Amoeblog

(In which the author returns from the hospital.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 30, 2010 01:53pm | Post a Comment

I'm too sexy for my Intravenous therapy.

Well, dear readers, I have returned to you after an opposite-of-glamorous stay at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where I was hospitalized for five days. In the words of French philosopher Ferdinand de Saussure, “Je n'ai pas aimé cela.”

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Boyle Heights

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 28, 2010 09:11pm | Post a Comment

This neighborhood blog is about Boyle Heights. To vote for more Los Angeles neighborhoods, go here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.


The area now known as Boyle Heights was originally inhabited by the Tongva, who lived there for centuries until their displacement by the Spaniards. When the area was still part of Mexico, it was known as Paredón Blanco. Prominent families in Paredón Blanco included the Lopez and Rubio households.

  
Pendersleigh & Sons' official maps of Boyle Heights and The Eastside

In the 1830s, a cemetery near Soto and Breed was removed and bodies displaced in order to make room for a new elementary school. Though the bodies were relocated to Evergreen Cemetery, there have been reports of various paranormal activities within the walls of Breed Street Elementary School, presumably the work of the lost souls who once rested there.

  
         Andrew Boyle                                        The Boyle House                                     William A. Workman

The neighborhood acquired its current name when Irishman Andrew Boyle moved to the area in 1858. His son-in-law, William H. Workman, was the mayor of Los Angeles and was largely responsible for developing Boyle Heights.

1941 The Flats


FROM SLUMS TO PROJECTS

Boyle Heights was traditionally viewed as being divisible into two sections, the more affluent section, The Heights, and the more downscale section, The Flats. Until the 1930s, The Flats were covered with slums that noted reformer Jacob Riis compared unfavorably to those in New York. In fact, the slums around Utah Street were widely considered to be the "most abominable in the country."

  
                      Aliso Village                                         Estrada Courts                                           Pico Gardens

In the 1940s, the slums were razed and replaced with the Aliso Village, Estrada Courts and Pico Gardens projects. By the 1970s, the neglected projects had been allowed to fall into disrepair and served as the breeding grounds for local gangs including Primera Flats, AV Fellas, AV Rockers, Varrio Nuevo Estrada and Alcapone. Village and Pico Gardens were, in turn, razed in the 1990s and replaced with the New Urbanist and Pueblo del Sol projects. The Estrada Courts project still stands and today is more recognized for its many murals and preservation efforts than gang violence. 


CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS OF BOYLE HEIGHTS 

First Annual Boyle Heights Block Party

As of 2000, Boyle Heights was 94% Latino with a very small (2.3%) Asian minority. However, in a world where the movements of even a few white people are attacked either as "white flight" or gentrification (depending on the direction of their movement), the existence of a 1.6 % white minority is threatening to nearly complete homogeneity.

As I walked along the sidewalk on behalf of this blog, a cholo bitched "Too many f---ing weddos around!" as he passed, presumably for my benefit. What this hater probably didn't know is that, in the first half of the 20th century, Boyle Heights was historically one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city, home to large numbers of Croatian, JewishJapaneseMexican and Russian immigrants. It is only in recent decades that it has become one of the least ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city.

*****

JAPANESE IN BOYLE HEIGHTS

 

After the 1882 passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, many Japanese immigrated to California to fill the resultant void in the labor force. After the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, many Japanese citizens moved away from the bay, often to Boyle Heights. Faced with growing numbers of non-Chinese Asian immigrants, the Asian Exclusion Act was signed in 1924 to broaden discrimination to other Asian-Americans. By then, however, Little Tokyo (just across the river) and Boyle Heights were already home to about 30,000 Japanese-Americans, including famed artist Isamu Noguchi.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, hundreds of Japanese residents of the Japanese fishing village on Terminal Island were given 48 hours notice to evacuate their homes so that a new military base could be built there. Many of the displaced moved to the Forsythe Hostel in Boyle Heights. Not long after, however, they along with almost all Japanese-Americans were rounded up and shipped to concentration camps.

