Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

IMAGERY – Passover Seder, March 1928

Photo of a Seder service at the Hebrew Sheltering
Home for the Aged
in Los Angeles, ca.1928

“Jewry to celebrate festival! — A typical Seder service at the Hebrew Sheltering Home for the Aged in this city. This Jewish festival will be held at the home next Thursday night, with many prominent Hebrew residents of the city in attendance. This symbolic dinner is one of the features of the Passover holiday” — Examiner clipping attached to verso, dated, “Mar 31, 1928” Image ©USC Digital Archive

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW ©USC Digital Archive
According to an April 2003 LA Times article:

“Today, as Jews prepare to observe Passover… Southern California has the nation’s second-largest Jewish population (currently over 650,000). By contrast, the overwhelmingly Catholic pueblo of Los Angeles of 1854 had fewer than 200 Jewish residents and no kosher bakery or butcher shop. A lay rabbi slaughtered animals, carefully observing rabbinic laws, so that Jews might have kosher meat. The aroma of matzo — unleavened bread — wafted from a bakery owned and run by a Catholic. In the hinterlands — the Gold Country of Northern California or the outlying reaches of Southern California — men were often the ones who prepared the Passover seder because there were no women around.

“Despite such accommodations to necessity, historians say a common thread of faith and tradition is woven through the fabric of Jewish history in the West.”


FLASHBACK – The Chicano Moratorium of 1970

chicanoOn August 29, 1970, the Chicano Moratorium against the war in Vietnam was held in East L.A.

Loyola-Marymount film student Tom Myrdahl shot this documentary, capturing the events that unfolded as law enforcement and protesters clashed in and around Laguna Park. This film has not been seen in nearly 40 years. Tom, who is still a working cameraman in Los Angeles, is putting this historic film on the web as a tribute to the brave citizens of East L.A. who came together 40 years ago to voice their dissent against the Vietnam War.

[youtube width=”590″ height=”420″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=famNeiosTVk[/youtube]


FOCUS – The Dunbar Hotel

©USC Digital ArchiveSince a lot of people don’t know much about the history of the Central Avenue jazz scene that happened in Los Angeles, to accompany my last post noting Mama’s passing I decided to expand on it. The neighborhood played such a crucial and historic part not just in jazz history, but in African American history as well, it’s a worthy point to add.

The top jazz club on Central Avenue during its heyday was Club Alabam and *the* place to stay was the Dunbar Hotel, with a guest list that regularly included the likes of Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Lena Horne. Originally known as the Somerville Hotel, the structure was erected in 1928 entirely by black contractors, laborers and craftsmen and black community members helped John Somerville and his wife Vada to finance the entire project.

In 1907 Jamaican-born John Alexander Somerville became the first African American to graduate from the USC School of Dentistry. He earned the highest grade-point average in the class of 1907, and had passed the State Dental Board examination six months before graduation. His wife, Vada Watson Somerville, became the school’s first African-American woman graduate in 1918, going on to achieve distinction as the first black woman licensed to practice dentistry in California. Besides managing a successful practice, the Somervilles were instrumental in opening the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP. John Somerville also contributed to the local landscape by developing upscale properties. He was the second African-American member of the Chamber of Commerce and served on the Los Angeles Police Commission from 1949 to 1953.” SOURCE

After the jump is a video discussing the important role the Dunbar played in American history and a vintage postcard of the hotel circa 1938 (according to the card, the room rates at the time were $1 per day and $5 a week).

The Dunbar Hotel still stands, however its current future is sadly uncertain. (more…)


Oktoberfest WINNERS!!!

WE HAVE OUR FOUR WINNERS! Mitch Viner, Pamela Duell, Andy Ziskin and Shuly Hirsch will be heading downtown to Oktoberfest next month!!! Ausgezeichnet!

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Thought I forgot aboutcha, didn’t ya? NEVER! Although my posts have dwindled due to my selfish need for actual paying income, HiddenLA is still going strong — especially on Facebook. (800+ fans in three months? Woo hoo!) There are a lot of irons are in the fire for the future of this site… but as there’s lots of stuff to see already, I hope you will take this opportunity to explore the goodness that’s already here.

Doing rushed posts just to fill up web space wouldn’t benefit anyone… but I’ll tell you what WILL benefit people… to reward you for the continued support, today we’re having a special ticket giveaway at the end of this post! YAY!!!

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oktoberfestIf you know nothing about Oktoberfest… well, trust me when I say few cultures surpass Deutschland when it comes to organized traditions of bonding with strangers over consumption of beer. Your college roommates included.

Here’s the deal… on October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig (later known as King Ludwig I) of Germany married the Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The people of Munich were all invited to gather on the fields around the gates of the city to join in the royal festivities (the fields were later renamed in Therese’s honor). The next year, the festival was repeated. At first it wasn’t a major festival… there was an agricultural show, some horse races, some fair rides… oh, and a few beer stands. As the festival grew every year, the beer stands multiplied like rabbits and by 1896 the beer stands were replaced with beer tents and halls that were funded by the local breweries. Parades, marksmanship competitions and chariot races were also added. As of 2009, the Munich Oktoberfest is said to be the largest festival on Earth, and is definitely the world’s largest celebration of all things beer. What was originally a day-long festival now span entire weeks… generally beginning in the third weekend in September and ends the first sunday of October.

