When Latinos Turn American

Li of Under the Alexandria (a blog that’s less than a month old but already has tons of interesting posts) pointed out this piece in the LA Times by Hector Becerra, which deals with some changes happening in Baldwin Park. Basically, some of the next generation of Latinos want to get rid of the mom and pop stores that still cater to the needs of Immigrants (and those not so removed from that background) to replace them with the usual bunch of meaningless corporate stores like Applebee’s and Starbucks. Check out Li’s post where she argues it doesn’t have to be one or the other. I mostly find it pathetic that when Latinos want to Americanize they tend to pick the worst aspects of American Culture to emulate, as if they could suddenly join the club by consuming the same crap items of their perceived social betters. And worse, they get to the game late: while Americans are now more interested in leaving a “smaller carbon footprint” (uggh) they’re still trying to buy a Hummer. While Americans are exploring the benefits of “Edible Estates” (uggh, retch) they try to erase all evidence of that small milpa of corn their parents once grow in the front yard, now turned into a worthless patch of wasteful lawn. If anything, Latinos should be sharing the skills of getting by with less, being resourceful and getting creative with what you do have, rather than taking on the baggage of the culture of consumption.

My favorite quote? “If I want a pair of Kenneth Coles, I have to go to Arcadia.” Haha, the dude has to pay premium for some fancy huaraches, just cuz he needs a label. Some call them Chuppies (Chicano Yuppies) or Chispics (Chicano-Hispanics) but I just call them Chumps. And to many of the Americans you want to impress, yer still just a Mexican in fancy shoes.

45 thoughts on “When Latinos Turn American

  1. Great post. That is something my mind has been trying to articulate as well. Particularly with the new emphasis on “going green”, we really need to look within ourselves and our roots and our culture for inspiration because there is a lot to learn there, rather than simply blindly emulating mainstream (white) culture.

  2. “If anything, Latinos should be sharing the skills of getting by with less, being resourceful and getting creative with what you do have, rather than taking on the baggage of the culture of consumption.”

    It’s true. I’ve always argued that immigrants live greener than mainstream Americans because they have to. Living in denser housing, producing some of your own food, limiting energy consumption–our survival skills are actually good for the environment too.

    BTW, thanks for the shoutout–I appreciate it! I really enjoy your blog and your posts on LA Eastside.

  3. Now I have a name for them! Chuppies! The ones scoffing at my old shoes, my wanting to live on the Eastside proper, my ’82 corolla, and my commuting by bike. The folks that zoom past me way too close in their leased ’08 SUV.

    Die Chuppie die!

    But seriously, Applebee’s? They want Applebee’s? Horrible over-priced food & drinks? Maybe some folks get what they deserve, or in this case what they very well are asking for!

  4. “My favorite quote? “If I want a pair of Kenneth Coles, I have to go to Arcadia.” Haha, the dude has to pay premium for some fancy huaraches, just cuz he needs a label.”

    And what huaraches should us chuppies wear? Chucks? Boots? Diga me. If us chuppies are wearing a suit to work, what exactly should we be putting on? Whether it be florsheim, kenneth cole, or anything else, the Chuppie that works in the business sector has different needs than the machinist, the farmer, or the baker.

    It’s not always about the label. It’s about the product. But of course, it’s much easier to stick up your nose, coin a catchy phrase, and paint any Chicano who has different commercial taste than you as a “chump” or as some paiso who is trying “impress” Americans. I mean, it is beyond the realm of possibility that the dude just likes the shoes.

    P.s. I guess it all depends on the eye you use when reading the story, but it seemed to me that these cats out in BP arent’ trying to get rid of the mom and pop stores that cater to immigrants, but rather don’t want ADDITIONAL stores in that vein. Sounded more like a movement for diversity of commerce rather than the supplanting the existing businesses of that vein. But what do I know? I’m just a pinche chuppie that likes expensive shoes.

    p.p.s. I will agree tha applebee’s is garbage. But unlike the lady in the article, Trader Joe’s rocks my name brand socks off. (Who am I kidding, I dig the shoes, but the best socks come from Penny’s).

  5. chuppie,
    What is puzzling is the notion that every neighborhood has to cater to every need, when those needs are easily fulfilled elsewhere. If you need certain things then by all means go and get them or move to an area where your lifestyle choice is easily accommodated. If I suddenly wanted to buy a surfboard I know where to get one, don’t need to have it come to me. There are tons of neighborhoods where all these needs can be met, why not join them instead of trying to force change on working communities?

    And if you read the article carefully, BP does want to get rid of the mom and pop stores via eminent domain, replacing them without cookie cutter commercial crap.

