During the 1990s, Los Angeles - like many other cities across America - began demolishing public housing projects that had come to symbolize decades of failed urban policies. But public housing was not always regarded with such disdain. In the years surrounding World War II, it had been a popular New Deal program, viewed as a force for positive social change and supported by a broad coalition of civic, labor, religious, and community organizations. Socially conscious architects and planners developed innovative and livable projects that embodied the latest theories in urban design. With sharp historical perspective, Making a Better World traces the rise and fall of a public housing ethic in Los Angeles and its impact on the city's built environment. In the caustic political atmosphere of Joseph McCarthy's America, public housing opponents accused the city's housing authority of communist infiltration, effectively eliminating the left from debates over the city's development. In place of public housing, conservative forces promoted a pro-private growth agenda that redefined urban renewal and reshaped modern Los Angeles. No conventional public housing projects have been constructed in Los Angeles since 1955. In this era of skyrocketing housing prices, especially in urban areas, Don Parson's examination not only gives us the recent history of a city, but also opens up a new debate on a current national crisis in providing shelter for low-income Americans.
What makes a social movement a movement? Where do the contagious energy, vision, and sense of infinite possibility come from? Students of progressive social movements know a good deal about what works and what doesn't and about the constituencies that are conducive to political activism, but what are the personal and emotional dynamics that turn ordinary people into activists? And, what are the visions and practices of democracy that foster such transformations?
This book seeks to answer these questions through conversations and interviews with a generation of activists who came of political age in Los Angeles during the 1990s. Politically schooled in the city's vibrant immigrant worker and youth-led campaigns against xenophobic and racist voter initiatives, these young activists created a new political cohort with its own signature of democratic practice and vision. Combining analytical depth, engaging oral history, and rich description, this absorbing and accessible book will appeal to all those interested in social movements, racial justice, the political activism of women and men of color, and the labor movement today.
Iranian Television in Los Angeles
Naficy explores the seemingly contradictory way in which immigrant media and cultural productions serve as the source both of resistance and opposition to the domination by host and home country's social values while simultaneously serving as vehicles for personal and cultural transformation and assimilation of those values.
"An important contribution to cultural anthropology. The Making of Exile Cultures is meticulously researched. It is no small achievement of the book that is pulls the focus in Middle East studies from geographically cohesive national cultures, 'hard' politics and high culture (art, literature) to exile cultures, media politics and the popular. Although it is a close case study, The Making of Exile Cultures participates in debates and methodologies across a range of disciplines beyond media studies. It is not simply a much-needed contribution to the growing set of micro-histories of local media use. Rather, it demonstrates the increasing centrality of minority television cultures to the overall structure of North American mainstream television. The Making of Exile Cultures should be read and used by media theorists, then, not just because it fills in another gap in knowledge of narrowcast television's heterogeneous field (as if there were a collective puzzle in the making here), but because it provides media theory with some important new ways of working through the particular questions of race, gender, nation, industry and audience that come into play regardless of our respective 'local' interest." Screen
"Fresh, stimulating, and an extremely valuable contribution to the study of cultural production amongst immigrants and the articulation of local and transnational identities. A fascinating study of the cultural politics of identity." Middle East Journal
"The Making of Exile Cultures transcends its limited scope and ethnographic ambitions to poignantly illuminate a truly multicultural situation. Naficy's engaging prose and personal anecdotes made the dry ethnography not just palatable but fascinating. This was not merely a sociological analysis of the interaction of television aesthetics and a group in exile. It was not merely a collection of copious details and taxonomies about what was broadcast when and by whom. It was not merely a study of now an exile group expresses nostalgic longing and fetishistic desire for an absent home. The power of this book is found in narratives, stories, and recollections of the author and interviewees. Naficy saves his study from falling into the banality of charts, tables, and taxonomies through his ability to tie something very specific to the larger issue of what means to live in exile." SubStance
"In this book, Naficy provides us with an example of exilic agency and the possibilities that can come about when hybridized exiles use their unique perspective gained form a split-subjectivity. This book is highly recommended for scholars in immigration studies as well as those engaged in cultural studies and the field of mass media and communications." Journal of American Ethnic History
"Ultimately, The Making of Exile Cultures: Iranian Media in Los Angeles is an important contribution to the growing scholarship on Iranians in diaspora and serves best as a handbook for decoding the popular culture of Iranians in Los Angeles. Naficy's book serves as the best model yet for studying Iranian culture among the expatriate communities, a model which goes beyond one-dimensional stereotypes or demographic and statistical analyses to provide an intimate and analytical study of a culture undergoing chaotic change." JUSUR (The UCLA Journal of Middle Eastern Studies)
"An important contribution to both Iranian and cultural studies. Exile Cultures provides an illuminating study of the mediating role of television in transforming an exile community into an ethnicity. Naficy's careful discussions of its political economy and textual politics offer valuable insights into the micro-practices of this exilic culture, insights that should prove useful to a broad range of readers, from those interested in the general questions of ethnicity and community in the United States to scholars working on the more specific issues of Iranian culture." International Journal of Middle East Studies
"Naficy's own blend of rigorous research, well presented data, and thorough knowledge of the theories to which he refers is an illustration of the kind of a successful syncretism he observes in the material he studies." Canadian Review of Comparative Literature
"This is an excellent study of the understudied world of Iranian popular culture in exile. An indispensable source of knowledge about contemporary Iran and life in exile in the vast diaspora formed in the wake of the 1978-79 revolution." Iranian Studies
"Naficy blends together the psychological and cultural backgrounds and aspirations of users and producers with the political economy of the ethnic media, and the way in which this local political economy not only articulates with the larger economy of the U.S. and world economy, but psychologically and culturally transforms its participants." Michael M. J. Fischer
A new look at the work of Mario Giacomelli, one of Italy’s foremost photographers of the twentieth century.
