Amoeblog

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Happy Valley

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 5, 2013 10:56am | Post a Comment
BETWEEN OLYMPUS AND PARADISE

There are at least four places in California named Happy Valley. This blog entry is about the small neighborhood on Los Angeles’s EastsideTo vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, vote here






The first time I became aware of a place in Los Angeles called Happy Valley was after glancing at an online map. I ascertained that it was apparently located somewhere in the vicinity of Montecito Heights, an area of Los Angeles that strikes me as one of the most obscure areas of the city. One day whilst driving down the Arroyo Seco Parkway (when it was still the Pasadena Freeway) I caught sight of a couple of Victorian structures which I turned off the road to see -- only to find that it was Heritage Square, a sort of living history museum in Montecito Heights. Another time, passing through a scenic cut and cresting a hill along Monterey Road I entered a small, secluded village... but that turned out to be Hermon.

It wasn’t until I was house (and dog and cat) sitting in El Sereno last year that I caught site of a Happy Valley neighborhood sign on Lincoln Park Avenue, just north of Broadway. When I found myself resuming my responsibilities in El Sereno last month, I decided to explore as many neighborhoods of the Eastside as I could. Together, Dooley (the dog) and I rambled through Arroyo View Estates, East Los Angeles, El Sereno, City Terrace, Garvanza, Hermon, Highland Park, Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Rose Hill, University Hills, and on the final day, Happy Valley


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Happy Valley -- my first water color and bird's eye... go easy on me



Most Angelenos have likely never heard of Happy Valley. Not being in the Westside, Central Los Angeles, or Downtown it’s completely off the radar of most Los Angeles media. If people have heard of Happy Valley, there’s a good chance that they’re either associated with the neighborhood gang’s enemies (i.e. Eastlake Locos, East Side Clover, 18 Street, or El Sereno Rifa) or fans of Charles Fleming’s book, Secret Stairs.


Mural of Mary in Happy Valley dating from the 1970s (at least) -- The Jesus is newer


Walk #10 of that book involves walking along the public stairways and stair streets of Montecito Heights and Happy Valley (difficulty rating 5 out of 5) and it seems that numerous bloggers have undertaken it (e.g. Climbing LA, Postcards from Beverly, stairwalkinginla, and probably others). The story of a couple of Happy Valley murals was also told by LA Bloga in a piece that includes some great photos.


HAPPY VALLEY CHARACTER

Looking down Happy Valley along Lincoln Park Avenue from the hillside

Happy Valley emerges from the southern face of Montecito Heights around the north end of Sierra Street, just north of Glen Alta Elementary. From there it continues south between Paradise Hill on the east and Mount Olympus II (locally known as Flattop or Flat Top) on the west before opening up into a flat area at Broadway.


Paradise Hill from Happy Valley

To the south is Lincoln Heights proper – specifically the Lincoln Heights Business District. Happy Valley is often considered to be a barrio of Lincoln Heights yet on many maps it’s included within Montecito Heights.


Montecito Heights neighborhood sign at Happy Valley's north end


View of Downtown Los Angeles from Happy Valley


The population of Happy Valley today is 79% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 13% white, and 6% Asian (mostly Chinese). In the hours that I spent walking around, nearly everyone that I encountered appeared to be part of one of those populations and the languages that I heard, in addition to English, were Spanish and Chinese. There were some white Anglos in the north end of the valley.


EARLY HISTORY

Southern California was inhabited by humans as many as 13,000 years ago. Roughly 3,500 years ago the ancestors of the Tongva arrived in the Los Angeles Basin. The area that includes Happy Valley is located between the sites of two Tongva villages, Yaanga to the west and Otsunga to the east. In 1769, the first Europeans passed through the area, led by Gaspar de Portolà on behalf of Spanish Conquest. In 1771 they established Mission San Gabriel Arcángel ten kilometers east. In 1781 the Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was established four kilometers to the west. Per the Laws of the Indies, the Pueblo’s lands included four square leagues of land, including what’s now Happy Valley.