    “Your future dream is a shopping scheme.”

  6. Applybee’s, seriously I’m white and I would never eat there, give me a taco truck any day of the week or I’d starve to death.

  7. yaaaa Chumps thats right lol…yeah the article got me bothered when I read it, it def go annoying when they mentioned Apple Bee and Chili’s like 3 times who the hell likes those fake ass places anyway!

  8. One of the dudes took a shot at my hometown in that article, which is interesting because there are a lot of shops in that area catering to immigrants (especially the Asian immigrants). All the corporate stuff — e.g, the Chili’s amd Starbucks — are in City of Industry.

  9. The BP folks are using other Raza’s self-hatred to make themselves a few bucks. Yeah they can drive a bit to get their badly needed pair of Kenneth Coles but if they can get those shops in BP the city will get the added taxes generated by the chain stores. You think they will spend that extra cash on the residents or on themselves? Can you imagine all the kickback the politicians will get from the stores, developers and anyone else that is going to profit? Greedy jerks!

  10. “What is puzzling is the notion that every neighborhood has to cater to every need, when those needs are easily fulfilled elsewhere.”

    Not “every” neighborhood” and not “every” need. But a diversity of commercialism is not a bad aspiration. Sure, Applebee’s and Chili’s might be terrible chain stores, but the reality is today’s Applebee’s is tomorrow’s cheesecake factory. In other words, you bring in a national chain like applebee’s that maybe isn’t the best restaurant in the world, but with it’s corporate funding and considerable marketing, it can bust wide open and be successful in a market that previously was considered “too mexican” for it to succeed in. Once it does so, it opens the door for better quality, but less funded restaurants, because it dispels the myth that only a taco shop or mariscos restaurant is the only type of restaurant that can be successful in a barrio.

    And calaveras has a point. All ethnic communities have a component of upward mobility. As generations after the original 1st gen’s get more educated, get higher paying jobs, they have a) more spending power and b) different needs. You can place a value judgment on those needs, as the original blogger has chosen to do, but it doesn’t change the fact that those differing needs exist. So what is the choice for those subsequent generations? Yes, they are still “brown” in the sense that there exists a tie to their roots, but the reality is they have different commercial tastes. People live either (a) where they can afford; and/or (b) in community that provides the amenities that they desire. Those amenities include commercial taste (dining, entertainment, retail). So, presently, in neighborhoods like BP subsequent generations, as a general rule, move out and only come back to visit the family. Taking their spending power, their intellect, their skillsets, and their civic duties elsewhere, where those commercial tastes are better serviced.

    Why not create a niche commercial setting that appeals to not only the mom and pops, but ALSO these subsequent generations? Why not keep their tax dollars in the community so as to provide services for the entire community? Why not entice them to stay so that they, with their education, white collar job, increased spending power will serve as an alternative to what kids see is the norm in their community? Why not have a community that, while predominately blue collar and working class also has an artisan class that includes doctors, lawyers, business folk, stock brokers, teachers, artists, etc?

    Ignore the more conspiracy-ish statements of calaveras about kickbacks and ask yourself: Is more tax revenue to a city government, which, at its very essence is a service provider to the residents of a city, a bad thing?

    This is chess, not checkers.

  11. Kickbacks and payoffs in politics are a reality not a mere conspiracy theory. Why do you think we are sending our kids to die in Iraq? The BP issue is not on the same scale but unfortunately politicians often are more concerned about their needs that the needs of others.

    Bringing in chain retailers will not create the utopia described. It would be nice if it did but fairy tales don’t always come true. According to the LA Times article sited, “To make it happen, the city is considering a plan that could require the use of eminent domain power to clear a 125-acre area.” Maybe I am wrong but that does not sound like a good start.

    Also how do you figure doctors and lawyers are artisans?

  12. While kickbacks and payoffs may be a reality, it doesn’t mean they come into play each and every time. And to invoke such things as a way to bash anything government does is a logical fallacy. In other words, even if your statement is correct, “so what?” What do we do, give up and lambast any government decision? That’s a defeatist attitude. Good doesn’t have to be the enemy of Best.

    Who said anything about utopia? Or fairy tales? I’m merely talking about an attempt at community improvement through the one thing that never fails to take hold: Capitalism. It won’t be perfect but if you offer a community with blue collar roots (and thus blue collar-like housing prices) but also offer amenities, the people I described will come. And they will spend their money. It’s been proven in neighborhoods all over L.A. and the nation. Look at Washington DC.

