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Saturday, October 25, 2014

An Eastsider by any other name

It’s only been a few days since this blog went semi-public but already folks have challenged my use of the name Eastsider to describe my blog, my neighborhood and perhaps even myself. In the comments, Chimatli of the LA Eastside blog writes: “I would add that I think it’s strange that you chose the name Eastsider LA for this blog.” I guess I have some explaining to do.

I named this blog The Eastsider LA because it’s about a place that I love and have lived in for more than 20 years. As someone who was born in Boyle Heights, raised in East Los Angeles and Rosemead (which I guess is now Eastside by some definitions) I’m not a newbie unfamiliar with this area, its culture and history. The debate over the Eastside name was going on in the 1980s when I moved to Echo Park and probably way before then. I have some ideas about what is and is not Eastside (Los Feliz, maybe. Sorry, Hollywood, I think not).

Some neighborhoods, such as Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights, east of the Los Angeles River have a historic claim to the name Eastside. But the city has obviously grown and changed. Many Eastsiders, however, do not like to recognize that neighborhoods names and boundaries change and move. But they do. (Echo Park, for example, was often referred to as the West End in century-old newspaper stories.) Even some of the posts on Chimatli’s LA Eastside blog, which I admire and read regularly, also reflect these changes by stretching the Eastside name to communities far from the corner of Cesar Chavez (I still call it Brooklyn) and Soto.

It’s fine with me if LA Eastside can talk about the western San Gabriel Valley as being part of some greater Eastside or that being an Eastsider has more to do with shared values and attitudes than a Zip Code. 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.



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