MEXICAN AND EARLY AMERICAN ERA

Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. Los Angeles was thus a Mexican city until 1848, when the US conquered California. In 1850, Los Angeles incorporated. The lands east of the Los Angeles River that now include Happy Valley remained relatively undeveloped until 1874, when then city health inspector and county coroner Dr. John S. Griffin and his nephew, Hancock Johnston, began selling lots to new homeowners in what was then called East Los Angeles.

Detail of Pierce’s Los Angeles Birdseye View showing Lincoln Heights and Happy Valley (1894)*


In 1886, most of what’s now known as Happy Valley was developed as the Ela Hills tract. The sale of new lots was announced in the 14 March edition of the Los Angeles Herald. The small, folk Victorian homes from that era still dominate the neighborhood, although they’re joined today by not-as-old crackerboxes and the expected assortment of stuccoed houses and apartments. The lots and homes situated on them are quite small. Many of the first inhabitants of them were immigrants from Germany.


Lincoln Heights was renamed Eastlake in 1901 and Lincoln Park in 1917. There’s still a small park nearby on Eastlake Avenue called Ela Park as a reminder of its earlier identity. During that period, many Italian and Mexican-Americans moved to the neighborhood. However, as business flourished along Downey Avenue (now Broadway), Happy Valley seems to have remained a fairly isolated, mostly residential neighborhood.

Victorian home behind a home that appears to have been a shop


Happy Valley apartment complex



HAPPY VALLEY TRANSIT

detail of Electric car and bus routes in L.A. (1934)*

From 1901 until 1963, the Los Angeles Railway’s yellow cars traveled down Downey and Lincoln Park Avenue (originally Prichard Street). Today the area is served by Metro 252 and the DASH Lincoln Heights/Chinatown lines.


ABRAHAM LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL




In the 1910s, a department store, library, bank, movie studio, and hospital all operated nearby in Lincoln Heights. In 1913, Avenue 21 Grammar School moved to the current site of Abraham Lincoln High School at the mouth of Happy Valley. Before the completion of the new building, the students and faculties met across the street and up the hill on the former mansion property of Charles Woolwine.

Lincoln High has a long list of famous and locally notable alumni. The great architect Gregory Ain, who designed Silver Lake’s Avenel Homes and Mar Vista's Mar Vista Housing went there. Another alumnus is Gaylord Carter,an organist who accompanied silent films in at Inglewood’s Seville Theatre, Downtown Los Angeles’s Million Dollar Theatre, Grauman's Metropolitan, and others. He also played organ on old time radio shows including Suspense and The Whistler. Former Black Panther leader and author Eldrige Cleaver attended Lincoln too. In 1978’s Soul on Fire he referred to Happy Valley as “one of these old, proud Chicano communities.” Lincoln was also attended by modern dancer José Limón as well as several film folks including directors John Huston and Moctesuma Esparza; and actors Jeanette Nolan, John Conte, John Doucette, Robert Preston, and Robert Young.


HAPPY VALLEY RIFA

From 1910 until 1920, many Mexican refugees from the Mexican Revolution moved to Los Angeles, joining those who already settled in barrios like SonoratownDogtown, the Flats (in Boyle Heights), Alpine (in Victor Heights), Belvedere Gardens and Maravilla Park (in East Los Angeles), and Happy Valley. Some of the young pachucos of these neighborhoods coalesced into neighborhood clubs, including Happy Valley.

Happy Valley Rifa tagged pay phone!

When the US entered World War II in 1941, many men of fighting age went off to war – in many cases never to return. Not coincidentally, the barrio cliques comprised of young teenagers morphed into street gangs. Around the same time, many Italian-Americans moved east to San Gabriel Valley towns including Rosemead, San Gabriel, and Temple City. In 1946, Beatrice Griffith referred to Happy Valley in her novel American Me, when it first appeared in serialized form in Louis Adamic’s magazine Common Ground two years before it was published as a book. 


