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May 31, 2011

Goldie the pony!

sixth grade.JPG

Hi Jenny,

Love your Chicken Corner blog. After I read your latest post on the animals that used to live at Elysian Heights, I thought you might like the attached photo -- my 6th grade class of 1973. There's Goldie the pony on the left, next to Mr Elmer (he was a great teacher, and as tall as Goldie was small). On the right is Beverly Mason, and look down near her waist and you'll see one of our goats. I'm standing on Miss Mason's other side -- the very short girl with the light brown hair and plaid shirt.

We had another goat, and at least two sheep and chickens in the farmyard as well.

On my blog,
I often write about my childhood in Echo Park. Here's a short post on the animals at the school.

Dear CC readers, recently I received the above information from a reader. It's the kind of email that literally makes Chicken Corner clap her hands in delight. So, I sat on it for two-some weeks, because I wanted to write a big popover pastry of words around it. But ... ran out of flour, ran out of time, freezing rain in the passing lane. I wish you could see the goat in the left hand corner. If you enlarge the pixel-grainy goat will appear. xo, Chicken Corner.

May 30, 2011

Fish fry and a dream of better Dodger days

Echo Park, Memorial Day.

Photo: At Riverside Drive. Mr. O'Malley, your burger is ready!


Meanwhile, Sunday evening, on EP Ave. it was sizzling at the Echo Country Outpost's fish fry. At 7:30 the band was arriving, getting ready to get ready to set up.



May 22, 2011

2 N.E. 'locals' arrested in Dodger Stadium beating

Northeast Division Watch Commander Sgt. Kunch confirmed for Chicken Corner this morning that N.E. detectives have arrested two suspects in the beating of Bryan Stow March 31 at Dodger Stadium.

The news was posted on a neighborhood list serv by neighborhood council president Jose Sigala, who says local TV stations and the L.A. Times have been reporting.

According to Sgt. Kunch, Northeast detectives served search warrants at two different locations early this morning, and a suspect was taken into custody from each location for questioning in the attack that left 42-year-old Bryan Stow in a coma.

Kunch said the station is in the process of organizing a press conference. He could not confirm that the suspects lived within the boundaries of Northeast's service area and could not release their names.

*The press conference will be held at 11 a.m.

Here's NBC's report: here.

According to Joel Rubin of the Times:

At about 7 a.m., the Los Angeles Police Department SWAT team descended on an East Hollywood apartment building with a warrant in hand. According to apartment building manager Maritza Camacho, police, using loudspeakers with guns drawn, called out to the occupants of Apartment 25. Inside was one of the men police suspect in the March 31 beating that left Stow with brain damage.

In all sincerity, Chicken Corner is wondering where "East Hollywood" is. Would that be Los Feliz?

May 16, 2011

Weekend diary


Dance performance at Mi Alma.

They don't make community calendars to fit the amount of organized -- and disorganized -- activity that filled the streets of Echo Park (and beyond) this past weekend, much of it overlapping the city at large. Some of the EPish events were the Public Display of Art artwalk, which spawned dozens of mini-happenings; Big Sunday projects; and an Old Time Social held by HM 157 in Elysian Valley. There was too much to do! And too much to list.

While Sunday's open house at JPL suctioned some of EP's residents out of the area, Big Sunday exerted its own gravity, giving them reasons to stay here "in town," as it were. Among these was a community garden-construction and clean-up at El Centro Del Pueblo, sponsored by Eric Garcetti's office along with Gil Cedillo's Office, Kevin de Leon's Office and Kaiser Permanente. This effort was planned for Saturday and Sunday.

And, yes, Chicken Corner was busy, busy. A couple of CC highlights were the late-afternoon hours Saturday in Elysian Valley at the Old Time Social, where there were fiddle workshops, banjo workshops, art on view, clogging, a cake walk, and square-dancing lessons. Some of the musicians were familiar to me from regular jams at the Audubon Center in Montecito Heights and at Delilah Bakery. Others may have been in town for Sunday's Topanga blue grass festival. The venue was Nomad Studios, an old industrial space that houses artists' studios, living spaces, printing presses and a Boston terrier, who spotted my daughter and her friend as easy marks for food and patting.

My favorite artwalk display (having only managed to visit a few) was at Mi Alma, the relocated design studio/shop at the corner of Avalon and EP Ave, where the defunct gas station used to be, and where the effort to build condos recently, gloriously, was reconsidered. Amid ornate, antique iron furniture, a pair of Spanish/Mexican-style ballet dancers gorgeously enacted a Virgen de Guadalupe scene that kept a large outdoor audience transfixed. It was free.

The walk home was free, too. And liberating!


A pick-up band jams near the entrance to the Old Time Social, above.

Inside the Nomad grounds, conversation and music, below.



May 12, 2011

Speaking of Maria

Maria at the L.A. Zoo.

