Echo Park Book Club leaves a mark on its members

It seems that nearly every person in Echo Park sports at least one tattoo, tributes to  lovers, bands, gangs or the legacy of one too many drinks.  But how do you explain what motivated an Echo Park man to have the words “Echo Park Book Club” scrawled across his tummy? That man, named Jason, was working at an Echo Park cafe a few years ago while taking courses at L.A. City College.  Jason, who had returned to college in his early 30s, talked up the classes to patrons. A group of those patrons inspired by Jason also enrolled at the community college, and he tutored them in math and helped with their homework.  Friends of Jason nicknamed the informal study and support group, which also included some Belmont High students, the Echo Park Book Club, said Robin, Jason’s girlfriend and a teacher who worked at the college  (she was also a member of the club).   The name of the club came to mind when the couple went to get his-and-her tattoos about three years ago. “We both had a light bulb go off” about the the tattoo idea.

Of course, Robin said she had no idea that Jason  would  decide to have  a large tattoo inked across his abdomen.  “I was thinking like a little ankle tattoo.”

Robin, a research assistant who directs a writing program for low-income students, passed on a tummy tattoo. Instead, she decided to have a  line from an Anne Sexton poem (pictured) tattooed on her right forearm.

Three years after getting the tattoo, Jason, now 37,  no longer works at the cafe but still tutors while pursuing a bachelor of arts degree. The couple, who preferred to be identified by their middle names, keep in touch with the other members of the Echo Park Book Club, one of whom graduated from Cal State Fullerton last year.  Meanwhile two are planning to transfer to UCLA and one has an internship at UC Berkeley, Robin said.

Jason’s tummy tattoo makes an occasional public appearance, usually to an appreciative audience, Robin said.

“People love the tattoo. They cheer. It’s always a rallying point for people who love Echo Park.”

Photos courtesy Robin


  1. now dont blame gang members when they shoot at you, cause all they will notice is the echo park not the book club..what a dumbass..

  2. He should’ve left off book club, and put dumb hipster instead. I give him props for his tutoring work though. Keep up the good work, and keep your shirt tucked in.

  3. I am not a tattoo fan but this is genius and I mean that in a good way. By co-opting the gangster style for a positive cause takes power away from the gangs and shows how ridiculous it is to threaten over a tattoo. For the first Frogtown Artwalk there was the same kind of comments like the ones above about using the gang name for the event. 5 artwalks later, the name Frogtown has a new life incorporating much more positive connotations to the area.

  4. Idiot comments ignore what this story is about. Maybe get off your computer high horse and tutor some kids who need your help.

  5. You think it’s justified to shoot and kill someone solely because of words tattooed on their stomach? Is that what I’m “here-ing”?

  6. The lil 4 yr.old that got shot a couple of years ago didn’t have any tat’s. to blame shootings on tats well is just plain duh….I don’t agree with you. hek if I could get my tat gone for free I would not hesitate even at age 54.

  7. he’s gonna have to keep his eyes peeled for the silverlake library locos

  8. That’s funny bb.

  9. @EchoParkLady. Call Homeboy Industries in Chinatown, they may be able to help you with your tattoo removal. Their website says to make an appt. (323) 526-1254 X351 or email tattooremoval@homeboy-industries.org. One of my friends used salt. He rubber his tattoo daily, until it disappeared. I’m not sure how long he did it, but it did go away. Good luck!

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