Happy 2010!

I’m in the midst of writing an end of the year wrap up post but it’s time to go have some fun, ring in the new year and say goodbye to the miserable decade behind us.

So for now, I want to wish all the readers and contributors of LA Eastside a happy and safe new year!

I’d also like to mention, this week we reached a milestone of 10,000 comments – and it seems there is so much more that needs to be said! We’ll be here in 2010 to fulfill all your commenting needs.

Pour One for Joe Reyes Nevarez

Joe Reyes Nevarez, 98, died Monday, December 28, 2009.

Beloved father and groundbreaker, Joe Nevarez was an important figure in the Latino media community of Los Angeles.  He was the first Chicano reporter for the Los Angeles Times newspaper.  Joe’s career began at eastside’s Lincoln High School, where he was the Sports Editor of the school’s daily paper. His career at the L.A. Times began as a copy boy, when a student friend/co-writer and head copy boy at the Times, offered him a job. Joe’s official job was to paste up New York Stock Exchange quotations, but his love of the news process and hard working ethics, often found him volunteering in the financial section of the paper during his free time. He was paid $12 for a six-day week, yet felt so blessed to be working during the darkest part of the Depression.

Throughout his career Nevarez always urged the LA Times to hire Latino reporters, but his editors always told him there wasn’t anyone who was trained.

Nevarez came to the United States as a three-month-old when his mother crossed the Mexican border into El Paso in 1912. When he was older, he attended a Spanish Catholic school in Texas.  Joe didn’t speak English until he moved to Los Angeles and was enrolled into an English grammar school.  He became a U.S. citizen in 1925.  In 1942 Joe served as a typist and clerk for 3 years in the Army Air Corp, and naturally one of his duties was representing his squadron by reporting for the army base newsletter.

He and his wife, Theresa Juarez Nevarez, had three children: Margaret, Daniel and Cecilia.  Though Joe Nevarez never attended college, he made sure all three of his children went. Upon graduation his daughters entered the education field (one as a high-school counselor and the other as a teacher), his son worked at the Internal Revenue Service.

Joe Nevarez worked for The Los Angeles Times for a total of 52 years, during which time he also was a founding member of the California Chicano News Media Association. He said he was   happiest in the newsroom. “There’s nothing better than being a reporter,” Nevarez said. “There’s something new everyday.”

On January 6, 2010, a Memorial Service will be held at the St. Stephen Catholic Church for Joe Reyes Nevarez. http://www.archdiocese.la/directories/parishes/info.php?parish_id=277, followed by a burial at Resurrection Cemetery.

Don’t go see Avatar

All I keep reading on facebook is “have you seen Avatar ? It’s soo good. ” “OMG you gotta go see Avatar, it’s even better in 3-D, truly a great film with a great message to reflect on.” Enough already puez, geez, I get it, it’s a good movie that is exploiting what other movies have done in the past and sensationalized issues about race, nature, militarism and all that good stuff. I haven’t seen the film, so I won’t go into detail about how the movie goes into ” ‘white’ people guilt or how ‘white’ people see racial identity’ ” and all that mumbo jumbo like other people are jumping on. Which I find interesting to read and they do make a point every now and then. No, I am boycotting this movie, at least until it comes out on DVD or cable tv because I have seen other movies do WAY better with less, making the same statements about nature, human relations and some of the other topics people loved in Avatar.

I bring to your attention the works of Hayao Miyazaki. It’s hard to express the passion and love I have for all of his works, mostly because I grew up on some of them and they were my first forays into anime, which it still going strong today. I can go on and on about how all of his movies say more with their endearing characters, beautiful hand drawn scenes that to me will always surpass what ever computer technology can create. These are movies that are from the heart, made with passion and created to astonish and amaze the audience. These movies really do tug at the heart strings and can make almost anyone shed a little tear. Not only that, but these movies are perfect for kids as well. Even his current release, “Ponyo,” which didn’t do great at the box office was nothing short of amazing and captivating. I loved that movie !!! So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, save your money and go rent some of his movies and if you have seen it, then go rent some of his movies anyway. You’ll thank me for it later.

Kraft Cheez Tamal


For those that were breathlessly waiting for a follow-up, here it is. Birth of a new tradition? Another hint at the end times? Pre-post-post-Chicano food? Whatever this means, yours truly, despite the yucks and boos from the gathered crowd, went ahead with the making of a Kraft Cheez tamal. You know, that food-like orangey product in individual slices. The verdict: hey, that’s not so bad! I did add some rajas and papas to the mix, so that made it worthwhile. But it kinda failed cuz I thought it would be all melty but instead it just globbed up, maybe singles aren’t meant for a 2 hour steam bath. Hmm, on second thought, maybe I should have added 2 slices.

