Sunday, March 25, 2007

Props to the Hood (Eagle Rock in the New York Times)

Hey check this out...

Looks like Big D and I have done it again. I attribute our ability to snuff out up and coming neighborhoods to poverty and a good eye. When we first moved to Los Angeles, we decided on Los Feliz because of it's proximity to our grad schools, because the bungalow was $600 (the cheapest we could find) and because it had a walkability factor that I was craving after living in Vegas suburbia. This was shortly after the LA riots and people liked to mention this fact to us when we moved there, "You are moving to Los Feliz? You know, the riots came up nearly to there." Or westsiders would say, "Oh, that's east of Hollywood, right?" But I didn't care, I could see the potential for the neighborhood and now look at the Los Feliz/Silverlake area. I'd say I was right.

After getting our MFA's we moved on to the westside. First, to the only dumpy area in Santa Monica, right near the Community College. At the time, this area had been ravaged by the bad rent control policies that ghettoized the apartment complexes. Again, we liked the cheap rent ($800 I think) and there was a little neighborhood yoga studio in walking distance. With changes made to the rental laws and the wild real estate boom in recent years, the area has totally turned around and now it's filled with cute shops and yummy places to eat (like The Counter, which has the best veggie burger ever--and this is a fact that is not open to debate).

Then there was Venice, oh Venice, my favorite place on earth. Our landlords were a married couple that had lived in the area since the beginning of time and had bought their home in the 60's for $6,000, a fact that still beguiles me. They were serious Christians and viewed their work as the lord's work. They would buy bankrupt/foreclosed properties and fix them up, kick out the crack dealers, and then rent them out to upstanding individuals, like myself, thank you very much. I loved that apartment with it's little yard and brand new hardwood floors. They even installed new recessed lighting on dimmer switches for us. I'd buy that place today if it were for sale. Anyway, we all know what happened to Venice. Abbot Kinney is now a second Montana, even, dare I say, 3rd street promenade. And you can't touch a decent house under a mil.

Then it was on to Mar Vista. This was our first foray into real estate. Take yourself back a few years when the market was so hot you could actually see a glow over the West LA sky. Big D just knew we had to get a piece of it. So I somewhat grudgingly went along (I really loved that Venice apartment). We bought a fixer condo in the no man's land area of Mar Vista, the part squished between Venice and Washington blvds. After much blood, sweat, and tears (and I mean this literally) we flipped it two years later for a nice profit. And left behind not only a really cool renovated condo but a funky little neighborhood with stores like, A Mano, Soaptopia, and even a hip coffee house, Venice Grind.

We spent a few months chillin' in Culver City, in a hideout of a cottage I like to refer to as my Innisfree, because it provided the peace I needed to regroup after the condo drama. In the time we moved in and out of Culver City, so much change has happened there that it would take too long to describe. Just check it out next time you are there. Let's just say it's not your parent's dull, dingy, watch the weeds grow boring Culver City of yesteryear, its filled with galleries, boutiques, and bistros--and that wine bar, Bottlerock, which I will try next time I'm in the CC.

So, that takes me to now. Last night, as we sat outside in our very own yard in Eagle Rock, a fire crackling in the fire pit, drinking pinot, and listening to M. Ward, Big D said, "It's been a year since we signed escrow." And it has been quite a year--from the major plumbing work to the birds that prefer to nest in the shingles of our roof than in the multitude of lovely elderly trees. Transitional neighborhoods can have there ups and downs but I love the vitality and the community I have found here and can't wait to see all the changes in the neighborhood come to fruition. This time, I think we'll be here a while.


folkrockgirl said...

Reminds me of the song Come A Long Way by Michelle Shocked.

havemycake said...

you make me miss LA so much...