    And how does it not sound like a good start? It always boggles my mind when people poo-poo a plan but don’t offer up a reasonable or realistic alternative. So instead of an aggressive, idealistic, and/or optimistic plan, what should BP do? Sit on its hands? Embrace the “amigo store” in all its splendor and completely ignore market forces, trends, the truisms of capitalism and assimilation in America, shifting demographics and populations shifts, a downsizing economy, an failed state budgetary plan, because we “disagree” with them? Because it’s against the Chicano constitution to cater to the imperialistic american white capitalistic tendencies? Give me a break. Save the Chicano studies lecture for a Cal State L.A. This is real life, with real problems, and requires real solutions. I don’t see you offering any.

    1) 125 acres is 3% of the entire area of Baldwin Park.
    2) Baldwin Park is a built out community, meaning that any type of infrastructure, architecture, or economic redevelopment will require the use of buying property and bulldozing what is there. Baldwin Park is a working class, poor latino community. If you extrapolate, that means the City is working with working class funding from its tax rolls. Extrapolate further, meaning it can’t afford to get into a bidding war with people to make such changes. Meaning Eminent Domain is its only recourse.

    Artisan: a person skilled in an applied art; a craftsperson.

    Ask any Doctor or Lawyer whether they think they are a craftsperson, a person skilled in an applied art. And to split hairs even further, the phrase I used was “artisan class,” meaning something different than your average labor oriented worker. Not better, not worse, just different.

  13. The original post makes reference to ‘meaningless corporate stores’. What does that even mean? Is that to imply that there ‘meaningful corporate stores’? What gives?

    And how exactly do you ‘Americanize’? If you’re born and raised here that makes you an American. You don’t have to ‘buy into the mainstream’ because YOU ARE the mainstream.

    You don’t have to join a club you’re ALREADY a member of. You don’t have to impress or apologize to anyone. “And to many of the Americans you want to impress, yer still just a Mexican in fancy shoes.”?
    Get over your inferiority complex.

    As such you’re free to patronize Starbucks or Chili’s. Or SPEND YOUR MONEY ELSEWHERE. If people buy a store’s product it will succeed. If not, it will close down and SOMETHING ELSE WILL TAKE ITS PLACE.

    And kudos to Chuppie for being so sensible.

  14. “If not, it will close down and SOMETHING ELSE WILL TAKE ITS PLACE.”

    Then why does Baldwin Park want to forcefully remake the city with new corporate stores? Seems they don’t want to follow the “logic” of Capitalism either as they’re not liking the results. If you don’t like the “amigo” stores, then by all means spend your money elsewhere.

    Here’s a link of the map of the area that will be impacted:

  15. Capitalism is like a river. Sometimes you need to dam it up or alter its course to ensure its highest and best use.

    For example, take Broadway in downtown Santa Ana. Capitalism is in effect there. There are basically three kinds of businesses there en masse: Cambios and check cashing, quincerena/wedding dress shops, and travel agencies.

    Capitalism at work right? I mean, you have 15 dress shops in a three block run of Broadway, they have to be making money to stay open right?

    But, the word that is more appropriate is not capitalism. The more accurate word is: underutilized.

    City government basically has one sole function: to provide service to its residents. Police, fire, public works, recreation, etc. etc. It costs money to provide those services. Most, if not all, of city resources come two sources of taxes–property tax and a cut of the sales tax (1%). So, while Broadway may be “working” in the sense of providing a business owner a net-sum gain, the community is, in the end losing out. Broadway is PRIME real estate. Say, instead of 15 dress shops, they only had 5. And say they used the other commercial space for something more higher end. (and please, save me the soap box speech about how crappy high end name brand label whores are the scum of the earth, we’ll address that in another lesson). So instead of 1000 dollars of tax money (from the sales tax from the dress shop), the City gets 10,000 dollars of tax money (from the kenneth cole store =P).

    Now, property tax is based on assessed value. Thus, lower property values (cheaper housing) results in lower tax revenue to the city. Now lets’ say because you have a kenneth cole store, and a cheesecake factory, more people want to live in Santa Ana. Increased demand with static supply does what? Increases property values. So when the pinche chuppie like me sees that I can not only get a bomb quincenera dress for my niece, or real authentic salvadorean or mexican food AND on occasion hit up Kenneth Cole and/or cheesecake factory, guess what happens? I buy a house in Santa Ana, at the increased price. Which results in higher property tax to the City of Santa Ana. Which then results in more tax revenue in the City’s coffers. Which, if done properly and with citizen vigilence and participation, results in improved service for ALL the residents of Santa Ana.

    It’s not about “not liking” the amigo stores. It’s about best and highest use and diversity of commercial goods. There’s a place for the amigo store–right next to the kenneth cole store.

  16. p.s. Chavo, Capitalism is not “logic,” it is a force. When dealing with a force, the key is to use it more than you get used by it.

