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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring City Terrace

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 19, 2013 02:22pm | Post a Comment
BEEN UP TO CITY TERRACE TO SEE WHAT'S A-HAPPENING 

Welcome to City Terrace - East Los Angeles 

Last year I had a stint house-sitting in El Sereno and spent the better part of my stay exploring with a dog named Dooley that I was also charged with the care of. She and I mostly explored the greater El Sereno area, including Hillside Village and University Hills. This time I set about exploring more of the Los Angeles's Eastside -- and Dooley and I managed to unturn stones in the Eastside neighborhoods of Arroyo View EstatesEast Los AngelesEl SerenoGarvanza, Happy ValleyHermonHighland ParkLincoln HeightsMontecito HeightsMonterey HillsRose Hill, and on one warm morning, City Terrace.

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Violence Girl By Alice Bag

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 21, 2012 07:23am | Post a Comment
Violence Girl is what Alice Bag calls a "Chicana Punk Story" For those of you who are unfamiliar with Alice Bag (Alicia Armandariz) she is a singer/musician that in her teens was part of the early punk scene in Los Angeles. She along with Patricia Morrison formed The Bags, who are not only a seminal L.A. punk band but in my opinion paved the way for many people who would have never thought of becoming musicians themselves.
 
Violence Girl covers her years growing up in East Los Angeles, a daughter of Mexican immigrants. It is in her youth that she starts to become aware of the disparagement of growing up poor and Mexican, from having to live in sub-quality housing to being ridiculed for not speaking English by unsympathetic schoolteachers. Alice grew up in a house full of love and was told by her father that she could become anything she wanted to be. Yet all the positive energy was for not as she had to witness years of abusive of her mother by the hand of her father.

In her teens, Alice love of music and education carries her through tough times. She discovers Glam Rock and starts venturing into Hollywood, where she would meet other like-minded youth. They would eventually not just become the pioneers of the L.A. punk scene, but of punk music in general. For a punk historian and a L.A. honk like myself, Alice’s stories of punk’s inception in Los Angeles are a real treat. Alice shows that it was misfit kids like her that created the origins of L.A. punk. It was a community that despite the differences in class, race, gender or sexuality that found a bond with each other. To me, that is what makes L.A. punk so influential worldwide. If you look at the origins of punk in other U.S. cities such as Chicago or D.C., you’ll see very little diversity.

The Bags were started as Alice and her friend Patricia wanted to start an all-girl band in the mists of all the male dominated bands. Although The Bags had male band mates, Alice’s songs and presence on stage influenced many women to start their own groups. The Bags as pushed punk in a faster, more chaotic style that was later adopted by the next wave of hardcore bands. The Bags, in the relatively brief history, manage to record a few singles and made an appearance in Penelope Spheeris iconic documentary, The Decline Of Western Civilization. For the movie, the band name was changed to The Alice Bag Band, as Patricia threaten Spheeris with a lawsuit if they used the name “The Bags” once she quit the band.

Alice concludes her book with stories from her post-Bags days. She continues to play music, graduates college and becomes a teacher. She also resolves issues with her father, who had become ill. She travels to Nicaragua post-revolution and works with youth there, getting an eye-opening perspective on how the rest of the world exists. So much more could have been written about Alice’s life, but perhaps that can be left for another book.

What is amazing about Alice is that not only that she paved the way for the rest that followed her in the punk scene and manage to get through college. She manage to accomplish all this in her teens and early twenties. Today, I witness youth today struggle with identity issues of not knowing what they want to be, thus living in suspended growth. More and more younger people live at home until they are in their late twenties with little ambition to leave. Certainly in Alice’s days it was cheaper to live in Los Angeles but like most of us at the time, we lived in places with less than satisfactory conditions and with multiple roommates to keep the rent low. But in the end, the standard of living that was compromised was a necessity to be a part of the adventure, which I feel today’s generation is missing out on.

On Tuesday, May 22nd at 8pm PST, I will be conducting an interview with Alice Bag on my radio show, Discos Inmigrantes. We will discuss her successful memoir, Violence Girl, which has her traveling across the world speaking to old fans and new fans alike and inspiring a whole new generation of artists. We will discuss her past, the whirlwind year since the release of her book and what it means to be a Chicana Feminist in 2012. Hear it live on radiosombra.org 8-10 PM PST

You can pick up a copy of Violence Girl At Amoeba Hollywood

California Fool's Gold -- An Eastside Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 30, 2011 04:11pm | Post a Comment

ACROSS THE RIVER -- THE EASTSIDE

People are weird about Los Angeles' Eastside/Westside thing. The same wannabes from Midtown, HollywoodSilver Lake and Echo Park that throw up "W" hand signs and exaggeratedly say, "West-side" when they're ironically enjoying rap music are the same jerks that claim, despite the fact that they live in Central Los Angeles, that they live on The Eastside. If you call them on it, they usually claim that the real Eastside (the communities east of the Los Angeles River) are all East Los Angeles -- which is incorrect but more likely a sign that they've never been to the region that they claim -- and not some willful act of subterfuge. 


