Memories of a Lost Boulevard, Whittier Blvd on Film

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,……

CicLAvia Boyle Heights Explorer Ride This Sunday

In case anyone hasn’t heard yet, the July Ciclavia has been canceled. As posted on their site, the need to expand is taking up all the time and resources so as to improve on the routes, safety for everyone, making it more pedestrian friendly etc. Read the blog post to find out what are some the things they’re working on for the Oct. ride, which includes an expansion into Boyle Heights and South Central. The two proposed routes are available for folks to check’em out and they look awesome.

As part of the expansion process, the Boyle Heights exploratory ride will take place this Sunday at 11 a.m. at Libros Schmibros !! Community residents, including myself, have been attending the expansion meetings and chiming in with our two cents as to what makes BH great and destinations and routes outsiders will enjoy when crossing over the river. The route expands starting at Boyle street taking all of 1st. street down to Lorena. On Euclid will then connect folks to Whittier Blvd. and end at Salazar Park, which turns into LA County. If you know BH, then you all the restaurants, historical and cultural landmarks that found all along this route. See ya Sunday and rsvp on the facebook event page for any last minute changes on meeting location or time.


Libros Schmibros

Dancing Bicycle Rider of Boyle Heights Video

Last time I blogged about the Dancing Bicycle Rider of Boyle Heights, I was only able to snap some crappy photos, well now I have crappy video. I was riding with my friend to the Red Bull Soap Box Race, when I heard his yells off in the distance. I was across the street on First and Mission and was able to catch his acrobatics from across the way.

I was then able to catch up with him after meeting up with my friend on the corner of First and Alameda as he was waiting for a signal change. You can see him being unsafe by riding on the cross-walk, doing spins and almost running into people crossing the street. I almost hit him as well. He called me a “pendeja” for being on my phone. I still don’t really know who the man is or why he does what he does. But it’s still cool to watch as he does it. Kinda like performance art.

El Dedo: Brand X

I wish I had the time to be more articulate. Or the patience to be more patient. In these times of La Crisis and economic uncertainty I find that I have to economize on words: can’t be wasting them on any old thing. But believe me that I have words, big bags of them, waiting to get poured out in a flood of meaning when I can figure out how to fit it into my schedule. Just cuz I ain’t saying nothing don’t mean I’m not thinking stuff. Thoughts cross my mind at all hours of the day, sometimes making me laugh for no reason, sometimes getting me upset like a mofo at some joker that deserves it. At some point I will have to squeeze in a bout of insanity to my busy life just to mete out my version of comeuppance.

Until that fateful day arrives I’ve come up with a quick and easy solution to deal with this problem that keeps gnawing at me, and I’m gonna call it El Dedo. (Yes, The Finger.) What unifies this fine series of posts? Well, the fact that I will give the finger to people, projects, and papers that sorely deserve it! Isn’t that kinda petty and juvenile? But of course!

I am equipped to tolerate lots of abuse but I am sick of these posers moving to LA and a few month later deciding to rename the city, calling everything East of where they feel comfortable the “Eastside.” We were making some headway on informing these newbies that the Eastside has a long history in Los Angeles and that it begins East of the river but lately there’s been another skirmish in that battle with lots of naive offenders once again writing us off the map, thinking they can dismiss El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, and Boyle Heights as being simply part of East LA. Nah fool, we ain’t having it.

The honor of the initial post to this series goes to that shitty paper with the even shittier title of “Brand X” which has been consistent in their renaming of the Eastside strategy, even though their mothership the LA Times thinks otherwise.

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Spokes & Words: Lazy Sunday Ride

Since most people have better things to do on Memorial day, like sleeping in and spending quality time with family, we are switching up the ride to Sunday evening. We’ll still be meeting at mariachi Plaza at 7 p.m. and riding at 7:30ish to a secrete location that will not only make the ride fun, but a mystery.

I (Random) will have both bike and personal first aid on hand in case anything happens. Aside from that, please be sure your bike is in proper working condition, your front and back lights are working and maybe a sweater for when it get’s cold later on. And don’t forget to keep up with Spokes & Words through Facebook.

