I have a love-hate relationship with The Eastsider LA blog. I love it, unconditionally. I hate its name, conditionally. But the conditionals were reversed when veteran journalist Jesus Sanchez debuted his blog in July 2008, pretty much at the latest boil-over of many long-simmering battles in the never-ending Eastside vs. eastside border war waged between those adamant few of us who will over-zealously know and protect and defend the Real Eastside of Los Angeles calling bullshit against the legions who roll their eyes at our protestations, either ignorantly not knowing and not caring — or worse: ironically knowing and not caring.
Jumping into such a fray allied with a dismissive westside-influenced gentry to defiantly plant his flag several miles off-target in the city’s historic Westside was a bold move, and at first I huffed and puffed and blew it off off, vowing somewhat petulantly to ignore Sanchez and his online efforts.
But try as I might, I couldn’t. Because not only was The Eastsider LA a bold move, but it boldly went where few other blogs were going in the area. It covered crimes, schools, business, homes, history, and happenings, with a dedicated focus and professionalism that’s led to the creation of a vibrant, diverse online community that I’ve long wanted to see in my section of the city.
This? From a person who gaaah’d and grrrrr’d most recently over the previous weekend’s “Taste of the Eastside” event (more like L’eastside) that took place in Barnsdall Park, featuring eateries primarily from Silver Lake, Echo Park, Los Feliz and Atwater Village?
Yep. So how did I go from full-on rejection of The Eastsider LA to utmost respect? Well, by rationalizing a bit; by seeing the title of his blog not as representing any strict boundaries or an obstinate rejection what I consider with equal stubbornness to be The Eastside. Rather, the title has come to represent a broadened state of place and sense of citizenry, a bigger picture. Such a stance was aided by the fact that Sanchez was born in Boyle Heights, grew up in East Los Angeles, and attended East LA College. Though Echo Park has been his home for more than 20 years, he is a product of The Eastside — and a proud one. And he brings that history and that knowledge with him.
But before y’all go thinking that I’m humming “We are the World” in complete assimilation, I recognize The Eastsider LA’s wider reach is economically motivated, designed to tap not only more eyeballs on this side of the river, but more advertising dollars as well. There’s nothing wrong with that in my book. But even if there was, the bottom line is that Sanchez has worked hard cultivating The Eastsider LA into a dynamic, dependable and go-to resource for news and views on things that are happening in the historic Eastside and Westside, regardless of whether one thinks those places exist in the present or the past.