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March 28, 2007

Moe, Larry & Curly at Chango

My husband, RJ Smith, began his career as a rock critic in the Stooges backyard, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has since moved into The Three Stooges front yard, Echo Park. RJ wrote the following for Chicken Corner

Working, it¹s called. You are a writer and selling your writing by the word
and you are waiting for inspiration to spill down like the very light of
God. Hey it could happen. But in the meantime you are willing to accept
inspiration coming like an intravenous drip; you reach idly for the remote.
Because you never know where an idea is going to come from.

Somewhere, at any moment of day or night, a Three Stooges comedy short is
showing and at the moment that concerns us it is showing on our very own
living room. Never mind the spouse who casts an uncomprehending look as she leaves
the room. Working, it is called. Writing. Casting about for ideas. Hello,
Hello, HELLO! Hello. It¹s the Stooges.

On the tube is one of Larry, Moe & Curly¹s classics, a penultimate log of
lunkheadedness titled "Three Little Beers," from 1935. In this one the power
trio are employees at the Panther Brewery. They sneak onto a golf course one
day to practice for a company golf outing. The sod, natch, will never be the
same. After destroying the course they hightail it out of there in a company
truck. Mayhem (as Eisenstein put it) ensues. And there, somewhere in the
middle of things, as a flotilla of beer barrels roll down a steep street and
knock a traffic officer on his keister, a whole intersection comes into
view. Cue the very light of God: There are the Stooges, standing at Chicken
Corner. There, where Echo Park Avenue and Delta Street cross, is the very
same building that now houses the Chango coffee house. The whole location looks shockingly as
it does today. Once was a time when giants strode the Echo Park earth.
Hopefully, no poultry were harmed in the making of this picture.

In the scholarly publication (we say so) The Three Stooges Journal, Editor
Gary Lassin has made great efforts to document locations for some of the
more important Stooges comedies. The winter 2002 issue features images of
Larry, Moe & Curly at work and play at the Corner; Summer 2006 digs even
deeper, tracking down the precise Scott Avenue slope from which those
barrels begin their descent. Pictures and much detail is provided (The Three
Stooges Journal: PO Box 747, Gwynedd Valley, PA 19437). Lassin has visited
Echo Park repeatedly to study the scene. He can sound a little over the
top about the Stooges. We know just how he feels.

"Three Little Beers" was directed by Del Lord, by far the best of the Stooge
auteurs, a proven master rising from Edendale¹s Keystone Studio to inherit
the Stooges franchise.

Lord once explained his appeal to the LA Times: "Kids have always been my
fans as well as the tired businessman and the young people. They don¹t
expect anything but the healthy stuff from me. I would certainly never
disappoint them or myself by wandering away from the clean things."

Maybe one of the kids, some indie scenster hanging out at Chango will take it upon
himself to stage an experiment: 1) project Three Little Beers onto the wall
of the apartment building still standing on the corner today; 2) ponder if
the Stooges were ever really good for you.

March 26, 2007


An early story about the budding “sanctuary movement” among U.S. churches includes news of the Episcopal Cathedral in Echo Park. An LA Times story Friday by Louis Sahagun said a coordinated effort to house immigrants facing deportation will be announced in late April. The whole “faith-based initiative” scenario has always made me shudder (and worse), so I am glad to see it turned around and reclaimed.

According to the story, Episcopal Cathedral may participate in hosting “families broken by broken laws” – i.e., people who have come here to work and live and are being ripped away from their news roots and their relatives. We'd be glad to have them in Echo Park.

After the jump, the print edition shows a photo of a young church worker it identifies as Daniel French (not on the web site). I think this is the same young man I ran into one time when I was walking among the empty houses on Mohawk and St. Inez streets, with my friend Cindy Bennett, who was taking pictures. Daniel asked if I was looking to document the gentrification of the neighborhood. Despite the fact that what I saw in front of me was the opposite of gentrification. It was the express-mail creation of a ghost-town slum. Nonetheless, his question was rational. In a neighborhood where immigrant families have been moved out one-by-one to make way for homeowners with more money, who would assume that the shuttering of fifty-some homes wasn’t a result of the same tidal wave?

