MOVIN’ ON UP (To The Eastside…)

Those of us close to E.L.A. and who know it first-hand are likely to view with pride the more positive aspects of our communities and recognize the successes rather than dwell on the failures. Nevertheless, we seem to perpetually suffer from dismal public perceptions that tend to focus on the negative. It’s unfortunate, but those perceptions are not likely to improve anytime soon among the “haters”. These prejudiced opinions do often perpetuate a cumulative “bad rap” that most of the community has to constantly struggle to overcome.
As with most communities, there is more to E.L.A. than what’s perceived on the surface. Some people will not attempt to discover the positives here when they don’t even care about the place to begin with. Therefore, I tend to give very little consideration to biased and narrow minded views such as those you’re about to read. I’ve never believed that trying to live up to other’s people’s standards was a path to self-improvement anyway.

I came across this actual thread on the site. It seems that recently, a Peruvian gentleman living in Las Vegas by the online name of “Bubba” posted the following question to the message forum: I’ve copied and pasted the comments as they appeared.

I need some information on moving to East L.A.

(Los Angeles: income, work)

Kidpsych replies:
I have a right to advise you, as I grew up in the area, and live about 15 minutes away. Absolutely not. If you have no alternative then consider the following nearby communities in order: Eagle Rock (LA 90041); Alhambra; Pasadena; Highland Park (LA 90042); Montebello.
The school systems are really horrendous, no exaggeration. The private parochial schools aren’t really any better in ELA. Look into Charter Schools if you must. Truly, if you can avoid it at all costs, especially if you have a child. You won’t be there two days, before you regret your decision.

EscapeCalifornia comments:
Has the threadstarter actually been to East LA? Why would anyone intentionally move TO a slum unless it was the last place on Earth they could afford to live?

Frcal comments:
Grant it, living in ELA can be a challenge. I also grew up in the neighborhood bordering Monterey Park. A lot has changed over the years. Our family home is still there as a rental and it is not easy to maintain for obvious reasons. I am so far removed from the school system however, a mentioned web site on this forum can assist you to determine which way you’ll go. Should you have your heart into moving into the area, do so with caution and an open mind of the many cultures and crimes you’ll come across. Consequently, living in LV you were most likely exposed to similarities however, I don’t feel they may have been as evident as you’ll see or be exposed to on the streets in ELA. I’d stay east of Atlantic Blvd, north of Garfield if I were you. Try toward Alhambra or toward So. Pasadena area if you insist around eastern LA areas. Try southeast of LA toward the Lakewood area. Go with caution and be safe.

Rosomane comments:
I could be wrong but you’d be hard pressed to market Peruvian cuisine in East LA – it’s Mexican (i.e.illegal alien) and chollo. It’s also considered the bad side of town on account of the gangs, crime and poverty. Don’t bring a child into that atmosphere. It is not, as I understand your impression has been, a neighborly low income latino community – there is alcohol abuse, drugs, firearms, domestic violence, abandoned cars, stray dogs, illegal aliens, felons, generations of gang membership and all the symptoms of urban decay. Private schools? who can afford them in that area? Beware of the pollution levels in the poorer parts of the city, that is often where the railroad yards, chrome plating shops, slaughter houses, dumps, junkyards, etc. are located and fewer parks and playgrounds.
You might be better off in the San Fernando Valley where there is a large population of Peruvians (as well as other latinos). Last I counted there were at least 15 Peruvian restaurants in the valley. There are lousy schools and there are great schools in the valley; there are also alternative, magnet and a wide variety of private and religious schools. The City of San Fernando might be just what you’re looking for, although Pacoima, Canoga Park and Panorama City have all the problems of East LA and are to be avoided, ditto for Van Nuys although parts are OK. Sylmar might be worth looking into.
If you can swing it, get out of LA and the LAUSD altogether and look into Burbank, Montrose, Glendale/Pasadena areas (and their superior school districts). Any way you look at it, it is expensive here to live, you’ll have to pull in some serious money to send a kid to private school and live comfortably so if you can select the best school district you’re ahead (and will be paying taxes for it anyway). Good luck!

(Bubba the threadstarter then replies):
Yes I have been there several times, and I have NEVER had any trouble or problems whenever I was there

D5069 comments:
Bubba, many of these replies are from outsiders looking in and you shouldn’t base your decision just based on these answers.
It is true that there is a large gang problem, however, it does not mean that it is necessarily dangerous. If you don’t cause any problems or do anything to provoke a gang, they will leave you alone. I have family that has lived in East LA for over 30 years and not once have they had a crime committed against them.
If you feel that you can be a good role-model for your children, then by all means move there. Good luck wherever you move.

