One thing I've had to come to grips with: I do not define the city, the city defines me.
The fact that I drive back and forth between Hollywood and my neck of the woods (Lincoln Heights), is a reflection on the town. Some sort of oceanic gravitational field pulls me in, and then spits me out.
Some nights I see ghosts as I drive into the darkness. Some nights, leaving the neon behind, I see the night closing in on me under the crushing reality of economic class.
But this night, (once again heading for Lincoln Heights from Hollywood via Hancock Park), I am struck by the universal sense of humor of our town.
My last glimpse of Hollywood is the decrepit piano store "Stein on Vine" (still hanging on in the run-down area where Vine literally fades away as it transforms into Rossmore).
At Larchmont the grimy Hollywood ends, the streets seem to take a breath and expand.
A row of apartments guard the perimeter of the prestigious Hancock Park area. There the 1930's art deco apartment the Mauretania, winks at me. The Mauretania...JFK's former pied 'a 'terre and alleged love nest where Marilyn and he might tryst.
Just a few blocks west sits a large Hasidic community, with Shuls on every corner. There are Persian Shuls, Russian Shuls and the “classic” eastern European variety. But could LA ever be content to allow this phenomena to occur without adding a touch of irony? On the corner stands a Honeybaked Ham store (do you think they offer a Kosher one?)
Leaving the Hasidic world and heading down La Brea, I check in on my favorite combination breakfast joint and flower store “Rita Flora”, which features the appropriately named “well stacked pancakes”.
But I digress...back to Hancock park. The wide avenues are bordered by trees that form an arch of green. The trees are punctuated by the occasional majestic African palm. As I travel further, leaving the homes of the affluent behind... the trees thin, their tops no longer touching, and finally grow increasingly sickly. The needles on the pines grow brown and the trees themselves come further and further apart until you are suddenly dumped into Koreatown. There the grim skyline of downtown L.A. appears in the distance.
These streets can no longer be aided by a tree or two, they give a fresh meaning to what used to be called the mean streets. Mean, but somehow intoxicating. Here mingle Mexican Panaderias (bakeries), Salvadorian Pupuserias (places that sell “pupusas”), Korean Barbecue, tiny mercados (markets) and Vietnamese Boba shops.
Here I sail through the outskirts of Echo Park, over the river to Lincoln Heights. My roller coaster ride through town comes to a jolting stop. The adrenaline fades, I am home.
Want another taste of Art Deco LA? Try one of the Art Deco Society's events:
February 23rd, 6:00 to 8:00 pmCocktails in Historic Places
830 S Broadway, Los Angeles 90014
Based on Jack Dempsey's New York bar of the same name, Broadway Bar brings 40s-style glamor downtown's burgeoning nightlife scene with antique touches and a lounge fit for a kingpin. Located right next to the Orpheum Theater, the 50-foot circle bar, the chandeliers, the upstairs lounge bar make this a particularly appealing and successful example of "creative reuse."