Unincorporated East Los Angeles is making another attempt at becoming a proper city by launching an economic feasibility study, which basically means they’re going to see if they can afford to move out from under the roof of the County. The drive even has a decent website so you know they’re serious. Whether it’s a smart idea or not will be hashed out in the coming months, assuming it gets beyond the initial stages. I’m not sure what to think yet but the idea of creating more positions of power, which inevitably leads to the abuse of, isn’t very exciting. But there are a few scenarios I can envision which might make it worthwhile. So here go a few suggestions that might convince me to throw in my pledge of support!
1. If they promised to figure out an alternative to the heavy hand of the County Sheriffs, that would be an automatic plus. No, just contracting out to them or the LAPD is not going to cut it, even an East LA Police Dept doesn’t sound like a good idea. There needs to be some visionary thinking that will do away with the generalized harassment of citizens and the youth. It sucks to grow up in a place where you’re constantly fearing both the gangs and the cops. Yeah, I know, not bloody likely. But if you’re gonna start a new city you might as well think big.
2. Respect the ambulantes! No more of these bullshit selectively enforced anti-taco truck bans, or the ridiculous crackdowns on those that supply us our daily fruit and elotes, that type of backward thinking has got to go. There are many ways you can ensure safe handling of food while letting people try to make a living; if the rest of the world can do it, so can we.
4. And finally, the main condition, the one that got me thinking about this: make Spanish one of the official languages. Of course, along with English, Chinese (Monterey Park is next door, you need to be good neighbors), Japanese, Spanglish, Calo, Pocho-Spanish (that abrasive tongue of the 2nd and 3rd generation Chicano), and a few others I know I’m missing. Maybe that way when some idiotic governor comes into the East Los territories, he can be charged with committing a hate crime for his continued attacks on people that refuse to be monolingual. Just because he has chosen to turn his back on his Austrian culture and language to try and learn English (keep trying!) doesn’t mean others need to do the same. Turn off all Spanish language media to learn English? Dude, yer not even an English teacher, STFU! How else am I to know that Antonio Aguilar passed away, without him being compared to some dude named Roy Rogers? Where else can I expect decent -live- coverage of the police going apeshit on May Day marchers? Am I supposed to give up watching a game I enjoy (along with the rest of the world) just because English speaking broadcasters here think baseball is interesting? Yeah, right! Meester Arnie, jew arr wrrong.
Growing up ni de aqui, ni de alla I’ve realized culture and cities can only remain vibrant by hearing, learning, and making use of elements from other cultures and places. Those that refuse to accept change or to allow different-ness are dead cultures: when the last boneheaded stalwart kicks the can, your place in history is over. Take a cue from the Mexicans: they managed to find a good use for your Austrian/German oompa instruments, incorporated it into the culture, and are still blasting new tuba and accordion songs out of car radios. (Maybe to the dismay of many Angelenos, but don’t worry, once you learn to appreciate the thump you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.) They’re even putting English words into common Spanish usage. For example, the picture above where it says Parqueo, it should read Estacionamiento but cross-cultural pollination has made it a common and accepted term for parking. It’s even in use down south.
Here’s another one: instead of peseta, the term for quarter has turned into cora, which sounds similar to the English term. See? Spanish speakers learn more English than the haters want to realize. Mexicans are trying hard to meet you halfway, but you keep pulling the line closer to you as soon as they get there.
So those are my suggestions for what might make an interesting city of East LA. Actually, considering the backwardness of the times we live in, I think I’d be satisfied with just the acceptance of a multi-lingual city. Does anyone else think that would be a good idea?