los Angeles skyline when we walked through the corn last August:
I don’t know if I can describe her project…I mean… it IS a cornfield, it’s NOT a cornfield, it’s a “living sculpture”, it’s a “potent metaphor”, it’s “land art” blah blah blah. Maybe I’d better let Lauren (or her web writer) say it:

Extending environmentally, socially, and spiritually engaged art practices of the late twentieth century into the specific circumstances of contemporary Los Angeles, Not A Cornfield operates in a controversial arena where still-cherished assumptions regarding the nature of art as a pursuit devoid of practical or social goals, and of the artist as a singular, disconnected, image-maker, are being powerfully challenged. To cite the writer Gablik, this is an arena where artists are performing a "new interpretation of the relationship between artist and society, based on a sense of ethical responsibility toward the social and environmental communities."
Huh? Okay, I admit it, I picked that quote on purpose. Let’s try an easier one, this from the site as well:

a transformation of a 32 acre industrial brownfield in the historic center of Los Angeles into a cornfield for one agricultural cycle. This temporary project is located just North of Chinatown and South of Lincoln Heights on a large stretch of land well known as “The Cornfield."
Had enough? Alright, now I’ve given her version. Here’s mine: 32 acres of corn was planted, allowed to grow up, opened to the community for artistic endeavors and then cut down (not eaten because the ground is contaminated) and recycled (don’t know what they made out of all that corn but I’m sure you can find out on their website). I have to admit that despite my skepticism, all that corn did make an impression.

But hold on, about that space for community artists…The project was advertised as “open” to community artists. At least that’s what Aaron Landy thought when he showed up to film “a dancer in a colorful, flowing gown near a row of cornstalks”.[5]

Leave it to Angelinos, they can’t resist a good pun…or a really bad one for that matter. So it wasn’t too surprising when LA Times staff writer Bob Pool went cornball, by starting his coverage on the Aaron Landy scandal with the following line: “It was an accusation of porn in the corn that aroused Aaron Landy's scorn.”. I don’t know if he wrote the matching title, or if we can blame that one on the editor, but the headline read: “Porn Talk Stalks L.A. Art Project”. Stalks? Get it? (Rim shot) Maybe we’ll never know if Aaron was clandestinely shooting pornographic films as alleged, or just a misunderstood artist with every right to be there (as he alleged). I can live with that.

Was it after that incident that they put up the “Corn Cam”? Probably not, it was probably just someone trying to make the security camera part of the art project, or maybe part of the web cam that let web users watch the corn grow? How high is it today I wonder? As high as an elephant’s eye?

Art Imitates Life: This wasn’t the first time an article ran on the illustrious topic of porn and corn! On November 1, 1991 “Lawmakers from Western states abandoned Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) in droves Thursday, accepting a "corn for porn" deal that preserves grazing subsidies in exchange for keeping new anti-obscenity restrictions off federal arts grants”. Do you think Lauren might have known about that? A deal that swapped corn to save the arts? You never know do you?

[1] Los Angeles Chinatown Business Council Official Website

[2] On Gold Mountain: The 100-Year Odyssey of a Chinese-American Family, 1995 Lisa See
[3] Private correspondence, Joseph Giovannini
[4] Ibid
[5] Porn Talk Stalks L.A. Art Project Managers of a temporary cornfield say a filmmaker was shooting adult films on the site. He denies the charge.By Bob Pool, Times Staff Writer, November 15, 2005, LA Times

Saturday, July 29, 2006


OK, one month in my new place, and one month of shopping at my "Ghetto Von's grocery store and I had had it. I made a desperation call to a friend, where’s the nearest Trader Joe's?”. Honestly, I was willing to drive back to the Marina just to pick up some milk and bread! “Duh” my friend replied, “you’re right near Silver Lake!”.

I knew I had found Silver Lake when I spotted a trendy furniture store called simply “Grain”. The whole tenor of the neighborhood shifted into a minor chord. The barbers became stylists; the stores became shops, the purses transformed into handbags. Sigh. How happy it all makes me!

So many “shops” had one name, a block away from “Grain” was one called “Salt”. I looked everywhere for the store called “Of” but no luck.

When I saw Trader Joe's ahead I felt a sense of relief, but across the street, even better—was Gelson’s! I was like a kid in a grocery store. I ran around picking out organic items in cute little overpriced jars.

Perhaps this is a sad reflection on me, such a victim of consumerism. But, as my mother always said, I was born with “champagne taste and beer money”.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


On my dad's first visit to the Lincoln Heights the first thing he asked was "are you sure this isn't where they made Klute?"

