Highland Park in the NY Times

These residents don’t count when the New York Times is discussing Highland Park “culture.”

It’s been making the rounds, The New York Times did an article on the new “culture” of Highland Park and you can guess who and what culture they are referring to. The vast majority of Highland Park residents will never read this article nor would they care about it but I can imagine the boutiques and gastropubs featured and interviewed couldn’t be more thrilled about this kind of validation.

Funny though, Highland Park has always been a place of community activity and art. Back in the 90s, it was ground zero for the Chicano cultural renaissance due to spaces like (De)Center, The Popular Resource Center (bands playing here: Quetzal, Ozomatli and Rage Against the Machine), pirate radio station Radio Clandestina, community garden La Culebra and the wonderful Arroyo Bookstore. The area was buzzing with art shows, concerts, poetry, political events and other happenings.

In the early 2000s, a new wave of community inspired spaces sprung up, most notably, Ave 50 Gallery, Rock Rose Art Gallery and Flor y Canto Centro Comunitario. And again, there continued to be ongoing and prolific examples of locally generated events and happenings. But according to media like The New York Times, Highland Park really didn’t get culture until we got places like (the poorly named) Society of the Spectacle, The York gastropub and “priced-out artists, actors and writers” moved to the neighborhood. Well, I call bullshit on this.

Here’s a small bit from the article:

But few would ever confuse Highland Park for a cultural district. Until now. 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 that draw young trendsetters in skinny jeans, flannel shirts and Converse high tops.

You want to know what my first reaction after reading this was? It was “fuck you.” Yeah, it’s a visceral and emotional response. I’ve spent a good chunk of my adult life working on community projects in Highland Park and have watched how folks who live here for two months suddenly are considered the saviors of the neighborhood (by what? owning a boutique?) while those who have been here for the long haul are hardly recognized or are assumed to be part of the nobody masses who prefer “garish 99 cent stores” over hip cafes.

It reminds me of a much too frequent, recurring conversation that would happen when I was volunteering at Flor y Canto:

New yuppie residents walk in the door

Them: We just moved to the neighborhood from Hollywood/West LA/Silver Lake (take your pick)

Me: Great, welcome! (Still feeling friendly)

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…

Me: No…

Them: I mean…(and then from here they’d begin rambling, stammering and back pedaling so they didn’t seem like jerks who thought brown and poor folks were nobodies)

Here’s the thing, no matter how much they may try to re-write our history and impose ideas of culture on us, Highland Park is not Silver Lake. It’s an old neighborhood of Chicanos, immigrants and working-class White folks that have some of the fiercest neighborhood pride in the Los Angeles area. This area is deep with tradition, culture and dynamic energy. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what the New York Times writes or their perception of our neighborhood. However, I would warn some of these new businesses to be more aware of the area they moved into and not be dismissive of the neighborhood created by long-time residents. Or to put it more bluntly, the way someone from Highland Park might say: They better recognize!

See El Chavo’s piece on Highland Park gentrification.
Longtime resident and artist J Michael Walker also has an interesting take on the article. (h/t LA Observed)
Excellent blog on day-to-day happenings in Highland Park: 90042
Humorous local group 8-Bit rap about scenesters invading Highland Park in HLP.

123 thoughts on “Highland Park in the NY Times

  1. Ubrayj02, I’m not ignorant of what non-whites experienced in L.A. prior to my learning to read and write, and I know about restrictive covenants and redlining. For six years (1996-2002) I taught elementary school at a public school just off Central Avenue in an area that was predominantly African-American for years due to covenants that restricted blacks from living in other parts of the city. (Now, gangs like the Avenues have enacted a de-facto form of redlining by “green-lighting” black men who dare to move into their ‘hood. But, again, I digress.)

    My point wasn’t to take anything away from what minorities have experienced or continue to experience. My point was simply that racism is racism, and we need to be on-guard against racist comments regardless who is making the statements.

    The bigger question for me — and this is one that I will struggle with for the rest of my life — is the question of how people can express pride — pride in one’s neighborhood, in one’s culture, or in one’s country — but still resist the hatred of others that seems to go with that pride. This Eastside-pride stuff strikes me as a form of nationalism or tribalism, and it seems that any time a group is proud of its heritage or a geographic area where they live, they react to “outsiders” with hatred. That was the theme that I picked up in several posts and that was what I responded to.

  2. Art, your eloquence and experience does not go unnoticed or unapplauded by the real people of the Eastside, people who actually live here and understand the history and lives of the people who really do live here.
    The mixers and clowns who would would react negatively to the legitimate concerns of Eastside residents who have again been dismissed as uncultured, unimportant, and invisible, by a major publication(The NY Times), is both laughable and suspect on it’s face. Your patience and attempt to be diplomatic while being called a Marxist and a professor on summer vacation is just a ploy to arouse passions by certain individuals who have an axe to grind or suffer from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and multi personality disorder.

