Art+Politics+History+Culture

Where I’m From…

I was born in West Los Angeles at UCLA Hospital. At the time, my parents were living in Venice, part of the 11th district of Los Angeles. We relocated to Mar Vista for a few years off Centinela until my parents were able to buy a home in the unincorporated community of Lennox. It was a short 11 mile commute for my father who worked off of Cloverfield in Santa Monica, especially at 6 in the morning or earlier. Sometimes my mother and I would go to his job for lunch or for other reasons and I romanticized the stretch from the 10 freeway until we hit the Cloverfield exit. I would look all around excitedly. It was a whole different world coming from Lennox.

And it was in this new world where I discovered NaNa’s. In the 5th grade at Larch Elementary, a teacher’s aid came to work one day with a pair of grey suede shoes with thick sole and laces. They were the best looking shoes I had ever seen. I asked him where he got them and he said, “They’re creepers, I got them at NaNa’s in Santa Monica.” I asked my mother to take me and when she did, we were outraged by the price. $60, and in those days I was mostly wearing $3 Chinese shoes and $7 Zig zags. I got on my knees, I begged her for the shoes, and everyone around looked at us with amusement. She gave in after minutes of me begging, probably because she was embarrased by people’s stares. The only thing she said was, “Don’t tell your dad how much they cost.” So I got a pair, black leather with a cow skin design, and I walked around school like I owned it.

Over the years I kept going there to buy other clothes that catered to individuals who were different and into alternative music. If you shopped there, you were different, you were underground.  The clothes went with the type of music you listened to. I liked new wave and dark wave, mostly from U.K. bands, so everything was directly influenced from their street style and in my school it went against the status-quo. But then I got to junior high and everything was different. More people, more styles, more influences, more gang members. People didn’t think my creepers were so cool then, but I still wore them because I didn’t care what anyone thought. That’s what makes you an individual, standing out, being different, being yourself. But then the phrase, “Where you from,” took on a whole new meaning.

So when people ask now, “Where you from?” I can easily say, “Los Angeles, from the Westside,” it’s where I grew up, where I stomped ground, it’s what made me. It’s who I am…a Westsider. But in those days the phrase was gang-related and the wrong answer could cause serious repurcussions. So I ask you now…Where you from?

(For a great article on NaNa’s go to: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/apr/05/image/ig-nana5)

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6 Responses to “Where I’m From…”

  1. Alfonso Vargas

    Hey guys great article yes I’m a westsider also!!!
    Keep up the excellent work I’m proud of what you wrote.
    I’ll be checking in often as soon as i hit land.

    Alfonso Vargas

    Reply
  2. rodburns1

    What’s up Westsider! Thanks for the encouraging words, and checking in even when you’re stranded somewhere in New Zeland!

    Reply
  3. pete

    I can mos def relate and I too wore the chinese shoes aka ying yangs..
    and my first pair of creepers were actually from payless made by pro-wings.
    Im a creep… what the hell am I doing here ? I dont belong here!

    Reply
  4. rodburns1

    You’re a creep like Radiohead! Great reference, and I used to wear Coasters from Payless, with those thick black and red fat laces, Cheers!

    Reply
  5. MP

    Where am I from? I grew up in the South Bay, but once I could drive I fell in love with the Westside. I found roots I didn’t know I had. (Way to go keeping a girl sheltered in private school, Mom!). I found The Promenade, The Fairfax Swap meet (yup…love those “Mikes” not Nikes), Venice Beach, Cantors, Urth Café and I could go on and on, but it was a brave new world and I wanted more and crave it now. I was uprooted from my stomping ground way across the country, but think about home everyday. I love your site, keep it going, it helps fill the miles I feel in between.

    Reply
    • rodburns1

      I always have a deep appreciation for the South Bay as well. All my immediate relatives live there and I went to high school there. As for the places you mentioned on the Westside like the Promenade, Venice Beach, Urth Cafe…I used to go there as well. Keep a look out for a piece I wanna do about Canters, I’ll dedicate that one to you. Great reference to Aldous Huxley as well, one of my favorites, and I’m glad I can keep bringing you pieces of your old stomping ground. You’re not here now, but you’re a Westsider at heart!

      Reply

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