Normally for my LA and OC neighborhood blogs, I spend a day (two in the case of Highland Park) exploring and seeing as much as I can and then write about it. For El Sereno, however, I had two whole weeks to explore.
I was house-sitting for a couple, staying in their 1959 mid-century home and taking care of a dog and two cats. Before this excursion I was fairly unfamiliar with El Sereno, having once visited the couple I was house-sitting for, twice visited musician Johann Bogeli (Moving Units), passed through on my bike, eaten at King Torta a few times, and just once purposelessly peregrinating (during which time I came across the Mazatlan).
A hawk seen from the window
The first night I spent in El Sereno, one of my hosts and I attended a mescal party in Eagle Rock. Aterward, joined by the other host, we all relaxed in their yard, absorbing the sounds of banda music and partying taking place nearby.
After my hosts embarked on their road trip I would almost always be accompanied in my rambles by their trusty dog, Dooley. I’m not sure if people were especially friendly because I was walking a dog and not just a suspicious guy walking around taking pictures or if people in El Sereno are just generally amongst the city’s most friendly. Whatever the reason, the average day involved so many exchanges of “good morning,” “buenos dias” and hand-waves with complete strangers (and one unintelligible between Dooley and a woman that seemed to have something to do with her ankle monitor and maybe a lighter). As a result, El Sereno has for me deposed Compton as the friendliest community to strangers. (For those wondering, Laurel Canyon and Cambodia Town seemed the coldest).
Every year for the past 17 years, during the last weekend in July, LA residents and visitors are treated to the preeminent jazz event on the West Coast with The Central Avenue Jazz Festival. It’s free and open to the public – last year, 35,000 attended. The focus, of course, is live music but there are also craft and food booths. I've been meaning to check it out in the past and this I year finally did.
LOCATION OF EVENT
The Dunbar in 2012 and Central Ave - A Community Album
A BRIEF BIT OF BACKGROUND ABOUT SOUTH CENTRAL
Intersection of Malcolm X Way and MLK A Jazzy mural at Alondra's Bakery
Lincoln Heights one of the main neighborhoods of LA's Eastside. Across the LA River it's neighbored by Downtown's Chinatown, North Industrial District (Dog Town), Civic Support, and the Mideast Side's Elysian Park and Elysian Valley to the west and northwest, respectively. It's neighbored the NELA's Cypress Park and Montecito Heights to the north; and fellow Eastside neighborhoods Boyle Heights, El Sereno, and Happy Valley, to the south, east, and north, respectively.
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.