    Curious how when a legitimate concern from working class people, and especially working class people of color, is voiced, the uproar from the haters and naysayers usually contain ridiculous epithets of “Marxist, Commie, Anarchist, agitator, or even more typical is when the people voicing community concerns are Chicano or Black, these same reactionary clowns can be counted on to start screaming about gangs and killings and crime.
    These clowns love to paint the Eastside with a broad brush as gangsters, criminals, illegal aliens, welfare cheats and just overall dirty people. They also are very adept and quick to cry the crocodile tears of “reverse racism” (like the right wingers are now trying to do with soon to be Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, VIVA!).
    It’s so tired and predictable yet only flies with stupid people or others of their own ilk.

    Art, you go guy, adelante, we got your back bro, and as for the ludicrous statement made that gentrification and displacement by these nervous tight pants is inevitable, shit, now I’m laughing in my Dos Equis, I own two homes on my street in Highland Park and have lived there for over thirty years, there aren’t any “for sale” signs on my street, because everyone there has roots and likes the neighborhood, you should have seen it on July 4th, a massive fireworks display like every year with the whole street having fun, one neighbor who grew up on the street and moved away, only to move back with his young family a couple of years ago even supplied a commercial popcorn machine and gave everyone free popcorn, we had a ball on my street, everyone grooving and having fun.
    I have seen these gentrifiers come and go and we’re all still here on my street in Highland Park.

    And Art your right on, don’t respond to the clowns who put words in your mouth, or for that matter their foot in their own mouths.

  3. Gracias DQ and ubrayj,
    Simon, personal attacks aside, I believe we actually agree very much so on many points.

    As someone who has experienced racism firsthand and would oftentimes rather not think about it, I dont agree with racism towards whites either. my mentioning of hierarchal racism is not intended to reduce how destructive racism towards whites is, but to note that it is a bit different considering dozens of thousands of minorities have died at the hands of white racists and not the other way around, that is it.

    I have mentioned this before, my wife is part white as well as my huerito kids, I have a lot of white friends, several members of my org’s board are white and appointed by me, dah, dah, dah (I hate to sound like the ‘I have black friends guy, but I mention it to illustrate that I practice what I preach, that being a dick to whites because of their ethnicity is wrong. And on personal anecdotal level, treating a white person badly is just as wrong as doing the same to a brown or black person, so I agree that you are correct in that regard.

    I guess the issue of race is so complex that it is very easy to misunderstand each other, but it seems like those i have argues with the most think along somewhat similar lines as I do, although a bit more extreme. I am a realist, I know gentrification helps out tons of natives, and i employ the shape up or ship out mantra in my dealing with youth as well.

    Kind of ironic considering what people have characterized me as (not you actuall, but I get a lot of the “u r making excuses for them” stuff when I go out and get in kids’ faces for them to stop making excuses for themselves or their community.

    Good comments all around, and DQ, we need to get together and shoot the shite. agonzalez@elacamp.org

  4. I see someone’s having fun with my name. For the record, I do not hate white people, except maybe Tom Brady. That being said, Caxcan, I understand the pure definition of the word terrorist. To terrorize. Got that. Yes, a gang member could be considered a terrorist in that regard. So could an abusive cop. Truth is, I don’t classify either as “terrorists”. If we are to refer to the every day violent criminal as a terrorist, like hard core gang members and unruly cops, what do we call the types of people who attacked us on 9/11? Whatever it is, soon police will be using that term to describe gang members, too. If you think police are using the term “terrorist” to merely expand on the pure definition of the word, you have to be naive, Caxcan. They’re doing it to take advantage of the post 9/11 paranoia. Why help it? Why would you be so willing to perpetuate their obviously dubious use of this word by using it in the same way yourself? Honestly, Caxcan, were you referring to gang members as terrorists before 9/11?

  5. What’s with all of the “college professor” accusations lately? LOL. Someone on the “What is a Chicano” thread was throwing around the “college professor” label toward anyone who prefers to be called “Chicano”. (same person, different nick??)

    What’s so bad about being a college professor anyway, Simon? Should colleges be professor-less? Should college students just sit there and stare at the wall? This is like the “you must be a lawyer” comeback. If you’re in a car accident, not at fault, and the person at fault refuses to pay, are you not calling a lawyer?

  6. Don Q and chimatli,

    You expressed “concern” about the owner of Society of the Spectacle appropriating the name from Guy Debord’s book. Have you spoken to her yourself regarding your outrage or is it too tiring getting up from your armchairs? Or maybe driving by and flipping the bird more suits your revolutionary style?

    Most of the comments on the politics of gentrification here: tl;dr. It’s not at all like a profesor on vacaciones. It’s the non-thinking parroting of pseudo-intellectual socialist gibberish that makes you mirror images of the palinistas. What I call Bolivartards.

    The NYT article was laughably superficial and insultingly ignorant. It was clearly the product of an afternoon of “research” spent on a block and a half of York Blvd., then stopping at the Society of the Spectacle on the way out because it has an interesting name. (And it’s not even in HLP technically. It’s in ER.) The point is, the businesses mentioned shouldn’t be blamed. I appreciate all of them. I’ve lived in the area since 1964 and in HLP since 1982. I LIKE being able to walk from my home to a coffee house or bar. If having convenient shops that serve the people of the community is gentrification, then bring it on. We could use a good bookstore as well.

  7. Damn, the chuppies are all out in force! Err, I mean, on their chair chairs typing out their indignant responses to one persons perspective. Good for them, at least they stopped watching tv for a second to think about these issues.