Though most other visitors focus only on the interior, Dad was struck by the qualities of the "haunting hallway" as he called it. He snapped these shots, one of the stairway (with the doorway eerily reflected on the black granite on both left and right; and the other of the glowing red square in the hallway.

I could see the wheels turning as he roamed around the place. In under an hour he was out in the hallway with a dust mop. On our first trip out the front entrance he wrote "wash me" in the dust on the granite trim.

Five trips to the nearby Home Depot later, he had (not in this order): caulked the bottom of the shower where the tile had separated from the floor; carefully scrubbed off the most egregious paint spots on the floor and then filled in each gouge with a perfect match of plastic wood; created a simple shade for an exposed fluorescent light in the bedroom, with a beautiful curve that matched the room; bought a hardwood floor compatible vacuum, a new string mop, a new cover for the dust mop in the hall; put up rack shelving to hide some of my storage; covered the plastic connector to the air conditioner with insulated foil to prevent the heat from emanating back into the room; hung my silk Persian rug and my photos of Prague and Chicago; and replaced the dead orchid with another bloom.

Needless to say it was a whirlwind. I tagged around trying to stop him from throwing away everything I owned, handing him screws or extension cords, etc. etc. I was so exhausted by the third day that I called my sister in Chicago to plead for advice. In a hushed voice, indicating the utmost gravity, she said "you haven't been giving him caffeine have you Pammi?".


Moved into the Lincoln Heights area of LA recently. The first thing I noticed about my building was a corner of “art” gracing the wall. The second thing I noticed about the block were the much less artsy scrawls tagging almost every building in the vicinity. The tags on Michaels Furniture Store had been painted over, leaving only the rectangular square of a lighter shade of tan over the rest of the tan wall. The liquor store on the corner was painted with a mural, but every part of the mural was tagged. I counted over eight unique tag signatures. Some made reference to gangs in other areas; some seemed to be individual names. Whatever the meaning, the mural was completely defaced.

After a month of pondering the graffiti, I decided to contact the City. I could have called the “311” graffiti hotline, but it seemed so impersonal, so instead I walked over to my local Councilman’s office. This wasn’t difficult to do since the office for Council District 1 was on the other corner of my block! I asked my father to accompany me, hoping he would add a measure of maturity and gravity to my case.The secretary at the Council office told me that the Councilman wasn’t available but I could speak with a “Case Manager”. The Case Manager for my area wasn’t available but another area Case Manager came out to hear my plea and then told me to wait for a moment to speak with a “Deputy”. A few minutes later, the Deputy came out and said that the City could provide some rollers and paint, but that it would be a standard color (not custom) or I was welcome to call the “311” number.

I had come over to the office only intending to offer my help, but frustration overcame me when I felt what seemed to be a very familiar bureaucratic apathy. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and I found myself crying out “but don’t you think even if we can’t solve the whole problem, the Councilman could just keep his own little block clean?” “Well” said the Deputy, “the Graffiti Problem is a very serious problem in the City”. Luckily my father intervened at that moment, interrupting what could have been a disastrous tirade with “Well, anything we can do to help, we have to get going now” he cheerfully offered. And that was that.

I’m a nonprofit accountant by trade and, as I pay the bills, I too have contemplated the “graffiti problem”. We pay the paint companies over $100,000 a year for the paint to cover over this “problem”. To sit at my desk and moan about what a waste it is to spend this money for paint to paint over paint, is one thing, but to look at on my own block is a different thing entirely.

Hoping to find some more innovative solution, I set out to do a little research. To my surprise I found a man named Ward blogging about the subject in a blog called “The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal”. His blog took it’s title from Mark McCormick’s 2001 award winning video. This video (summarized in Wards blog) “makes the observation that the process of destroying one art form unwittingly creates another”. An idea I certainly never considered before.

Ward, it seems, in addition to blogging, is also a Graffiti artist himself. His work (painted on walls around Atlanta under the pseudonym “Canon” is a bit reminiscent of Picasso in his Blue Period. As a fan of Guernica and the Portraits of Sylvette, Ward/Canon’s art holds appeal. Sadly most has been painted over, but are recorded in his photo journal. That would be the downside of unrequited wall painting.

The next week, as I drove around the block, I noticed that the mural on the corner liquor store (in all its vandalized glory) had been painted over. I will probably never know whether it was our visit to the City, or the liquor store owner, who brought about this little bit of social change...but...who cares?


It's a , it's an apartment, it's, it's...a loftment! Moving toward the next adventure in my life, this Sunday I take occupancy of my new domicile. Escher-esque design by architect and critic, Joseph Giovannini.

