The Second Saturday NELA Art Night kicks off the year this Saturday, January 8th with an explosion of talent and creativity. It just so happens, two of the most creative people I know have shows opening Saturday in Highland Park. The first is artist, musician, and Highland Parker, Jeff Boynton.
Jeff, the co-founder of The Highland Park Thursday Evening Gentlemen’s Society Circuit Bending Marching Band And Ladies Auxiliary (or HPTEGSCBMB for short) has been
dabbling in intensely researching and developing electronic instruments made from discarded children’s toys in his Highland Park laboratory for nearly a decade. He will be showing off his creations and playing them in a performance with his lovely wife, poet and dancer Mona Jean, along with musician and artist Andy Ben at Future Studio at 5558 North Figueroa Street on Saturday, starting at 7pm.
The second must-see artist on Saturday is Jason Hadley and his Egg Tree Egg show at MorYork Gallery. Jason has collaborated on many artistic ventures over the past twenty-something years. You can often find him operating large scale robots whenever Survival Research Laboratories or Robochrist Industries performs in town. His performance art band, Woodpussy has played some of the most legendary shows Los Angeles has ever seen. Under the guise of Woodpussy Inc., he helped build Burning Man‘s first oil derrick and launched a rocket into space there. In recent years, he has been making smaller, assemblage sculptures that utilize electric motors, mechanization, and human forms. See and buy some of these great art pieces for yourself this Saturday at Highland Park’s most amazing art space, Clare Graham’s MorYork Gallery in the former Safeway Market at York Boulevard and Avenue 50.
2010 was a good year for 90042.
First and foremost, it was the best year in decades for the living. Murders in 90042 for this year were way down. Not since the 1960′s have so few people been killed in the area. Only three people were known to have been murdered here in the past year. While the murders of 17 year-old, Jonathan Val (shot on Avenue 57), 20 year-old, Leeban Adan (shot and burned in Hermon Park), and 38-year-old Larry Samudio (stabbed to death on Avenue 56 and York Blvd.) will forever haunt the people who loved them, we as a community can be relived knowing at least they were the only ones.
After decades of killings, mostly due to gang warfare, the communities of Northeast Los Angeles are starting to see some of the hard-fought peace we have longed for. Years of work by local community members, city council members, neighborhood councils, churches, schools, police, California and Federal Departments of Justice, L.A .City Parks and Recreation, arts programs, various intervention programs, and changes in demographics have seem to turn the tide against gangs and the senseless violence that has plagued our community for decades.
Where for years, many shootings and deaths would go almost unnoticed or ignored by the media, and an understaffed police force meant perpetrators would remain free, Northeast Los Angeles is now getting the attention it has always deserved. Things have changed here. Things are changing here, and for the better. Just a few years ago, gunfire was a nightly routine. It wasn’t a matter of whether it was gunfire or not, it was more of a question of what caliber it was and was it next door. That has changed. When gunshots go off in 90042, Twitter lights up with local reports of it. Random gunfire is no longer ignored, but reported. The community is no longer willing to accept it as a fact of life, but demand a stop to it.
There is a lot of good news there. Yet, this is still not anything close to a utopia by no means, the children of 90042 are still finding all too easy to pick up the proverbial sword rather than the pen, and our vigilance towards Peace in The Northeast cannot rest until all the killings end. But for 2010 we can at least take solace and satisfaction in the progress made.
Besides the good news as far as crime is concerned, a few other things happened last year. Here is a short list of the year that was for 90042:
Juanita’s Restaurant at York Blvd. and Aldama closed.
Moda Plus closed.
Pep Boy’s closed.
Yosemite Water bottling plant was bought by Sparkletts and closed.
Sea and Space Explorations gallery closed.
Ballet comes to Highland Park
Carrow’s didn’t become a Big Boy’s again, but became a Coco’s instead.
Improvements were made to Figueroa Street for pedestrians.
Successful Neighborhood Council Elections were held.
The interior of the Craftsman Jack in The Box on Avenue 43 was poorly remodeled.
Ground was broken on the Hermon Community Garden.
A new grocery store in Hermon ALMOST opened.
Nothing happened in Monterey Hills. (Just how they like it there.)
The Highland Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone was expanded to become the Highland Park – GARVANZA Historic Preservation Overlay Zone!
Los Angeles City Council approves the city’s first bike corral at York Boulevard and Avenue 50. (But doesn’t fund it.)
Community workshops begin for the “new York Boulevard Vision Plan.”
York Boulevard Bike Lanes are installed.
Awesome Playground opens at York and Avenue 52.