    But really Chimatli, how dare you ever question the places that house and sell things? Consumption is a right!

  8. Saying that a store is “poorly named” and that the owners “have some nerve appropriating the name” makes me a Bolivartard, eh? Haha, that’s kinda funny and I’m not even sure what that means.

    But yes, I am critical of gentrification and of newspaper writers who write poorly researched travel pieces. I’m critical of maps of Los Angeles that display only four areas: Santa Monica, Echo Park, Silver Lake and Beverly Hills (see accompanying map of the Highland Park piece).

    In any case, I appreciate all the comments, including the critical ones. I’m glad folks are reading the site and engaging in this discussion. It’s why we started this blog, it’s a place for nobodies to finally have their say!

  9. Marcos, why don’t you visit LA Eastside’s bloggers in person before criticizing them? They’re often at functions around HP. Or, is it too tiring getting up from your armchair?

    chimatli and others, if he does contact you guys in person, please get a picture. I have to see the guy who came up with the term “Boliviatard”.

  10. Funny yet telling that the “person” with all the goofy names always needs to state that he/she has lived in HLP for years or in Lincoln Hts for decades, or is a native of East Los, or El Sereno, or Boyle Hts, used to work with Homeboy Industries (that’s how she knows that their ingrates and undercover gangsters), is a proud Latino and hates the word Chicano because only academics use the term, used to be a woman but is now a man and therefore is the last word on Kama Sutra tantric positioning including the art of cockfighting, quail fighting, and ram fighting.

    I get a kick out the faux sincerity and apoplectic outrage at her/his Rush Limberger like aggrievement as an imagined victim of reverse racism.

    A pretty funny show since it’s free, but still needs some work on the method style of acting.

    Outraged? Hmmmm, naw, more like entertained.

  11. rob wrote: Then 2nd generation , 3rd generation ,and so on will remain, usually of higher economic means, maybe college educated latinos. Some pros can be said for it, but cons as well. but that’s another conversation.

    let’s have that convo: what are the cons here?

  12. @Julio do you just miss your “flor y canto” or ? volunteers at the bike oven help local youth, families and every day peoples to get their bikes fixed–so they can ride and be healthy…

  13. Don Q, Rob, chimatli and the rest,

    I’m not who you think I am. I’ve never claimed to work for Homeboy Industries and I don’t have a drop of latin blood in me.

    And I’d be happy to meet face to face with any or all of you to discuss gentrification and politics. Let’s meet at Cafe de Leche. Name the time.

    And chimatli, as a quasi-journalist or blogger or whatever you consider yourself, don’t you think you should actually meet the owner of Society of the Spectacle before suggesting that others flip her the bird? Find out how long she’s been there, who her customers are? Or are you not a serious person who takes responsibility for your words and actions?

  14. Cafe de Leche…LOL. No. Tacos Michoacan, on ave 19 and Broadway. You name the time.

    And, I’ve never made any assumptions as to who you are. I was just pointing out how funny it was that you were calling out the bloggers here for criticizing the Spectacle of Society, or whatever, without first meeting with them, when you came here and did the same thing to this blog. That’s all.

    And, are you going to tell us what a “Boliviatard” is, or what? I’m really looking forward to that.

  15. in the interest of helping readers with the coded words being bandied about, i offer the following:

    college professor = liberal = commie.

    bolivartard = reference to simon bolivar = liberal = commie.

    chicano = liberal = commie foreigner.

    i love the new movida where whnever gentrification or some other “liberal” topic is brought up, the spectre is dragged out to put those with an legitimate grievance on the defensive — “you don’t want to be priced out of the area you’ve lived in for generations, pay outrageous prices for produce at whole foods, and made to feel like a stranger in your own neighborhood? racist white haters! you got paid well for that house you could no longer afford the property taxes on, so quit whining, move even further away from your work, friends and family to wherever the hell it is you’re going, so long as you’re away from us, out of our way and our whims.”

    this disdain for the eastside being gentrified ain’t about karl, harpo or richard marx, nor is it disgruntled chicanos hating whitey. there has never been any shortage of non-latinos living in all quarters of the eastside, all of whom have contributed to the greater culture in some way. it’s about the “columbus” mentality of people who have the audacity to move into your home while you’re still in it, toss your shit out the front door and treat like you like the asshole that doesn’t belong there……

  16. Of course that’s what he means, Jimmy. I know who he is, anyway. His go to “you must be a college professor” comeback (and he accuses others of being parrots…) gave him away. He’s got another quirk that gives him away, too, that he’s carefully avoided revealing. But he couldn’t resist his bread and butter “college professor” label. Long story short, things are slow at Mayor Sam’s today.

  17. Jimmy Tumors, I was hoping not to get dragged into this debate again, but since I’m the person who made the “college professor” comment I feel the need to clarify my comments so you don’t read anything into it that I didn’t intend.

    When I said that Art “pontificates like a college professor on vacation,” I was simply referring to the length of his post. In my experience, there are times when college professors love to hear themselves speak. (Reminds me of a joke: Elementary-school teachers love kids; high-school teachers love their subject area; and college professors love themselves.) When I said that he was looking at issues from a Marxist perspective, I didn’t mean it as a slam; I was simply identifying his perspective based on what I know about Marxism.

