About soledadenmasa

Mariachi musician, college student in Massachusetts. To read the "Mariachiando" series, visit http://laeastside.com/category/mariachiando/ or http://soledadenmasa.wordpress.com/mariachiando/.

Bone-shaking volume

CDs by Mr. Sánchez. Mexicans know him as a valiente, a brave one: armed, dangerous and doomed (he was ambushed and executed after a concert in Mexico in 1992). Comparisons are superficial, but you could think of him as part Billy the Kid, part Bill Monroe. Photo: Eric Grigorian for The New York Times

Photo: Eric Grigorian for The New York Times

This past weekend, the N.Y. TimesTravel section revisited Los Angeles, focusing on narcocorridos and venues that play an important part in its spread throughout Los Angeles. It went better this time than the last time they visited L.A.

Narcocorridos, and by extension, any form of Mexican music that is born and nourished in Los Angeles, are not covered much in the United States. Almost every time narcocorridos are mentioned in media, it’s tied with the current Mexican Drug war fiasco and spoken about negatively. I once sat in on a discussion with a well-known Mexican journalist at a university and she all but blamed the whole situation in Mexico & the Americas on narcocorridos. The whole time I sat there, I shook my head, unable to comprehend how someone could explicitly blame corridos for the “drug war” in México.

Coverage of narcocorridos in the U.S. is much different than in México. The United States is much less subjective than México in its coverage of narcocorridos. Mexican journalists have bought the Mexican government’s argument that narcocorridos are to blame for the drug trade and must be banned from radio play. American journalists have gone further into narcocorridos, documenting its rise and popularity among Mexicans in the United States and the constant airplay in radio. It’s a musical form that allows the children of Mexican immigrants to become immensely popular, though the singing is sometimes sub-par. Continue reading

New Parks Where Barren Land Once Was


Unfinished portion of Chavez Park, Phase II, taken Sep. 2008

For as long as I can remember, South Gate has had a bike path along Southern Ave. It begins near Alameda, passes South Gate Park and reaches the Los Angeles River bike path via an entrance at Tweedy & Burtis, at the edge of abandoned industrial lots. As you can tell by the pictures, the bike path runs under the DWP’s transmission towers and often intersects residential streets far from the corner, creating a hazard whenever bicyclist and driver fail to look for oncoming travelers. LACMTA classifies it as a Class I bike path [pdf] until it reaches South Gate Park, at which point there are bike lanes on both sides of Southern.

That being said, I still cyclists riding on the sidewalk on the other side of the street or bicyclists on the street itself, though the bike path is just across the street. What gets into people’s heads to ride so unsafely when they have the option the ride safely, separate from cars, across the three-lane street? It’s bothered me every time I’ve seen it, both as a pedestrian and a driver. I’m not disturbed that asshole cyclists shut down the street (they don’t), it’s that riders do not take advantage of the opportunity to ride safely. Children’s races along the bike path are a welcome common sight, but I’d like to see more of the cyclists going in South Gate on the bike path. More (including images) after the jump. Continue reading

VIII Encuentro de Jaraneros, 27 June, Lynwood!


This coming Saturday, June 27th, the 8th Annual Encuentro de Jaraneros is taking place at Plaza México in Lynwood! It’s not common for events like this one to get much publicity outside of Spanish-language media, and that’s where LAEastside.com comes in!

El Encuentro starts at noon and is scheduled to end after 9 p.m. The full list of performers is available at the website. The Masters of Ceremonies are Radio-Mas Veracruz’s Rafael Figueroa & KPFK’s Betto Arcos.

What is son jarocho? More info & music after the jump! Continue reading

Núñez’s back, tell a friend

Less than three months after being termed out of his Assembly seat, former Speaker Fabián Núñez has filed paperwork to run for office in 2010, if not sooner.

The Sacramento Bee reports that Núñez filed paperwork to return to Sacramento as a state Senator, running to replace current state Senator Gil Cedillo, who intends to run for Hilda Solis’ Congressional seat once she is confirmed as Secretary of Labor.

Who knows if he will actually run for office or if this just an action to store his reported $5 million war chest. I hope not to see him in office.

Photo taken from cindylu’s Flickr page.