Other Echo Park in the news: A full-page photo of Angelino Heights in Los Angeles Magazine shows Murray Burns and Planaria Price (with a name like that she was born to live in Angelino Heights) in front of their lovingly restored 1887 Victorian. Murray, who is a well-established feature of the coffeehouse landscape in Echo Park, owns a number of rehabilitated Victorians in the neighborhood. The photo is part Los Angeles Magazine’s roundup called Real Estate 2007, and Angelino Heights-ers who prefer to say they live in Angelino Heights and NOT Echo Park will be pleased by the headline and the blurb, which does not mention EP. It’s like saying, “I live at the Colony. Malibu? Never heard of it.” And Echo Park being as large as it is – though, of course it’s not a separate city – everyone here can claim a sub-neighborhood if they want to. Maybe we should all give our houses pretty names. So perhaps I live in Phoebe-bird Cottage Heights. Never heard of Elysian. Can I buy a vanity zip code? 900-hear-I-am?

(Disclaimer: My husband is an editor and writer for Los Angeles Magazine, but he was not involved in the above-mentioned Real Estate story, except perhaps to wonder why our own house doesn’t look like that.)

March 24, 2007

Ball-Nogues reimagine fun

Echo Park architects Gaston Nogues and Benjamin Ball have won the Young Architects Program competition, which the New York Times describes as an important stepping stone. For their trouble the pair now get to realize their design for an "outdoor daytime nightclub" on the playground at PS 1 in Queens. According to the NYTimes, ""drench buckets suspended in the air will periodically dump water on patrons below." Sounds like fun, assuming its summer time. Speaking of which, the living will be hard, as Ball and Nogues told their reporter that they plan to live in a tent in the PS 1 courtyard. Fortunately for them, part of the installation will be built in Echo Park.

March 23, 2007

Getting back to irresponsible/EP staircases

Writer David Kamp called Jonathan Lethem's new book a tad too parenthetical, but I'm still looking forward to reading "You Don't Love Me Yet," Lethem's Echo Park-set "rock novel." So far I have found Lethem's work to be nothing but foolproof, even if some of it does, in the future, turn out to be... parenthetical. Aaah! At least it's not glib. I loved Motherless Brooklyn, flagged a bit on the Fortress of Solitude, and I devour his short stories.

In an LA Times feature this week, the author admitted that he wasn't very familiar with Echo Park. Lethem told the Times' Josh Getlin:

"In my previous books, I paid a lot of attention to accuracy; I became the bearer of communal memories for a Brooklyn neighborhood," he said. "There was an enormous sense of wanting to get details right. But then I wanted to be irresponsible again…. I wanted to get back to the sense of play in writing fiction."

Pre-warning won't stop me, of course, from correcting his geography, mapwise or otherwise, should the occasion arise. Chicken Corner will swoop down like a hawk and set the record straight. Maybe.


Chicken Corner's staircases correspondent has counted the number of steps on public stair streets in Echo Park. The precise number is: 2,853.

March 22, 2007

A tree falls in Echo Park

Palm Tree

Photo by Martin Cox, March 22, 2007
Second day of spring: Martin Cox hooked me up with this image of a palm in the water at Echo Park Lake. No word yet on whether the tree had been drinking.

Joking aside, I'm sorry to see it go. I'm not a big fan (no pun intended) of palms in general, but they belong at Echo Park Lake. In fact, I believe we would be lost without them.

Palm Tree

Photo by Martin Cox, March 22, 2007

Something about a wall or a fence

About two days ago, I saw a new fence going up – or going across, I should say. It is one of those modern fences that I liked when they first started appearing a few years ago: broad-plank, horizontal. It’s a widely acknowledged discussion, these days: the walling of Los Angeles. My friend Greg Goldin wrote about it nicely in the Los Angeles Times Magazine a couple of years ago. Feelings are mixed. I was pleased as punch a year-and-a-half ago when we had a fence built in front of my own front yard.

