Amoeblog

Straight billin' through the Eastside - a South LA Eastside primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 5, 2011 09:15pm | Post a Comment
A TALE OF TWO EASTSIDES 

In Los Angeles, usage of the term "Eastside" varies depending on the speaker. To most Angelenos -- especially Latinos -- "The Eastside" refers to a group of neighborhoods immediately east of the LA river: Boyle Heights, Brooklyn Heights, City Terrace, East Los Angeles, El Sereno, Happy Valley, Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, Rose Hills, and University Hills


THE (HISTORICALLY) BLACK EASTSIDE


Map of South LA's Eastside
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of South LA's Eastside

The other Eastside is in South LA. This Eastside was historically the main area that LA's black residents were required to live until the middle of the 20th century. It should be noted that when people speak of this region -- though they're implicitly referring to the East Side of South Los Angeles -- that reference to this area as "the Eastside" likely pre-dates the modern version of communties east of the river. Check out The Eastsiders, a documentary about South LA's Eastside between 1920 and 1965.

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Beat City Downtown - A Downtown Los Angeles Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 15, 2011 11:00am | Post a Comment
Downtown Los Angeles at Night

As regular (and probably irregular) readers of Eric's Blog know, I'm a bit of a Southern California wonk and a big part of my focus is writing about the culture, character and history of the many diverse communities of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Although so far there have been around 800 votes from readers I thought it would be fun (and hopefully entertaining) to focus on the regions and provide a brief summary of the districts within with the hope of encouraging informed voting. First I'd like to focus on the center of the southland, Downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Downtown Aerial View

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES

Before I moved to Los Angeles, a Chicagoan told me that LA had no downtown. I could see the cluster of buildings although it wasn't that much different from the many others that rise above the sprawl. Having visited it in the late '90s I disagreed with my acquaintance but could see her point. During the day the western portion was a commotion of be-suited bankers and accountants. The middle was absolutely bustling with Latino businesses and I found a great source for white denim and pupusas. The eastern portion was covered with tents and I saw people performing acts in exchange for crack that should only be done in private... and not for crack. When the sun set, metal doors and gates closed and it was desolate. I was occasionally threatened although I never was robbed or assaulted and to me it seemed that most visitors were from safe middle or upper class backgrounds who needed a bit of danger and prescribed, structured, punk rock rebellion to feel alive.  
 

Map of Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhoods
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Downtown Los Angeles 
 

A decade later it's greatly changed, with a large influx of residents and businesses returning to the city's core. Downtown Los Angeles is home to 21 (or 22) distinct districts and now home to around 64,000 Angelenos. It's a highly diverse region with a 44% Asian (mainly Chinese, Korean and Japanese with large numbers of Cambodian, Vietnamese and Thai) plurality with the remainder breaking down as 31% Latino (mostly Mexican), 13% black and 10% white (based on 2008 estimates by the L.A. Department of City Planning).
 
 
LA in the Future LA streetcars
 

None of this is meant to suggest that all is now well and functioning at its peak potential. Downtown is still the epicenter of homelessness, has a lack of sufficient green space (why aren't green roofs more popular?) and I probably wouldn't suggest raising children there just yet. It is, however, coming up, with LA Live bringing entertainment, abandoned buildings being repurposed as beautiful lofts and the imminent return of trolleys all drawing visitors and new residents. Here's a short history.
*****
El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was founded by the Spanish in 1781 in a small neighborhood colloquially known as "El Pueblo," between Chinatown and the Civic Center. In the 19th Century the area around it evolved into Sonoratown and later Little Italy, Dogtown and (old) Chinatown

(In which Job is a commercial.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 1, 2007 11:08am | Post a Comment
I’m always on the lookout for two things: hilarious TV and a man with an African-shaped birthmark on his right shoulder. Hilarious TV because it lowers my stress level and inspires me; the man with the birthmark because he orphaned me at age eight and burned my farm down.

Both are equally difficult to find.

Thanks to today’s plethora of cable TV stations (Hot Glue & Margarine Channel, anyone?) there has been an outcropping of novel shows. I tend to enjoy comedy that pushes the boundaries of acceptable (South Park, Strangers With Candy) or are chock full of non-sequiturs (Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Aqua Teen Hunger Force). You get me, right? We’re all on the same page here.

One show that many of you don’t seem to have seen/noticed is “Upright Citizens Brigade”. It’s not brand new. It ran for three seasons on Comedy Central (1998-2000). One star of the show many of you will know is Amy Poehler, who my friends tell me is on something called Saturday Night Live? I dunno, I’ve never heard of it.

Anyway, the premise is that a team of four people, the Upright Citizens Brigade, are waging a secret battle against all-things-average and mundane in the world. They bring chaos to conformity. (In this respect, they mirror the customers who shop the DVD section of Amoeba Music Hollywood.)

It’s sketch comedy. The material is garnered from the troupe’s live shows, originally based in Chicago, now in NYC. In this respect, the show is similar to The Kids in the Hall, though the style of it – the way it ebbs and flows – feels more like Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

If you like any of the titles I’ve dropped above, I would expect you to also adore this too-overlooked gem. Unfortunately, only season one is available on DVD.

Do yourself a favor and snag a copy. Then do me a favor and, if you see the man with the birthmark, shoot a tranquilizer dart in his neck, restrain him, and give me a ring-a-ding. Thanks!