Happy Valley Rifa 1975

Whatever you think of gangs, it does seem to me that in the decades when many Angelenos seemed to aspire to suburban anonymity, disassociation, and interchangeable placelessness, street gangs were probably the most visible expressions of neighborhood identity. I’m not suggesting that would-be community boosters join gangs – I can think of better ways of showing your neighborhood pride than warring with rival gang members – but they do historically keep the flame of neighborhood pride burning when others turn their backs. While not exactly an ancient pictograph, seeing a Happy Valley placa dated “1975” on a sidewalk is kind of cool (and way more permanent and less ugly than a spraypaint tag, I might add).


RETURN TO HAPPY VALLEY

Los Angeles was torn apart by riots in 1992. It seems that afterwards one of the ways people sought to heal the wounds was to re-embrace the notion of community. In 1993, the LA DOT began installing the now-familiar neighborhood signs around the city, in many cases reviving forgotten identities on what had become huge, faceless swathes of land (often in South Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and Midtown). In 1995 Happy Valley was officially recognized when the blue sign went up amid fears that it would trigger a negative response from Happy Valley Rifa’s enemies but nothing of the sort seems to have happened. Instead, it just put Happy Valley back on the map… even if it is still hard to find.


VISITING HAPPY VALLEY

Happy Valley today is overwhelmingly residential, possibly more so now than ever. In fact, there are several residences that appear to have formerly served as stores. There are very few non-residential buildings in the neighborhood today. 


Pomona Market


Apparently the building that houses Pomona Market was constructed in 1922. It is one of several liquor stores in Los Angeles with a sign claiming that it sells the coldest beer in the city. While good beers taste best at a range of temperatures, macroswills are less disgusting the closer they are to freezing. 

Fernando Auto Repair doesn’t even show up in any directories that I saw. I can assure you, however, that it’s there if you need it, housed in a structure constructed in 1946.


Iglesia en el Valle


Iglesia en la Valle seems to have become the current inhabitant of this church (constructed in 1939) much more recently, in 1984.

Near the north end of the neighborhood is Glen Alta Elementary, which opened in 1965.

There was business taking place elsewhere – it was Small Business Saturday after all. A man in a football (soccer) jersey played salsa music from his van and presided over an listless sidewalk sale. Down the street, at a house flying the flag of Texas, a group of women set up some tables and chairs. Having recently dined in the garage of a private residence in El Sereno that sells Mexican food on Sundays I thought that maybe something similar was going to happen here but no food was served during the time of my visit. There were other sidewalk and yard sales too but for the most part it was a pretty relaxed valley.

At one point Dooley and I just stopped, looked, smelled and listened. Ranchera music seemed to drift from a house to the south. A car passed us playing the Young Rascals’ 1967 hit “Groovin’.”

 




In the other direction (in more sense than one), another vehicle passed bumping merengue. A cloud of weed smoke floated in from the east. Meanwhile, the crowing of roosters echoed throughout the valley – as did the barking of dogs. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Happy Valley is the doggiest neighborhood in Los Angeles – perhaps five times doggier than even El Sereno (which I’d previously thought was the doggiest neighborhood).


Looking up the staircase at the north end of Lincoln Park Avenue

The people of Happy Valley may be friendly (I counted four “hellos,” one “buenos dias, and one “good morning”) but the dogs almost invariably seem insane. Nearly every small yard seemed to either be patrolled by a Pitbull and Chihuahua combination or the five small dogs variety pack. Dooley and I had pretty tense confrontations with three dogs (two of them rather large) that simply squeezed through the gates of their yards to nip and bark at us. None of them actually bit us, however. 

Not all of the homes were being used as minimum security dog kennels. There was also quite a lot of front and back yard gardening too. Especially prominent and surprising to me were the many banana trees, which provide shade, privacy, and best of all, bananas with actual flavor (unlike the supermarket ones suitable only as smoothie filler). Besides getting your hands dirty doing something besides maintaining a silly, thirsty, green grass carpet, gardening can yield unexpected rewards. It was on the side of Flat Top above Happy Valley in 1984 that a whale skeleton was discovered when one Mr. F. W. Maley uncovered vertebrae whilst digging in irrigation trench on for Ms. L.W. Blevins’s orchard.

*****

If you know of any musicians, filmmakers or other creative individuals from Happy Valley, please let me know in the comments. And please share your stories, knowledge, and experiences involving Happy Valley. There’s so little official history of this neighborhood so I’m relying on readers to help flesh it out. There is no Wikipedia article and it’s not even included as a neighborhood in the LA TimesMapping LA project.

