Thursday, July 12, 2007


Just saw a great movie with the above title. The movie came out about a year ago and I got the DVD through Netflix. it's a soap opera story of a family in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles. The opening scene is a Quinceanera party. A month later it will be the turn of the first girl's cousin to have her party, but before that can happen the family relationships are torn apart and then put back together again by complications having to do with sexuality, religion, and money. Part of the story involves a gay couple who have moved into the area: a trend that's raising rents and changing the character of the neighborhood. That part resonates with my own story.

Echo Park is the nieghborhood just east of Silver Lake, where I live. I recognized all the streets and shops and parks shown in the movie. I've only lived here a year and a half, but it feels like my home. I've lived in Los Angeles my whole life and have hoped to live in Silver Lake for 25 years. I moved here because I like the culture the neighborhood already has, not because I wanted to import and implant my own culture on top of it.

But I wonder about gentrification. It isn't possible to become part of something without bringing yourself into it. And your being part of something you weren't part of before inevitably changes the thing. Every community I sought out and joined is now different because I'm there: the chorus I sing with, my church, the Unitarian faith itself. Hopefully those changes have been good, and appreciated by the people who were already there, but the provoking truth is that however gently you enter new situations, whatever you seek is destroyed the moment you achieve it.

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