Ukuleles & Popcorn: Silver Lake merchants to host Sunset Junction alternative

Photo by raw4kblog/Flickr

What to do this weekend now that Silver Lake’s  Sunset Junction festival failed to get the necessary city approval?  A group of Silver Lake merchants have quickly organized an alternative: The No Function Junction.

The idea of staging a Saturday afternoon sidewalk sale and hosting musical acts and other performers came up this morning as some neighborhood shop owners were having coffee at the Casbah Cafe,said Sarah Dale, owner of the Pull My Daisy boutique. The home deco store Reform School, for example, will be hosting a ukulele orchestra, the 4100 bar will open up its parking lot to bands that have been scheduled to play at the festival and Pull My Daisy will be hosting a magician and popcorn truck, said Dale.

“We can give them some popcorn and ukuleles,” said Dale of anyone who shows up this weekend and discovers the festival has been canceled.

There is still no official word from festival organizers if the event has been officially canceled but the event cannot be held without a city permit, and some merchants wanted to help fill the void. Dale, who also sits on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, is one of the many merchants and business owner who have complained about the disruption caused by the festival over the years.

“We are trying to make the best of a sad situation,” said Dale.  “It’s all very organic and very last minute.”

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  1. So wait..Someone (Sarah Dale) who has been calling every publication in LA over the last few days and giving her negative stance on the festival (and promoting her suffering store at the same time) is now hosting her own get together hosting musical acts with popcorn truck and magician and sidewalk sale.

    both disgusting and hypocritical.

  2. Please Brian, fill us in on exactly what is hypocritical.

  3. Brian, Sarah’s problem with the festival was that it stopped people from coming into businesses and took over a community. Hosting a community based event is, in fact, the very essence of what she was advocating for. And what Sunset Junction used to represent.

  4. I am sick of Silver Lake businesses complaining about this festival. Sunset Junction only stopped people from going in to businesses on two days out of the year. It then encouraged all those people to come back on all of the other 363 other days. It encouraged me to move to the neighborhood and frequent these business.

    This attitude, however, is encouraging me to shop elsewhere…

  5. Lol..Brian you’re just way off base and ignorant of the facts.

    1) It wasn’t just Sara, the community, neighborhood council, SLIA, members of the Chamber of Commerce and many others have been expressing their dissatisfaction with the festival and the organizers both in writing and verbally for years. If you attended or heard Monday’s and Wednesday’s hearing at the Board of Public Works you would have heard just a small taste of this multi-year discussion.

    2) Residents and businesses have been complaining for years that the festival no longer benefits either residents or businesses. When Michael McKinley parked semi-trailers and generator trucks in front of the businesses on Sunset Bl one year it killed things.

    And what did he do after everyone complained? The next year he fenced off a 1 1/2 block section of the the Sunset Bl in front of the businesses that created a wasteland with nothing in it so that even after paying $20 to get in you couldn’t even see the businesses along Sunset let alone enter them and buy something. That’s just a small taste of what the community is sick of.

  6. i think everyone would welcome a new community-centric event that welcomed everyone rather than something that’s outgrown its location of choice and has long stopped being about the community cf. Sunset Junction’s organizers’ last press release serving the threefold purpose of dodging the issues, blaming others, and delivering a hearty kowtow/tongue bath to Live Nation’s selflessness (hahaha)

  7. Brian’s use of “disgusting and hypocritical” are words I’d associate with the actions of Sunset Junction’s leadership. I get more sense of heart and soul and community in Sarah’s organic effort to create something from this weekend’s ensuing void than I’ve ever gotten these last several years from the vacuous efforts of Sunset Junction’s organizers.

  8. @Brian,

    Sarah Dale normally closes her shop during the SJ weekend as she has claimed it disrupts her business and/or is not profitable during SJ. Either way, she loses $$ during SJ.

    Are you now saying that since SJ has been canceled, it’s hypocritical to open her store back up for business and promote it?

    Can you please explain the logic of this?

  9. JDW, you say you’re sick of those businesses boo-hooing about Sunset Junction? Well be healed! No more Sunset Junction (at least not in its businesses-depriving, community-alienating, fenced-in form), no more complaining. Problem solved.

    But if you have any further gripes against the junction’s retailers being rightfully upset at being deprived life, liberty and the pursuit of making payroll and rent for those measly two days, I encourage you to drastically restrict your ability to intake oxygen for any 48-hour stretch of your choosing and perhaps you’ll be able to understand from where these proprietors are coming. If not, happy shopping elsewhere!

  10. Ukuleles? Really? I’ll take the Sunset Junction, thank you.

  11. No kidding.

    Sunset Junction takes in $$$Millions in revenue for 1 weekend while it effectively bulldozes business in the area (how many burning man attendees willg $25 to shop at the Silverlake Surplus store? They’ll just go to the surplus store on western/SM).

    And we have people here siding with SJ over the mom/pop independent local stores?? Which actually do pay their city taxes/permits/dues?

    Will McKinley EVER show the accounting of the CASH that is taken in at the gates over the weekend? You’re talking hundreds of thousands of $$$, if not 1/2 a million+.

  12. I for one am thrilled that events this weekend will be free to its surrounding community! I am truly looking forward to see how things unfold.

    It is a wonderful thing that our local merchants are feeling inspired enough to open their doors and host bands that have been put out by the for-profit debacle that Sunset Junction festival has become.

    Your neighborhood is as awesome as what its inhabitants contribute to it, and folks such as Sarah Dale understand this!


  13. So, unless Melvins, Butthole Surfers, or Helmet will be playing said ukeleles, you can take your little guitars and shove them up your hipster asses. Screw you Sunset Junction for taking the fun out of music festivals and not paying your bill/bribe to your god-forsaken city of Los Angeles……I am beyond aggravated.
    BTW, I own a business in my neighborhood in the SGV and I NEVER have any kind of say-so when my parking is taken up by events happening around my establishment and my regular patrons are inconvenienced. You chose to open a business in SilverLake…..get over your selves.

  14. @Brian,

    Still waiting for your logical explanation of your post. Unless you are secretly McKinley posting under an alias? Hmmmm…

    More evidence of SJ’s effects on local businesses>>

    “The Cheese Store of Silver Lake, nestled under the Sunset Junction sign, typically closes during the fair. Manager Chris Pollan said that the store would instead be “open this weekend.””

    “Vacation Vinyl, also on Sunset Boulevard, had planned to shut down on Sunday, one of the festival days. But, according to employee George Jensen, no festival will mean the store stays open on Sunday.”

  15. @trace,

    So the ‘events’ around your establishment fence off your business and any of your regular patrons have to pay $25 just to walk in your door?

    Please answer (I doubt you will).

  16. @Es

    The Ukelele Orchestra was booked by the Sunset Junction Festival as a performing artist (so shhhh!) They are playing at a local retailer as an alternative. I for one think it’s reflective of the neighborhood and a wonderful way to give venues to the bands left in the lurch.

  17. Now THIS is what the Junction was in the first place: a gift the neighborhood gives itself to bring us all together, in the same space, free of obligatory charge, so we can enjoy one another’s creative energies and play with our differences and become a community in the process. We had this once, but it mutated into an occupying behemoth that raised fences and deaf ears against us on all sides. Good riddance to that, and welcome popcorn and ukeleles and magic. Throw in one of Al’s puppet shows, and I’ll be out on the street with you all the whole weekend. (Except perhaps when I’m off to catch the Butthole Surfer’s gig, since they’re not going away either – see you at the Echoplex!)

  18. trace said; “You chose to open a business in SilverLake…..get over your selves.”

    FYI ‘trace’, Sunset Junction is the ONLY event in Silverlake that blocks off the public to local business unless you pay a ‘fee’ to ‘cross’.

    Also, many/most of these businesses were here long before Sunset Junction started to enforce mandatory entrance fees.

    3rd: The weekend is usually the busiest days of the week for these stores, and there is only 4 of them in a month. How would you like to close down your business in SGV for the busiest 2 days of the week?


  19. Maybe Trace doesn’t have to worry about her “business” being blocked off from the public. Maybe Trace’s business goes where she goes – and maybe Trace goes when her clients come. (Low blow. Sorry. Well, she was kind of course in her post, so I’m allowed to unload my sense of humor on her.)

  20. Among the many gross misrepresentations spouted by Michael McKinley and the SJNA is that they are responsible for making the Sunset Junction famous. The truth is that the Street Fair was a little festival that had no impact on this area of Sunset Blvd. that was run down and shuttered – remember when Seafood Village was closed for a long time until Eat Well moved in.

    It was in 2001 when some brave entrepreneurs started opening independent shops and restaurants – Snivling Sibling, Ragg Mopp Vintage, Swell, Serifos, Now/Again etc. – and started a renaissance of the Sunset Junction area (especially Cafe Stella which kinda was first of this new bunch). Pretty soon old time Silverlakers and new homeowners discovered this cool area to shop and hang and get coffee at Casbah Cafe etc.

    The Street Fair piggybacked on this success and grew as the BUSINESSES made the name Sunset Junction famous as a go to pedestrian friendly neighborhood in LA. Pretty soon larger establishments and restaurants opened – Cheese Store, Cliff’s Edge, Tantra, Intelligentsia, Pazzo Gelato – and THAT is when the Street Fair got greedy and started charging and that is when it morphed from a Street Fair to a Rockandrollapalooza with 6 stages and drunks.

    McKinley tries to co-opt the success that these shops & eateries brought in, but he can not explain why for the first 20 years – before any of these places opened – his little fair had no impact on the area in any positive way.

  21. sarah and others- great work, thanks for stepping up and making something happen. and to everyone who beleives it was neighbors (which I am) or business that took the fair down, it was not us(althought we have been trying for years to get them to open the books and play right). it was the fair management that caused them to fail

  22. Here’s a link to Echo Park Patch’s post on local biz reaction to the Sunset Junction Decision that @fleaman quotes from:


  23. Sorry Libertad , u are wrong .
    It impacted the area in a positive way because it was initially a festival to bridge the gap between the gay communitie and latinos in the neighborhood.
    It was also a way for those of us who grew up in the surrounding neighborhoods to meet with our friends from Eagle Rock , Los Feliz , Silverlake and Echo Park for one last hurrah before school started back up after a long summer of going seperate ways /vacations.

    Aardvarks , Seafood Bay , Charlies ,Conquistador (which my friends parents owned ) the nasty ole’Crest . The still hangin’ on Surplus store , Blue Nun etc so on and so forth … Were there way before any of the businesses u say the festival counted its success on .
    For us it was a success because it was a local neighborhood thing .
    A community doesn’t need hip stores or restaurants for a festival to be a success , what it needs is less greedy assholes to took what used to be a great event in to the mess it is now .

  24. @kindred,

    You sound like you’re agreeing with Libertad and everyone else? That it was good/cool in the beginning, bridged differences in the ‘beginning’, but that is now in the far past from what it has currently morphed into.

  25. Uh ,no.
    I don’t agree that the festival did not have an impact for the first 20 years .
    I don’t agree that “silverlakers and new home owners” somehow “discovered”
    The area . Its been home to me for 52 years .
    I don’t agree that the businesses revd up the festival .
    I believe that when people came to the festival THEY discovered Silverlake .
    It wasn’t a “discovery” for us who lived here , it is the neighborhood we grew up in .
    There were many” brave” entrepeneurs before Inteligentsia !
    Libertad is also wrong about Seafood Village . Huh ? It was Seafood Bay !
    Why can’t anyone ever reflect about growing up here and sharing a little bit of history without some sort of snarky comment ?
    I didn’t say anything was better before or after .
    My post was just a reflection . Not an argument . Don’t make it one .
    I do agree that the people who run it now are a-holes .

