Thursday, November 29, 2007
The woman's out-of-kilter face congealed around the words; she spoke them with a strange dignity. "No, Mrs. Sprague, I didn't know that. I thought it was named after the Ramona Pageant."
"I was named after the pageant," she said. "When Emmett married me for my father's money he promised my family that he would use his influence with the City Zoning Board to have a street named after me, since all his money was tied up in real estate and he couldn't afford to buy me a wedding ring. Father assumed it would be a nice residential street, but all Emmett could manage was a dead-end block in a red light district in Lincoln Heights. Are you familiar with the neighborhood, Mr. Bleichert?" Now the doormat's voice held an edge of fury.
"I grew up there," I said.
"Then you know that Mexican prostitutes expose themselves out of windows to attract customers. Well, after Emmett succeeded in getting Rosalinda Street changed to Ramona Boulevard he took me for a little tour there. The prostitutes greeted him by name. Some even had anatomical nicknames for him. It made me very sad and very hurt, but I bided my time and got even. When the girls were small I directed my own little pageants, right outside on our front lawn. I used the neighbor's children as extras and reenacted episodes out of Mr. Sprague's past that he would rather forget. That he would-" pp 131-132
While Mrs. Sprague seems to be proud of "her" boulevard, she continues, clearly resentful of the location of her boulevard as well as the circumstances that brought about the street's name change.
The notion that Rosalinda Street could be transformed into Ramona Boulevard attests to the transience of geography and of the labeling of locations and neighborhoods. In lieu of a wedding ring and lacking financial resources, Emmett creates a business transaction based on the "worth" of having your "own" boulevard. His powers are limited to naming zones but he is able to use his position of influence in the development of Los Angeles to replace or reconstruct himself in terms of his financial and social position. That the naming of the boulevard for his intended wife is equivalent to buying her a proper wedding ring and conributing financially to the marriage is a clear example of the increasing interest in the labeling of this ever-changing city. Nothing is built for Ramona, as she simply associates herself with the existing street by name. This "gift" is only recognizable to those already informed of the connection between Mrs. Sprague and the boulevard. For the vast majority of people living in and navigating through Los Angeles, Ramona Boulevard is just another name without any connotations.
The lack of personal attachment between the person and the boulevard highlights the mutability of the map of LA, in that names can be changed but underneath, the streets are still the same and they will persist through any number of name changes in the future. There is little room for personal interaction with LA on any lasting or significant level.
Furthermore, Mrs. Sprague indicates that the location of her boulevard insults and hurts her, as she notices the Mexican prostitutes who know her husband by name. This is a neighborhood she would never frequent and yet her husband has grafted her name onto it. The ease with which this grafting occurs is striking for its association between class and location, name and place. If Ramona Boulevard so swiftly and clearly connects Mrs. Sprague with an entirely different socioeconomic and geographic area, the reverse may also be true. Names of locations and identities of neighborhoods are easily shifted and can be revised. There is no permanence offered by naming a street for someone in a city that is constantly growing and adding or subtracting layers of its landscape and by extension, is revising its identity.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
An interesting note about this house is that Bucky visited this location many times in the novel, yet the family, the location, or any location affiliated with the family was not investigated thoroughly to relate Short's murder to the location. And it is in this location that Bucky witnesses the incestuous relationship between Emmett and Madeleine, where Bucky learns of Ramona's crime and history, and where Bucky is directed to the actual location of Short's brutal murder. The mansion that is hid so well in a well off area, on a street that Bucky knows so well after spying on the family for so long, is actually the heart of the entire crime against Elizabeth Short. The irony of the location's truth is important. The mansion essentially was covered up, yet blatantly led to the very crime. Like the mansion, Los Angeles also is masked, by the many posh areas, by the glamor of Hollywood, by the blue waters of the beaches, yet like the mansion, Los Angeles also has a truth that is not always seen. Los Angeles blatantly exposes itself in many ways, yet people choose to ignore this facts by masking the general idea of Los Angeles with a glamorous costume.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Where Lee says Kay had seen Bucky fight.
The Olympic Auditorium had weekly boxing shows in the 1920s and '30s and was one of the most famous boxing arenas in LA.
The Olympic, together with the Hollywood Legion Stadium, made up the two most popular boxing arenas in LA.
Where Bucky apprehends Coleman Maynard.
The Polar Palace
The Polar Palace ice rink was a famous arena that hosted prominent shows, figure skating championships, ice-hockey tournaments. It was built to be the "finest" rink in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, the Palace was destroyed by a fire in 1963.
The juxtaposition of fire and ice was interesting, if perhaps coincidental.
The long-term instability of the rink is another example of the shifting LA landscape, in which landmarks such as the Polar Palace, burn to the ground and bury their historical importance and legacy under its own wreckage. Without looking up the Polar Palace in an encyclopedia/internet etc. one would not be able to imagine the rink as it once stood, nor imagine the rink as it relates to its location.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
While working on the map for Zoot Suit I had moment or realization about the landscape of
After reasoning to myself that this must have been an error that google maps made I searched the area and found a river but nothing that would resemble what was described in the play as “a reservoir. An old abandoned gravel pit.” (Pg 38) I was astounded at how drastically the area must have changed since the occurrence. Part of that stems from being from
I thought the Zoot Suit riots took place because of crimes like those at Sleepy Lagoon coupled with media sensationalism. However, while making the map I began to wonder how much the city's landscape itself started the riots. The one question that I felt connected these riots and landscape of the city was wondering whether the people who participated in the Zoot Suit riots incite the riots to change the landscape of the city, or does the changing landscape of the city itself help incite riots the Zoot Suit riots?-Jose Acevedo
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The scene at the Avalon Ballroom occurs while the gang is imprisoned. It represents the actual beginning of the Zoot Suit Riots which the Press tells us. Since the ballroom is in Hollywood, it is likely that Sailors and Pachucos would cross paths there as opposed to a place in East LA. After the riots starts El Pachuco is stripped of his suit by sailors. The Pachuco losing his suit is representative of what happened to the Pachuco image during the riot. It is reference later in the play when Rudy claims that "The zoot suit died under fire her in Los." (pg 92)
Rafas: It's a barrio dance, ese. We're from the barrio. (pg 45-46)
The Saturday night dance scene shows the tension between the 38th street gang and the Downey Gang. Here is where Henry almost kills Rafas but does not because El Pachuco tells him to stop and think. El Pachuco acknowledges that a story about the pachucos is supposed to have violence. He shows Henry that if he acts as expected of him, he will never escape the pachuco image.
