My article about the ‘Hel-Mel‘ neighborhood — an enclave at the intersection of Heliotrope and Melrose near LA City College — appeared in the LA Times today. It was fun writing about this little ‘hood because, as someone who’s taught for nearly a decade at LACC, I watched it grow before my eyes. For several years, I even lived within walking distance of the district and would sometimes pop into Rincon Chileno for empanadas and rent a movie at now-defunct Mondo Video. I could see the funky potential of the neighborhood back then, even before it became an urban cycling mecca and foodie enclave. In fact, when the Pak Am office supply went out of business and its storefront was renovated, my friend Michele and I cased the joint, trying to think of a good business to start in its place. We toyed with the idea of creating a kind of communal office space for freelance artists. Shortly thereafter, the Bicycle Kitchen arrived, and then Scoops, and the huge Pak Am space was divvied up into smaller storefronts now housing Jenette Bras and an art gallery, among other service shops and retailers. It’s a pity, I guess, that I didn’t follow my instincts and become a part of the Hel Mel zeitgeist. But I love what it’s become and felt like no one could have written this little article better!
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