This is the grand Golden Gate Theater of yesteryear. But grandeur fades. Icons wither, some more gracefully than others. The Golden Gate Theater in East Los Angeles, movie palace of my youth and once proud cornerstone of Whittier Blvd. Eastside culture, does not deserve to be remembered in this recently discovered undignified and disgusting state… Continue reading
Many of us like to reminisce about the time when Whittier Boulevard was “Thee Boulevard”. Those of us who grew up near it will have a story or two to tell about this iconic
Eastside street, especially the stretch between Eastern and Atlantic Avenues. Those four lanes have seen alot of action, drama, laughter, tears, heroism and ‘scandalo. Luckily “La Whittier” has been captured on film a few times and we can catch a brief visual of what it was all about. On the opening titles to the 1974 NBC TV show “Chico and the Man” we glimpse a lowrider wedding procession (paper flowers and all) heading east on Whittier. The camera sits across from JonSons Market and pans west to east as we see the Lerner Shop on Fetterly Ave (Where my ma bought her chonis and stuff) and the F.W. Woolworth’s store. The last angle shows the facade to Thrifty’s on Fraser Ave. Perhaps most of you can name some of the Eastside locations shown. As for the show itself, I think the theme song is a bit corny. We used to watch it because it was supposed to depict us, but one thing the “Man” didn’t seem to understand at the time was that we Chicanos knew Freddie Prinze was Puerto Rican and because we brown people aren’t interchangeable, we sometimes didn’t relate to his character. Here’s the lyrics to the theme song sung by Jose Feliciano:
Chico, don’t be discouraged,
The Man he ain’t so hard to understand.
Chico, if you try now,
I know that you can lend a helping hand.
Because there’s good in everyone
And a new day has begun
You can see the morning sun if you try.
And I know, things will be better
Oh yes they will for Chico and the Man
Yes they will for Chico and the Man.
I’ve included some still frames that show the boulevard in the early 70’s.
And if that ain’t enough “Boulevard” fix for you locos,…Let’s not forget this little celluloid gem from 1979,……
During my research for the 25th Anniversary Night Stalker Walking Tour,I contacted Retired Sheriff’s Homicide Detective, Lt. Gil Carrillo for an interview. He cordially agreed and I arrived at the East L.A. Sheriff’s Station one morning for my highly anticipated meeting. Listening to the man speak about one of the most infamous criminal cases in Los Angeles history was both mesmerized and enlightening. Teamed with Det. Frank Salerno, Carrillo was the lead L.A. County Sheriff’s homicide detective assigned to the Night Stalker case in 1984. During our interview, I saw the human side of a man assigned to track down and capture one evil son of a bitch. This was his job, but it was one assignment that got under his skin like no other. By learning about the evil that men do, I also learned about the sacrifices that men make. I learned what it is to give pieces of yourself away in order for the greater society to not have to. I learned what it means to make a difference in humanity’s never ending struggle against the ebb and flow of good vs. evil. This was a story of horror and heroism with a happy ending. Another dark player eliminated from society’s sick game. A game that never ends ands picks it’s players randomly every day. I also wondered about some higher powers at work here, and how we, as mere individuals must often find ourselves taking on battles that may seem beyond us and may require us to set aside every natural fear that makes us human. For me,…that is heroic. And it’s those singular acts that define and shape our collective fate in a world that can only hope to contain it’s fear and lust for violence. Hurray for the heroes.
The summer of 1985. The hottest in L.A. history. During those boiling hot nights, the darkness brought no relief. Only sleepless fear, bloody nightmares, and cold sweat. Doors and windows were double checked, and newly installed security bars imprisoned us within our own homes. The “Night Stalker” had become the living specter of our collective fears,.. and no one was safe.
Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, a young drifter and skilled burglar named Richard Munoz Ramirez stepped from a Greyhound bus at 6th and Los Angeles street and soon blended into the human cesspool of downtown’s skid row’s underworld. From this home base, his touch of evil would reach into the sanctity of random and scattered south land homes, transforming nightmares into steel cold realities. He would leave his bloody mark on our city with an infamy to match the most brutal and violent episodes of our generation.
The Night Stalker’s path of murder and rape crossed very close to my very own East Los Angeles neighborhood. We felt his shadow lurking on our streets and at our back windows. A self professed predator for Satan’s favor, he prowled and savaged in the neighborhoods of Monterey Park and Whittier among others and no one could anticipate where he would strike next.
When the sun rose that day in Los Angeles, August 31st 1985, it was one of those mornings so brutally hot, that you got out of bed already sweating…..
After the Lakers won the championship last year, I watched the news coverage of the street celebrations that took place on the Eastside. I decided that day, that if the Lakers won the NBA crown once again, this time I would witness the street celebrations firsthand from the “Belly of the Beast.” Continue reading
Beware of false Eastsides. As the pretenders to the Eastside name and identity fade into the West…A new question arises for those who may give a shit,..what to call the neighborhoods of East Hollywood, Los Felix, Silver Lake and Echo Park now? As a recent article in la.curbed suggests,..If the already existing names are not trendy enough for you,..add your name suggestions and try to start your own buzz.
Here is my new name suggestion,……the following song says it all and it’s a catchy tune with just a hint of irony. 🙂
My sombrero is off to UCLA for “¡Asking A Mexican!” to be their keynote commencement speaker this year. Congratulations to our esteemed friend, Gustavo Arrellano!
“Gustavo Arellano is a keen observer of life in America — in particular the culture and diversity of Southern California,” Judith L. Smith, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education at the UCLA College, said in a statement. The columnist was recommended by a committee of faculty, students and administrators.
My brother is on a cross country tour with the band: “GREEN JELLO“. During their current stop in South Carolina, he visited the local supermarket (FOOD LION). He writes: :”Thank goodness they have a Mexican section, so I can feel at home!” He points out that the Mexican section consists of Mexican beer and 9 packs of cheese….
(photo & quote courtesy of Ego Plum, ebolamusic.com)