Mujeres de Maize

For the last 14 years Mujeres de Maize, an Eastside Xicana collective of artivistas, has organized a month of events that celebrate the power, creativity and beauty of being women. Each year more and newer faces respond to the call and share in many of the variety of planned activities. This is not just for women, men should be at these events to bare witness, listen and learn.

I’ve been a fan for many years. I hope you can make it to any of these amazing events.

Rambling On My Mind: South American Edition: Medellín, Colombia 2: Feints and Jabs aka The Feeling Out Process Continues

part 1 here

brazilian guys in hostel were loud sleepers. snoring bastards woke me up once or twice. i had packed my suitcase real tight, so no one would mess with it. just to be safe and not sorry. i had a long day but the brazilians left to party. it was about midnight. i scribbled some more and then went downstairs and spoke with a different guy from brazil, curitiba to be exact. i asked him about the famous fighters from his city. he was surprised that i knew about his city’s reputation, since i had never been there.
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1.5 Random Minutes in Lincoln Heights

So there I was, about to eat my veggie torta from Chapalita, when all of a sudden this happens. The yearly celebration in honor of Cuauhtemoc was going on today, these dancers were headed to his statue by Lincoln Park. By the time I got there it was all over cuz nobody was there.

Only on the Eastside.

“But what about the torta?” I hear you asking. Well here it is:

$4 with a soda. Not bad at all.

Banksy on the Eastside

Caution – Banksy

The world’s most notorious street artist and visual prankster, Banksy, who is in town for the Oscars (his film Exit Through the Gift Shop is nominated for Best Documentary) made it east of the river to leave the residents of Boyle Heights a small visual gift for us to enjoy. It seems he is much more clued in to local politics than I thought and he is aware no doubt, that this piece might bring some attention to the plight of undocumented immigrants. Perhaps all those Oscar folks and celebrity gossipers will be forced to talk about something slightly political for once.

There’s no need to keep the location secret as the word is spreading rapidly. Plus the piece is totally visible from the street. It’s in the alley on the southwest corner of 1st and Soto. When I was there this afternoon, there was no one around and no one taking photos. There is however a film crew shooting a new movie about J Edgar Hoover right around the corner.

Bienvenido to the Eastside, Banksy!

Hollywood: Banksy redefines the Oscar Campaign, Los Angeles Times, February 24, 2011.

*Rumor has it that there are more of these stencils around Boyle Heights like for instance, on Pleasant and Cesar Chavez near the bridge.

H/T to the Boyle Heights Facebook page.

UPDATE 2/25/11: Such ridiculousness, it makes me LOL, I tell ya. The Banksy piece got tagged by someone who rolled up in car, sprayed over it and took off. Then, the owners of the building came by and cut it out the wall! Ah, the art world!
H/T to Melrose + Farifax, check the site for photos.

Video (including the piece on the bridge near Pleasant) by Jessica2Cents of Mis Neighbors here.

According to one of our Facebook readers, the second Caution piece on Pleasant has been tagged by a “$” sign but it’s still there.

Self Help Graphics & Art is Moving!

Photo courtesy of Rosanna Ahrens

Today, Evonne Gallardo, Executive Director and the Board of Directors of Self Help Graphics & Art announced that the 40 year old institution of culture and art in East Los Angeles is moving to a new home.

Relocation from the icon building decorated in tile by artist Eduardo Oropeza, has been a buzz on the eastside for a while now—but negotiations as to where to move and being forward-facing, have been long, arduous and thorough.
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When your daily intake of calories is defined via a “combo number” then it’s probably a good time to contemplate other options. Maybe food with a name?

I don’t get the appeal of fast food, other than the fact that it is cheap and easy, although maybe that is enough of a draw. But what a wasted opportunity to try something interesting instead. I know Eastsiders like their fast food or else these places would go out of business. I’m interested in learning though, so let me ask you this:

Why do you frequent fast food places? Is it the price? The convenience? Lack of other local options? This metiche would like to know.