RobE comments:
Monetbello is relatively low crime:
Monterey Park has a big Chinese community and is fairly low crime:
Good luck. I hope your Peruvian cuisine is a big hit.

Bubba replies:
Thank and I agree with you, The area that I live in here in Vegas is very dangerous, but nobody bothers you and just live their lives. But if you want trouble you can find it you know?
Thank you very much for your post, thank you

Bubba adds:
First of all…Thank you for the information,
I do know that the population of East L.A. is high Hispanic population, that does not bother me at all, My wife is from Peru, my son was born in Peru, I personally lived in Peru for almost two and a half years, where I studied Peruvian cuisine, of which I cook now as I am a Chef. The low income part does bother me a little, but not too much, I have visited East Los many times and the people (the hard working people of East los are great!) It is the criminals that bother me. I believe there is a lot potentail in East L.A. and I would really like to be apart of that, that is why I am seriously thinking of moving there. The other issue that bothers me is the education situation I do have a son, Is there any good private schools in the area, or no?
Are the public schools there that bad?

Thank you again Vicman for your reply sir….

Gato 1959 comments:
ok I here every one talk about east los angeles I’m from or use to be from frist flats gang and lived in the project’s from 1960 till 1984 it was hard cause we had to whatch tv on the floor cause of the drive bys and it was always that way but pico gardens are goneand aliso village hhere my big brother was killed thank god my kids came out good I live in the medwast now with my grankids and people see my tear drop tattoo and they ask what dose it means I dont say anything but it sad that kids out here see movies about ELA want to be the same they even claim north and south and dont know what it stands for and thats sad cause its nice out here

neenee99 comments:
I don’t live anywhere near the E LA area. I would check out the crime blog on It’s called the The Homicide report
Don’t believe that just because you mind your own business and are respectful that you are immune to violence. It happens all the time in Los Angeles, mistaken identify, wrong place at the wrong time. If you live in a high crime area, you are at higher risk of being a victim of a violent crime, just because of the geography. With a child, please consider those statistics.
I know you want to do the right thing and building up blighted communities is a noble idea and sounds great in theory. And I totally agree with you on that and think that urban flight is definitely hurting our inner cities that have great potential. The bottom line are you willing to risk your family’s safety to do it?
I would think you could find a nice house in the Vegas area for the same price as an old house in a bad area here, around 450,000? Anything for less than that is going to be in a very dangerous area here.
You won’t find much anywhere in LA proper for less than that. Good Luck!

Prgm 2000 comments:
Greeting from the Northwoods of Wisconsin!!! You seem to know East L.A. !! I am writing a book that take place in the area. I need info! Where would a young girl go to college? Where is a major University, close to East L.A.

Wildgift comments:
I’m not an ELA resident, but from relatively nearby, and go there a sometimes. I’ve also lived in areas people considered dangerous, but really weren’t. If you’re looking for Latin American culture, there are vast stretches of it all across the east and south sides, and much of it is lower-middle-class to middle-class. If you want to be closer to ELA, Montebello is good, and some of their schools rate well. However, know that these are areas with high levels of immigration, and consequently, relatively low test scores.

East LA is tricky – it’s got a lot of problems. Some are simply due to poverty, but other problems are due to the way the prison system lets parolees out into the community. (The same goes for some other communities in LA County, btw, so ELA is not the only place.) You get gang fights, drive bys, and a lot of other stressful events. Even if you’re not involved, it can be stressful to deal with hearing a spray of gunfire every month.

One side effect is that the schools (Garfield and Roosevelt) aren’t going to work if you want your kids to be competitive for the better colleges. They lack enough students taking Advanced Placement classes, and resources get directed toward raising NCLB test scores. The administration (and district) focus on sports, so there’s good spirit, but… do the math. If you have smart kids, putting them on track to go to Garfield or Roosevelt will be risky, unless you are a really hard-core education-oriented parent. I’ve heard of many success stories, but, these were children of, to understate it, elite or genius parents. These kids’ parents were already teaching in universities, the arts, activists, writers, etc. or combinations thereof. If you’re not already in line to teach at Cal State or UCLA :-), be aware that getting a quality education will require effort. If you already fit that elite profile – it’s almost better to be in ELA than elsewhere because you’ll get to hobnob with these folks.

