Thursday night in Echo Park there were choices: two prominent "L.A." writers (I put L.A. in quotes because one of the writers lives in Mexico City, when he doesn't live here) reading at two different venues, four blocks apart -- Rachel Resnick and Daniel Hernandez. Talk about a cross-section.
Resnick was at Tavin, the chic, tiny boutique on EP Avenue -- it reminds me of a hummingbird -- which has a surprising and delightful reading series the shop's owner named "Little Birds." The clothing in Tavin often are tagged with literary musings written by Erin Tavin -- bits and pieces you can wear inside your head, whether you buy the garment or not. The audiences at Little Birds tend to be groovy and very well-dressed (one not guaranteeing the other), imported from fancier districts. If Anthony Trollope were alive, he'd write about it.
Meanwhile, at the same time as Resnick's reading, the bass was thumping over at the Echo, where the journal Slake threw a party for Daniel Hernandez, journalist, blogger, and now author of Down & Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century.Hernandez's exceptional blog is called Intersections, and I have written about it before. In Intersections he writes about himself as a "native foreigner" in Mexico and as a foreign native in California.
I chose to attend Hernandez's party -- as a D.F. resident he was the more rare bird -- and stayed long enough to hear him read a few short passages from Down & Delirious, a book of "reported essays" that belong on a shelf with Joan Didion's White Album and Slouching Towards Bethlehem. With a daughter in elementary school, I don't relish staying out much later than 9, even when the club is filling with cool-looking people and bands are getting ready to play. I bought the book and went home, planning to call it a night. But I made the mistake -- or I had the good fortune -- to openDown & Delirious first. Into the night, and then again today, I could not put it down. I felt like I had gone to a place I had heard of in a dream. I also felt like a window had opened into the dilemma of so many of the Mexican-Americans with whom I share Los Angeles. It's also compelling reading, simply for some of its subject matter -- the fashion scenes in theDistrito Federal, the lawlessness, the fusion of Colonial and Indigenous cultures.
Today, when I checked in on the blog Intersections, I saw that one of the characters in the book, Cesar Arellano, was killed this week. He was a fashion blogger, and a preliminary news report said he may have been a victim of La Inseguridad, The Insecurity, which Hernandez writes about in a chapter that seemed to have little to do with Arellano. Intersections are not always a good thing.