But now Chicken Corner has fluttered back to Echo Park, twanging a little bit. In Nashville, I was asked by relatives who are not familiar with Los Angeles what my neighborhood is like. They didn't really want a history lesson, which made it hard to nail it. I started with something like, "well, it's inner city, but it's green and there are woods, and the hills are very steep." I was at a loss to explain how the white cement streets give the neighborhood a dusty, quiet look. Or how to explain the charm of the Echo Beauty Salon (now a rehearsal studio for the band Future Pigeon), with its pink and black facade and gang-style gothic lettering.
Nashville is a classic twenty-first century city of sprawl and geographic division, similar in many ways to Los Angeles in its unfriendliness to pedestrians and planning short-sightedness. As in Los Angeles there was talk of mixed-use solutions for urban sprawl and talk of historic preservation overlay zones. There is no shortage of gated communities. But Nashville certainly takes its music seriously.
An update for Your Echo Park Home Library: I have been told that former LA Times reporter Denise Hamilton's novel Last Lullaby has numerous scenes set in the hood, one of them just steps from Chicken Corner proper, at the "Castle" at the top of Delta Street. (Disclosure: Denise is also a contributor to LA Observed.)