The Problem with Hacienda Heights

I’ve talked alot of shit about some of our suburbs to the east in my past, and though I wish I could stop my bashing to save friendships and to not create any more hostilities with some friends and family members that live in these and nearby ‘burbs, it’s impossible for my sense of decency to keep quiet. The suburbs create odd behavior patterns, maybe perfectly reasonable within the context of their own reality but utterly absurd when exposed to the light of reason. Take for example this xmas tree spotted on a cul-de-suck in Hacienda Heights earlier today: even before 5:30pm somebody has managed to get rid of the holiday tree, leaving it out for the trash truck, even though this was still Christmas Day! Is the trash pick-up coming early in the morning? Are they scared of the fire dangers of a pine tree in the home? I have no idea, but whatever the “logic” that led to such an early curbside disposal, it just points to some warped thinking happening inside these homes. Fucking wasteful thinking. I almost considered bringing it home for that sweet piney smell, but neh pollos, I can barely tolerate the trappings of Christmas, so why push it with the decorations?

If people can build opinions about Lincoln Heights from some cholo getting shot and killed, isn’t it appropriate that I be able to form an opinion from some random sighting on my way out of a fun X-mas party in HH? I think the notion of justice demands I create a similar prejudice, just to be fair.

23 thoughts on “The Problem with Hacienda Heights

  1. “If people can build opinions about Lincoln Heights from some cholo getting shot and killed, isn’t it appropriate that I be able to form an opinion from some random sighting on my way out of a fun X-mas party in HH? I think the notion of justice demands I create a similar prejudice, just to be fair.” El Chavo

    My life’s work El Chavo is contained in this statement. Now get ready for silent screaming from the burbs at how unfair you are. They will of course be very polite about it, because that is the surburban way to prove how very superior their way of life is in comparison to everyone else’s. Though there is a new suburb. The urburb. The urburb is a place where people who would have in the past lived in HH or the Valley now live. The location of the urburb are in places that what were formerly known as the “bad neighborhoods” by their parents. They then change it into the suburbs, complete with strollers, self-righteouness, Starbucks, bicycles, magnet schools and exclusivity.

    They carve a little section (usually on a hill) or on the “otherside” of the street. And pay thousands of dollars over list price. Then they complain about the people who’ve lived their for years (though they never bring up the race of these people, because they aren’t prejudice) and poof the urburbians get crime in their section to disappear and if something happens to one of their comrades while on the way to the local liquor store it gets an actual ink and paper story (and news cameras) and a fairy tale ending of the culprit being caught and sent to jail for a long, long, long time.


  2. … Dude, whatever. What’s your complaint? Really, what is it? So some guy decided to blow his cash on a tree and throw it away on the day it’s supposed to be up. How does that one family’s act reflect in any way on the community at large? You say you want justice because we apparently only look at your neighborhoods as havens of crime. You got to set yourself straight. Whether you like it or not, there is a disparity between East LA and the suburbs east of it. Think about it, you’re complaining about a tree when you should be complaining about real injustices like poverty in your neighborhoods, racist immigration policies, limited educational opportunities, gang violence, civic apathy, sub-standard housing, a stagnant local economy, blight, low wage employment, brain drain, and worst of all, an exclusive cultural mindset that doesn’t permit outside influence or acceptance. Yet you have the gall to pick on us in the “suburbs” because you want to complain about a tree. If you feel you’re not getting “respect” from suburbanites who think they’re “better than you;” well I think you just found out why. Use your website as a platform for some real change in your neighborhoods and as a stalwart against the institutional racism that is at the other “hip” hivemind blogs like the Ist and Eastsider. Don’t hate on use because you think we’ve become assimilated and lost our cultural identity. We’re the only ones who give you real love because we know where our parents came from and we can identify with East LA. We’re not from the segregated communities of the Westside and the Valley, who only see East LA as nothing more than an extension of Tijuana. Lose the attitude and ridiculous pride. Say something worthwhile.

  3. I totally agree with your idea of justice too.

    I always warn people about how most serial killers, who torture and then eat you, live in the suburbs. At least in the barrio you might get shot, but not eaten.

  4. Those are terrible generalizations. There are sickos everywhere. There’s no doubt about that. Murder is unacceptable in any neighborhood. The serial killer/whackjob argument is just a distraction from the real issue. How can you justify victimization by gang violence over domestic violence? Both result in the most horrifying of consequences. My argument is, fix your own problems before you start complaining about others’, especially if it’s for something as banal as a tree. Fight for real justice. You’re just making yourself sound like you haven’t gotten over your teenage angst.