    Third, if you think people are forced to sell their homes because their property taxes have skyrocketed and become unaffordable, you don’t understand how post-Prop. 13 property taxes are levied. Our property taxes only rise 2% a year and property only gets reassessed when there is a change of ownership. People who bought their homes for $45,000-50,000 years ago may be paying $700 a year or less.

    Regarding gentrification, the majority of families in Highland Park are working too hard to care if some white kid in a porkpie hat moves in next to them and gives them the cold shoulder while walking down York. I guarantee you that they’d rather have 100 porkpie-hat-wearing arrogant pricks than 10 gang members living in their neighborhood.

    I grew up in Silverlake (1971-1983), moved away when my folks divorced, then moved back in 1997 and lived there until late 2008, so I’ve watched a lot of new folks stream into Silverlake. Too many of the newbies seem to be striking a pose and trying hard to look cool, in a shabby, tattooed kind of way. But they don’t represent a threat to me like gang members do. Live and let live, for God’s sakes. There are enough vacant storefronts in this town that if someone comes out from Minnesota and wants to open some little pricy boutique, there’s still plenty of room for Tia-Chucha-style coffeehouses and other businesses that retain the flavor of the area. (Damn, now I’m pontificating like a professor!)

  18. By the way, this is the first time I’ve posted on this blog, so the guy (RobThomas) who seems to think I’m someone else is wrong. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you think I’m someone else, but for the record, my real name is Simon (there are very few of us in this city) and I don’t go around hiding who I am or posting in different names. Enough with the conspiracy theories. Please recall that my original purpose was to point out the anti-Anglo racism in several folks’ anti-gentrification posts. If you don’t see it, you choose not to.

  19. There is a cause and effect going on here.

    Lets keep assumptions to our selves and if there are any questions needed for clarification, ask. Asking to meet people in person only escalates the dialogue into something other than verbal. Discussions on this board should be cordial to all commentators (this does not mean that we should not rip a new one on anybody who has crossed a line or needs to be checked.)
    Save the street fights for those who are unwilling to talk, have given up talking, or don’t know how to talk (soldiers). What our community needs is more leaders who can argue a point with our loosing their tempers. It is bad enough that our schools do not focus enough on critical thinking, logic, and reading comprehension.

    Socrates said, that those who get angry loose the arguement.

    Marcos el Malo,
    I would suggest that you not call people names and instead deconstruct their argumenents and tear them apart. Do that and we can have a healthy arguement. My main interest is my barrio

  20. By the way Marcos, we are hardly armchair anything around here. I and a majority of the writers have been involved in the spaces I mentioned in my post and continue to do all kinds of community work. Yeah, so we take a few hours out of our lives to sit and write about our neighborhoods, I guess that makes us armchair revolutionaries? What should we be doing? Going to concerts, lounging and smoking cigars? And for the record, I never said folks should give Society of the Spectacle the bird. You need to read a bit more carefully.

    As for this mantra for bookstores, give me a break! The bookstores that already exist in the NELA area are struggling. There’s the awesome IMIX Books in Eagle Rock that could benefit from more patronage. It’s not like folks are clamoring to read books anymore anyways. I think folks want the bookstore to sit and drink their lattes cause they sure ain’t buying books – sadly, it’s a dying industry.

    Anyways, Marcos we can have conversations and discussions about these issues without resorting to personal name calling.

  21. Simon, what’s your last name, and how can we contact you? You said you don’t hide who you are…

    And, sorry, I don’t buy your explanation as to your use of the term “college professor”. You said it as if being a college professor is a bad thing. That’s what I first pointed out.

  22. RobThomas, you don’t contact me; you respond to my arguments if you choose to do so here. I took time to compose and edit my previous posts, and instead of addressing the arguments therein, you ask for my last name and accuse me of masquerading as someone else. That’s stalker-esque behavior. I’m a straight male and I’m not interested in a phone call or private meeting with you. If you want to believe that I’m someone else, that’s fine with me. Stop the ad hominem attacks (look it up) and focus on attacking my assertions.

    Lastly, I don’t think being a college professor is a bad thing, though I can see how my comments gave that impression. I have a B.A. and an M.A. and sometimes I regret not having earned a Ph.D., but I have found many college professors to be long-winded and out of touch with the world around them. There’s a certain obtuse style of writing that I associate with college professors, and I call it as I see it.

  23. Simon, didn’t mean to flatter you, but no, I don’t want to have a phone conversation with you. I was just calling you out on your claim that you don’t “hide” who you are. Evidently, you do. Unless you want to disclose your identity. You’re the one who said you don’t hide who you are. Also, your homophobia in assuming someone to be gay is right in line with your obviously right wing pattern of insinuations and labels, “you’re like a college professor”, “I’m a straight male and I’m not interested..”.

    Your agenda is obvious, “Simon”.

  24. RobThomas, I’d like you to state what my political agenda is, so that I can tell you whether you’re correct or not, or whether you’re making assumptions that aren’t borne out by anything that I’ve said here.

    I don’t have hidden agendas or hidden screen names, and I believe that I’ve been quite open and straightforward in my postings here. So why don’t you take some time to read the previous posts that I’ve written, and based on my opinions therein, describe my “obvious” political agenda. Thanks.