After World War II ended, few Japanese returned to the neighborhood, preferring, in many cases, to move to Gardena, Monterey Park, Torrance, Pasadena, San Pedro, Compton and Long Beach (rather than back to Boyle Heights, Little Tokyo or Little Osaka). The highly acclaimed restaurant, Otomisan, established in 1956, is one of the few reminders of a more diverse era. Other Japanese vestiges include Haru Florist, Hayashi Realty, and Tenrikyo Mission.


RUSSIANS IN BOYLE HEIGHTS


The next major wave of immigrants to Boyle Heights came with the arrival of large numbers of Russians, many whom immigrated to avoid czarist persecution. A large number were Molokans, a religious sect that refused to follow orthodox practices. By the 1930s, there were six Molokan churches in Boyle Heights. Later many Russian Jews fled to Los Angeles. In the 1940s, the nexus of Russians in Los Angeles shifted to West Hollywood, although there are today large numbers of Russians in Agoura Hills, Beverly Hills, Calabasas and Sherman Oaks.


MEXICANS IN BOYLE HEIGHTS


Texas-born pachuco Don Tosti moved to Boyle Heights

As previously mentioned, Boyle Heights used to be in Mexico. However, after the US took over, many more Mexican began to move to Boyle Heights in the 1910s, often fleeing the violence of the Mexican Revolution. In the 1930s, large numbers of Mexican-Americans were, regardless of their country of origin, deported to Mexico. When the Japanese were interred in the 1940s, however, Mexicans were actively encouraged to return to fill the void in the labor force. 

An uncharacteristically calm scene along Cesar Chavez Ave

Whereas most of the other early groups left the neighborhood, Boyle Heights' Latino population has steadily increased over the years. Reflecting the continuing Latinization of the neighborhood, in 1994, Brooklyn Avenue was renamed Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, which most nights is a bustling street, and not just by Los Angeles standards.



For many years, one prominent Mexican-American resident, Ross Valencia, was known as "Mr. Boyle Heights." Since his death last year, a small park has been dedicated to his memory.


JEWS IN BOYLE HEIGHTS


The Vladek Center (1950)


By the 1920s, Boyle Heights had the largest Jewish population west of the Mississippi. Today, one of the few visible vestiges of Boyle Heights' (particularly the Brooklyn Heights tract's) historic Jewish population is the Breed Street Shul, which, when it opened;in 1923, was the first synagogue on the west coast.

At the time, the Jewish population was centered around Brooklyn and Soto, where there were many Jewish-owned businesses. Few Angelenos likely know that the famed deli Canter's was actually started in Boyle Heights (as Canter Brother's Delicatessen) in 1931. In 1941 it moved, with much of the city's Jewish population, to the Fairfax District 


*****
CULTURE IN MODERN BOYLE HIGHTS


image source: KCET


Proyecto Jardín is a unique community garden and art and cultural space created in 1999 in the shadow of White Memorial Hospital. It includes a performance space, art and garden plots. It's also closely associated with Ovarian-Psycos, an all-female Eastside bicycle crew.


CAINE'S ARCADE

 
Nestled in the northwesternmost corner of Boyle Heights is Caine's Arcade. Because I still run into people who've never heard of it, Caine Monroy built this amazing, elaborate arcade out of discarded cardboard boxes in the back of his father's auto parts store. In 2012 filmmaker Nirvan Mullick made a short film about the arcade which he shared on Hidden Los Angeles and the whole, heartwarming thing went viral in a huge way.

MUSIC IN BOYLE HEIGHTS

(In which Job learns he is no chicken.)

Posted by Job O Brother, November 10, 2008 03:17pm | Post a Comment

The view from my window. That store in the middle is Linda Thai - they have great food.

It’s a beautiful, autumn day in Hollywood. I’m sitting in my underwear at my open French doors which overlook my bustling community and writing this sentence. Well, I was. Now I’m writing this sentence.

Suddenly, I begin a new paragraph and with it, a faint sense of dread seeps in, because I realize I’m writing about writing, and there’s only so long that that is cute. It could quickly descend into obnoxiousness.

So I choose to focus on your face. Your sweet, shining face reading this blog entry. I can feel your eyes gaze on these words, and my heart grows warm. A little too warm. This is uncomfortable, actually.

I think I might be having a heart attack.

Which reminds me of that age-old question: What music would you like to be listening to when you’re experiencing myocardial infarction (or, as they call it on the East Coast, Hellmann’s)?

