Death, Life, and Silverlake

Last week Will Campbell made a post about shootings in his neighborhood (mine too). A good number of people, including myself, were really impressed with the post and the comments on that post reflect that. Being all about equal opportunity views when I found this post I knew I had to point it out. Rodrigo’s Pension wasn’t so impressed and lays out his reasons for it. I think he misunderstood the post and thought Will was suggesting that this is some kind of a new thing. I didn’t get that, I read Will just making some comments since he moved here, not saying these are new events to the neighborhood.

“The gangs on this side of town-namely SL13, 18th Street-have been here as long as the hipsters. Neither holds eminence. Along with the gay community, we all coexist. I hear close shots, I see helicopters directly overhead, and I’ve been privy to some gnarly shit, but I’m not maudlin over it.”

You can, and should, read the rest of his thoughts, some of which you might agree with and some not. His final point though, is pretty hard to argue with, and is probably one of the reasons many of us have chosen this neighborhood to call home:

“Whatever. All I’m saying is I’d rather live next door to a dude with some sketchy sources of income that doesn’t fuck with me than some dickbag producer who calls the cops when my dog barks.”

CategoriesUncategorized

6 Replies to “Death, Life, and Silverlake”

  1. Thanks for pointing out Rodrigo’s post. Below if the comment I left on his blog:

    Hello Rodrigo,
    I can agree that dwelling on the dark stuff that happens around us does no good, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a “waste of time to sit around lamenting over it.” I think it’s important to shine a spotlight on it, which is what I tried to do in my post at Blogging.la.

    I do need to clarify your misperception that I somehow suggest these are recent developments. They are “recent” in that they’ve happened in the period since I came to live where I do. But as I wrote, my connection with the neighborhoods and its gangs goes back to the early 1980s when I was in high school delivering newspapers. I’m only all to well aware that the five deaths I wrote about are the latest in a long line of violent crimes. And that there’s more to come.

    I’m not sure if you consider me naive because you’ve already judged me to be one of those pale-faced latte suckers riding the vanguard of the “real gentrification” you warn about. If so there’s nothing I can do or say to counter such a built-in bias except to express my regret that you feel that way.

  2. This pale-faced latte sucker has roots in Silverlake going back 101 years and counting, including 3 generations going to Ivanhoe and Marshall. True– the area has always been mixed (don’t forget the Japanese-Americans who farmed the flowers in the Fernwood Dell and along Los Feliz in the late 20’s and 30’s), but relatively quiet. This current spate of violence has been steadily increasing for the last 20 years. Interesting(non-sequitur) fact @ Silverlake: several houses were Marxist cells in the 30’s and 40’s–now owned by pale-faced latte suckers, no doubt.

  3. As a news junkie weaned on the NY Times, I was surprised to discover upon moving way out West at how isolated Californians are from any news outside the leather interiors of their squeaky-clean BMWs and period-perfect Craftsman homes. No one here can be bothered with the news when the surf is up, another dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts are “hot now” and the next A-list party is about to kick off. I mean, the news – real news with real and often unhappy endings – just sucks the wind right outta our care-free California lifestyles.

    Of course, that’s not true across the board (some of us still devour the news, whether it’s from the online edition of the NY Times, the entertainment-laced pages of Variety or KTLA’s Hal Fishman), but in many ways Californians – and Angelenos in particular – are able to seal themselves off from the world at large, perhaps because we live in such a self-contained and wannabe-perfect society. We can shield ourselves in UV-protected plastic bubbles and never leave ‘em.

    But, life seems different in Silver Lake, where the gritty real world and the hope for a more idyllic life seem to collide. On leisurely strolls around a glimmering man-made lake, with eucalyptus trees and great blue herons soaring overhead, you can almost forget that you’re in the middle of one of America’s largest cities – but drive a mile or two in any direction and you’ll pass gang graffiti, homeless encampments, urban squalor and, once or twice every few weeks, the taped-off scene of yet another violent crime. Luckily, you can step on the gas pedal and most of those sights will disappear behind you, like magic.

    The dirty truth of our urban world, however, remains uncovered for all to gaze upon whether in a fleeting glance or in a fixed and mesmerized stare. It’s more a question of what you’re prepared to deal with on that morning jog, drive to work or afternoon errand. Do we look at what’s around us or feign disinterest and run/drive away?

    In Silver Lake, and many of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, the reality of the world we live in is not hidden behind ivy-covered gates or newly built multi-use business centers. Instead, residents, business owners and the area’s many other stakeholders go about their lives right next to the unsavory characters (e.g., gangstas, homeless, drug dealers, etc.) who tend to tarnish the “silver lining” of an aging, perhaps gentrifying, neighborhood that’s still proud enough to show itself in the bright afternoon sun, warts, blemishes, scar tissue and all.

    But, hey, it’s nothing a good make-up artist or marketing professional couldn’t fix. And one of them is probably sipping a latté next to you right now.

  4. As a news junkie weaned on the NY Times, I was surprised to discover upon moving way out West at how isolated Californians are from any news outside the leather interiors of their squeaky-clean BMWs and period-perfect Craftsman homes. No one here can be bothered with the news when the surf is up, another dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts are “hot now” and the next A-list party is about to kick off. I mean, the news – real news with real and often unhappy endings – just sucks the wind right outta our care-free California lifestyles.

    Of course, that’s not true across the board (some of us still devour the news, whether it’s from the online edition of the NY Times, the entertainment-laced pages of Variety or KTLA’s Hal Fishman), but in many ways Californians – and Angelenos in particular – are able to seal themselves off from the world at large, perhaps because we live in such a self-contained and wannabe-perfect society. We can shield ourselves in UV-protected plastic bubbles and never leave ‘em.

    But, life seems different in Silver Lake, where the gritty real world and the hope for a more idyllic life seem to collide. On leisurely strolls around a glimmering man-made lake, with eucalyptus trees and great blue herons soaring overhead, you can almost forget that you’re in the middle of one of America’s largest cities – but drive a mile or two in any direction and you’ll pass gang graffiti, homeless encampments, urban squalor and, once or twice every few weeks, the taped-off scene of yet another violent crime. Luckily, you can step on the gas pedal and most of those sights will disappear behind you, like magic.

    The dirty truth of our urban world, however, remains uncovered for all to gaze upon whether in a fleeting glance or in a fixed and mesmerized stare. It’s more a question of what you’re prepared to deal with on that morning jog, drive to work or afternoon errand. Do we look at what’s around us or feign disinterest and run/drive away?

    In Silver Lake, and many of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, the reality of the world we live in is not hidden behind ivy-covered gates or newly built multi-use business centers. Instead, residents, business owners and the area’s many other stakeholders go about their lives right next to the unsavory characters (e.g., gangstas, homeless, drug dealers, etc.) who tend to tarnish the “silver lining” of an aging, perhaps gentrifying, neighborhood that’s still proud enough to show itself in the bright afternoon sun, warts, blemishes, scar tissue and all.

    But, hey, it’s nothing a good make-up artist or marketing professional couldn’t fix. And one of them is probably sipping a latté next to you right now.

  5. We are so defensive of our latte drinking. Will, I posted a comment on your original post and on my own blog.

    As for Molly, I think we all know it’s the Scottish we need to get out of Silver Lake, once and for all.

Comments are closed.