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Ry Cooder
August 3, 2005 12:08 AM   Subscribe

Ry Cooder's Ry Cooder's new album Chávez Ravine captures the world of the vibrant Chicano community that was bulldozed in the 1950's to build Dodger Stadium. Don Normark's book Chavez Ravine: 1949 provides more background on the place that was once a "poor man’s Shangri-la." of "wild roses, tin roofs, and wandering goats" where life "was lived fully, openly, and joyfully" before it was destroyed.
posted by robliberal (19 comments total)

 
I want to love this post, but there's literally nothing there to love. I wanted to discuss your Harper's post, but I had to bring my own magazine in to work to do it since the link was to the introduction to an article. FPPs typically have a bit more substance; they are usually less like press releases letting everyone know something is out there. I'd email this to you, but there isn't an email in your profile.
posted by OmieWise at 5:48 AM on August 3, 2005


Cooder was the guy who played on the Rolling Stone's cover of Love in Vein, he was one heck of a Mandolin player. Does anyone have a MP3 of this?
posted by wheelieman at 5:48 AM on August 3, 2005


This kind of thing happened a lot; Durham, NC lost a thriving black business neighborhood (one of the country's Black Wall Streets) to a highway bypass in the 60s.

I like the subject matter of this post, btw, but linking to a brief Ry Cooder bio and a couple of Amazon pages doesn't really do it justice; it's easy to miss the outrageousness of what happened to the people:

During the early 1950s, the city of Los Angeles forcefully evicted the 300 families of Chavez Ravine to make way for a low-income public housing project. The land was cleared and the homes, schools and the church were razed. But instead of building the promised housing, the city—in a move rife with political controversy—sold the land to Brooklyn Dodgers baseball owner Walter O’Malley, who built Dodger Stadium on the site. The residents of Chavez Ravine, who had been promised first pick of the apartments in the proposed housing project, were given no reimbursement for their destroyed property and forced to scramble for housing elsewhere.

(from The History of Chavez Ravine, subject of the film Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story)
posted by mediareport at 5:58 AM on August 3, 2005


Ry Cooder was a guest on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic yesterday, the interview is available in streaming audio here or subscribe to show's new podcast here.
posted by sdinan at 6:07 AM on August 3, 2005


But instead of building the promised housing, the city—in a move rife with political controversy—sold the land to Brooklyn Dodgers baseball owner Walter O’Malley, who built Dodger Stadium on the site.

Ironically, the site of Ebbets Field, where the Dodgers played in Brooklyn, is now occupied by a housing project as is the site of the Polo Grounds, where the Giants used to play. James Ellroy's novel White Jazz has a subplot involving the Chavez Ravine story.

the place that was once a "poor man’s Shangri-la." of "wild roses, tin roofs, and wandering goats" where life "was lived fully, openly, and joyfully" before it was destroyed.

Y'know, I think what went on in Chavez Ravine was a disgrace, but let's fight it with facts not decadent romanticizations of poverty.
posted by jonmc at 6:55 AM on August 3, 2005


Any post that gives us a chance to talk about Ry Cooder is a good post. :-)

I appreciate the efforts he puts into preserving musical history as well as his abilities as an artist.
posted by nofundy at 7:09 AM on August 3, 2005


Any time I hear about Ry Cooder, all I can think of is Ralph Macchio.
posted by Jart at 7:26 AM on August 3, 2005


Don Normark came to my photo class and gave a talk about Chavez Ravine. We also watched the documentary he worked on about it. When it was over, a majority of the class was in tears. The injustice and lost community in this story is heartbreaking, literally. Here is a PBS link with a photo album from the book.
posted by slimslowslider at 7:27 AM on August 3, 2005


D'oh. Didn't realize PBS link was already posted. I guess I should click on stuff...
posted by slimslowslider at 7:28 AM on August 3, 2005


nofundy writes "Any post that gives us a chance to talk about Ry Cooder is a good post. :-)"

I wish that were true. The other links included here make this an interesting post now, but the FPP is still weak. Two Amazon links and a half-page fluffer about Cooder? C'mon.
posted by OmieWise at 7:32 AM on August 3, 2005


Sorry, I should have left that last comment off. I made my views clear at the start, and the other links here make this interesting now.
posted by OmieWise at 7:36 AM on August 3, 2005


"Any post that gives us a chance to talk about Ry Cooder is a good post. :-)...I appreciate the efforts he puts into preserving musical history as well as his abilities as an artist."

Agreed. I also think that his background in contemporary music (his playing on Jagger's "Memo From Turner" is a personal fave) keep his forays into indigineous music from being stale and overly reverent. That music needs to be kept alive not put under glass like dusty relics. Ry understands this.
posted by jonmc at 7:42 AM on August 3, 2005


Agreed on the pro-Cooder sentiments. I'm a fan of A Meeting By The River and Talking Timbuktu. I think both of these feature Cooder's son doing some percussion; it's good to know that there's someone else in the family keeping these kinds of music alive.
posted by hifiparasol at 8:45 AM on August 3, 2005


Being a fan of Ry Cooder, I am afraid I acted suddenly and without sufficient thought- I bought the iTunes version. I now realize I am missing all the booklety goodness included in the physical dense version. Does any one know where to look for online art for this work?
posted by pointilist at 9:31 AM on August 3, 2005


I'm a fan sometimes/often, and I agree that he has a particular kind of honesty in playing along with the stuff he is preserving, but it also annoys me, there are some songs on Buena Vista where he just plunks down some hawaiian sounding slide quitar for what seems like no reason, he just cooders it. I realize that there is no real solution to this, he can't just perfectly emulate the style of the musicians he is working with, at least not without being fairly bullshit and fake, but his playing stands out for me, in a bad way. So I guess I like him and don't like him. I bet this new jaunt is pretty good though. I like his "feeling bad blues" very much and, yes Memo from Turner is amazing, as is the movie it is featured in, Performance.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:40 AM on August 3, 2005


For more, and great, Ry Cooder: Randy Newman's 12 Songs.
posted by raysmj at 10:33 AM on August 3, 2005


For all that the destruction of the Chavez Ravine community was horrible, I have to say that most of the Chicano/Latino communities I go through here in Los Angeles, even the very poor ones, seem so much more vibrant and alive than parts where it's mostly affluent white people.

There also seems to be a lot more mixing of skin color and ethnicity in these communities. There are always people outside, walking in groups and families, talking, interacting, living with each other in a community. Sometimes I just ride through Koreatown and other places like it just to see human beings actually out on the streets, as opposed to a relatively desolate stretch of very pretty gated mansions like much of the area I lucked into has (I live in a rent controlled brownstone just up the street from mansionland).

So looks like they've been relocated, but still very much alive. No goats tho!
posted by zoogleplex at 12:23 PM on August 3, 2005


Thanks, robliberal.
posted by shoepal at 1:17 PM on August 3, 2005


decadent romanticizations of poverty

"Decadent"?
posted by mediareport at 2:15 PM on August 3, 2005


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