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The LA Times Uncovers Echo Park Gentrification with Insane, LULZy Trend Piece!

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Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 1:15 PM
click to enlarge Echo Park: Gentrifying itself since 1984
  • Echo Park: Gentrifying itself since 1984

It's generally a bad idea to mock our fellow old-media LA institution the LA Times too much because

a) it's too easy

and

b) they've been known to hire LA Weekly music editors after their stint in our gleaming Culver City cube (hi Randall!)

However, today they've made it very, very difficult for us not to mention them with a (gently, not-bridge-burning) teasing demeanor.

Because today, December 3, 2010, is the day the LA Times discovered (gasp!) Echo Park gentrification. Through an epically LULZy article that seems to come from a different dimension where aliens from an unknown galaxy (Sherman Oaks?) have landed in Echo Park with a guidebook from 1978 warning them about cholo-on-cholo crime, but are chuffed that the neighborhood is really a haven for whites who enjoy mixologists and other Stuff White People Like.

The article is so insane that we cannot believe the Times staff is not

a) pulling a bizarre prank on us now that the Tribune folks are not longer monitoring them

or

b) just trolling for comments or (gently, not-bridge-burning) teasing blogposts from Culver City rags.

Here are a few excerpts from the INSANE, ANACHRONISTIC, ELITIST, BIZARRO-WORLD article, with helpful running commentary:

It's late on the night before Thanksgiving, and the stretch of Sunset Boulevard through Echo Park, from Mohawk to Douglas Street, is littered with young revelers. Lines form in front of bars, including the Short Stop, the Little Joy, the Gold Room and El Prado; taco trucks and gourmet food trucks idle curbside; and laughter, shouts and the occasional breaking of glass can be heard in the apartments above the street.

This is the lede. No, really. Ok, picking nits first: do you know anyone who calls Little Joy "the" Little Joy? Me neither. Also, who lines up in front of the Short Stop and "the" Little Joy? Those people were probably smoking or too wasted or scoring or whatever. The last line is priceless, though: it's our very own version of Bob Dylan's "there was music in the cafes at night and revolution in the air"! Echo Park 2010: just like Greenwich Village in 1962. But with iPhones.

Ten years ago this bit of road was a no-man's land at night -- at least for the kind of hip party people that now consider the area their stamping ground. Once a largely working-class Latino neighborhood, Echo Park is now home to one of L.A.'s most densely packed night-life corridors,

Stamping ground? What, was it a haunt of philatelists? Alright, alright--too easy. It's just a typo--but what's not a typo is the equation of "working-class Latino neighborhood" (with MANY clubs and bars) with "no man's land." Really, LA Times? Really? [UPDATE: apparently "stamping ground" is an accepted (though really unusual nowadays) variation of "stomping ground." It might have been current, though, at the time average LA Times subscribers were developing their vocabularies. See comment below.]

Changes to the area have reached a tipping point in the last two years as a new wave of upscale destinations opened their doors to the area's ever-increasing population of artists, musicians and loafers.

"New wave"? "Hip party people"? What, "pepped-up hepsters looking for a happening that would freak them out" was taken? Did the Times hire Z-Man Bartell as a line editor when we weren't looking? Also, "loafers"? "LOAFERS"?

The neighborhood's most anticipated opening is a 10,000-square-foot bar and restaurant named Mohawk Bend that is slated to open in February and occupies the nearly 100-year-old movie theater across the street from Nicole Daddio's cozy wine bar City Sip.

"Most anticipated"? By whom? The kind of people who like 10,000-square-foot bars and restaurants named Mohawk Bend tend to stay west of Hollywood.

Just a few years ago, a monster bar like Mohawk Bend would have been thought unsustainable for the area.

Monster bars! That's what we needed but we didn't know we needed!

"We've gone from residents and neighborhood groups trying to close down bars due to narcotics, prostitution and shootings to the chamber of commerce and the neighborhood council endorsing more alcohol establishments," says Jesus Sanchez, a resident of Echo Park for nearly 20 years and the author of a comprehensive and well-regarded neighborhood blog called "Eastsider L.A."

Ms. Whore and Mr. Junkie, meet your new neighbors, Mr. Drunk Bro and his fiancee Ms. Cabo-Wabo Yeahhhhhhh!

Yanow, who says he has received a lot of support for Mohawk Bend, thinks that may be because "people who like to lurk in dark corners don't like to lurk in places where there are thriving businesses."

We're Team "People Who Like To Lurk In Dark Corners." How about you?

Taix, along with many others, traces the initial change to December 2000, when the Rampart Division cop bar called the Short Stop was bought by a cool group of young investors including rock 'n' roll royal Greg Dulli, the frontman of the indie band the Afghan Whigs. Dulli and his friends shot pool at the Short Stop before they bought it, so they knew very well what kind of cultural shift they were about to introduce. "We weren't going to be a cop bar anymore," Dulli says. " Garth Brooks is not going to be on the jukebox anymore. The foosball tables are leaving too, and electric darts -- what were you thinking? But if you're cool with Johnny Jenkins and Black Flag on the jukebox, you'll be fine."

Greg Dulli is a "rock 'n' roll royal"? What's David Bowie then, "a rock 'n' roll galactic overlord"? Also "young investors"? The Afghan Whigs were young in the Reagan era. We like Black Flag as much as the next person who hires Henry Rollins for a weekly column, but we're not sure the Short Stop wasn't a little more interesting when the cops and Garth Brooks were around--and wasn't that the very reason Dulli and his pals went to shoot pool there?

A few years after the Short Stop opened, the Latino dive bar called the Little Joy became the province of all things hip, and the Gold Room, Barragan's and El Prado, also working-class Latino bars, succumbed to the thirst of the New Wave masses.

Thanks LA Times! We're naming our difficult, sophomore album "The thirst of the New Wave masses"

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