Geography of L.A.

'Poppin Wizard' of Glassell Park Puts Drew Street Back on Map (VIDEO)

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Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 12:35 PM

click to enlarge The Poppin Wizard in action. - YOUTUBE
  • YouTube
  • The Poppin Wizard in action.
Drew Street in Glassell Park (and the surrounding neighborhood, which has likewise come to be known as Drew Street) is best known for hosting a massive gang operation that festered there for decades.

That is, until April 2008, when the street "erupted in AK-47 gunfire, forcing cops to evacuate two Los Angeles public schools and an entire neighborhood," according to an LA Weekly print piece by stellar crime reporter Christine Pelisek. Police seized the gang's headquarter house at 3304 Drew Street, eventually bulldozing it and jailing its occupants for life.

But a YouTube star from Glassell Park is making a new name for the notorious hood:

Popping capital of Los Angeles. (If you don't know what popping is, please get yourself schooled before moving on.)

As of yesterday, bloggers at Eastsider LA have taken notice of the mysterious popper, as have thousands of YouTube spectators before them.

"Who is the Poppin Wizard of Drew Street?" they ask, marveling over his range of skill and venue. And "where will the Poppin Wizard show up next?"

We may be able to answer that first one: A little online stalkage has narrowed the candidate pool down to Marco Real, or Cholowiz Loco on Facebook, a graffiti artist and popper extraordinaire who seems to have launched an entire hip-hop business of sorts in the ashes of one of L.A.'s most hardcore gang operations.

A little more history on Drew Street, via crime reporter Pelisek:

MORE THAN 100 YEARS AGO, Drew Street was a beautiful green spot named by pioneer Andrew Glassell after his son, Drew. For most of the 20th century, it was a tucked-away suburban enclave flanked by the Los Angeles River and Glendale's Forest Lawn cemetery. Then, starting in the 1960s, the city built apartments on its dead-end streets and avenues -- and a bad element moved in, seeing the isolated little neighborhood as the perfect lair.

Drew Street, with its long, straight rise, offered the perfect viewing base from which to espy approaching cop cars. It turned out to be just the thing for Maria "Chata" Leon, a young toughie from a rough, lawless Mexican village who settled there and gave birth to 13 children -- a half-dozen of whom became criminals. With a new baby on her hip every year or two, Leon dealt drugs and staked her claim on Drew Street, in a Bleak House stocked with guns and explosives.

Just this last April, the Los Angeles Times wrote about a small community-garden startup, commissioned by the city to "put the past behind us and look to the future."

Nice try, Garcetti. But we kind of prefer the Poppin Wizard's approach. This guy's turning Drew Street into the hottest dance studio in town. He can pop it in the parking lot, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in the driveway...

... and he can draw, too. Making Andrew Glassell proud, no doubt, and lighting Drew Street back up to its former glory with every hyperextension of the elbow. Marco, if you're out there, hit us up. You are appreciated.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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