A musical response to Echo Park gentrification

A recent L.A. Times article on the transformation of Echo Park into a hipster hot spot inspired songwriter Rachel Glassberg  to create a song titled “My Neighborhood is Gentrified.” Glassberg, a 25-year-old text book editor who lives in Angeleno Heights and volunteers at 826LA, said it took less than an hour to write the piece. “What happens when gentrification gets out of control? Glassberg’s lyrics suggests it’s time  to look some place else:

“It’s cool there’s vegan brunches
‘Stead of drug deals and face punches
But sometimes it’s much too much and
The solution is quite clear

Yes now that it’s so safe to wander after dark
I think it’s time I moved northeast to Highland Park”


  1. I should’ve noted that I meant this as a response both to the LA times article and to any of my fellow Echo Park residents who see the article as a sign of the neighborhood, like, jumping the shark or something. Tongue is firmly in cheek. I love EP and am not going anywhere!

  2. It’s always nice when a hipster thinks they’re doing something “tongue in cheek” when in reality all they’re doing is showing how totally clueless they really are.

    At 25, you’ve got no idea how you’re actually just another part of the disease killing off the true soul and uniqueness of places like Highland Park and Echo Park.

    Before you realized how cool and urban it is to slum it and started living 7 to an apartment you found on Craigslist just so you could have that zip code on your mail, there were ACTUAL artists, musicians, activists and truly unique individuals that populated these areas and are the types that make up the fabric of a neighborhood and give it it’s flavor and individuality.

    Now that the out of town wanna-be’s and desperate to be noticed types have invaded, you’ve effectively sucked the tru life out of these areas and have pumped it full of the faux originality that you THINK is unique and cool.

    Sorry clueless hipster, but there’s nothing hip or unique about a Pinkberry or American Apparel.

    Oh, and that EP you “love” and won’t leave? To those of us that actually used to know the REAL Echo Park…. that ain’t Echo Park.

    But really, your song was sooooo cool!

  3. I’m a white person. I just bought a house in EP. I have a beard. I ride a bike. I wear american apparel. I’m part of the problem.

    But at least I’m not a complete douche bag like DJ Bento Box!



    P.S. I dont really like Pinkberry.. does that mean i can be cool like you DJ Bento Box? Cause if so I’m going to start liking Pinkberry.

  4. “Jumping the shark” is such a subjective thing. RG thinks it hasn’t happened yet to Echo Park and DJ Bento Box argues that the shark flew over the neighborhood long ago.

    While their opinions differ, it’s clear that both come from a place of pride in their community.

  5. Echo Park was gentrified long ago……..as was Highland Park…….
    Try El Sereno or City Terrace for un-gentrified goodness………..

  6. One thing that bothers me about this is the unknowing assertions about what EP was even just five years ago, wrongly saying it was just overridden with crime and gang violence. That is so false — and I’m afraid even racist, especially where the song refers to pushing out the Mexicans and suggesting its so much better with white people! (I’m one of the white people saying this!)

    EP was NEVER one of the really bad gang areas, and it is very wrong to just depict it having been little but that, although yes, it did have gang trouble. But it STILL has gang trouble! Didn’t you pay any attention to the virtual gang war in EP just a few months ago, with the several shootings going on! Not much different than it ever was. I, for one, was always comfortable going out at night.

    And Echo Park always has had a big white population. It has been a very mixed neighborhood — but now is becoming very white. The difference now is the type of white people and such a dramatic focus on money and faux status, and major worship of mammon — so opposite its Communist influenced past as Red Hill. Echo Park once would fight for the poor; now it just wants to run them out and wrongly call them all criminals.

    I also must say, all these nightclubs coming in all of a sudden is a VERY bad sign for the neighborhood. They aren’t there to serve the neighbors but to bring in boisterous, roudy people from all over the city to revel and party on all night. I would be far, far more scared to drive down the drunk (and drugged)-driver filled streets of EP at night now than I ever was to walk down them 5, 10, 15 years ago.

