In Quotes: Eastside Stories

Ralph’s Market, Five Points-Lincoln Heights circa 1920’s

From the Los Angeles Times, September 16, 1919:


Old East Side Police Quarters Now “Lincoln Heights”

The name of the East Side Police Station is to become a matter of ancient history. Henceforth this place is to be known on all official records as the Lincoln Heights Police Station. The Police Commission yesterday complied with the request of improvement associations in Lincoln Heights and officially changed the name.

In 1917 a section of East Los Angeles was renamed “Lincoln Heights.” As endearing as the new name was to become, it was still common for residents to refer to their neighborhood as “The East Side.” To this day, when older Angelenos talk about the Lincoln Heights, they’ll often say “You know, The Eastside.”

Leftovers can help in an economic downturn.

This weekend I came upon a gem of an article in the LA Times that described what steps you should take when you’re unemployed.

Jobless? Tips for Survival.

And here are a smidgen of some of the great tips:

“Leftovers are also great — I have barbecued chicken today, and tomorrow it’s in my enchiladas and then it’s in a chicken salad,” said Marguerite Womack, director of economic and workforce development for United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

I’ve seen the United Way office. It is next to the Starbucks where a policeman harassed me for looking homeless. There is a big sign by that building around 5th street in downtown and on the building it says: Don’t give the homeless money, because they’ll just ask for more…ok it doesn’t say that exactly, but pretty close.

Here’s another crumb of advice:

Jessica Hodgdon, 24, was out of work recently for six months. To save money, she moved into the East Los Angeles apartment of a friend, who waived rent in exchange for Hodgdon’s help cooking and cleaning.

Free rent please.

Free rent please.

Continue reading

Fear & Trash in Los Angeles

Just this evening I grew pretty scared because I heard what I thought were nearby gunshots. Normally I’m pretty adept at discerning gunshots from other random urban noises; but last night my room mate mentioned being outside, on the porch smoking, when some guy started shooting into an apartment complex across from us. Naturally I thought I was hearing round two, but upon hearing the noises once again I figured out what it was: people roling out their trash bins for collection on Monday.

Funny how fear can turn something as benign as the sound of the trashbin being dragged to the curve into a vehicle for possibly bodily injury. Once, about 15yrs ago my mother and I mistook a backfiring car for gunshots. We pulled over 3 blocks from our house as soon as we heard the bangs. It kept driving up and down the street: the moment then felt never ending. I thought, “how much do they need to shoot up before their done?” Finally we glanced up & figured out it was just an old crappy car backfiring. Fear may have its evolutionary advantages but sometimes it for naught.

The World Upside Down

“Country estates for all!”

One of my favorite writers is former Uruguayan exile, Eduardo Galeano. His historical-ish books on Latin America (he claims he is no historian but he makes the past come alive like no other) are filled with the absurdities and the small joys that make up the upside down world we live in. Like Galeano, I sometimes feel the logic of the world we live can become so twisted that it simply ceases to make sense. The current spectacle of electoral politics is an example. From today’s Los Angeles Times:

Obama Elitist, Says Lady Rothschild

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild is an ardent Hillary Rodham Clinton supporter who raised scads of money for the New York senator’s failed presidential campaign. She and her husband, Sir Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild of the prominent Rothschild banking family of England, split their time between New York and a British country estate.

It’s not a bad life, she says, and she’d like you to have one just like it. Which is why she’s backing Sen. John McCain for president, not her party’s nominee.

Sen. Barack Obama? He’s an elitist, she says.

More on Lady Rothschild here.


Whether I’m on my way to school or work, there are somedays were cafe hits the spot. At school, I always have it with pan from my local “El Pavo” bakery and when I’m my way to work, I grab a cup at Jim’s Burgers on First street. I order myself a sunrise burrito with chorizo and have my breakfast waiting or on the bus. I tell ya, on a cold breeze morning, that cup of joe makes my day. It’s no wonder these old timers do the same thing. As I was waiting for my burrito, I over heard them talking to each other about some random topic that I’m sure got them all riled up.

