Thursday, July 27, 2017


I was reading the posts of a blogger who has recently moved to an LA exurb and I became homesick.
No, not for the area as it is today
 but for certain parts of town as they once were. 

Back in the day LA was looked down on by well traveled friends.
And if LA was thought of as being filled with the uncultured heathens then my hometown of Riverside must have been seen as a Mayberry twin.

My hometown was in the middle of nowhere but it was also the center of everywhere.
Depending on direction one could be at the beach, in the desert, in the mountains or in the city in 45 minutes. (Development and traffic weren't as bad then.) Vegas was only a cheap 45 minute pre-911 flight away.

 To feel as though we were cooler than our schoolmates we'd often venture to South Coast Plaza or Fashion Island in the OC to shop for clothes and accessories we could not find in our town.
When we wanted to be really cool we'd head to LA..
The Third Street Promenade, Beverly Center (Back then the Beverly Center had America's first Hard Rock Cafe, the largest cineplex in the nation and tons of restaurants.), and Melrose.
Especially Melrose.

Billy Shire (top photo) owned what was probably the area's anchor
The Soap Plant, Wacko (Most night time scenes in movies of LA at the time featured his shop's neon signage.) and La Luz de Jesus were in the middle of everything in a two-story brightly decorated building next to the newsstand.

Melrose at the time was a mix of one-off (sometimes two-off) stores in an almost rundown part of town.
It was as though a group of people had ideas of stores but had no idea of how stores were supposed to be run.
But it worked.

The coolest part of walking Melrose was chilling with the old folks at the retirement home on their balconies while watching TV and the crowds.
It was odd - there was a retirement home right in the middle of what would become one of the coolest streets in America. Only on Melrose.

Like everything else that was once cutting-edge, Melrose has become a homogeneous blob of commercialization.
These days Melrose may as well be Universal Citywalk or Old Town Pasadena.

 Peter Shire is Billy's brother.

 Peter Shire is known for being a member of the Memphis design group from the 80's.
As well as his work with the 1984 Olympics.
As they say, 'Everything old is new again'.
The Shire brothers each have studios in the hometown Silver Lake and Echo Park areas.
Together with the Los Feliz area, this almost rundown part of town is seen as 'cool' by many.
With the Olympics coming back to Los Angeles maybe both of the Shire brothers can contribute to the current gentrification of the city in preparation.

1 comment:

brohammas said...

Just come back man.