The Los Angeles Brewing Company…home to Eastside Beer. A cool beer can collecting website, RustyCans.com, has a great breakdown on its history—read it if you are a LA history buff. The story of the brewery is very interesting.
Not only does the brewery have a great history but it also has a certain affect on me when I pass by it. So here’s a little story about my last encounter with the brewery. Anyone who has lived in LA for any period of time comes to a quick realization…traffic sucks. That’s nothing new. We live in a city where traffic dictates our lives. Forget about trying to meet anyone on time east or west of Downtown LA during morning rush hour or after work. It’s not gonna happen. Things get worse when you factor in parking. It’s better to avoid it altogether if you can than to get stuck in the madness. There are a few exceptions: someone’s dying, about to give you some money (or some action if you are single), or your job depends on it. Traffic can flip on you at any moment. I always end up wanting to throw something outside of my car out of frustration…or at least punch the steering wheel a few times. OK…I am not that bad.
Alright, so I was on the 5 freeway the other day heading home (East LA) from Burbank at around 5:30pm. Just as I was thinking about how badly it sucked to be me, I caught a glimpse of the Brewery Arts Complex just off the Broadway exit in Lincoln Heights. I’ve passed it a million times. I’ve even been to some of their events. Such a great looking building. Can you call it an iconic LA building? I think the folks in the area would.
I’ve either been too distracted or simply forgot to check out the history behind this place. As a kid I heard it was a full service brewery owned by Pabst, but I never really looked into it beyond that. Catching the building in the setting sun that day put me in a really good mood for some reason. I even stopped tripping about the flood of cars starting to clog the lanes.
There’re places around LA (like Dodger Stadium, the old Sears building on Soto, Westlake Theater, the apartment buildings in MacArthur Park, General Hospital, Philippe’s, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, etc.) that really grab me. Simply looking at them takes me back to being a kid when I’d gaze in awe at all these old, odd, and beautiful buildings wondering how they got there. Some of them just look out of place. Others look like ghosts.
The Brewery building in particular looks like it’s straight out of Wisconsin during the heyday of the American macrobrews like Schiltz, Blatz, and Pabst…you know…the “dad beers”. It’s as if someone lifted the place from Milwaukee and dropped it near the train tracks in Lincoln Heights. The place has that Lavern & Shirley flavor. You can totally imagine those two rolling out of a spot like this on their bikes just like the show’s intro. All this place needs is a ”Shotz Brewery” sign on it to make it official.
Looking at the brewery takes me back in time..back to when I would religiously tune into Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days. I guess you can say shows like those gave me a glimpse into the lives of Americans in other parts of the country. I was fascinated by how the characters spoke (those regional accents—Laverne, Carmine, and the Fonz had cool ones), lived, dated etc. So this is what it’s like to be an “American?” Well, it was to me back then. Fonzi quickly became a god to me. Straight up cool with that leather jacket and the gang of ladies at his side. And you know what happened when he pounded the jukebox. Pimp! It took me years to realize I was actually looking up to an older guy who hung out with high school kids and called the bathroom his office. Hey, all heroes aren’t perfect.
Why is this a big deal? Well, I’m a kid from immigrant parents growing up during the Reagan 80′s in East LA. Spanish was the only language spoken at my house. We observed all the usual Mexican/Catholic traditions. Everyone around me did the same. TV opened my eyes to another world and helped me find a connection to it. It’s even responsible for teaching me how to speak English. Well, maybe school had a lot more to do with that, but TV had a hand in it. No one gives you any handbook on how to get the hang of living in the US. My parents were too busy trying to figure it out themselves. Safe to say TV was the Cliff Notes to my acculturation.
Funny, the more I watched Happy Days the more I saw similarities between my family and the Cunningham’s. Nah, we didn’t look or speak alike. Surprisingly, we shared a lot more similarities than differences. Look, I don’t have a sob story. Yeah, I was raised in a rough neighborhood. Not a big deal. I was lucky to be have a family with a little scratch and parents who handled their business. We were lucky…never needed anything. I also had a solid support system that was able to insulate me from the street bullshit, drugs, poverty, teenage pregnancy, and lack of documentation many of my peers had to deal with growing up. I know there’re people who believe TV’s the devil. I get it, but I disagree. I’m not here to argue. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I’m just glad I had TV around to help me find my footing in the US. Fortunate.
Funny how a place like the brewery can bring back childhood memories. It took less than 30 seconds on Google to find out everything about it but I still feel like it’s a place cloaked in mystery. I wonder if it is haunted.
Are there places in the city that have this affect on you? Let me know.