    And as our nations history demonstrates, (although economists debate this,personally I think Keynesian economists have it right that government intervention alleviates market instability) a laissez-faire economy hurts most the people you seem to want to protect.

  17. My whole qualm against these corporate chains moving in is that they make every place look the same. There’s a reason why people travel hundreds, thousands miles away to places like Madrid, Paris, or Guanajuato: because they’re unique. Instead of selling off our neighborhoods to the highest bidder why not put human value on something that the market may hold no value for just because they aren’t new or high-selling.

    That’s my two cents.

  18. Julio,

    Corporate chains serve a purpose. As I indicated above, they have the economic might to make a splash in a neighborhood where most business people would argue couldn’t support “mainstream” commerce (starbucks is the best example of this, once a starbucks comes in and is successful, other commercial uses that normally wouldn’t look at a working class latino neighborhood will follow suit).

    Then that provides the living breathing example that Mexicans (or, to be more inclusive, Latinos) like to consume (gasp!) more than tacos and wear more than zarapes. Once that happens, mom and pop stores of a different use (restaurants, boutiques, etc.) will test the waters because an established chain demonstrated that the demographic can support the more expensive commercial good.

    You’re right, if done improperly, it can turn into a pseudo disneyland that looks like everywhere else. The only way to insure against that, however, is not to get in the way of “progress” but rather put in community input on what is important additions to the development in ADDITION to the necessary corporate profit mongers.

  19. addendum:

    not only what is important to bring IN, but also what is important to keep.

  20. i do have a problem with labeling white people as “american.” i’m native and hispanic descent. i have no relatives in mexico because my mother’s grandparents came from new mexico and we have traced our geneology back to that state all t he way to the 1600s. i have lived a mostly “mainstream” life. no one born after the 1950’s speaks spanish in my family, we never grew corn in our front yard. my grandfathers were hard working, a LA city trash truck driver and a self-employed tar roofer respectively. we have our spanish last name and various shades of brown skin, why is it that because we buy name brand items or read something else beside “bless me ultima” we’ve suddenly lost our roots. what if there are no roots that connect us to countries south of the boarder? i’m not a fan of corporate chains, i’m glad there is no starbucks within the communities of northeast l.a. (except eagle rock). i think insulting someone because of how you percieve them based on their clothing style or lack of spanish language skills is just as blind sided and ignorant as the person who does not take someone with an accent seriously.

    i never know what to say when people ask “what are you?” i can barely come up with answer for myself. i spent the majority of my elementary school years getting yelled at by my schoolmates parents for having a spanish last name but no linguisitc skills. i can’t call myself mexican because i have no family there and i can’t call myself “american” because then it looks like i’m trying to be “something” i’m not. there is no middle ground to stand on when you have a spanish last name but no cultural connections to it.

    Also, on the retail store issue….there should be better quality clothing available within our communities. because as someone embarking on interviews to apply for grad schools, the cheap polyesters and low quality “work suits” avaiable at the mom and pop shops lining huntington drive or figueroa won’t cut it. sometimes you need the banana republic outfit to be taken seriously. all the more if you are the only brown person at orientation.

  21. chuppie,
    What is puzzling is the notion that every neighborhood has to cater to every need, when those needs are easily fulfilled elsewhere. If you need certain things then by all means go and get them or move to an area where your lifestyle choice is easily accommodated. If I suddenly wanted to buy a surfboard I know where to get one, don’t need to have it come to me. There are tons of neighborhoods where all these needs can be met, why not join them instead of trying to force change on working communities?

    And if you read the article carefully, BP does want to get rid of the mom and pop stores via eminent domain, replacing them without cookie cutter commercial crap.

    “Your future dream is a shopping scheme.”

    As a resident of the City Of Baldwin Park, it puzzles me to read stuff like this. Why should we have to move? I am a home owner, not a renter……I would much rather spend my tax dollars in my own community, than have to go outside my city.

    Make sense?

  22. Finally somebody brings up the issue of tax revenue as a consumer (2:06pm) I think this is what Bejarano Jr, the young councilmember in question, is alluding to. At 4.35 a gallon for gas (and rising)… these un needed non-work trip/commutes to buy something twenty miles away…como que no va. Save the money and walk to the shop if you need to get something. Kinda tiring to drive to another neighborhood to watch a…mexican film (e.g. Pasadena Playhouse). A diversity in people, as well as land-uses is good, and healthy. Without getting into planning theory, compact cities are good, sprawl is bad.

