Cult classic Little Shop of Horrors got it right when they described downtown...
Downtown...Where the folks are broke.
Downtown...Where your life's a joke.
Downtown...When you buy your token,
you go...Home to skid row.
And here in Los Angeles, downtown still fits this description better than the downtown area of any other city I've visited.
Efforts to revitalize the area, made by neighborhood councils, development companies, and local businesses include frequent events meant to make downtown's new and desirable residents feel like there is indeed a community there--that they are not alone in their expensive lofts. That despite the remaining missions and shopping cart communities, the lack of schools or health facilities, the absence of all but one supermarket, they live in a vibrant, artistic, thriving neighborhood. On weekends like this past one, you almost believe they hype.
In honor of 'Repeal Day'--this year the 75th marker since the end of prohibition--Dewar's celebrated all around Downtown, a neighborhood where the brand has really made its mark. We attended the private party held by Dewar's at Seven Grand, Downtown nightlife empasario, Sed Moses' whisky bar. Complimentary hats, boas, whisky (courtesy of Dewar's), food (courtesy of Casey's Irish Pub), music (courtesy of DJ Daisy O and Foreign Born and others), and comedy was served.
Fun fact: Whisky can apparently be spelled 2 ways. I always assumed it was spelled with an 'e,' as in whiskey. On Friday, I noticed that all of Dewar's collateral spells it without the 'e,' as in whisky. In an effort to be open-minded, I've begun spelling it the latter way.
Not so fun fact: Apparently Irish food consists of very little vegetarian fare, as I discovered on Friday night when even the vegetables were wrapped in meat. Hence, my leaving early, before the fun was finished.
Last night, we travelled downtown again for the Old Bank District's holiday block party. Hosted by Gilmore Associates, the development company that essentially owns the entire district and Little Radio, the downtown music and party staple, the evening was a coming together of the restaurants, arts community and musical curators of the area. A light installation, pictured left added a festive feel to the streets.
Take a look closer and notice the parking restrictions that make having a car in Downtown such a pleasure. I guess this would be the optimum moment to plug the DASH. But seeing as I've never rode public transportation in LA, that would make me feel like a big, fat liar.
We popped into Bar 107, where I discovered for the first time, the incredibly kitschy and fun back room, complete with a van door-framed bar.
We stopped into one of the local gallery spaces where a cigarette-girl type accompanied one of the pieces. She was selling $10 chocolate bars, promising that one of the bars contained a 'golden ticket' that would win me the entire installation. The installation was comprised of a grafitied wall, cardboard boxes and, well, her. Ah, downtown arts.
Leaving the well-lit streets of the Old Bank District we headed further East into the less-developed Industrial District where architecture students and hobos still reign supreme. On a little block of 3rd Street, a few businesses have popped up, adding a glimmer of commercialism and tasty eats to an otherwise bleak area.
Upon leaving our darling friend Jackie's birthday party at Blue Dahlia Cafe, we encountered a homeless man pissing on the corner of a parked Prius. This is the downtown LA's known for years. This is the downtown LA that is being hidden behind street fests and sushi restaurants. Hey, if I were a bum that had been bussed here only to have a luxury loft condo built on my block a decade later...I might piss on your hybrid too.
Photo credits: Doo-wop girls - Little Shop of Horrors, Photos 2, 3, 4, 5 - Jessie B. R.