East Sunset

By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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Los Feliz, Silverlake and Echo Park are in many ways continuous, but lack a geographic term referring specifically to them -- other than just as Hipsterville.

So I termed this area East Sunset, because Sunset Blvd threads through them. Also, it reflects the Hollywood extras and bit actors who wash up here, finding it a nicer place to live than a Hollywood tenement block.

Mainly this area is known for hipsters, this predominantly white subculture is merely the flashy exterior, the veneer. The core of these areas is still poor and Latino, with rich pockets of single-family neighborhoods.

Los FelizThis is primarily the petit bourgeoisie hipsters -- truly just wealthy people who just consider themselves more cultured. Due to proximity to Hollywood, they may have head-shots and some credits, perhaps an agent who handles hundreds of identical clients but who nonetheless is really sweet, she really takes good care of me and my career.
SilverlakeIncreasing gentrification has weeded out many of the smaller, niche, less-viable business to make way for cleaner, more polished establishments.
Echo ParkFor a more authentic youth counterculture experience, come here. However, the new Echo Park is Highland Park and soon enough will be Lincoln Heights -- the more a petite bourgeois sticks out, the more hipster credibility there is.

What Is Hipster?

I could try deconstructing what is hipster and what is hipster about this area, but it is marked the typical consumerist, sometimes dietary, trappings of hipster culture.

First, there is a duality to hipster culture: the wealthy, Louis Vuitton hipsters who are like any LA petit bourgeoisie (maybe a bit richer) except with different tastes; and the protracted adolescence of the poor, or at least not self-sufficient, counterculture hipsters. The former is confined mainly to Hollywood, seeping into Los Feliz with their vitaes full of small roles and how does this make any money? projects. There is aggressive materialism for anything antithetical to big-box materialism; a sense of humor that worships the absurd; and a feeling that even the existence of successful, corporate-owned, beaten-down, white-washed drones is an affront to their own failure to reach adulthood.

The poor hipsters are a bit more marginal, as they are unable to afford as many clothes and thus focus especially on diet and events: community dinners, road trips, finding the most hipster music.

Existentially, hipster culture solves a crisis. It is hard to look forward to things when culture changes so quickly and economic stability is a luxury. So rather than look ahead, hipsters focus on the past and local.

Thus the significance of placing a calligraphic, wrought-iron Established 2010 sign. You know what your kids will think when they see a photo of you smoking under the sign; they'll think the same thing you did when you saw your parents, idols, or Iggy Pop striking that exact pose.

If you cannot control the future, at least you can imitate the past and thus control how the future will see you. There is comfort in familiarity.

Some of the most superficial traits of hipster culture have gone mainstream.

Making iPhone snapshots yellow and vignetted; pursuing the absurd, the awkward, because at least that way there'll be something to talk about (nice beard, man); and trying to connect to something, anything, and usually the earth -- it is universal, a sense that it is undeniable, irrefutable, unlike the teetering religions that had once seemed infallible.