Along Fairfax Avenue, storefronts stand crunched together, the traditional adjacent to the trendy. At Solomon's Bookstore, golden menorahs glisten on display and yarmulkes, a sign advertises, can be imprinted. Just steps away, the store called "A Life" displays T-shirts and sneakers in knife-straight rows behind glass, hip-hop music blasting. In Schwartz's Bakery, a woman, her head covered in a wig -- an Orthodox custom of modesty -- buys bread. Up the street, at the vintage clothing boutique Catwalk, Yves St. Laurent ankle boots sit under a white voile dress. "We're a little different from the rest of the block," muses co-owner Michelle Webb.
The Fairfax district hums along, a delicate ecosystem of diversity. Long a hub of Jewish community life, it is now dotted with outposts of hipsterism, and, undoubtedly, more will come. Anchoring it all for half a century is Canter's Deli, its cantaloupe-colored facade beckoning all manner of customers 24 hours a day. Deli cases on one side of the store brim with every conceivable pastry and, on the other, showcase every imaginable smoked fish.
The area remains strangely unbullied by the Grove shopping extravaganza plunked down on its eastern flank. Next door to the mall, the venerable Farmers Market stands unbowed, its clock tower like a modest lighthouse, the hands of the black and white clock still tracking the hours and minutes.