Within the text, the riot is treated like an actual war. The navy assembles a "fleet" in order to "invade" the eastside barrio. This shows the tension that existed between the Pachucos and the Whites in the entire city came to a very violent end. After the explanation of this assembly, we see El Pachuco stripped of his zoot suit by the navy men.
Valdez paints San Quentin as a place better than where the boys were even though its prison. Joey is now using violence in a positive way as he is "hero of the San Quentin athletic program." (pg 73) All of boys seemed to have improved themselves as they do everything from play sports to learn watch repairing. They are also portrayed as improving their reading and math skills. For everyone in the gang, San Quentin is a positive change, Joey even claims to have "learned my lesson." (pg 74) Valdez does this in order to show that for most of the gang, any place was better than L.A.
For Henry, his change only occurs after fighting a guard. In solitary he rejects El Pachuco. He does this because he still has hope that he will be set free, not just from prison, but from everything the Pachuco image represents.
The criminal court is central to the plot of play. This is not only a court room, but serves as the place where Della recounts what happened at Sleepy Lagoon. Della's story is acted out in the middle of the courtroom with El Pachuco miming the murder. This remembrance of the event is the only time we visit Sleepy Lagoon, the construction of the crime is not concrete, it relies on the courtroom to exist.
Sleepy Lagoon is highly mythologized by the play. It is visited only in retrospect the murderer is never clearly identified. The act of the murder is carried out in pantomime by El Pachuco. Valdez uses the real location of the murder that took place in 1942 to add a sense of historical accuracy to his play. In actuality, the "crime scene" was a man lying near the reservoir. No clear evidence was over found to prove a murder had even taken place.
Never actually visiting the place is a deliberate move to create a sense of the conflicting accounts of what happened there. Several questions are created by the mythology of Sleepy Lagoon in the play
What does it mean to the reader/viewer if the play itself never fully resolves the issue of who committed murder at Sleepy Lagoon?
How does El Pachuco miming the murder change the reader/viewer's view of the trial as a whole?
Valdez repeats the number arrested, 300, to show the unfairness of the arrests that occur in this scene. It shows how the Pachucos were targeted simply by looks and arrested on suspicion alone.
Monday, November 12, 2007
This opening description in the play is just as important as any dialogue in the play because it shows how intricate being a part of the gang is to the characters' identity. It shows without the characters saying it the level of loyalty they feel to their gang and their neighborhood. There are several 38th streets in LA and it's surrounding areas so we googled the gang name to find out the street is actually in Vernon. Geographically, this also represents a move into South Central unlike Revolt which took place more in East LA.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Welcome to “solid white America” (56)— an upscale restaurant in “the best hotel in town” (46). When Bob and Alice arrive, the waiter apologizes, “ ‘We are sorry, but all the tables are reserved’ ” (57). This space has been set aside for “solid white America.” This scene begs us to examine how land is organized in Los Angeles and how the organization of physical space maintains the ideologies of the powerful. How does access and mobility interact with race, class, and the social geography of an urban landscape? In Bob’s dream, the president of the shipyard corporation says, “ ‘Niggers can take it as long as you give it to them’ ” (69). The social geography of Los Angeles has been carved by “solid white America.” Bob insists on going to the restaurant and his insistence can be read as an attempt to disrupt and refuse a racist organization of space.
Bob works as a leaderman and then as a mechanic at Atlas Ship. The Shipyard is a manifestation of social violence. When Mr. Leighton suggests that working on the production front for the war would be interesting, Bob replies, “ ‘It’s a killer’ ” (87). The shipyard houses a violent racism that slowly kills Bob. The working conditions at Atlas Ship encourage him and other workers to kill. It is a place of social violence— a space carved out of LA’s landscape to produce war ships that will be used to kill. Atlas Ship then, builds violence on many interacting levels of society. It is the place where racism dominates blatantly and unapologetically—where workers bring their race to work. “The white folks,” Bob explains, “had sure brought their white to work with them this morning” (15).
“ ‘Racism [in Los Angeles] became an inescapable fact of life for me. I’d been able to ignore segregation up until then, but now I couldn’t. I felt I could ‘see’ racism… It was like a disease I couldn’t shake’ ” (xv).
Image of cargo ships at a west coast shipyard during WWII:
Alice’s house is the location of several important scenes in the novel. It provides a physical foundation for a continuous discourse on the role of the black individual in a racist world (especially how class and skin color alter the individual's perception of his or her role). Alice’s house, and particularly its location, should also force us as readers to examine the geography of race and class in Los Angeles. How does where you live reflect your class and race? How is the organization of space in Los Angeles related to social control? Architecture arguably maps, organizes, and maintains a society’s ideologies, hierarchies, relationship to the environment, and evolution over time. In this way, architecture communicates and maintains power. How has LA been designed and constructed to control and organize human behavior and perception? Can we read the architecture of Los Angeles as a way to better understand the society that constructed it? In the quote above, Bob seems to suggest that we can.