  7. Cute song! Irony people, no she’s not suggesting that EP is better than white people. Let’s all take a chill pill. It is supposed to be fun!

  8. Sunset was closed on Monday on my drive home from work, while the police hunted for a shooter. As i read the Times article a whirlybird was circling for 45 mins on the hunt for a burglary suspect over my house. 3 days ago the local members of EXP not only tagged the street where i live but had their usual pow wow get together in the small empty lot at the end of my block. I waved to them as i drove by, they waved back.

    Though the neighborhood has changed a lot in the 10 years I’ve lived here, the Vons has had an overhaul, new places i’ve never eaten at are popping up (as the previous commenter said not here to serve the locals) and rents, well they are are skyrocketing….. BUT….Echo Park its hardly the Sherman Oaks of the east-side and its a lot more then a little 4 block stretch on Sunset. The Times got it dead ass wrong.

    There’s a lot of conflict in the neighborhood and as a long time east side resident (I grew up in HLP) i feel the conflict, hell i am the conflict. I’m a white girl with tattoos who has a Mexican father and sister. This us against them attitude isn’t helping the situation its only making it more volatile. Things like this little cutesy video which i see as some kinda bizarro hipster act of defiance and the Times article pushing a narrative which isn’t really factual doesn’t help calm or solve any of the conflicts that those actual real residents on both sides of the gentrification issue, live with daily.

    It just further divides us.

  9. Kudos Lola Cake….I agree with every word you said….thank you Sister!

  10. Um, I wasn’t going to say anything, and I should be working, but how exactly am I not a “real” resident? I moved here because I could afford the rent but it was still not-too-sketchy and close to things; I worked here for a while before that. I grew to love both the music/art community (and thanks for telling me I’m not actually a musician, BTW; that feels just awesome) and that of the families who have been here for decades, and I’ve joined 826’s efforts to bring the two closer together. And if the Echo et. al. didn’t exist, I’d still be here for the history, the awesome views, the architecture, the staircases and those blue corn quesadillas you can get sometimes.
    Anyway…even the most die-hard of you will admit that EP is safer than it was ten years ago (not five, I know; I was exaggerating based what people were saying in the article), but even the pro-gentrification lobby will agree that sometimes developers need to know when to say when (case in point: the godawful Sunset Five condos I live behind). There’s got to be a happy medium somewhere, is all I was really trying to say.
    OK, now I’m done.

  11. I just don’t take these claims that Echo Park is “totally gentrified” seriously.

    It wasn’t what it was 10 years, I’ll give you that, but I walk down Sunset and I see check cashing places, non-chain ethnic supermarkets, independently owned cheapie clothing places that get their stuff from the wholesale district, neighborhood barber shops and hair salons, Mexican and Salvadoran restaurants, storefront psychics, tailors, independent discount stores, liquor stores…the kind of businesses that have been in working-class neighborhoods since of the dawn of time.

    These businesses WAY outnumber the hipster-oriented establishments (not only because the turnover rate of the new businesses is so fast).

    Go on any real estate web site and look at the Echo Park resident demographics. Median household income: $36,671. Ethnic breakdown 64% Latino, 19% Asian, 12% white. If by gentrification you mean white and moneyed, Echo Park is not even close, folks.

    The demographics have certainly changed in 10 years, but it’s a little hysterical to claim that Echo Park is “totally gentrified.” You can’t walk down Sunset on a week day afternoon and come to that conclusion if you’re using your eyes.

  12. Aside from the meanspirited authenticity pissing contest comments that it seems to have inspired, the song is a fun reaction to the incredibly over-simplistic LA Times article. I think SC’s comment got it totally right – the neighborhood’s demographics haven’t changed nearly as much as the loudest commenters would have you believe.

    Also, rent has gone up everywhere. EP’s rents are still a lot lower than most places in the city and there’s nothing truly unique about wanting affordable housing.