South Gate Gardens

Click image to read the “building restrictions” reference to racial covenants

It’s hard to imagine Los Angeles as it had been before we imposed this haphazard city upon it’s landscape. The indigenous people of Los Angeles, the Tongva/Gabrielino (Great Chengiichngech! Which is the proper term?) had the right idea in regards to the local geography: small villages located near running bodies of water and plenty of nearby sustainable food sources, like wild greens, roots and acorns for foraging and small game like fish, deer and rabbits. Yes, they too altered their environment, but in a sustainable and harmonious way, what’s sometimes called “paradise by design.” I try to imagine this Los Angeles when traveling through my Lincoln Heights neighborhood (home to one of these original settlements): small villages surrounded by wild rambling vines of berries, meandering creeks and in the distance roaming bears scavenging and clawing up the rich clay soil while hunting for rodents. Unfortunately, the asphalt and concrete often suffocate my imagination and I abandon my daydreaming. Once in a great while though, my mind can conjure up the ghostly images of long-gone leafy green alisos and for a brief moment this supersedes the vista now taken up by beige stucco apartment buildings and car repair shops. I’m romantic like that.

I tried to use this same sense of imagination to see the southeast city of South Gate as the edenic, fertile plain described in the memorial booklet South Gate 1776-1976 a publication produced by the city of South Gate to commemorate their 1976 bicentennial. By the way, the 1976 date is a bit of a stretch, it commemorates European settlement. The official date for cityhood is 1918. Prior to 1864, the land had been part of Rancho San Antonio owned by Don Antonio Lugo (a mural depicting Lugo’s Old Californio lifestyle can be found at 7141 Pacific Blvd. Huntington Park). Before Señor Lugo came riding in with his vast hordes of cattle, the area was called “Tibahagna” and “Ahau” by local indigenous people.
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Grand Re-Opening of the Vincent Price Museum

Despite some set backs with improper construction here and there and other bureaucratic drama, the Vincent Price Art Museum will finally open up it’s doors for the public to get to see the new space this Friday. There’s been a ton of excitement building since the opening was delayed from fall last year because of said construction drama, but now that’s all in the past and I for one am excited to see the brand new space and what it will mean for ELAC, students and the artist community. For the opening night there’s going to be some amazing works on display that barely touch on the vast collection the museum holds, which now has a state of the art storage vault. Mucho fancy !! The opening reception will be this Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m. A great night not to be missed.

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MorriseyOke at ESL

Some say it was inevitable, others ask how many  “Okes” will there be, but most are letting out a resounding and collective“Yes (biting lip and clenching fist)!”  Eastside Luv presents MorrisseyOkeâ„¢.  For one night,  patrons of the Boyle Heights bar will be given the chance to try out their rush hour traffic and shower song renditions of Smiths and Morrissey classics in front of a live drinking audience. In the same tradition of MariachiOkeâ„¢,  there will be no bouncy balls or highlighted words for your lyrical comfort; ESL adheres to the “Sink or Swim” policy.  Although, I believe most of the attendees and participants are bilingual or trilingual: speaking English, maybe Spanish, but certainly fluent in Moz lyrics. So you won’t be entirely alone on the stage.  But when singing along with Morrissey, are you ever really?
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The Three Beauties of the Modern Los Angeles Table. Sriracha, Ketchup, and Tapatio are ubiquitous around the city and usually always hanging out together.

Take a guess where this was spotted: first person to figure out the type of restaurant it was and leaves a comment on this post wins a free LA Eastside t-shirt. (Make sure you use a real email address tonto!)

If you are reading this on our facebook page make sure to comment here instead:


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North Spring Street Bridge Meeting

Tomorrow night is a meeting concerning proposed changes to the North Spring Street Bridge. It’s true, the bridge could use some improvements but I hope completely replacing structure is not one of the changes being proposed (the video doesn’t make it entirely clear). I’m also concerned about the block of historically significant buildings at the foot of the bridge near Los Angeles State Park. There was talk that these buildings would be destroyed in the bridge widening process. I certainly hope this proposal is off the table.
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