They all had a cup of coffee in front of them, black and a carton of smokes in the middle. They have to be some tuff old men to still be drinking black coffee and smoking at their age. Hell, I hope to be able to still walk and form coherent thoughts by the time I get that age too. I shared a brief moment with those old timers. For a second there I was just like them, sitting down, drinking my coffee and reminiscing about the past. A second later I grab my burrito from the order window and rush to get on the bus. All the while taking sips from my morning cafe.

El Rocoto

Saltado de Vegetales

I admit this restaurant is faraway from our beloved Eastside but I have been known to venture out of my neighborhood. I’ve been wanting to try Peruvian food for sometime now and this is one of my Whittier-dwelling brother’s favorite place to chow down. There are a few Peruvian restaurants in Hollywood but when I’ve scanned their menus, almost everything seemed to include meat. (I’ve also had this problem in Cuban restaurants). I was happy then to find El Rocoto in Cerritos has a vegetarian section on their menu, excellent!

Continue reading

Gustavo Arellano at Borders in Pico Rivera, Tonight

You know who he is. He’s all over the local media. He’s written a book about himself, Orange County: A Personal History, and it’s reputed to be serious. He’s going to be signing it at Borders in Pico Rivera, at the corner of Washington and Rosemead, relatively convenient to Eastsiders. Starts at 7:00 PM. La Bloga has details. (He’s in OC on the 18th at Libreria Martinez, his home turf.)

A Quiet Celebration

El Grito

The annual El Grito celebration will take place tonight at City Hall. For those not in the know, here’s a description from a city website:

El Grito, which translates to “The Cry,” celebrates the cry for Mexican Independence from Spain. The annual tradition includes food, fun, and Mexico’s President ringing the bell that was originally used by the Mexicans who shouted the cry for independence that started the revolution in the early 1800s. El Grito has also become a Los Angeles tradition, with our city’s mayor sounding the chimes of freedom by ringing a bell at a local ceremony.

Of course, the real El Grito happens at the Zocalo in Mexico D.F, where pride of La Patria is taken seriously. Forget the words of the excruciatingly long national anthem and in Mexico you can be fined. Jenni Rivera, who infamously flubbed the lines at the Los Angeles Grito celebrations a few years ago was lucky to have an audience of fans who didn’t care.

Monday, September 15, 2008
El Grito festivities tonight at 7:00 p.m.
Los Angeles City Hall (200 N. Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles)

Where are the flags?

Usually every year around El 16 de Septiembre, Mexican flags small and large can be seen waving from car windows, houses, poles and various other places around Los Angeles, except this year they aren’t. In fact, every year I notice less and less flags. Even after 9/11 in 2001 when everyone had the small American flags on their cars, I saw folks with Mexican and American flags. It seems though all the propaganda by anti-immigration groups and right-wingers has made Mexicans have second thoughts about displaying La Bandera Mexicana. Last year in Lincoln Heights around this time, I counted two flags on cars, this year not even one. In years previous, I couldn’t count the amount of Mexican flags I saw around town. How about the rest of you? Notice any difference this year?

Unlocking an Old Memory with Discarded Keys

One of my fondest memories growing up was going to the movies with my parents. Even in San Diego, we had our version of the Million Dollar Theatre, but ours was in Logan Heights.“El Coronet” was where Mexican cinema was a weekly Mecca for the culturally starved and homesick. It didn’t matter if I had a small Spanish vocabulary, at 8 years old I began to understand the tension between women and men giving into love, keeping their principles and resolving their differences to come together. All this visual-audio negotiation took place in a spectacular romantic Ranchera Musical, with fabulous costumes, handsome leading men and strong principled women. It was there that the emotionally charged scaled notes began to send chills up my spine, at the same time made my heart well up with cultural pride. My friend, John Santos an Afro-Cuban drummer told me he feels the same deep emotion when he hears bagpipes, because he is part Irish. Makes me wonder if sounds are also part of our genetic make-up. Denise Chavez’novel Loving Pedro Infante reaffirms that we Chicanitas learn about our ideal hombre through these icons of Mexican cinema.

Continue reading