Botanitas: March 9, 2010

Yes, at home I can feel like a tourist, which is what inspired me to try a vegan hot dog at the famous tourist spot, Pink’s in Hollywood. Of course, the vegan hot dog would be named after one of LA Eastside’s favorite media personalities, Patt Morrison (vegan hot dog topped with guacamole and tomatoes.) I was pleasantly surprised by it’s tastiness.

Botanitas is an ongoing feature bringing you stories and news from various sources, upcoming events and other bits of ephemera that might be of interest to LA Eastside readers. Suggestions welcome!

Click through for maestros con ganas, income gaps, history razing,  phantom raising and Mexican clovers.

***3/10/10: NEW EVENTS!***

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The Mariachi-Oke Experiment con Trio Ellas

ESL patron channeling his inner Linda Rondstat

ESL patron channeling his inner Linda Rondstadt

Mariachi Plaza has been home to many troubadours, seeking to serenade the ears of passersby with their songs for sale. Across the way, this tradition has held true in the local neighborhood bar, Eastside Luv, a familiar and favorite spot of mine and many, away from the “Los Angeles” of late but with an added interactive twist to los Canciones de su Padre. For several months now, the barra monument to many things Mexican and Mexican American culture has been hosting “Mariachi-Oke!”  Yes, it is what it sounds like, and it is the first and third Sunday of every month. Patrons step on to the stage and attempt to belt out the ballads of Beltran, Negrete, Gabriel, and Fernandez without fear and hopefully, without forgetting the lyrics.  There are no bouncing balls highlighting the sing along words; it’s a sink or swim policy that ESL holds, which has filtered out the amateurs, but not always the hard of hearing. Not to worry, though, you are in more than good hands with the Trio Ellas, the live mariachi music accompaniment who will toss you a lifesaver from time to time when you feel, and when the audience lets you know, that you’re drowning.

The three very talented young ladies Natalie Cortez (Guitarron), Suemy Gonzalez (Violin), and Stephanie Amaro (Guitar) make up this trio. Every other Sunday night, they explore the range of mariachi music, from somber love songs to ballads of brokenhearted lovers scorned by cheating spouses. Emotional catharsis is music, and very much mariachi. The group took some pre show time on the ESL patio to chat with us about life, prison, and the love of music.

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Notice Served: Three The Hard Way

Here are some shows to check out this weekend. Note: First show is on Thursday. If you into hardcore (and powerviolence), then this is like a damned potty. Apoplectic to announce the return of Stapled Shut. I saw em at No Que No years ago, and some drunk punks stumbled in and almost puked on my shoes. One looked at me, while SS played, and blurted, “Are these guys from Finland?” Uh, no. According to their myspace they sound like “puro desmadre.” Who doesn’t like that? Check out their lovely anthem, “Kill The Corporates.” How you like them drums? Endless Demise (-ex Excruciating Terror, -ex Nausea LA) also playing and more.

Kill The Corporates
[audio:|titles=Kill the Corporates]

Stapled Shut
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Hi-NRG aka Chicano Disco

Stop-Wake Up (Very awesome video filmed in Los Angeles and popular Hi-NRG song)

Over at my personal blog, I’ve been doing a series of posts based on a book I’ve been reading called Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco. I was fascinated to read the chapter on Hi-NRG or what I’ve come to call “Chicano Disco” (my nod to the moniker “Chicano Oldies”) and the music’s influence on a generation of Eastsiders.
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Brooklyn Music Center, Boyle Heights

My good friend asked me to share her words about the Brooklyn Music Center, the new music space operated by Ollin’s front man, Scott Rodarte.

Brooklyn Avenue Roots, Alive and Rockin’
By Victoria Kraus

A new community music school will open its doors this January along Cesar Chavez Avenue (formerly Brooklyn Avenue) by East Los rockin’ roller, Scott Rodarte of local Chicano punk-rock band Ollín.

Brooklyn Music Center

The Brooklyn Music Center (BMC) will function primarily as a school offering children and adults alike in the community affordable group and private lessons on a variety of instruments. The space will also be equipped and available to bands for rehearsals and recording.

