America’s Worst Housing Project Is Being Gentrified
Have you ever simultaneously regretted that the poor had been pushed out of a neighborhood, but wished you could have gotten in when rents were still cheap? Have you ever admired the pluck and ingenuity of the first few nonpoor bastards to move into a poor area? I have.
The Los Angeles City Council just unanimously voted to tear down Jordan Downs, nearly the oldest housing project in America and probably the title holder for ugliest. Jordan Downs is comprised of 103 spookily identical buildings in the low-income, violence-ridden neighborhood of Watts. While notorious for its gangs, its racially tinged police brutality, and its intractable poverty, Watts is also noteworthy for its cultural vibrancy and the palpable neighborhood pride of its residents. I wrote that last sentence by the way, not the Watts Chamber of Commerce, but they can have it for free.
They’re not just tearing down Jordan Downs, they’re turning this Orwellian nightmare-scape into an “urban village,” including four story townhomes, condos, retail restaurants, and a farmer’s market. Residents have been hearing about this pie-in-the-sky renovation for years, or even decades, but about ten months ago, a developer was chosen, and the City Council’s decision on Wednesday, April 17 marked a big step forward. But optimism on the part of lifelong residents might not be the most practical emotion.
Exploring the Interior Design of Los Angeles Weed Clinics
If you own a store that looks great and people feel comfortable shopping there, nice work. If you’re operating that store under constant threat of raids and total shutdown, years of stressy politics, in-fighting, and a host of thug-life problems associated with selling a product that was until recently only available on the black market, then by all means take my seat on the bus. It takes a specific type of courage to run a good vibes medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, and it’s time this was acknowledged.
Ever since Proposition 215 legalized medical marijuana 17 years ago, Los Angeles City Council and the State of California have been shuffling regulation responsibilities back and forth, resulting in a constantly shifting patchwork of laws that make it pretty much impossible for marijuana dispensaries to draw up a solid business plan, much less think about feng shui. So it’s no wonder the typical LA dispensary has all the charm of a check cashing place: located in a mini-mall; sad, off-brand ATM in a linoleum corner; marker-stained dry erase board; bulletproof glass; a pleather couch, etc. Most dispensary owners just do not feel up to the task of interior design.
But luckily, there are some out there who do make the effort, and they give us a glimpse of what the future would look like if all the hasslers would just give it a rest and let dispensary culture evolve past the perpetually adolescent state of fighting for the right to exist. We took a tour of some of LAs more stylish dispensaries to see how they’re staying fabulous in the face of adversity.
“Everything you see is from Craigslist and is reupholstered with Duct tape every six months,” said Mandy atLA Confidential, a charming, nook-heavy hash bar on Melrose. They have a piano, jazz on Sundays, and a tiny stage where patients have been known to do some post-dab performing.
Dr. Sona Patel’s (aka Dr. 420) clinic in East Hollywood is the Versailles of Los Angeles marijuana clinics, complete with chandeliers and about a zillion gilded mirrors.
The luchador scene expanding rapidly through LA with fights popping up and a flood of new contenders entering the biz. Case and point, El Burger Luchador, the food truck that’s a manifestation of the cult following these masked wrestlers have cultivated. While not fighters themselves, the El Burger guys are huge luchador fans. They think outside the box with their burgers, always experimenting with new toppings and using the freshest ingredients and best burger buns in LA. They’re at once flamboyant and mysterious just like the fighters the burgers were inspired by.
After spending an afternoon on Wilshire cooking up the Luchador chef’s newest creation, Max and Eli Sussman find out how El Burger Luchador fares with the top Luchadors born and trained in Mexico City. The brothers take the truck to one of the biggest luchador fights of the year. Parked outside the Mayan, they find out whether these impressive burgers are enough for fans and veteran fighters.
Los Angeles kinda sucks. Ask anyone. It’s spread out, the people are weird, and also the devil lives here. Yes, the actual devil lives in Los Angeles. He has a duplex in Laurel Canyon and drives a Saab. His three kids are named Donald, Donna, and Rocketship.
In addition to the devil and his hell-spawn, Ryan Seacrest lives here. I think he’s tangentially related to Satan, but the blood test results are not in yet. Seacrest was the victim of a hot, new Los Angeles trend known as swatting. Due to the inescapable fact that Los Angeles is totally fucking boring, people here actually take the time to prank call various emergency-services agencies and trick them into responding to imaginary incidents at celebrity estates. Often times, SWAT teams will be called to the scene, hence the term swatting.
Swatting victims include Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher (who failed to see the irony in getting Punk’d), Charlie Sheen (who does not know how to spell the word irony), and Simon Cowell, who dealt with a false report that someone had been tied up in his home. Somehow, I doubt the report was actually false, since my only theory for why X-Factor is still on the air is that Simon Cowell is holding all the Fox executives hostage.