All this said, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, East LA are not as rough-and-tough as Westlake or South Central. There are a lot of really interesting streets, like Woods, and nice areas like Belvedere and Eastmont. If you go farther away, there are some really nice areas in El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, Highland Park, all over really. Some of these areas have decent high schools with good magnet schools – the numbers bear it out, threre’s good and bad, but very little in the middle, and if your kid is struggling, he’s ass-out and will probably drop out. It’s very Dickensian — like a Tale of Two Cities.

Doomed comments:
east l.a my neighborhood! there are a lot gangs in east l.a its where it mainly started! this aint a neighborhood for noisy people if your noisy your in for some trouble. dont go down any alleys dont go to any park after sundown. if you see someone throwing up gang signs or tagging on your wall or house i suggest you let them be if not theres going to be some action! dont look at a gangbanger wrong either. expression on your face is a big thing! there some dope parties out there. but you in for some good taco stands!
The one comments:
is this what outsiders really beleive about the east side? anyhow, yes! visit for yourself and figure out what works and what doesnt. simple as that. i love east LA. cant wait for the gold extension premier!!!

(..there’s more to the thread. See the whole thing if you still need to- at):

This entry was posted in Analysis, East Los, Eastside, Personal, Rant, Uncategorized by AlDesmadre. Bookmark the permalink.

About AlDesmadre

Al Guerrero, Artist/Humorist. Los Angeles, CA. Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles from the age of two, Al Guerrero grew up just steps from the famous Chicano strip, Whittier Boulevard. His youth experiences include witnessing and participating in the 1970 Chicano Power demonstrations, cruising cars on Whittier Boulevard, and graduating from Garfield High School. After dropping out of UCLA (with honors), he drew upon his lifelong passion for art and cartooning and pursued a career in graphic arts. During this period, he traveled overseas and found artistic inspiration from the masterworks he discovered within the European Art Museums. His career blossomed when he was eventually hired by the Walt Disney Company in 1995, where he worked as a creative artist for a number of years. Although the artistic work was rewarding, he eventually grew weary & disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the entertainment business, and left to work briefly in the educational field. His credits include producing a feature film with actor, Conrad Brooks of Ed Wood fame, founding and performing with the Punk Rock group “The Psychocats” at numerous L.A. & Hollywood venues during the 1990’s, and in 1999 he founded and created a hell-bent puppet cabaret show aptly named: “The Puppets from Hell”. As a long time active member of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society, Al “Quaeda”, as he was known, was involved in countless Cacophony Society pranks and events throughout the city. He also produced the “Incredibly Strange Cinema” cult film series as well as themed events such as the now infamous “Pornothon Movie Nights” and the satirical “Mexican Night: Noche De Tequila & Putas” shows at local nightclub venues. Throughout his art career, he has exhibited his canvas paintings at various local galleries, and has also written & illustrated numerous comic strips and Graphic Novel stories. Today, he lives in Silver Lake, California and works as a freelance artist and writer with numerous multi-media projects under his belt and in the works. His personal hobbies include collecting vintage toys and comic books, cinema history and Los Angeles City history. Contact: Al Guerrero P.O. Box 29697 Los Angeles, CA 90029-0697

17 thoughts on “MOVIN’ ON UP (To The Eastside…)

  1. “Dickensian” ????? I didn’t know East Los was so impoverished. Also “Rosomane” spelled cholo “chollo.” I for the life of me can’t comphrehend how all these people are so ignorant and hateful at the same time. I’m sure they have never step foot here to make all those accusations. East Los was that kind of community at one point but there are people out there changing that everyday. Most people wouldn’t know that because they have their heads in the clouds. Sometimes it’s not even worth acknowledging those kinds of comments.

  2. People talk shit to hear their own voice, and a lot of American folks seriously love haterating on minority communities.

    Unfortunately, the general populace is so sheep’d up that the bullspit is actually listened to, when all the haters are really doing is being a bad representation of their own demographic (or how hateful, racist and ignorant their own demographic is).

