Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
A Los Angeles blog
from Echo Park

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Time compression

The Onyx was a coffee house, a pair of coffee houses, one in Los Feliz, the other in Echo Park. Both are closed now. Togethere, they were a living landmark for a generation-plus of artists and scenesters in the ‘80s and into the ‘90s. If you listened to the band Thelonius Monster, the Onyx still means something to you. It was a place where you might have found the heroine of Janet Fitch’s most recent novel, “Paint it Black,” sipping coffee and pondering.

The Onyx east was located in a dingy strip mall facing Glendale Boulevard, just before the ramp to the 2 Freeway.

When the Onyx east closed I didn’t even notice, not right away. But after a while a new restaurant opened in the space: Spain, which had a small “take out” neon sign in the window. A mural along the Alessandro Street side of the establishment showed a blond matador spearing a bull. I hated the mural’s celebration of cruelty so it was several years before I went to Spain, though I knew it to be a popular takeout source for parties – empenadas, garlic olives. By the time I went to Spain for dinner it seemed like the restaurant had been there forever.

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