Mario Giacomelli (1925–2000) was born into poverty and lived his entire life in Senigallia, a seaside town along the Adriatic coast in Italy’s Marche region. He purchased his first camera in 1953 and quickly gained recognition for the raw expressiveness of his images. His preference for grainy, high-contrast film and paper produced bold, geometric compositions with glowing whites and deep blacks. Giacomelli most frequently focused his camera on the people, landscapes, and seascapes of the Marche, and he often spent several years expanding and reinterpreting a single body of work or repurposing an image made for one series for inclusion in another. By applying titles derived from poetry and literature to his photographs, he transformed ordinary subjects into meditations on time, memory, and existence.
Spanning the photographer’s earliest pictures to those made in the final years of his life, this publication celebrates the J. Paul Getty Museum’s extensive Giacomelli holdings, formed in large part through a significant gift from Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser.
This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from June 29 to October 10, 2021.
Stretching from the years during the Second World War when young couples jitterbugged across the dance floor at the Zenda Ballroom, through the early 1950s when honking tenor saxophones could be heard at the Angelus Hall, to the Spanish-language cosmopolitanism of the late 1950s and 1960s, Mexican American Mojo is a lively account of Mexican American urban culture in wartime and postwar Los Angeles as seen through the evolution of dance styles, nightlife, and, above all, popular music. Revealing the links between a vibrant Chicano music culture and postwar social and geographic mobility, Anthony Macías shows how by participating in jazz, the zoot suit phenomenon, car culture, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and Latin music, Mexican Americans not only rejected second-class citizenship and demeaning stereotypes, but also transformed Los Angeles.
Macías conducted numerous interviews for Mexican American Mojo, and the voices of little-known artists and fans fill its pages. In addition, more famous musicians such as Ritchie Valens and Lalo Guerrero are considered anew in relation to their contemporaries and the city. Macías examines language, fashion, and subcultures to trace the history of hip and cool in Los Angeles as well as the Chicano influence on urban culture. He argues that a grass-roots “multicultural urban civility” that challenged the attempted containment of Mexican Americans and African Americans emerged in the neighborhoods, schools, nightclubs, dance halls, and auditoriums of mid-twentieth-century Los Angeles. So take a little trip with Macías, via streetcar or freeway, to a time when Los Angeles had advanced public high school music programs, segregated musicians’ union locals, a highbrow municipal Bureau of Music, independent R & B labels, and robust rock and roll and Latin music scenes.
When we see children playing in a supervised playground or hear about a school being renovated, we seldom wonder about who mobilized the community resources to rebuild the school or staff the park. Mexican American Women Activists tells the stories of Mexican American women from two Los Angeles neighborhoods and how they transformed the everyday problems they confronted into political concerns. By placing these women's experiences at the center of her discussion of grassroots political activism, Mary Pardo illuminates the gender, race, and class character of community networking. She shows how citizens help to shape their local environment by creating resources for churches, schools, and community services and generates new questions and answers about collective action and the transformation of social networks into political networks.
By focusing on women in two contiguous but very different communities -- the working-class, inner-city neighborhood of Boyle Heights in Eastside Los Angeles and the racially mixed middle-class suburb of Monterey Park -- Pardo is able to bring class as ell as gender and ethnic concerns to bear on her analysis in ways that shed light on the complexity of mobilizing for urban change.
Unlike many studies, the stories told here focus on women's strengths rather than on their problems. We follow the process by which these women empowered themselves by using their own definitions of social justice and their own convictions about the importance of traditional roles. Rather than becoming political participants in spite of their family responsibilities, women in both neighborhoods seem to have been more powerful because they had responsibilities, social networks, and daily routines separate from the men in their communities.
Pardo asserts that the decline of real wages and the growing income gap means that unforunately most women will no longer be able to focus their energies on unpaid community work. She reflects on the consequences of this change for women's political involvement, as well as on the politics of writing about women and politics.
Urban Los Angeles is the setting in which Elaine Miller has collected her narratives from Mexican-Americans. The Mexican folk tradition, varied and richly expressive of the inner life not only of a people but also of the individual as each lives it and personalizes it, is abundantly present in the United States. Since it is in the urban centers that most Mexican-Americans have lived, this collection represents an important contribution to the study of that tradition and to the study of the changes urban life effects on traditional folklore.