In the interest of honesty, let me say that I’m far more interested in the version of swatting where I get to slap Ryan Seacrest in the face, but I suppose we can’t all get what we want, can we? I’m not the Angelino who starts the trends. I just follow them. I went out to document all the hot new trends in La La Land and report back on them before they become passé in the next six hours.
Shove a famous person down your pants and sneak them through airport security. It’s even harder than it sounds, but it’s extra rewarding when you land in St. Louis with Jaden Smith in your cargo shorts.
The above gentleman is either cosplaying as a character from Sons of Anarchy, or he is just covering up a huge bald spot. Either way, dressing up is a big trending topic in Hollywood these days. This guy wants to escape his dull existence and pretend to be “hillbilly Michael Chiklis from The Shield.” My celebrity cosplay dream is dressing up like Shaquille O’Neal’s seventh illegitimate child, Rufus. If you actually just want to be yourself, chances are you shouldn’t be living in LA.
Los Angeles has a budget shortfall of $216 million. We literally crowdsourced budget-cut ideas. We, with our car culture, have the worst roads in America according to AASHTO, and we can’t scrounge up enough money to even start fixing them. Among US cities, we’re the ones in the neighborhood with the dead lawn and the broken Power Wheels in the driveway.
In other words, time for a garage sale.
You don’t tend to get judgmental when your neighbor has a garage sale once (gated-community douchebags aside), but the guy down the street who has been carting out the same items every Saturday morning for a year? That’s LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa trying to privatize his zoo and convention center before the end of his term in July.
But what else was I doing with my Saturday morning? I woke up early and scoped it out. If your pockets are jingling, you should check out these bargains, too!
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
“The sellers say you don’t need any special knowledge to run a zoo. What you need is a lot of heart.” - Ben Mee (Matt Damon), We Bought a Zoo (2011)
I asked an employee named Nick a lot of questions about gorillas, and he was pretty sharp, which makes me feel like Matt Damon was wrong. Nick also told me his job didn’t have benefits. Good sign, potential buyers. But then he said it was a part-time job. As city employees, the full-time staff have the kind of cushy benefits packages bargain shoppers like you and me can’t afford.
In the first part of the LA episode, Eddie rolls through Tehrangeles and shops for Persian rugs that cost as much as cars, eats brain and tongue sandwiches, and tests out magical saffron ice cream before ending the night at Little Tehran’s most famed hookah spot.
In Fresh Off the Boat’s LA stop, Eddie Huang combs through the city’s crevices eating Mexican food and saffron ice cream, and barbecues with one of the most legendary lowrider clubs in town. LA never fails to bring the weird and unexpected to the table.
I recently moved from London to Los Angeles. Despite the fact that LA is the undisputed worst place in the entire world, I’ve been trying super hard to like it. Mainly because I like being that guy who likes the thing everyone else hates just to annoy people (which reminds me, people I know in real life: I never really liked Skrillex or Twilight. You should’ve seen your faces though).
Liking LA also seems to be “a thing” lately. I’ve seen a bunch of articles about it, like this one by Joseph Gordon Levitt that people keep sending me. In it, he talks about how LA is superior to New York because you can sing in the car when you’re stuck in traffic, and also he once saw the movie Swingers here.
Anyway, below are the main things that have been annoying me since moving to LA.
THERE IS DANGER EVERYWHERE
In London, the worst that can happen while you’re out walking around is maybe stepping in a puddle or gettinghappy slapped. Here, I have to worry about drive-bys and forest fires and mountain lions and “The Big One” and rattlesnakes and brain-eating parasites and home invasions and fucking TSUNAMIS! Why did someone think it would be a good idea to build a city here?
IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE A NORMAL NIGHT OUT
In London, or New York, or Paris, or any other city on Earth, going out means either walking/taking public transportation to a bar or club, then maybe walking to another place after that, then taking a cab home. This becomes problematic in Los Angeles, because public transportation does not exist. And I’m pretty sure cabs don’t exist, either. This means everyone drinks and drives, and I’m not sure if you’ve seen those ads about it on TV, but drinking and driving is really, really, really not OK. Then, you have to find somewhere to park or pay a bunch of money to valet, and then line up to get in, and then before you know it you just paid $30 to get into a “yoga rave” that’s ten minutes from ending, you’ve forgotten where you parked and, oh shit, you got a ticket. Fun times.
THERE IS HIPPIE BULLSHIT ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE
Every time I think I’ve met a normal person, I find out they’re extremely into some kind of new-age nonsense. Did you know that Mercury is in retrograde right now? Me too, and I really, really shouldn’t know that.