Recently, a little after 7 a.m. on a fine cool Los Angeles Winter morning, I found myself on Hoover Street a little South of Vernon. If you know the area, or areas like it, you won’t be surprised to hear that at that time of day there were tamaleras everywhere. At major intersections, of course, and also near schools, selling tamales y champurrado for breakfast. You can see a picture somewhere near this sentence that I took while waiting my turn in line.
The whole scene is entirely social. There are grandmothers buying a dozen at a time to take home, people on their ways to work buying two or three for breakfast, maybe for lunch too, and schoolkids buying singles to eat while they walk.1 The tamalera creates a little bubble of warm sociability around her, momentarily protecting those inside from the chill of the foggy damp onshore flow.
This doesn’t happen only on the streets of South Los Angeles, of course. Last month Gustavo Arellano published a lovely article in the New Yorker entitled The Comfort of Tamales At The End Of 2017 about the significant social role of this ancient food2 in Mexican-American culture. And you can feel that sociability strongly while waiting in line to buy tamales on an L.A. street in the morning.
Due to some kind-hearted click bait3 bestowed by loyal FOMs Esotouric, my colleagues’ recent post on the resurgence of the long-dormant proposed Echo Park Business Improvement District has turned out to be one of our most popular posts of 2016. The colleagues left out some absolutely essential information and so I’m following up on their behalves. Also I used the whole situation as an excuse to ride the 704 Eastbound to Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Blvd. to check out the situation on the ground.
First the essential info: This thing is on the agenda for the Economic Development Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 10, in room 1010 in City Hall. You can go tell them what you think about it. Unfortunately I have other commitments, and I’m sure approval is a foregone conclusion, but there’s the info if you want it.
Second, as you can see from the images accompanying this post, if the BID’s approved a lot of stuff is going to change out there. They’re going to chase off taco trucks. BIDs hate taco trucks with a passion that’s hard to understand. They even, believe it or not, hate taco trucks parked on private property. Showing an astonishing ignorance of the rights of property owners in a free society, they’ve been known to express amazement that they’re not against the law.
Last night a few of us MK.org staffies were blessed to attend something called a house concert at someone’s home in Van Nuys. This is, as you might guess, a concert in someone’s house. The audience donates money to get in and the money all goes to the musicians. There was food at the break for free, but with donations accepted. We found out about this by chance, and soon discovered that it’s not a one-off thing or even just some local eccentricity, but part of a full-blown fricking nationwide movement! Also, these people in Van Nuys have been doing this about once a week for, we believe, more than twenty years. We’re going to be vague about the details because the whole thing is certainly illegal and we don’t want to be the ones to tip off the heat, but nevertheless it’s all operating suprisingly openly.
Here’s the deal. Some people we met at a show in Silver Lake1 the other day told us that this thing was happening and where to find contact info on the web. We looked it up, emailed the contact, phoned the contact, were told the address, took the Red Line to North Hollywood and the Orange Line to Van Nuys and then walked over to an actual normal house on a normal street in the Valley. You can see from the images what we found there, and the music was fabulous, and we met a bunch of very interesting people. I mean, we’re as opposed in theory to vicious criminal conspiracies as the next folks, but this one had really positive results! We’re as in favor in theory of governments of laws rather than of men as the next folks, but damn it, this whole thing was just too wonderful to seriously be illegal. And what does this have to do with the BIDs? Why, we’re glad you asked! Turn the page to find out. Continue reading Music, Freedom, Sharing, Love, Humanity: All Flourish Unhindered by Creepy Zillionaire Social Engineers in Not-So-Rare BID-Free Zone in the Valley; Contradictions Regarding Street Vending Heightened Beyond Sane Believability→
The Vine Street Tree Vandal was a topic of conversation at the November 11, 2014 meeting of the Sunset-Vine BID as he or she has been for so very long now.1 Sarah Besley reported that, despite her announcement last month of an imminent arrest, the tree vandalism continues.
Just as she did last month, Besley claims that there will be “more to report next time.” You can see even earlier discussion of the Tree Vandal in boffo security king Steve Seyler’s reports to the Joint Security Committee. The investigation has been about to produce results for an awfully long time now. If we hadn’t seen the damage with our own eyes we’d be starting to wonder if the Tree Vandal might not be named Emmanuel Goldstein.
Like many superfluous, quasi-criminal, quasi-public institutions, the BIDs of Los Angeles are terrified that people will notice they’re a dangerous nuisance and proceed to abolish them. One symptom of this anxiety is a craving for academic justification stronger than the craving of tweakers for meth.
So one rich guy calls another rich guy and soon enough the RAND Corporation of Santa Monica, California, mostly famous for paying cold warrior par excellence Herman Kahn to analyze potential preemptive nuclear strikes on China while under the influence of LSD,1 has prepared a report on how beneficial the existence of BIDs is to the city of Los Angeles. TL;DR: Confuse correllation with causation and the tune that was called by the piper-payer ends up played by the piper.
We decided that we were going to do some research of our own. Luckily, the existence of a small sliver of land surrounding Olympic Boulevard between Central and Stanford is not claimed by any BID and thus allows us to analyze how beneficial the nonexistence of BIDs is to the city of Los Angeles. We obtained a small private grant and set out into the field.2 We think you’ll be interested in our results. Continue reading Exuberance, Freedom, Commerce, Blossom in Rare DTLA BID-free Zone→
Business Improvement Districts in Los Angeles — Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down!