  3. Look, some of the comments have some truth to them. Gang members are vandalizing (tagging) property that doesn’t even belong to them. I live here in East LA and have a mortgage and pay taxes — I doubt that these gang members own anything attached to the ground here in East LA. Unfortunately, it will stay this way as long as crime continues to pay for the big dogs (the ones who tax these gang members for selling the drugs) What do we do to change this problem guys??? Go Charles Bronson style? Go tutor kids before and also intervention programs? I’ve had guns pointed at my face at least three times and I’ve been scared and very angry because this bullshit needs to stop. We need to get rid of the Head and then intervene with kids that are already involved. I know that it can be done — when I was a student at Cal Poly Pomona (1995), there were three kids that we got into Cal Poly from Chaffey High School in Ontario — all three were gang members and all three graduated from Cal Poly, and one of them has his PhD and teaches on occassion at Cal Poly Pomona. This takes a lot of work and not many are willing to do it.

  4. Unlike many of you, I am no expert on the history of East Los Angeles. But one thing I do know is being a parent and navigating the Los Angeles Unified School District.
    East LA has seven Elementary Schools that are Schools for advanced students (from LAUSD’s web site: “The Schools for Advanced Studies (SAS) are programs designed throughout the District which have been implemented to improve educational options and increase professional training to support the development of gifted and talented youth. The Schools for Advanced Studies Program receives funding from the District in the form of a block grant. SAS teachers and administrators are required to participate in professional development training”). Four SAS middle schools and 3 High Schools (including the always dissed Garfield). (A little side note: my husband, a Garfield graduate, went to UCLA on a fully scholarship).
    The Garfield and Roosevelt football revelry ties thousands of people who, for whatever reason, decided to leave East LA tied to the community. I can think of no other community in Los Angeles that can say that.

    When I was at Cal State LA in the late 80’s early 90’s, about 1/3 of my fellow students were from East LA and the majority of them went on to grad school, many into teaching. And my daughters current teacher (3rd grade), the chair of our working-class-part-of-Silver-Lake schools Gifted and Talented programs, is also from East LA (her mom, whom I met last spring at a school event, grow up in East LA during the late 40’s early 50’s and had a ton of stories to share with us).

  5. the majority of the thread on the cited website was on…children & “good” schools. In many ways this is the problem with socal planning…catering to suburban lifestyle preferences and FEARS. Boring & bland neighborhoods that depresses the mix-uses happening naturally in areas immediately east of the river.

    (from Rosemane) “The City of San Fernando might be just what you’re looking for..” Ain’t no Peruvians there…but they are doing cool things with their municipality. I’m shunned by the contradictory statements being said there.

    Urbanista: go broncos.

  6. My favorite part was, “Greeting from the Northwoods of Wisconsin!!! You seem to know East L.A. !! I am writing a book that take place in the area. I need info! Where would a young girl go to college? Where is a major University, close to East L.A.”

    I dunno ’bout all y’alls, but I can’t wait to read this guys book so I can learn me a thing or two about life in the Barrio!

  7. One of my biggest peeves is people coming from outside of the East Los Angeles area who have never actually lived here, who then want to come in and tell us what living in East Los Angeles is all about. Cabrones!

  8. The best comment has to be Gato’s with his “frist flats gang”, “whatch tv on the floor”, and “I live in the medwast now with my grankids and people see my tear drop tattoo and they ask what dose it means”. I think that comment might be a clue into the education angle, but he was obviously being a travieso instead of paying attention in class!

  9. Hey, I resemble that remark. I’m going to out myself as wildgift. I’ve reviewed my incendiary comment, and still agree with it for the most part. I keep trying to reply to this thread with a few links, but it seems to want to prevent my spam, so I’ll just say that greatschools is showing that Garfield is improving. The site linked from my name, inner city struggle, has more damning reports. I agree with Dorit about the fact that many people from ELA are at CSULA, and many other schools, including the elite universities. There should be more. Also, the number of transfer students really bothers me – if people can get it together at age 20 and do well at UCLA, what’s up with the high school that didn’t help them get to the school at age 18? These kind of things make me think there’s something not right – and given the choice, I would not choose underperforming schools.

  10. I can relate to Urbanista. Instead of defending East LA, I need to recognize that alot of this is true, but probably exagerated in many cases. Thankfully I’ve never had a gun pointed at me, but have often felt intimated and/or upset at the way people act. Yes violence, theft, and vandalism are big problems in my area. Also, simple things like excessive litter and stray pets go to show that many (but by no means all)people in my community are irresponsible and careless. Furthermore, no way would I feel safe walking around alone after dark (sometimes even in daylight it’s uncomfortable). Long story short, I am not ashamed of being from East LA, but when the time comes, I don’t plan on raising my kids there.

