Memories Of A Lost Boulevard: THE GARMAR THEATER

Memories of a Lost Boulevard Series, A Tribute to Whittier Boulevard

Whittier Boulevard Movie Theaters, Part 2.


2325 Whittier Blvd., Montebello, CA

As I was speaking to someone the other day about this lost Montebello movie house, A long time resident who was standing within earshot came up and sighed; “The Garmar! I loved that Show! If you couldn’t afford the Golden Gate, you couldn’t afford the Garmar! Continue reading

The Codeword is Half Full.

I thought that I was going crazy a couple of weeks or so ago, I was reading the Economist and the Financial Times and according to them this country is in a recession. And I thought that was crazy, because you would think that the press in this country would be talking about that before the people in other countries, but then I realized that the codewords have changed.

While the papers all of the world have stated that the United States is in a recession and the facts state that housing prices have dropped 15% and gas prices are like million dollars a gallon. In the US this isn’t a recession. This is simply a reevaluation of opportunities. I know that sounds like a slowdown, but it’s not exactly, because it’s better. It’s more like a “look around” for the best deal possible.

And that seven percent unemployment that everyone has plastered across their papers, those people aren’t jobless they are on “staycations”. Isn’t that fabulous? Staying home and enjoying the company of your family pets, your micro dog, which some negative people would call a roach is not only relaxing it’s eco.
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Dad I’m living in a SRO, but it’s really cool. Don’t be mad ok?

But actually calling it a SRO is a bit negative. It’s a very small studio or maybe if you were really optimistic a very small loft (since loft seems to mean now apartment with no walls.)

I sublet a portion of my studio in Boyle Heights that I was illegally living in and I’m now using that income to pay for me to live at the Rosslyn.

Is that welfare? Is that capitalism? I don’t know it’s maybe a mixture of both.

I missed that Sex in the City gene of loving to shop and waste money (hey I thought that show was supposed to be satire…) To me paying rent is a waste of money, which means you should pay the least amount of rent that you can get away with.

In college when I moved out of the dorms I lived on Sunset and Fairfax directly across the street from the Virgin Megastore for four hundred dollars a month. Yes four hundred dollars!!!

That was one of my most proud achievements as a college student. I would invite people over and go, “Guess how much I pay?”

My old friends have grown tired of this game and always say thing like “Two dollars.”

Such jerks. That destroys the whole beauty of the game.

I’m currently wearing a coat that costs me five dollars. There is this great store by the Hammer, everything is five dollars.

In LA no one admires thrifty people.

I’m the cheapest most glamorous woman in the world.

I had a friend who used to brag about how she paid one million dollars to live in Mar Vista. I always thought that was a horrible story.

My parents are working class stock. I remember when applying to college my dad was actually very proud of the fact that he had worked so much over-time that I no longer qualified for need based financial aid.
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Mural Interruptus

The shared protests of the Sandow Birk mural that will not be installed at the new Hollenbeck Station, as LA Eastside noted. Now according to Eastside Group Publications (EGP), both residents and LAPD’s Hollenbeck Division want to know why the Department of Cultural Affairs chose Birk, and why the community was excluded from the selection process of qualified artists.

“Typically the process does not involves members of the community,” said Felicia Filer, Public Arts Director for the Department of Cultural Affairs, at a community meeting held last week.

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Cheech Marin discusses his art collection

The first time I saw paintings from Cheech Marins collection was in April of last year at the Pico House. Up until that point I had never seen a collection of art that not only represented what I saw and recognized in my daily life, but it also made me appreciate and be proud of my culture and heritage.

Los Angelinos/Chicanos of L.A. : Selections from the Cheech Marin Collection features some of the best pieces in his collection and is now on display for the public at Los Angeles County Museum of County Art. To coincide with the exhibit, Marin and UCLA Professor and LACMA adjunct curator Chon Noriega participated in a discussion yesterday about his collection and the place Chicano art has now and in history.

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A Mural is Worth a Thousand Words

If you Google search “whitewashing murals of East Los Angeles”, you will see that the censorship of murals in ELA is not a new topic.  (Read “Looking Up Murals” by Ed Fuentes in this week’s LAeastside blog).  By Internet researching you will also see that our East Los Angeles politicians were key in starting the mural and signage criticism, as they anointed themselves the politicians with the best taste in art.   All of a sudden everyone that commissioned a sign for their grocery store or mural for their public wall, must get permission to do so.  Could this spontaneous whitewashing of thousands of hours of artwork, and the loss of thousands of dollars in commissions, be the way to begin this dialogue?   It’s as if none of us were expected to notice that our art was all-of-a-sudden gone.  Mom & Pop businesses would rather take the loss than get involved in a civil litigation.  They don’t have the time or resources to fight a political machine. 


In the beginning of this public art criticism, graffiti spray paint art was scrutinized the most, because (without the benefit of any official study) the politicians said that spray paint art purportedly encourages gang graffiti.  Studies point out that lack of fair living income jobs, lack of training post-high school, lack of childcare, lack of social services and lack of community support, encourages gang participation (ergo graffiti).   


