Vincent Valdez Burns LA


Zoning out at Mariachi Plaza, I look around the newly built Eastside Gold Line Extension while waiting patiently for Tejano turned Angelino, Vincent Valdez, who last year exhibited in LACMA’s “Chicano Visions”, a collection of Cheech Marin’s amassed Chicano artwork. Behind me, the sun collides with downtown skyline, and in front me, appears the modest Valdez, in plaid with portfolio walking up First Street. We meet at the venue for his latest solo show “An Evening with Vincent Valdez”, hosted by Boyle Height’s own Eastside Luv. Shaking hands for the first time, two things strike me: the artist is incredibly friendly, having a warm and welcoming disposition (I had always heard myths of San Antonian hospitality, now I know them to be true), and that he vaguely resembles a Chicano Edward Norton.

Pre-show Valdez

We step into the space; the red of overhead lights bleed onto the bar, stage, and cinémex posters. Valdez moved to Los Angeles in 2005 and has since been integrating LA themes and lifestyles into his artwork. He sits ready to talk about developing projects, and his new city muse. “Right now, I am really excited about making this LA series,” Valdez explains enthusiastically. He is currently working on a new show entitled Burn, where the artist sets city landmarks a blaze, from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica Pier.

G: You have been in LA for quite sometime, would you consider yourself an Angelino?

V: You know, I think that I sort of claim myself as both a San Antonio native always and as an Angelino. I think I have put in a major amount of time and work here in Los Angeles, and most importantly, than anything else, I really sort of seen a significant influence in my work as far as the city and the neighborhoods have in my work. I have seen it start to enrich a lot of the imagery I have been working with in my most recent work while being here.

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Smoke on the horizon

The smoke cloud from the Station Fire as seen from Lincoln Heights.

I watched the fire dance over the mountains last night, every minute it leapt higher and moved at an amazing speed. When I woke up it felt as if there was a BBQ grill going inside my house. So is this what it feels like to smoke two packs a cigarettes a day? I can barely breathe. How about you all? How have you been coping with the smoke and heat?

Amazing photo taken from Highland Park can be seen here.

Who hid the Mexicans?


From the great blog Mex Files the question is asked “Where are the Mexican or Mexican American Chefs on the Food Channel Network cooking or explaining or visiting Mexican Restaurants and kitchens?” Always a sous-chef, never a chef

Paul Campos (Lawyers, Guns and Money) on U.S. television celebrity chef, Rick Bayless.

“… it struck me that in a country where the actual cooking in high-end restaurants is dominated by Latin Americans in general, and Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in particular, the “celebrity chef” doing the Mexican cooking against his French and Italian-American competitors was a very WASPy-seeming fellow. Nothing wrong with that of course — it’s not like you have to be a member of an ethnic group to be a great cook in that genre — but it also reminded me of the point Anthony Bourdain makes in Kitchen Confidential that almost none of the thousands of superbly skilled Mexican and Ecuadorian and Peruvian etc, cooks manning the lines ever seem to end up as head chefs or sous chefs at the fancy places they work, let alone with TV shows on the Food Network.”

Rick Bayless is a good Mexican cook and very respectful of the cuisine but he’s not a Mexican.

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Day Trippin’: Cerritos Library


It’s been awhile since I did one of these, and I’ve bet you’ve all just been sitting around waiting to be told where to go next, eh? Well the wait is over! Warm up your engines, or pedals, or sandals, or whatever, cuz there’s a new day trip excursion around Los Angeles for you to consider. And to which exciting and fascinating spot are we headed today? To the library! Wait a minute…what?

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La Virgen de Guadalupe at LACMA


She’s Here.

Back in late June, I learned through the LACMA blog that they had acquired a gorgeous painting of La Virgen De Guadalupe from 1691.  It was installed a few weeks ago so I went over to check it out.  I had the luxury of visiting the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe earlier this year so I was excited to see this one.  I didn’t feel like forking over 12 bucks for regular admission so I waited til the clock struck 5pm.  I gave my donation, got my ticket, and took the outside elevator right across from the Welcome Center/ Hammer Building up to the Art of the Americans Building.  I opened the door and there she was at the far end, immediately tugging at my heart and drawing me inward.