  25. Simon, you’ve already revealed what your political agenda is with the labels you apply to others.

    And, as far as you not using a hidden screen name, you’re using one right now, as far as we know, until you disclose your true identity. Remember, YOU are the one who said that you don’t hide who you are, or behind names. Why make such an animated claim if you obviously have no intention of backing it up?

  26. RobThomas, I’m going to stop this discussion. I asked you to back up your assertions that I had some sort of political agenda, and I made it clear that I’m not hiding behind a false screen name, but instead of addressing my arguments, you respond with a general accusation that my “political agenda” is clear. I clarified what I meant when I compared someone’s writings to those of a professor’s, and I clarified why I felt his arguments were based on a Marxist interpretation of events. So again, I ask, what is my purported political agenda?

    I’m not going to give my full name (so that you can Google me and get my address and my cellphone #) and even if I did, you’d simply find some other spurious reason to try to keep me on the defensive, instead of addressing my arguments. It’s impossible to rationally argue with someone who behaves in such an irrational manner, so I’m going to make this my last post.

  27. seriously, rob your a bit scary and out of line with all your request for his personal info, just debate him or don’t.

  28. Jimmy: college professor = boring and pompous pontificator; Bolivartard = knee jerk North American Hugo Chavista

    Caxcan: Actually, I think meeting Don Q or chimatli or whomever would defuse the situation, once we saw that there were real human beings behind the handles. I’ve been accused of being a finger puppet, so I think I deserve the chance to establish my humanity. No one has made any threats to me, although Rob is getting kind of creepy towards Simon.

    Anyway, we’re having a spirited discussion. I don’t see any of you as being threats to my physical safety. Except maybe Rob. =) j/k

    Rob: You’re the one who suggested I should meet the people of your group. I get to pick the place. Besides, I would need it to be walking distance from my home, as I’m recovering from surgery and can’t ride my bike for a while.

  29. well…i just read the digital version of this spurious new york times article today, and it is outrageous. i will mention in passing that apparently the print article did not contain the same content as the digital version, my girlfriend was pretty surprised at how different they were. so THAT’s how the new york times rolls, i guess…

    in case anybody cares, they jacked off about portland like this for several years in the nyt, and the negative impact was, and still is, immense, in that town. so it is not trivial that they are printing this kind of crap. it is also not trivial that they perhaps attempted to fuel a conflict between newer and older residents of highland park by claiming that “such and such” is good and “such and such” is bad. the same thing was done to portland.

    there, though, since white people imagine themselves to be classless and equal (a lie so obvious i cannot imagine where the white folks get it from except npr or their classrooms, i guess), the gentrification process went totally unnoticed until it is basically too late.

    the same thing happened to seattle, where i grew up. both cities are too small, and it did not take very much ex-southern californian and ex-east coast money to sew the whole thing up. obviously, the fear that something like that could happen in the core of los angeles is valid, since it seems, sadly, to be well underway in echo park.

    i agree wholeheartedly with other posts and writers that gentrification is the process by which the original inhabitants of a place are displaced and replaced by new people who not only don’t care about who they’ve replaced–in some cases they don’t even notice what culture/businesses/people they are replacing.

    it is evident in the syntax of a statement, for instance, like “nobody lives in boyle heights,” by which (as we all know) is meant “nobody white,” as if the 90,000 people who DO live there didn’t count for anything. it pisses me off, and i have lived thru it myself.

    when i find myself reading the entries on facebook about the pacific northwest and how wonderful it is from transplanted californians i still know in portland/seattle, it makes my blood boil. not that them loving where i grew up is wrong, or moving there, but moving there and wiping out most of the culture and history before their invasion, like we were just chalk on a board, or shit on the street.

    that makes me fairly upset, but then i loved the northwest of drunken sailors, whores downtown, a piss-drunk bar on every corner and plenty of loggers looking to kick your ass for being a “city faggot.” why do i miss such hostility and bullshit? because it was the (minor) price to pay for all the cool, working class shit that existed when those days were in full swing. when i visit up there now, i cannot even feel like “i’m home,” because it ain’t home. so again, this is no trivial matter. hopefully people will angrily write the nyt, especially people who were “quoted” in this article saying things they never said.

    beyond that, the future of northeast and east los angeles is too important for petty squabbling and name calling. many good points have been raised, even amongst some otherwise cheap-shot posts here, and even more amongst the constructive ones. and i would hope that instead of trying to call people out on whatever trivialities, folks in the community will work towards supporting all the good things about where we live, and increasing what is already working about our neighborhoods.

    i moved here BECAUSE of the cool, hand-painted sign small businesses all over boyle heights, lincoln heights and highland park, and i support local businesses as often as i can because i want them to survive and thrive. lupe’s, aj’s bbq, ramirez liquor, carnitas michoacan, el tepeyac, cafe de leche, future music, jim’s, al and bea’s, troy burger #8, etc etc etc, you get the point, even the funky supermarkets.

