The Winter 2021 issue of The Hopkins Review features my ode to another relic of LA’s past, Bargain Circus on La Brea Blvd., where my mother, grandmother, and I did much of our shopping when we first immigrated to the city. The poem was promoted by Valery Skorov’s song “Garbage,” which I translated last July. My great thanks to the journal’s editor, the wonderful poet David Yezzi, for responding so warmly to the submission.
One look at the Circus’s façade suggests what an odd place it was — odd and carnivalesque. Writing for the Los Angeles Times in 1997, Danny Feingold captured the scene:
The eclectic selection of goods and guilt-inducing low prices draw a melange of Orthodox Jews, Russians, Armenians and Westside connoisseurs. And the wallet-friendly policy seems to inspire a relaxed, congenial atmosphere. “Where are you going to find eggs for $1.09?” says Anya, an 88-year-old regular who comes by bus from Santa Monica and recites her movie credits while stocking up on cottage cheese.
Where indeed… The big tent folded in 1999, ceding way to a cookie-cutter 99 Cents Only store, but the memories persist.