Botanitas: Halloween Edition 2008

Launderland Disfraces, Lincoln Heights, 2008

Botanitas is an ongoing feature bringing you stories and news from various sources, upcoming events and other bits of ephemera that might be of interest to LA Eastside readers. Suggestions welcome!

Halloween and Dia de los Muertos events after the jump!

Los Angeles Times

Some scary news coming out of the Los Angeles Times, 75 newsroom staffers were forced out earlier this week. Left behind is a newspaper barely worth reading anymore. I know everyone’s proclaiming this is the age of new media but what makes the continuation of newspapers  like the Los Angeles Times important is they provide communal access to local news. Both my neighbor and I, who I may not have much in common with, both receive our daily delivery and probably read our newspapers in much the same way, over a cup of coffee, contemplating the same headlines. I don’t imagine we visit the same websites. I believe it’s this communal news source that helps bind the citizens of a city together.

I know for certain I will miss reading Agustin Gurza’s stories. I’ve enjoyed his pieces from way back when he had a weekly column on the local California page (not sure what they called it back then, it’s changes every year). Who will write about Rock en Espanol, Chicano art shows and Eastside lives? I can’t imagine anyone on the current staff who has their ear to the Eastside ground the way Agustin did.

Halloween in Lincoln Heights

How come there’s always these creepy ghost stories involving people who died in the 1800s and not more recent deaths? For instance, I’ve always wanted to know, are there cholo ghosts?
If so, they just might be at the Lincoln Heights Haunted Maze and Children’s Area appropriately taking place at the Mirabal Mortuary on North Broadway and Workman. The fun starts at 5pm on Halloween night and runs until 8pm. They still need volunteers to help scare the kiddies, just in case the cholo ghosts decide not to make an appearance.
Other Halloween/Dia de los Muertos Events
It’s known all over the Eastside and beyond, Self Help Graphics has the best Dia de los Muertos celebration.
Self Help Graphics & Art began celebrating Day of the Dead on November 2, 1972. Two artists met in the Evergreen Cemetery, located twelve blocks from the art center in East Los Angeles on Cesar Chavez Avenue (formerly Brooklyn Ave) to celebrate and honor the dead, as their ancestors in Mexico had centuries before.In the following years, more artists were incorporated in the celebration. The artists made masks, costumes, posters and altars. Youth workshops were developed in order to educate young artists of the centuries old tradition. From the cemetery on the corner of 1st and Evergreen in East Los Angeles, a procession was held. Self Help Graphics & Art founder, Sister Karen Boccalero lead the charge of community residents, artists, patrons, and youth, launching a tradition that created a lasting impact on Los Angeles culture for more than 35 years.

This year is Self Help Graphics & Art’s 35th annual Dia de los muertos celebration! The Nov. 2nd event is from 3:00 p.m – 11:00 p.m. and FREE to the community!

Hollywood Forever is now charging $5 for their interpretation of a Dia de los Muertos event…hmmm, not worth it. But if you insist on attending, here are the details:

Join us as we illuminate the evening sky with the various mosaic flavors of life, remembering and paying homage to the dearly departed as we joyfully walk hand in hand with the recollections of the spirits we pay tribute to. Allow the ingrained history of this ancient tradition to capture the heart of the newly curious, sustain the hopes of the returning and quench the thirst of the surrounding souls.

Hollywood Forever the only cemetery in the country which opens its gates to commemorate this tradition will hold this annual event:

Saturday, November 1
4:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Olvera Street also has Dia de los Muertos activities, check their website for details.
Festival de la Gente, a Dia de los Muertos inspired street festival has a new location this year:
We would like to Thank You for many years of supporting Festival De La Gente. This year’s event will be held at the Barker Block on Saturday, November 1st, and Sunday, November 2nd, 2008 from the hours of 1-9pm daily at no cost to the community.

Ofrendas 2008 just opened at Tropico de Nopal. Check out the annual fashion show next Saturday, November 8 from 7-11pm. LA Eastside contributors in the house!

Resurrection Cemetery in Montebello is one of the few places to witness authentic Dia de los Muertos traditions here in the Los Angeles area. This weekend, the place will be packed with visiting relatives and strolling musicians which can be hired on the spot to play a song for your departed loved one.
966 North Potrero Grande Drive
Montebello, CA 90640

Add your events in the comments!

More on the holidays

There are some cultural purists who like to create boundaries and barriers between Dia de los Muertos and Halloween, El Chavo’s response to these critics deserves a reprise here.

