Memorial for Gilbert “Magu” Lujan

Artist Vibiana Aparicio stands in front of the altar for Magu created by his family.

This afternoon a community memorial service and life celebration was held at the East Los Angeles Civic Center for artist Gilbert Magu Lujan. Emceed by Richard Montoya of Culture Clash, with  ceremonial nahuatl dance and music led by Martin Espino, a poignant opening by curator and art historian Tere Romo, a touching letter to Magu written and read by muralist Wayne Healy, a special “Haiku for Magu” by Ruben Guevara, filmmaker  Jesus Trevino‘s observation of Magu as the spark that invoked a new art movement, as well as numerous other friendship, family and historical moments were publicly made today.

Guests added momentos to the altar "Tree of Life" for Magu.

Continue reading

My Cruise Down Whittier Boulevard

Whittier Boulevard in Los Angeles is a street with deep rooted history. In a way it has become the pinnacle of East Los Angeles. Even though I did not grow up in the area, I always heard of Whittier Boulevard. It has often known as the hub for Mexican-Americans on the Eastside. Old Chicano films and music often brought this to light.  You can  still take a drive down Whittier today and feel some of the history seeping from the buildings. I wish I could have seen it during its prime time. However, I can only imagine and listen to stories of the past.

Fellow blogger Al Desmadre is a great Eastside source when it comes to forgotten history of Whittier Boulevard he has written excellent  posts reliving the era.

What caught my curiosity of this street? Well I had been driving down it almost every Sunday meeting friends near Montebello. On the way back instead of taking the freeway I went down Whittier Boulevard. Since the street is pretty popular I never thought about blogging about it before, but hey everybody has their own perspective on a place. I decided to do a short but sweet photo session on the beauty I see on Whittier Boulevard.

Continue reading

Notes from the Boyle Heights Wastelands

This week the spin doctors were working overtime to make Michelle Obama look like a hypocrite for eating a burger and fries, because it registered at 1700 calories!! One of her personal campaigns is to have healthier food in public school cafeterias and food programs. Who’s not for that? Back to the calories though– for some women a whole day’s intake of calories could be 2000 or around that (yes, that’s 3 meals) and the amount needed just to maintain the same weight, not to loose or gain. Gender, age, activity and some doctors think ethnicity, determine how many calories an individual should eat.

Being a vegetarian for decades now, I have had run-ins with long lost friends at the super market whose eyes sadden upon spotting meat in my cart. I don’t need to explain that my cat is on an organic food diet and eats ground turkey or that I make beef tamales and chicken mole for my brother on his birthday —but I do. I practically live like a monk, because I have lived in a certain way and people expect that from me— I expect that from me. I really don’t ram my personal rules down anyone’s throat and those of you who think I do —“you really wouldn’t want to know what goes on in my head”. Still, there are some hardships to being a role model, even if it’s by accident, like me. I would not trade places with someone in the microscopic public eye, like poor Michelle.

We all know that Boyle Heights and some other communities on the eastside are considered to be food deserts, because there are not enough super markets to supply us with nutritious and healthy foods. If you’ve ever tried to get into El Super at 6 p.m. on any day—you know what I mean. Forget about getting a healthy vegetarian choice at any of the local restaurants either. It’s all about the queso. There are many people that have poor diets in the food dessert (due to lack of availability), they are considered to be malnutrition. But, even if we live in a food desert, we can make choices that are healthy instead of giving into the “high profits and low product” American food cartels. People who use grocery coupons to make ends meet can easily fall into the pit of foods that have absolutely no nutritional value. Think about it—why would a manufacturer give you something free? Usually, it is for a new product and it reminds me of the drug dealers (in those 80s movies) that get you hooked on cheba by giving you freebies at first. Beware of those coupons.
Continue reading

A Sad Farewell, Requiem for a Palace, The Golden Gate Theater

This is the grand Golden Gate Theater of yesteryear. But grandeur fades. Icons wither, some more gracefully than others. The Golden Gate Theater in East Los Angeles, movie palace of my youth and once proud cornerstone of Whittier Blvd. Eastside culture, does not deserve to be remembered in this recently discovered undignified and disgusting state… Continue reading

LA Weekly Knows LA


Sidesider cat knows the score.

Hats off to Dennis Romero of the LA Weekly for schooling fools on some sense of LA geography that isn’t limited to the past 10 years. Check out this link and the discussion that is happening in the comments section, there are a bunch of cop out explanations of fluidity and change aka “I’m here now so the world is different”. I want to throw in my worthless two cents but have to get back to the pinchi jale.

You all should have your say.

Cure for the Summer Time Blues

Have you ever had to say the words “¡Pinches chavalos cabrones!”? That was me yesterday. My car is in the shop, so I am on the metro–and you got to get up a little earlier. The bus waits for no man. As I was walking out of my house—my whole front retainer wall is tagged in HUGE letters including FU (spelled out). I run back inside to quickly paint it myself. I locate a full can of stucco paint and open it—I find that it’s dark purple (I need beige). Double urgh! Quickly I go on line and shoot a message to the city’s graffiti removal program. As I walked towards the bus stop, I see that my neighbors got it too.

