Amoeblog

Digging the scene at "This Ain't a Scene" with a gangsta lean

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 14, 2012 02:08pm | Post a Comment

This past Saturday, I went to the 1650 Gallery in Echo Park to check out the opening of This Ain’t a Scene: The Vibrant Music Community of East LA which was co-presented by Radio Free Silver Lake and compiled by Jackie Lam. Radio Free Silver Lake is a website focused on Indie music in Los Angeles.
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Pendersleigh maps

Note: The “East LA” of the subtitle could be construed as a bit misleading.. East Los (whose vibrant music community produced performers like Black Eyed Peas, Cannibal & the Headhunters, Hope Sandoval, J-vibe, Kid Frost, Lalo Guerrero, Los Lobos, Los IllegalsLouie Perez, Luis Villegas, Quetzal, Suzanna Guzman, Taboo, The Bags, The Blazers, Thee Midniters and Tierra and  supported live venues like Club 469Eastside Nightclub, El Club BaionKennedy Hall, The Lamp Lighter, The M ClubRudy's Past House and Vex) is not represented here. The bands and venues depicted in this show are, if I’m not mistaken, all from Echo Park, P-Town and Silver Lake -- three neighborhoods in the eastern portion of Central LA that belong to a region that no one has named with a widely-accepted term.) Enough quibbling about geography and nomenclature from me… let's start the show.
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The participating photographers include Angela Holtzen, Ben Hoste, Carl Pocket, Gabriela Gonzalez, George Tapia, Jeff Koga, Laurie Scavo, Levent Buyukgural, Michael Gomez Burton, Michele Evans, Miriam Brummel, Olivia Hemaratanatorn, Rollence Patugan, Sterling Andrews, Timothy Norris, and Zoe-Ruth Erwin. Click here for mini bios on Radio Free Silver Lake.


Live acoustic music was provided by Andrew Spitser from Radars to the Sky, Kelli Noftle from Miniature Soap, Rob Danson from Death to Anders, Ryan Fuller of Fort King, and The Smugg Brothers

Of the bands depicted, I only recognized The Warlocks and Dios as acts that I can say I’ve knowingly heard before -- some of the names sounded familiar too. For someone who’s worked at and for record shops for over ten years, my ignorance of indie rock is vast... and judging by the prevalence of beards and plaid shirts in the photos, I’m guessing that’s what kind of music most of the subjects make. (Also, I recognized The Echo and Echoplex, Pehspace, Satellite, Silverlake Lounge and Spaceland).

Kelli Noftle performed Prince's "When You Were Mine"


Some would find my lack of knowledge a hindrance, I liked to think that allowed me to evaluate the photos as art and not get bogged down by the subjects. The exhibit includes band portraits as well as snapshots of rehearsals, behind-the-scenes photos, and photos of live performances. Although I didn’t recognize the subjects, I liked George Tapia’s use of color, Levent Buyukgural’s command of atmosphere and the sense of immediacy in Jeff Koga’s pictures. However, I was most taken with the photographs of Zoe-Ruth Erwin. You can see them on the galleries website here – or better yet, go to the gallery and check them out for yourself! And check out future art openings in this charming gallery space too. Next up is Wanderlust: Travels Near and Far... I'm planning on being there.


The Smugg Brothers doing their version of "Sin City"

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California Fool's Gold -- A Mideast Side Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 16, 2011 05:00pm | Post a Comment
As regular (and probably irregular) readers of Eric's Blog know, 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 them with the hope of encouraging informed voting for the neighborhoods within. In this entry I'd like to focus on what I refer to as the Mideast Side.

 



IDENTITY CRISIS

The Mideast Side is a name that I made up. Like most of my clever ideas, I was probably beaten to it by someone else because it's natural to want a label for one's region and the Mideast Side doesn't have one besides being part of the larger Central Los Angeles area. The Los Angeles Times covers the Mideast asi part of Central Los Angles -- which it is -- but the other regions of Central Los Angeles (Downtown, Hollywood, and Midtown) having their own recognized identities, the Mideast's has long been (in the words of Phil colli a land of confusion.

