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.
Continue reading

24 Hour Party People

Lynwood Ditch Party

“Tonight, Fox Undercover shows you what is clearly one of the most objectionable acts of the party crews, the ditch party…”

Thanks to LA Eastside reader DJ Mr Ed for recommending this link. We posted it on our Facebook page last week and were surprised when some of our readers said they recognized people in the video. Do you?

As exploitive as Fox News was of Latino youth and our subcultures in the 90s, it’s kinda nice, 20 years later, to have some documentation of the DIY Eastside and Southeast LA backyard party scene. Interestingly, they never infiltrated the punk backyard gig scene of the same era, maybe it’s cause punks are a little smarter. Yeah, I stick by that statement.

This video also confirmed my suspicion that the “rebel” look (only a few guys in the video below have the rebel look – there’s more in the above clip) was just one incarnation of an enduring style on the Eastside, a gradual morphing of 80s rockabilly into rebel into swing/rockabilly into psychobilly and finally, into present day greasers. The look never really died. In the 90s, the pompadour and James Dean chic was a style reference to artists like Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode. A quick aside, everyone talks about the prolific “Mexican Morrissey fans” but in the 90s, it was Depeche Mode who sold out the Rose Bowl. They were more famous here than anywhere else (“These guys are god over here!”) and even inspired a riot at a local album signing. A huge part of their fan base were Latino/Chicano kids. Naturally, young folks would emulate this look and these folks were called “rebels.”

How about you? Do you know someone who has rocked a pompadour and creepers for more than twenty years?

The Rebel Party Scene

“It’s a Saturday night house party in Huntington Park. Strobe lights color an evening of dancing, drinking and dope smoking. Here, boy comes to meet girl in a ritual as old as time…”