As an artist, I know that it’s just a case of Summer Time Blues. Urban kids out of school for the summer looking for something to do. Marginalized from any age appropriate community spaces. Urban kids got it tough. It has been proven time after time that this amateurish scratching, marking, etching, spraying could be an artist taking baby steps.

My friend tells me that I can get a $1000 reward for catching the culprits. Last time I saw the kids doing this, I yelled “Why don’t you take an art class? You don’t even know how to do it right. It looks ugly!” That moratorium on tagging my street lasted a few years.
Continue reading

Film Festival on the LA Metro!

Those of you who ride the metro to work and around town, you’re in for a unique treat this month. Starting June 13 there will be a continuous loop of short films created about Los Angeles and especially for those who ride the metro.  This collection of films is called “Out of the Window”.  The Los Angeles Weekly got the jump on the details of this event last week. If knowing whose idea this was and who is funding this film festival click here for all those details.

My 2 minute film “LA Woman” was selected to be a part of this first group of films created by 30 professional artists and teams of teen filmmaking students. The films will be shown on 2000 LA Metro buses over 4000 square miles of LA County—wow! I’ve never been in such a mega media blitz before. The buzz was that there were an overwhelming amount of ‘car culture’ themed entries. Well, hell LA is all about how you get around the city–whether it’s on the metro, bike or car—it’s one our our daily preoccupations. My film is all about cruising. This festival will be interactive too. Films will end with a question prompting metro riders to text their response. My film question is “Who is your favorite LA woman?”.  Simple, because I like to keep it easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy.

On Sunday, June 12, all the student entries will be screened followed by a reception at Inner City Arts, 3pm. This is such an exciting project for these young Cecil B. DeMilles in-the-making. [I’m more of a Godard.]
Continue reading

Memories of a Lost Boulevard, Whittier Blvd on Film

Many of us like to reminisce about the time when Whittier Boulevard was “Thee Boulevard”. Those of us who grew up near it will have a story or two to tell about this iconic
Eastside street, especially the stretch between Eastern and Atlantic Avenues. Those four lanes have seen alot of action, drama, laughter, tears, heroism and ‘scandalo. Luckily “La Whittier” has been captured on film a few times and we can catch a brief visual of what it was all about. On the opening titles to the 1974 NBC TV show “Chico and the Man” we glimpse a lowrider wedding procession (paper flowers and all) heading east on Whittier. The camera sits across from JonSons Market and pans west to east as we see the Lerner Shop on Fetterly Ave (Where my ma bought her chonis and stuff) and the F.W. Woolworth’s store. The last angle shows the facade to Thrifty’s on Fraser Ave. Perhaps most of you can name some of the Eastside locations shown. As for the show itself, I think the theme song is a bit corny. We used to watch it because it was supposed to depict us, but one thing the “Man” didn’t seem to understand at the time was that we Chicanos knew Freddie Prinze was Puerto Rican and because we brown people aren’t interchangeable, we sometimes didn’t relate to his character. Here’s the lyrics to the theme song sung by Jose Feliciano:

Chico, don’t be discouraged,
The Man he ain’t so hard to understand.
Chico, if you try now,
I know that you can lend a helping hand.

Because there’s good in everyone
And a new day has begun
You can see the morning sun if you try.

And I know, things will be better
Oh yes they will for Chico and the Man
Yes they will for Chico and the Man.

I’ve included some still frames that show the boulevard in the early 70’s.

And if that ain’t enough “Boulevard” fix for you locos,…Let’s not forget this little celluloid gem from 1979,……

CicLAvia Boyle Heights Explorer Ride This Sunday

In case anyone hasn’t heard yet, the July Ciclavia has been canceled. As posted on their site, the need to expand is taking up all the time and resources so as to improve on the routes, safety for everyone, making it more pedestrian friendly etc. Read the blog post to find out what are some the things they’re working on for the Oct. ride, which includes an expansion into Boyle Heights and South Central. The two proposed routes are available for folks to check’em out and they look awesome.

As part of the expansion process, the Boyle Heights exploratory ride will take place this Sunday at 11 a.m. at Libros Schmibros !! Community residents, including myself, have been attending the expansion meetings and chiming in with our two cents as to what makes BH great and destinations and routes outsiders will enjoy when crossing over the river. The route expands starting at Boyle street taking all of 1st. street down to Lorena. On Euclid will then connect folks to Whittier Blvd. and end at Salazar Park, which turns into LA County. If you know BH, then you all the restaurants, historical and cultural landmarks that found all along this route. See ya Sunday and rsvp on the facebook event page for any last minute changes on meeting location or time.

 

Libros Schmibros