Why do we get so excited about this time of year? We love the historically subversive element that Halloween contributes, the license for mischief it gives and the possibility of meeting your neighbors, and we resist the attempts at its disney-fication. We also admire the beauty of Dia de los Muertos, the recognition, acceptance, and celebration of death as an integral part of life. Both are part of the same type of “harvest festival”. As Chicanos we feel it is our duty to recognize this holiday season as one that embraces the valuable elements of both traditions, the subversion and the revelry!

Some folks seem content to keep Dia de los Muertos as an event (and product) confined to the prison of art galleries. We say NO! Some would abandon Halloween to the fate proposed by capitalists and religious nuts, another miserable “holiday” for commodity consumption and safe rituals imposed to replace those of a prankish nature. They’ve taken away our license to do tricks, will we let them take our treats? We say NO!

El Chavo Goes Trick or Treating in Lincoln Heights: Part 1/ Part 2

Extra Hour, Daylight Savings

Yay, I can finally sleep in! Daylight Savings ends on Sunday, November 1st – set your clock back one hour.

12 thoughts on “Botanitas: Halloween Edition 2008

  1. Resurrection is pretty awesome, an example of cultural practice being made rather than consumed. Hollywood Forever looks nice but that’s the equivalent of being a tourist.

  2. only ghosts from the 1800s can come out, i think there’s a waiting period when you die. I read this somewhere but cant remember all the details. When you die you have to do certain things to become a ghost, even if you were a good person you have to wait, i think its 100 years before you can appear as a ghost. Reguardless of your good deeds in life, you could be assigned to be a bad ghost. I know, i know sounds crazy but I did read this ..

  3. “I’ve always wanted to know, are there cholo ghosts?”….

    Yes there are. And they cruise around in the Netherworld. They hit up other ghosts with the “Where are you from?” line. If the other ghost replies with the hand sign of “Los Cuernos”, then the Cholo ghost knows that he has found “A Homie.”

  4. Random Hero asks;

    “I wanna know why noting has ever happened at the Evergreen cemetery ? It would be bad ass to celebrate something there.”

    Random Hero, lots of stuff happens at Evergreen cemetery including celebrations.
    Evergreen cemetery and the LA Catholic Archdiocese used to be a customer of my roofing business and one time while there doing some waterproofing work I noticed all these Gypsy’s present around a new grave. They were all dressed in traditional Gypsy clothing and there was a large colorful canopy over the grave-site and lots of food and bottles of beer, hard liquor, and sleeping bags and blankets.
    Being curious I asked the caretaker what was up, he told me that Evergreen cemetery was a favorite burial place of the Gypsy people and that the King or some other Gypsy royalty had just been buried the day before.
    He said that the Gypsy tradition was that they spent the first night around the grave partying with the newly deceased and that the cemetery made arrangements for the Gypsy’s to sleep in the cemetery as tradition demanded.
    What a trip huh?

  5. @rolo, love your theory about ghosts. it all makes sense now!
    @al, your description of cholo ghosts in netherworld deserves graphic representation!
    @soledad, yes i think it was called metro!
    @random, i’ve wondered the same thing regarding evergreen. i bet if you go on sunday, you’ll find lots of families and roaming mariachis/conjuntos looking to play for grave sitting families.
    @dq, you don’t know how important your story regarding the gypsies is to me! i’m actually an informal, amateur gypsy scholar. i’ve been studying gypsy (or as they prefered to be called: roma) music and culture for many years. both of my grandparents are buried at evergreen and my mom always pointed to a large crypt and said, “that is where the gypsies are buried.” i never believed her (i figured she got the details wrong) but now your story corroborates hers. the crypt has the name “adams” on it and i recently met another gypsy with the same last name. i didn’t want to ask “is your family buried at evergreen?” thank you so much for this wonderful story! oh yeah, there are no “real” gypsy “kings”. they say these things sometimes as a front to gadjos (non-gypsies).