    hell, i even got lenses put in my glasses at society of the spectacle, cause they know my friends, and they did an ok job…it is kind of over-priced, and they scratched the lenses putting them in a little, so maybe not the best job, but far from being people to hate reflexively, automatically…just as an fyi…

    i guess my point is, this article brings up a hugely important issue, so maybe not attacking one another without cause is more important than scoring “cha-chings!” against “the enemy” (who most likely resides in city hall with his termite minions and his bullshit, gentrifucker, illegal bonus density anyway, if i might paraphrase the mighty don quixote).

    and by the way, just for the record, i’m only 44, but in my lifetime “white” started to include irish and polish. in discussions of the invented category of “white,” let’s not forget that “white” IS an invention of the power structure, and most “white” people were wops, micks, polocks, krauts and the like less than 3 generations ago, else why did they live on the eastside with all the other people the oligarchs wouldn’t let live on the other, properly aryan side of the river? the foolish naivete of “white” people that they are somehow part of the white power structure in a classless, raceless world is why the power structure keeps on keeping on, so its why i am not popular with a lot of uncritical thinkers amongst them, for pointing this out.

    but i would hope that all people stop moving ANYWHERE on the basis of speculation on future land values if only the people who live there would disappear, because this is the fungal virus that is destroying the remaining traditional urban communities one can experience the REAL america from. like nela, bh, hlp, ela. real, old-fashioned, blue-collar, families-and-pets america. fortunately, the downturn oughta put the damper on some of this…but ultimately, it’s gonna take white people stopping being ignorant about other people, and rich people to stop spending in ways that cripple the rest of the community’s ability to thrive.

    so, like many of you said, while this is in some ways about race, it is more about not being replaced without regard, as if you didn’t exist, an insult that should not be taken lightly.

    i will leave out my horror at all the fixed gear, bicycle, “green” bullshit in hlp these days because i moved to get away from all that modern, pseudo-portland crap in the first place, but to each their own, live and let live. i just wish that kind of “hipster” culture (which is not necessarily embodied by ANY of the businesses or people involved with those businesses in the nyt article, by the way unless you’ve seen it so yourself), would open up to what is all around them instead of being so goddamn insular.

    if that makes any sense.

  30. Simon: regarding Marxism. I don’t think Art’s presenting a Marxist analysis of the situation. He said a lot about gentrification helping to create a diversity of commerce, people, and cultures.

    I think Marxists would say something more like this.

    Gentrification is evidence of the centrality of capital to social relations. When capital flees an area, businesses close up, crime rises, and buildings wear out. When capital enters, rents rise, businesses open up.

    Anyway, I’m not a Marxist, but, I think if Marx were to see the discussion here, he’d point the finger at Capital. Here are a couple links about Neil Smith, who i think is a Marxist: http://www.enoughroomforspace.org/project_pages/view/198 http://www.policing-crowds.org/news/article/neil-smith-gentrification-in-berlin-and-the-revanchist-state.html

  31. Thanks Dave for your comment, so many great points! So informative we could’ve made that into a post by itself.

    I think it’s really important to give different examples of gentrification because in Los Angeles the issue is too often reduced to White people vs. people of color when it is so much more complex than that. In my opinion, it has to fundamentally do with class. In Los Angeles though, class relations are weird because if you grow up here like I did, you end up equating whiteness with being middle-class or more well off. I think this is because there are no large working-class White urban neighborhoods here. I didn’t grow up seeing any examples of poor White people. If they were poor, they pretended like they weren’t (if that makes any sense). Because of this, there are many people of color who think White people represent money which I’m sure causes resentments but also gets you nicer treatment in Mexican restaurants! (I joke but it’s true…)

    It’s funny cause HLP is really the last Los Angeles urban neighborhood that has a sizable White working class community. Interestingly, it’s from this population that I’ve heard some of the most fierce opposition to gentrification.

    As for The Society of the Spectacle, I’m sorry but they deserved to be mocked for using that name. I will not apologize for it. I’m not saying they are bad people or their business should be boycotted or that they are hipsters etc. But they knew full well what they were referencing when choosing that name and should’ve known it wouldn’t go unnoticed. The Society of the Spectacle is one of my favorite books and the Situationists have greatly inspired me, so just consider my issue with the store a personal pet-peeve.

  32. Sorry Marcos but as a female I’m not interested in meeting random men off the internet, LOL! Let’s keep this discussion confined to the blog. 🙂 Besides, I don’t think there is any situation to “diffuse” unless there is some macho thing I’m not understanding.
    Also, for the record, I’m no fan of Hugo Chavez.

  33. hi chimatli, no, i agree, using the name ‘society of the spectacle’ isn’t all that cool. just saying, they arent bad people, and you agree.

    and i’m very glad to hear that the remaining working class people of ALL skin tones are opposed to being gentrified out in highland park. (by the way, i am not very fond of the term “race” to define climate adaptions amongst us human beings…we are all part of the human race, after all –and eventually, if the evolutionists are right about anything, everyone in southern california will adapt and everyone will be brown, no matter what “race” they are “from.” hence why the amerindians here were/are brown, no?)

    people from hlp stopped all the old houses being demolished by developers in the 80’s, right? so it is clearly an intelligent, organizable neighborhood…thank god! cause if this article is any indication, you may be in for a douchebag storm, i hope not but articles like this give me the douche chills without a doubt.