    Although I somewhat agree with you Chuppie, I have to disagree on your Broadway Comparison. Broadway has some of the highest rent spaces per sq. footage in the City….in fact, it could be said it is a success. The “market” has dictated this point. In fact, Kenneth Cole WOULD NOT MOVE INTO THIS STREET AT THAT LEASE RATE, way too expensive, would they sell enough shoes to pay for the rent? probably not. would property owners drop their lease rates to lure them, no.You think Huntington Park is not moving major units on every sale on Pacific Blvd, or La Pacific? Shiett. With the high densities of 5-7 people per household in Southeast LA (HP,Cudahy, South Gate,) the purchasing power per household for something cheap balances out to one pair of the these mentioned Kenneth Shoes. There is a value here.

    I would think Latinos being conservative with their usage/consumption is tied to economics, not necessarily preferences. Once you get mo money, you stop riding the bus or carpool, its natural. Places change, people do as well.

  23. Great topic! The chuppie speaks much (unpopular)truth.
    There are a couple of things that Economics101 doesn’t always tell you though, that may be relevant to all this.
    Capitalism may be an awesome force, but it has it’s ugly side as well. One of the cogs lurking in the wheels of capitalism is simple Greed.(surely even chuppie won’t deny this)
    and this manifests itself in relation to this “diversity of commercialism” theory thusly; Most businesses in a given commercial zone do not own the properties or real estate they are housed in. Most rent or lease. In a typical blue-collar hood with blue collar oriented businesses, these overheads are usually in proportion to the “market” and local income levels.
    But, once higher end commercial entities come in to that zone, the local building owners’ Greed kicks in and rents go up for everyone where they now know they can get top $ for their properties in this new hot up-coming market. This will usually mean Adios for those blue collar stores who can’t afford the increased rents anymore(unless they’re bankrolled by some interests in Sinaloa, if you know what I mean 😉 –
    and someone else takes their place with higher prices (to make up for the higher rents) and suddenly Jose & Juana who live around the corner can’t afford to shop or live in their own neighborhood anymore. (reality: Many blue collar folk will never assume they’ll ever need to dress for an exec business meeting or need $250 shoes for an interview on Bunker Hill, so they will not automatically adapt to shopping at Kenneth Cole & drinking $8 coffees).
    chuppie states: “The only way to insure against that, however, is not to get in the way of “progress” but rather put in community input on what is important additions to the development in ADDITION to the necessary corporate profit mongers.” As we have seen in this thread, there is no Universal Latino mentality, so opinions on what is good or bad for our culture, let alone a shopping district, will vary greatly.And again, the harsh reality is that most blue collar folks will not go to city/developer meetings, be it for language reasons,hard working schedules, distrust, whatever. (I grant you,some local will be involved, and some of you can argue this point, I don’t care, because I know the nature of some of my people from direct experience) but the bottom line is that inevitably people will be marginalized and probably have to move somewhere else they can afford (I hear Vernon is the next Silver Lake). This all may be part of some great economic capitalist evolution, and maybe progress isn’t for everyone, who can tell?
    I will not make a moral judgement on this. I leave that to y’all. I just wanted to put out some first-hand experience to the subject.

  24. Baldwin Parque has a horrible history of razing areas to pander to corporate needs. I remember the old neighborhood where Target now is, and the house party that got shot up that introduced me to ESBolen or Norma’s bar selling beer to my 14 year old chavlo arse. Right now they are basically squeezing the life out of small pockets of low income housing on either sid eof the 10 freeway to make way for a applebee’s or some shit. Chuppie has apoint of course, but the tactic the city uses is immoral and wreaks of old boys “screw them beaners” behavior, which is unnacceptable nowadays. Trying to build some new building spaces along the DTBP area is one thing, tryin gto raze the whole area to appease a small portion of the community at the expense of a larger one is fucked up. And the paisano businesses have actually imporved that corridor by leaps and bounds, I remember the early 90s when it was a desolate place that was much more ghetto.

    Trying to create corporate investment via tabula rasa in a built out city is a tad elitist, possibly racist, and is totally gawdy new money lack of class steez. When I lived in East Los I died for a place with good beer on tap, and still wish that I could walk to a place like that in the city I live in now, Alhambra. The burden should not be placed on the residents for this problem, its the disinvestment and sheer refusal to locate in Latino areas by corporate America, despite the spending power evident in these communities. I do consulting for a commercial real estate firm and most corporate people still aint having anything to do with raza, which is sad because we do love to waste our money of crap.

    Speaking of, I went to watch the Lakers game at BJ’s in the Montebello Town Center (que booshie!) and that place was the most disgusting concentration of dipshittery I have seen in a while. If I had a place to drop a bomb that would be it, a bunch of classless overcompensatory losers trying to be tough and balling all at some half assed americana trough.

