Ode to Melrose

Today, Melrose Avenue stands as one of the longest and most famous stretches of independently owned and operated retailers in the world. Consequently, it does not weather the regular economic downturn of the business cycle in the same way commercial enterprises such as The Grove, The Beverly Center or Third Street Promenade do, nor does it adapt as quickly as smaller independent shopping areas like West Third Street, Los Feliz or Abbot Kinney.

From a piece that ran here in response to an L.A. Times business story from September 2010 that said Melrose couldn’t hack it in a rough economy. Not to mention, according to the piece, Melrose is falling off in other ways:

Although store owners blame the recession for their woes, others contend that Melrose’s problems go deeper than the economy. They say the shopping district has fallen from its glory days because of an increasingly run-down feel, restrictive parking measures and an excess of shops all selling the same poorly made apparel from downtown L.A.’s Fashion District.

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Bunker Hill in the L.A. night

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From Bunker Hill Towers, a place I would not want to call home when the ground rolls, I could always see the eastside of Downtown encroaching me. There’s a sky bridge that connects the Bunker Hill apts. with the World Trade Center and I would walk across the traffic on Flower and Fig. The bridge is part of a system of Downtown L.A. pedestrian skywalks. Your feet never have to touch ground if you’re just going for a Subway sandwich at the Bonaventure. Wonder what Fante would have thought?

He might agree that the traffic-jumping bridge doesn’t change the overall problem of how that section of L.A. has carved its space. During the day it was all office workers getting exercise, or taking a shortcut to lunch. At night it’s another crowd, once, I saw two transsexuals taking night photos with the L.A. skyline as the backdrop. Another night, a homeless man taking advantage of lax security below and enjoying a brown paper bagged tall boy near the spiral staircase.

For more on Downtown L.A.’s historic Bunker Hill, check out this local blog. A Boston site has this forum post with pictures that capture Bunker Hill in the daylight.

California Sunshine: L.A. L.A.

Big City of Dreams

For all my family and friends on the East Coast enduring crazy weather this weekend, just remember, L.A. She keeps you safe and warm; like in California Dreamin´.

Click on the picture of the skyline and take a quick drive through downtown L.A.  of the early 70s, in the opening minutes of  Steven Spielberg´s Duel (1971), courtesy of Google Video.

Photo of downtown Los Angeles taken from top of L.A. Times Spring St. garage, 2008.

Another L.A. Crip on the Grind

“Born in the 80s, raised in the Sixties”: Nipsey Hussle gives some background on gang ties and who he may or may not see as an “enemy” on the street in a two-part interview with Streetgangs.com’s  Alex Alonso.

C-Boy from Harlem (not the  Uptown locale, but Jefferson Park) called me once about 5 months ago to tell me about Thundercat from the 60s.  His grind had been paying off for a while and he was ready to take his rap game corporate.

Nipsey Hussle is the rap name of the aforementioned hood star from 60s, pictured in the video above, who says he’s never seen Kurupt on the block. He  considers him a D.P.G only.

Hussle still has a lot to prove. If the son of a Black mother and an Eritreanfather can pick up where Game left off, then he’s in good shape. But just like the Game, he needs some radio- friendly hook-happy hits to push his star along. Because these days, the biggest news out of L.A. hiphop is going to be how a Utah high school wasn’t gangster enough for G. Malone.

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