The New York Times profiled my block of La Brea Avenue this week. They lavished long-distance praise on the “more than a dozen trendy new restaurants and boutiques selling home goods and fashions from up-and-coming designers” I pass by every day. It gave me an urban nightmare.
When I discovered it, the article in question rendered me speechless. I turned my laptop to my co-worker. “Look at this,” I motioned, the color draining from face. She squinted and then laughed—hard. “Oh my god, you have to move now,” she said. I just stared back. I felt hot. It’s possible I was in shock. Once I could think again, I had questions: Did Venice locals feel so queasy when GQ decried Abbot Kinney “the coolest block in America”? Did Silver Lakers have such dread when Forbes called their home “America’s best hipster neighborhood”? Were Downtowners so full of worry when the New York Times anointed DTLA one of the “52 places to go in 2014”?
A more gracious response would have been to beam with pride, but having my neighborhood reviewed by a not-so-local publication made me feel like an ant whose colony had been exposed by a nosey toddler picking up rocks. In a flush of indignation, I started looking for mistakes in the story. Two of the four businesses featured are Abbot Kinney exports; two more are operations by husband-and-wife chefs Karen and Quinn Hatfield—a detail writer Shivani Vora doesn’t mention. Her remaining shout out goes to a store I refuse to enter because a man is paid to stand outside and he grimaces at passersby. OK, so these four complaints amount to something less than a real infraction, but another gripe I have is legit: the area surveyed isn’t a neighborhood at all, it’s a block, and it definitely isn’t called “La Brea, Los Angeles.” In fact, the street’s developers named it District La Brea, but because so few Angelenos know that, I’ve resorted to telling people I live “near the Grove” or in “North Miracle Mile.”
Back to my colleague’s point, though: Is my little slice of heaven north of 3rd Street and below 2nd Street suddenly spoiled by this outside interest? No, of course it’s not. But the experience of seeing where I live in such bright lights and the mixed emotions it filled me with made me realize just how spoiled I have been. That neighborhood wine and cheese shop I’ve been dreaming of? One may actually open in “La Brea” now. I’ll just have to wait in line 40 minutes to get inside.