You, and Your Privilege…

Guess it’s a good thing we don’t live in Highland Park. We may have to take our own lives as penance.

Along our secret stair hike...
Things we saw on our secret stair hike…
The world before the return of white people
…the world before the return of white people




We wondered if this was the offending act of gentrification. A traditional bodega putting on airs: gourmet coffee, a juice bar, vegan options, a wine list and spot lighting.


Highland B0wl is pretty rustic on the outside. Unfortunately, the lanes were closed for a private event.  There was a doorman and a velvet rope.  There’s a clue.

With a little sleuthing we found a craft cocktail bar tucked away behind the bowling alley.   Enticingly, it offered a dog-friendly courtyard.


We ordered something with fernet. It cost $15.  Frigging delicious.  Strike three. It’s official. We is gentrifying!

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I don’t know who this white lady is, but she seemed to be enjoying herself unrepentantly.  Shame!

Amy to Austin, With Love

Her last night at Macleod...
Her last night at Macleod…

She’s taking her Punter’s Club mug, ring tone laugh and Indiana niceness with her. Also, the red hair, the maxi dresses and her peripatetic, public book-reading way. The full Amy.


That’s not fair.  She’s going for the right reason.  Love, the only permissible rationale for abandoning our beloved working class brigadoon of Van Nuys.   In five years we will be Highland Park, and everyone in this photo will be regaling the newcomers with anecdotes, but for now the Nuys is still so un-cool, it’s actually cool to be here.

And Amy?  Enjoying the full measure of happiness she extended to everyone else.

Field trip to York Avenue

A Yelp review in process
A Yelp review in process

“You need to stop writing right now and you need to put on your shoes and leash up the dog and we need to go to Highland Park right now and have a vegan donut.”

“Now, now? Or soon now?”

“Now. We have to celebrate my NEH grant.”

“Didn’t we already do that?”

“I want to re-celebrate.    Justin loves this place.

Just like that, my Sunday was shot.

Justin is one of Mrs. Upinthevalley’s vegan Yelp friends. When Justin comments, Mrs. U delights.  I am dragged around town by another man’s whimsy.

The donuts were as promised: vegan, gluten-free (allegedly) and invaded the pleasure points of the mouth like the Marines taking Omaha Beach.  The battle was bloody and brief, but decisive.  Normally given to portion control, she emerged from the store with a box of three, and we dispatched them without restraint.  Note the fingers of her right hand vainly clutching previously consumed remnants.

We had reached the point in the afternoon where post-hypothalamic regret frequently sets in.  Oft-heard phrases include:  “That was disgusting,”  “I hate myself,” and “I’m never eating (that) again.”

Not today.

“Lets walk this off and get another. How many miles do you think that would take?”

Mrs. U, NEH-winner, master teacher, ModCloth brand representative, reduced in three donuts to a family car-pawning crackhead picking through the pipe residue for another hit.

Is that the blueberry one?
Is that blueberry?

So we set out on foot through Highland Park, a neighborhood we had once dismissed as too ghetto to buy a house in. Which in retrospect we must have gotten confused with Glassell Park.  This side of Mt. Washington is another world.   The comparisons to Van Nuys were dismaying to say the least.  Let the self-loathing begin:

Historic preservation
Historic preservation, for starters
Bespoke masonry
Bespoke masonry
Bike parking spaces, with cozies
Bike parking spaces, with cozies
DIY wisdom


This picture says it all. Even the weed sprouting from the crack in the sidewalk isn’t really a weed, rather a pricey decorative grass of the type one sees fronting higher-end remodeling.

Guess what we didn’t see.  Tagging.  Swap meet stalls. Winos, methadone addicts and parolees.

The only thing standing between Van Nuys Blvd. and York Avenue is five years of civic leadership.  Oh, wait…


Why even go there?  Let’s resume our happy perambulation through Hipsterville East:


That’s more like it.