  13. SC, I’m pretty sure the demographic data you cite is from the 2000 census (unless the real estate sites use the more limited American Community Survey). The results of 2010 aren’t out yet, and I expect that when they are we will see a significant change in those percentages. The old businesses do still outnumber the new, but if the demographic changes keep up, that will change in time too.

  14. Jeez peeps, its a cute song by a cute girl. Relax, its a little ditty not a documentary.

  15. Viva El Libertad! I’m all for dialogue and discourse but I just don’t get why some have their phasers set to nasty by default.

  16. I don’t understand why people like “DJ Bento Box” bother living in cities. Neighborhoods change and evolve or devolve. Someone like Bento would be better served by a tiny rural town where everyone looks the same and nothing ever changes.
    If it were 1955, Bento would be the white jackass bellyaching about all the Mexicans moving into Echo Park.

    Rachel, keep at it, and ignore people like DJ Cap’n Grumpypants.

  17. “I would be far, far more scared to drive down the drunk (and drugged)-driver filled streets of EP at night now than I ever was to walk down them 5, 10, 15 years ago.”

    Exactly. That is what I worry about in EP — getting hit by a drunk driver wheeling down Sunset.

    And right on, Lola Cake.

  18. Bento, you truly are a massive a-hole.

  19. the echo park i live in, is what I make of it.

  20. It’s songs like these that make me ashamed to live here.
    Echo Park has always been safe. In fact it’s less safe now with all of the muggings.
    Does anyone else see the irony of a 25 year hipster old waxing poetic about the good old days of Echo Park?
    *as she throws on her worn out record of Warren Zevon’s Carmelita and tries to erase the memory of this song forever.
    I will never forgive you for this Eastsider.
    Ow my ears.

  21. Ugh. Native Angeleno here.
    We become xenophobic over time. It happens, but with good reason. The people who chose to move here, suck.
    However, what really ruins this town is the constant, inane chatter and discourse about what ruins the town.
    Have any of you thought about actually doing something about it? Or would that take slightly more effort than uploading a video of a crap song to You Tube?

  22. Last note- If you have a problem with it… take it to the City Council. I go all the time. You don’t like the idea of the mega bar taking over the abandoned theater and bringing in more undesirables? Well, they don’t just post the “Notice of Public Hearing” documents for their health… they post them because it is a NOTICE OF A PUBLIC HEARING. Go. Bring your friends… you would be shocked at what a small group of people it would take to get a liquor license denied in this city.

    Take action. Stop bitching.

  23. some of these comments are ridiculous. there are bigger issues in the world than EP residents in american apparel leggings. have a glass of wine and relax! geez.

  24. Gah. Let it go already. She states it’s done in jest and all you finger-waggers with your why-just-post-on-you-tube-why-not-actually-do-something nonsense (as if you really know what people do when not commenting on Eastsider articles), she volunteers, in Echo Park fer chrissakes, but I am sure you will find something troubling/misspelled/misguided/objectifying/ignorant about that, too.
    The real problem with Echo Park? We’ve clearly all lost our ability to laugh at ourselves.

  25. darcie – that “mega bar” will actually be a restaurant (yes, they’ll be serving alcohol). go ahead and stay home, pining for the days when rodents scampered inside the run-down, empty building and the homeless camped out front.

    me? i’ll be there having a lovely meal and a glass of wine and enjoying my neighborhood.

  26. Mark- I don’t have a problem with the “Mega-bar”. However, the LA Times article announcing this is what stemmed the debate and the musical You Tube response. If THEY have a problem with the bar.. do something. If you have a problem with the drunks on the road, do something. It doesn’t take much, is all that I am saying.
    I don’t pine for the days… I could care less.

  27. Before the hipsters came Echo Park was predominately Latino. Before that it was Chinese & Vietnamese. Before that it was Italian and Jewish. Before that it was Native American. Before that it was dinosaurs.
    To be honest I liked the neighborhood a lot more 20 years ago. Everything changes, the earth, our bodies, our neighborhoods. that’s life….get use to it.

