When Matthew Arnold wrote about "Wandering Between Worlds..." he was writing about the struggle between traditional religion and the theory of rights, the two worlds "one dead, the other struggling to be born".
This week, I find myself wandering between two worlds of my own... When I left Hollywood for my new loft "near Chinatown", I didn't realize how far a world I was about to travel. That was until my boyfriend arrived and said "Pam! You live in East LA!". I raised one eye-brow as I turned the deadbolt on the front door behind us.
The first time I heard West Hollywood called "We-Ho" I rolled on the floor laughing. I also assumed it was a joke; but I was wrong. WeHo.org is the City of West Hollywood's official website. So it wasn't as big of a surprise to hear my new neighborhood (East Los Angeles) called "East-Lo".
In WeHo you sip cappuccino at a bistro, in EastLo you order carnitas at the taqueria. In WeHo the restaurants start with the italian pronoun "IL", in EastLo, the spanish "EL". In WeHo, dress-up means go in drag, in EastLo, a zoot suit and a classic car. WeHo, gay, EastLo, gang, WeHo, fabulous, EastLo, fabulosa.
Of course that's all just the stereotypical gloss on the surface, but under every gloss a little truth must shine. Sometimes an image can be so, so wrong though. Ever since I saw Allison Anders' film "Mi Vida Loca" in 1993 (which was technically set in Echo Park, not "EastLo", but...) I have romanticized the stylized gangland Latino world. I was in for a shock when I met girls from the area who told me that to be tattooed with the three dots symbolizing having lived a "vida loca" or "crazy life" meant you gangbanged and lived to tell the tale. The three dots were like tear drops tinged with regret and pain. It wasn't at all like the crazy life I talk of, laughing and rolling my eyes. I felt very bad for joking about it. I also loved (LOVED) the soundtrack, especially "Suavacito" by the 4 Corners.
Anyway, I am here, all moved in, part of that insane part of urban living known as "gentrification". I guess I'm the "gentry" (which has at least two layers of irony, being both female, and a poor inner-city girl myself).