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Cumbia Is The New Reggae.

By next summer there will be a cumbia show at Hollywod Bowl. Mark my words.

With the popularity of Very Be Careful, Santa Cecilia and Buyepongo among MANY other groups, LA is shaping up for cumbia to be the next flavor to blow up.

I know cumbia clubs have existed for a while, so have their artists, but the above mentioned are not playing in exclusive cumbia spaces. They are playing to billingual Chicano/a crowds at local hip spots as well as Grand Performances. On the radio Jeremy Sole on KCRW drops a cumbia like he does at his weekly party, deep in the westside, Afro Funke. The beat is easy to catch, most anyone can dance to it and its plain fun.

Some Cumbia has an electronic element to it which is being played in tracks such as this one by Zizek

Eastside Clothiers

So this is what it looks like when the Eastside becomes a demographic. I first spotted this campaign in a men’s magazine and I was like “Whoa, finally representing the kind of people who actually wear Dickies!” Thanks to LA Eastside reader Perry who passed on the video link, much appreciated!
When I was a teen, I was into the hardcore punk scene and interestingly our fashion wasn’t all that much different from the vatos in the neighborhood. We’d wear Dickies, those canvas shoes you could buy at Woolworth’s or Thrifty’s (both stores now defunct) and plain black cotton jackets. The difference was, we were all a lot scruffier looking and had colored hair. I’ve shopped many a dime store aisle with a vato/vata next to me.
Nowadays, my friends will head to Cesar Chavez, North Broadway, Figueroa, Huntington Park or swapmeets for their Dickies wear. You can cut them off at the knee for the classic vato look, wear them to work a la your favorite mechanic or even pass them off as dress slacks. I remember once Dickies even had a “Working Class Hero” contest which I thought was hilarious! As for me, I’ve since moved on to girlier clothes.

Eastside Beer Strike

Strike at the Pabst Brewery on North Main St, Lincoln Heights, 1954
Photo courtesy of LAPL

It’s called The Brewery for a reason, it used to be home to Pabst Beer. A beer reviled by people with good taste everywhere and now has surprisingly made a comeback with the Los Angeles bar crowd. How? Why? There is no answer that will stop my eyes from rolling, so keep on drinking the swill fellas, I’ll be enjoying my Craftsman brew!

Oh, did I mention that The Brewery is in Lincoln Heights?

The photo caption reads:

“A lone picket parades across the entrance of the Pabst Brewing Co. plant at 1920 North Main street as workers went on a strike in wage dispute. More than 1100 men were idled when picket lines were set up around this brewery and another in Van Nuys by AFL International Union of Operating Engineers. Photograph dated September 27, 1954.”

Women’s Job & Resource Fair

From the press release:

Take advantage of opportunities this summer to start a new career. On Saturday, August 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the City of Los Angeles’ Human Services Department, the office of the Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, City Council President Eric Garcetti’s Council District 13 and the L.A. Derby Dolls will host a free job fair for women at the home of the Derby Dolls – the Doll Factory (1910 Temple St., 90026).

The free community fair will include job placement assistance, opportunities for green jobs and unexplored avenues for women (such as local trade unions), as well as career training for positions in which employers are currently seeking candidates.

In addition, as part of the Economic Stimulus Package, the City of Los Angeles has received funds for improvement of infrastructure to the city. This has created numerous job opportunities within the city of Los Angeles. The goal of the Free Women’s Job Fair is to help interested women get connected, trained and ready for these jobs.

For any women currently unemployed or looking for a new career, join these community organizations on August 22nd at the Doll Factory for workshops and to meet employers, recruiters and trainers that want to see the women of Los Angeles succeed