The collection includes sixty-two legendary narratives and twenty traditional tales. The legendary narratives deal with the virgins and saints as well as with such familiar characters as the vanishing hitchhiker, the headless horseman, and the llorona. Familiar characters appear in the traditional tales—Juan del Oso, Blancaflor, Pedro de Ordimalas, and others. Elaine Miller concludes that the traditional tales are dying out in the city because tale telling itself is not suited to the fast pace of modern urban life, and the situations and characters in the tales are not perceived by the people to be meaningfully related to the everyday challenges and concerns of that life. The legendary tales survive longer in an urban setting because, although containing fantastic elements, they are related to the beliefs and hopes of the narrator—even in the city one may be led to buried treasure on some dark night by a mysterious woman.
The penchant of the informants for the fantastic in many of their tales often reflects their hopes and fears, such as their dreams of suddenly acquiring wealth or their fears of being haunted by the dead. Miller closely observes the teller's relation to the stories—to the duendes, the ánimas, Death, God, the devil—and she notes the tension on the part of the informant in his relation to their religion.
The material is documented according to several standard tale and motif indices and is placed within the context of the larger body of Hispanic folk tradition by the citation of parallel versions throughout the Hispanic world. The tales, transcribed from taped interviews, are presented in colloquial Spanish accompanied by summaries in English.
In the early decades of the twentieth-century, Main Street was the heart of Los Angeles’s Mexican immigrant community. It was also the hub for an extensive, largely forgotten film culture that thrived in L.A. during the early days of Hollywood. Drawing from rare archives, including the city’s Spanish-language newspapers, Colin Gunckel vividly demonstrates how this immigrant community pioneered a practice of transnational media convergence, consuming films from Hollywood and Mexico, while also producing fan publications, fiction, criticism, music, and live theatrical events.
Mexico on Main Street locates this film culture at the center of a series of key debates concerning national identity, ethnicity, class, and the role of Mexicans within Hollywood before World War II. As Gunckel shows, the immigrant community’s cultural elite tried to rally the working-class population toward the cause of Mexican nationalism, while Hollywood sought to position them as part of a lucrative transnational Latin American market. Yet ironically, both Hollywood studios and Mexican American cultural elites used the media to present negative depictions of working-class Mexicans, portraying their behaviors as a threat to middle-class respectability. Rather than simply depicting working-class immigrants as pawns of these power players, however, Gunckel reveals their active participation in the era’s film culture.
Gunckel’s innovative approach combines media studies, urban history, and ethnic studies to reconstruct a distinctive, richly layered immigrant film culture. Mexico on Main Street demonstrates how a site-specific study of cultural and ethnic issues challenges our existing conceptions of U.S. film history, Mexican cinema, and the history of Los Angeles.
For more than eighty years, the famous unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor, the legendary bisexual film director, has generated debate and controversy. Now, best-selling author Charles Higham has solved the crime. Higham uncovers the corruption and intrigue of Los Angeles in the Roaring Twenties—and the film industry moguls’ complete domination of the city’s authorities.
When it was discovered that a famous star of the day had probably killed Taylor, a massive cover-up began—from the removal of crucial evidence to the naming of innocent people as killers—which has continued until now to protect the truth. Murder in Hollywood goes beyond the killing to unearth unknown details about the life of Taylor before his arrival in Hollywood, as well as the stories and histories buried by the crooked authorities and criminals involved the case. The author’s exclusive interviews with the culpable star, his unique possession of long-vanished police records, and the support of the present-day Los Angeles county coroner—who examined the evidence as if the murder had taken place now—have ensured a hair-raising thriller.
Charles Higham successfully presents the most plausible and convincing solution yet to the mystery. In the process he paints a vivid portrait of Hollywood in the 1920s—from its major stars to its bisexual subculture. The result is a compelling answer to a long-standing mystery and a fascinating study of a place, and an industry that, as today, let people reinvent themselves. Murder in Hollywood is more extraordinary than any crime of fiction and more exciting than any action adventure movie.
In the 1920s, thousands of white migrants settled in the Los Angeles suburb of South Gate. Six miles from downtown and adjacent to Watts, South Gate and its neighboring communities served as L.A.'s Detroit, an industrial belt for mass production of cars, tires, steel, and other durable goods. Blue-collar workers built the suburb literally from the ground up, using sweat equity rather than cash to construct their own homes.
As Becky M. Nicolaides shows in My Blue Heaven, this ethic of self-reliance and homeownership formed the core of South Gate's identity. With post-World War II economic prosperity, the community's emphasis shifted from building homes to protecting them as residents tried to maintain their standard of living against outside threats—including the growing civil rights movement—through grassroots conservative politics based on an ideal of white homeowner rights. As the citizens of South Gate struggled to defend their segregated American Dream of suburban community, they fanned the flames of racial inequality that erupted in the 1965 Watts riots.