Will the glasses slide off the counter tops? Will the cabinets fall off the wall? No, it is all optical illusion with color and light. I wonder what the cats will think when they try to jump on the counters?

And if it is "Escheresque" who would this character be? 9 out of 10 people I asked did not know, leading me to believe maybe my one year as an art major may have taken me farther away from general public opinion than I had thought. Scroll thru Wikipedia's entry to see some of the most famous Escher drawings.

Another feature--shapes that when viewed from one specific spot appear to be one object. The blue shape shown here is actually three blue shapes painted on three different walls at different depths. Well, I'll see what happens to my brain when I move in this Sunday! This is your brain, this your brain on Escher!

I'll part with my Dad's remark "don't come home drunk darling"!



"Heaven, heaven is a place, where nothing, nothing ever happens..." Talking Heads

Yes, yes, I know, I'm supposed to be packing! Today's the day I move into the -ment. Walked around my future home last night and noted (again) just how small the place is. The storage spaces are ingeniously hidden, but also small. I was reminded of the house Frank Lloyd Wright built with no closets and his remark in response to criticism "people in California don't wear clothes". Don't know if that is apocryphal or not, but funny. Also reminded me of a quote from my favorite comedian Steven Wright "You can't have everything...where would you put it?"

So it is time to scale down (again). All this evokes the problem identified by philosophers as the mind-body problem. Here is an architect who appreciates space, form and simplicity and in that pursuit has (of course) embraced "whiteness". The forms are white, backlit by white light. The white walls "float" in white space.

And of what is all this"white" reminiscent? Why heaven of course! White fluffy clouds, white angels, white feathers, presided over by a supreme being wearing white robes, etc. etc. Now here is the thing about heaven, it is not occupied by earthly beings, beings that (for instance) eat, sleep, wear clothes, read books. It's true there may be a harp or two, but other than that--nada.

You see, the mind, when considered without the body, is both simple and expansive. It may need care and feeding, but one thing it does not require is a shoe rack!!

So today, corporeal me, shall try to move in to this white space and see (along with my soul) if my body can find purchase here.


When Matthew Arnold wrote about "Wandering Between Worlds..." he was writing about the struggle between traditional religion and the theory of rights, the two worlds "one dead, the other struggling to be born".

This week, I find myself wandering between two worlds of my own... When I left Hollywood for my new "near Chinatown", I didn't realize how far a world I was about to travel. That was until my boyfriend arrived and said "Pam! You live in East LA!". I raised one eye-brow as I turned the deadbolt on the front door behind us.

The first time I heard West Hollywood called "We-Ho" I rolled on the floor laughing. I also assumed it was a joke; but I was wrong. is the City of West Hollywood's official website. So it wasn't as big of a surprise to hear my new neighborhood (East Los Angeles) called "East-Lo".

In WeHo you sip cappuccino at a bistro, in EastLo you order carnitas at the taqueria. In WeHo the restaurants start with the italian pronoun "IL", in EastLo, the spanish "EL". In WeHo, dress-up means go in drag, in EastLo, a zoot suit and a classic car. WeHo, gay, EastLo, gang, WeHo, fabulous, EastLo, fabulosa.

Of course that's all just the stereotypical gloss on the surface, but under every gloss a little truth must shine. Sometimes an image can be so, so wrong though. Ever since I saw Allison Anders' film "Mi Vida Loca" in 1993 (which was technically set in Echo Park, not "EastLo", but...) I have romanticized the stylized gangland Latino world. I was in for a shock when I met girls from the area who told me that to be tattooed with the three dots symbolizing having lived a "vida loca" or "crazy life" meant you gangbanged and lived to tell the tale. The three dots were like tear drops tinged with regret and pain. It wasn't at all like the crazy life I talk of, laughing and rolling my eyes. I felt very bad for joking about it. I also loved (LOVED) the soundtrack, especially "Suavacito" by the 4 Corners.

Anyway, I am here, all moved in, part of that insane part of urban living known as "". I guess I'm the "gentry" (which has at least two layers of irony, being both female, and a poor inner-city girl myself).


Last night I was awakened by three loud noises. I lay in the darkness frightened by the sound of gun fire. But something in my brain told me that noise was too…plastic. I decided it had not been gun shots and fell into sleep.

In the morning, I padded down my stairs to pick up the Sunday Times and… there it was—Yellow splats of paint on the door like tiny bright sunbursts. Indisputable evidence of three…paint balls!

A brief flashback followed--a traumatic moment of childhood, being hit by an egg on Halloween, faded with the relief that my neighborhood choice of weapon on a Saturday night was paint guns!