Arts and Culture

Virginia Village: I'll be out reppin' my transitional neighborhood like a mascot

I live in a transitional neighborhood. At least I think that's what it's called when white people move into a lower-class section of town and start sprucing it up with Ikea-looking exterior siding and park their way-too-expensive cars in tiny driveways. Unlike the North side, I mean, The Highlands, this transition is a fairly new phenomenon for my li'l hood of Virginia Village -- and the surrounding Virginia Vale, Krisana Park and Panorama Park neighborhoods too. My block in particular turned over just within the last year, because six of my neighbors died. Come to think of it, I wonder if all of those white people know about the old dead people. Whatever.

The cool part about this barely visible neighborhood where I grew up (and still reside, because I'm 30 and I've effectively built a fort in mom's basement) is that it has retained its authenticity. Between the fancy flips and monstrous California Contemporary remodels (or "mid-century moderns" as realtor signs like to say), there are still plenty of rentals, former HUD homes and houses occupied by people who don't own strollers that are more expensive than their cars.

My neighbor still walks his Pomeranian wearing only shorts and gold chains (see above). My family still stands out by the pick-up truck and smokes cigarettes in the street when we BBQ. The people at the end of my block not only have bed sheets for windows treatments, they have staged their driveway like a showroom, strategically placing ground lighting to show off their Smart Car and janky Camaro. (These same people may also be running an auto-theft ring/petting zoo, because there is a rotating cast of license plate-less cars parked in their yard every week, along with sheep.) Virginia Village keeps it real. So real that recently, when was bicycling around my '50s-era hood I discovered the infamous "Bronco bus." For at least two decades, this bright orange, broken-down van-thing was parked around the corner from my house -- until one day, it vanished. When I found the rusty landmark in a new spot just five blocks away, I was elated. Someone had finally given it the home it deserved -- no longer on blocks, the Bronco bus sat like a museum piece, parked for viewing on a specially poured flat of concrete, surrounded by potted plants. Does your neighborhood have devoted Bronco fever like that? I just don't think so.

I guess I'm pretty lucky to have grown up in a neighborhood that, while it has benefitted from higher tax brackets moving in, has still managed to stay true to its pseudo-white trash roots. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go roll my compost bin out to the curb and water my lawn in my "CABO" booty shorts while talking on the phone.

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