There's nothing purer than the anger of someone whose neighborhood has been praised by the wrong people, for the wrong reason. A case in point is blogger Chimatli, who relates a story in L.A. Eastside in response to that Sunday New York Times piece on Highland Park (“few would ever confuse Highland Park for a cultural district”) that continues to draw fire from locals. That the NYT article appeared in the paper's Travel section was a hint of its safari-view of the Northeast L.A. hood. It featured a big photo of the York bar/grill that may have made New Yorkers pine for the B Bar or any other nouveau Bowery watering hole.
“What was once a sleepy strip of garish 99-cent stores and auto parts shops is turning into a thriving neighborhood of cool restaurants and boutiques . . .” begins the piece — words that have probably become familiar to many people from Brooklyn to Highland Park. Which is where Chimatli comes in. She has no problem with HP getting praised, it's just the implication that she and longtime residents are part of the “sleepy” people getting pushed aside by moneyed urban explorers. She recalls a moment some years ago when she was volunteering at HP's Flor y Canto community center, and two yuppies walked in:
Them: Yeah this is a great neighborhood!
Me: I know
Them: It's a shame no one knows about it
(My blood begins to boil)
Me: No one knows about it? What do you call all those people on the street outside? This is a very densely populated area.
Them: (chuckles) Oh, you know what I mean…
Yeah, we know exactly what they meant.