One of my more pleasant addictions is to the fruit sold by vendors all over this side of town in quilted-aluminum push carts with umbrellas. They always seem to be manned, so to speak, by young men (what, women can't handle a machete-like fruit knife?) from Mexico. I like the cart at Echo Park Ave. and Sunset because of its location. I make a deal on which fruit and which price with whichever young man has been stationed there that day (usually, pineapple, jicama, cantaloup and cucumber) -- and he serves it in a plastic bag with lime, salt and hot pepper, Mexican style, I believe. At $3 it's relatively cheap. The dude probably works for less than he should -- just like the fruit and flower sellers all over town -- but the cart is clean, and it's a service I value. It's not as if I could walk into Vons and come out with the same product. It may not be organic, but it is the best kind of fast food.
Then, last night, I opened my email and received the following report from a friend of mine, who owns a business on Sunset Boulevard.
Hi Jenny, I thought I'd pass along this disconcerting event I witnessed today. The police and a bunch of thugs were rounding up the fruit vendors on the corner of Echo Park and Sunset. The Senora who sells the napoles was devastated. She was weeping and shaking uncontrollably while the cops and the "enforcers" surrounded her and the other vendors. I watched until a truck came and took all their wares, fruit and equipment and carted it away. They are just trying to make a living. When I asked why it was happening the cop said that it was "requested" by Eric Garcetti. I put a call into Mitch who I know in the CD 13 office and he said he knew nothing about it. It was an ugly scene. Especially the vendor task force folks who are rather "unsophisticated." I mean those vendors have been there for as long as I remember and are as much a part of the neighborhood as Pioneer Market (oh yeah that's gone). Lets hope that this little bit of character isn't wiped off our map too.
To be honest the lake has turned into a swap meet. Its relatively new but the folks on the corners are part of the landscape around here. I mean fruit, snacks, hot dogs fine. Tube socks? uh, no.
When I spoke to Eric G's office Mitch did seem somewhat sympathetic but also intimated that they do this once or twice a year. I'm willing to bet its local businesses but the cops there said it was requested by the CD13 office.
So, I guess this makes Chicken Corner a criminal accessory to fruit crime -- the crime of a nice, clean fruit cart and chopped pineapple, with lime, salt and pepper at a corner with heavy foot traffic and four bus stops.