The muralists that have been a part of creating cultural pride through their visionary multi-medium works and making beauty out of housing projects and businesses that had been tossed away by the rest of the city—now have to become the activists to stop the whitewashing.  There are books, films and countless articles that extol the murals of Los Angeles.  Many cities in the world took a cue from East LA murals—resurrecting their local cultural pride through the lost art of the mural.


Ok, I agree that I too have wanted to whitewash a mural or two—especially that one off the 101 freeway where the menacing policeman is pointing a finger at passer-bys saying “BUCKLE-UP”.    Yet, as an artist who knows the passion, hard work, communicative method, cultural critique that public art is—-my consciousness would not allow me to stop or destroy an art project.  Instead I see it as an opportunity to dialogue with the creator and learn what they felt or meant by it.  I find whitewashing art as sinister as a book burning.  Note, however, that not everyone is like me—some still criticize public art by marring it.  Interesting to this, is that no matter how bad of an execution an image of Jesus or the La Virgen is, no one mars it.  Think about it.  This is the language and dialogue of mural art. This is one of our cultural critical languages in East LA.


How does one go from public civil servant straight to supreme art critique?   Oh—yeah, I forgot about the days of royal supported art commissions—-and here I thought we were in a new millennium.  Holding back public funds for mural commissions—makes me feel that I need to behave better as an artist.  It also helps me understand why Van Gogh cut off his ear.


If we allow our politicians to “know what is best for the community” without our in-put, without conferring with us—then we are no longer living in a democracy.  As the people of this city, we have the power and responsibility to make sure that our public servants represent us in the way we want and that each citizen is treated respectfully.  Whitewashing commissioned art and then not being able to determine who ordered the whitewashing—is not acceptable.  Although this is a time of hardship for the muralists, I think we can best support them by making sure that their voices and visions are not censored. 


I apologize to all the ELA politicians who are embarrassed by our art when they bring their West-side friends over to the barrio for tacos—but recognize that these impromptu and planned-out artistic endeavors are who we are.

School lunches becoming tastier

Eating school lunches back in the day had a traumatizing affect on me. Whether it was undercooked pizza, bland hot dogs that probably didn’t have any real meat or crappy stale burritos for breakfast. School lunches never provided any real merit of joy or happiness for me, especially sine there were always long lines for them. I remember basically running straight from the class room to the lunch line just so I can be able to get a decent meal. The few times I ended up in the back, they either ran out of food or had measly scraps and left overs that no one wanted to eat. Then there are other times that I would lose or forget my lunch ticket, then your totally screwed unless a friend had an extra one. On days like those chips and soda were life savors. However, when the Los Angeles Unified School District banned all unhealthy snacks like chips, those huge cookies that cost $.50 and sodas school kids have been suffering. At least that’s according to what my younger sisters use to say. Fast forward a few years later and the LAUSD is finally doing something about its lunch program. In an article published in the L.A. Times today, head chef Mark Baida is finally doing something about it. They used Garfield students as testers for the new school lunches, which is a great idea. Better late than never. At least now the next generation of kids won’t have to eat stale tasteless food like I did going through school. Now if they can do something about the lunch ladies serving the food.     

Looking Up Murals

At the feet of the “The Pope of Broadway” (1984) by Eloy Torrez.

WRITING ON THE WALL: Across from the Eloy Torrez mural, “The Pope of Broadway”, artists and thinkers gathered at the Morono Kiang Gallery June 14th to hear more about the fading of L.A’s mural culture in “Against the Wall: The Ruin and Renewal of L.A.’s Murals” . . — On the panel were Judith Baca, Artistic Director of SPARC and Professor of Art at UCLA, Man One, owner of Crewest, Yreina Cervantez, muralist and Associate Professor, Department of Chicano/a Studies CSUN City of LA Department, Pat Gomez of Cultural Affairs, and USC Adjunct Professor Micheal Woo. . — The subtext of the meeting of the mural minds was to jump start awareness for plans to restore the famous image of Anthony Quinn dancing in front of the Victor Clothing Company . . –– During the panel, Baca claims if a small percentage of the million dollars spent for graffiti abatement was earmarked for SPARC, the problems of tagging would be reduced significantly through programs established 20 years ago

Between tagging and red tape, murals are under fire. The City of Los Angeles Building and Planning, along with LAPD, monitor grassroots works and in many cases will fine property owners and require walls to be buffed out . . –- Between the taggers who hit established works, and the 2002 City of LA ordinance curbing “large signs” restoration of masterpieces and new works by emerging artists has been halted .

ADS TRUMP ART: Meanwhile, the deep pockets of those who produce commercial billboards have lawyers convincing Federal courts to force the City to review “illegal” commercial sign––”super graphics” often multiple stories high–– on a case by case basis. It slows up intervention of what some call commercial visual blight and others consider it a high jacking of the large scale composition that made L.A. the mural capital of the world at one time. .–– In other words, billboard companies found ways for commercial work to be protected by the 1st Amendment, meaning graphics promoting a summer release has more protection than a neighborhood mural.