The calm before the storm


Before the Gold Line extension opens, we must ensure we have transportation to infiltrate the enemy. We have expertly placed troops throughout various points in the Westside, always vigilant. However, we need more troops in the Westside to relieve some of the stress on our exiled troops. The Eastside and allied neighborhoods are some of the densest in the United States and we can afford to send more out west. Let’s call it Manifest Destiny.

We can encircle Silver Lake (two words, cabrones! If you live in the neighborhood, learn to spell it! I’ve seen way too many write it as Silverlake), but we have to move people over the Westside as quickly as possible. With no direct train out west past Western (unless you go northwest to Hollywood) and the 20/720/920 packed as ever on Wilshire, we must use our horseless carriages, especially for reconnaisance. If you’re not a member of Midnight Ridazz 2 or a paisa on a bici to work, you shouldn’t be on a bike over there for fear of being followed by the Neighborhood Jura. Even if you’re a paisa on your bici to work, ¡aguas!

I present to you the avant garde and fastest way to transport large numbers of people: the car trunk kept down with rope. Riding in trunks is no longer something you do when you’re drunk/high/desmadroso or to make it past Oceanside to Orange County. with this new technology, it will be a snap to release those in the trunk, just use a scissor or knife to cut the rope and BAM! you’re out! With a number of old Lincoln Town Cars/Ford Crown Victorias/Chevy Caprice, the Eastside will infiltrate the Westside with relative ease.

With enough Eastsiders/sympathizers in the Westside, we could hotwire their Prius’s GPS to talk like this:

This post was an excuse to use that picture. With La Crisis on us, people just can’t afford to drive to a junkyard and get a lock for their car. Sometimes the easiest way out is the best way out.

The cityhood train marches on

One hurdle on East L.A.’s path to incorporation was cleared on Friday. The County registrar certified the signatures on the cityhood petition, all 11,000-plus. What’s next? The fiscal study on the feasibility of cityhood, which should be complete by September 2009, according to the timeline in the official cityhood website. An initial study conducted in 2007 showed the possible City of East Los Angeles would be economically feasible.

If the new study finds East Los Angeles to be economically feasible, a cityhood vote would be held in 2010 and the city would be incorporated in 2011. If anything, the Gold Line will work in East L.A.’s favor.

My favorite part of this drive for cityhood is explained in this statement by Oscar Gonzales, the President of the East Los Angeles Residents Association:

Gonzales says the 140,000 residents are represented by a county supervisor whose district covers 2 million people.

State Senator Gloria Romero currently supports this process and Supervisor Gloria Molina has stayed quiet. I wonder when she’ll speak or abstain. Very interesting…

I know we got urban planners/awesome people who read this blog. Please, give your insight into East Los.

Image above taken from Cityhood for East L.A.’s Flickr. To learn more, visit their official website.

Mariachiando: Me miro en el espejo

In this issue of Mariachiando we jump from 1999 (last post) to Nochebuena 2006…

In high school, I was part of a mariachi group with other high school friends. We formed it sometime before the beginning of high school in 2003 (we were all in the same year at school) and we performed at private parties, etc., throughout Southern California. Though it was a (tax-free) source of income for many of us, we always hesitated about taking gigs after December 15th because members traveled with their families or had very packed calendars. In 2006, however, almost all our members stayed in South Gate for Christmas and we accepted a gig on Nochebuena only because it was a one-hour performance in South Gate.

We only had one replacement for that night, another mariachi musician from South Gate and a friend of ours (always up to substitute in our group). I arrived at the house about half-an-hour early and warmed up with other the mariachis outside. It was a really cold night, notwithstanding the fact that we were wearing mariachi trajes (not the best protection for legs), but looking forward to a quick performance where there wouldn’t be anyone drunk.

We went in and performed in their backyard. Though they had hired us, they did not seem too much into the songs. Maybe because it was Christmastime, who knows. They had a fire going and all the embers and smoke were blowing toward us, messing up our singing and choking us throughout the performance. When our hour was done, we bowed and started to take our leave. One of the men stopped us and said (in Spanish), “Stay for one more hour.”

“Can’t, it’s Nochebuena and we agreed to only one hour. We have to go with our families.”

