Since I’m not one to stand on ceremony, I’m already inviting friends to come visit the temporary quarters my husband and I have set up at the house we’re remodeling. The house sits on the fringe of a newly declared historic district.
One of the things we like so much about this new neighborhood is that developers and homeowners are restoring the old homes to their original grandeur and the gentrification of the neighborhood is amazing to behold: beautiful craftsmen homes; grand, old Spanish styles; clapboard traditionals. There’s not a bastardized architectural style or grand manse amongst them. What a treat!
“You’re really east,” seems to be the common reaction when friends first arrive, “of Robertson.”
Ah, Robertson. The meridian dividing point for what is West Los Angeles. The Greenwich line of the universe–that is so L.A. So while the old ‘hood was just smack off the Sunset Strip at Doheny (technically east of Robertson), we have finally and officially become residents of Hollywood since moving to East of Fairfax.
“No, I mean really east,” my oldest and first friend in L.A. said to me today as we were sitting at one of the fabulous new breakfast cafes that have opened in this burgeoning area. We met what seems like a lifetime ago when we first moved to L.A., and were living in the Marina and Venice, respectively. “Is the ocean still there?” I asked her wickedly.
At our sidewalk table (prime café real estate), an irate homeless man interrupted our conversation after we refused his request to put money into the baseball hat he was carrying–for the bus ride home, he said. We told him to come back after we’d paid our check but he wasn’t biting.
His apparent unhappiness with us snowballed into a bit of a ruckus when the other five tables of occupants refused his request. He was cursing, spitting–all the good stuff.
The police arrived moments later, obviously summoned by the café owner. “Call us if he comes back,” they said, powerless to do anything since he’d gone. “Our homeless are so quiet,” my friend said. “You don’t even notice them in Santa Monica or Beverly Hills.” So Westside. Is this what it means to be east in L.A.?
“East?” a friend who lives in the furthest east (in Montecito Heights with a view from Dodger Stadium to Catalina) laughed at me when I asked for his definition. “We are east.”
“But is Pasadena east?” I asked.
“Definitely not,” he replied.
“Downtown?” I meekly suggested.
He gives me a look like we’re talking about a new tract out in the Newhall Ranch. Has the urbanization of Los Angeles made the Westside stretch all the way to downtown?
“Have you seen the prices they’re quoting on those proposed condominiums on lower Broadway that they mentioned in yesterday’s Times?” he asked me. So suburban. Recently, the sale of the Dodgers was speculated to be a real estate deal–not the sale of a baseball team. Ten thousand homes have been proposed in Chavez Ravine.
“East is a state of mind,” a knowing friend told me later when I asked the question. Like in “Back East” (you know you’re referring to New York City). “East in L.A. is when the neighborhood is a little rough around the edges. Not someplace you want your car to breakdown or you would stop to have a beer where a neon sign says ‘bar’ in the window.”
“The Arclight has been my movie theater since it opened last year,” I said when I called back this morning. She’s not biting. “It’s at least 10 minutes more,” she responded. Ten minutes.
My husband says tell it to the Westside real estate section of Sunday’s Los Angeles Times. They’re listing houses for sale in Burbank and Glendale. East is a state of mind.
Julie Brosterman is a consultant to the real estate technology, mortgage and servicing industries. After she spent 15 years in the title insurance industry, the Internet “spoke” to her and she has never looked back. She lives in Los Angeles and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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