  5. “You’re just making yourself sound like you haven’t gotten over your teenage angst.”

    Isnt that calling the kettle black a bit? Dude, dont personalize EC’s comments so much, because I think it is a valid one about many (not all) people who live in these communities and judge barrio communities as lesser. I live in Alhambra, and my parents moved to La Puente a decade ago only to move back to Eastlos because it had the same issues with a larger lawn, EC’s comments are pretty spot on.

    Furthermore, who the f made you the all knowing judge of what is acceptable to put in a blog about the eastside? El Chavo has posted numerous topics about the problems you feel he should, maybe some homework is in order before such judgemental self righteousness. In fact, many of the authors on this blog live in the suburban eastside, and making negative connotations about consumption or antisocial behavior (both prevalent in suburban areas) has nothing to do with being a self hating hispanic. Being a self hating hispanic would mean calling ELA tijuana and complaining about how all people who live in those areas and enjoy their culture and traditions (note this has NOTHING to do with hating on others who have embraced non-latino customs and culture) somehow are engaging in an exclusive cultural mindset that doesnt permit outsdie cultural influence or acceptance, oh wait……

  6. “Dude, dont personalize EC’s comments so much, because I think it is a valid one about many (not all) people who live in these communities and judge barrio communities as lesser.” Art to the person with insanely long handle.

    That’s the thing. Why if anything negative is said about suburbia people lose their damn mind. People can generalize the Eastside and South Central all day long and that’s supposed to be cool, but you point out one thing bad about the wastefulness of the American dream and people get all freakin sensitive.

    If anyone needs to grow up it is America suburbia for being such tools to hold on to a lifestyle that brings nothing but working yourself to death to get to the next level and out do the Joneses.

    There is nothing wrong with critiquing the idea of suburbia. I see quite a few of ex-suburbanites living in their car this Xmas, so possibly there is something flawed in that dream.

    In this La Crisis I bet the people who are hurting the most are all of those people who thought the American dream was about working hard and getting a house regardless of what kind of loan they received to get that house.

    I know people who two years ago had houses, lofts, nice jobs and pretty recently have been reduced to (if they are lucky living with their mama) so that way of life as being the way? That lie that is sold to people should be critiqued in a major way and you know in the next coming months you will see the LA Times and the NY Times critiquing that way the same way El Chavo, myself and others have been doing for years, but for some reason no one is going to get mad about it, because for some reason if a middle class white guy types it or writes it then it sounds alot more reasonable.


  7. Art:
    Sorry dude, Gotta call BS on that one. Complaining about trashed Christmas trees and then shrugging it off as just another intolerable trapping of Christmas is teenage angst. Get over it, it’s a tree. It was never assumed those in the suburbs east of Los Angeles live in an idyllic paradise. There are definitely problems in our neck of the woods and self-righteousness whould be if I denied that. It’s the antagonism among many of those who live in East Los Angeles towards those east of them that’s unacceptable, especially because of how culturally linked both the suburbs and East Los Angeles are with each other. That’s hypocrisy.
    I sacastically call myself self-hating because that’s the best nom de guerre that reflects how this author probably feels about people in my community, or at least that’s how it seems. The post and the comments are a punch in the face. It stands to reason, for someone like me, to jab back. I point to real problems that need to be resolved, he points out a tree.

  8. Browne:

    The underlying problem I see, especially as a proud hispanic living in suburbia, is the rift I see between both urban and suburban hispanic communities. If El Chavo wanted to point out something bad in my neighborhood, please bring it to light. Trust me, I’ve got a lot to bellyache about my community too. Though if he is going to, do it if it’s something truely worthwhile, not a tree. Complain about the lack of charity and shelter that’s always absent in our community. The NIMBYism that’s pervaded my community’s psyche. I want to see East Los Angeles’ problems fixed just as much as I want to see my neighborhood fixed. It’s for the better, because both communities are very dependent on eachother.