  28. Re: “Mark December 8, 2010 at 2:43 pm
    darcie – that “mega bar” will actually be a restaurant (yes, they’ll be serving alcohol). go ahead and stay home, pining for the days when rodents scampered inside the run-down, empty building and the homeless camped out front.”

    Just to set the record straight, that “restaurant” will be open serving all the drinks you want until 2 a.m. — just like all the other nightclubs. And with plenty of space in there for — what, a band and dance floor? When it was proposed, people just said “restaurant,” but now we learn it will be open until 2 a.m. — and this is NOT restaurant hours.

  29. Yo, I am OG! I moved to ExP in 95! wasn’t safe then, still isn’t!

  30. Thanks Tom-

    And we get it Mark, you like wine.
    Also- this isn’t YOUR neighborhood, it is OUR neighborhood. Last time I checked it was called Echo Park, not Echo Mark.

  31. Could we PLEASE collectively stop using the term, “Hipster?” It has been squeezed and sucked and gnawed on and there’s no meat left folks. It has been drained of meaning. I live in EP and have driven through this section on Sunset 3 or 4 times a day and night for 5 years. Many, if not most of these “hipsters” are actually young Latinos.

  32. thanks for the lol darcie. i needed it. have a nice day.

  33. tom – correction: they’ll be serving all the drinks you want until 1:30 am. probably food, too. 🙂

  34. Please, let’s get back to the real issue at hand – that being this song is terrible! And no one wants to hear any 25 yo pine for the days of yore.
    And yes, Highland Park is great. MOVE THERE!!!!!

    And Echo Park was not a crime ridden, rat infested neighborhood with homeless parked everywhere before the gentrification. Nope, it was the prettiest little ghetto in Los Angeles. The wine bars don’t make anything better.
    A neighborhood is about people. I loved it here when there were lots of kids and homeboys playing soccer in the park.I loved it when I knew every family, every merchant, every dog on my block.
    It was friendly and everyone said hello.
    It’s not like that here anymore and that is really really sad.
    I miss my neighborhood.

  35. Amen, Kelly. Amen indeed. Remember low-rider cars at the park on the weekends? Good times.

  36. I can’t help but feel like the DJ Bento Box’s are just bitter the same way anybody gets when they feel passed by. Thanks to my coworker dave for these 2 points:
    “Old bros just want to hate on the kids because they can’t get into their favorite bars anymore and they’re too broke to move”

    Look, I’m a white boy who moved to echo park because I like the music, because I like(d) the Shortstop and Gold Room, because I like eating Rodeo Grill breakfast, and because I was making $12 an hour working downtown and didn’t want to live in my parents’ house anymore. Bento: what do you want me to do? Not move into a house that’s for rent so your image of authenticity isn’t tarnished? I can’t afford to live downtown, nor would I want to. Gyah.

    Here’s the real solution: I’ll just move to NY. full hipster.

  37. El Sereno welcomes the new residents, keep on coming change is great, just respect the folks that have lived there for many years. Everyone loves to see the houses being restored and the new retail shops opening up it’s a good thing people HLP has made a turn for the better, but it’s still not perfect that’s what makes these communities appealling to all of us..Cheers

  38. Cute song, tongue-in-cheek style. RG, I live on the EP/Silver Lake border and this area is great. There’s no such thing as a hipster, btw folks. There are just perceptions. I love all the people in the neighborhood: the families of all backgrounds, the kids from out of town, the longtime residents, everyone. I think the song comes from a place of great affection and some of these responses come from a place of self-absorbed and self-important “don’t cross this line, this is our neighborhood” kinda bullshit. btw nobody likes Pinkberry, dudes, that’s why they’re scuffling. And American Apparel might be sleazy and creepy but their t-shirts are a’ight. Keep it up, RG, most of us think people like you lend color to cities rather than gray it up like the above comments section addicts.

