What makes you a Boyle Heightnian?
After all the buzz surrounding Hector Tobar’s Los Angeles Times column on Friday offering guidelines on how to be a “true Angeleno,” I began to think. Not about how to be, but what makes me a “Boyle Heightian”?
Like Tobar mentions, “you don’t have to be a native to be a real
Angeleno“ Boyle Heightnian. I, like many of the immigrant families that now call Boyle Heigths their home, was not born but raised here. Weather you were born, raised, or eventually became a resident of Boyle Heights, there are icons you value, people you recognize, sounds you long or hate to hear.
Ideally, being a true Boyle Heightnian would mean you are a part of the community because you care for it, want to see its people thrive, you value its history, and most of all, you get it—You get what it’s been through and the challenges it faces because they affect you.
In many vecindades around the world people know each other, greet one another, and spill their chisme at the corner tortilleria or cafe. I love to see my community connect this way but our accelerated lifestyle, our dense population and lack of trust rooting from the violence that has plagued our neighborhoods have made it harder to offer a simple smile.
Still, I can say My Boyle Heights has many qualities other neighborhoods don’t have, and many are catching on to this. Overtime the faces of Boyle Heights have changed, the streets renamed, and businesses closed to bring other projects. Although change is inevitable, it’s our responsibility to maintain our community’s identity and pass along its history.
Through people, sights, sounds, and experiences in our communities, we relate. So today, I decided to share some reasons I feel innately make me a Boyle Heightnian, based of course on my own experience in my own era. By no means are these guidelines on how to be, please, this isn’t a checklist for the curious.
So, what makes you a Boyle Heightnian? Read, agree, disagree and add!
1. You know the best food joints without referring to a food blog or yelp.
2. You appreciate the community’s artistic history, not only after it’s been designated an “Arts District.”
3. You know what a paisa bar looks like, before it’s been taken over by hipsters.
4. You get a courtesy wake up call from the tamalera yelling at the top of her lungs.
5. You know the various hang out spots for the hood’s musicians: norteños, trios, and mariachis, (they’re not all on 1st and Boyle).
6. You’ve lined up for some sort of give away (Hollenbeck toy drive perhaps?).
7. You’ve taken wedding, first communion, quinceañera, or headshot photos at Hollenbeck Park.
8. You’ve accidentally peed in the Roosevelt pool (or on purpose, admit it).
9. You understand why there are synagogues, churches, and temples in your hood.
10. You recognize local everyday icons— everyone has them (mine: Tony, the 20-year security guard at Soto and Brooklyn, or Chavez; El Catrin, the sharp–dressed elderly man who you know has a story; the workers at George’s Burgers, some working there for over 20 years),
-Boyle Heightnian is a term I’ve heard Luis Sierra Campos use in our Boyle Heights Beat Newspaper meetings, I’m sure he doesn’t mind me using it.
-Read Millitant Angeleno’s response to Hector Tobar’s column here