City of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation’s gang diversion program, “Summer Night Lights” is expanded to include the Highland Park Recreation Center. (Credited with being highly influential with this past summer’s lower crime rate.)
Construction begins on the Garvanza water filtration project at Garvanza Park.
Construction begins on Burbank Middle School’s massive construction redevelopment project.
Arroyo Seco Library reduces hours by two days due to Los Angeles City budget shortfall.
Both, Franklin High School’s Academic Decathlon Team and Football Team excel in 2010.
Home Intervention Mural on Marmion Way.
New mural on Highland Theater.
Sewer replacement construction all over Northeast L.A.
New Sycamore Grove playground.
The $750,000 Hermon Park improvement project begins, including a new playground.
Zesto’s sign on York Blvd is removed.
Chicken Boy receives the Governors Award for Preservation.
The 110 gets its name changed back to Arroyo Seco Parkway from Pasadena Freeway, and two years worth of construction adding concrete to make it more like other freeways.
New Bright as Hell LED traffic signal lights are installed around 90042.
L.A. Commons completes and installs mural by local youth artists, Haramoknga – Place Where People Gather on the Glenmary Archway across from Sycamore Grove on Figueroa Street.
I discover that Eagle Rock High School and Barack Obama’s old dorm room at Oxy are technically in the 90042 zip code (but use 90041).
Martha Peña is killed when a driver crashes his car into Troy Burgers, closing it for weeks.
The Rose Parade and Rose Bowl have long been a major production for the transit operators of Los Angeles. It was really the abundance of mass transit rail lines going to Pasadena that made the Tournament of Roses Parade possible, beginning in 1890. About a million spectators are expected to line the route in the morning, and while intercontinental trains, or Pacific Electric’s Big Red Cars no longer go there, the Gold Line from Highland Park does! And better yet, it runs 24 hours with extra trains to accommodate this special event. Happy New Year!
This past week’s stories about the annual appearances of charitable men that give away dollar bills, ten-dollar bills, and hundred-dollar bills to the downtrodden of Los Angeles’ Skid Row, reminded me of a time a hundred years ago, and the connection Skid Row has with Highland Park.
For those that are familiar with Los Angeles’ Skid Row, know it is centered along 5th street between roughly Los Angeles Street and Central Avenue. As long as I can remember, 5th Street has been called “The Nickel.” Which has a clever ring to it. So much so, one of the best diners in Los Angeles, located near there named itself after the place. But why “The Nickle?” Why not “The Fin?” or why isn’t 10th street “The Dime” or 1st Street “The Penny?” Well, there is a reason for that. A reason that Highland Park, or more specifically, Highland Park’s Pisgah Home has to be thanked for.
Around 1900, gold miner and doctor, Finis E. Yoakum, founded his faith-healing sanatorium in Highland Park on Avenue 60 and Echo Street. What started as just tents on his property would eventually become Pisgah Home, and then the Pisgah Village as it is today. At its peak in 1911, The Pisgah Home located in the Echo-Hayes Neighborhood, housed as many as 9,000 people a month. Most were homeless and recovering alcoholics that looked to Yoakum’s ministry find a healing remedy from the alcoholism that plagued them.
Part of Dr. Yoakum’s recruitment of lost souls, was to send out his missionaries to where the downtrodden were congregated at what was then the Red Light District of Los Angeles around the Southern Pacific Arcade Railroad Depot at 5th and Central Avenue. The way the Yoakum’s workers would convince the desperate and destitute to relocate themselves from 5th Street to Highland Park for a free bed, vegetarian meals and some old-time religion, was to give everyone they encountered A NICKEL. (The cost to take the trolley up to the Pisgah Home.) There was no obligation to use the nickel for the trolley so eventually people knew they could go to 5th Street for FREE NICKELS! –As they say, the rest is history.
It’s on! Once again, for the fourth year running, The Highland Park Survey 2010 seeks to document the zip code of 90042 in its entirety on the last week of the year.
Inspired by the Christmas Bird Count, and A Day in The Life of California, the Highland Park Survey intends to capture our community and the daily life here. Once again you, yes you the reader are invited to participate by adding your own photos to the flickr group. Any format, any subject, anything as long as the images are taken within the zip code of 90042 between December 25, and December 31. This is just a fun way to take note of this place where we live on the last week of the year. Hope to see what you find on-line…
Happy Shooting! (Of the non-lethal type of course.)
It is the day before Christmas. That can mean only one thing here… Candy Cane Streetcars and Holiday Buses!
I don’t know if the rides on Christmas Eve were free then, but they are today: From 9 PM until 2 AM tonight, December 24th all Metro Buses and Trains are absolutely free! Merry Christmas!