I had been ambivalent about a fence, feeling that it was wrong to cut ourselves off from neighbors. But I had a toddler and a wandering dog, and it was a safety issue. And our backyard, while enclosed, presents severe hazards of its own. We mitigated the enclosure issue by leaving about two inches between vertical slats and by making the fence only five feet high. The result was we could see the street and other houses and we began using the yard in earnest. The fence brought us closer to neighbors and the life of our street. It has been nothing but good. Our house is visible from the street, but the fence provides something of psychic scrim, not to mention a safety barrier. But our neighbors can see us, and we can talk to people over and through the fence.

Still, who am I to say that people who haven’t allowed two inches between slats aren’t equally happy with the way their space is defined? Inside the now-secret spaces that used to be postage stamp yards – often enclosed in chain-link, which is not always so charming – there could be happiness and use! But when I saw the new fence going up the other day my heart sank. It may be an issue of style, but the horizontal-plank fences look more like a wall than almost any kind of fence (excluding, of course, an actual wall, and some of those have gone up in the neighborhood, too). The broad-plank fences look nifty at first, but they don’t age well. After a while, water-stained, forgotten-looking they look like a sour-pucker scowling down at the street. The three-foot chain-link fences of the neighborhood are looking better and better to a re-trained eye.

Then yesterday I saw yet another set of posts sunk into the ground. I could almost feel our collective psychic space shrinking in the air around me. I never subscribed to the dream of suburban yards without fences, where children run from lawn to lawn without impediment and without danger -- because that myth is so well-tainted by now. And, as far as Echo Park goes, the dream of an unbroken lawn among houses was never remotely close to reality. What we had was a lot of house-to-house social life. But it seems that as the neighbrohood gets richer, it's also getting smaller.

Not all walls are offensive, of course. All through Latin America the houses exist behind walls, and we don’t question the integrity of the narrow wall-defined streets. But those cities also have public squares, which make all the difference, at least to a visitor.

I have never minded walls made of plants (also known as hedges): they add something to the neighborhood by giving us something green. I guess my fondest wish is that people who put up a fence consider the life of the neighborhood on the other side.

March 18, 2007

A neighbor

Christine Peters posted the following on the Echo Park Animal Alliance list today:

It is with a very heavy heart that I pass on to everyone that Mr Nash, the gentle old soul who lived in pioneer conditions on Valentine street passed away sometime this week. His dogs were agitated and skittish, so a neighbor entered his proerty and found him face up on his bed, with the dogs by his side. Mr. Nash loved animals and was an expert orchid cultivator. I was lucky to receive many orchids from him. And now, as I promised him I would do, I need to find homes for his animals. There are two easy-to-place nine-month-old chihuaha mixes, and two older lab mixes -- both male, neutered and current on all shots. At least 3 cats, not sure. We convinced the police not to involve animal control, as we vouched to care for and place the pets. Mr. Nash was a dedicated petowner and a long-suffering vet of WW2/Korea( stories differ here).


Saturday, a friend told me that not only had he found all twenty-nine public-street staircases in Echo Park but he had walked them. I wish I had been there. Then, on Sunday, I was driving back from a birthday brunch -- eggs benedict settling happily into my arteries -- when I took an over-the-hill shortcut from Glendale Boulevard in Silver Lake to Echo Park. Just before I got onto the Oak Glen bridge over the Two Freeway I passed a passel of laughing, chatting firemen -- there were firetrucks, paramedic trucks, maps posted, hilarity in the air. I asked a man in uniform what was going on. He told me it was an annual exercise. They practice for emergencies on the stair streets in firehouse fifty-something. I hope they do that on our side of the freeway, too. Not if only for a laugh.