“I’ll pay 500 dollars for the second hour.” “Sorry, we really have to go.” “$700?” “Look, we must…” “$1,000?” “We’ll talk about it with the rest of the members.”

One hour of our time in Nochebuena was worth $1,000 to him. Our first hour went for $300. Continue reading

Mariachiando: La raíz

Mariachiando will be an ongoing series of posts at L.A. Eastside and my blog about my experience as a mariachi musician throughout Los Angeles. The posts will not be in chronological order in order to fully document these experiences and create a narrative. To follow these posts here at L.A. Eastside, visit the Mariachiando category.

My paternal grandfather was a mariachi musician in México. in the weekends, my grandfather often left for a whole day or a weekend with his violin, guitar, or vihuela, to play with compadres in other pueblos around los Altos de Jalisco. Often, he’d be in the plazas, playing and singing with friends. When he came to the United States to work in the 1970s, he spent time working, but eventually quit and spent the rest of his time in East L.A., playing throughout the area with other mariachis and friends.

Meanwhile, my dad and siblings grew up listening to my grandfather’s music and the music that filtered to their pueblo’s radios from Guadalajara. When they had some time to themselves, either when they walked from their rancho to the pueblo, they played games or sang. While none of my grandfather’s children became mariachis themselves, they all sang, a few of them very, very well and my dad learned to play the guitar.

My dad is the third-oldest male and the fourth-oldest child. The eldest three males immigrated first to the United States in the late-1970s. They originally lived in East L.A. & Boyle Heights, but moved to South Gate in the early-1980s. All the siblings eventually moved out to the Bay Area, the last one, the oldest male of the family, leaving South Gate in 1989 and his stove to my dad (which is still in operation today). Continue reading

Let’s go, public transport!

Dear Gloria Molina,

Remember Measure R, the county-wide tax increase measure you tried to prevent from reaching the November 2008 ballot by refusing to support the measure with a ‘yes’ vote? If I remember correctly, you said it didn’t spread enough money to projects in your area, though East L.A. is getting the Gold Line and passing Measure R would help pay for it to be extended further east and increase mobility throughout the Metro L.A. area.

Do you remember Measure R?

It passed.

Look at that! The heaviest support came from Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Gateway Cities in your district! Bell, Maywood, Huntington Park, Bell Gardens, Cudahy all voted in support of Measure R in excess of 77%. South Gate was one percentage point away from the so-coveted deep red, and I blame the disconnected Hollydaleans.

Your district supports improved mobility for people, not so much money and projects in their districts. Most of these cities have bus lines that connect with the Blue Line. What more do we want than increased mobility once we get to the Blue Line?

Keep this in mind the next time you abstain from supporting or opposing a measure. It didn’t bid well for you here.

Peace and love,


See map in full size here.

Missed connections

If you know new commenter India and want to contact her, you can, um, leave a comment. Maybe that will connect you two.

Im india From East Side Primera Flats. Stuck over here in Las Vergas. Im tring to get ahold of some of my people. I just got out of prison, i did a two year rip for some bull shit and lost track of everone. orale pues i hope i here from someone, anyone.

Ceiling of Union Station east lobby

Reminds me of a time I was in Union Station last summer, enjoying some air-conditioning before re-entering the hot sun of Los Angeles. I was looking for a Metro timetable when a man, probably no older than 35, in a white shirt, blue jeans, and dark bushy mustache, asked me, “Hey, you know what bus I got to take to El Monte?”

“Naw, man, don’t know.”

“Thanks, ese. I just got out la pinta [SEM: Twin Towers?] and my homies me están esperando en El Monte. You sure you don’t know which bus I got to take to El Monte?”

I looked at his right wrist and sure enough, he had one of those plastic bracelets I’ve only seen on recently released convicts and hospital patients.

“No, no sé. I think you should ask someone over by the counter. I have some change you could use for a phone call on the pay phone. Here, take it.”

“Thanks, ese. Nos vemos.”

Off he bounced away, looking around the building and enjoying the sun filtering in through the roof, with a cholo bounce in his step (you know what I’m talking about), while I stood there, holding a timetable, astounded someone so calmly told me they had just been released from la pinta.