A summer serenade to Los Angeles: With the smog and haze, it can get ugly this time of year, but this is also the season when our L.A. freedoms flow out through open windows and doors, down highways and up mountain paths.
Hector Tobar’s final metro column (he’s moving to Books) is an ode to L.A.
Photo: Venice Beach. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Hector Tobar returns to the East Hollywood apartment where his parents settled after arriving from Guatemala in 1962. Over the years, each wave of newcomers who followed them into that building found a little less opportunity.
Photo: Columnist Hector Tobar’s parents, immigrants from Guatemala, visit the East Hollywood apartment building where they were living when he was born in 1963. Credit: Hector Tobar / Los Angeles Times
Hector Tobar: A look back at the Boyle Heights melting pot. For Bruce Phillips, it wasn’t white flight that tore apart the neighborhood. It was economics.
Here is the excellent Tumblr about Phillips Music Co.: phillipsmusiccompany.tumblr.com
Photo: Bill Phillips behind the counter of his store, Phillips Music Co., on Brooklyn Avenue in Boyle Heights, circa 1950. The glass case displays sheet music for “Jewish Melodies” and “Música Mexicana.” Credit: Bruce Phillips
Hector Tobar: Los Angeles’ Spring Street green lane is only 1.5 miles for now, but hopefully it’s leading to a more bike-friendly future.
This is sweet, I thought. And also a little scary. The green lane puts you, seemingly, near the center of the street. That big, wide lane on your right is supposed to be for parking, but buses use it all the time, and for a moment or two I had a bus on my right and a car on my left, without any layers of steel or glass to protect me.
And I was the only self-powered vehicle in the little green lane itself. Then another guy pulled up ahead of me — on a skateboard.
"This is better than being on the sidewalk," Jed Stoddard, 32, told me. "On the sidewalk, I’m a moving target for all the dogs."
Photo: With Los Angeles City Hall in the background, a cyclist rides along Spring Street near 2nd Street on the new bright green bike lane that extends from Cesar Chavez Avenue to 9th Street. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times
A happy ending for the maid’s daughter: “Olivia” grew up with her Mexican immigrant mother in an affluent Westside home. With time, the successful professional has let go of much of her resentment and recognized what the privileged family did for her. But she also feels that no child should ever be placed in that position.
Photo: “Olivia,” who grew up with her Mexican immigrant mother in the maid’s quarters of an affluent Westside home, is photographed circa 1970. Her experiences are recounted in a new book, “The Maid’s Daughter.” Credit: New York University Press
Discouraged, but not yet demonstrating: Students at Cal State Dominguez Hills bemoan their short-term job prospects. But nationwide protests that include criticism of education cuts have failed to drive many of them to action.
Photo: Job seekers speak with corporate and government recruiters at a recent job fair at Cal State Dominguez Hills. They’re entering a job market where many employers are offering little more than low-paid internships. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Hard work, devotion to one another propel triplets to success: The work ethic was instilled early in the triplets, who helped their father at his Pasadena barbershop. And they had strong community support, Hector Tobar writes. This fall they all set off for prominent colleges.
Photo: Nicole, Aubrey and Charles Walker, from left, at a high school graduation in Pasadena in June.
Object lessons in how California used to be: Works of art on display as part of the Pacific Standard Time collaboration reflect both a post-World War II ethos of optimism and risk-taking and a later period marked by anger and alienation.
Photo: A photograph from John Divola’s “Zuma Series,” part of the Pacific Standard Time exhibit “Under the Big Black Sun, California Art 1974-1981,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Geffen Contemporary. Credit: © John Divola / The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
A bus ride to enlightenment: Students who were part of the integration of Pasadena’s schools decades ago look back fondly on the lessons they learned.
For Karen Iwamiya, then in the second grade, this meant a trip eastward across Lake Avenue in Altadena, an invisible dividing line separating races and social classes. She traveled from her less-affluent neighborhood to a nicer one, with a nicer school — Noyes Elementary, where black, white, Latino and Asian American kids like her were now all thrown together.
"To me, they were all just my friends," said Iwamiya, who was 7 years old then and blissfully unaware of any controversy surrounding her presence at this new school. "That was the beauty of it. We didn’t know."
Photo: The third-grade class at Noyes Elementary in Altadena, circa 1971, after a federal judge ordered the Pasadena schools to desegregate.
Street food cred comes in the form of a yellow sticker: Vendors of tamales, hot dogs, fruit and more in L.A. County are supposed to be licensed by the health department and get regular inspections. The proof is a yellow sticker and, eventually, letter grades.
Photo: Felix Mena, 47, owns and operates his licensed food truck and recently got his first letter grade. The B was the result of a mistake, and he’s determined, he says, to get an A next time. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Taking advantage of a second chance: A former gang member is given the opportunity to stay in the United States. His alcoholic father was deported earlier. Now Obed Silva is trying to untangle his father’s story and make art from it.
Photo: Obed Silva, who was shot and paralyzed during a liquor store robbery, laughs with his mother, Marcela Mendoza. He now teaches writing at Cypress College. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times
Hector Tobar’s column today is about books, but it’s also about bridging L.A.’s geographical halves. David Kipen, owner of Libros Schmibros in Boyle Heights, is opening another store in Westwood. He thinks the Eastside-Westside divide is arbitrary and fueled by mutual incomprehension: ”For me, everything east of the ocean is Los Angeles,” he says.
Photo: Kipen assists Mary Brown at the temporary Libros Schmibros bookstore and lending library in the lobby of the Hammer Museum in Westwood. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
Hector Tobar: For Angelenos, home is often a place unrecognizable from our memory.
Los Angeles helps the wealthy but not the little guy, says columnist Hector Tobar. His tour of L.A. Live area and nearby neighborhoods shows the increasing contrast between Los Angeles’ haves and have-nots.
Photo: The Ritz-Carlton can be seen behind low-income housing along 10th Place in Los Angeles. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times
Times’ columnist Hector Tobar talks with playwright Anna Deavere Smith about how Los Angeles has changed — and how it hasn’t — since the ’92 riots.
"Probably the person who said the only color in Los Angeles is green was right," she said. In L.A., as elsewhere in America, "There’s been this extraordinary increase in the gap between those who have and those who don’t."
It’s hard not to agree with that observation when the unemployment rate in some L.A. County communities is hovering near 20% and our public schools and other services are being decimated by budget cuts. We are, without a doubt, a less optimistic people.
On the other hand, the horrific gang violence of the day — with its monthly “body counts” in the dozens — is largely a thing of the past. The races mix more freely than ever before, although a small minority of ignorant and intolerant Angelenos has a new bullhorn to play with: the Internet.