Tuesday, July 14, 2009

LA: in Transition

Growing up in LA, "the Valley" had a different stigma than most would expect. The concept of "Valley Girls" died out sometime in the mid-90's, that whole "privileged air-head" vibe mostly breeds in Beverly Hills or the Westside. What the Valley truly represents might be more frightening: suburbia.

The Valley is not the type of place young starving artists (read: my friends and I) would ever want to live. We live in Silverlake or Los Feliz, supporting organic markets and walking to bars that play music so familiar it might as well be from our own iPods. We live in Venice and surf on the weekends or do yoga in the sand. We live Downtown in lofts that we plaster with half-finished paintings that our peers were gonna toss. We do not live in suburbia.

But right now, it feels like LA is gearing up for another transition, similar to the phase that once made all the aforementioned locations "hip." Now that these 'hoods have existed long enough to establish an identity for themselves, most have become just as expensive as any other desirable place in LA.

We can't really predict where the next Silverlake will be, it just sort of needs to happen. And folks like myself are necessary to make it happen. Financial restraints will certainly lend guidance, but it's up to us to stick together and form the desired community in an undesirable location.

Therefore, I'm a little concerned, since "undesirable location" is certainly how I would describe the Valley. A gaggle of my college compatriots all live within a five-minute radius of each other, in shabby houses or cheap apartments on busy streets. We're on the fringe, living just outside the Leave it to Beaver blocks of working class homes. Could it be? Has the transition already begun?

A lifetime of preconceived notions seem to shout "No! Get over that hill before you're flushed into the cultural abyss!" Every time this fear strikes I indulge myself with a craigslist fix, saying to myself "You see? We could totally live in Hollywood if we look hard enough! You'll be fine, you'll be fine..."

Who knows if the Valley will turn into the bohemian hot-spot of our impoverished dreams, these things are tough to predict. But it's equally hard to erase a reputation. Maybe we just have to adopt a pioneer mentality and set up our own colony somewhere previously unexploded by like-minded youngsters.


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