The Pocho Hour of Power

The Pocho Hour of Power — queque?!?! — at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood/Los Feliz… este sabado… a las ocho

I’m a regular patron of the Steve Allen Theatre. I THINK this might be the first time they’ve ever hosted a “Latino” show.

pocho hour of power

Japanophilia, or the obsession with Japan

Anyone here obsessed with Japanese culture (i.e. anime/manga, cherry trees, samurai, kendo, taiko, karate/judo/aikido, sushi, teriyaki, Kurosawa, “Beat” Takeshi Kitano) and things related to it (Little Tokyo, Comic-Con) and consider themselves or have been called a Japanophile?
I find America’s rising obsession with Japan so interestingly ironic. 20 years ago in elementary school and throughout high school, anyone who looked remotely Asian was called Chino or China.
My mother and other Japanese tenants in nearby apartment buildings in Boyle Heights were and still are called Chin@ by neighbors.
Nowadays, elementary and high school students carry “manga” (Japanese comics) books with them and are fascinated with Japanese culture. Some high school students I’ve worked with are so obsessed with Japan that they are studying the language via podcast and the internet on their own so that they can one day travel there.
An American Caucasian friend of mine who now lives in Tokyo with his Japanese girlfriend has told me that he feels most at home when he arrives to Narita Airport. Another Mexican American/Chicano friend has told me he believes he was Japanese in his past lifetime because of his deep interest in Japan and the culture.
Oh, how I wonder what it would have been like to be “cool” for bringing salmon and riceballs to school in my pink New Kids on the Block lunchbox while envying my classmates who had normal sandwiches and bags of pepinos.

An article by Oxy professor, Morgan Ptelka.

How Mexican are you?


As a substitute teacher in public charter schools throughout Los Angeles, I have the honor and pleasure of meeting young students (K-12) – America’s future! – almost everyday. All of the schools I work at are 98% Latino/Raza (except when I get called to work in Inglewood, and rarely do I take the job – too far!).

I’ve worked in East LA, Northeast LA, South Central/LA, Pacoima, Inglewood, Crewnshaw, Korea Town, MacArthur Park and Downtown. The most fun I have and maybe the students have when I’m in the classroom with them is when I introduce myself. First, they have trouble with my name. “Kraus,” I say, “Miss Kraus. It rhymes with mouse and house. If you can say house, you can say Kraus.”

Then it goes into an impromptu Q&A session. “Where are you from, miss?” or “Where are your parents from, miss?” and sometimes just bluntly, “What are you, miss?” Elementary school students don’t care as much as the high school students. I say, “Guess.”
Continue reading

East Los Punks

Animal, Fruit Punch and Sed

Sed, Fruit Punch and Animal

This is Sed, Fruit Punch and Animal. This is a Photoshopped/Illustrated version designed by friend and local artist, Benny Gonzalez. We’re planning to make stickers, patches and shirts.

I found these guys on First Street near Evergreen Cemetery. It was winter – January of 2008 – in sunny Boyle Heights . While driving east on 1st, I spotted the trio walking past Haru Florist with their $5 pizza from Little Caesar’s. I just so happened to have my digital point-and-shoot camera and turned the corner to stop this fashionably dressed bunch for a photo op. I remember the conversation vaguely but it went something along the lines of this.

Victoria: “Hey guys. Can I take a picture of you? I know it may seem weird but I saw you walking from like 50 feet away and I just had to stop because you guys are dressed so freakin’ cool.”

Fruit Punch: “Yeah. Sure.”

Sed: “Yeah, so how do you want us to pose?”

Victoria: “However. Just stand against the wall. So are you guys off-track? You go to Roosevelt?”

Fruit Punch: “Nah… (laughs)”

Animal: “Yeah, we go to another school.”

As I took their picture, I wondered what minority laws I was breaking by taking their picture. I also wondered what laws they might have broken. I wonder what laws I’m breaking now by posting their picture.

Link to original photo:

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.

Continue reading