  34. Everyone should read this book by Neil Smith, about gentrification in Manhattan in the 80s and 90s.


    It’s possible that we’re still in a kind of real estate bubble — a gentrification real estate bubble — and it can be deflated. I suspect it’s the basis of all the residual optimism on the news about this economy. They’re looking at real estate prices in downtown, or Manhattan, or some other gentrifying zone.

  35. not sure, and will be happy if someone corrects me ’cause frankly it’s been ages since i was last down there, but doesn’t san pedro still have a sizeable population of caucasian working class folks as well?

    i think the issue under discussion — and the whole “eastside” debacle, for that matter — boils down to the difference between new folks moving into the neighborhood and a jerks coming in and acting like they own the friggin’ place. resistance seems like a perfectly logical response to assholism.

    while i’m at it, thanks, marcos for the clarification. must’ve taken all day to think up. in turn i offer a reworked translation to keep all us red-lovin’ luddites up to speed for ye:

    Bolivartard = reference to simon bolivar = knee jerk North American Hugo Chavista = liberal = commie.

    think i’ll jack both that and the phrase “the non-thinking parroting of pseudo-intellectual socialist gibberish” and use them on the next gaggle of neo-cons, minutemen and similar so-called patriots i run into. it’ll be funny as hell to see their flustered faces turn as red as them american flag lapel pins they wear as some sorta pathetic proof that they’re more “american” than the rest of the punters….

  36. Jimmy, you’re totally right about San Pedro. Although, I heard things are changing down there too. Maybe Marshall or Dona Junta can tell us more?

  37. DQ writes.

    Funny yet telling that the “person” with all the goofy names always needs to state that he/she has lived in HLP for years or in Lincoln Hts for decades, or is a native of East Los, or El Sereno, or Boyle Hts, used to work with Homeboy Industries (that’s how she knows that their ingrates and undercover gangsters), is a proud Latino.



    Me and my friend Jimmy Tummor, Santiago, Dacalicious agree there is a multiple personality pendejo on this blog !!!

  38. Hi guys,
    Hexodus here. Hope everyone’s doing well.

    I wanted to add my two cents.

    + NY Times is sort of clueless. Often a day late and a dollar short on discovering “new places”. It’s nothing personal.

    + Remember (as I explained before) – it’s the speculators, not the hipsters that are the problem. Sure the hipsters are more visible and cloying, but the raising rent and all the other BS is pure speculator doings. Once the hipsters move in, gentrification is long over. Fight the real threat. Although now that the housing bubble is gone, they will be for a while. Remember though, if your neighbor got gentrified it is because YOU slept while the flippers and speculators were buying up property. I know this may sound controversial, but it is true. I learned this lesson too late.

    + Re: hipsters: not all whites are hipsters. But here’s the deal: most of them are bankrolled by their parents. That means that you should be out there hustling them. They spend money like idiots. Why not take it off their hands?

    + It bothers me when “culture” is defined only as things you can buy. Fucking boutiques and gastropubs, while not necessarily bad are far from culture. But in the world of the New York Times something is not culture unless there is a price attached to it. Take their bullshit with a grain of salt.

  39. FYI, That awful and racist article about the inferred cultural renaissance, taking place in the former cultural vacuum inhabited by invisible people, known as Highland Park, written by the airhead racist Travel writer (probably lives in that other former cultural vacuum inhabited by other invisible people, Harlem NY or Parkslope Brooklyn), and featured in the Travel Section of the New York Times, has made the top ten of the most emailed articles during the week.
    I would bet the majority of the emailers are chewing on some gentrifucker ass as opposed to inquirys about acai high colonic cleansing, Rolfing/Pilates/giant baby stroller. availability.

  40. for what it’s worth, i just sent this missive to the NYT…interestingly, the comment section has vanished from the digital version of the article. i hope it was from angry comments bumming their mellow…

    Editor, the Times,

    The article printed July 12th, 2009 under the banner “Surfacing,” titled “Highland Park: A New Culture District in Los Angeles,” is an outrage.

    Highland Park has been a center of Latino culture for decades, if not for generations.

    What’s more, should Latino cuture be too “garish” for the evidently abundantly naive and possibly rascist writer of this article, or too complex or foreign to be worth noticing, as outrageous as that would be, Highland Park was also home to the well-known “Arroyo Set,” a group of intellectuals surrounding Charles Fletcher Lummis, who not coincidentally founded the Southwest Museum, also in Highland Park.

    This kind of heavy-handed treatment of an area helped to ruin Portland Oregon, for which I’m sure we all owe your publication a debt of gratitude of some kind. So it is with great pleasure that I see you have begun circling your next victim, since after all, we ignorant peasants on the west coast clearly need your enlightenment.

    Please in future either stick to subjects you know something about, or proceed to practice actual journalism, through which you may uncover facts. You are, after all, The New York Times, should that mean anything at all in the 21st century.

