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Taste of the Mideast Side -- at the Los Angeles County Store

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 8, 2014 04:00pm | Post a Comment
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography

Taste of the Mideast Side


If there are regular readers of my column here on the Amoeblog, they've probably seen some of the hand-drawn and hand-painted maps which I include in my series of Southland explorations I call California Fool's Gold. Right now a series of new maps are on display at the Los Angeles County Store in East Hollywood. None, except the Los Feliz map, have been the subject of Eric's Blog entries yet. 

Eric Brightwell Cartography Art Show Los Angeles County Store

The Los Angeles County Store is a great retail shop which features only goods designed and manufactured in Los Angeles County. The opening has already passed but the maps can still be seen in person if you head over there soon -- the show ends on 21 September

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of the Mideast Side (3rd Edition)
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of the Mideast Side (3rd Edition)

I refer to the set of paintings as Taste of the Mideast Side -- a reference to Taste of the Eastside, a four-year-old food event which despite its name never features restaurants from the Eastside unless you clarify that you're talking about the Eastside of Central Los Angeles (aka the original Westside). Here are the maps included in the show (which you can vote for me to write about here). 

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Breadbaskets and head gaskets -- Exploring Glassell Park

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 5, 2014 03:42pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION

Glassell Park neighborhood sign

This entry of California Fool's Gold is about the Los Angeles neighborhood of Glassell Park, a working class neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles. Glassell Park's neighbors are the neighborhoods of Eagle Rock to the east, Mount Washington to the southeast, Cypress Park to the south, Elysian Valley to the southwest, Atwater Village to the west, and the Glendale neighborhoods of Adams Hill, Somerset, and Tropico to the north. 

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Northeast Los Angeles Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Glassell Park
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's maps (prints available from 1650 Gallery)

Sometime around the 1970s, a distinct Northeast Los Angeles began to emerge. Back then, the NELA 13 gang coined an acronym that their members couldn't have known would turn into a hip branding tool used to market luxury (yet freeway-adjacent) townhomes promising "modern living" in the form of a private dog park and two-car garages. Elsewhere in the neighborhood today, incongruous McMansions are improbably squeezed into tiny lots formerly occupied by tasteful Craftsman homes. 

Still, perhaps more than any other neighborhood of Northeast Los Angeles (barring Cypress Park), Glassell Park feels largely untouched by the obliterating force of gentrification. Instead it remains a mostly quiet neighborhood (aside from the roosters and heavy rail) of quiet charms -- many of which you'll almost assuredly never discover if you only travel by automobile.

A map and snapshot of Los Angeles

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 17, 2014 01:26pm | Post a Comment
Los Angeles County map of neighborhoods and communities
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's hand-painted map of Los Angeles County communities and neighborhoods

Yesterday I finished painting a large map of Los Angeles County. On it I attempted to depict every Los Angeles County community and every Los Angeles neighborhood. It was also important to me to include the two Channel Islands that are part of Los Angeles and to depict them where they actually are in relation to the rest of the county (and not shrunken and stuffed into a box in the corner -- a fate with which Hawaii and Alaska are intimately familiar). 

I first started writing about exploring Los Angeles neighborhoods in October 2007. I began writing about Los Angeles County communities a month later. I expanded to Orange County in 2010, in defiance of ignorant protestations based on stereotypes which, as with those leveled against Los Angeles, have a increasingly little resemblance to reality. I tagged all of my pieces California Fool's Gold in homage to the late, great Huell Howser, a fellow immigrant from the Upper South and explorer of the real California. I'd love to be able to map and explore other countries, cities, and neighborhoods too though and there is literally nowhere that I won't go. Have easel, will travel.

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More than just riots and towers -- Exploring Watts for Black History Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 13, 2014 11:07pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION TO WATTS

Welcome to Watts mural

It seems to me that reputation of Los Angeles's Watts neighborhood is based almost entirely on two things – the Watts Rebellion and the Watts Towers. Results of a Google search for “watts” can be divided into three categories: photos of the towers, black and white images of burning buildings, and people with the family name of Watts (i.e. Naomi, Charlie, and Reggie). Pop culture and the media almost never present Watts in a positive light – usually they don't mention it at all. 

Metro Blue Line heading to Los Angeles
Metro Blue Line heading to Los Angeles

Watts is, however, a community of 37,000 Angelenos – most of whom probably don't sell drugs, aren't in gangs, and probably spend many days not dwelling on half century-old riots or neighborhood folk art – impressive and important as both are. With that in mind, my friend Bruce and I met at 7th Street/Metro Center in the Financial District and headed down the Blue Line to Watts. 
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's hand drawn map of Watts
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Watts


Is bustin' a cap really fundamental? -- Exploring South Central for Black History Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 6, 2014 11:10am | Post a Comment

INTRODUCTION SOUTH CENTRAL

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Central
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of South Central

South Central means different things to different people. To some it refers to a vast, amorphous collection of neighborhoods and cities between the Santa Monica Bay and the San Gabriel River, north of the San Pedro Bay and south of the 10 Freeway. To others its less of a geographical space than a metaphor -- that's surely the sense in which Ice Cube used it to refer to Compton -- which is of course it's own city and thus not any part of "LA."

A widely-accepted story tells that the South Central brand became so loaded with negative connotations of gang violence and riots that a neologism, South Los Angeles, was devised to "officially" replace it. But South Los Angeles is a geographic concept that goes back at least to the 1930s, as does South Central -- when it was coined to refer to the then-mostly-black neighborhood that arose just south of Downtown along South Central Avenue (hence the name) that is now sometimes referred to as “Historic South Central.”

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