    There needs to be a new trend among Latinos to acquire status and prestige by helping out and investing in their own community rather than spending money on crap and trying to act like a jerk. Here’s my start http://www.elacamp.org

    Putting in work for your barrio should REALLY be about putting in work, not ruining it and the conceptions about our ethnicity.

  25. Interesting. Man, I grew up in this town and let me start off by saying I fucking hated it. Not gonna lie. In fact, I distinctly remember that being a common sentiment amongst most of my friends, from M-Heath to BP. I hated a lot of stuff about it, for one, the lack of diversity. I didn’t have a single Black, Jewish, White, Indian, etc, etc friend till college. Pretty sad. Numero dos, all these “mom & pop” stores everyone is dying to save . . . . A chingado!?! While there definitely are some locally owned business sparsely dotting the Ramona area, Believe me, Taconazo, and Dr. Carillo’s office aside, this was a ghost town. Except of course for the mom’s pulling their strollers to get from the Burger King down Baldwin Park blv. or across to Main. My point is that BP bent over for corporate America a LONG ASS TIME AGO. In fact, most of the shopping we(and just about everyone else I knew) ever did IN Baldwin Park, was either at the Target, Wal-mart, one of the many fast food joints, etc. For everything else we had to drive a good 20-30 minutes and give some other town our tax dollars. Am I for this project? Not entirely. Do I think that Ramona needs to re-invent itself? Oh yes. I will say this, there is nothing remotely cultural or historical about what is currently there. But if I was gonna drink the kool-aid, I would definitely come up with a much better reason for why this project was bad for the community, not some fairy tale notion of some busy mom & pop lined main road being torn down by the man.

    I think the market has spoken, Baldwin park can’t seem to get enough big box, chain, and just plain bad retail. But if that’s what the people want, so be it.

  26. Juicy!
    Great presentation of points all around. I am a knee jerk reactionary on these kinds of topics, so thanks for the insights on this, very illuminating.

    I have questions which will reveal my bias or ignorance, depending where you stand.

    -Can’t the corporate stores simply move into existing buildings and spend the money to make the building work for them, instead of bulldozing and building from the ground up? This way you keep the local flavor. In NYC you see a lot of this, and aren’t we all trying to be that?

    -Is it true that many local city governments give money in various forms to corporate stores to have them move in? Isn’t that the worst capitalism? I don’t know the Keyseian (sp?) economics that Chuppie brought up, but helping out a big rich firm to keep being a big rich firm just sounds… communist? Wouldn’t it be better to work with the small existing businesses and give them ‘incentives’ to carry more ‘upscale’ brands? Why do we need a Kenneth Cole store? Can’t the local shoe shop carry the Kenneth Coles, with a lot less help from govt. than the building of an entire Kenneth Cole store would need? Help the quince~era shop carry some Manolos I’m sure some little girl will get a padrino to buy her a pair for her day.

    We need to keep this discussion alive gente. It is all good. We are now in positions to affect this, lets not settle for the old paradigms and follow along, even if they worked. We need new paradigms for a better livable future.

    Diane: I think you are total Chicana. Caught between two worlds, in your own world, and it is a beautiful place to be.

  27. Since i touched a nerve by clowning the hummer set of chicanos, I must highlight the opposite end of that successful spectrum (to even out the neg with the positive). I work in the field of envronmental sustainability and barrio planning, and I have met TONS of successful latte drinking, kenneth cole shoes wearing chuppies who are great people and have not forgotten their roots one bit. As a young Latino emabrking on a proffessional career, these folks are quite an inspiration, they may want to delve into the high end stuff but still root themselves in the betterment of their community and culture. Kudos to them.

    Like I said before, the new big “thing” should be being a nice person and making positive contributions to our raza and community (and all colors living there at that) rather than wasting money on crap. That is indeed a truism and has nothing to do with “holier than thou attitudes”. It just seems much more productive, and a lot less of a drain on our community from a pragmatic standpoint.


  28. P-3000, As it is now, large corporate stores don’t have the infrastructure required for them to open up shop on those specific blocks.

    And what are roots? Do you know my roots? Will shopping in the same stores in Baldwin park keep me attached to those roots? Maybe I should shop in the same Mercado in Guadalajara, I use to shop at with my mom before we moved here? As I remember it, and my parents oft remind me, the things we bought and the places we shopped at had more to do with the fact that we were poor than culture or anything else. My family has long since left the old hood, for many reasons, all of which are extensions of their reason for coming here in the first place, the dream. The values that they did instill in me, hard work and strong family relations, are alive and well. That’s where I come from, hard work and family. I guess those are my roots. Everything else is meaningless.