Cumbia Tribal and Botas Exoticas

For as long as I can remember I’ve always been interested in global street dance styles: dance moves and trends started by small groups of folks in their respective geographic areas. Over at my chimatli blog I’ve posted lots of DIY Youtube videos of various urban styles like Kurdish Halay/Govend hip-hop, Duranguense, Tecktonik, Kuduro and Jerkin, to name of few. In this tradition, I was pleased to come across these videos of a new music style and scene coming out of Texas called Tribal which mixes Banda/Cumbia with Techno. While the music is pretty straightforward, it basically sounds like a good mixture of the two music genres, it’s the fashion that goes with this scene that’s pretty remarkable – namely, the boots. These aren’t any old kind of botas, these are the kinda boots that would make an Aladin genie or a fanciful fairy proud. The tip of the boots are long, pointy and exaggerated, so much so that I wonder how they are able to walk in them as the point stretches out sometimes two feet in front of their shoe. “How do they climb stairs?” a friend wondered. Frequently the boots are decorated in a mega-Ed Hardy style, bedazzled and often shocking pink or leopard print.

photo courtesy of Chuntaritos
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La Isla Bonita

In 2008, a few of us took an illegal trip to Cuba for the Decimotercero Festival Internacional de la Poesia, a plein air annual poetry festival in Havana, Cuba. I say “illegal” because the US Presidents George grande y el chico, were sticking to the strict rule of penalizing US citizens [who traveled to Cuba without permission] with a $10,000 fine.

At that point many artist and musician friends had been going back and forth all this time, to visit and attend the historically rich music, art and cultural events sponsored by the Cuban government. Their stories made me salivate with desire to follow their footsteps. After all, we are not people to be held back from where we want to go, because of some ridiculous rules and regulations.

When some local eastside poets got invited to go to this poetry festival in 2008—I latched my wagon onto theirs. Calls were made to the Cuban festival organizers from Tijuana about accommodations, schedules, side cultural trips, todo—and we were all set. Hopping over, on one of Mexico’s daily flights to Cuba still had its risks, because the US could request Mexico’s flight manifestos where our names would be listed and we would be so busted. Ni modo.

I wanted to see Cuba before Castro died, before it changed into another commercial beach resort dotted with European style hotels. It could happen! So here are my photos. Photos I was too afraid to share with you on LAeastside in 2008—because I did not want to be caught for doing this supposedly un-American thing. My courage comes from Obama easing the penalties on Americans traveling to Cuba a few weeks ago and legitimate flights being organized for non-profits to go to Cuba from the USA on cultural exchanges. Yay!
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Botanitas: February 15, 2011

Trailer for the upcoming documentary, East LA Interchange

Did you enjoy your Valentine’s Day (“Valentimes” for you Eastsiders) and it’s artifice of love represented by cheap, corn-syrup chocolates, industrially grown, pesticide-laden flowers and eco-destroying mylar balloons? Many think the key to love is a mystery but the real mystery in my opinion is, how do they get those teddy bears in balloons?

Read below for info on awesome book readings, the cranky city attorney, lost casas, dedications (not the Art Laboe kind) and the requisite Eastside fundraiser.
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And Mubarak is set to go! It has been nothing short of inspiring watching the actions going on halfway around the world in Egypt. What started as a protest organized via Facebook turned into a vibrant, spontaneous, leader-less movement that topped a 30 year old regime headed by US-supported Mubarak.

Often lack of leadership or centralized organization is cited as that which causes revolutions to fail, but here it can be easily seen that if anything it was this lack of those two criteria that emboldened the movement. Mohammed Bamyeh, writer with Jadaliyya a Ezine by the Arab Studies Journal, noted that:

Here one found out what was possible through spontaneous movement rather than a fixed program, organization or leadership. Spontaneity thus became the compass of the Revolution and the way by which it found its way to what turned out to be its radical destination (source).

While some political movements clamor for “representation,” many protesters “strongly resisted being represented by any existing group or leader” and rather “…a common statement I heard was that it was ‘the people’ who decide.” A sentiment that I think we could all do well to spread in our daily lives and in our communities.

Free Bike Mechanics Workshop

This Saturday come to Corazon del Pueblo and pick up on some useful skills for your bike, such as basic maintenance and mechanics. Presented by Bici Digna, this workshop will help riders both new and experienced familiarize themselves with some of the basic steps to maintain a working and safe bike. This includes things like being able to adjust your brakes, gears, wheels, tires, how to fix a flat etc. For most experienced rides, skills like these are biking common sense, but as more and more riders are taking to the streets, there are those who may be intimidated and unfamiliar with the workings of their bikes. I know a few people who still haven’t grasped how to fix flat tires and it’s ok, we all gotta start some where right ? This will be the first of what will hopefully be one of many workshops on bike mechanics and how to ride on the streets safely that Bici Digna and City of Lights will be coordinating in the East Side.