I missed, until today, Eric Garcetti's March 6 post, which recounts a visit he received from some University Elementary School pupils. One of the children asked if it was okay to talk about chickens during city council meetings. Good question!

March 16, 2007

Clear water revival

I ran into Dave Foster, who tends Echo Park Lake the other day, and we talked about...the lake. A couple of things I didn't know (or maybe forgot): Echo Park Lake has a clay bottom. It's a real lake, albeit one that's filled with tap water and rimmed with cement. Also, the lake is leaking. They are not sure where the leak is occurring, but water is leaving -- probably through one of the storm drains -- and so municipal water is being pumped in much more rapidly than usual. Which leads me, clear water....

Martin Cox emailed me a few days ago that he, too, talked to Dave. They discussed algae.

[Dave] told me he had been flushing the lake with clean water, which is why it was suddenly so clear, but he agreed with me that a natural process of clearing had already begun, although the new water gave it a kick. But he added that the new sunlight in to the water will encourage algae to grow.
I have seen this on previous years where the lake is clearing in Spring but by Summer is laden with algae growths.

Or, as Marty Robbins sang:

All day I've faced a barren waste/ Without the taste of water, cool water/ Old Dan and I with throats burned dry/ And souls that cry for water/Cool, clear, water

March 14, 2007

The Shackletons, Echo Park-style

Tuesday, I walk down the hill past a house with an open door and, inside, Antonio Carlos Jobim playing (I’d say blasting if it weren’t bosanova) "Corcovado." Then past some neighbors who were discussing a herd of cats who live from house to house. Apparently one of the cats is getting a bath – today probably. My destination is next door to the cats. The sun is dipping fast as I knock on the door of Beer Wine Fish, a discrete recording studio (location downplayed because of security concerns over recording equipment and instruments), where the Silversun Pickups recently recorded. I am greeted by Eric, a young musician, and a waggling, super-charged brown pit bull and then three much calmer but also friendly musicians – The Shakletons, who are recording at the studio with Loveless Records producer Sam Jones. (Jones made the documentary "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" about the band Wilco's legendary recording of the CD "Yankee Foxtrot Hotel." He is now a partner at Loveless Records in Seattle.)

I am here because Sam Jones is a friend of a friend and the magic words Echo Park arose in conversation. I have been curious to see the inside of the secretive studio down the street, and the indie-guitar Shakletons have a good chance of becoming a significant band. But at first glance they seem like sweet, nerdy kids, wound up, waiting – it’s in-between time when I arrive. They are getting ready to get ready to record. No one in the band is over 22, and the youngest member, Sean, the drummer, is 16 years of age. His parents are not at the studio but they came with him to Los Angeles, and probably to New York, too, where the band, which has toured extensively on the east coast, played CMJ recently.

The Shakletons are from Chambersburg, PA, a town of 25,000, as the front person, Mark, tells me out of the blue a little while later. In Los Angeles, they are staying 1.4 miles away from Beer Wine Fish at the Super 8 motel near Dodger Stadium, and, since they declined their producer’s offer to rent them a car, they have been walking to work – model Angelenos who have only been here a couple of days and never saw the place before.

In the recording room, Tom Billings – who owns the studio – engineers with Sam Jones and a couple of Shakeltons, Mark, the front man, and Dan, who sits on a couch and plays guitar.

Mark starts to sing in a cracked voice: he paces back and forth, stepping over feet, while the guitarist plays along. It’s a micro-performance as he sings, “All I really want is for you to come back…all I really want is a yellow Cadillac,” but the interesting thing is I can see the singer step out of the space we’re in and go somewhere quite far away. I thought the song was perfect in its simplicity, though, admittedly, if it were recorded that way – a capella – it might sound over the top.

Then the guitarist joins the other musicians in the outer room. Mark drops onto the couch next to me, and tells me his voice doesn’t always sound so broken but they had just played a big show in Seattle, and he had given it everything. He says his mother is in her second round of ovarian cancer, and he has been her primary buddy and support and it was difficult for him to get away. Mark tells me that at the moment, they are trying to build a tempo map as the Cadillac song has two time signatures. As I understand it, they are more or less trying to lock in the beats – mapping it on recording software.

