I’m probably one of the most prideful Eastsiders that you’ll ever meet (see: the nostalgic joy and mix of emotions that overcome me every single damn time I drive/ride/walk down Whittier Boulevard, Lorena, Soto, Cesar Chavez, Atlantic and almost every single cross street crossing these historic streets). So much so, that I have dedicated my entire career as a professional writer to covering the Eastside, everything from defending it against outsiders labeling it a food desert on a national level to writing about the best taquero in the hood and my favorite topic, the 30+ year-old underground backyard raw punk rock scene that could have only happened in East Los Angeles.
And yet when asked this seemingly simple question, it stopped me right in my tracks. What do I love about the Eastside? Is it the sense of community? The fact that every other homie and stranger young and old that I see in the street will most likely have a similar story to mine and know all about “the struggle”? The fact that traffic isn’t nearly as bad as the Westside? Hell, all of the bomb mom-and-pop tortilleria shops where I can go and pick up a blob of the very same staple food that my ancestors ate 500 years ago (probably just as good too)? The fact that this community allowed my entrepreneurial father to build a successful business, which hence, gave me a shirt to wear over my back? The truth is, that I just love the Eastside for way too many reasons to list here. But what I do know is that all these reasons accumulate to me as an individual. The Eastside made me and secured my sense of identity. The Eastside allowed me to publish my first story for the LA Times on Boyle Heights nine years later. I’m not even going to get into the international stuff that I’m doing with the East LA backyard punk rock scene right now. Hint: the whole world from South Korea to Germany knows of our backyard awesomeness now.
Now if you excuse me, I have to go defend anonymous people posting comments taking shit about Al & Bea’s since –according to a national poll–is the best burrito in LA (soon to be recognized by all of U.S., watch by the way).