Back in the late 70's, as a high school student, Westwood
[above] was considered the place to hang out. We
would make the 45-minute drive from Thousand Oaks, and spend
an evening hanging out in we thought was a pretty hip and
happenin' place. Not as tacky and scary as Hollywood, It
had just the right assortment of interesting shops, fun
restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and a crazy assortment
of weird, trippy people roaming around.
Donuts, Copeland Sports, Ship's coffee shop, aahs!!,
Westwood was an 'Old Town' before the concept of converting
an aging downtown was an urban solution. Even through the
mid-eighties, it was a place where you could see fraternity
brothers, bikers, robed Hari Krishna, punk rockers, freaks,
geeks, homeless, and every type in between - all walking
the streets together - and with very little incident. It
didn't seem to attract gang members or crime, but it had
enough of an edge to seem sort of decadent and strange.
It was fun.
then something happened. Some say it was a riot in the early
90's, some say Westwood simply lost its appeal to other
shopping destinations like Melrose Avenue and Third Street
Promenade in Santa Monica. Movie premieres moved on to other
cities. And merchants started leaving. Whatever it was,
Westwood started to slide -- to coast.
forward to 2003, and on a Sunday afternoon in March, perhaps
it should come as no surprise that the UCLA Hammer Museum,
which sits on the north end of Westwood Village was slow.