Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Militant's Non-Coverage of Sunset Junction

You may or may not know by now that the Militant Angeleno loves to cover his local events.

And there was one major local event this weekend that more than a few of you went to.

But the Militant wasn't there.

Actually he was there, kinda. But just on the outside looking in, to snap an intentionally symbolic photo (pictured right) of the chain-link fence that cordoned off the festival grounds.

Now, the Militant knows what you're thinking: "The Sunset Junction Festival was just crawling with hipsters, so the Militant decided to avoid it at all costs."

But that's actually not an accurate statement.

The Militant isn't afraid of hipsters, just intensely annoyed by them. But they do no harm to the Militant. If anything, the Militant doesn't even exist to them, as when he tries to engage in conversation with them, they produce no replies. So that must mean that in their eyes, the Militant is pretty much invisible. just fine with the Militant.

So no, the "H" factor has nothing to do with it, at all.

It's just that (sit tight folks, especially you SoCal n00bs, historical perspective coming up) when it began in the 1980s, Sunset Junction was - a community festival (pictured left). It celebrated the community, in involved the community, it featured the community. Back then, there was a Silver Lake, but not really a "Silverlake." Actually, Silver Lake was really that hilly area around the reservoir, and maybe the parts north and south of it adjacent to the eponymous boulevard. Sunset Junction wasn't really Silver Lake, nor was it Hollywood (despite the fact a "Hollywood" community sign stands there (and until a couple years ago the sign had been there so long, it was colored black and not blue) on Sunset between Sanborn and Hyperion) - it was pretty much its own community.

But nearly 30 years later Sunset Junction is all of a sudden the "Downtown of Silverlake [sic]" or at least its proper central business district.

Okay, get to the point Militant. It used to be a free festival. It used to actually be a boost to all the local businesses, institutions and residents. Used to. This is not the Sunset Junction the Militant knew from his youth. No, the Militant isn't being a change-resistant reactionary here, it's just that the festival totally abandoned its roots.

Now it's (trying really hard to be) a freaking Coachella on asphalt (once upon a time, the music acts were all local bands who rehearsed at the now-defunct Hully Gully rehearsal studio on Fletcher in the AWV). It costs $20 (?!?) to get in now, which is more than the real people of the community can afford, it only benefits a certain number of businesses that are on the organizers' good side, it actually blocks off many businesses, keeping them from benefiting from the festival, has become a logistical headache (though okay, the recent arrangement allows people to come in from the Red Line, the Militant gives credit where it's due) and the music stages are racially segregated.

The last time the Militant was at Sunset Junction, he happened to go late enough that he got in at a discount. There was still some music going on, though he discovered all the white indie rock acts played at the Bates Stage and all the "colored people" acts played on the extreme opposite end of the festival grounds. The festival has been somewhat reconfigured, but the musical and racial segregation still continues. Why not stages that bring people together? Most of the other festivals in town seem to be able to work it. And oh yeah, they seemed to capitalize on the recent death of a certain soul music legend (originally booked to perform there) rather well (Shut your mouth!) But the Militant's talking about Sunset Junction!

But whatever. If you went to SJ, the Militant won't give you crap for it (besides, you already got crap to begin with, so the Militant won't add anymore). And when a recently-transplanted near-operative (you gotta earn these things...) brought up going to SJ in a conversation before the weekend, after the Militant dissed it, he still encouraged him to go "just for the experience." If you wanna go back next year, fine.

But it's just that Sunset Junction ain't the Militant's cup of tea.


lainey said...

i helped out at a friends store which is located underneath the "welcome to sunset junction" sign. i think its ridiculous that folks were being charged to get into the part of the festival that was primarily a walkway.

luckily you could get into that part of "sunset junction" for free since bar a vin left their door open.

Anonymous said...

i went a few years ago when it was still free. and it was mostly Chicano families, and gay bears there. i would hate to see the crowd there now.

Anonymous said...

I didn't bother going this year.

I liked it when it was a free festival "Donation requested" that actually had local vendors and local talent.

I went last year (got in free on a friend's vendor pass) and was so disappointed in what it had become that unless some major changes happen, I doubt I'll be going back.

Kirby! said...

I may be new to the Silverlake area, but I also find Sunset Junction to be the most annoying/dumbest thing ever. I went last year for the first time, stayed for an hour, then I had to get the eff out of there.

Anonymous said...

well done.

Anonymous said...

There is no way I will attend a street fair in the City of Angels with any type of tariff. Shame on our city leaders for allowing this to happen. BTW, what a lame festival. Kill it. Bring back LA Street Scene.

Militant Angeleno said...

Rhett Pardon:

Bring back LA Street Scene.

L.A. STREET SCENE!!! YES! YES AND YES!!!! The Militant seconds that motion.

Anonymous said...

I had free passes to go but the money isn't even as important as the way it keeps out the neighbors. That selective grouping they cater to now is just not that interesting.

I third the motion for the Street Scene, now that was a street festival!

Liz Dwyer said...

I stopped going once they demanded payment. They're shady and I shouldn't have to pay to get into a festival in my own neighborhood. And, back home in Chicago, no one ever pays to get into Taste of Chicago. It's ridiculous. Plus, I hate to say it but I hit up the Los Feliz fair this year and it was free to get in and just as fun for me and the kids. A whole lot less drama.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that this is the last year of sunset junction? Please? It has become a private event on public property. The event needs to move to some private property and get the fuck out of my neighborhood (actually, it's literally my front yard). I live in a house with 10 people (it's a big house). we g gave us two passes and refused to just let me cross sunset blvd without the proper pass. So we went and made copies of the wristbands, adding "fuck you, i live here" Eventually, the people at the gate caught my roommate and took the wrist band.

No private event should be able to shut down the neighborhood like sunset junction does. We already have to deal with the usual inconsiderate movie crews.


I got in for free this year - I think there were so many angry residents last year whose streets were blocked off but they were told to pay to enter.

What I want to know, who exactly is this festival for? Because I don't get who goes to a street fair to buy cabinets and fucking Starbucks.

Also, the sound is always so horrible. If you are going to go to the trouble of setting up such an enormous affair, why wouldn't you use proper technicians?

Whatever. I only thing I like about SJ is dancing at the Shakespeare truck. But, I could do that somewhere else too...

Chal Pivik said...

it was bearable (no pun!) during the day if you stayed on santa monica. but the sunset section is awful. best stage was at the far end of santa monica (hoover?) great site lines, good sound.

i primariy went for the bands so the $15 fee was fine by me (bought early at Tsunami cafe to save 5 bucks.)but the big stage on sunset sucked big time. horrible sound and crush of people.

and did anyone play those stupid carnival games? i saw nobody patronizing them when i passed by.

Unknown said...

Hey peeps call councilman Eric Garcetti to stop the SJ bullshit for next year. They cant fucking charge us to be on the street. move your fucking "festival" somewhere else.

Office of Eric Garcetti 323 957 4500