Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Fear and Loathing In Echo Park

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, for my sister and I this weekend, it was the chicken in form of chicken tikka masala and coconut curry at a friend's house in the Hollywood Hills. Little did we know the egg was still to come.

My sister was visiting from San Diego, and I had several birthdays to celebrate. (And more to come - you damn Aquarians!) The main part of our evening was to be spent in Echo Park at the Short Stop, a bar once owned by an ex-cop (or so legend goes) which was sold after the Rampart police scandal. The scandal involved the "discovery" that a bunch of corrupt LAPD officers were falsely arresting people, dealing drugs, giving perjured testimony and framing innocent people. Stuff like that. Very L.A. Confidential.

Anyway, the Shorty was a cop hangout till that happened (there are bulletholes in the walls somewhere, but it's too dark to see them). Then a couple years ago, some hip, young, music industry types bought the place and made it cool for hip, young folks. These were all great guys who just love a good dive and a good time, and that's the kind of place the Shorty is today.

So my sister and I parked about two blocks down the street, and got out of my car to start our little jaunt up the hill. We were barely past the car when there was a whizzing noise and a slam, and I was hit on the side of my chest with something. This is scary in Echo Park, because it isn't the safest of neighborhoods. There used to be a lot of gang activity and the nearby lake would get dredged regularly for missing persons. My sister and I both yelled, barely noticing a car that had also raced past. "Fuck, that hurt!" I yelled, holding my side. "Was that ice? It looked like a snowball or something." My sister looked around, "Shit, I think it was an egg." "What?" She looked at my jacket and goes, "Wow, I guess it just ricocheted off you onto the wall. Lucky it didn't break or you'd be really nasty right now!" She found this pretty funny, but that's a sister for you. Actually, since I hadn't been shot, I found it pretty funny too. But weird - I didn't think people got egged anymore. it seemed so '78 or something. Maybe even '68. But what do I know?

There were signs of the evil-doers all the way to the bar. Just another Saturday night in Echo Park? Oh no, it happens on Mondays too. At least, this past Monday.

I met some friends at the Echo, a live music/ dance venue also in Echo Park, surrounded by a cultural center, some quickie Mexican food places and thrift stores. Stuff like that. I went to see two terrific local bands - the Electromagnetic and Helen Stellar. It was a good crowd, really into the dream pop these kids from the school of rockin' shoegaze were playing. Even Cameron Crowe (aka Mrs. Nancy Wilson) was there, cozied up to the bar and swaying to Helen Stellar. A girl in the audience went up to thank him for Say Anything and Almost Famous, and asked him if he knew the band, and he responded that he was a big fan. Go Cameron - a true music lover, that guy.

On my way back out to the car, I saw fresh evidence of fowl play on the sidewalks and walls. It seems as if the culprits were still at large. Grade AA large, by the looks of it.