It takes them a bit over an hour to locate the spot where they skip a beat, make a map. Meanwhile, the musicians play guitars and drums in the outer studio, where a wall clock is stuck on 4:20, while Mark sings in the other room. Tom Biller works the computer. A friend drops by. Mark leaves the room as his own voice sings “won’t you come back” over speakers. The band amuses itself listening to Dan playing made-up country songs. Sam Jones tries to balance boredom and over-playing: the old-school producer’s art of trying to coax a good performance out of his flesh-and-blood musicians. He wants the band to play while they're fresh, and, conversely, he wants Mark to hold back, save his voice for later in the week when they are planning to record vocals. It’s all new and lively to me, but Sam tells me I couldn’t have picked a worse time to drop by, in terms of nothing going on.

The singer paces a bit and occasionally comes over to talk to me about the band, about how they write songs collectively. The youngest of eight kids, Mark says he has not been to Los Angeles before, and has seen nothing here other than Echo Park. I ask him if Echo Park looks like what he expected from Los Angeles. He gives the question some thought – admitting he hadn’t considered it before – and then says: “I thought it would be a lot better tended. It’s supposed to be really expensive around here. But it doesn’t look it.” He says he is pleased with the vibe around here.

When I ask about the band’s L.A. culinary adventures, Mark says they have eaten at the Pescado Mojado on Sunset (in Echo Park), the taco stand at Echo Park Avenue near Sunset (in EP) and a Vietnamese restaurant (in EP). Jones says maybe they should do some sightseeing, visit one of the studio lots since they’re here, to which Mark answers “we’re trying to [make it so] we can come back. Everything we do here should be in the studio.”

I suggest that at least they walk up to Park Drive – walk it from Duane to Avon Park Terrace at night – they’ll see lights in all directions and the top of City Hall. To my mind, the sight is music.

March 12, 2007

LA gal -- so many there there

Over the weekend, I went to NYC and Brooklyn to celebrate the birthday of a friend of my husband, RJ's, and mine. I hadn't been there in a while, though for almost five years I lived in New York and assumed it would be my home for longer. What I found was Brooklyn neighborhoods that looked the same but fancier, or in some places just the same. I found myself at the large, beautiful birthday party -- for Peter Herdrich -- talking occasionally about Los Angeles. My semi-canned response to open questions about how I like Los Angeles is to say (the truth) that I love my weird hilly neighborhood in the heart of the city, but that as far as the city at large goes traffic is out of control; that I am happier these days making my life tiny, geographically speaking; that I am so jealous of my friends in New York who walk their children to school and then keep walking to get to work. I can't remember if I told anyone what it is like to be stuck on the 10 freeway going east at 1 o'clock in the afternoon, not moving, my daughter, crying, strapped into what looks like a tiny dentist's chair in the back -- "Hang on sweetheart, don't cry, it'll just be another forty-five minutes." On those days I think this is not a good place to live. (Obviously, it's the other days that keep me here.)

In New York, it was actually refreshing to be with so many different types of people sharing the trains, so much less isolated than driving in a personal bubble alone, barely moving. And one of the greatest pleasures of the weekend was walking -- for transportation. It was cold outdoors, but it felt good.

It may have been inevitable, but twice I was offered the line about Los Angeles, "There is no there there." To which I snapped at one person, "If there was no there there I wouldn't live there." So, there. So much for polish. To be fair, the offending comment was delivered by an intelligent man who really didn't care if there was any there here; he was being sociable, and commited the crime of not knowing enough about one of my dearest subjects of conversation.