It’s a tricky question because you want something that will keep your spirits up as you endure the occlusion of your coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, but you don’t want anything too loud and jarring when an unstable collection of lipids and macrophages ruptures the wall of your artery. Plus, it should be catchy. Anything that meanders like, say, late Scott Walker or Laura Nyro is going to annoy your nurses every time. Nurses hate Laura Nyro when they’re working. Also  they don’t like it when you call them “mommy”.

“My pain scale is a 5, Mommy,” is all you have to say and they’ll shoot you a look so cold you’d think you were in the E.R. for hypothermia. It doesn’t matter that you’re trying to make things more cozy and homey. Ask them “Why are you hurting me with that needle, Mommy?” and forget about it. No good pills for you. (This is different if the nurse is male, however, in which case they not only think it’s cute that you call them “mommy” but will often scribble their personal home phone number on your electrocardiogram.)

The results come back and you learn that it wasn’t a heart attack at all, rather, your heart just broke a little bit. It broke a little bit because California, the state you’re so proud of (normally) and which has for so long been on the cutting edge of liberty (normally) has decided to pass Proposition 8, which basically lets me know how the majority of voters think about my sexuality (abnormally).

The pain is compounded when you learn that the success of this measure was due in no small part to the Mormons and the African-American community. But I guess that’s to be expected, since neither group really knows or understands what it’s like to be an oppressed minority, right?

Um…
 

The new home of California politics: Salt Lake Temple, Utah

But this is a music blog, not the Huffington Post, so I’m going to separate myself from this issue which is HURTING ME SO VERY, VERY DEEPLY and concentrate on the music I’ve been listening to since Election Day, 2008.

Each selection appeals to me because it reminds me of people who have lived through harder times than myself. People who bore the brunt of tremendous injustice and still managed to create music ripe with dignity, intelligence, and unvanquished spirit. When I hear the selections below, I regain a sense of will and courage that must see me through until I am no longer an object of HATE simply because of who I choose to LOVE.

Nina Simone
Pirate Jenny
 


Paul Robeson Ol' Man River

(with alternate lyrics by Paul Robeson)



Ludwig Van Beethoven Symphony No. 3
conducted by Herbert Von Karajan



(In which Job has his reasons.)

Posted by Job O Brother, October 26, 2008 02:32pm | Post a Comment
Okay! Okay! Alright! Enough already!
 
I know I haven’t blogged since Neil Arnott invented the waterbed, and I appreciate the many of who have lovingly asked me, “What the hell, loser?” but if you knew the LIST of reasons why I haven’t been able to write here, you’d have a greater sense of compassion.

Therefore, I present you…


AN ENGLISH LANGUAGE LIST OF REASONS
WHY I HAVEN’T BLOGGED IN QUITE A WHILE

1.)    I was busy researching the origin of the waterbed.

2.)   I switched to decaf. But the not normal kind. The kind that makes you forget to breathe. So you collapse. You almost die. (Available in whole bean from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.)

3.)    I was in the hospital on a respirator that artificially kept my lungs going.
 

Not my best photo, but I like it 'cause I look slim.

4.)    I was busy inventing a version of the waterbed that could be used in hospitals.

5.)    I almost died of electrocution while testing a hospital waterbed (or, as I call them, Surf-a-Sufferer). As fate would have it, the electrical shock got my lungs to start got my lungs to start working again but also did something to my brain so that I now unwittingly repeat words sometimes.

6.)    I was working on my stage musical version of Sophie’s Choice, which I hope to produce next fall. You’ll love it! I added even more funny parts and cut the rather bland roles of Sophie and Nathan so as to concentrate on Stingo, who I’ve reworked into a jolly but blood-thirsty Scotsman whose taste for freshly baked Pfeffernüsse is matched only by his tremendous fear of being electrocuted by a waterbed.

7.)    I perfected my recipe for Pfeffernüsse.


Pfeffernüsse, originally a Dutch cookie baked to celebrate the holiday Sinterklaas, and to construct the walls for windmills.

8.)    I was eating so much Pfeffernüsse.

9.)    I gained so much weight I could no longer make the long walk to my desk to blog.

10.)    I had to get fitted for my muʻumuʻu (or, as you Haoles spell it “mumu”).

