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"All we need is a loan for a week"

Maybe you can see her down your street. Maybe not.

"People need this festival, they're counting on it for their livelihoods," Sunset Junction booker Jennifer Tefft told the LA Times yesterday. "All we need is a loan for a week. We'll have every penny of this after the festival."

And so it has come to this, according to the Hollywood Reporter:

"Organizers of the Sunset Junction street fair issued a plea for donations late Monday night as they face the possibility that the Los Angeles event may be canceled, less than a week before it is set to begin."

Thus City Council, a key commission, and and a new generation of City Hall finger waggers are one day closer to shutting down Sunset Junction and embarrassing LA as a can't-do city once again.

No bands have canceled yet, but they are likely to start cancelling Wednesday if the hat-passing doesn't pan out and the City stands firm on the threat not to issue street permits to the event.

Whatever happens at Sunset and Santa Monica this weekend, the City's shakedown and prospective takedown of Sunset Junction Street Fair promoters yesterday demonstrated what lies in the hearts of a new generation of City stakeholder: an indifference not only to the festival but to the economic outcome of cancelling it too.

A communications director for one City Councilman derided PBR-toting "hipsters" and called SJ "an ironic bbq." One of Councilman Koretz's planners found it "amazing SJ cannot pay City fees...but can pay some of the most expensive attorneys, lobbyists and consultants in town to represent them"--as though that money doesn't count because it goes to people in suits. And Rachel Kane, who writes a blog exclusively devoted to bashing the merchandise of Forever 21--one of the City's most successful fashion ventures of the past three decades, and one of the few mature fashion entities that hasn't yet completely fled LA after topping a billion in annual sales--says "Sunset Junction is not some sacred cow to me. It could disappear forever and I wouldn't care."

None of these people are as old as SJ itself is, but they all are chortling at the prospect of its demise--mainly because of the steep ticket prices, which many feel are now out of reach of the general public, and also because of the distance between festival and community, which they feel has never been greater.

Especially representative of the Generation Next's anti-SJ zeitgeist is Andrea Alarcón, the Villaraigosa-appointed president of the City's Board of Public Works.

Daughter of Councilman Richard Alarcón, Alarcón hija scolded the promoters Sunset Junction from her lofty commission perch yesterday, asking them, "Do you know what that $400,000 could do for this city?"

Well, some of us do. It could pay her dad's salary for two years and two months, for instance. Or, it could extend to every man woman and child in the City of Los Angeles...a...dime.

It could pay for Raman Raj's disability, which the City continues to pay even six months after he was fired.

In fact, with a $7 billion budget, the City spends $400K every...half an hour. Even between 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. With a $7 billion budget, the City spends $19 million every day.

Addressing concerns about the degree to which SJ has become a community pariah, the City and the community created the Silver Lake Jubilee two years ago, a more truly neighborhood event, allowing Sunset Junction to continue down its own raucous but economically viable path more or less independently of the community it originally serviced, and availing a Silver Lake event that local bands could headline.

If the new breed succeeds in shutting down SJ, they will have accomplished what scourges as varied and menacing as community moralizers, privatization, and even the AIDS epidemic itself was unable to do in previous decades. Unfortunately, this fresh economic insouciance looks a lot like the kind of economic shortsightedness exhibited by Councilmembers who ran so many businesses out of town over the past two decades.

To me, the City has a lot of nerve, after cavalierly spending its way into its present crisis throughout the Villaraigosa mayoralty, to now jawbone a group of private promoters who bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to the City with their moderately felonious two-day fest. SJ is a headache, and an expensive one, but canceling this one would be a devastating blow to LA's image through the region and the state--again.

And even if the event now seems abundantly disconnected from its roots, it is not entirely so. It's still possible--and hopefully will remain possible this weekend--for a woman to walk down a couple of blocks, pay $25, enjoy a full afternoon, take in an evening set by kd lang--and recall, with perchance some wistfulness, what brought her to Silver Lake in the first place.