Eastside 101

I’ve been meaning to mention the series of Eastside posts I’ve been doing over at blogging.la and I’m finally getting around to it. It’s kinda weird to explain it to the people I know, or those that grew up on the Eastside, but there is now a faction of the city that calls the neighborhoods of Echo Park and Silverlake the “eastside”, since they base the geographical center of the city somewhere closer to the beach communities rather than Downtown. Anything east of that is therefore now “the eastside.” Part of me says I shouldn’t care as much as I do, but the other half sez fuck those putos and their flippant rewrites of history.

I grew up in Boyle Heights, a part of the Eastside that is still in LA city proper and not part of East Los. There is nothing cool about being from the Eastside, it’s just a place crammed with overhead freeways, lacking public space, and needing much to make it habitable. But it very much placed you, it was a way for others to understand literally where you come from, and maybe even what to expect. But now, with these bullshit “fluid” demarcations that mean nothing and are being imposed by people that are just passing thru the city, the term Eastside is being used to differentiate between cretins that stay on one side or the other of La Brea/ La Cienega, as if anyone cares how hipsters try to define themselves separately from their parents. It should be noted, for those that aren’t from LA, that the Eastside has been the Mexican part of town. The new fake “eastside” is being used to demarcate the subtle differences between the same social classes of a mostly gabacho heritage, (on the historical westside) and whether one can tolerate a bit of sand in the communal potato salad. It’s a complete disconnect from the actual meaning of Eastside, given meaning only by those that want to differentiate themselves from their fellow westsiders.

Being from LA doesn’t give one much to cling onto. East Coasters tell me my region has no seasons. Frisco-eans say my hometown is full of plastic people. And LA people say the place I call home is a ghetto. Hmm. Fuck the lot of you. I know where I’m from. I know my neighborhood. Just because others are confused about the “eastside” doesn’t mean we are. I hope other Eastsiders take on the task of challenging those that thoughtlessly deny us our history. (Maybe the Rough Rider Blog can garner some recruits for the cause!) We have nothing to lose but our blogging minutes. Eastside: Presente!

Click here to see all the Eastside 101 posts on a google map.

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18 Responses to Eastside 101

  1. Travis says:

    Bravo!!! What a welcome antidote post to the shenanigans I’ve been reading on other blogs lately.

  2. Koan Juggernaut says:

    I propose a 3-Round boxing match between aloof Westsiders, and non-aloof Eastsiders, to decide the boundaries once and for all.

    But seriously, the East-West penumbra is the LA River through Downtown, but you can also use the railroad tracks in the same gully. People have been dividing cities into desirable and non-desirable neighborhoods that way, literally for centuries. When someone said you were from “the other side of the tracks”, it meant from the poor section because nobody rich would buy a house there.

  3. P-3000 says:

    this ‘debate’ with pendejo vabosos who don’t know the diff between a churro and chorizo and are too chicken to really go eastside, obviously get my chonies in a bunch. I need to run up and down Chavez and let out a grito or two or I might hurt someone. keep up the good fight!

  4. urban memo says:

    I am a bit out of the loop on the whole re-defining where the eastside is. I have never met ONE person who would call anything west of the river “eastside”.

    **

    “nothing cool about being from the Eastside”

    I did not grow up on the eastside. I used to work in the eastside, I have been all over the eastside via foot and public transport and even though I don’t work there anymore, I still go there every now and then.

    I think there are several cool things about being from the Eastside. (Or at least, several cool things to do there):

    *I think its awesome all the grassroots efforts people make to improve there community and get involved in civic affairs.

    *The eastside is by far my favorite place to see art in Los Angeles. That place has the most murals in the whole wide world, and one can be walking around some random street, and then all of a sudden see a gorgeous piece on a wall.

    *Awesome community centers there. That community garden on by the White Memorial Hospital. Self Help Graphics. Several events at Cal State LA that are free to the public. The list goes on.

    *The Chicano Resource center at the East LA Library (An amazing place. I’ve spent countless hours exploring it).

    *Food. I don’t need to explain this one.

    I love the eastside. Even though I did not grow up on the eastside (I have several relatives that did… I partly grew up in Silverlake and Riverside)… I think there are a lot of cool things about being from the eastside. So much (accessible) culture to enjoy.

  5. Denise C. says:

    My parents grew up in El Sereno. I was born in El Sereno, spent the first years of my life there, then returned while I went to college at CSULA. There is something about East L.A that you can feel in your bones, you smell it in the air, your eyes take in it’s vitality–it’s unlike any other place.

  6. jk says:

    Koan – look up the history of Boyle Heights. At one time, it was considered a pretty fancy area. It was also considered the Indian part, too. It’s one of LA’s old areas.

    El Chavo’s analysis of the (a)historical renaming is prescient. I wouldn’t be surprised to see several academic (parasites) write papers about it as East LA undergoes gentrification due to the train (or more properly, the developers attracted by the train).