  9. Somewhere out there a tiny violin is playing for you homeboy.

    I’m just going to make a guess that El Chavo was in Hacienda Heights celebrating Xmas with his family (or chimatli’s, another author here), enjoying their suburban party and not moaning about how horrible suburbanites are. You note the strong social bond between eastside suburbanites and the motherbarrio, and somehow you dont think it goes both ways? Do us all a favor and go police the LAist blog or LAcurbed if you need attention by stirring up shite, because they are falling on deaf ears here.

    Id put money down that nobody on this site hates the suburbs or suburban people (because we all know, are related to or possibly are suburbanites as well), more the prevalent attitude and behaviors exuded by many in these areas. Id also like to correct a comment you made about the disparity of suburban communities east of the barrio and ELA, I dont see them in Pomona, LA Puente, El Monte, Baldwin Park, much of south/west whittier, norwalk, pico rivera, southside montebello, etc. etc.

    Thank you for your comments, I appreciate your perspective. But you do have some pretty thin skin, let me tell you, which is not uncommon from those in or from the burbs. If you want to write up a defense of HH or Whittier, be my guest, I’ll post it here on this site. But don’t come to me with that tired old line that I should be writing about this or that, or the “real injustices” as you put it, cuz that’s just laziness on your part. My pendejadas are my own, I choose to find my own topics.

    That tree is meaningless, granted, but I think the post shows a small slice of the backwardness of suburbanness and those that go thru life without ever being critical of their actions. It’s just one wart on a much larger disease, but I was only there for a short time. I’ll be back soon enough, hopefully with even more absurdities to point out!

    When you’re done with your contribution, send it via the “contact us” page.

  11. EC:
    I actually really enjoy this discourse. Maybe I should’ve stayed on topic about conspicuous consumption, rather than the divide between hispanic communities, but it was something that had to come off my chest, because of the generalization about suburban living that was made. There isn’t much of a voice for the gateway cities, as there is for the East Los Angeles area, especially on the web… unless you count the SGV Tribune and the Whittier Daily News. So to express my qualms about being picked on seems quite warranted to me. It may seem thin-skinned, but it’s nice to stand up for yourself when there is no one to speak for you in the first place. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard white-washed, pocho, and sellout all my life, especially from my acquaintances from East LA, which I felt a need to speak out. I have to point out that there is nothing lazy about fighting for social justice versus griping about some guy who finds nothing better in life than to throw his money away. Please visit us more often though. I’d like to hear more about my area, and of course your observations thereof, hopefully some positive. I read a few LA blogs and it seems like we’re the forgotten children of Los Angeles. Though, suburban living is pretty dull.

  12. The fact is, it’s usually the Eastside neighborhoods that get dumped on (by folks who haved “moved on up” and the cultural elite in Los Angeles.) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read in the comments section of blogs like Curbed LA that my neighborhood is a dump, dangerous, sketchy and full of losers.
    Lots of my family members (with the exception of one uncle) all live in the ‘burbs, talk lots of shit about the neighborhoods they left behind, while wistfully recalling the good ol’ bygone days before the Eastside became a “lil TJ.” Funny, they probably don’t realize they were the little Tijuaneros when they first moved there. Oh well, with the exception of a few of the above bloggers, most folks in the blogging world have nothing bad to say about the suburbs, so it’s intersting that one post by El Chavo can cause so much ire.

    this was just in the paper today.,0,895739.story
    American style suburbs for all!

  13. So you’re not gonna write up that post? Come on man, don’t rank out! I know very well the patterns of migration here in LA, most Eastsiders end up going further east to the communities you’re talking about and not West. Mostly all my extended family moved out that way, to some pretty blocks that are utterly boring and unsustainable in the long run. I know why they did it, it was still a bad choice.

    But back to the point, we do need the white-washed, pocho sellout perspective here on this site! 😉 So I challenge you to write up a post explaining why you love/hate Whittier or whatever suburbs you want to mention, maybe even take a few pictures, and I’ll make sure it gets posted here. What do you say? Your cable TV will still be there when you get back, you can do it!

    Hmm, maybe I should extend this challenge to lots more people.

  14. 10-4.
    I might eventually. We do need a voice down here. Unfortunately, I’ve been doing this at my office today, so I haven’t been able to add too much more. Maybe next time when I notice something interesting. Other than that, thanks for the time!

  15. I have an alternate theory on that Xmas Tree that was thrown out in HH:
    It might be that the tree was displayed in some house’s window just for appearances (para despistar) that someone was actually living there, when in reality it was in one of those hydroponic weed farm houses that are so prevalent in that region of San Gabriel (see links). On Xmas, the tenants/farmers came over to check the crops and throw out the cop-fooling tree!