*image source for both map detail: The Big Map Blog

*****


Follow Eric's Blog and check out more episodes of California Fool's Gold

Concert Tickets For Sale at Amoeba Hollywood in December

Posted by Amoebite, December 2, 2013 01:18pm | Post a Comment

Tickets at AmoebaAmoeba Hollywood regularly sells tickets to local shows, with the added bonus of charging low service fees (if you're into saving money and who isn't really?).

All tickets can be purchased at the registers (while supplies last) for a $2 service fee. We take cash and credit cards for all ticket sales. Store credit and coupons cannot be applied to ticket sales. Limit 4 tickets per person.

Please note that on the day of the show, we will stop selling tickets for that show at 5pm.

If you have a question about whether we've sold out of a specific show, please call the store at 323-245-6400.

JUST ADDED SHOWS:

Step Brothers El Rey

Step Brothers
El Rey Theatre
February 5

Kaiser Chiefs El Rey

Kaiser Chiefs
El Rey Theatre
February 25

 

Here is a full list of tickets we currently have for sale at Amoeba Hollywood:

Show Name Venue Show Date Ticket Price
(fee not included)
Cibo Matto El Rey 02/24/2014 $25.00
Sharon Corr El Rey 02/26/2014 $37.00
Crystal Method El Rey 01/16/2014 $25.00
Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr. El Rey 02/28/2014 $20.00
Dark Star Orchestra El Rey 04/05/2014 $30.00
Darkside  (SOLD OUT) Fonda Theatre 01/25/2014 $25.00
Robert DeLong El Rey 01/31/2014 $17.00
Delorean
(Show postponed to Feb 7, 2014.
All tix for 11/15 will be honored.)
El Rey 02/07/2014 $20.00
Dillon Francis
(12/28 SOLD OUT)
Fonda Theatre 12/26, 12/27 & 12/28 $27.50
Galactic El Rey 03/30/2014 $32.00
Gardens & Villa El Rey 03/08/2014 $17.00
G-Eazy Fonda Theatre 02/27/2014 $20.00
Mike Gordon El Rey 03/17/2014 $25.00
RL Grime El Rey 01/23/2014 $22.00
Gungor El Rey 01/18/2014 $22.00
Hollywood Ending El Rey 02/20/2014 $17.00
Hopsin El Rey 03/22/2014 $25.00
John Butler Trio Fonda Theatre 02/21/2014 $35.00
Kaiser Chiefs El Rey 02/25/2014 $30.00
Kodaline El Rey 02/27/2014 $20.00
London Grammar El Rey 03/25/2014 $22.00
Lord Huron Fonda Theatre 03/01/2014 $22.50
Mad Caddies El Rey 02/04/2014 $17.00
Stephen Malkmus El Rey 03/28/2014 $25.00
Mavericks Fonda Theatre 04/03/2014 $35.00
Colin Meloy Fonda Theatre 01/16/2014 $28.50
John Newman El Rey 01/15/2014 $17.00
Gary Numan The Mayan 03/06/2014 $35.00
Parquet Courts & White Fence Fonda Theatre 01/17/2014 $17.50
Pinback El Rey 01/17/2014 $22.00
Russian Circles El Rey 03/10/2014 $20.00
Skinny Puppy The Mayan 03/05/2014 $35.00
Slaughterhouse El Rey 04/10/2014 $25.00
St. Lucia El Rey 02/11/204 $18.50
Step Brothers (Evidence x Alchemist) El Rey 02/05/2014 $20.00
Dave Stewart El Rey 01/30/2014 $25.00
Tosca
(Show postponed from 12/9 to 3/3.
All tix for 12/9 show will be honored.)
El Rey 03/03/2014 $30.00
Trombone Shorty El Rey 01/25/2014 $27.50
Typhoon El Rey 03/26/2014 $20.00
VNV Nation The Mayan 04/03/2014 $25.00
Volcano Choir (SOLD OUT) Fonda Theatre 01/18/2014 $26.00
Washed Out (SOLD OUT) El Rey 01/27/2014 $29.00
Wax El Rey 12/30/2013 $18.50
We Were Promised Jetpacks El Rey 02/21/2014 $20.00

 

New "What's In My Bag?" Episode With Moby!