THE OTHER EASTSIDE 


To be fair to these noobs, ill-informed Westsiders, transplants, and weirdos who insist on dividing the entire city or county into just two regions (I count 20) -- there is more than one Eastside... sort of. The other Eastside is sometimes referred to as the Black Eastside (even though it's currently mostly Latino) and has a long claim to the Eastside name. To many black Angelenos and South Los Angeles residents,  the traditional division between the Eastside and Westside is the 110 freeway (and before that freeway's existence, Main Street).  However, when "The Eastside" is used in this respect, it's implied (and usually understood) that one is talking about the Eastside of South Los Angeles.

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring East Los Angeles

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 20, 2010 06:30pm | Post a Comment

FORWARD



Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of East Los Angeles

East Los Angeles is a neighborhood on Los Angeles' EastsidePlease click here to vote for other Los Angeles Neighborhoods to be the subjects of future blog entries. Please also click here to vote for Los Angeles County communities. And lastly, please vote for Orange County neighborhoods by clicking here


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of The Eastside

East Los Angeles is the best known neighborhood on the Eastside and because of the similarity of their designations, some confuse "Eastside" and "East Los Angeles" as synonymous. However, whereas most of the Los Angeles's Eastside is part of the city of Los Angeles (e.g. Boyle Heights, Brooklyn Heights, El Sereno, Happy Valley, Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, Rose Hill, and University Hills), East Los Angeles (confusingly, given its name) is an unincorporated Eastside community that is part of the County of Los Angeles but not the city. Efforts to incorporate as its own city have occurred several times but thus far been unsuccessful.

East Los Angeles is neighbored by El Sereno to the north, Alhambra to the northeast, Monterey Park to the east, Montebello to the southeast, Commerce to the south, Vernon to the southwest, and Boyle Heights to the west.

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Vexing: Female Voices from East LA Punk

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 20, 2008 01:50am | Post a Comment

The Exhibit Vexing: Female Voices from East LA Punk at Claremont Museum Of Art was much smaller than I expected. Still, it packed the history of not only the women involved in the scene surrounding East L.A.’s Vex, but the history of early L.A. Punk scene in general as well. The Opening Reception was packed with mostly Angelinos making the trek to Claremont rather than people from the city itself. Still, for a museum around a little more than a year, it was a bold and righteous move to get The Vexing exhibit way before any of the Los Angeles museums. It's a shame that the L.A. museums continue to ignore their own homegrown artists while the rest of the world celebrates us.

Most of the images shown were the same as a show that I was fortunate to catch at the original Tia Chucha’s Café about a year and a half ago. There were also many interesting new displays that caught my eye. One was a piece that took an entire wall that was a blown up Thomas Guide map of Los Angeles from West L.A. to East L.A. On the map were key points of interests from that era, such as the rehearsal space where the East Los punk bands used to practice, and the location of the backyard party where the members of the band X first saw all the East L.A. bands. It showed all the punk rock hangouts and all the clubs from that era that are now long gone. I also enjoyed looking at the original Fatima Records promotional and gig posters. The other day at Amoeba I saw someone about to buy The Plugz Better Luck for $3.99!  What a steal! Coincidently, you can still buy the original Fatima Records issue of The Brat E.P. Attitudes from the band whenever they play a show, which has been more frequent over the last couple of years.

Another point of interest was a glass case that had a photo copied poetry fanzine made by Exene along with a lyric sheet handwritten by John Doe for the song "White Girl." It occurred to me after looking at those two items how much East Los influence the band X. X was a band that wore L.A. on its sleeve in general but they really adopted classic iconic Latino images in their artwork; the Catholic saint candles, rosaries, the raccoon make-up, even Joe Doe’s handwriting in the notebook reflected East Los' affect on him. His handwriting looked like the classic seventies Mexican gang graffiti style, with punk rock overtones.

One of the art pieces was a portable record player with headphones that had a loop of some of the best songs that came from that era from such bands as The Plugz, Alice Bag, The Stains, and The Brat as well as some of the newer bands such as Go Betty Go!

I didn't catch much of the live performances. The sound wasn't great and it was hard to see if you weren't in the front. The 98 degree weather didn't help matters much.

The show wasn’t made to be the end-all for all East Los bands. One could argue that there was a big gap between what happened in the eighties up to the exhibition's representation of the current crop (Lysa Flores, Go Betty Go!)  such as the many East Los bands that played the clubs, benefits and the backyard circuit since the days the Vex closed its doors. What the exhibit did was to capture a time, place and a mentality. It was a time in which community was built between people that didn’t fit in anywhere, in neither the Anglo world nor the Latino world. These 80s bands were the first, and all of us who followed after have had it much easier because of them. On top of that that, they did it with style and they left an artistic legacy that has been difficult to top.

Vexing: Female Voices from East LA Punk runs from May 18 - August 31, 2008
at the Claremont Museum of Art In the Packing House.

536 West First Street
Claremont, CA 91711
909-621-3200


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