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TAKING SIDES

I lived in Silver Lake from 1991 to 1993, and though I would rather forget the experience of being held up one night as I left my car to shop for groceries, I now miss the area’s vibrant cultural eclecticism and laid-back acceptance of diversity (“East-side, Westside,” by Jill Stewart, Jan. 23). I recently returned to my native Northern California, but in a way things haven’t changed too much. Just as I used to defend the Silver Lake-Los Feliz area to my Westside friends, I now find myself speaking defensively of L.A. as a whole. Whether in Palo Alto or Palos Verdes, white fright sounds the same.

SARAH A. LONGSTRETCH

Palo Alto

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Perhaps because of the concentration of wealth on the Westside, a lopsided view of its importance is perpetuated by the press, politicians and economists. I was born and grew up there, so I know what a beautiful place it is. But after living in other parts of L.A. County and experiencing their amazing diversity, I realize that the Westside is only a small part of what L.A. is all about. Perhaps the earthquake, which was shared by both sides, will make us aware that we are not so far apart.

STEPHEN MILLS

Glendale

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One thing about the article’s assumptions troubles me. The “gracious docents” at Pasadena’s Gamble House are described as handing down their legacy to “mostly ethnic” art trainees. So what does that make these “gracious docents” ethnically? Purely human? Extraterrestrial? Or did your article, designed to damage ethnic stereotyping, commit one of the worst: the depiction of Anglo-European ancestry as non-ethnic and, by association, normative.

DIANA YORK BLAINE

La Verne

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Scratch the bark of almost any Westsider’s family tree and you’ll find a buba, a zeida, a tata or a tante who shopped on Wabash, prayed on Soto and managed to acquire a 40-piece set of milchadik at the old Brooklyn Theater’s Dish Night in East L.A.

The booming wartime economy soon made it possible for renters in the flats to begin to realize their dreams of moving up--literally and figuratively. (We even took Canter’s Delicatessen with us.)

I still dream of the beautiful home we lived in, the very last house on Stone Street Hill. I remember sitting in the breakfast room, looking out over my city and hearing my father say: “Look, we can see all the way to Catalina.” Visitors from the East were always impressed. And I remember when strangers were objects of curiosity--how had they found their way here?--rather than potential enemies.

Los Angeles is a tale of two cities. And we couldn’t go home again even if we wanted to. Sadly, I do not believe we would be welcome.

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CAROL NAHIN

Long Beach

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People all over Los Angeles decline to travel outside of their own economic settings. Why? Because when we attempt to travel to “the other side,” we are treated as foreigners. I’ve been to Santa Monica a few times, and people give me the “What are you doing here?” look. It hurts to be looked down upon, but it makes me, a taxpayer, fight harder to keep from being boxed in. I want to experience all of what our city offers.

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SHANNON HOOLIGAN

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY

Westchester

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What Eastsiders and Westsiders share is a need to live in whatever peace we can create for ourselves. Diversity nurtures a strength that cannot be had in a one-note town. If you want to live with consensus, move. My guess, however, is that you will be back faster than they can fix the Santa Monica Freeway.

M. FIRESTONE

West Los Angeles

Sylmar

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Duncan’s piece, if a touch belletristic and politically correct for my taste, was lucid and well reasoned, maybe brilliant. The vexation of it, of course, is that it accurately predicts its own inevitable failure as an instrument of enlightenment. No fundamentalist will possess the “divine” sanction, the inclination or the comprehension to read and understand it.

JOHN KEENE

Ojai

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