To another "there is no there there" commentator, I might have said (but didn't) "Actually there is a there there. There are many theres there." And so on. Perhaps I should have handed him a Blackberry, called up the LA blogs and sent him to the corner to read. Then we could talk. Except that he and his wife had come to the party to celebrate Peter, not to get metaphysical about Los Angeles. So the topic changed to music in Nashville. I would have been happy to have had a pithy Nashville quote roll off my tongue, but didn't. Probably for the best.

So I flew back to Burbank on a crowded Airbus, watching back-to-back episodes of CSI; the woman in the center seat moaned in her sleep. Arrived at my car in the long-term lot and -- surprise -- getting into my car felt like stepping back into my skin. Evil, gas-consuming isolator that it is. I was ready to be alone. It took quite a while to get out of the parking lot as the attendant was having a nervous breakdown -- shouting at her assistant, weeping, kicking the cabinets in front of her. Halfway through the transaction for my parking privileges, she stopped to weep. Finally she handed me my receipt to sign, and apologized. Then I was free to drive back to the dark rolling hills in Echo Park, where most of the neighborhood was settling down for the night, my window down, my thoughts my own, my car my own.

March 7, 2007

Atlantis, visible/Gluttons for punishment

Tuesday, Echo Park Lake: I hadn't been to the park much in recent weeks, and, perhaps because of reports of prostitution in the public bathrooms and an uptick in graffiti, I am surprised to find the park looking better than ever -- and cleaner in two ways. First, the dry-ground parts of the park have been groomed. The putrid, dank garbage and muck filled basin at the northeast corner of the lake has, for the first time I have seen, been cleaned out, the slime and styrofoam takeout containers scraped away somehow to reveal the welcome sight of sun-dried concrete at the bottom of the ramp leading ot some kind of filtration bunker. And all around the park, the grounds have been combed and trash removed. Didn't take a look at the bathrooms. Maybe they're more cheerful, too.

Even more surprising: the water in the lake itself is looking clearer. Martin Cox, Chicken Corner's famous waterfowl correspondent, told me this, but I had to see it for my own eyes -- and I did. The water is clearer. It's no illusion. Ever since the heavy rains of 2004/2005 the water had been an opaque green-brown-black, but we may be seeing a reversal of the trend. Dare to dream.

There were scores of water birds -- ducks, geese, cormorants, coots, seagulls. But there were few wild -- i.e., migrating -- ducks. I guess they are back on the road, so to speak.

Meantime, Martin emailed me a report of the lake, which contains some alarming and some sad news. I had heard a report form a friend of a Canada goose's nest, and Martin felt strongly that I not give away the location.

I really would ask you to think long and hard before broadcasting nesting information. There are egg stealers who [operate by cover of darkness] and if the goose gets spooked by over-interested boaters [during daylight] she will abandon the nest. Her cover was thicker last year.
Not that I see a connection between media and death, but the famous Brownie has vanished. So too did the Franken Duck and Cleo. All missing for over a month now.
Redhead made a brief reappearance, the Ross's Goose is still there.
As they always do, the American Wigeon are headed off to where ever they go, just a few left and almost all Ruddies have departed, we're down to one I think.
Currently there are 8 (yes 8!) Male ring neck ducks and one female, all floating about in the lotus area.
Other news, as I said, is that the lake has significantly cleared in the last day or so, you can see five feet down now. It was literally inches for almost 2 years. You can now clearly see rusty poles, traffic cones, encrusted trash barrels, shopping carts from stores that no longer exist, it's Atlantis down there!
The clearing began in mid January and has continued at quite a pace. My unscientific understanding is that huge amounts silt and muck washed in to the lake during the winter storms of 04/05. Ever since then the silt lay over the lotus beds causing uneven growth. It also saw the end of the visits to the lake by the Osprey who dive for prey, with zero visibility there was no way to hunt from the sky. Now we are set for a return of the rare aerial hunters and who knows what else from down below will bloom now that sunlight can once again penetrate the green murk of Echo Park Lake.


