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What a Broke Comedian Learned Spending a Weekend in a $1 Million Arts District Penthouse

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The Arts District is the Downtown neighborhood so on fire (artisan brewpubs! local, organic grocery stores! skyrocketing prices!) that it's being compared to New York's Meatpacking District. 940 East 2nd Street is one of its fanciest condo buildings (real estate heavyweight Diane Keaton owns a unit) and it's pretty on fire itself; a year and a half after opening, 36 of the 38 units are sold out and the last two--the penthouses--both have sales pending (deasy/penner exclusively repped the building and tell us it's been one of their favorite projects). Before they all disappeared, 940 East 2nd Street kindly offered a unit up to writer/comedian Megan Koester (blog here) for a recent weekend. Here's what she learned.

I'm a "struggling artist," or in other words someone hubristic enough to think they're too talented to work for a goddamned living. As such, I'm poor. I live in what can generously be described as a room, situated smack dab in the corazón of MacArthur Park (five-time winner of LA Weakly's "Best Worst Neighborhood in Los Angeles"). For two days, however, I lived in the staged luxury of one of 940 East 2nd Street's $1.195-million, four-story penthouses (located in LA's "thriving and creative" Downtown Arts District). In doing so, I "experience[d] privacy, security and convenience in a way unparalleled by any Downtown residence." This lies in stark contrast to the poverty, uncertainty, and malaise I usually experience in my apartment. (A couple weeks ago, I couldn't leave my building because multiple cops were stationed out front, guns drawn, imploring a young man to "show [them his] fucking hands.") In the penthouse I could come and go with reckless abandon, having unfettered access to park my dilapidated American-made car in the building's parking garage whenever I damn well pleased. Indeed, my brief time spent at 940 East 2nd made me deeply cognizant of how The Other Half lives. Allow me to educate those among you who may be uninitiated to the discreet charms of the bourgeoisie.

What I Now Know About People Who Buy Million-Dollar Arts District Condos:
1. They love light dimmers--the more, the better. It appears that rich people's obsession with micromanagement also extends to brightness.
2. They are a deeply public people, abhorring blinds and window coverings, maybe because if there were coverings, plebes like me wouldn't be able to gaze in amazement at their opulence. Due to the penthouse's lack of said coverings, a middle-aged man across the way saw my bare breasts when I, hungover, stumbled out of bed on an (incredibly bright) Saturday morning. Had I been the kind of person who could actually afford the condo I was staying in, the shame I felt at that moment would have been nonexistent. I am, however, not; as such, I am ashamed of my bare breasts. The middle-aged man appeared nonplussed. He must be doing pretty well for himself.

3. They like looking at living quarters that look like the living quarters they live in. The bathroom on the third level was well-stocked with well-designed magazines celebrating the joys of modern living. One magazine focused solely on kitchens--a mind-numbing 100 of them. On every page, a kitchen. Turn a page, kitchen. Kitchen. Kitchen. Abundant photos of rich people, invariably white, marinating free-range chickens on their reclaimed wood countertops. Another magazine extolled the virtues of a $30 cheese knife. Sitting on the sparkling toilet, preparing to wipe with TWO-ply toilet paper (What am I, the Queen of England?), I silently asked myself, What the hell is a cheese knife?
4. For reasons unknown, they put benches in their showers. If I were able to afford a shower large enough to sit in, I don't think I'd ever be depressed enough to feel the need to do so.
5. They have no interest in material possessions, as evidenced by their relatively little closet space.
6. They have no interest in cushiness, as evidenced by their love of stark couches and seats made out of wooden slats.

7. They love shiny surfaces, especially in the context of kitchen appliances.
8. They use clocks for decoration, as the concept of time is meaningless to them. They use books as decoration, probably for a similar reason.
9. They are probably not carrying on the legacy of the neighborhood. 940 East 2nd Street's website makes reference to 1981's "Artisan [sic] in Residence Ordinance," which legally allowed artists to live in the formerly industrial buildings they had illegally been using as live/work spaces. I didn't see a picture of anyone hovering over a goddamned easel anywhere on the site, though. I didn't see anyone looking particularly bohemian in the area immediately surrounding the building, either. All I saw were the "high-tech, high income, higher education" folks the Arts District's website says "define" the neighborhood. Oh, and one metric-ton of homeless people. But if I squinted my eyes just right, most of them looked like hipsters. Life's harsh truths averted!
10. Their cars are just as nice as their homes. The building's garage was filled to the brim with a showroom's worth of Audis, BMWs, and Priuses. There was, however, one wildcard--a nondescript pickup truck with a "Support Our Troops" ribbon affixed to the back of it. This immediately lead me to assume Vincent Gallo lives in the building. (And if he does, I rescind everything I said in number 10--artists do call this place home. I mean, have you seen the blowjob scene in The Brown Bunny?)
11. They may not actually exist. I didn't see another tenant during my entire stay; the only sign of life was a brightly-colored welcome mat on my neighbor's doorstep. Even the 1 am caterwauling of my (comparably disenfranchised) friends didn't bring them out of the woodwork. But if rich people don't exist, why the hell am I so poor?
· 940 East 2nd Archives [Curbed LA]

940 East 2nd Street

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