  39. If you guys don’t like gentrification you should build your own city out of wine bottles! Yum.

  40. The only thing that is pissing me off about the new people is that fricking band “Surfwitch” that moved in a couple houses down from me on Morton Ave. That bunch of hipster a-holes go on and on and on for hours every night, drunk and at the top of their voices. Till like 3AM sometimes. They act like they are the most interesting thing going on in the area. In other words, they act like they own the place. The music is not half bad (they play it during the day – and drink like college kids at night), but their personalities and awareness of the people around them sucks.

    I think if anyone has a problem with “hipsters” (and no, it’s not a term that has been sucked of meaning) – it’s that. They think that everything revolves around them and don’t give a shit who they are pissing off with their graceless and shallow styles. Anyone new is welcome, of course – and some great people have moved to Echo Park in recent years – but just don’t be a douche who thinks that you are moving to some “ghetto” and are king of the world.

    Same deal with the clubs on Sunset. That is what makes it annoying. People should have fun, but don’t drive drunk and don’t piss on the street. Simple formula. Follow it.

    And just as an aside, the truly dumb word is gentrification. Gentrification is not hipsters or wine bars. Gentrification happened years before when the “long time residents of real Echo Park” sold their houses to flippers during the boom, got paid and then got an ARM loan in Riverside. I know, they were my neighbors. I miss them, but their allegiance to the neighborhood ended when the realtors started offering fat checks. I probably would have done the same thing, though.

    Point is: a lot of people use the word “gentrification” as a shallow cover for xenophobia. And it does not mean what most people think it means. Or at least it does not operate the way most people think it does.

    Oh, and since it seems appropriate to the topic, I enjoyed this article and I hope you will too:

    Let’s learn to differentiate the hipsters from the good newbies so that we can drive out the former and befriend the latter.

    Peace out. Remember: stay in school, stay off drugs and pay your taxes.

  41. Oh yeah, I wanted to say that I enjoyed RG’s song. I love all musicians and she is one! Keep it up, girl. Maybe some day we can do a duet, or a cover of one my songs.

    Maybe we can get DJ Bento Box in the game too so that we can get some understanding going on. He could add scratches and some cuts, etc.\

    Anyway, RG’s got a good heart. I like her effort and her courage in putting it out there.

  42. i’m a little in love with fakemark right now!

    mark (the real one… or echo mark as i am now considering calling myself – copyright darcie 2010)

    = D

  43. Hipster is a useless term, because its all relative.

  44. Cute song and cute girl! I have to speak up for Silver Lake. I’ve lived here for 35 years……before it was gentrified. Before 7-11, TJ’s, LA Mill, children in the neighborhood and any good restaurants. Also back in the days (the ones I really yearn for) before people had so much junk in their garages that they actually used them to park their cars, and you could drive the streets without having to back up to let someone drive by. Still, I love it! The pedestrian walkway around the reservoir is terrific. Every time I go out of town for a few days and come back, I think (as I’m driving around the reservoir) “Wow! I wish I lived here”………..Then, I remember, I DO live here! YES!

  45. That’s right, Echo Mark… and I expect to see the royalties rolling in any day now… I knew you’d think that was funny. I was giggling as I typed it. I had to find a way to work it into the conversation. 🙂

    As far as building my city out of wine bottles, I’ve tried but the ATF and FDA torched our beautiful hamlet and we were forced to live in a wine box outside of the abandoned theater on Sunset. Now that the mega-bar is moving in, I guess we’ll be forced to live with the fish in the lake. And sadly, as you all well know… those fish have herpes.

    It is INDEED hard out there for a pimp.

  46. Last time I listen to a comic, I ate a whole cheesecake by myself.

  47. As a non-hipster, newly transplanted LA-ite, and employee working for a family who lives in Echo Park, I have admit the neighborhood took some getting used to… but IMO it is not overly-gentrified. Echo Park is funky, unique and still a bit gritty.

