Neighborhood are complicated organisms – like a marriage or a human body, they can get better and worse at the same time as some aspects wax, others wane. That seems to be the case with Eagle Rock, the Northeast LA hood I’ve written about a few times, most controversially with this 2009 New York Times piece about the impact of the recession.
Overall, of course, the Los Angeles economy has remained grim. A number of the places I wrote about back then – hipster thrift shop Regeneration, stationery/gift shop Paper – have folded. The Big Blue Heeler space on Eagle Rock Blvd. has still not been occupied. I do more and more of my hanging out in Highland Park – The York pub, Café de Leche -- where rents seem to be substantially lower than they are on Colorado Blvd, allowing independent businesses to take off.
Other things have improved or at least arrived in Eagle Rock. Old Focals, with its retro eyeglasses and excellent design, is a welcome addition to the old Paper space. Four Café, on the same block, is my favorite new restaurant – fresh and seasonal ingredients turned into affordable sandwiches and salads. Very cool, accessible owners – there almost every night -- and some of the best desserts in town. Café Cacao, over by the Trader Joe’s, is non-obvious Mexican food – duck carnitas, excellent cactus salsa.
Some old favorites, like Colorado Wine Co., continue strong business, and the owners, John and Jen Nugent, they tell me, will open a bar dedicated to craft beers in Echo Park sometime early next year.
Last but not least: Last Saturday’s Eagle Rock Music Festival was a blast. In fact, it was so well attended I thought for a moment I must be in New York, London or a city more familiar with huge street fairs. (It's always a shock to see street closures in car-obsessed LA.) How many thousands of people was that gathering around the dub djs, the rockabilly bands, the trucks selling tacos and slices, signing up for local groups and greeting friends?
I must admit I saw just a tiny bit of most musical offerings, but caught a few deliciously Byrdsy songs by LA band Darker My Love.
One sad note: I’ve been so remiss in going to Auntie Em’s that I’ve lost track a bit of the staff at this funky bakery/café. The other day, stopping by to get sandwiches for the Pavement Hollywood Bowl concert, I found out that Jody Nauhaus, the enthusiastic cheese-monger, has returned to Arizona.
Jody is such a connoisseur of goat, sheep and cow’s milk cheeses she even made your (mildly) lactose intolerant correspondent into a lover of the wares of Cowgirl Creamery, Rogue and others. Jody was also an early admirer of my little son, born in 2006, from back in the day when we were there every week or so. Auntie Em’s will continue to be a wonderful place, but Jody will be sorely missed