If you've never been to Aliso Village in Boyle Heights, you never will. It’s gone. Google it. You can read about it and find old pictures of it, sure. But only a person that grew up there will ever know what it was like. I had family that grew up there. We’d visit often. So even though I never lived there, I still experienced it, and can recall a sense of the place. Comedian Felipe Esparza grew up there and when I see his stand up comedy I get flashbacks of being there.
“Sense of place…is a combination of characteristics that makes a place special and unique. Sense of place involves the human experience in a landscape, the local knowledge and folklore. Sense of place also grows from identifying oneself in relation to a particular piece of land on the surface of planet Earth.” --The Art of Geography
A few weeks back Felipe came to my home studio for a photo shoot. We also went under the 6th Street bridge and Hollenbeck Park. Since we are only a few years apart we shared a lot of the same cultural happenings of the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. We spent a few hours reminiscing about each other's street traumas but definitely feeling that separation between those days and now.
Felipe Esparza is now a nationally recognized celebrity selling out houses all over the country and touring overseas. His particular brand of delivery couldn’t come from anywhere else but his own life experience. He is a genuine one-of-a-kind.
This is the first set of photos from what I hope becomes a lifelong series of photographing comedians. Click on the images to see them full size.