THE other night I ventured out to Los Angeles’s North Hollywood neighborhood for the latest installment of Lit Crawl L.A. This annual night out has been going since 2013, but for various reasons I’ve missed it every time, even though NoHo is one of my favorite L.A. ‘hoods. The idea of Lit Crawl is to arrange readings, conversations, rants, and various kinds of performances in an area that is dense enough with restaurants, bars, galleries, and so on to make for a safe and engaging evening in a city that’s notoriously spread-out and car-dependent.
So while I didn’t take in more than a couple hours and a handful of events for Lit Crawl — I’d been out late the night before and had to be up early the next morning — I’d call it a qualified success. That area around the intersection of Lankershim and Magnolia is dense and lively enough that Lit Crawl created a real sense of occasion. Nearly every place I went was packed. (One bar I passed was largely empty and seemed a bit sad– it turned out to be one of the few watering holes in the ‘hood that was not participating.)
On every street there seemed to be people, young and old, walking from reading to reading with enthusiasm, and, often, some kind of fancy eyewear.
Among the places I visited, often briefly, were Pitfire Pizza, Kahuna Tiki (rad), Fat Dog, El Tejano (I still miss Bow and Truss), Eclectic Food and Wine, Republic of Pie, and the very groovy Blastoff Comics. Did I see any deathless literature being recited? Well, probably not, but it can be hard to tell in settings like this.
I certainly saw some engaging poets and prose writers, and at the very least some very funny monologists. I also saw a neighborhood that has doubled down on its art and culture quotient delivering on some of its promise. And I found some cool places I didn’t know: I’d never visited Blastoff, which has a great collection of vintage science-fiction novels, and sheesh! has Magnolia’s stretch of bars gotten hip lately.
The element I’d like to see in future Lit Crawls — and I don’t know how 2016 compares to years past — is more better-known scribes. Clearly the emphasis was on younger/emerging/avant/small-press writers and recent graduates of writing programs; that’s great. But if a handful of more established figures were involved it would, I hope bring everyone’s game up and attract a larger crowd without altering the indie/ underground/ youthful spirit of the whole thing.
I would have liked to go to the afterparty at one of my favorite local joints, The Federal Bar, but ran out of steam. In any case, next year am looking forward to being better rested and taking in Lit Crawl even more fully.