East LA Gentrification: Not Even Subcomandante Marcos Is Safe

I am a prideful beast and sometimes I allow it to get the better of me. Sometimes I start one-sided rivalries after I feel I have received a raw deal. The latest place to feel my embargo is a Boyle Heights bar called Eastside Luv.

The place was still relatively new and only a couple of people knew about it at first. It was an inviting place with a Latinocentric atmosphere featuring movie posters that were a throwback to a Mexican golden age of cinema. At the risk of sounding cliché, the spot had plenty of sabor. I was impressed that they took the rundown Metropolitan Club — formerly the kind of spot where men paid women to do the kinds of things their wives would not do at home — and given it some much-deserved class. There was a strong nod to Latino culture. It was the only place I knew that had a cheladitas on the menu. They would throw in a saladito in your michelada for that extra “ZAS!”

The Metropolitan was only opened Thursdays through Sundays; Thursdays and Fridays were usually ghost towns. During those first few days, I would go with my friend Victoria. We would go unwind, and order a couple of sangrias while discussing the state of the world – namely how things were and what they could or should be like. It was just us and a couple of tumbleweeds that would roll by.

The date was February 16, 2008. My friend Victoria was celebrating her birthday, and my friend Alex and I were planning to make a cameo appearance. Now, two of the enduring lessons my father bestowed upon me were: never pay for parking if you can avoid it, and never pay a cover charge to go into a bar. Only an idiot pays to pay to drink. I remember Alex and I killed most of the afternoon at the record store. Then plan was to get there before 9 p.m., because if we arrived afterwards, we were subject to a $5 cover charge. We got there at 8:30 p.m. only to be turned away because Alex was wearing a San Francisco Giants sports cap. So we walked back to the car and left the cap there.

When we returned the gentleman at the door informed us that we were now subject to a $10 cover charge, due to an event taking place, a burlesque show. We informed him that he was mistaken because we were not there to see the burlesque show, but rather to celebrate my friend’s birthday. I then showed him my cell phone in an attempt to inform him that it was 8:50 p.m., absolving us from any kind of cover charge. He did not like that.

He told my friend Alex that he could go in, but then he gave me one look and told me that “my attire was fashionably unacceptable.” My fashion faux pas was wearing a t-shirt with Subcomandante Marcos on it. The bottom line was that it did not have a collar on it. This was funny since my t-shirts were fashionably acceptable when they did not have people in attendance. I bet the ironic thing would be that I would have been granted entry in a Ted Bundy shirt — if it came with a collar, of course.

I have not returned since that day. I have a genuine distrust of places that try to merge cultura with profit, because in the end it is profit that comes out on top. As Jim Morrison used to rant, “Money beats soul, every time.” Boyle Heights in Los Angeles is no exception.

[Photo By Cannibal Pepper!]

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