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A Los Angeles Primer: Highland Park

People disagree about what most meaningfully indicates whether a Los Angeles neighborhood has turned “cool.” A seemingly disproportionate number of respected musical acts having emerged from it makes for one early sign. A sudden abundance of galleries and drinking spots there provides further, more solid evidence, amid which a few parking spots may stay open in the evening. Crime, for the most part, moves elsewhere. Its rents will, of course, rise — a force that inevitably renders the place uncool again. Somewhere during this process, the press naturally gets around to covering the neighborhood, and in the pre-internet era we would have said that heralded the beginning of the end; move into a part of town of which the newspapers have already made a big deal, and you’ve come too late.

Not quite so today, when every development, no matter how inconsequential, sends off a ripple of online coverage. My own suspicion that I’d do well to give a neighborhood further consideration emerges when it begins to produce lists, the kind that compile its “Eight Least-Known Concert Venues,” say, or its “Twelve Essential Cocktails,” its “Top Fifteen Highly Artisanal Coffee Experiences,” its “Five Most Authentic Pupuserías.” The growing prevalence of this form, long a mainstay of such bastions of journalistic rigor as Cosmopolitan magazine, doesn’t seem to everyone an entirely positive phenomenon, and most lists do little to hide their sole intention of milking a few clicks from office workers bored halfway to nihilism. Still, used as a delivery system for basic information about what you’ll find where, they may come in handy indeed. As Highland Park figured into more and more of them, I sensed that its moment had come.

Read the whole thing at KCET Departures.

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