About cindylu

reluctant westside chicana grad student

West Meets East

Isa mentioned moving out first.

“I’m looking to buy a house,” she told me. “I’ve got a realtor and everything.”

I was impressed and a little sad for what the near-future would bring, the end of five and half years of living together.

Adja gave her notice next.

“I need to move out. I’ll be returning to Senegal soon to visit my mom.”


“Probably at the end of the year.”

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Chilaquiles at Homegirl Café

Earlier today, a friend noted that there was nothing sexier than a man who makes good waffles. I scoffed. Waffles are overrated. Find me a man who makes excellent chilaquiles and I’ll fall in love. Yes, chilaquiles are that awesome. They’re simple yet so tasty, the perfect example of what I grew up calling “poor people’s food.”

A couple of years ago I started a project on my blog to review chilaquiles at local Mexican restaurants. (Yes, I was copying El Chavo’s huevos rancheros series.) I did one review and then let the project go, but continued to eat my fair share of my favorite breakfast dish. The problem with reviewing food is that a photo is necessary, but I often forget to stop and take a picture.

On Friday morning, I was patient… at least for a minute.

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Target’s humorous “illegal alien” costume


Dear Target,

What’s up with this “Illegal Alien” costume?

I don’t get why a corporation that boasts about giving back to the community (can’t say I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the ¡Bienvenido Dudamel! concert a few weeks ago) and celebrates Nuestra Gente would sell such a despicable costume. (I know not all undocumented immigrants are Latino, but we do make up a plurality of the population.)

Is it to make a buck? Is that enough to alienate (no pun intended) undocumented immigrants, their allies and our dollars? Couldn’t you make a buck by not selling “humorous costumes” that demean and make light of the situation faced by many undocumented immigrants and advance dehumanizing language?

Is it humorous that thousands die trying to cross the US/Mexico border? Between 1998-2004 1,954 migrants died on the perilous journey north source). Since 2004, the Arizona Star Border Death Database has recorded 1,193 deaths at the border.

Funny, no?

What about exploitation from shady employers? How about the rise in anti-Latino hate crimes?


Last, what about undocumented youth who face an educational glass ceiling as college is out of reach without financial aid and high non-resident fees?

I expected something different from Target. I was wooed by those free days at museums, free concerts and all that red (my favorite color). I thought Target wouldn’t be like other vendors who sell racist costumes playing on tired stereotypes and caricatures.

Qué lástima.


Disgruntled Target Shopper

P.S. Anyone who pays $39.99 (plus shipping and tax) for such a costume is not only racist, but also stupid.

Updated: Target also sells a tequila pop n’ dude and Mexican costumes for adults and kids. Nopal not included. Guess they are showing their appreciation for mi gente.

Did you say free?


I don’t know of a family or couple not yet affected by La Crisis in one way or another. I may still have a job, but I’m not sure I can afford to continue graduate school with a substantial rise in fees (tuition).

Still, that’s not keeping home all summer. I may not be able to take a fancy vacation like my roommate, but I’m taking advantage of all the free activities the city offers. All you need is lawn chairs, blankets, a cooler/bag to pack up some snacks and you’re set to enjoy the outdoor concert season.

I’ve compiled some of the outdoor series I’ve enjoyed this summer or in the past. I’m sure I’ve missed some as I know surrounding cities (and museums) often plan their own “concert in the park” series. Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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On pants

He: Babe, I don’t have anything to wear to the Death Cab for Cutie show tonight at the Hollywood Bowl.

She: You should wear my pants. I don’t need them.

He: Thanks!

As seen on LA Eastside


We know our trends… at least when it comes to footwear.

I realized that Chimatli’s April Fool’s Day joke came true when I got an email from a shoe store about the hot new sandals: huaraches!

Huaraches, both flats and those hideous heels, range in cost from $99.95 (or the actual retail price of $169) to $24.95 (actual retail $36).

I’m sure you can get a much better deal at el Mercadito, right?

