Saturday, October 08, 2005

Columbus Day Weekend

I'm off to the Grand Avenue Festival, which I missed last year. From the LA Music Center to California Plaza there will be five blocks of music, performance, art, food, and who knows? Maybe you. This is slightly more corporate than the festivals on the Little Tokyo/Arts Distict side of downtown... actually, a lot more corporate. This is art 'sanitized for your protection' as it were. That doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort to explore.

I'm always trying to imagine the ghosts of Bunker Hill past looking down on the festivities, and I wonder what they would make of it all. Sam Kaplan, among others, has written extensively about the giant plans to undo the urban mish-mash of Grand Avenue. Like him, I have my reservations that the millions or billions that they are going to throw at correcting their urban planning nightmare will be well spent. These guys are like the Michael Brown/Halliburton of innovative, people-friendly architecture and urban design. The effect they are trying to create with their Grand Avenue master plan most often happens organically, by accident, and sometimes over time. There will be no re-creation of or inference to the complex history of the neighborhood in their planning, I fear. Not even a whisper of what Bunker Hill was, or what it meant to the city's history. There will be ample opportunity for the newly arrived upwardly-mobile residents to insulate themselves from the melting pot of the vibrant communities below them, however...

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