Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is coming up and for those who don’t know, let me tell you now, most Mexicans do not celebrate Cinco de Mayo! It’s a holiday invented (okay, not exactly invented – it commemorates the Battle of Puebla when Mexicans drove out the French) by Mexican-American educators so they could promote Mexican/Chicano pride on a day when kids were in school. The real Mexican Independence Day, September 16 comes too early in the school year for a proper celebration. Greet a Mexican immigrant with “Feliz Cinco de Mayo” and they will most likely respond with a quizzical and/or bemused look. And to all the corporations: it’s not a “Latino” holiday. Ask a Guatemalteco, Salvadoreño or a Boricua what they think about Cinco de Mayo.

Since there are lots of folks who like to do “Mexican Night” on Cinco de Mayo, I thought I would share a little recipe with you all.

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16th Anniversary of Los Angeles Riots

Two days after the riots started, somewhere near Normandie-photo taken by me

16 years ago today was the beginning of one of the biggest social upheavals in this city, The Los Angeles Riots (or Uprising for you KPFK listeners).

Whenever the riots are remembered, the discussion focuses on dichotomous forces: Black vs. Whites, Blacks vs. Koreans, Blacks vs. Police etc. What is rarely mentioned is that for some (this includes people of all ethnicities and races), the riots were the best time of their lives. I’m not trying to discount the death, violence or heavy repression that went along with this event. I think most of that has been well documented. However, I have many friends that participated in the riots and describe a festival atmosphere. They will wistfully recount tales of three day drunkenness, street parties and a sense of liberation. If you don’t believe me, it’s because these people were never asked their opinion or asked to share their stories. When they have, their perspective has been totally discounted. Just a different viewpoint on an event that’s been described as one of the worst times in Los Angeles history.

The film Bang. LA beyond black and white and boy.

There’s lots of talk of Crash being the ultimate race relations movie in LA.

I disagree.

There was another movie that actually intersected race with class and sexism. It even included a portrayal of the homeless population (which I’m not sure how you could have a movie in LA with no homeless people.)

It had a limited release in 1997. The protagonist wasn’t a white guy or a black guy or even a guy, but an Asian-American woman.

The name of the film is The Bang Theory. It was written and directed by Ash.

In the film an unsuccessful actress (is there any other kind) a character called “girl”, played by Darling Narita shows the audience Los Angeles.

In the film opening unnamed girl has just gotten thrown out of her apartment for not paying rent and her landlord couldn’t even just throw her out. He has to throw her out and call her racial slurs as he does it, because for some reason even now in LA you can be real open about racial slurs against Asian people.

She has one last chance an audition and in LA fashion it goes horribly (this is real LA, no one ever makes it real LA, unless their parents are someone.)

Anyway she “somehow” gets a hold of a cop’s motorcycle, uniform, and gun and takes a journey across LA from East LA, South Central, and West LA.

The best movie ever on race relations, class, and gender in LA.

A refreshingly strong Asian-American woman lead whose character has nothing to do with martial arts.

A Los Angeles treasure.

Rent it. Love it. Have a discourse party. I used to do that in college, but I was weird.

Browne Molyneux

Yowza!

This sign in Boyle Heights must need calibration. It was hot today, but it couldn’t have been that hot. I think this is the week eloteros officially become raspaderos. There ought to be a ceremony.

Token Rights. Breaking Special Order 40

The talk about amending Special Order 40 pisses me off.

This has nothing to do with gangs. This has to do with one thing, race and class, well that’s two, but you know what I’m saying.

LA has always had a major gang problem. It just sickens me the right wing has gotten their teeth into the grief of this family and are using them as tools to pass some stupid racist bs agenda.

I’m not exactly sure how people actually continually fall for the gang rape trick.

What is the gang rape trick? After America got embarrassed about killing Native Americans, lynching black people, excluding Asians, and subjugating women for just being who they are biologically, they needed another way to justify crappy unjust treatment, because why be fair when being an asshole is so entertaining.

So what they decided was to get laws passed that are under the guise of anti-gang, but in actuality they are laws that rape the civil rights of people of color, who the cops can just lie and say are gang members.

If you’re a young person of color how do you convince someone you’re not a gang member?

You can’t.

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El or La Plumpy

I initially wanted to make a long topic about east LA, with some deep in depth crap about my life and experiences in the barrio, which kept me procrastinating about a good topic. Then I remembered in Eastlos many things are done on a whim in a half assed fashion, oftentimes through the guidance of los tall boys, so I decided to write about this pic and the subject of goofy nicknames and gangster monikers.

I took this picture in Maywood yesterday near Santa Rosa de Lima church on Atlantic, and I cannot figure out if the male or female is plumpy or temper. Either way both names are funny to me, I can just think of some cholo voice saying “damn fool, plumpy is hard” (or fine if she’s a lady). Because it seems like giving yourself/receiving a nickname that is derogatory about your obesity in gangster/street culture is usually a male thing (re: chubs, grande, chunks, gordo, fats, big bad hippo), I would assume Plumpy is the guy. The graffiti was written in a very playful non structured manner (which is usually by girls), and the name plumpy can be an affectionate title for a thick woman like when I call my wife gorda; and temper can also mean some cholo who likes to snap. But then temper also sounds like a girl’s nickname (I know I’m being stereotypical) too, which got me confused. Maybe they’re lesbians, or maybe people need less ridiculous and androgenous nicknames in Maywood. I assumed because the graffiti was written with a streak marker (ahhh the 1990s, remember Operation X?) that the culprits have some history in street activity, as that weapon is the vandals’ tool of choice; but then this is also on a corner between a church and a catholic grade school in a pretty nice street, so maybe it was some kids without the proper grounding in name creation. What do you think?

And while we’re at it, has anyone else noticed how cholo nicknames have gotten much less creative the past few gangster generations? I totally get the focus on clean cut simplicity in cholo culture, which is a culture that runs 3 generations deep in my family and I have known intimately since childhood, but the reduction in creativity with names I cannot understand. Back in the day cholos copied cartoon characters , mobsters and other media names in an ironic twist of labeling or they took on names like chino or triste that had some significance to their personality or physique; but nowadays you see more and more boring names like cholo, miner, lil gee, gangster, loco, g, criminal, thug, or even just their straight out real name. That’s lame,and even taggers are doing it now too to show how it has become an epidemic. I attribute it to our culture getting lazier and lazier, kids dont even go down to the LA river to ride bikes and explore shit because the PS3 is a waddle across the couch, that is sad. I used to appreciate the intelligent inorporation of one’s real name in their moniker, such as ern dogg (ernesto) or frisky (francisco); but now with this prevalent laziness I need to see some proof that the name was earned or I will categorize you with that lazy ass fool named thug who still listens to DMX.

Ramon Ayala this Sunday!

The last time I visited Fiesta Broadway, I told myself I would never go back to this vile, commercial, and utterly contemptible event. It’s basically an Advertisement Circus surrounded by a few musical acts in various stages so you have to walk the gamut of corpo-sponsored suggestions. Trust me, the whole event sucks. Yes, it really does; this is supposed to be a Cinco de Mayo event but the fuckers don’t even offer alcohol, and if you happen to look Latino, don’t bother trying to go to the Broadway Bar, it’ll be closed for a “private function”. (Or bring along a gaggle of your gabacho friends, things might look a lot better then!) So yeah, under no circumstance should you go to the Fiesta Broadway this weekend.

In an utterly reproachable and wicked maneuvering by the Fiesta organizers, knowing full well that my disdain for their crap festival would cut their attendance records by nearly half (give or take a few thousand), they went and scoured my website to find a weakness. The bastards figured out that I’m a die hard fan of Ramon Ayala, a performer whose tickets cost over $100 the last time I wanted to see him. And now they’ve gone and added him to the lineup for this whole crappy venture: yes, Ramon Ayala, the King of the Accordion, will be playing for free at the crappy Fiesta Broadway this Sunday, April 27th! And to fuck shit up even more, the website doesn’t list when or at what stage he will be playing, what an outrage!

Fiesta Broadway Organizers: you suck. Ramon Ayala fans, I’ll see you there. LAEastside readers that want to meet up, I’ll be the Chicano Looking Vato with a twinge of contempt on the brow. Don’t worry, I’ll be easy to spot!

For those that want to hear some of the genius songs of the man, click here for Puño de Tierra. Or here for Tragos de Amargo Licor.

UPDATE: I heard from a little pajarito that Ayala will be play before the last performance at the Broadway and Olympic stage, sometime around 4pm. Ay nos vemos!

My Favorite East L.A. Weekend

Inspired by  the “My Favorite Weekend” column in the LAT Calendar, I give you my version of:

 MY FAVORITE E.L.A WEEKEND

BY AL DESMADRE

EASTSIDE PENDÉJO

Hiking in the Hollywood Hills with my Labs? Brunch in Malibu? A movie at the Grove? Shopping in trendy Los Feliz boutiques or Pottery Barn? Wine bars & Sushi? NO MÁMES!!!

This is my favorite East L.A. Weekend:

SABADO GIGANTE

Saturday morning I’ll usually call my Compadre Fermín to come over and give me a jump start. We’ll work on the car till noon or until we get hungry then we’ll call over the  Shopping Cart Guy with The best Elótes and Chicharrónes in the neighborhood. My compadre will usually run down to Safety Liquors for some cold brews and we’ll kick it old school with some 8-tracks of Oldies but Goodies Vols. 1-10 and some Johnny Chíngas while we wash, detail and primer his bomb. Lately, I’ve been having problems with my car’s muffler, so we might head over to EL PEDORRERO on Whittier Blvd. for an inspection.

 El Pedorrero Continue reading

Eastside filming locations

Over at Metblogs L.A., Cutter is making a short film about bicycles and he needs your help:

[P]art of the production involves shooting a bicycle chase in and around the eastern neighborhoods of Downtown Los Angeles.

. . .

We’re also shooting in Chinatown and in Boyle Heights. One of the potential locations included the beautiful Mariachi Square, but after scouting in that neighborhood I discovered that the Square is under construction and every street in a 1-block radius has been closed to through traffic.

Foiled!

So the question I put to you, faithful readers is this: What are some of the lesser known but no less interesting and distinctive East La/Boyle Heights/Downtown landmarks that might lend themselves to being photographed?

What locations do you suggest, Eastsiders? I think the Sears at Soto & Olympic is perfect, especially at night, when the sign at the top of the tower is lit and shines EARS (on one side, I think) to Boyle Heights. Leave suggestions here or over at Metblogs!