Botanitas: March 30, 2009

It’s just like a mini-mall! Oh wait, it is a mini-mall, The Lincoln Mini-Mall. The super nice Lebanese guy who ran the quality clothes (i.e. Levi’s) booth is gone. Perhaps, La Crisis took a toll on his business. I remember him wistfully telling me how Lebanon was once like Europe and how sad he was to leave his country after the war. He and his little shop will be missed.

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!

Keep reading for quotes from the grumpy Lupe’s 12 Kinds of Burritos lady, Eastside oral history, mariachi Shakespeare, gangstas with GQ style and Eastside flavored holidays.

That’s her real name?!

El Chavo will be surprised to hear that the cranky woman that runs his favorite burrito stand on Third Street was born with the beautiful name of Adeline Portillo. True, she does have the nickname of “Tuchie” but that nickname is not even close to the things I’ve heard her been called. She’s featured in a Los Angeles Times story by Hector Becerra on how the Goldline construction has been negatively impacting businesses along it’s path.

On whether the Goldline will bring new customers:

Portillo is even more skeptical. She opened her eatery on May 8, 1972, inheriting what was once a hot dog stand from a woman named Lupe. The woman let Portillo keep the marquee and even lent her money to start her business. Portillo said in some ways she was fortunate because, as of the early 1990s, she has owned the property her business sits on. The money to buy the land came entirely from “Lupe’s #2,” she said proudly.

“That was my advantage. If I had to pay rent like I was paying before, I never would have made it.”

Over the decades, she has gained a loyal following. Customer Carlos Sanchez, 33, said dozens of Orthodox Jews show up every few months in a bus just to buy about 100 tacos and burritos.

On the other hand, Jose Huizar is thrilled to invite out-of-the-area folks in to gawk at the wonders of the Eastside:

“It’s almost like cultural tourism. One of my objectives is to let the people of L.A. know about all these great mom-and-pop shops in Boyle Heights,” Huizar said. “When I bring a chicken burrito from Al & Bea’s to City Hall, they smell it and say, ‘Where did you get that?’ Hey, it’s been in Boyle Heights forever.”

I bet they smell the lard, such an enticing aroma! And one that Lupe’s 12 Kinds of Burritos is very familiar with as well.

Read the whole article here.

Eastside Oral History

An oral history project featuring five influential Eastside women was recently completed, culminating in a short documentary called “Las Grandes de East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights: Women as Community Builders.” A collaborative effort between documentarians and Roosevelt students, it helped open the doors to history for some of the younger participants.

About one of the Roosevelt students:

He had always wanted to know more about his Boyle Heights neighborhood but didn’t know where to start until he volunteered for the video project.

“I learned a lot about the legacy of a person,” Barrios said. “About stuff I’m not gonna find in books or the computer, and that I want to tell my kids about one day.”

An oral history project is soon to get started at the Chicano Resource Center in the East Los Angeles County library.

The complete article by Esmeralda Bermudez can be read here at the Los Angeles Time website.

Shakespeare Mariachi Style

The East LA Classic Theatre just completed a three day run of a mariachi version of Much Ado About Nothing.

Set following the great Battle of Puebla, which is celebrated every year on Cinco de Mayo, this story follows the lives of and interactions between families of upper class Mexican Rancheros and working-class Anglo prospectors and farmers.

The performance appropriately took place at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse. Sorry I missed it!

More activities and plays are scheduled. More information can be found at their website.

Cholos go GQ

Cholos staying in school to learn how to be more crafty criminals. What in the world?

Rene Avelar of New Directions for Youth, Inc. says gangsters are dressing more low-profile and sporty, wearing jerseys and basketball shoes. They’re also letting their hair grow.

Avelar says this happens when the gangs move into organized crime. He also says gang members are staying in school in an effort to gain “smarts” and move up with gangs.

As a friend of mine said “that is the most motivating stay in school campaign ever. get the ‘smarts’ – get the cash! i love it!”

Petty crime is being replaced by organized crime. Get ready for the real mafia wars.

KTLA news report here.

Cesar Chavez Day

For those of you lucky enough to have the day off today or tomorrow, hope you spend a few minutes remembering the person being honored today, Cesar Chavez and the struggle for labor rights everywhere.

The Life and Legacy of Cesar Chavez


8 thoughts on “Botanitas: March 30, 2009

  1. Thanks Random! Fixed the post, my bad for getting Eastside politicians confused. I blame everything on the pollen invading my respiratory system and causing me to feel like a mad dog. Grrr…

  2. In regards to cholos going GQ, In San Pedro most of them have long hair they have that kind of hip hop look. I don’t know about satying in school though, but yeah they are trying to be more lo pro it started happening like 5 years ago or so with the hair.

  3. Where do they draw the connection between cholos growing out their hair, and organized crime? That’s a bit of a quantum leap.

  4. Yeah, that thing about getting “smarts” and being in organized crime is a total non sequitor. So, when kids from the area are educated they’re turning into mafiosos?

    I read a book a while back (a sci fi novel “Snow Crash”) that went into a little detail about a fictional Crips that had their own lawyers and educated professionals to protect the interests of their ethnic group and sphere of influence.

    Could the collapse of consumerism and cheap-oil profligacy be leading to a revival in ethnic unity?

    Hmmm …

  5. Good point. What a dangerous point of view. Gang members are reading more, so therefore it must be part of some scheme involving underworld domination? It’s wrong even in that regard alone, but add to that the fact that so many kids are classified as gang members when they’re really not, and the end result is that society views just about any minority reading a book as a budding mafioso terrorist. Chris Rock did a great routine once about slaves pretending to be stupid so white people wouldn’t figure out that they’d been reading books, something blacks were forbidden to do. It’s unfortunate I have to draw this analogy but when people in law enforcement are going so far as to assume that gang members (again, thanks to their sweeping generalizations, a classification which includes many who aren’t gang members as well) who read, become better educated, and attempt to look more mainstream, are really just studying up to be better criminals? One far fetched analogy deserves another.

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