  29. humm, I am not even talking to you, lighten up fool. Your overzealous need to attack others not even talking about you is getting annoying, I was talking about wannabe cholo types who act like jerks to their fellow brethren. Unless you are one of those assholes I’d advise you to stop being so pinche sensitive. Learn to to stop taking yourself so dang seriously holmes.

    There is difference between the gawdy wannabe guido hummer set of chicanos and chuppies, your overpersonalization of everything is telling of some serious emotional issues, get over yourself. not everything is an attack on you, and the fact that you are confusing comments kind of makes me think you are one person commenting under the guise of more than one name. Knowing your roots and staying grounded in them means lots of things pinche guey, it’s about having respect for where you come from and behaving in accordance, that has nothing to do with chuppies, the razing of BP’s downtown or you ASSuming I am making an attack on you when I am not. Like I said, lighten the fuck up because now you are annoying me with your whining “I must prove some point” crap.

  30. BTW, if everything else was so meaningless than you’d be able to stop fucken attacking a joking comment. How about taking some of your own advice, behave with respect for your own history and some chiding wont bug you so much.

  31. >hummm wrote:

    P-3000, As it is now, large corporate stores don’t have the infrastructure required for them to open up shop on those specific blocks.

    what does that mean? that city govt. will give them money or tax breaks to raze a building to make it acceptable to their needs? does city govt. do that for the small business owner? if the big corporate store is so rich, why do they need our tax money to make money off of us?
    Corps know that la Raza spends money, they put commercials all over Spanish media and its been proven again and again that we buy their crap. They just play dumb and let city govt. foolios beg them and pay them to move into barrios over greed, and perceived social mobility.
    Many here talk about ‘the dream’ and ‘moving on up,’ but you turn a blind eye to the injustice of serving the needs of the rich over the needs of the small business working hard to live ‘the dream’ and ‘move on up’ without the help of our tax dollars. This makes ‘the dream’ false and unjust and ‘moving on up’ a farce.

  32. Look, from the beginning, my posts have been about an alternate viewpoint. I was slightly incensed by Chavo’s and Li’s apparent disdain and value judgment about the project, based on a couple of quotes and a story in the Times, and so I felt it necessary to bring up a few of the points that obviously haven’t been considered. There are more such points, but at this point piling on seems unnecessary.

    The details of this project, outside of what I’ve discussed in my posts based on my following of the issue (it’s been going on for like 2 and a half years), are still largely unknown. Any redevelopment project where a developer is fronting all the costs can be a very good thing. It’s better than doing nothing at all, and it’s better than a development where the City has to front money. But, I’m very much aware that this project could be a mess in both the long and short term. But, I’m also aware that a project of this magnitude, and in this sort of barrio, can be a GREAT thing for the residents there, in a multitude of ways. I mean, even if it’s just a first step at changing the suburban landscape of stripmalls and large parking lots (which, in the BP project is what more than half of the area we’re talking about consists of) and creates a pedestrian focused urban village (as is the stated intent) the City will have made progress. But, I think it truly could be so much more. Baldwin Park seems to have a truly diverse Latino community. From the Times article and from what else I’ve seen there is a healthy dose of recent immigrants, and first through fourth generation latino-americans. Imagine if this project could find a way to balance the competing needs we’ve been discussing on this blog? To serve the needs of a blue collar, working class segment, and also attract Latte-Latinos (Chuppies, or whatever you’d like to call them) and their higher spending power and corporate jobs. Why can’t that be a reality? There are other places in America that serve a broad spectrum of socio-economic realities. Why can’t a traditionally Latino neighborhood do the same thing?

    Sure it’s a tall order, but my point is that the ceiling is high for a project like this especially in a neighborhood like Baldwin Park. With the proper oversight and civic leadership this could be a model of maintaining a neighborhood’s more charming characteristics while addressing the shortcomings of its traditional commercial model.

  33. Those are good points chuppie, I agree with most of them and would hope (if the redev> goes thru) that thery come to frution in the manner you noted. I guess we have to disagree with our faith in corporate America.

  34. Art,

    Oh, I’m not naive. If Corp. America is left to its own devices, it will rape and pillage. It will take a level of vigilence by the residents and leadership of Baldwin Park. It’s like anything else in America, so long as a system of checks and balances are in place, even the worst corporate citizen can provide good to a community.

    Positive community development and improvement requires both cooperating, competing, and compromising notions.