Gluttons for punishment: State senator Shiela Kuehl is working on a bill that would compell law enforcement to classify instances of animal abuse with other forms of domestic abuse. Her office wants stories to bolster its case. According to one post on the Echo Park Animal Alliance list:

The "Inclusion of Animals in Domestic Violence Protection Orders," SB 353, would be a huge step in beginning to get the help of law enforcement for this aspect of domestic violence. At this time, Senator Kuehl's office is collecting stories (one paragraph) from those who have experienced animal cruelty/death as victims of domestic violence.

Kuehl's fax: 916-324-4823. Address: Office of Senator Sheila Kuehl, State Capitol, Room 5108, Sacramento, CA 95814.

March 5, 2007

Preservation blues

More worse demo?

The Garment & Citizen, a downtown free newspaper that lands in Echo Park driveways and increasingly has been relevant to the neighborhood at large, published a story March 2 about the woes of two would-be service providers in Echo Park. The story is sub-headlined "Parking, Grocery on Hold in Echo Park." One of the providers is the Foursquare Church at Angelus Temple, which the story says is being hobbled in its efforts clear away apartment rental units it owns to create parking for its congregants. The story's implication is that efforts to expand an HPOZ in the vicinity of Echo Park Lake have not only hog-tied the church, but have stopped a Tennessee grocery store chain from providing food to the neighborhood -- alarmist and almost certainly untrue.

Before we assemble an angry mob against preservation folks (who include myself, though I speak ONLY for myself here), let me point out: Foursquare's tear-down dreams mean the eviction -- already achieved in some cases -- of lower-income tenants, who probably will have to leave the neighborhood, if they want to live indoors. The tear-downs would be followed by a tall parking structure to uglify the vicinity and blot out a sense of history that is so valuable to the well-being of any community.

Nonetheless, Council President Garcetti has supported the Temple's project.

An Interim Control Ordinance does delay or prevent property owners, including churches, from tearing down buildings. To forestall the ill-advised destruction of homes and history before the matter has been studied is precisely what such an ordinance is for.

Still, there is no reason why the grocery store can't move in and do business.

The whole mess sent Curbed LA, which reported it on Friday, to the bar for a drink. It'll send me there, too.

In the meantime, tenants have been evicted from units on Lemoyne Street. Tenants also are being kicked out of apartments on Echo Park Avenue just north of a vacant lot where an apartment building collapsed in 2000, killing a 30-year-old man. The church previously had offered assurances these units would be restored and preserved. The properties in question are protected for the moment by the aforementioned Interim Control Ordinance, so it appears the church is following the LAUSD's 9A strategy: evictions first, permissions later -- let the empty buildings rot. Now there's a moral approach to a parking dilemma.

March 2, 2007

Speaking of teardowns...

...or what shouldn't be: A woman who attended one of the Echo Park Historical Society* walking tours recently emailed a set of poignant photographs she took of the houses the LAUSD would like to demolish on the south-western edge of Echo Park.

9A, as you may recall, is the site, named by the LAUSD where said agency seized the homes of over 200 people in an effort to build a school for pupils who don't exist, as falling enrollment in area schools has proved. Samuel Beckett would have loved it. The people who lost their homes don't think it's funny.

In December the LAUSD was ordered by the court to conduct an environmental impact review. It now appears the staff of David Tokofsky are trying to rush the review through before this summer, when Tokofsky steps down as board member of the LAUSD's fifth district. The school, after all, is his baby.

As for a building already torn down, it's 860 Echo Park Avenue. Not 850.

And, for the record: the photograph of 860 Echo Park Ave., which has been credited in two links to Chicken Corner, is in fact a Martin Cox photo.

Curbed LA linked to Chicken Corner a couple of days ago, with interest in the missing building at 860 Echo Park Avenue. A lively -- and interesting -- 33-response conversation/insult fest about density planning and urban transportation followed.

Journalist/Intersections blogger Daniel Hernandez linked to Chicken Corner with memories of gang-bangers using the apartment building's walkway as a shortcut.

*(Disclosure: I am on the board of the Echo Park Historical Society.)

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