RED TAPE: Smaller grassroots murals fall under the same category of signs, and without a legal posse, there is limited outcry other than adhoc groups and artists appearing before civic committees . . –- Still, there are those in the city who agree that murals are a community resource, and who may be also willing to consider bettergraf works as a splinter movement of large-scale and social minded works . . –- Council members Ed Reyes, Jose Huizar, and Tom LaBonge have led discussions, and in some cases proposed motions that call for the unraveling of the rules . . –- Representatives from Reyes’ office stated: “We are deeply commited to this, as Council District One has the densest collection of murals in the city.” Also, Huziar was recently interviewed on the subject of mural conservation for a future article in La Opinión.

MURAL WRAP: By the letter of the law from the 2002 ordinance, the 1980s’ era “Pope on Broadway” would have been an illegal sign because the name Victor Clothing Company, who first sponsored the mural and once was housed in the building, is part of the composition.

. . –-

MOVING ON: The proposed Sandrow Birk LAPD mural for the new Hollenbeck Station will not be installed due to outcry by both LAPD and the community . . –- The tile mural was meant to portray a typical Sunday in Boyle Heights, but residents protested how the Eastside was portrayed. LAPD wasn’t thrilled by one image in the mural; a man with his hands raised above his head while standing next to a taco truck. . . –- On the other side, an earlier article in City Beat has the artist confused and befuddled, stating that LAPD and community members were in the planning stages all along the way: ” All of their input [LAPD and Community members] was used in the creation of the final design.” . . –- News of not-to-be-installed mural was reported to me by an undisclosed Hollenbeck LAPD officer of rank who said:”That’s a relief. It didn’t represent the neighborhood, or us, at all.” A neighborhood newspaper that covers the Northeast region of L.A., The Voice, broke the news in print.

. . –-

CRUISIN’ ON: Around fifty paintings from Cheech Marin’s Chicano Art Collection will be on display at LACMA through November 2, 2008. The exhibition, “Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A.: Selections from the Cheech Marin Collection” highlights the Los Angeles based Chicano artists from “Visions: American Painters on the Verge” . . –- On Sunday, June 22, at 2pm, collector Cheech Marin and UCLA professor and LACMA adjunct curator Chon Noriega will discuss the current state of Chicano art. The talk is free, but no reservations are being taken.

“Pope on Broadway”  photo /  viewfromaloft.

Memories Of A Lost Boulevard: The Golden Gate Theater

Memories of A Lost Boulevard, A Tribute To Whittier Boulevard

Whittier Boulevard Movie Theaters, Part 1.



5176 Whittier Blvd. & Atlantic Avenue

East Los Angeles, CA.

Oh, what a wonderful place it was! Growing up, I had inherited my Dad’s passion for cinema and so going to the movies was for me, a much anticipated and sublime experience. We were a movie going family and I often indulged my cinema hunger by visiting all of my neighborhood theaters as often as I could. Among those cherished trips, my visits to the Golden Gate Theater stand out as the most treasured. The sheer joy of going to that temple of flickering images began as you stepped from the sidewalk….

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The Signs of ALZA

I’ve been putting off writing this post because frankly, I’m not a big fan of ALZA’s work. But I do have to recognize that his creative output pretty much defines the look of Northeast Los Angeles, for better or worse. Some time ago it seemed like Peter Quezada was the look of NELA, but I haven’t seen anything new of his in a long time, but ALZA is prolific: I seem to unexpectedly spot one of his latest signs almost every week. There’s a reason for the seeming saturation of his aerosol art; the man is persuasive. He’s friendly but relentless when it comes to pitching his sign idea for your store, and it obviously works. Though I’d rather see signs made with a brush instead of a spray can, I’m aware that many of the new pioneer residents into this edgy part of town (gag!) would lump them both into the same category of despicable urban blight. Thus, in an effort to thwart gentrification, I’m glad to present and promote the signs of ALZA! Click ahead for the gallery.

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Whoa, West Coast bizarro world in Japon.


Hola Folkalinos. I was in Japan for about 3 weeks this past May and it was an amazing experience. I’m finally back on West Coast Timers.

The above photo was taken in Roppongi its kinda like Tijuana’s Avenida Revolución, with clubs for days. I saw the above sign on a taco VAN run by a Middle Eastern guy. I have no idea what the sign says in Japanese but the visual is crazy right? I peeped the tacos he was serving and um… they were more like pitas posing as tacos!
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Straight Outta City Terrace

photograph from Sal Si Puedes #3

This past day or so, I’ve felt a bit like a negative nelly for my somewhat smug reaction to the demise of Tu Ciudad. When someone recently asked me, “what magazines do you like?” I stammered thinking of a response. Hmmm, the first thing that popped in my head was Readymade but to be honest, that magazine can be much too hipster for my taste. I have a thing for Planet but haven’t got around to getting a subscription. And I admit, I secretly read Vice on the side, but shhh, don’t tell anyone!

Then it came to me (okay, it came to me after I read kualyque’s comment on the Tu Ciudad post), one of my favorite magazines to come out of Los Angeles has been the infrequently published, hard to find zine: Sal Si Puedes. After reading this fine publication, you will no longer feel justified in calling City Terrace by it’s rhyming name (you know which one!) Keep reading for an awesome review by El Chavo that I shamelessly borrowed from another site.

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