Since there’s no denying the Oktoberfest folks look like they’re having a good time, around the world people now host their own local versions and Los Angeles is no exception. There are three main Oktoberfest celebrations happening this year (there’s also one in Anaheim), each with its own unique personality. After the jump, where they are AND a contest for FREEEEE tickets!!!

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EVENT – Happy B-Day! Los Angeles is 228 today!

But thanks to botox, she doesn’t look a year over 200.

birthdayOn September 4, 1781, Los Pobladores de Los Angeles (44 people in 11 Mexican families – including 22 children – who bravely walked all the way from Nueva España) set out to walk the nine mile trail from the San Gabriel Mission to the Los Angeles River. On that day, our city El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles was born. The 44-acre park we now refer to as Olvera Street protects our city’s original history including the first church, firehouse, theater, the 1818 Avila Adobe (the oldest existing house in the city) and the old plaza… literally, the area is the first heart of Los Angeles.

At 6am on Saturday September 5th, walkers will gather at the San Gabriel Mission and head west for nine miles to re-enact the Pobladores walk along Mission Road to El Pueblo Plaza (Olvera Street), where they will be greeted by birthday festivities. The Walk takes approximately three hours to complete. If you’re a lazy bum and feel like sleeping in, that’s okay. You aren’t the one turning two hundred and twenty eight, but whatever. From 6am to 6pm there will be a party goin’ on over at la Plaza Reina including artisan demonstrations, exhibits, food, entertainment and plenty of birthday cake… or pan dulce or something.

Oh, and in honor of her birthday, the Los Angeles Conservancy will be offering their Facebook fans a $10 membership discount (for new members only) through Monday, September 7. So befriend them on Facebook and help to save our local heritage. (more…)


HANDSHAKE – We love you, North Dakota!

North DakotaAccording to Google Analytics, the only state in all of America that has yet to visit HiddenLA even *once* is North Dakota. Seriously! Even though we did a nice big feature on one of their native sons! Sigh.

Feeling a bit sad and rejected with this news, naturally the only solution was to turn to the internet for possible answers. It was tough admitting that all I really knew about North Dakota was to stay away from wood chippers. It seemed a good time to learn a bit about the commonalities we share so that perhaps we might have a better chance of forging a bond of web friendship. (I mean, how tough could it be… the word Dakota MEANS “allies” in the Sioux language, for Christ’s sake, so they’ve gotta be super friendly people. Right?)

After a bit of research it’s easy to see why North Dakota might be a bit intimidated by Los Angeles, though… the entire state contains nearly ONE THIRD the population of the San Fernando Valley alone. Wow.

Well, we may be big city folk, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about stuff that’s important to our fellow Americans, though. We do! So after a bit of research, here are a few things I’ve come up with… an olive leaf of sorts. An itemized list with links after the jump.

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EVENT – Suckin’ up mudbugs at the Long Beach Crawfish Festival

SATURDAY, AUGUST 1st
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsmJN6UTZ84[/youtube] What: 16th Annual Long Beach Crawfish Festival (Note: The Newport Beach Lobsterfest is on Sunday as well, but it appears to be sold out.)
Where: Rainbow Lagoon Park, Long Beach (562) 495-5959
When: Noon-11pm
Price: Various tickets available. For $2 off door admission, go to their web site and click on the crawdad.

Details: After scathing reviews for running out of beignets, beer and crawfish last year, the promoters of the Long Beach Crawfish Festival are determined to prove themselves on Saturday. Not only is Yelp now their official sponsor, but the promoter used the site to say the following to potential attendees: “Last year attendance 3X (tripled) in number 4 hours prior to the festival. This was not anticipated and we do acknowledge that there were longer lines, we did run out of beer, and we were low on Live Crawfish. The Crawfish are flown in Live the day of the festival and adjustments could not be made within hours based on the influx of sales… We have accommodated for the additional Live Crawfish to be flown in. We have extensive beer reserves stationed onsite for immediate use. There are two entrances. Bars have been expanded with extensive signage in place. Overall the festival has been expanded to accommodate last year’s attendance and more giving a fun festival experience to all that attend. We thank all those that make Long Beach Crawfish Festival the largest Crawfish Festival outside of Louisiana —  right here in Southern California. “

Their official promotional blurb: “The 16th Annual Long Beach Crawfish Festival serves mouth-watering Cajun Crawfish dinners! Delicious Louisiana-style crawfish prepared to spicy perfection by chefs from Bristol Farms. Crawfish feasts include succulent red baby potatoes, buttery corn on the cob and a special remoulade dipping sauce. Dance to live Cajun, Zydeco and New Orleans bands. Also, giant food court, beach bars and a children’s area.”