    Dave Mortenson
    Boyle Heights,
    Los Angeles

  41. Dave, your retort to the classist, racist, dismissive article about Highland Park in the NYT travel section was not only astute but timely and very helpful to the survival of this multicultural working class neighborhood.
    And anyone who says the gentrification process would enable residents to “move up” and progress by capturing big money on their HP home and moving to Palmdale or Victorville or Rialto doesn’t really understand what makes for a well rounded multicultural living experience. Kicking tumbleweeds out of a track home in some suburban Hades on Saturdays is not my idea of “movin on up”, those that desire that existence, well more power to em.
    And your experience with gentrification in the Northwest, (Portland, Seattle), gives you an edge and some legitimacy to speak on this subject.
    This deadening and numbing process of gentrification is not just a So Cal or LA phenomenon but is nationwide in scope.

    My uncle owns an old historic bldg in Hudson NY where gentrification is turning the town upside down from a one time Hudson River Manufacturing center (that yes, polluted the shit out of the river), that was composed of white and black ethnic working class people into an artsy/fartsy, gentrified, town of middle and upper class hipsters, wealthy NYC professionals and herds of real estate agents.
    The once funky and great Warren St. is now populated by new age and self congratulatory back slapping “artist’s”, phony ass Mexican Restaurants,Bistros,Wine bars,and Chinese Herbal Medicine/Cranial therapy business’s.
    The former working people have all lost their jobs and live on welfare, food stamps and dealing drugs, unless they are lucky enough to have retirement from one of the former industrial factories.
    These new urban refugees have only contempt and scorn for the working class who still manage to hang on, they get nothing but snide comments and sneers from the new impatient bourgeoisie hipsters.
    I was visiting Hudson last year and drinking some wine in one of the Warren St “WIne Bars” (hey in NY you can only get cheap ass Taylor or some other stink juice wine in a liquor store), and was talking to a 40ish something woman from NYC who had bought an old historic bldg and was in the process of a restoration. I commented on the young black and white working class kids out on the street late at night and the lack of a playground or boys and girls club.
    This woman stated in an arrogant and dismissive manner “kids? I hope they all get picked up by the police or removed from the area somehow, one less feral kid is always a blessing”.
    Very ugly and IMO very typical attitude from these petite bourgeoisie trust fund wannabees.

    PS, After that comment she ended up paying for her own fucking wine!

    And a shout out to Dave and all who took the time to ream the NYT author of the ignorant article.

  42. Hector, FYI:

    July 15th, 2009 | 12:26 pm wrote:

    “for the record, my real name is Simon (there are very few of us in this city) and I don’t go around hiding who I am or posting in different names.”


    He was the one who insisted he was not posting under any pseudonym (mocking others for doing so), so I merely asked him to back it up. That’s all. Anything else, Hector, besides the fact that I’m white and from Sacramento, dully noted from a previous thread?

  43. RobThomas, yesterday I wrote that there was no point in arguing with you, and your behavior was like that of a stalker, so I stopped posting. Now I see that you continue to bring my name up. What’s the issue here? You’re behaving like a bully and I won’t tolerate being bullied. I have done nothing wrong here and I don’t deserve to be harassed by you. So far I’ve been cordial — but you’re pushing me. I stopped posting yesterday to avoid escalating this. Stop bringing up my name and stop the harassment.

  44. Simon,

    When I first started to post comments on this blog, I encountered a similar problem like the one you are having right now with the same commentator.
    Don’t let it get to you. Some people do not read the comments in their entirety and assume that the voices in their heads are actually real people.

    I do encourage you to keep posting and sharing your thoughts on this site.

  45. Caxcan — I appreciate the kind words, but I obviously made a mistake in posting on this blog in the first place. My views on gentrification just seem to be too out of the norm for folks here (or at least for that one conspiracy-theory-prone commentator). It’s frustrating to deal with such immature, bullying behavior, and I think it’s more common on the internet where people can be as rude or bullying as they like, with few consequences. I think people tend to be much more polite and decent in person.

    I also think that when people have a personal conversation with each other they’re more open to hearing the other side and learning something. When people post on a blog like this, we’re doing it for an audience, so perhaps our guards are up and we’re less likely to concede a point. Take care.

  46. Caxcan, very true what you said about some Cholos who can be rehabilitated, those that do are as important (in my opinion) as any other respectable member of society, because it takes an immeasurable amount of huevos to get out of that life and live a life that is considered “normal.”

    Thank you for pointing that out, you sound like a real stand up dude. I would say “you should come down to HLP and look me up so I can buy you a beer or a cafecito at one of the local spots” but I don’t want to sound all weird like this dude RobThomas trying to get peoples’ pictures and asking for real names and stuff.

    Simon, don’t pay attention to Trolls homeboy, and in my point of view, the land belongs to those who cultivate it bro, so I personally don’t get too deep with this whole “Gentrification” thing personally. I own a home here, and if you start a business or move in and you’re all about improving the neighborhood, I’m with you bro, you could be White, Black, Brown, Polkadot, from Mars even – as long as you take an interest to improve things.

  47. Simon,

    I also at the same time that Caxcan did, had the same person try to come at me and I was able to reveal many of his inaccurate accusations. In every thread he seems to pick a fight with someone.

    I think this blog is great because of its diverse comments. We all have different life experiences which leads to what is reality to us and its a great place to share it. People are not always going to agree but hopefully they will learn from others experiences.

    I don’t comment a lot but I do enjoy checking in on the blog and read the stories and the comments. I also encourage you to continue to post and share your thoughts.

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