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Analogue Girl About Town: Ventura Boulevard

I rarely venture into the Valley these days but I make an exception every now and then for Ventura Boulevard.

Ventura Boulevard

There was a time when I lived and breathed in the infamous Valley (for those of you who don’t know, the Valley is the biggest suburb in Los Angeles and known officially as the San Fernando Valley).

It was practically all I ever knew of LA.

But that was another very naïve lifetime ago and an entirely different story. I’ll say though that when you live and experience a place where there’s probably only one decent bookstore within 5 to 10 miles, where 7-11s take up more space than parks, and where teenagers talk like those characters from Clueless (yes, they really do!) and spend their time watching crappy reality shows; you get over it rather quickly and run away as fast as your feet could take you.

So these days, unless I have a very specific and very important purpose, I rarely ever venture out west past Burbank, which is in the easternmost part.

But I make an exception every now and then for Ventura Boulevard.

A mother and her child strolling past a Japanese barbecue restaurant on Ventura Boulevard.

I don’t know. I guess I figured that a street that mattered enough for artists like Tom Petty (“All the vampires walkin’ through the valley / Move west down Ventura Blvd”, Free Fallin’), Tori Amos (“On my way up north, up on the Ventura”, A Sorta Fairytale), and Frank Zappa (“On Ventura, there she goes / She just bought some bitchen clothes”, Valley Girl) to write songs about can’t be all that bad.

Or maybe it’s because this southernmost boulevard in the Valley is a thriving hub for many small and local businesses.

Ventura Boulevard is teeming with a lot of good places to eat.

Ventura Boulevard is that one major street in the Valley where there are decent restaurants that won’t overcharge you for Americanized versions of foreign cuisines, where there are actual bookstores, where vinyl is still very much alive and DVDs don’t have to be so expensive, and where there are more affordable vintage and consignment stores than Urban Outfitters, Gaps, and H&M.

Second Spin on Ventura sells a lot of used DVDs, CDs, and EPs/Vinyls.
Consignment, vintage, and thrift stores are abundant on Ventura.

Here on Ventura Boulevard, candy-and-soda shops are not just shops but vessels to the past and guitar stores are not just guitar stores trying to make profits but museums of works of art.

Rocket Fizz is a soda pop and candy store on Ventura.
Norman’s Rare Guitars on Ventura has a huge collection of vintage and hard-to-find guitars and is frequented by many musicians.

Don’t get me wrong. Ventura Boulevard is definitely has more of “A Sorta Fairytale” than a “Free Fallin’” vibe; still much more suburban that rock’n’roll. But for all it’s young upper-class suburban air, Ventura Boulevard is that one street in the Valley that has actual taste.

All photographs by Michelle Rae. She lives, breathes, and haunts in the City of Angeles.

written by blueskyandhardrock

9 comments

  1. neanderthalis

    neanderthalis

    Funny, when I read the title...my mind went right to "Free Fallin" by Tom Petty. I guess that gives away a bit of my age. I wish I had thought to visit there last time I was in L.A. Your pics tell a nice tale for me though.

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  2. blueskyandhardrock

    blueskyandhardrock

    @neanderthalis i love free fallin' but when you are on Ventura Boulevard it definitely is not Tom Petty vibe. It's nice to walk around in though!

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  3. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    "Free Fallin'" vibe is on Van Nuys Blvd. and "NoHo" is much too precious and deliberately cute. I still like Ventura Blvd., but some of the scene, like Insomnia, Dave's Video, Gobi Desert were gone in the '90's.

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  4. blueskyandhardrock

    blueskyandhardrock

    @herbert-4 Van Nuys? i don't know, too many Mexican and Filipino population (at least these days) so very conservative; dirty in many parts but not in a hippie kind of vibe, too empty in some. NoHo is young but clean and well-behaved, slightly pretty slightly (mainstream) artistic.

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  5. blueskyandhardrock

    blueskyandhardrock

    @herbert-4 i don't know if i can find the "free fallin'"vibe in LA these days, maybe some parts in Laurel Canyon still, Topanga?

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  6. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    I'm still thinking of working on VNB in the wee small hours in the '90's, seeing tweakers wandering up and down, searching for something to steal and sell, looking for aluminum cans, etc... vampires, sad ones. I guess it's cleaner now.

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  7. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    I think you're right about Laurel Cyn and Topanga Cyn for Hippie Vibe, however, back in Hippie Days, Topanga Cyn was just weird in places, think Plato's Retreat and constant porno movie shoots, some of which you could see from the street. In the '70's, I was there on handyman calls a lot. In the '70's, Ventura Blvd was glorious.

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  8. blueskyandhardrock

    blueskyandhardrock

    @herbert-4 that must have been so interesting to see. did you take photographs? I love that you used the word "vampires".

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  9. blueskyandhardrock

    blueskyandhardrock

    @herbert-4 porno movies in the streets! insane! i wish i had witness LA back in the late 60s and 70s. it must have been amazing! so jealous.

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