Urban Myth

Ξ April 26th, 2010 | → 1 Comments | ∇ 90041, 90042, Beyond Northeast, Highland Park, Press |

In honor of Ira Glass’ recent excoriation of Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner, we’ve decided to address a couple of recent descriptions of our neighborhood that don’t sit well with us.  If you haven’t heard This American Life’s episode “True Urban Legend”, Poizner has some difficulty defending his depiction of his semester at San Jose’s Mt. Pleasant High School, which he generally portrayed as the opening scene from the Gangsta’s Paradise music video.  Likewise, we’d like to call to task two depictions of our neighborhoods that seem to stand more on urban myth than reality.

First, our local Northeast paper wrote what appeared to be a well-intentioned bucolic description of a neighborhood walk.  Just like the old Highlights Magazine covers, see if you can spot something incongruous:

Now I am in full view of the Eagle Rock.  She looks down over treetops.  I wonder will the trees soon block her from view?  I stop and look here, then there, all along the way to the post office and see everything, and everything is in bloom, everything is shining.  Even the homeless people near McDonald’s look shiny and new.  Legs aching, I wait for the Dash bus to bring me back home.  That was a good walk.

Now onto something that I can more effectively apply logic to, the travel website Wikitravel.org needs a geography lesson from the bloggers over at LAEastside.  Not only do they commit the cardinal sin in their entry on Los Angeles in defining the Eastside as “north of downtown and east of Hollywood”, but for some unknown reason, they locate Highland Park and Eagle Rock in East L.A.  Now, mistakenly placing Hollywood and Highland as the center of Los Angeles  has been debated ad-nauseum on the internet, and to be fair, at least Wikitravel didn’t place us “east of East L.A.”.  What bothers me is the warning to travellers that East L.A., which includes Eagle Rock and Highland Park, is “dangerous regardless of time of day and should be avoided altogether when walking if possible“.  I don’t for a moment delude myself into thinking that brochures for Northeast Los Angeles will begin disappearing from the shelves of travel agents in Buffalo, but one of the reasons we founded this website was to accurately craft an image of our neighborhood for friends who joked about bringing their passports to drive east of the 5.

Therefore, I’d like to see a concerted effort on all of our parts to correct the Wikitravel article.  Correctly defining Los Angeles’ Eastside isn’t my prerogative, but the article should at least properly define East L.A. and avoid characterizing it as somewhere to avoid at all costs.  I hope to see you on their discussion page.


YorkBlvd’s Guide to an Authentic Cinco de Mayo

Ξ April 21st, 2010 | → 2 Comments | ∇ 90042, Beyond Northeast, Drinks, Food, Highland Park |

So you’ve decided to celebrate a Mexican holiday that most of Mexico doesn’t observe in the American tradition of appropriating foreign holidays as an excuse to drink? (See: St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest).  Before loading up your fridge with Trader Joe’s carne asada (which I love) and your cooler with Coronas (which I don’t), let the gringos at YorkBlvd add a dash of Poblano authenticity to your annual celebration of kicking French ass.  (Just don’t make mention of the subsequent French occupation of Puebla and Mexico City.)

1.  We’ve harped on this before, but Highland Park has its own cornerstone of Poblano cuisine near the corner of Avenue 50 and Monte Vista inside Eibis Restaurant.  The cemitas are good, but the tacos arabes will make for a unique appetizer and a history lesson on 19th Century Mexican immigration.

Taco Arabe

Taco Arabe

2.  Just 15 minutes away (on a weekend), El Mercado de Los Angeles in East L.A. carries more Mexican merchandise than you can shake a cesta at.  Specifically, the second floor boasts two shops that sell a variety of regional moles.  I prefer the mole oaxaceña, but since we’re celebrating the Battle of Puebla, we’ll go with the mole poblano.  The mole is sold as a concentrated paste that goes a long way.  Stir chicken broth in over a medium heat, and pour over chicken for a rich main course.  Again, there is a Mexican history lecture that can accompany this course if you like being the wisenheimer of the party.

Enchiladas with Mole Poblano

Enchiladas with Mole Poblano

3.  Our gift to you is the only English recipe on the internet for the Poblano menjul, a central Mexican version of the Mint Julep:

Place six mint leaves and one tablespoon sugar in an old fashioned glass.  (Instead of sugar, a simple syrup should also work nicely.)  Fill glass with crushed ice.  In a shaker, mix two ounces of Amontillado, two ounces dark rum, a few drops of creme de menthe, and a few drops of Angostura bitters.  Shake thoroughly and pour into glass.

Menjul and Michilada

Menjul and Michilada


YorkBlvd’s Media Watch Goes National

Ξ April 19th, 2010 | → Comments Off | ∇ Beyond Northeast, Press |

Normally, this blog is dedicated to local, or at best regional, issues.  When it comes to local media, the Boulevard Sentinel gives us so much ammunition, we usually don’t even bother to play watchdog for The LA Times.  However, Mr. Topping has been avoiding plagiarizing local blogs and Gwyneth Paltrow hasn’t relocated us “off the map” to Riverside county yet, so we’ve had to look for media miscreants elsewhere.

The local angle is pretty thin, but since we’ve been known to whip out our cameras and snap a few food photos from time to time, we though we could justify tweaking the Times for their recent mimicry of the Gray Lady’s article on the explosion of food photography.

On 4/6 the NYT ran an article titled, First Camera, Then Fork, which investigated the growing neurosis of people who have to photograph their meals.  The article is an interesting exploration of what motivates people to photograph so much of what they eat.  When I first read this, I wanted to roll my eyes at the moron photographing his grilled cheese sandwich, but realized I’ve certainly been guilty of this from time to time.

Today, The LA Times ran an eerily similar story titled, Dinner Is the Theater as Food Paparazzi Converge.  The mere fact that two newspapers are covering the same fad wouldn’t be worth mentioning were the articles not so similar.  For example, from the 4/6 NYT story:

Indeed, the number of pictures tagged “food” on the photo-sharing Web site Flickr has increased tenfold to more than six million in the last two years, according to Tara Kirchner, the company’s marketing director.  One of the largest and most active Flickr groups, called “I Ate This,” includes more than 300,000 photos that have been contributed by more than 19,000 members.

From today’s LA Times:

Flickr, the photo-sharing website, has seen the number of pictures tagged as “food” jump from about half a million in 2008 to more than 6 million today, according to company officials.  In the group “I Ate This” on Flickr’s site, nearly 20,000 people have uploaded more than 307,000 images of their latest meals, from a 7-Eleven hot dog smeared with mustard to the butter dish at the Michelin three-star restaurant French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.

Both articles make mention of camera companies capitalizing on the trend by adding settings for food photographs, but more disturbing is that both articles use the same out-of-town source for an anecdote:

From The NYT,

Joe Catterson, the general manager of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, said that, increasingly, people can’t [resist the urge to photograph their food].  “One guy arrived with the wrong lens or something on his camera and left his wife sitting at the table for an hour while he went home to get it,” he said.

From the LAT,

Chef Gran Achatz allows only non-flash photography in his tony Chicago restaurant, Alinea.  He, like many chefs, finds himself torn between being flattered by the public’s enthusiasm and aggravated over the effect the picture-taking is having on the restaurant’s operations.

They’ve paid for the meal, so they think they can do whatever they want with it,” he said.

Los Angeles deserves better than two-week-old recycled pop-culture stories.  The Times’ editors owe us a mea culpa on this one.


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