Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
A Los Angeles blog
from Echo Park

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In the garden of Echo Park

The first I heard of the online literary magazine Gambara came in a link emailed to me a few days ago. The email promised a "gallery" of photographs by Aleida Rodriguez, whose poetry I admire and read for pleasure. Literary writers, like Aleida, are the quiet artists of Echo Park, like ferns. You don't know they're here the way you do the musicians, who make noise, carry around amps and guitar cases and plant themselves at tables at Chango, or the visual artists, who sometimes paint on exterior walls. I went to Gambara's site, and the first thing I learned was that it has ceased "publication." But the photographic series was posted, and it is beautiful -- ordinary pieces of a household defamiliarized, stripped in ribbons and regarded with awe. The site also has an essay by Aleida, "Messages From the Elysian Garden", that is a companion to the pictures. In it Aleida remembers a recent conversation with Mrs. Loredo, an 85-year-old Echo Park neighbor whose pianist daughter once took lessons with Mrs. Joos, a silent films pianist (who lived in EP) and whose first husband, (who lived in EP) Mr Nevarez, was a professional musician for the studios. You get the feeling that it's all silence now for those two individuals, except in the sudden note of their existence in "Elysian Garden," which is, itself, a garden.

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