11.)    I, along with eight other morbidly obese people, was flown to New York City to be used as models for a challenge on Season 6 of Project Runway. The designers had to make us muʻumuʻus that could go from day to night and help “slenderize” us. For raw materials, they could only use whatever could be found in Michael Kors’ pockets in under five minutes. My designer lucked out and snagged eight yards of PVC pipe and a half-eaten Mars Bar, which he rendered into a rather lovely turquoise muʻumuʻu with nougat-and-almond jerkin, accented with a 17th Century inspired whisk, which, while not exactly practical for baking Pfeffernüsse in, did cause quite a stir when I wore it on the red carpet at this year’s Golden Globe Awards.
 

See that thing around his neck? That's a whisk.

12.)    I was in endless meetings with my lawyers, as I am suing Tilda Swinton for nibbling on my jerkin while I was distracted by talking to Denzel Washington about how sleeping on a flotation mattress might help his chronic back pain and redundant choices in film roles.

13.)    I went on a strict weight-loss plan that required me to spend less time at the computer blogging and more time enjoying activities that got my heart-rate up, like jogging, swimming, and wrestling bears wearing nothing but a jock-strap and a thick coat of whale blubber.
 

Reason #15767 why you should only wear a jock strap and whale blubber when wrestling a bear.
(Taken from Howe & Collier's Pictorial History of Errors in Bear Wrestling and Papier-mâché)

14.)    I was beaten-up by a roving gang of PETA members who denounced my use of whale blubber. (I tried to explain that I only used blubber from whales who had been given 1 to 80 years to live.) In a tragic and ironic twist of fate, the animal rights activists were mauled to death by the bear I was wrestling.

15.)    I had a lot of funerals to go to.

16.)    I was enjoying the re-issue of The Belly of an Architect soundtrack. Composed mostly by Wim Mertens – who’s work is a kind of cross between minimalist-classical and New Age – it fits perfectly with Michael Nyman’s scores for Peter Greenaway films. I highly recommend it for those of you who like things exactly like it.



17.)    I had my birthday! It was October 22. And while I did enjoy a romantic dinner at Café des Artistes with my beloved, Corey, I couldn’t help but notice that YOU did not send me anything! Not a card, not a gift – nothing.* Which leads me to believe that maybe you think love and loyalty mean more than material possessions. Balderdash! I need an iPhone, and last I checked, you can’t buy those with birthday well-wishes posted on my Facebook “wall”. [*Not counting my Mom.]

18.)    I’ve been heartily enjoying recordings by the Pied Pipers.



19.)    I’ve been busy reconciling with Tilda Swinton. In exchange for tips on how to get and maintain a slim figure, I am allowing her to eat whatever clothes of mine she likes.

20.)    I’ve found I can only express myself in a list format, and it’s not been until now that I figured out how to blog thusly.

21.)    My hand hurt.

22.)    My brain hurt.

23.)    My hand hurt again.

24.)    I bet my friend Carrie that I could go for 2½ months without blogging. (Ha, ha! I win, Carrie! You owe me a dime!)

25.)    I was daydreaming about how I would spend my dime if/when I won my bet with Carrie. And last, but not least:

26.)    A dog ate my blog.


(In which Job... well... just read it if you wanna know.)

Posted by Job O Brother, November 18, 2007 03:26pm | Post a Comment
I was enjoying my usual Wednesday afternoon – a walk to the park with a small picnic lunch. I have a favorite spot beneath a chestnut tree with sprawling branches which remind me of my Dad’s strong arms and how they seemed to be able to do anything – swing an axe, knock a ball out of the park, bruise the side of my face and neck for forgetting to put the lid back on the jelly jar…

Anyway, I sat in my favorite spot and began my standard ritual: eating the first half of my baloney sandwich, sipping a strawberry Crush soda-pop, and crying. Just crying. Sobbing uncontrollably, like, to the point where even the homeless people look at me with faces that say, “Man, that dude has it bad.”

But don’t be fooled! I wasn’t sad. It was the book I was reading – it always makes me cry. Not because it’s about bone marrow cancer (it’s actually pretty upbeat and the recipes are not only delicious but good for those of us on a tight budget!). No, the reason it makes me cry is because its pages are made out of paper-thin sheets of glass which cut my hands horribly. Oh gosh, I mean, it really hurts. And the bloodier the pages become the slipperier it gets and it’s hard to get through a chapter without passing out from pain.