Meanwhile, Hollywood secessionists want to claim parts of the Mideast for their town, all the local gangs represent the Westside (since it's on the Los Angeles River's west bank, not east), the cops consider most of it to be in the Northeast Division, downtowners and developers claim parts of it as Central City West


ALTERNATE NAMES

When Los Angeles was founded in 1781, The area that's now the Mideast Side was the original westside, with Hoover Street corresponding closely to the pueblo's western border. As they began to be developed, neighborhoods Los Feliz and Ivanhoe (Silver Lake) were considered to be in Northwest Los Angeles whereas those around Pico Heights (Pico-Union) were considered Southwest Los Angeles.

When the city began expanding north, south, and west, its center of gravity relocated and all of those regions became commonly thought of as Central Los Angeles. Within Central Los
 Angeles, Downtown, Hollywood, and Midtown arose as widely recognized multi-neighborhood districts whereas the neighborhoods of the old westside existed in some sort of identity limbo. When neighborhoods like Los Feliz and Silver Lake began to be seen as fashionable in the 1990s, many developers began referring to them as The Eastside, hoping to commodify some of that region's "grit," "funkiness," and above all, "authenticity." Since there already is a region with a two-century-old claim on the Eastside, eastsiders were understandably outraged. Although today some people -- whether callously or cluelessly -- still refer to the Old Westside as the Eastside, some of us have proposed new names that we can get behind which are less colonial in nature. Here they are:

NORTH CENTRAL - Some have suggested calling the region "North Central," meant to be a counterpart to South Central. However, South Central's name is derived not from its geographic location within the city but from the neighborhood which formed along South Central Avenue. That long street become North Central Avenue, for the record, in Glendale -- which is not located outside of Los Angeles.

THE NEAR EASTSIDE - I sort of like the sound of "The Near Eastside" but it's as geographically relativist and problematic as European concept of The Near East. It's only nearer if the user is from the Westside, Hollywood or Midtown, really. If one is in the actual Eastside, the "Near Eastside" is really the "Near Westside"... which actually has more precedent. After all, the neighborhood of Westlake was named as such to compliment Lincoln Heights, which used to be known as Eastlake.

THE WEST BANK - "The West Bank," of course, will forever be associated with Israel and the Palestinian territory. Imagine the results you'd get if you were trying to do an internet search for a decent mechanic or restaurant in the West Bank. Your Central Los Angeles results wouldn't even make the top 10,000. 

The Mideast Side is clearly the best, if not yet widely recognized. Think about it though, doesnt "Mideast Side" provide a nice compliment to Mid-City West, an area located on the other side of Midtown? Doesn't it strike a nice geo-linguistic chord between Midtown and the Eastside without making an colonial claims to either? Doesn't it capture, without using the term "Middle East," the contentiousness of the area's identity?

If you're on board, there is now a Mideast Side Facebook groupMideast Side art print(available from Echo Park's 1650 Gallery), and a Mideast Side Foursquare page. In other words, it's a concept whose time has come.


THE NEIGHBORHOODS OF THE MIDEAST

So now that we're in agreement, let's move forward. The Mideast Side is a region of varied neighborhoods, with working class populations dominating the southern end and richie riches in the northern hills. It has significant populations of Armenians, Chinese, Filipinos, Guatemalans, Koreans, Mexicans and Salvadorans. And now a little about the individual neighborhoods. 
 
  
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's 2nd and 3rd editions of the Mideast Side maps (2nd edition sold)
 

ANGELENO HEIGHTS


One of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Angeleno Heights has a number of absolutely beautiful Craftsman and Victorian homes. It used to have four grocery stores but three have been converted to residences. To read more about Angeleno Heights, click here.
 

THE BYZANTINE-LATINO QUARTER