What’s In A Name

There’s a relatively new blog in my environs — a good, informative and readable one that’s been around a few months. Based out of Echo Park its creator Jesus Sanchez opted to call it The Eastsider LA. I wasn’t so much perturbed by that at first, but I am now. And though I know there are a lot more important things worth being perturbed about at this moment, this trivial thing bothers me because I’ve finally realized why I can’t stand it when my area of the city — Silver Lake, Echo Park, Angelino Heights — is referred to as the “eastside.”

Never mind that the argument ender is simply the historical and geographical fact that the true eastside of the city is comprised of those richly entrenched neighborhoods and communities east of the L.A. River beginning with the likes of Boyle Heights. Lincoln Heights. Then there’s East Los Angeles to consider.

But none of that matters in the slightest to those intent on such flippant misrepresentation.

In fairness, Sanchez does not fall into that category and his coverage radius extends well to the east. He even recognizes that area’s claim to the term in an historical context. Having been born in Boyle Heights and having grown up in East LA Sanchez sees his long-standing residence of Echo Park as an extension or expansion of where he grew up. Hence the name.

But then he trips himself up in closing a defense last month to critics of the naming decision with: “But I have no interest in setting up an Eastside Boundary Task Force to decide who can or can’t call themselves an Eastsider, who does and does not belong, who is in or out. That’s so westside.”

That may be “so westside” Jesuz, but what’s even more westside is to call where you and I live eastside, and that’s where my resentment lies. It just doesn’t get more blithely elitist westside-centric than that.

See, where I live in a house built on a plot of land not long after it was first deeded 102 years ago — that was the westside. And long before that In the late 1800s, Angelino Heights was one of the first residential sections of the city established west of downtown. And Western Avenue wasn’t arbitrarily named. It marked the city’s western boundary. On the other side of it was not much more than swamp and tar that would have to wait a whole bunch of years before some westsider would look disinterestedly inland and imagine everything├é┬á on the other side of Western proprietarily as the eastside.

Ultimately it’s a winless argument — and a tired one, too. But no one will ever convince me it’s one without meaning. Especially since people are always going to hold the city’s true cultural history with such little regard, respect or consideration..

And that’s so very L.A.

UPDATE (10.29): Call it kismet. The morning after posting this I found LA Observed’s YouTube vid reporting on the 3rd Annual L.A. Archives Bazaar, which featured discussions on that topic not only in regards to East Los Angeles but also the denizens of Central Avenue who in that street’s heyday called themselves “The Eastsiders.”

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with laonstage.com, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."