Ok, so maybe when I set out to write about my relationship to the 10 and the Westside of LA and how it’s all chronological, maybe I should’ve left off Crenshaw. But I think the Crenshaw exit off the 10 has a lot to say about why Los Angeles is appealing to me, even if it’s not the Westside, and my Crenshaw tales aren’t my first LA experiences.
First and most importantly: Earlez’s Grille. Where I (a whitasian, but mostly white looking person) went up to a counter in a restaurant staffed by African Americans and Latinos (in a mostly African American neighborhood) and specifically ordered a “playaz punch.” Because Yelp told me it was a deliciously delightful sugary drink. The cashier looked amused as all hell, handed me an empty cup, and gestured behind me, noting that, “The fountain drinks are over there.” And yeah, I looked behind me and there was the playaz punch in all its artificially pink glory, next to a tank of lemonade and a coke machine with the usual suspects. So really all I needed to say was that I wanted a small drink. Whoops, live and learn.
The most important thing about Earlez’s Grille (sadly temporarily closed at the moment, but in the process of moving further south down Crenshaw to make room for the metro Expo line) is their veggie dog with veggie chili and a side of seasoned french fries (I think my playaz punch expectations were too high.). One of the owners was also on site the first time I went and he came over to my table and asked what we thought of the food. Not much is cooler than actually meeting with an owner of an establishment you’re patronizing.
In the context of this trip down the 10, this experience sums up three of the most important things about the opportunities Los Angeles offers:
(a) Food adventures, because at the heart of why I love Los Angeles is a veggie chili dog or some weird flavored ice cream or vegan nachos at 2am. LA tastes great.
(b) The chance to put myself in neighborhoods and situations that are completely foreign to the context I grew up in. I don’t generally consider myself all that outgoing, but I occasionally have near masochistic streaks of wanting to feel uncomfortable and challenge myself to see how much I can make myself look like a fool.
(c) Talking to people who are connected to the places you visit.
I’ve felt comfortably uncomfortable in all sorts of LA neighborhoods, I’ve eaten some great food, and I’ve talked to a bunch of people, and that is what makes me happy.