In Quotes: East Side Stories

If you take even a casual interest in some of the literature about Los Angeles (you know, like in books) you’ll eventually run across references to the Eastside that are properly located and don’t play around with those coy and “fluid” demarcations that have been the rage amongst the newbie set; its East of the river, y punto. I come across these references every once in awhile and I get a tiny jolt of satisfaction seeing them in print, an insignificant validation of what most of us already know. That glee quickly turns into a sigh when I think about it for a second; this shouldn’t even be an issue. Que se le va hacer?

Well, this is what I plan to do: instead of getting angry about yet another careless use of the term by people that don’t matter, I’m hoping to occasionally post some quotes, references, or pictures that give the communities East of the River the respect they deserve. Easy enough, que no?

This first installment is just a quote from the book pictured above, East Side Stories by Joseph Rodriguez, from way back in 1998.

“The Evergreen gang featured in this book calls the Boyle Heights District home, within the city limit, unlike Marianna, a few miles east, but both are part of greater East L.A., also known as the Eastside, one of the country’s biggest and most mythologized barrios.”

It’s a worthwhile book to check out as it captures some compelling pictures of the cholo as human subject, an aspect of the gang life many would rather ignore. Though the typical approach is to demonize these kids that do bad things, it’s not so easy to write them off when you recognize them as humans, flaws and all.

Yeah, I know, it’s kinda too obvious a place to start, but this idea only dawned on me while reading the intro (by Ruben Martinez) to this collection of pictures. I should have been taking notes a few weeks ago while I was watching “Meet Me At Brooklyn and Soto”, a video about the history of the Jewish community in Boyle Heights. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to check it out again. Stay tuned for more Eastside quotes!

7 thoughts on “In Quotes: East Side Stories

  1. thanks for this
    as i am not a native and have only lived in L.A., L.A. for 10 years its great to hear and/or read about the history and debates about where the Eastside really begins.

  2. I couldn’t help but laugh at the picture. The guy on the right is making the stupidist face and looking all cross eyeded. Maybe the book is infering that people from the eastside are backwards and stupid looking.

  3. I love reading books like this,I love anything with history especially of LA. I really need to get cracken on my reading I swear I got like 20 or so books lined up to get read and I only am on the first one lol.

  4. Kid Frost’s 2nd CD, the follow up to “Hispanic Causing Panic,” if I remember correctly was titled “Eastside Story.” Popular title in lore.

  5. Hey awesome! That book is about the guys on the block I grew up on(Evergreen Boys). The cross eyed guy is probably some payaso dude…cholos have a sense of humor too. The other guy’s trying to look all hard and the guy on the right is like “este guey”.

  6. I have that book, I remember I bought it when I lived in Berkeley for a few years and got all nostalgic for home. My pops is a veterano from mariana maravilla, which is where the vatos on the cover are from and much of the fotos are of. At the time I got the book I was a gang counselor in a barrio in Oakland and Berkeley, and the book was the catalyst for a lot of “this aint shit” machismo I directed at my kids.

    From a personal overanalytical perspective, I think the acne on one and goofball look on the other illustrates the nature of overcompensation which creates the hyperviolent/hard cholo. The presence of defects and vulnerability is what oftentimes fuels the cholo personna. Many times the cholo is cultivated by the presence of a sensitive, intelligent or somehow vulnerable being exisiting in a world where those kinds of attributes are not respected and to be ashamed of.

    I know because I used to be one of these assholes (never claimed a neighborhood but got into plenty of trouble and gunplay, had some long stints in jail as a chavalo) and now cultivate my intelligence and sensitivity into urban planning and complaining/fighting on blogs about LA and social issues. Thanks El Chavo for giving me an outlet.Q-Vo

  7. I’ve seen this book before and was always disturbed by the photo showing a vato putting a gun in his infant baby’s hand with the bullets strewn across the floor while his “hyna” sits on the rug giving a “that’s so cute” smile. Anyways, my personal opinion but it makes me wonder how this familia turned out. Still there are a lot of cool pics including one of a boy and a girl riding a bike in front of the giant graffittied wall at the end of Hancock Street in Lincoln Heights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *