Saint Patrick’s Day

San Patricio Battalion Flag
[repost from, written last year]

It can be argued that St Patrick’s Day is like a national holiday in my neighborhood, despite the fact there is no sizable Irish community in this area. Here in Lincoln Heights, it’s common to see people wearing shamrock paraphernalia all year round. As was recently pointed out to me, stores in Lincoln Heights will stock green colored clothing more frequently as it tends to sell more quickly than other colors. Shamrocks magically grace the walls after long weekend nights, spreading the luck of the Irish throughout our little hood. Continue reading

The Magic is in the Meat


Torta review by Victoria Kraus

If you haven’t already discovered East L.A.’s best kept torta secret, you can stop shelling out your precious American dollars for crap and start getting more for your money, at least Monday through Saturday between 11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Taco Real is nestled in the business complex on Mednik and 3rd in East L.A., across the street from the East Los Angeles Civic Center.  A few doors down from the franchises Coffee Bean and Quizno’s, this small-sized kitchen and four-stool counter seating is a secret waiting to explode on the LA Weekly and Times foodie scene.  I’ve been a loyal biweekly, sometimes weekly, customer for over a year now.  I stumbled upon Taco Real in January 2008 unwillingly on my way to work.  I thought it was another one of those Mexican food places that are too many in East LA.  I was debating whether to eat a familiar Quizno’s sub that would be pseudo-satisfactory or try something different.  I took a leap of faith and went into Taco Real, indulging myself with the best freakin’ torta on the planet.  I took a bite of my first Taco Real order – a carne asada torta – in front of Victor, the restaurant’s owner and fellow Roosevelt H.S. alum.  I could not believe a simple six dollar Mexican sandwich would satisfy me beyond description.  It was better than any overpriced $10+ gourmet sandwich or panini at a chic Los Feliz/Silverlake café.  I told Victor that I’ve had many a torta but this torta was magic.  “It’s the meat, man,” I told him.  “I can taste the quality.”  He said I nailed it on the head.

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Carwash Compadres

Assumption youth group, Boyle Heights (1970s)

My parents met in the early 70s when they were both active members of the Assumption Church youth group and choir. They never left the tight-knit group as some of the members were their own siblings and became lifelong friends and compadres.

When they got married in 1977, several of the kids from the group got all dolled up and joined the large wedding party. Thirteen couples! I think my mom was still sore about not having a quinceañera.

Late the next year, my parents welcomed their first son, Danny. Of course, he had to be baptized. Danny’s padrinos were los Padilla, a couple my parents had met and befriended in the youth group. He was baptized at Assumption, as were the rest of us kids even though our home parish was in Hacienda Heights. They were now more than friends, they were compadres.

Growing up, I saw the youth group members — whom my parents called los Marcianos — frequently for birthday parties and camping trips. Somewhere along the way, the visits became less frequent. The last time I saw many of the Marcianos (save for my tío Johnny, seated in red) was for my Madrina Bertha’s funeral five years ago. Los Marcianos and their now grown children gathered at a church in Lincoln Heights for the Mass. They recreated the choir of their teens and early 20s, but this time the songs were much sadder. It was quite the bittersweet reunion.

Pedestrian safety in Boyle Heights

img_34281With pedestrian traffic accidents increasing in Boyle Heights, the Union de Vecinos wants to make sure that the streets are safe for everyone. Community members staged a protest on Cesar Chavez Ave. and Forest holding up signs and chanting in rhythm for safer streets for pedestrians in Boyle Heights around 6 p.m. today. Elizabeth Blaney is one of those community members who want the cities Department of transportation to place traffic signals in two high traffic areas, Wabash and Fickett and on the corner where they were protesting. Some of the residents, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that they’re tired of having to worry if they’re kids will get home safely from school because drivers don’t adhere to the residential speed limit, which is 35 mph.

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The Perfect Couple. The Perfect Job.


When I was 25 I got divorced. The reasons for the divorce included lots of factors, but one of the factors that really helped the down fall of the marriage was my ex-husband’s misfortune of being involved in the dotbomb.

One by one his friends lost their very highly paid jobs and over priced houses. When it was his turn, he did not take it very well.

The computer industry while prior to the dotbomb was well paid, it was extremely grueling. Eighteen hour work days, seven days a week wasn’t unusual. It was standard. To lose your job when you worked so hard and had taken so many tests, was a harsh slap and a realization that this new industry was not one about community, but about money. Continue reading

Whose streets?


This is one of the last apartment buildings left on the North Broadway commercial corridor. I love the front facade, it reminds me of another time and place.

Like a ghostly movie loop, there is one memory I have of this building that replays itself every time I walk by. “This is our neighborhood, these are our streets!” yells a woman to the LAPD as they attempt to push her off the stairs with threats and batons. It was during the now forgotten 1993 Lincoln Heights Riot.

The “Help El Random Hero pay for school and buy a laptop” fund


As of late I’ve been hunting down scholarships that I qualify for and have a chance of getting. Paying for school and the cost of living adds up rather quick when your in school. So I’ve been asking people for letters of recommendations left and right and so far people are willing to help me out, thanks Victoria. But I realized that scholarships can only go so far for me and I’m extremely limited in the scholarships available to me because I’m special. At the same time there are other students applying to those same limited scholarships and well they blow me outta the water in terms of academics. Sure I have a 3.0 gpa, I’m an active community member, blogger and journalist at two news papers blah, blah, blah. Point is the pipe line gets thinner and thinner especially now with La Crisis and everyone trying to get as much financial aid as they can. That’s another thing too I DON’T QUALIFY FOR FINANCIAL AID. Everything comes outta my pocket, which at the jr. college level isn’t too hard. I have a job, but I’m a full time student. I work weekends and when I’m not in school I work as much as I can to save up for the following semester. Continue reading

Best Chocolate de Leche in Los Angeles

It was so good, I forgot to take a picture of the full cup!

The best chocolate in Los Angeles can be found across the river at one of my favorite Oaxacan restaurants in the city, Antequera de Oaxaca.

On days like this, when there is a slight crispness in the air and your body craves a earthy, sweet beverage to make it happy, there’s nothing like this chocolate de leche to warm you up inside. Forget overpriced coffee from dull places like Intelligentsia, a cup of Oaxacan hot chocolate with it’s aroma of cinnamon and nuez is the perfect elixir for the rare chilly Southern California day.

mmm, little bits of chocolate

Antequera de Oaxaca
5200 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 466-1101

Mid-Wilshire neighborhood (Central Los Angeles)

Westside 10A: Mulched Hydrants


I spend a lot of time on that other side of town nowadays, way west of the river. It’s a living.

As a result of working over there, I increasingly tend to explore nearby neighborhoods, seek out places to eat, check out some sights. And I’m learning quite a bit about life there, for better or worse. I figured I’d post some of those observations every once in awhile here at LA Eastside, since our current but temporary motto is still “life beyond the river”, which means we go pa’ los dos lados. And if I take my cue from most recent transplants to Los Angeles, that means I’m also fully qualified to know-understand-explain everything about how things are. Still, I haven’t decided what to name that part of town, it’s all so “fluid” and I’m waiting to see which way opinions (and my mood) flow. I’m sure that soon I’ll get that special feeling that tells me what is what, irregardlessly of that whole yawn inducing controversy of “sense of place”, history, and all those boring debates with people that think they have a say just because they’ve lived here for most of their lives, that’s all so Feb 2009. The future is now! I mean now! Wait, Now!


Irregardlessly, I present you with this first installment and the pic above, which is sure to shock many an Eastsider: over there, they mulch their fire hydrants.  Crazy. Is there a reason for this? Irregardlessly, it doesn’t matter. Que Locuras.

It’s an interesting place, but I sure wouldn’t want to live there.

Los Lakers


I love when the brown folks get their daps, in any way possible. Because of my busy schedule and lack of proximity to the Pico Indoor/ Del Amo/ Broadway shirt vendors (my preferred bootleg stomping grounds), I have been FEANING to grab a “Los Leikers” and/or “Los Doyers” jerseys, but have been fantasizing about them since I saw them in all their eastside prestige-glory. Mofos just be gloating in them, I had this one cat cold hold down a corner for me while I painted over gang tags (on my mural) sporting a new los doyers jersey, and he got mad props. I still have to get my son the thugbob shirt he’s begged for, maybe a family trip to the callejones is in order before a stroller is needed for baby #3.

Anyways, these jerseys were being used for beaner appreciation hour or whatnot (pardon my cynicism), and it was great to see Los Lakers in action, abuelo would have been proud. If only chick and stu had been casting and gramps’ keggerator was working (not that fratboy BS, a real keg mini-fridge), I wouldve been in heaven.

I saw a part of the game they had those jerseys on at a dive bar near my crib and it was hilarious (especially in terms of the demographics of the west SGV). there all these “americans of mexican descent” older brown folks there, perplexed at what angle they should talk shit from (pride muted by happiness is hard), and a group of young proffessional upwardly mobile asians giggling. The asian crew began a debate as to whether it should be pronounce “loss” or “lose”, which made totally made everyone uncomfortable. these are the times I live to be a part of, my humor being indulged with mass uncomfortablility stemming from cross cultural polination. Ahhh nirvana….

BTW, Im a big fan of brown hyperconsumption imposing itself on white Americana, when I dont have to think about its effects on brown communities.