  6. Thank you Chimatli, to hear that what I wrote created an emotion or was helpful to you is what makes writing and communicating all worth while.
    If you study the Gypsy or Roma people then you probably know that many Gypsy people have called the Eastside of LA home for many years. There were many Gypsy families that lived in Lincoln Hts. and I went to school with Gypsy kids who everyone always took for Mexican Americans because many were dark skinned and kind of resembled us in personality too. These families lived mainly in the old neighborhood around the railroad tracks between N.Main and Mission Rd near Daly St.
    The Gypsy kids would come and go at school because they travelled a lot. I still have friends today that are products of intermarriage between Mexican American and Gypsy’s and it’s an interesting mixture.
    Mexicano friends of mine tell me that years ago the Gypsy’s were very common in the small hillbilly towns of Mexico where they would come into these small towns (many without electricity) set up movie equipment and show movies on a projector for a fee.
    The Mexicano’s would refer to the Gypsy’s as “Hungaro’s” which I think is a descriptive word for Hungarians.
    And since you inquired Chimatli, yes I like almost every Chicano family that has been in LA for some time have many many relatives and friends buried at Calvary/Evergreen cemeteries. My Great Grandmother and Grandmother are buried side by side as they were that close in life too. My Grandfather who died in an auto accident as a young man is also buried there.
    Interesting side note, my Cousin who is a professor at Sac State was writing a book about my Grandmother (a great ethnology on Mexican American women titled “The Search for Naunny’s Grave”, Prof. Nick Trujillo), and had to research our Grandfather.
    He checked the archive’s at the LA Times and found the news item from the 1930’s that read; CJ Trujillo, a “Mexican” died in a one car wreck on Alvarado St.
    My Grandfather was born in the USA but died as a “Mexican” in those days.
    I know this is long winded but just one more thing on the old Calvary cemetery.
    When we buried my Abuela it was early January and we had Mariachi’s playing at her grave and there was a huge crowd attending because she was so loved.
    It was a beautiful clear day and as the service ended my brother who is an artist and photographer suddenly pointed out to me “Hey look at all the Christmas decorations here it’s a scene out of a Fellini movie”
    I then noticed the hundreds or maybe thousands of little Christmas trees and decorations throughout the cemetery. Beautiful!

  7. DQ, wow, I didn’t realize there was such a large Roma/Gypsy presence in LH! I do remember a family of fortune tellers who lived behind the Arco on Griffin. The mother had a hard time keeping her five beautiful daughters out of trouble, they were always hanging out with local guys at the burger place next door. The mom told me she was from New York but everyone in LH knew they were the “Gypsies.” I think they moved to Chinatown in the late 90s. Anyways, I’d love to interview you one day for my Roma related project called “Dos Lunares” My research mostly focuses on Gitanos from Spain but I’m also very interested in the groups that live here in Los Angeles.
    As for the Hungaros in Mexico, did you know that a lot of our Chicano slang, calo, comes from Gitano Calo? This is one avenue of research I’d love to devote more time to. Presently, I only have hearsay to confirm my theories and no official documentation. There is a guy in San Antonio who is researching Pachuco culture and he’s helped me a bit with making the connections. Words like “gacho” “vato” “chavo” are all slang words that come from Gitano Calo and some of those words came originally from India (the homeland of Gypsies). I have to admit though, it’s all little political as many Chicanos want to disregard any culture tainted by Spain. However, it’s important to understand that the Spanish refined their conquesting skills on groups like the Gitanos living in Spain. In fact during the 1700s in Spain, dressing or talking Gitano was banned and punishable by death. The same went for the Moors and Jews. That’s why many of these groups moved here to this side of the Atlantic to escape the oppression in Spain. Sorry, I could go on and on…
    The story about your grandmother is very touching and surprisingly familiar to me. This past January, my grandmother passed away and was buried next to my grandfather and her mother at Evergreen. We also had mariachis and all sang “Un Pun~o de Tierra” to send her off.
    I will look for your cousin’s book, sounds good!
    Oh yeah, I also need to ask you about your New Mexico roots one day too. I’ve been doing lots of genealogical research on my New Mexico family, lots of interesting stuff out there!

  8. Chimatli, thanks for the interest and anytime you want to ask me about New Mexico roots let me know as I live a lot of the time in New Mexico and have deep roots and interests there.

    Funny thing I just remembered, as a little kid it seemed like most of the people in LH had roots in NM and Colo. on a daily basis I would notice the cars coming into LH with those old silver NM lic plates, all dusty from crossing the desert and they would all have those canvas water bags hanging in front of the car radiators.
    One time I asked my Abuela why everyone in Lincoln Hts was from NM and Colo and she laughed and said, “Jito Lindo, they all come to LH because they’re our relatives and they end up living with me, why do think there’s always a dozen or so people sharing my tiny chante.
    Quisiera llorar, quisiera morir de sentimiento!

  9. I know that we’re a bit off topic, but I had an experience in México with the so-called húngaros. I lived in a small town (pop. approx. 1200) and I remembered the one time when an húngaro tried to take my bike away. I pedaled as fast as Indurain and got home and hid my bike for the whole week that the húngaros were in town. I remembered that my peers would see the húngaros drive into town and we would right away hide our bikes and toys–there were a few stupid…er…gullible women that were scammed off their jewelry.

    Recently, when I used to work in the advertising department of the newspaper, I would service some fortune-teller accounts for a co-worker. It turned out that 70% were what I used to call húngaros, and the rest seemed to be peruvian and bolivian. Just open La Opinión, El Clasificado and El Aviso and you may run into them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *