ECHO PARK (detail)

"I look back to the angled stair, but its secret is forsaken."

The stairway is at Effie and Glendale. It does not appear in the popular Secret Stairs guide, copyright 2010. In either the Echo Park or Silver Lake chapters. Indeed, I had to look at both. According to the Los Angeles Times Mapping L.A. project, this segment of Effie straddles the boundary between the two neighborhoods. A no-man’s-land of place. According to Google Maps, the street and stairway are in Silver Lake, with a view of Echo Park past Glendale.

Does it matter if my memory of Echo Park derives of Silver Lake? Distinguishing each from the other may easily be a pedestrian exercise. Though hints at the contest for social status among the young gentrifiers in 2013.

My manager from New York said she lived in Silver Lake. “Intelligentsia is like a 5 minute walk away” she said. I said that was cool, but I knew it was a load of shit. Fountain and Virgil was in East Hollywood. She lived in East Hollywood just like me. Only she did not inhabit it; her perception of herself did not inhabit it.

One day my co-worker gave me a ride from The Grove. Bypassing stalled traffic in the left turn lane and cutting off cars while blowing the yellow. The sun oppressive on our skins. Sun visor up, sun visor to the West. “I grew up in Filipinotown” he says. “I was there when they named it that. I went to the council meeting or whatever. I told them: there’s still gonna be Latino and Filipino people living here. It doesn’t really change anything.”

Until the place itself changes. So yeah. The stairway on Effie. The gate locked on Mohawk barring passage toward Waterloo. Echo Park. Silver Lake. Working class or service workers. Real or imagined and garbled. The developers and agents will sort it out.

Road maps and vinyl letters on paper. 2016. 18 x 24".

Her friend had lived in Echo Park with a window adjacent the secret stairs. “That’s awesome” I say. “I love those stairs.” But moved after the arrest. Hands splayed against the window at 3AM, handcuffs and Pelican flashlights. The days of the gang injunction.

She’d go to the hypnotist from the juice bar and aimless I would walk around, sentient of danger. One street is a colonnade of trees. Behind a gate a woman stares — a sultry gaze — spaghetti straps and hip-high jeans, standing among some cholos. I find a stair that has pipe rails that doesn’t quite ascend the hill. Cresting at a sun-washed four-way stop. Wracked by sun as though abandoned, cracked paint and a coarse dead lawn. A crumbling slope of agaves.

One stair lets out onto a landing that overlooks a cul-de-sac. A barren stretch, piles of trash at the curb. “The most beautiful arrangement is a pile of things poured out at random.” A sudden hill crowds the distance. The freeway ends right here. Cars churn onto Glendale Boulevard and I look for a direction. I look back to the angled stair, but its secret is forsaken. The cars, one-story businesses and billboards: it’s all too loud.

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Never give an inch.