LA Observed file photo
Only an LA neighborhood council would elevate such a question of unofficial cultural geography to the status of an official motion and vote. But here it is. The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council voted Wednesday night to add to its standing rules the phrase "Silver Lake is not located in the ‘East Side’ of Los Angeles.” True enough by any authentic LA standard — Los Angeles had an Eastside for decades before hipsters embraced Silver Lake and coined a new affectation to sound, I don't know, more New Yorkish or something — but why this vote and why now? The sponsors say it's about not dissing the traditional Eastside, the region of Los Angeles city neighborhoods that lie east of the LA River such as Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heghts. But that's a slight of many years now.
Calling Silver Lake and environs the Eastside certainly has its fans, and not just among urban enthusiasts who need a label to fill out the anti-Westside narrative and those other newbies whose grasp of Los Angeles' construction and backstory is so thin they just see west, east and middle. Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Echo Park share enough distinction in common that, despite claiming barely a sliver of the city's four million population, I'd lump them together as a mini-region if only there were an a useful and adequate name for the place. They don't belong to downtown, Hollywood or the real Eastside — and the term many like, Faux Eastside, will never catch on. I've yet to hear a suggestion that feels real enough to work for both the newbies and for deeper-rooted Angelenos, but I'm still hopeful something will bubble up with more authenticity (and specificity) than Eastside.
* Morning update: The LA Times has started introducing the unpaid members of neighborhood councils — or at least this one — with the official-sounding title of Councilman and Councilwoman, capitalized and everything. Points for thinking outside the box! It's not the first time the LAT has treated Silver Lake's local semi-elected neighborhood group with a more official status than is typical. A reader emails: "I swear, it's like the LAT has a special style guide entry for the Silver Lake NC."