No te hagas, you know you want some.

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap

If I remember correctly, my very first post on this here blog was about a police sobriety check in the heart of Boyle Heights in June of last year. Hmm more than a year later, the economy in Califas is tanking, the city is looking left and right and underneath every couch cushion to save money and bring in more revenue, like raising sales taxes to 9.75 percent and other various  measures. It’s getting tight in this city, real tight. The kind of tight that when I was growing up, frijoles, huevos and tortillas were what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with maybe some queso de piez sprinkled on the beans to add a little variety.

Needless to say, it’s not hard to connect the dots on the current situation out on the streets of L.A. right now, with all these holiday sobriety check points to keep drunk drivers off the streets. This is an invaluable service by the police, however we all know that’s not the case right ? I mean come on !! This is way over the line, even for the L.A.P.D We all expect and know these holiday sobriety checkpoints are around, but as of late, the amount of cars getting pulled over and of these check points is bordering on abuse. Nah, you know what, it is abuse.  “Ohh but you’re just exaggerating because you blah, blah, blah” hell no I’m not exaggerating. Sunday of last week me and VD were kicking old school on our way to the barrio when we see a car pulled over on Sheridan. Then we see another car pulled over two blocks further down and then another car pulled over on Chavez and Soto. Not to mention that I average out one text per day informing me of where there are check points taking place. This isn’t the police checking for drunk drivers and keeping the streets safe, this is the police being abused by the shot callers who need to come up with more feria to cover the cost of their business expenses and trips to Mexico to represent L.A. in a book fair. Really !? A book fair !?

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It ain’t Christmas without Tamborazo

Tamborazo Milpillas de la Sierra

Sadly, I heard no tamborazo echo through the neighborhood last night. Perhaps due to La Crisis, I hear less mariachis, tamborazos or other live music at the parties that dot the Eastside during these holiday times. Well, thankfully for Youtube, I can listen to tamborazo this morning. For me, it’s not Christmas without tamborazo and I’m not even from Zacatecas! Seriously, I should have been up drinking ponche and dancing to that crazy bass drum all night! Que lastima…

By the way, this group is from right here in Lincoln Heights. They have a cool little van they travel around in with their name stylishly painted on the side in Mexican blackletter.

Los Angeles, California
Para Contrataciones:
Tel:(323)222-3662 or (323)479-7966

ICE team takes a Starbucks break

A couple of friends and I were at the Little Tokyo Starbucks in early December when we heard a loud engine rumbling. We turn around and it was none other than the ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) team parking their gigantic greyhound bus in the red zone for a coffee stop. We couldn’t see through the windows if there were any “illegals” inside. This was just days after the big ICE sweep of 280 illegal immigrants (some with criminal records!) on December 11.

Does my tax money really go to this kind of bullshit?

big ICE bus

big ICE bus

the smaller, faster van, just in case

the smaller, faster van, just in case

Gathering the Ingredients


The Tamalada is on! Over at my local Big Saver the after work/pre-tamalada crowds were doing the rounds: picking through the tomatillos, looking for the biggest bag of hojas with nicely shaped husks, contemplating investing in one of those large steamers with the false bottom (at $15 they are worth every penny), making the tough decision of going with the cheaper and milder California chiles or going for broke with the Guajillos. And if you make the queso con rajas tamales then you also have to think about the price range of your cheese, be it the classy and expensive Tillamook or the cheapo but affordable no name blocks. (Is it Henry’s? Dave’s?)  Right by the entrance turnstile was a huge display of masa preparada, but I’ll pass on that and the lard within. I’m sticking to maseca. One of these years I’m going to find a place that sells masa preparada without the lard, because we really need to know. And I bet the place that starts this novel concept is going to get lots of business. I was hoping to do a post on that topic this year but I guess it will have to wait. If you missed it, or if you’re just a pocho that refuses to make your own, check out my post from last year where I covered a few of the tamales available on the Eastside. Maybe by next year I will once again be unemployed and finally have the time to finish some of these post ideas. One can dream.

Above you see some of my basics, and yes, I do use tofu in my red sauce tamales. Plus I add papas. And green olives. It’s better than it sounds. I also make a standard tamal of pasilla rajas/queso/tomatillo salsa that is basic but satisfying. But this year I’m going to invent something new, something for the Chicano kitchen. The kraft cheeze tamal? Yup, that’s going to be created by me. Hay les digo que tal.

So how do you make yours?  May your pot gather steam and your masa set properly. Those are my sincerest wishes to you.