  35. I have a little anecdote about a neighboring suburb. Back when I used to go to parties and stuff in trendy areas, around ten years ago, I’d sometimes wear my cheap Hawaiian shirt I got from Costco. They’d ask me where I lived, and I said “Rosemead” (because nobody knows SSG; hardly anyone knows Rosemead either, but, what else could I say?) They’d ask if I was on Rosemead Blvd. I’d have to clarify that I’m down at the southern end, in SSG. Typically only some a local Asian or Chicano person would know where that was. (It’s by the Montebello Town Center.)

    It took me a long time to figure out that they thought I was one of these post-punk tiki-bar mid-century hipsters, and they were assuming I was living in one of the Polynesian-style apartments along Rosemead Blvd, in Temple City, and drinking at Bahooka. Maybe you have to be working in Hollywood to be aware of this stuff — it went over my head in a big way. But, after reviewing some zines and stuff, I figured out that there were folks making this scene in Arcadia and other SGV locations, including Rosemead.

    I think it’s all fine and cool, by the way. They’re just celebrating the “American Middle Class Lifestyle” that’s rapidly vanishing from our suburban landscape. Go pine for your childhood, or the one you wished you had.

    It made me kind of happy to know this, a tiki scene was happening up on Rosemead. It’s a local expression of art — suburban kids somewhat like me reveling in how goofy and innocent their parents’ suburban dreams were… and presumably understanding the subtext of empire and racism contained in those psuedo-Polynesian tikis and postwar festival architecture.

    What’s a shame, however, is that Temple City and Rosemead didn’t capitalize on this underground scene. City insiders could have tried to help developers and retailers put together a little trendy “silverlake” thing along the strip there, or maybe down on Valley, where there’s a lot of small retail space.

    All they needed was the usual junk aging post-punk hipsters need — new and used clothes, old funky furniture (there’s a lot of authentic midcentury stuff in the houses here), a record store, tattoo shop, maybe an art supply section at K-Mart.

    Yes, it could have gone haywire and all these annoying people could have moved in, but, it probably wouldn’t have gone this way. If anything, the creative energy in the area would have found a place to express itself, and would change and mutuate over time, contributing to the culture of the region.

    Anyway, this tikification never happened, so the point is moot.

    Folks remained upset at the large number of Asian mom-and-pop stores in area. (Kind of like how people don’t like the “amigo stores” in BP.) Some of these people went on to support the building of a Wal-Mart, some arguing that they wanted a non-Asian grocery shopping opportunity.

    The tiki thing went mainstream, and it’s more annoying than cool now.

    Sometimes, people don’t appreciate what they’ve got, because they’re so busy wanting what they think everyone else has.

  36. “Sometimes, people don’t appreciate what they’ve got, because they’re so busy wanting what they think everyone else has.”

    Damn, alienation, you come up with the best lines! So true!

  37. Interesting take from all of you on this subject…which is not necessarily a B.P. subject. It’s nice to know Latinos have a sense of intellect and they can express it, from all levels.

    I stand firmly behind my beliefs and will continue to be an active participant in my community. This is not only about me but the future of my city. Arguments have surfaced about nobody wanting to live in B.P…..when gas is well over 5 dollars a gallon and the Metrolink to Downtown L.A. is just a hop, skip and a jump away, people will move in. I look forward to change and diversity in my city. Trader Joes? No can do? A woman can’t eat tortillas, pan dulce, arroz and frijoles everyday. If I did eat that way, I’d be huge. I welcome Fresh and Easy as it begins to pave it’s way to B.P.. I will be glad, when I will no longer have to drive to West Covina to my buy groceries.

    Practicality, imagination and a good disposition can go a long way.

  38. You know, why do I have to feel guilty about buying good sh*t at a good store? Do I have to shop at Fallas Paredes to be a true Latino?

    Most of these “mom & pop” stores sell weak ass merchandise, let’s be realistic.

    I stopped going to my local bakery because they never have a steady supply of Bolillos; I now get all my Latino stuff at El Super, which is DOPE and the people are always friendly, unlike the small bakery’s chola daughters who give me attidude when I ask them “how long until the next batch of bolillos?”

    Being “American” is not a bad thing, free your minds fools.

  39. @luis – A lot of the little shops are weak, but some are really good. You can say the same about El Super or other big corporate shop – they have their moments. I just went to El Super and it sucked. It sucked so bad we had to go to Superior, which also sucked. It was a bad shopping day.

    So what ever happened with Baldwin Park? Did they get their fancy stores? Are they doing well? I hope so, because it’s not good when people are driving way the hell out of the area to buy some expensive shoes.

    Ideally, it’d be a mom and pop shop selling the expensive shoes, but I know you can’t necessarily have everything you want.

  40. “Being “American” is not a bad thing, free your minds fools.”

    For real! What’s with the nostalgic fetish of mini-markets and carnicerias?

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