A journey through ‘The Strip’

By Edgar Lopez


There is no special meaning to East Los Angeles College’s main vein, the walkway between the E3 and E5 buildings.
Students constantly hurry through it to get to class or to go home.
It is merely a walkway.
There are countless walkways around the world.
What makes ELAC’s so special?
I didn’t know or care to know until my editor suggested it would make a good story to find out what students called it.
I had never considered that the walkway had a name.
The people there certainly didn’t appeal to me, as there appeared to be only immature baboons to talk to.
Of course, I thought of them that way because a remark one baboon made broke my journalistic spirit.
“Oh shit,” the baboon said, as he saw me take pictures around the walkway, “Here comes the paparazzi.”
I hate being called a paparazzo, and I had hated the main vein after hearing that remark.
I purposely walked around the E5 building in disgust rather than crossing through that walkway.
I couldn’t avoid it forever.
The story assignment forced me to revisit the walkway where the infamous event occurred.
But before I entered, I started asking people outside of the walkway if they had any name for it.
Most students I spoke to said they had no name for it.
“You mean high-school alley,” said Anastasia Landeros, online editor for Campus News, when I started asking around the newsroom.
“High-school alley” seemed to fit it perfect, but perhaps it is because I subconsciously recognized it as a derogatory name.
After a bit more research, I realized I’d have to enter high-school alley and make contact with the overgrown children.
I was reluctant to do it and put the story on hold for a while, but pressure from my editor forced me to get back on it.
Once stepping in, I was surrounded by smokers puffing nearby, hackie sacks flying from knee to foot, skaters cutting me off and other Elans rushing around as clubs held down their forts and electric carts whizzed by.
Although I took notice of most of these nuisances, I didn’t bother to look deeper into the reckless, teenage-acting, bothersome inhabitants that the nuisances derived from.
After a few weeks of living there, all I noticed was where the name “high-school alley” was derived from.
Rule-breaking, crushes, and other nonsense occur during active weekday school time.
Don’t they have anywhere to go?
Don’t they have anything to do besides playing beat-up guitars or smoking cigs or horsing around?
“In all honesty,” said Jesus Zacarias Salvador, “I can say that I spend too much time there.”
Salvador said that he would congregate with friends as they waited for class to start.
Although the breaks between classes weren’t long, it seemed to have started something.
While many students visit ELAC and remain only until they’re done with classes or with studying, at high-school alley, students go to class, study, but remain afterward to socialize and do other high-school-ish activities.
Members begin to swarm in early morning although some don’t have class until late afternoon.
Perhaps the best part of the walkway is the open air and the open laughs.
When sitting on the walkway’s benches, it seems as if it has its very own time zone.
It is a separate world as everyone walks by.
It wasn’t always like that though, said Daniel Judge, a math instructor who attended ELAC.
There was nothing special about the walkway before.
Judge said that was because of all the current construction, students seem to need a new place to socialize, and the walkway provided it.
While there, many people pass by which means casual encounters with friends and new friendships occur frequently.
Perhaps there is something more to high-school alley.
Aside from socializing, it is possibly the most flavorful spot at ELAC.
Its biggest competition is possibly the vending machines.
However, the machines have neither the gentle strumming of acoustic guitars producing vibrating waves through the air nor slick heavy metal leads roaring from an amped-up electric guitar.
There is no other way to describe the vibe in high-school alley.
It has a raw, rotten appearance to outsiders, but from within, it is comfort.
An inhabitant of “high-school alley” found it offensive when told of what some students call the walkway.
“That’s insulting but cool I guess,” said Michael.
What’s Michael’s last name?
I have no clue.
That is how close students get when spending too much time at the walkway. There are never any formal introductions.
I’ve only discovered people’s surnames by adding them on Facebook.
After meeting a few people, I started to feel more at home.
I was never the type to spend much time at ELAC and much less at the walkway that I hated, but it grew on me.
I don’t spend as much time there as others do but I still feel like I’m a part of it.
“High-school alley” seemed to fit it, but it didn’t actually fit it.
So the question comes to what do members of the walkway call it?
We call it the strip.
Why is it called the strip?
Salvador said that in Spring 2009, he and his friends called it the strip because it reminded them of the Sunset Strip.
There are songs dedicated to it by local Elan bands as it becomes a part of their lives.
At first, I started this story with my dislike of the strip.
I denounced it and I am ashamed of that.
The strip has sucked me in to its parallel universe.
Although I do not spend all my time there, it is a significant increase since I went from avoiding it entirely to spending hours, and now I go to enjoy the company of friends.




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