Turks & Armenians

Poster for Armenian Protest Against the Genocide of 1915

I decided to go today to the Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax to read a book of Umberto Eco essays and have a nice lunch. Although I finally made it, a number of obstacles arose. Today was the March for Justice to commemorate the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide by the Turks. As there are a whole lot of Armenians in Los Angeles, there were numerous street closures and bus re-routings, including the MTA #217 that turned on Beverly Blvd rather than continuing south on Fairfax to 3rd Street, where the market is.

The walk didn’t discombobulate me much, as I merely had to walk a half mile. But to most of the bus patrons, it was confusing borderlining on tragic. (The area is full of Russian immigrants who didn’t understand the bus driver’s announcement of the detour.)

Armenian Marchers and LAPD

In general, I find myself very pro-Armenian. Partly it is because Martine truly loves the way that Armenians prepare chicken. I am also pro-Turkish. I am against the genocide, but the guilty parties to that event are long gone. The Young Turk government of Enver Pasha was guilty of the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians. If you are interested in the subject, see Elia Kazan’s film America America (1963). So I am very anti Young Turk, but that’s ancient history, so it doesn’t much matter any more. What confuses me is that the current leader of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, refuses to own up to his country’s past infamies, of which there are many. Why? His government was not to blame for them.

Southern California is full of ethnic minorities of all kinds, including a few racial ones as well. It makes living here interesting. And it makes for some fascinating cuisines.


Farmers and Hipsters

Seafood Stand at the Old Farmers’ Market

Originally, there was the Original Farmers’ Market at Third and Fairfax. Even on the hottest days, it is a cool, shaded place with dozens of good restaurants and interesting stores. Naturally, this being Los Angeles, the real estate developers couldn’t leave well enough alone. Adjacent to the old market sprang up The Grove, consisting primarily of chains oriented toward young hipsters.

In the original market, I can take a book or Kindle and sit down for hours reading without being bothered. Oh, I buy lunch there, and maybe have a cup of tea when I arrive—and maybe even some snacks to take home.

At The Grove, there is no place to sit and read. After all, hipsters don’t read. It’s just not cool enough.

Hipster Duds at The Grove (Yawn!)

Fortunately, the presence of The Grove has not killed the Original Farmers’ Market. It’s still a major tourist attraction. So is The Grove, for that matter. Both are full of people taking selfies. I think that if The Grove swallowed the old market, people would protest loud and long. Also, I have a sneaking feeling that The Grove may require several re-designs as the new hipsters replace the old. The Farmers’ Market, on the other hand, should be preserved exactly as it is.

Today at the market, I finished reading the first volume of Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter and then started in with Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend. Plus I had two great vegetarian tacos at The Lotería, one with nopalitos (marinated prickly pear cactus) and potatoes with poblano chiles. With it, I had a delicious watermelon agua fresca.


Difficulties with Girls at 1 Lower Ground

British Author Kingsley Amis (1922-1995)

When last I saw the characters Patrick Standish and Jenny Bunn, they were just starting their relationship in Kingsley Amis’s Take a Girl Like You.

Now, years later, they are stilled married, but childless due to Jenny’s miscarriage. They’ve moved to a maisonette at 1 Lower Ground in London. Jenny is still the same sweetheart; and Patrick, the same opportunistic whoreson. Jenny knows this and sorrowfully reproves his husband for his erring ways. Being in the book publishing business, Patrick goes to an inordinate number of parties where opportunities for excessive drinking and sexual provender abound.

Many of his problems are no farther than a few feet from his front door. His new neighbor Tim Valentine is a clueless young man who is mildly confused about his own sexuality and seems to pop in at least once a day. Next door are Eric and Stevie, a gay couple who are incessantly fighting each other. Also nearby is Wendy Porter-King, with whom Patrick has a brief but intense fling.

I have always enjoyed Amis’s novels, even when they are not the best. I preferred Take a Girl Like You, but Difficulties with Girls is not at all bad. By now I have read almost half of his novels and will probably read more in the coming year.

My Reading Station at the Fairfax Farmers Market

I finished reading the book at the Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax, where I was able to read uninterrupted and break for a tasty lunch. It looks as if I head to the Market around once a week. No matter how hot it may be outside, it always seems cooler in the covered shade over the tables here.


Reading at the Farmers Market

The Book Is Open to Sir Arthur Quiller Couch’s Cambridge Lectures

Today started with a visit to the dentist. Apparently, my teeth are continuing to be ground to powder by the action of my jaws. Within the next year, I will need three crown replacements, beginning next month, with one of my right bottom molars about to be crushed to smithereens. So it goes. After the appointment, I took the 720 bus to Wilshire and Fairfax and walked up to the “Original” Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax.

There, I finished reading Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein, which I loved, and dipped into the Cambridge Lectures of Sir Arthur Quiller Couch. I’ll probably give the latter another chance, butit’s not looking good. Too many untranslated quotations in Greek. I can usually tolerate Latin, but Greek, well, it’s Greek to me.

In a Cool Shady Corner of the Market

One of the things I love about the Farmers Market is that I could sit and read for hours without anyone bothering me. So what if all the chairs are of the folding variety. If I need variety, I can always get a nice cup of English Breakfast tea or a tasty Po’ Boy sandwich, which is what I had today. The variety of eateries at the Farmers Market is almost endless: American, Israeli, Chinese, Seafood, Malaysian, Louisiana Creole, Japanese, Mexican, Brazilian, Italian—you name it! And much of the food on offer is high quality.

The Farmers Market is full of European and Asian tourists on a typical day. This morning, a whole busload of French trooped past me while I was drinking a lemonade.

I like the idea that this place is not what the tourists expect when they think of Los Angeles. My guess is that their picture of my city is half a century or more old. The only stars in Hollywood today are on the sidewalks along Hollywood Boulevard.

The Original Farmer’s Market

Mickey Jacobs of The Bread Bin (Closed in 2008)

Today, I went to the original Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax with my 88-year-old neighbor Luis. We had lunch at Moishe’s, which has delicious lamb shish-kabobs. I could not help remembering that some of my first digital pictures were taken at the Market with my old Kodak in July 2006. Hunting up my photo library on Flickr, I saw the above picture of Mickey Jacobs, proprietor of the Bread Bin. This was Martine’s favorite stop the times we went there: She loved to see me talk in Hungarian to Mickey, who had some delicious pastries. Unfortunately, Mickey sold his business two years later; and his replacement was not quite up to snuff.

Still, the original Farmer’s Market is a great place to go. Even on a Wednesday, it was full of tourists, looking for good food, fresh meats and produce, and souvenirs. They also used to have a bookstore and even antiques, but they are no more. What there are are a lot of good places to eat and relatively few vacancies. With all that foot traffic, if you open a decent place, you are bound to have a successful business.

Cherries at the Farmer’s Market

It’s still too early for cherries by a few weeks, but it won’t be long now. The above picture was taken in July 2008, at the height of their season.

I plan to visit the Farmer’s Market as much as once a week to have a good lunch and to hole up with a good book for a few hours. I know a place on the second floor where I can eat and read without getting trampled by all the foot traffic.