Did you know that if you pass out in the park people will leave you coins in your strawberry Crush soda-pop can? This is why I have hope for humanity.

But last Wednesday, something unusual happened to my usual routine. I was passed out under the tree (though not from injuries – this time it was because I had sniffed a freshly picked plumeria, only to discover that it was actually a tank of methoxyflurane) and was brought back to consciousness by a young man performing CPR on me. (For those of you who don’t know what CPR is, it’s a thing.)


Separated at birth? Plumeria flower and Penthrox brand methoxyflurane

Once I was able to speak, I thanked the man for saving my life and offered him the second half of my baloney sandwich. Having physically taxed himself from forcing the breath of life into me, he was happy to have a snack, and the two of us began talking.

He told me his name was Andy and that he was visiting from some town called New York City. Apparently it’s located in the Northeast – I guess somewhere near Accord. I asked him what he did for a living and he said he was on a television program called “Saturday Night Live”, which sounded nice, and then I began to wow him with stories about working at Amoeba Music; how we get free snacks every Saturday, how our health benefits include a free pony (after five years of full time employment only), and how our bosses, Karen and Jim, are actually snowmen that were brought to life one day when we put magic hats on their heads and sang a merry song about retail.

By the time we had finished my lunch, we were joking and laughing like old friends, which is normally a red flag for me – I mean, once you start enjoying someone’s company you only want to hang out with them AGAIN, and who has that kind of time? Never mind the fact that laughing is very bad for the complexion; it torques the pores, causing them to sag, while attracting harmful atmospheric pollutants that cake in layers inside your skin and kill you.

Don’t ever, ever laugh. I mean it. You’ll f**king die.


Medical photo showing after-effects of laughter and smiles

But I digress. We were throwing jawbreakers at each other – trying to catch them with our mouths – which was good fun until we learned why they’re called “jawbreakers”.

An ambulance took me and poor Andy over to Cedars-Sinai Hospital where we waited in the emergency room. Andy’s face was pretty busted open and I tried to keep the swelling down by poking it really hard with the turkey-baster I found under my seat, but that wasn’t working too well.

(Incidentally, why are there turkey basters under the seats of the Cedars-Sinai emergency room? And why are they shaped like seat cushions?)

Speaking of turkey – aren’t you excited about Thanksgiving? I am. My family was very poor, but we always had a special Thanksgiving dinner. My Mom would fix pain blanc avec la gelée and my Dad would let us have one glass each of his special Albertsons bourbon. Then it was off to bed, before the Thanksgiving monster comes to collect children who are awake or complaining of hunger. Ha, ha! Oh, those halcyon days…


"Why yes, you may have another slice! It'll only cost you your land, your happiness, your prosperity. Some butter?"

Andy was admitted quickly and everyone was sweet to him and treated him like a star, I guess because they found out I worked for Amoeba. I’m used to it. I wanted to stay by his side so I lied and told the nurses that I was his brother, which raised some eyebrows because, unbeknownst to me, Andy had already fibbed and said I was his gay lover. We managed to cover up our tracks by French-kissing and talking about “our” Mom.

Andy ended up having to have an operation to remove the fetus that had been accidentally inseminated in his uterus at the first hospital we’d gone to, “Bob’s Hospital ‘n’ Things”. Luckily, the good folks at Cedars-Sinai also removed the uterus that had been accidentally inserted into Andy’s guts while we were playing Frisbee.

The fetus is fine and we’ve since named him Notfood to remind us not to make the same mistake twice. We’re enrolling him into a prestigious private school as soon as he gestates himself some thumbs and spine, then it’s “look out, ladies!” Ha!

We were out of surgery in time to catch Joanna Newsom perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Joanna’s performance was spellbinding. I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog. For now, let me leave you with some of Andy’s creations. Most of you have seen these a thousand times over, but why not watch them again? Just make certain, whatever you do, that you DON’T LAUGH. Because you will die. You will die suddenly and irrevocably. For eternity.

Andy's film "Hot Rod" will be available for purchase at Amoeba Music on November 27.
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