Echo Park's golden gray goose has been "on display" at the L.A. Zoo for some three or so weeks now. He has had his wings clipped and shares children's-zoo quarters with an elderly donkey. There's no plaque, so as far as most visitors know, the big, bold gray goose is simply what he appears to be -- and not the media star known for his close relationship with Dominic Ehrler, an Echo Park resident whose daily walks with Maria at Echo Park Lake made them both famous.

Dominic reports that Maria is doing well. He says:

I miss the walks and flying but know that my friend is safe and well taken care of. I see him nearly every morning and I help him with his bath by splashing water over his head.. His lake is now very tiny now...a child's splash pool and he needs a bit of help. Maria seems to get his kicks by chasing Odie the Donkey around. Poor Odie.

I visited the zoo recently with Dominic and was moved to see Maria run toward Dominic when we arrived. An anonymous donor gave him a two-year-pass to the zoo, and Dominic has entry rights into the enclosure -- while he was behind the fence Maria made sure Odie didn't get a chance to get anywhere near. One of the zoo employees told me the gander probably livens things up -- in a good way -- for the donkey. And for his public as well.

May 11, 2011

Directions from the Dog


"Excuse me, Dog," I said. "I am looking for the place where the east side is here and the west side is there. I've been on a neighborhood forum, and everyone is all confused about what is the east side of L.A. and what is the west, and some people are even angry about it. So I decided to go out and find the place myself, but now I am lost. You look like a good person to ask."

"Oh, um, well," said the Dog. "Can't you see that I am sitting on a table?"

"I have always found that the kinds of dogs who sit on tables are the kinds that give the very best directions."

Dog was flattered.

"Can't you please try?"

"It seems to me," said Dog. "It seems to me that if you're a pit bull, this is the west side. And if you're a german shepherd, this is the east side."

"Oh, Dog," I cried. "I was hoping we had moved way beyond that kind of psychology. Besides, it's a geographical border I am looking for, not demographics."

"Aren't the two closely related as in overlapping?"

"Sure, Dog, but...."

The Dog yawned. "Excuse me," he said. "But I think I need to just be a dog sitting on a table right now. There's a pretty little pug down the block who might be seated on a lawnchair. Maybe she can help you in your search."

So I went to look for the pug, hoping she'd be less provincial in her thinking. And, besides, maybe it's true what they say, that dogs who sit on lawnchairs are the most up to date.

May 9, 2011

East side: the center still doesn't want to hold

You are here, but where is that? And why?

In our perpetual effort to fix anchor the map of Los Angeles, Echo Park residents have been having another "where is the east side?" conversation on the EchoElysian online forum. The stream began May 7, and it's been lively. Around here, people take the matter personally. Chicken Corner has selected some of the comments (see below) that show a wide array of interpretation regarding our neighborhood's geographic orientation. Some people refer to history as a guide, some to contemporary life in the city, to the alphabet, to the river.

Here is the post that set off this round of cartographic angst:

I'm confused and finally decided to ask. Does someone know why Echo Park is called the East Side? I thought the East Side was east of the river.

A well-regarded real estate professional responded with:

One can refer to the original Ord Survey done around 1850 marking the center of L.A. in front of the Plaza Catholic Church. The monument marker is there today and at that time points west of the marker were numbered "west." Interpretations have changed over the ensuing 160 years, and the strict boundary no longer exists. Just like Edendale no longer exists except to preservationists and old-timers.

In answer to which one respondent looked to the traditions of small towns and cities all over the United States:

If we are speaking about the actual way the city is set up, everything east of Main St is the east side. Therefore, everything west of Main Street is the west side. And really, there is no West Sunset Boulevard. Officially, it's just Sunset.

Meanwhile, a different respondent looked to Western Ave.

As far as I know, Western Avenue marked what was originally considered the beginning of the western side of Los Angeles; east of Western is the east side. Across the river is East L.A., which is simply different from "the east side."

A different view favors the river as the true source:

Actually, I think the dividing line for East would be the Los Angeles River. And everything west of there would not be the Westside. You just eliminated the entirety of central LA!

Then there's the view that orients the east side in relation to the west side:

I always thought east of Fairfax was called the east side, west of Fairfax the west side, and East L.A. being a specific part of the east side. I have no idea why...

There's a Centrist view -- which looks from east to west instead of this forum's more common west-to-east point of view:

I first moved to Echo Park in 1971. I was shocked that many of my friends from East L.A. considered my neighborhood to be the west side. It's all relative.
After forty years I do consider it arrogant to call Echo Park the "east side." Some may say it's racist. The Los Angeles River and Main Street are the dividing lines. We are in Central Los Angeles. Try to appreciate what you have.

One comment throws its hands in the air:

I find that we live in Echo Park. It is located northeast of the city. We are not the east side. The east side is east of the Los Angeles River and always has been. ... The Hollywood freeway is not a boundary, although it does cut through a neighborhood. It's just frivolous.