    Power uses force to rename. Naming establishes borders, and maps, and identities.

  7. cindylu says:

    Dude, diciste eso sin pelos en la lengua.*

    Wait, I live west of La Brea and La Cienega. Does that make me a cretin? I’m really not that bad and there’s a lot less gabas here than you’d think!

    Urban Memo,
    You just need to read a little blogging.la or LAist to see what el Chavo! means.

    *Did I use that phrase correctly? I didn’t really grow up hearing too many dichos…

  8. urban memo says:

    i’ve never heard of that dicho.

  9. EL CHAVO! says:

    Ora,
    Good to see some people are on my side! 😉

    Urban Memo,
    I should have been more clear, there definitely are cool things on the Eastside, and your list is quite a good starting place. But it’s not cool in the way the hipsters think, it’s about scratching a bit beyond the surface, not just some trendy new place to live that is cool for it’s dangerous grittiness, as Westsider that move to new parts of our city tend to see things.

    JK,
    I like your succinct phrasing of what renaming does to an area.

    Cindylu,
    I don’t hate the westiders, some of them are my friends! 😉 Yeah, I guess that was kinda mean and uncalled for, I take it back. I think you did use that dicho properly, though it’s not one I hear often. Hmm, I think we should collectively come up with some new updated dichos, I think I’ll do a contest to see who can come up with the best one! Info to follow.

  10. Browne says:

    “I have never met ONE person who would call anything west of the river “eastside”.” Urban Memo

    You need to talk to the bloggers who have LA in the title of their blog who just dropped off the turnip truck from the San Fernando Valley, but like to pretend like they are from West LA, because they went to college there.

    But in regards to your post, yeah and stuff.

    Browne

  11. browne says:

    Oh and I mean yeah in regards to your post and stuff, in regards to El Chavo’s post.

    Not saying the other comments were fascinating, but I think we should just start punching poseur eastsiders.

    Browne

  12. Chavo: I’m from clueless OC, and even WE know what’s the Eastside. Screw those pinche white fresas (is that redundant?), y puro corner of Gage & Whittier!!!

  13. G. Grahame says:

    This is all really interesting, but your “Los Angeles Eastside Map 101” mostly shows a section of Los Angeles County, and includes unincorporated areas of the county as well as incorporated cities like Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, Montebello and Commerce. The City of Los Angeles starts to come into view when one moves the map over to your pinpoints, but even there it’s worth noting that both Lupe’s and the ELAC swap meet are actually located in the county, not the city.
    (Here’s a map of the Los Angeles City’s 14th district, which is the city’s most eastern district: http://www.lacity.org/distmaps/CD14.pdf)
    If you consider that the actual, incorporated City of Los Angeles is about 25 miles East and West (44 miles North and South), according to the city’s own website, this means that its true geographic (East/West) center are, roughly, those hoods known as Mid-City West, Mid-Wilshre and Mid-City.

  14. john says:

    There’s a lot of “eastside” renaming going on at Yelp.

  15. Browne says:

    I think there is nothing wrong with being on the westside Cindlu, it’s just when you try to be something that you are not. No it’s not that, it’s just when you try to steal someone else’s experience to be cool, but at the same time think you’re a little better than them.

    Calling yourself an eastsider, but being afraid to walk to the grocery store in Boyle Heights, that’s not cool. Calling yourself a eastsider and living in the brewery in Lincoln Heights, but then telling your friends you live in downtown.

    I think that’s the thing that is most annoying.

    Browne

  16. EL CHAVO! says:

    Grahame,
    East LA (the county part) is also the Eastside, but not all of the Eastside is part of ELA. Many seem to justify the new usage of Eastside (for Silverlake, etc) by stating that east of the river is East LA, when that isn’t the case. ELA is very well defined geographically (Lorena, Sheriffs, electric company) but it is culturally tied in with Boyle Heights and other area like City Terrace, as the dividing lines are only technical. Aside from the river, the term Eastside doesn’t have fixed demarcations but it definitely includes Boyle Heights and ELA (county area) and sometimes even Monterey Park and beyond. And though it might change a little bit based on common usage, it’s an entirely different thing when it gets lifted wholesale for a region not even remotely connected to it.
    Within the Eastside though, people do usually use a local landmark to pinpoint their neighborhood (Boyle Heights, Maravilla, CT, Hazard, etc) but in terms of the larger Los Angeles, all those areas are the Eastside.

  17. If the LA River divides eastside from westside, does that put Atwater Village and Eagle Rock on the eastside, and Elysian Valley on the westside?

    And as long as we’re being loose with actual city boundaries, how about Glendale? It’s eastside LA, right?

  18. ChicanaSkies says:

    Just because East LA isn’t party of LA city proper doesn’t mean its not part of LA and therefore cannont be Eastside. LA is not like other cities. We are polycentric, the city boundaries don’t actually mean very much, at least not in terms of identity. The area is too huge- it is all LA.

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