There was a classic Echo Park guy standing out here on the sidewalk, also waiting for a pizza. He was a fresh-faced white kid in a zip-up hooded sweatshirt, skinny jeans, and white canvas sneakers, telling a friend excitedly on his cell phone that he was "gonna be playing tomorrow night" at some place I didn't catch. He looked like he was from Michigan or New Hampshire. He had sort of medium-length mussed hair, wore a collared shirt, and had that studious, hungry look -- an uneasy blend of soulfulness and ambition -- that is so prevalent among aspiring indie rockers (and their ilk) in the L.A. Hipster Eastern Empire. I was the Bengali guy in a business casual shirt (sloppily untucked after a long day of playing grown-up) and slacks with comfortable, scuffed brown leather Rockport shoes -- the kind your middle school Social Studies teacher might have worn -- his expression of absorption and self-satisfied amusement illuminated in the wan blue glow of his Blackberry as he typed out a blog entry about Los Angeles.
American Apparel stores tend to appear in the areas where you find the aspiring indie rocker, but the aspiring indie rocker most probably does not shop there. There's one across the street from Pizza Buona. It is sort of a mystery as to who, in an economically "mixed" neighborhood like Echo Park, actually does shop at the store for $12 briefs. I don't think I've ever seen anyone inside the American Apparel here. The store's vaguely illicit ads, which famously feature very young women who appear to have been abducted by a pedophilic sex offender with a disposable camera and depressing interior design tastes, are always somewhat distracting when you drive by. They make you feel a little dirty. It's a way to sell underwear, I guess.
I'm back in Eagle Rock now, after driving the pizza home in a car redolent of tomatoes, cheese, and onions. I'm standing on the front steps listening to all the dogs and cats in the neighborhood freaking out, barking and meowing. Obviously, the effect is ominous: I'm considering safe places to hide in the event of an earthquake.