Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
A Los Angeles blog
from Echo Park

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Billboards and blogs

Yesterday, I received this from Spencer Windes at American Apparel -- about Curbed LA's response to his employer's billboard at Alvarado and Sunset.

Hey Jenny, I would love to hear what you have to say about the Curbed posting on the American Apparel billboard in Echo Park. Here’s a posting I did on the AA blog about it. Who are the mysterious “Echo Park residents” of whom they speak?

If you haven't already read the link, Curbed LA calls the intersection of Alvarado and Sunset, a place of "24-hour despair," drugs, horror. It's a strange misreading of the corner from a site that purports to interpret our urban surroundings in a meaningful way. It is true that there has been a new influx of homeless people into Echo Park recently. (These people who have no reliable shelter, whose possessions are out on the street for everyone to see, are at Echo Park Lake, and on Alvarado, on Reservoir, on Glendale, in Elysian Park.) And it's true that a lot of weary-looking folks wait for the bus at Sunset/Alvarado. But I'll echo (no pun intended) Spencer Windes in pointing out that the Sunset/Alvarado intersection is where we find 1) The Downbeat Cafe, 2) Machine Project, 3) Echo Park Film Center, 4) Pizza Buona, 5) The Edendale Library, 6) Lyman Printing, 7) Brooklyn Projects, 8) the new vegetarian cafe Elf, 9) The Brite Spot restaurant and comedy club, 10) Burrito King, 11) about ten fashionable clothing and antiques boutiques, including Wells Tile, strung along Sunset and Alvarado within two blocks of the crossroads, 12) some groovy public art. And I almost forgot Taix, the landmark restaurant on Sunset. The only thing missing is a sign -- "Major cultural nerve center right here" -- hanging from the stoplights. I guess the Curbed LA writer got his/her antenna wet yesterday. I hope they feel better soon.

As for the lascivious billboard that inspired Curbed LA's daffy description of Sunset/Alvarado, that's a tricky one. I find it, uh, difficult to get it up for a big moralizing crusade about the "child pornography" billboard since the model is supposedly 24 years old and doesn't even look like a child. (Though, if you've read about Dov Charney, former owner of American Apparel, and the sexual-harassment charges against him, the news does color the image -- of a topless girl in tight pants without underwear -- in an unpleasant way.) I am not sure what to say about a company that uses an adult model to mimic sexual interest in children trying to look like adults except that said company is breaking no laws that I know of. Are they worse than Calvin Klein? It brings me to: Are the people who walk or drive this intersection better off since the billboard was posted?

I would love to lose all of the big commercial billboards in the neighborhood. Their loss would be our gain.

I am curious to know what people think of the billboard.

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