Tue 6 Oct 2009
I may sigh in general fatigue knowing there’s no winning this war on ignorance, but that doesn’t mean I drop my armor and surrender from defending the true Eastside as well as my part of town against those blythe hoards ever-intent on conveniently jumping on the bandwagon with those who’ve come before them to dismissively mislabel its civic geography.
The far more forgiving Franklin Avenue Blog introduced me to my latest foe: the no-doubt fine folks at the Your Daily Thread website, who’ve recently released “The Official Eastside Green Guide.” But instead of being about Boyle Heights and surroundings where it should be, of course it’s that never-gets-tired westside-stoked POV of what’s eastside: namely Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Atwater Village, with perhaps a little Virgil Village and East Hollywood along with a sprinkling of Historic Filipinotown and Angeleno Heights.
Basically as they see it pretty much anything east of Western Avenue qualifies because after all, it’s east of Western Avenue, duh! Nevermind that Western Avenue was so named because it represented the westernmost boundary of an expanding late-19th century Los Angeles (Westlake, anyone?), making everything between it and downtown the ORIGINAL WESTSIDE way back when today’s westside wasn’t much more than swamps and ranchos and oil fields.
But good westies don’t let facts like that get in the way of co-opting this part of town as their “eastside.” Because it’s east of them, get it? Because they’re the city’s true center.
I really should forgive such endless elitist entitlement for they simply know not what they do — and I probably might have until I got to the comments to the post on YTD.com announcing the guide and found a response to someone who dared ask, “…why are you calling it the eastside? It isn’t.”
Tracy Hepler wrote back: “Thanks for the comment. The communities we mentioned are considered part of the east side of Los Angeles. There are many communities even more East but as L.A. that does not mean that the communities mentioned aren’t a part of the Eastside.”
I became particularly fixated with that first broad stroke she presented as some sort of acknowledged fact. “Considered part of the east side of Los Angeles,” by whom I wondered. Maybe the three people in the office that day when it was time to title the guide? Sure, there are those who consider L.A.to be a desert or dinosaurs to have existed 4,000 years ago or the world to be flat or the Holocaust to be fiction, or President Obama not to be a U.S. citizen, but just because an ignorant or biased segment of the population agrees with what you believe doesn’t make it true.
It’s nice that Tracy saw fit to give an unnamed shout-out to the “many communities even more East” (like Pasadena and Las Vegas and New York and London perhaps?), but then she slams the door with her final rebuttal” “that does not mean that the communities mentioned aren’t a part of the Eastside.”
Of course I au contraire’d mademoiselle Hepler with the following comment:
You lead with: “In L.A. it often feels as if the Westside is leading the charge when it comes to being consciously green.”
To which I respond: “In L.A. it often feels as if the Westside is leading the charge when it comes to being consciously obstinate in perpetuating the misnomer of Silver Lake/Echo Park/Los Feliz as “Eastside.”
Tracy Hepler’s rationalization that it’s east of the westside and therefore is the east side of L.A. is typically dismissive and woefully narrow. Google maps may provide little in the way of clues, but history does. Western Avenue wasn’t named because of what’s east of it. It was named because it represented an approximation of the original western boundary as the city expanded beyond downtown. From that perspective anything between it and downtown is the original westside.
Sad thing is I know that doesn’t mean diddly to Tracy or anyone else who decided to misname the guide. I’m sure it’s great and full of excellent info, but just know that there are those of us who live in those communities and frequent the establishments there that take umbrage with your title and know and respect where the true Eastside is, geographically, culturally, politically and socially.
Do I know what this diverse section should properly be labeled? Well, I’m still sticking by my favorite informal name of choice: the Upside.