El Chavo’s True Identity Revealed

Every month or so a group of LA blogueros get together to talk shit, have some beers and share a meal. The meetings are fun, but they’re always missing El Chavo. I figured he didn’t attend because he was too busy sampling his favorite breakfast dish around town to stop by and set anyone who tried calling Echo Park and Silver Lake the Eastside straight. Yeah, sometimes there’s a clueless person who shows up to the gatherings.

This time around, he actually confirmed that he’d be attending. I was curious. What would El Chavo look and sound like? Unlike other blogueros, he’s never showed a picture of himself. Would he look like a veterano or would he have a heavy East LA accent? Would he be a pelón, long-haired Chicano or somewhere in between?

I soon found out and was very surprised.
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Carwash Compadres

Assumption youth group, Boyle Heights (1970s)

My parents met in the early 70s when they were both active members of the Assumption Church youth group and choir. They never left the tight-knit group as some of the members were their own siblings and became lifelong friends and compadres.

When they got married in 1977, several of the kids from the group got all dolled up and joined the large wedding party. Thirteen couples! I think my mom was still sore about not having a quinceañera.

Late the next year, my parents welcomed their first son, Danny. Of course, he had to be baptized. Danny’s padrinos were los Padilla, a couple my parents had met and befriended in the youth group. He was baptized at Assumption, as were the rest of us kids even though our home parish was in Hacienda Heights. They were now more than friends, they were compadres.

Growing up, I saw the youth group members — whom my parents called los Marcianos — frequently for birthday parties and camping trips. Somewhere along the way, the visits became less frequent. The last time I saw many of the Marcianos (save for my tío Johnny, seated in red) was for my Madrina Bertha’s funeral five years ago. Los Marcianos and their now grown children gathered at a church in Lincoln Heights for the Mass. They recreated the choir of their teens and early 20s, but this time the songs were much sadder. It was quite the bittersweet reunion.

Validation required


I once made a list of the pros and cons of living on the Westside. Parking was definitely one of the negatives along with several other complaints. I had one or two items on the pros column. Since then, I’ve added a few more:

  • I have a short commute to school/work on the Big Blue Bus. It would be shorter if the area was less congested. Oops. I was trying to stay positive.
  • It’s cooler in the summer. I don’t need a fan or air conditioner to get through July, August and September.
  • I can find restaurants and shops in my area reviewed in magazines, newspapers and mainstream blogs.
  • I don’t have to challenge perceptions about my neighborhood being unsafe or dirty.
  • The city won’t dare run an at-grade light rail line through this side of town, unlike in poorer, blacker, browner areas
  • Transplants with no respect for history are not trying to rename other areas as the new Westside.

It’s not so bad. Just don’t forget to validate your parking. Or better, spend a few minutes looking for a spot on the street.

Valentine’s Day Cards by Rio

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know Valentine’s Day sucks. We don’t need to designate a day to show love, it’s commercialized, there’s too much pressure for couples, etc.

Despite these reasons, I still enjoy February 14th. I like silliness, candy and any excuse to wear red. I also like that Valentine’s Day inspires artists to find creative ways to show love and appreciation for significant others, friends and family.

I also like handing out Rio Yañez’s cards. For the last few years he’s made a set of 6 or 7 one-sided Valentine’s cards similar to those you handed out in elementary school. His new cards feature LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Morrissey, Selena, Ugly Betty, and the Iraqi shoe thrower journalist. Oh, I can’t forget Frida. He makes a Frida card each year.

Rio writes, “as always, please post these cards on the pages of your friends, enemies, shorties, sanchos, and booty calls. To see an archive of cards from years past CLICK HERE.

Don Bartolo el Sobador

Don Bartolo

Grandpa didn’t post flyers on a telephone pole, hand out business cards or place an ad in the yellow pages. He relied on simple word of mouth. It worked.

The strangers always arrived with their families to Grandpa and Grandma’s house on Hicks just north of la Brooklyn. Sometimes, it was easy to tell which person (or people) was the reason for the visit. Other times it wasn’t so clear.

They’d amble up the driveway and interrupt a frenzied game of freeze tag amongst cousins.

“Buscamos a Don Bartolo. Está ocupado?”
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