  11. Don’t be afraid of the “snitches get stitches” because it is more like “criminals get arrested and end up molested”. Talk to the cops, be a neighborhood captain and speak to your neighbors about issues. Gloria Molina’s office has good support for our neighborhoods. Too bad that there’s only about 12 patrol cars per shift of which some are devoted to traffic enforcement. =/ I wish we had double the budget for police and intervention programs.

    ¡Ya Basta!

  12. Claudia & Urbanista make excellent points.
    Although the call for more social programs and more law enforcement is commonly heard in our community,
    I’ve always believed that much of the fundamental solutions to most of these problems with our ELA youth begins at home.
    With responsible parenting on one end, and well placed social, educational and law enforcement programs on the other end, a kid’s chances for positive success in the community can be greatly improved. However, if one of these elements is a weak link, kid’s will surely fall through the cracks as we’ve seen happen time & again.
    Our ELA kid’s can be as great as they want to be, and it’s a true tragedy to see what happens to some of them out on the streets, which in turn, reflects upon our community.

  13. I think that the school programs are great. What happens is that students do not take advantage of the educational system. The problems at homes where the parents care, is that in many cases kids deserve a good “cintarazo”, but we have spoiled and empowered kids with all these laws designed to protect them. Many parents try to discipline the kids, but are afraid to do so and other parents when they decide to take action it is too late for them to take control their kids. I was fortunate to experience elementary school in Mexico and I really applaud my teachers for being tough on all of us. They in many instances hit the kids that were disruptive or the ones that would not bring in their homework. I wish that would be the case here — I am all for the teachers to be able to discipline kids. Heck, if I dare tell my dad that I was punished in school, he would also punish me (cintarazo) for misbeheaving in class and disrespecting the teacher. When my brother was in middle school (here in East LA), he began to hang out with “wanna be’s” and I noticed his behavior changing a bit and right away I told my dad — well he gave him his “cintarazos” and promised him that the next time he would do it again, it would be worse. Trust me, my dad is a man of his word.

  14. ah yes:

    power, institution, and violence–the authoritarian holy trinity, hand in hand like always.

    children and youth are the least empowered and least protected members of this social structure, especially youth of color, queer youth, and most especially, girls.

    these members of our society are systematically murdered, brutalized, abused, raped, disenfranchised, exploited, silenced, excluded, ignored, and erased.

    and this occurs in the schools, on the streets, in the media, through the various branches of the law enforcement structure, in the church–and most of all, in the family/home.

    but it’s important to recognize how all of these institutions function TOGETHER as parts of one larger institutional power to ensure that these kinds of structures and situations (and results) remain in place.

    if we really want to “change” things, we first need to identify and acknowledge the real sources and roots of the problem and violence, instead of piling more blame and “cintarazos” onto the symptoms.

  15. Hmm… I think the problem is discipline itself. Back at Schurr, when the old disciplinarian administrator became principal, the academics there went downhill. They were hiring emergency credential teachers left and right, scores were falling. (This is the “rich” school up in the hills, and, while they never really did *that* great considering the average income there, they did well within the district.) The focus on discipline may have been necessary… I wasn’t there – maybe there was more chaos going on… but sometimes, I think applications of “discipline” only produces the need for more “discipline,” and nothing else.

    Back when it was more “lax”, with an open campus where anyone could leave the school, the academics were allegedly stronger. (Today, they say it’s making a comeback – someone tell me if they got more relaxed about security.)

    Sometimes, the shortest path to “discipline” is the desire to create, and to “become.” A pile of books, newspapers, and blank paper to write on. Or some people, a goal, and a plan.

    PS – to Claudia – while I agree that there’s excessive litter in East LA – it’s better than Koreatown, downtown, Hollywood, Rampart, and really most of LA within a mile or two of downtown.

  16. Alienation – are you talking about the Devney era? I was there when Douglas was the Principal – I ranked 26th of 590 students and I started as an ESL student.

    I remember that Schurr had a lot of problems with gangs from around at least in the early part of the 90’s. It was the era when we used to hear drive by shootings here in East LA. I never went outside once it was dark. Do you think that this has a correlation to the dropping rate and the reason for increased security at Schurr? I know that during the time that I was at Schurr there were at least half a dozen students that were killed.

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