“Our vision is to help generate art in the neighborhood so folks don’t have to go outside of the community to create or be enriched, musically,” Rodarte says of his music center.

The Brooklyn Music Center was previously the Brooklyn Medical Clinic. The space, still reminiscent of its history with its vintage architecture and glass blocks along the storefront entrance, was a shared medical and optometry clinic owned and operated by Doctors Freidman and Kaplan. Scott and his brother, Randy, also of Ollín, used to work at the clinic while in high school, where they made pairs of glasses among doing other administrative duties.

Rodarte remembers the variety of commerce that used to thrive on Brooklyn Avenue such as the Brooklyn Theatre directly across the street from his music school, Phillips Music a few doors down, and Kens, a sporting goods store. “You know, all the mom and pop stores that were around before the corporate entities like Guitar Center, AMC Theatres and Big 5 took hold of society,” Rodarte reminisces.

BMC might stir some friendly rivalry with Boyle Heights’ acclaimed Neighborhood Music School but friendly would be is as far is gets. Rodarte has more of a rocker’s intention with the music program he plans to build. Rodarte and fellow musicians from his band along with friends will be teaching everything from percussion to electric guitar, maybe even the washboard.

Remodeling of the Brooklyn Music Center is scheduled to complete in early January.

2515 E. Cesar Chavez Ave.  (at Fickett) 90033

An Eastside Invitation


This bill was found among my father’s old photos. He’s been involved with the Eastside music scene for most of his life. I’m not sure, but it’s possible either he or one of my uncles was playing in one of the bands advertised on the bill. I once asked my uncles to name all the bands they’ve played in and I ran out of space on the piece of paper I was writing on!

One more thing, I have no idea why Mexicans/Chicanos have such a hard time with the proper spelling of the endings “-ing” and “-ght.”

Childhood games


Growing up as a kid, I loved playing games with all the other neighborhood kids and more often than not, cousins too. A lot of the games we played are your standard stuff like hide and seek, tag, freeze tag, trompos, canicas, soccer, going on long bike rides around the hood, hitting rocks with a stick, throwing stuff at RTD buses passing by, you know, those kind of games. The ones were all you needed was a bunch of friends and a sunny afternoon. Since we were all from low income families back in the day, course we didn’t know it at the time and speaking for myself, still am, we created our own fun and those were some of the best times I had in my childhood. I was even caught up in the whole pog craze. Then I got swept up in the yo-yo craze tambien. One of the best games I remember playing with my cousins was getting two sticks. A short, thick one and a long skinny one. We would dig a hole in the dirt and place the small stick over the hole. We would then used the longer stick to chuck the short stick as far as we could,  the way you hit a golf ball with a club. The winner was who ever threw it the fardest. We had some good times playing with two sticks and a hole in the dirt. So, I wanna know what games you guys/gals played when you were a kid. Was it made up ? Did someone get hurt from the game ? Were you emotionally scarred for life like I was when you were picked last at everything because everyone thought you’d suck, but then you’d be the one kicking ass ? Do you even remember how to play those games ? (cause god knows I can’t remember how to play canicas anymore) Have you taught your kids, nephews and god children to play those same games ? Dime… AND please keep any crazy stories about playing house and doctor to yourself, this is a family site. Unless they’re really good, then please share them by all means 🙂

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

Thee Eastside Theme Song Poll

When you think of the Eastside, what song(s) do you think of? Is there one definitive tune that can be called the Eastside Anthem? I’ve been trying to find the answer to those questions and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are too many factors to consider before attempting to define a song that embodies the broad richness and historical flavor of our Querido Eastside. For one thing, we must consider the era that holds the strongest meaning to us. Would you favor the “Classic” Eastside era of the 60’s and 70’s or beyond? And of course we must also filter our choices by the unique tastes of the various subcultures and cliques found in our community. The Cholo types might  have certain musical preferences as would the Low Riders, Old Skoolers, Cruisers, Disco era types, Rockers, Punks, Hip Hoppers, Regionals and so on. Do we consider if it’s a cruising song? or perhaps a dance number or a song just for kicking it Eastside style? Continue reading