    Compare it to other gentrified neighborhoods in East LA. Obviously, the geography (moving east) determines to a degree the property values and level of gentrification. But from a real estate perspective, isn’t it a score when your home owned in an up-and-coming community, such as Echo Park, increases in its value (despite a sagging housing market)? Or is it better to retain an element of fear/filth/crime to scare away a majority of the general population? The downside of this phenomenon is that long-time residents that rent get priced out of the neighborhood. But that is the natural consequence of gentrifying a community. It almost always happens.

    Being an outsider, I believe LA has really different standards for what constitutes complete gentrification. When is it complete? Isn’t the point of gentrifying a community to bring the life back? Isn’t it exciting to see your neighborhood opening new businesses (especially when they are mom and pop, and not chains)? Living in a declining neighborhood is really sad and depressing. This is the exact opposite.

    I know the gentrification process isn’t intentional and organized by city planners, but it works like a wave and it almost always follows the same pattern. So maybe the real trend setters need to plan on moving every 5 years to stay ahead of game. Or just learn to live with people following your lead. You know what they say about imitation… be flattered.

    I like Echo Park, but that doesn’t make the neighborhood less legit and desirable because the average person finds it interesting. Try finding a unique/eclectic neighborhood in a place like Phoenix. Gag! That’s why I’m here now and I’m glad Echo Park has a bit of the old mixed with the new.

  48. The real problem was the article written by The Times. The writer got everything so scrambled that it stirred up a lot of emotion. I don’t mind the girl singing above but I didn’t listen to the whole thing. At least she had something creative to say and in a silly way. She did not go ahead and write a story, get her facts wrong and then have it published. I find it really maddening to have the media in our town so bad.

  49. Life stinks for those who still haven’t figured it out.The guitar lady looks wired.

  50. Echo Park has not been a nice neighborhood since the 1950’s.Most of L.A. is a ghetto no matter what the race or economic status is of it’s population.It is not the desired place to reside in any longer.With the high unemployment,the third generation welfare recipients,the gangs,crumbling infrastructure,congested traffic,crooked cops,crooked politicians and the illegals from around the world, it has become a third world city.L.A. and it’s environs, glory days have long been over since the 1950’s.

  51. i love how everyone is dogging on rachel for being a naive 25 yr old. and then turns around and talks about how life was better in echo p when they were 25. oh the irony.

    someone did bring up an important point, that real estate values skyrocketed and everyones desire to profit on their investments by selling their homes, brought in a new group of people with new ideas about the services and storefronts they wanted for their day to day existance.

    everyone is so busy looking at life and how it effects them personally and how they feel, they miss the point of how their actions affect those around them. if you dont like that no one says hi when they pass you on the street, make it a point to say hi to everyone you pass. thats what i do!

    turns out things in the world change. change with it, or be left behind, jaded and grumpy. learn about the old, embrace the new, and live the life of a good person throughout!

  52. Most of you people (other than Ernest D.) seem to hate PEOPLE IN THEIR EARLY TWENTIES, not “hipsters” necessarily. I was a person in my early twenties for five long years, and I would have hated me too.

  53. I’ve been a home owner for 11 years now. When I first moved in my garage was tagged 2x’s and my car broken into four times. Over the past 4 years I have had nothing happen. If that’s gentrification, bring it on. I walk my dogs daily in EP and step over used condoms in the street, witness trash piled up in front of homes and yards full of garbage, not in trash bins, used sofas and junk just thrown out onto the sidewalk, unuseable items that will just lay there for weeks. It really doesn’t take much to throw something in a garbage bin and you don’t have to be rich to own one, or to call up the sanitation department for curbside pick-up. As long as some EP neighbors litter and disrespect other’s property EP will remain the same. We all need to live together on this planet, but those littering neighbors in EP have no respect for this planet so I say let them move out and onward!

  54. Fun song. Opinion’s are like A … I’m a native and I’ve made my share of observations. I liked EP back in the day but you can’t stop progress. The 90’s were just a different hipster. The kids today seem to like the quality ingredients in their food.

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