Boyle Heights tour

Join guest-host Sean Carrillo, NYC-based filmmaker and Boyle Heights native, and Esotouric’s Richard Schave for a four-hour bus adventure through L.A.’s fascinating and poorly understood Eastside. Follow Sean on a voyage back to the old neighborhood, to find out if you really can’t go home again, and what happens when you try.

Sean’s and Richard’s tour is a quick score of reds and ripple, or maybe a bennie and a toke. We’ll roll down Whittier Boulevard, the Chicano Sunset Strip, where hustlers once roamed the sidewalks to the beat of Thee Midnighters blaring from hundreds of tricked-out rides, to the history-drenched intersection of Brooklyn (aka Cesar Chavez) & Soto, which has been spilling out of its top and up over its jeans for generations. This eternal community hot spot teems with the ghosts of Wobblies, Brown Berets, celebrated muralists, political activists and a pre-teen Mickey Cohen shaking down customers to buy his newspapers, and it’s just one of the powerful sites on this tour of a neighborhood whose legends are too often oral, and whose heroes slip too easily into obscurity. We’re pulling out the memory maps to spread tales that deserve a wider audience.

Over the decades the place has changed a lot, so we tackle the elusive question: What’s the measure of a neighborhood? In 1947, deli man Ben Canter declared it was pickled beef, bragging that his Boyle Heights restaurant produced 7,000 pounds of pastrami monthly (while his upstart cousin on Fairfax moved scarcely half that). Masa is now the index for the community, and steamy tamales are comfort food for a whole new generation of Eastsiders.

Moratorium, blowouts, Ruben Salazar, Aida Handler (suspended from Roosevelt High in 1931 for “un-American” activities), Msgr. Ramon Garcia, All Nations Cultural Center, schmaltz (chicken fat) and schmeck (heroin), knishes to menudo, shortdogs of T-bird wine and the bottle of Manischewitz mama kept for company, from the sacred and the sacrilegious everything is fair game and given in the spirit of “con safos” (that means with respect, ese).

It’s a journey from innocence to experience, with a focus on the ever-evolving quest for authenticity, and a myriad of political upheavals and social changes which have played out over the generations. It’s the Eastside as you’ve never seen it before, and a very special Esotouric bus adventure recommended for anyone with a passion for Los Angeles, and a thirst for the unheard stories of the city.

The tour begins with special guest Michael Risner, who will give a show and tell presentation on the archives of a local Boyle Heights-based Japanese-American photographer which he accidentally rescued from Craigslist and certain destruction. There are well over 100,000 individual photographs in this rescued archive, with images from weddings to funerals, baby portraits to community events. Risner will explain his plans for preserving and displaying the archive while showing off some highlights from the collection. To learn more about Michael’s discovery, see this L.A. Weekly feature or the video from his presentation at LAVA’s Sunday Salon.