  26. I get that many people do not like Sunset Junction, and I understand why. Charging money for a street fair is outlandish. A street fair should make money off sponsorships and sales of beer and food, ride tickets, etc. Also, a street fair does not need to have multiple music stages with so many acts.

    Sunset Junction is also dangerously crowded MOSTLY because of the fencing! It is nearly impossible to exit! It is so dangerous and unpleasant during the crowded time.

    Also, allowing anyone to charge $25 for a street fair is completely outlandish.

    Having said all that, I think it is pretty slinky of L.A. City to pop up with a bill of $240,000 — (do I have this right? ) for last year, after the fact. ANd then for the City to halt the permit 2 days before the festival. This makes L.A. look so manipulative and funky.

    But WAKE UP PEOPLE – – Other cities do it right:

    1) No street should be closed off for any festival unless 50% of the people on that street sign yes for it.

    2) No business should EVER be fenced off. The street fest is supposed to bring people to the businesses.

    3) No one should EVER be allowed to charge an entry fee to a street fair.

    4) No street fair should EVER have its perimeters fenced or blocked off.

    5) No street fair should ever have more than 2 music/ entertainment stages.

    6) Any nonprofit running a street festival shall be accountable as a nonprofit. This does not sound like a real nonprofit org. At all. In any way.

    Seriously — Sunset Junction is a little monster that grew because L.A. his such a screwed-up disorganized City. In my opinion.

  27. im glad the greedy a-holes that took over the festival are being stopped in their tracks. anyone that’s ever owned or worked at a business on that block know that NO ONE SHOPS when the chain link fences go up. 10 or 15 years ago it was a fun event, that was free or donation based. you could see LOCAL bands with the exception of a couple of special headliners on friday and saturday nights. the neighborhood needs to take their block back and start fresh. kudos to the shops that are there now and keeping the foot traffic active. support the businesses year round! many of them started out in one bedrooms in that neighborhood. 🙂

  28. Ringggg……Ringgggg……..Ringgggg

    Good Morning This is California Department of Transportation District 5.
    How may I direct your call?

    CALTRANS, Baby! My old friend….keeping Cali on the move. This is the Sunset Junction Fest and have we got a fantastic deal for you. You can add “Keeping Cali in the groove” to your mantra.

    Because we got a 2 day live music juggernaut that is circling over Silver Lake. The control tower won’t clear us for landing on Sunset, and you have the only alternative runway that’s wide enough to handle this bird.

    We got a big party …. tell all your friends. And $100,000 cash in hand so you know we are for real. Drop some cones and a detour sign where the 5 transitions onto the 2 direction Echo Park and thats it! We are done! Lets have some fun!

    Lets turn the 2 Freeway between the 5 Freeway and Glendale Blvd. into the pre-burning Man.

    Silver Lake and Echo Park Present the LGBCalTRANS JAM!!!!

  29. @Kindrid
    I think what Libertad and others are saying is that the fest was a great thing for many years (which I can attest to), but once Silver Lake became a destination neighborhood (which may have in PART been due to the fest) McKinley got greedy and it all fell apart. That’s pretty much what your views are, no?

  30. @Kindred-

    I did not say there were no businesses before the new entrepreneurs renovated the area – I have been coming to the fair since the 80s and I totally agree that it was a nice hang – and you will agree that it was a much smaller neighborhood street fest UNTIL Sunset Junction popped and McKinley piggybacked on that growth. You will admit that whatever the area was and had – it was not a “hipster” hood until this millenium.

    There was a sad coffeeshop – i2i – where Forage is now. There was a sad sewing machine shop where Undefeated is. Good used to be the crappy Crest.

    My point is that the Street Fair did not improve the neighborhood – it grew with the neighborhood.

    Anyway, the Sunset Junction existed before McKinley – the name comes from the intersection of the trolley lines at Santa Monica and Sunset where Jiffy Lube is – and it will be around long after McKinley is sunburnt on a beach in Tahiti.

  31. The Adams Street Fair in San Diego is FREE, and the businesses do quite well. Maybe they should look there for a model.

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