  16. Al,

    what gave it away? the dry lawn? I was thinking that it was a foreclosed home… but it might be foreclosed home converted into a farm.

  17. My guess is that the people who live at that home are the kind of people who are always ahead of the game. They’re the kind of people who have their Christmas shopping done in July.

    I’ve spent the vast majority of my Christmas’ in Hacienda Heights and I’ve never seen such a thing. On your next visit(s), I’m sure you could find much more common behavior patterns created by living in the suburbs. They’d be more exciting than a singular Christmas tree.

    By the way, how often have bloggers from the suburbs talked shit about East LA? I’m curious.

  18. I enjoyed reading the comments more than the post itself. I lived in suburbs for 2 months in Utah and let me tell you it was creepy. I never once saw any neighbors, except one guy who was super nice and cool. At the market people looked at me like I was a lepar and barely made eye contact with me. It was strange because you had to drive everywhere and if you walked, people looked at you as if your a serial killer. The only other time when I had contact with others was at a jogging path. The quite life just isn’t for me. I for love the fact that I can see so much diversity walking down a single block here in Boyle Heights. Everything from families taking a stroll, people selling hot dogs, tamales or churros or even someone preaching to me about jahova. I tell ya life don’t get any better than that. Some people aren’t cut out for it and if they wanna live in the hills that’s fine with me. They can talk all the trash they want but that’s only because they’re jealous of what we have. Don’t hate, appreciate.

  19. Speaking of the urburbs… what’s the deal with the area north of the 60 freeway and east of the 5? I was looking at real estate prices, and that area is kind of expensive. The area south of the freeway, near 8th St., is much cheaper.

    Speaking of waste in the suburbs… my suburban family would let the tree dry out, break it up, and burn it in the fireplace. We were “green” like that. Cheap and green. I don’t think we ever bought “firewood”. We used to burn pretty much any old scrap wood in there.

    I get the impression that what we did was not the norm, though.

  20. ” I for love the fact that I can see so much diversity walking down a single block here in Boyle Heights.” El Random Hero

    One of my favorite thing about Boyle Heights (and Compton) is that everybody talked to me. I existed in the universe. You can’t stand still without someone starting a conversation with you. If you go in a place more than one time they ask you how you’re doing.

    I liked that automatically I was thought as part of the club. I don’t have to prove anything. In BH and Compton people like you until you prove you are an a**hole and in other parts of the city, the more suburban and urburban types you have to demonstrate your worthiness to say hi to. Especially if you don’t look or act exactly like the people there.

    Those two places I have found to be the least unstressful in building relationships with other people for me personally.


  21. This loose usage of the word, “suburbs” “urban” “exurban” “sub-urban” is making me cringe….when the LA Metro region is so diverse and extensive on both demographics + land use. Then the mention of the valley…SGV? SFV? Moreno?

    Little crime or not, South LA is pretty “suburban” to me if we’re talking about ‘urban form’

    LA is one big ass suburb.

  22. Say what you will about that Christmas tree and the general vapidity that thrives on the stillness of quiet suburban streets, I’m proud to have come from Hacienda Heights.

    Look, I’m not an idiot. I know that the suburbs are generally unappealing. That small unincorporated LA suburb and its surrounding areas is just like one of those repeating backgrounds in cartoons, you see the same dozen huge corporate shopping centers over and over again. Wal-Marts, Targets, McDonalds, Krispy Kremes, Taco Bells, In N Out dot the major intersections. Growing up, there wasn’t much to do but to go to the Puente Hills mall, go to the movie theatre or do things that your parents were patently against. And in the mid-late 1990’s it was also not without its gang violence, however minor it was.

    But still, despite all of that, I’m proud to have come from there because I’m first-generation Asian-American and my parents worked/work their ass off for that stuccoed ranch house blocks away from the 60 freeway. I spent the first five years of my life in Chinatown/Lincoln Heights LA, then we moved out to Rosemead and finally to HH. I’ll admit that I haven’t lived there for almost a decade now, and I would never move back. But my working-class folks still live there, and it’s good for them because this is what they want. We can blame the suburbs for the decline of western civilization, but that negates how there are still some honest hard=working folks labored tirelessly to achieve that quiet life.

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