Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles

For those with a taste for danger.

After listening to NPR’s article on Alfred Lomas’ L.A. Gang tours i must admit, i felt a little apprehensive about the idea of people touring LA “gang” sites for infotainment purposes. Being a cynic of sort i quickly dismissed the article as a novelty. While Madeleine Brand assured her listening audience that the L.A. gang tours had a purpose outside of just being for-profit exploitation of decimated and sensationalized communities and their very real issue, it still didn’t sit quite right with me, or at least not until reading another take on the tour, one by LA Eastside blog.

In the LA Eastside article, the writer also brings his skepticism to light but is quick to point out  a sympathy for the enterprise, pointing out the similarities between the Tour and blogs like LAEastside both as tools, “a device that allows us to tell our own stories the way we see fit from our individual perspectives” and why not? are we not all out to share our experiences and profit from them (not necessarily monetary or even material gains, but maybe something altruistic, maybe for selfish reasons). The idea of touring ghettos might sound delightfully modern, or at least genuine, but just recently I found an earlier example (That also points out more altruistic reasons for wanting to share such history with any willing passenger) while browsing the internet for more information on a book i recently read.

Apparently, in the early 70s and after Baham’s book Los Angeles: Architecture of four ecologies (which i recently talked about), the BBC commissioned a documentary to gain from the momentum of that the book had given the author. The BBC documentary, Reyner Braham Loves Los Angeles (Can be found here) touches on something very interesting, with the use of his fictitious Baede-Kar guided system (A tribute to Baedeker‘s travel guides), As Baham makes a right from Graham Ave to 107th and reaches the Watts Towers, the Baede-Kar guided system has already made an apologetic speech about Los Angeles and its mission to “cure the evils of the past”, of course referring to the Watts Riots of 1965 and the passing of Proposition 14.

The documentary is something I enjoyed very much, and will hopefully review later, but for now I just want to point out that although L.A. gang tours seems like a noble enterprise, there are already established and reputable organizations with similar goals and it would be nice to see them unite forces and maybe even make the LA Gang tours something more extravagant (For example, HomeBoy Industries also has a wide range of ex-gang members who often appear as background and extras in movies) (More likely than not as gang members since they have the tattoos and demeanor already down). I am kidding about the show, of course.

If you feel like experiencing a bit of culture shock and be both entertained and educated, go check out the HomeBoy Industries center on Alameda and maybe even stay for a bite and patronize the Homegirl Café, i hear it’s quite tasty (plus they make and sell their own salsas and have a bakery!)….or go all out and cater and have your next event hosted, cleaned, and pedicured by HomeBoy maintenance

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