Posted by Amoebite, October 2, 2013 06:36pm | Post a Comment

From humble punk beginnings to global festival headliner, Moby is easily one of the most recognizable faces in electronic music. In addition to being a platinum selling artist/producer, Moby is also a seasoned photographer and a multi-instrumentalist. He's an advocate for animal rights and a devout vegan. The guy is one cool dude.  

Moby is back with his eleventh studio album, Innocents (Mute). Following a move from New York to LosMoby Angeles, he recorded most of the instrumentation himself. He also collaborated with a list of relatively known singers including Mark Lanegan, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, Cold Specks, Skylar Grey, and Damien Jurado. The result is a multi-layered production of both deep emotion and huge sonics. 

The album will be promoted by a three date tour in Los Angeles. Yes, just 3 live shows will make up all the touring for Innocents. Oct 2, 3 and 4 will see Moby perfoming three hour sets at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. Each show will be performed in two parts with the first half featuring songs from the new album and the second half being a "greatest hits" set.  

Continue reading...

Come Record Digging With Us 10/6 at the Pasadena City College Flea Market & Record Swap

Posted by Amoebite, September 26, 2013 02:11pm | Post a Comment

Pasadena Cit College Record SwapAmoeba returns to one of the biggest and best record swap meets in the LA area, the Pasadena City College Flea Market and Record Swap, on Sunday, October 6, 2013. With over 500 vendors, the Flea Market features antiques and collectibles, records, tools, clothes, toys and much more, not to mention food and good company. And admission is always free!

The Flea Market and Record Swap is from 7am-3pm. Look for the Amoeba booth located in the Bonnie St. parking structure (Lot 5) on the third level. We always have a great selection of vinyl, from dollar records to collectibles in every genre. Come out and enjoy your Sunday with us!

The LA Weekly calls the show "the best source for used records in all of Southern California."

More info HERE.

PCC October 6

Notes From a Grumpy Old Man: The Real Zombie Apocalypse is Dull and Ordinary

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 23, 2013 08:38am | Post a Comment

Los Angeles has sure changed.

Some have been welcomed changes and others are hard to get used to. I’m constantly reminded this when I deejay in spots in Echo Park, Hollywood or Highland Park. Those parts of town were once considered the scourges of the city. It was riddled with gangs, drugs, homelessness, crime, earthquake damage and rows of buildings for lease. Ten years later, it’s now it’s a playground for the dull and ordinary. The argument of hipsters no longer applies here, because there is nothing hip about the people that play here. At best, they are in college; at worst they are former frat boys who have come to roost now that the area is safe.

When I used to tour for a living, the best thing about coming home to Los Angeles was getting away from the countless generic college towns that most of the venues  were located. Much like the Wilson Pickett song “Funky Broadway” , where every town has a "Broadway and a Broadway women", the college town had the same restaurants, coffee houses, record stores, frat bar, alternative bar and everyone looks the same. Ethnicity as a whole was slim to none, as people of color were always relegated to the “other” parts of town. Being Chicano, I always felt I was in the wrong part of town when as well.. Places with diversity, such as Chicago and New York, were always welcomed stops on the road because I felt I could take a breather from the generic college town. I was never one to wonder why Los Angeles couldn’t be like Austin, Olympia or Chapel Hill. I liked Los Angeles the way it was. It was spread out, not connected by trains so you can play tourist in someone’s barrio. It was damaged and a place for the strong to thrive and the weak to avoid. It short, it was great.

