Category Archives: Echo Park

The Fargo Climb

Down the street from us was the yearly Fargo Climb (Fargo is a street in Echo Park). The bikers have to go up the entire incline without letting their feet touch the ground. Fargo is not only the steepest incline in LA, I’ve been told that it’s the steepest in California. People who complete the first round do it again and again and the person who does it the most times wins.


What’s In A Name?

I was taking Jack out for his morning constitutional and strolled up Oak Glen. It began to bother me that there was neither a Glen (which is a “secluded narrow valley”) nor an Oak tree in sight. Only a sign that said NOT A THROUGH STREET, not a thorough sign, but [to be fair]…a thoroughfare it was and we both passed unto a staircase named Fair Oak View which upon it’s ascension (about as high as you can see in Los Angeles) offered many sights…but views of oaks it had not [as it had unFAIRly promoted]. However, I could see my house clear as day.

We live on Loma Vista so I suppose it is fitting that the Loma (which is Spanish for “knoll” which in English means “a small hill”) indeed had a “vista” for any peeping tom with binoculars to see all the goings-on on our back porch, which we previously had thought of as rather private (this in English is the word for “naive”). But moving on and that’s just what we did.

Fair Oak View topped out on to a road called Edendale Place which got me thinking about how old this road must be as Edendale is no longer a place at all. And this made me have a geographical identity crisis. For I don’t know where I really am. But I know where I was. Edendale got lost somewhere in north Echo Park, easterly Silverlake, south Elysian Valley. The I-5 and CA-2 really wreaked havoc on the neighborhood’s sense of community with it’s network of rolling hills and steep staircase access-only homes.

Maybe I live Allesandro Valley-adjacent (what was once called Frogtown) a town largely eliminated via gangs and freeways. More romantically, was this not once the infamous “Red Gulch” (aka Mt. Moscow or Lenin’s Hill) so known for the scores of Socialists, Communists, and leftists of all stripes that called my home theirs in the 30′s and 40′s until McCarthyism had scared Hollywood into firing or blacklisting film directors and screenwriters alike. I suppose it may have been easier for artists and writers. So, they eventually either split for places like Venice or stayed and raised their kids here (these children are colloquially known as “red diaper babies“). You can watch a three minute clip from a local movie about those times by clicking the image below:

It wasn’t only the pinkos that gave the area it’s local color (largely Red) but the religious utopians too.

(Talk about groups that makes ME see red!)

There were sects like the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists incorporated in 1905 who subdivided the hillside to sell the lots to their members. Fellowship Parkway, a staircase street also founded by a religious group. The Holyland Exhibition, still owns a number of lots on Lake View Ave., Silver Ridge Ave. and Allesandro Way. All of these groups placed a high value on the environment, planting trees and lush gardens that are still appreciated today.

Almost the entire paragraph above I lifted from a great website called Semi-Tropic Spiritualists Tract (perhaps THAT’S the name I should choose to call my neighborhood. Clunky yes, but it’s the closest to where I actually live. In fact, one of the photos on it actually shows our house:

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This picture is from 1923, but I believe the house was built in 1914 or 1917. Mandy said largely as houses for film industry types…and btw, around the early to mid-teens there really was no Hollywood proper…films were shot either downtown or in the now non-existent Edendale). All the really old studios are at the end of AllesandroSelig, Keystone, Bison, Fox and other small long-forgotten ones.

Chaplin, Arbuckle and others used to walk down these very streets. The Keystone Cops used to barrel down these steep hills in countless chase films. Nearby streets like Fargo and Baxter have some of the most dizzying heights to be found in these parts outside of San Francisco. In those days, this was the suburbs.

There is another (to me) fascinating website in addition to the one I mentioned called Corralites Red Car Property which is all about the valley where the 2 Freeway is and how it once was where the Glendale Red Car line ran through. Both these websites are about as local as it gets.

Perhaps THAT’S what I’ll call my neighborhood, the former Corralites Red Car Property.

Gosh…I’m not more clear than when I started and I think Jack wants to get back home now, so the search for where I live shall remain to be continued another day.

In Contrast

If you look the previous post with the picture of me in front of the Echo Park Lotus beds in 2004, it is with sadness that I show you the same spot in 2008 here.

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In fact, the only semblance of a anything I could find was ONE PLANT sticking it’s feeble head up to the surface. (I’m not even sure it’s a lotus plant either)!

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I don’t know who to blame…but I’m pissed.

Later in the evening…there was a party in our backyard. Some photos were taken early on (no good shots though). We have nice night lighting…bright (yet atmospheric) from a spot hanging high in the tree.

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Jack couldn’t be downstairs…so he looked on (with sadness) from the upstairs porch.

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Dogs and Underground Legends

Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less. One is always living a little more or dying a little bit“.
Norman Mailer

So Saturday, I ended up going with Brian and Mandy to see famed underground filmmaker George Kuchar talk and show some films at Machine Project. Of course…he has made a zillion films and is quite entertaining. You can watch several at UbuWeb. His films have changed over the years. He showed recent stuff for us (but is most famous for 1966′s “Hold Me While I’m Naked“). This was in conjunction with this other “underground cinema” installation where you had to watch site specific videos through holes in the floor.

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On Sunday…hung out by “the river” walking Jack and being lazy with Amanda.

Here are a few photos:

And lastly a new video from the New Pornographers called “Challengers” (featuring the lovely Neko Case on lead vocals). Click David Letterman to see it!

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