Another cites San Vicente:

I think this term Eastside came about from people who did not know much of anything west of San Vicente, and certainly had no idea that the Earth stretched east of downtown, so mistakenly thought Echo Park, Silver Lake must be East LA, or the Eastside -- because they thought there was nothing farther east than that. But this area is WEST (well, maybe northwest) of downtown, and East L.A. is East of downtown. Eastside? Eastside of what??!

Identity and politics come into play:

I find the term offensive. It strikes me as pompously -- and ignorantly -- declaring that East Los Angeles is nothing, is undeserving of even its own identity so we will just take it away for ourselves. To my ears, it grates as a fake claim of being important, of being so importantly trendy -- apparently because the previously used names of the area just are not good enough for the former Westsiders.

Then there's the alphabet argument:

In my view, if the east/west street you are on has the letter "W" (West), then you are not in East Los Angeles. Simple, really. So The Echo (1822 W Sunset Blvd) is not in East LA.
This has been discussed at length in the past elsewhere, with some heat and little light. At that time someone stated that Western Ave marked what was originally the *end* of the western side of Los Angeles. In the same series of posts, someone postulated that in recent history when trendy people started frequenting the Echo Park/Silverlake area east of Western, they called it the East Side.
I think we can agree that neighborhood area names are fluid, and actual usage can overrule academic distinctions. I can live with a "new" neighborhood name called "East Side" which is not at all the same as "East Los Angeles". Be aware that using "East Side" will make you the recipient of flack from long time LA residents who think you mean "East Los Angeles" - and are soooooo wrong.

And this, from a longtime resident:

I have lived in three homes since the late '60s -- one on Altivo Way, at the top of Echo Park Ave; one on Lake View Ave, behind Ralphs on Glendale Blvd near India and Silver Rrdge, across from Rose Scharlin Nursery School: and now I live at the corner of Baxter and Lemoyne in one of the shingled town homes. My husband and I loved these places and this is where we raised our children. My friends and I always referred to it all as the Eastside (as opposed to the Westside _-- but we never thought of these places as East L.A. There are so many nuances of change and status connected with all this.

Nuances of change and status! Try pinning that on a map! And now Chicken Corner is going to go find her car and then drive around in circles. Cluck, cluck! Over and out.

May 4, 2011

River as destination*

Chicken Corner is delighted to see that the L.A. River continues to upgrade. KCET now has a river guide -- one that encourages recreation at the oft-neglected waterway. Here's the link. Now, if we could just do something about all that cement. A soft river bottom from start to finish, anyone? It sure would make things pretty, and save water, too.

Some river pics here, and here.

*LAObserved's Veronique de Turenne recommends this other new river site as well: here.

Secret history

For several years, Chicken Corner has been versed in the history and myth of the famous cat Room 8 at Elysian Heights Elementary School. The big tabby is featured on murals at the school, and there are declarations of love for him written in cement on Echo Park and Baxter avenues at the campus. He has a website. He has a meme.

pony.jpg Not so the other animals in the elementary school's past! The tortoise, the pony, the sheep! Turns out as late as the '80s EHES had a functioning school garden that included these animals as well as ducks and chickens. So the story goes.

A window onto this hidden history opened last Saturday when I walked down to the garden, where a community volunteer work day was taking place.

I was reporting a short news piece for Echo Park Patch on how the long-neglected, but large, garden at EHES is being brought back to life. Susana Villamarin, a teacher, who is now garden coordinator for the school, told me about the animal farm. She said a longtime teacher, Clayton Smith, claimed he got his job teaching at EHES because he knew how to shear sheep. She said there had been a pony.

My Patch story posted yesterday, and a reader commented, saying the pony's name was Goldie, and that a tortoise once roamed the halls of the school. With apologies for the hall-of-mirrors, but here is what "mary" (I think I know who she is) wrote in the Patch comments:

During the 1970s and 80s Elysian Heights' garden and barn were filled with plants and animals. I remember Goldie, the Shetland pony, who was walked around the block regularly by kids who were part of the "animal club." There were ducks and chickens, too. Did you know that the school had a tortoise that roamed the halls? The Garden Club was booming! Good news that there is renewed interest in the garden.

She also included some interesting details about other garden features:

When visiting the garden, look for a plaque mounted to an LA River rock. This plaque was cast and mounted to a (large) rock brought to the site by Michael Prichard. Michael took on the project as a token of appreciation for Principal Beverly Mason's unending devotion to Elysian Heights Elementary. Michael was a homeowner in the neighborhood who's children, Mary and Jess, attended Elysian Heights. He taught Industrial Technology at LACC and had a foundry on site in which he cast the plaque.

The late Michael Prichard was a well-known person in Echo Park. He also volunteered as Santa Claus at the Echo Park Animal Alliance's annual Christmas fundraiser at Peter Shire's studio.

This Saturday, May 7, there will be a story-telling event to benefit the school's garden, which is also in the first phase of doubling as a community facility. Chicken Corner has been invited to read aloud a post from Chicken Corner. (Talk about a hall of mirrors!) There will be $5 enchilada plates and music, too; 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; 1562 Baxter St., Los Angeles, 90026.

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