Much like most of America, the economic downturn of seventies and eighties turned many big cities into slightly controlled wastelands. But because of it, the music thrived. Los Angeles gave us great punk bands such as X, The Bags, The Weirdos, Black Flag, The Minutemen, The Gun Club, The Germs, just to name a brief few. Amazing roots rock in The Blasters and Los Lobos. Even Psyche got a re-hash, with The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade and Opal, who soon became Mazzy Star. Weirdo outsider metal from Jane’s Addition and as much as I abhor hair metal, Guns N’Roses and Motley Crüe  has to be given their due, They owe everything to L.A. Rap music? N.W.A. and Freestyle Fellowship, just those two groups spawned a million imitators, all with attitude. If  you are new to Los Angeles and you think L.A. is rough now. Listen to all these groups and hear what it was really once like.

There was once a push to preserves culture and not co-op. The World Stage in Leimert Park and people like Billy Higgins, Dwight Trible and Horace Tapscott went in the tradition of John Coltrane in preserving black culture and not turning it into smooth jazz or pseudo-classical dribble that most modern jazz sounds like today. Chalino Sanchez made his career in the clubs of South Gate. He was already widely popular with the Mexican immigrant community before he started to make the news with violence at his shows. Then there were all the bands from East Los, such as Ozomatli and Quetzal, who took risks in their incarnations by mixing traditional music with modern music. They brought culture and pride to kids that had no idea what that meant and they brought fresh sounds to traditionalists who were stuck in the past. They received a lot of crap from purists and hipsters alike but because of them, now anyone can mix Son Jarocho with Hip-Hop regardless if they are any good at either style and everyone thinks they’re geniuses. Let us not forget the many underground bands, party crews, back yard punk gigs, warehouse parties that have all their own history in Los Angeles as well. It's not to say that all music from L.A. from the back in the good ol'days is better than the music that comes out now, it's just different. I feel it said more.

Now there are parts of L.A. that feel like a college town, and its sad. I see things that make my stomach cringe. I saw a barefoot girl walk into a once seedy dive without anyone telling her to put her damn shoes on. Knowing my Los Angeles history, I can still feel the filth of these places underneath my feet and I’m wearing shoes. The entitled, they just don’t seem to care. They walk back to their cars from the clubs drunk and screaming, waking up people who have to work early the next day. It's nothing new, especially if you live by a club, but now there are neither policeman or gangsters in sight to regulate the neighborhood. As I get older and the audience that I deejay in front of gets younger and seemingly more naive, I feel the guilt that I’m facilitating someone’s future nightmare by contributing the soundtrack to it. I watch as frat boys shove drinks down young ladies throats so they can take them home because “They paid for the drinks” It’s not to assume it wasn’t always like this, but the entitled make it so overt, so obvious, that it’s hard to ignore.

The record stores and bookstores all have the same things. Used Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours LPs are suddenly at collector’s prices and the dull and ordinary don’t argue, they just pay the price. The coffee is served in a beaker and it costs a small paycheck, almost everywhere. The menus have changed. The Mexican restaurants have vegetarian options, without the scorn from the waitress when you try to explain that you are vegan. Salsa is served on the side instead of being put inside a burrito as to cut cost from all the returned food because ii's too spicy for bland palates. Everything is easy for them because let’s face it, they have money. It’s beyond gentrification; it’s the zombie apocalypse and it’s boring.

So after a rough night in the college town once known as Los Angeles, I started to think about all these thoughts in my head. I was too tired to write them out and quite frankly, it was late and I just needed some brain eraser. For some reason I started to think, “What would Black Flag and N.W.A. do if they took a time machine and were transported into future Los Angeles in the boring zombie apocalypse of 2013?”

Yes, I had no clue what they would do either.

So instead, I transplanted myself into a Black Flag show from 1982 via YouTube and rediscovered the virtues of Black Flag. The noise they made during that show could kill a thousand zombies today. The line-up from the gig I watched was astonishing. It consisted of Greg Ginn and Dez Cadena on guitar, Chuck on bass, Henry on vocals and the short-lived line-up concluded with former D.O.A. and future Danzig drummer Chuck Biscuits on drums. The video was horrible quality. The audio was absolutely unlistenable, but it relaxed me like a lullaby. Soon I curled up in a ball and fell fast asleep with Rollins screaming on the top of his lungs while Biscuits pounded the drums with complete recklessness. I was soon far, oh so far, from the dull and ordinary zombie apocalypse.








 

BACK  <<  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  >>  NEXT