Monday, October 30, 2017

Lost LA: I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down

Dear KCET/Lost LA:

I like you guys. I really do. But this is the SECOND time you've gotten mustard up my nose (French idiom - you guys are smart; I trust you to look it up).

I previously called out a Lost LA writer for excluding BOTH the Circle Catholique Francais AND the  French Benevolent Society - LA's second-ever benevolent society (the Hebrew Benevolent Society, now known as Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, is older) and easily its longest-lasting - from an article on historic immigrant support societies.

I contacted KCET about this glaring omission on August 3, 2016, but didn't get a response until October 21. (Really? Come on. Not cool.)

I'm sure you can understand how this course of action might lead some readers to think the omissions were deliberate. (Especially since the FBS was the city's second-oldest benevolent society, supported a large ethnic enclave in addition to admitting non-French patients, established the city's second-oldest hospital - which remains open under another name - and still owns the land purchased for the hospital way back in 1869.)

I'm reasonably forgiving. I am not, however, a doormat.

Way back in March, I posted an entry on Raymond Alexandre's Roundhouse - LA's first known example of fantasy architecture (which went on to become its first amusement park and first kindergarten).

Guess what I saw earlier tonight? You guys just ran your OWN entry on the Roundhouse. 

I read your articles regularly. For the most part, I enjoy them.

But may I please ask for a little consideration?

Take a long, hard look at a map of Los Angeles - preferably on Google, since it lists the city's historically ethnic neighborhoods by name.

Every other ethnic enclave in the city still has a home. Mine was weakened by Prohibition, bulldozed, slashed in half by a freeway, and paved over in the name of progress before either of my parents were born. I will never truly be able to walk Frenchtown's streets - what does remain of the enclave has been largely transformed into Little Tokyo and Chinatown.

LA's forgotten French may just be article fodder to some writers, but they are the extended family I don't have. I make no apologies for being fiercely protective of Frenchtown and its citizens.

I use this blog to fight a nearly impossible battle: keeping Frenchtown's memories alive and giving French Angelenos their due.

As much as I appreciate seeing LA's French history recognized, sometimes it can be hard not to feel like my toes are being stepped on. Other writers have deliberately omitted French contributions to LA history, stolen article ideas I'd pitched to the same publications that employ them, stolen content from this blog, and published articles with a downright offensive number of factual errors.

Your article was thorough and well-researched (I could only find one error: M. Alexandre's first name was Raymond, not Ramon). But when I see the obscure subject of a niche blog entry (mine) crop up somewhere else, I have to wonder where the idea originated (wouldn't you?).

I would never knowingly step on another historian's toes. All I ask is that the same courtesy be extended in return. Putain, j'en ai marre. 

And as long as I'm on my soapbox, I would like to politely, but firmly, remind everyone who does read this of something I've said before (and will politely, but firmly, repeat until everyone gets it):

We were here, too.

We have been here since 1827.

We made a LOT of contributions to Los Angeles that helped take it from dusty pueblo to world-class city.

We matter just as much as every other ethnic group in Los Angeles.

Don't sell us short.


C.C. de Vere

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