Being away from family also gave the freedom to live completely bacchanalian, if one chose it. It was an undergraduate rite of passage â€œto thy own-self be trueâ€ and part of the experience needed on the road to where you were headed. By the time some of my high school friends became freshmen, I was their mentor and resolver of all acculturating problems.
Iâ€™m not sure how the situation came about–my high school friend Danny taunting me into asking Jose a 22-year old senior to buy us beer, because we were too young. I was uncomfortable, knowing that I would owe Jose some favor that I could not pay backâ€”because he was obviously interested in me. The night ride down Torrey Pines Road in the back of a dark VW bus with Jose and my napping, assigned-sentry Raul, with John as shot-gun and Danny driving, seemed excruciatingly long. Occasionally Danny would pull back the blue Hawaiian print curtain that divided the cab from the carpeted surf den to say, â€œIs everything ok back there?â€ followed by a wink and grin at me. He knew I went reluctantly and this was his silly gesture to make light of it, while protecting my honor. Continue reading →
Victor Palafox is a 19 year old, undocumented resident of Alabama, pre/post HB 56. He was interviewed by dreamers adrift, a collective that documentes the undocumented, in Dallas, Texas a few weeks ago. In this candid interview, Victor describes what it’s like to live in the south, what it means to be undocumented there, how the community has changed for the worseÂ and what the future holds.
I was in Santa Ana last night, enjoying the Annual Noche de Altares (where they were charging $20! to get your face painted), when I saw a friend who was on his way to a Douglas Miles exhibit at CSF Grand Central Center, 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana. Getting out of the cold and finding a non-porta pottie restroom sounded good. He said there would be food too. I followed this white-rabbit around the corner to the Santa Ana Arts District and zoomed into a gallery that I knew had a restroom. The whole building of multiple galleries have the same address – 125A, B, C, D, etc., but luckily as I walked quickly towards the restroom, I saw a gallery with Douglas Milesâ€™ signature art at a distance. I point towards it and tell my friend â€œThere!â€
When we joined up in the gallery, I was so amazed by the beautiful art work (images of famous Apaches and new Apache icons) spray stenciled on found wood, the walls, skateboards throughout by Douglas Miles and Reanna Ruby. It is a small space, but each wall was appointed interestingly, harmonious with each artistâ€™s work playing off each other. Two pink skateboards star as delicious paleta-like sculptures on the wall. Large graphics of skaters by Cory Oberndorfer expand the space in unpredictable ways , there was even a skate ramp ready for the nightâ€™s entertainment.
Artist Vibiana Aparicio stands in front of the altar for Magu createdÂ 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, withÂ 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, filmmakerÂ 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.
You probably wonâ€™t find me hanging from the side of a bridge spraying my name –I have Acrophobiaâ€”but (yay) above you can see a photo of my first graff. Well, my design with the help and instruction of fellow student Kit McConnell. I think he got â€˜stuckâ€™ with me. My first class assignment yesterday was to find my tag nameâ€”I chose â€œVD, because its nothing to laugh aboutâ€– the teen boys in the group laughed when I said that. After a short history on the art of Graffiti, we spend the first hour making thumb nail sketches and catching up. It seems that some of the group is on a drop-in basis—there is a core of 10 faithful students, while others are coming and going as their time permits.
I was lucky to join the class upon instructor VyalOneâ€™s (sometimes â€œVyal1â€) return from Israel. There were lots of interesting stories from the trip. Customs and food challenges are usually an American travel preoccupation, followed by an exclamation of â€œWe are so spoiled!â€ This group of graffiti artists from the US, were selected to create murals in a very poor area of Israel (the west bank and Gaza) where donkey-hauling and child labor was evident. Seemed like an artistic dream to resonate the downtrodden in a visual homage—but no, that idea got whitewashed for a more uplifting message. The group (Maia Mural Brigade) completed 8 murals in a week. See pictures of the work and journey.
During studio time I also got inducted into the Graffiti class fundraiser coming up. I suggested raffling a graffitiâ€™d bicycle—but we need to get one donated first. Sighhhâ€”technicalities! Vyal also invited us to battle later this month—winner gets to battle him in San Francisco later this year. Uhm—Iâ€™m not ready for that. I am still trying to think how I can stretch out my tagâ€”its looking very early 90s. For now, VD morphed into Vdee, and upon spraying, one of the eâ€™s grew teeth–back to the drawing board.
Vyal said I showed much promise. I bet he says that to everyone. BUTâ€”it was fun and the 4 hours ($2.50 an hour) went by so fast. Did I mention that a guy showed up 40 minutes after the class started, threw open his car trunk, sold us tips, aerosol paints, gave us a mess of stickers and stayed on to paint with us? I love falling into a whole sub-culture.
A few weeks ago, FYF announced that NoAge were set to perform a free show at MacArthur Park. I being a fan of the band for some years now, coupled with being attracted by the quite possible interplay of people that might have never been to the park and the regulars was enough to bring me in. The flyer (below) announces that there would be a “Special Guest.” It turned out to be a very very very special guest that performed last night…
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. Whoâ€™s not for that? Back to the calories though– for some women a whole dayâ€™s intake of calories could be 2000 or around that (yes, thatâ€™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 donâ€™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 donâ€™t ram my personal rules down anyoneâ€™s throat and those of you who think I do —â€œyou really wouldnâ€™t want to know what goes on in my headâ€. Still, there are some hardships to being a role model, even if itâ€™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 youâ€™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. Itâ€™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 â€œhigh profits and low productâ€ 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 →
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 stateâ€¦ Continue reading →
Recently I had my car worked on— a strange and expensive malfunction that was not my fault and (thank God) still covered under my warranty.Â On the third week of being at the repair shop (a week longer than they had estimated), I called to find out what was going on and when my car would be ready.Â Emphasis on “I called them”—even though they had promised to call me.Â The shop manager was very cordial, explained that my warranty would cover the mega expense, that I now had a ‘brand new’ car in an older body and that I could pick it up that afternoon.Â Urgh—the fool knew I was anxious to get my car back, especially when a 3-day weekend was coming up in a day. My thoughts of why he didn’t call me sooner, why he underestimated the time it would take to fix,Â why he kept me on pins and needles regarding how much my warranty would cover dissipated when I knew I could pick up my car.Â Yay!
The shop manager ended our phone conversation (in an overly saccharine tone) with the news that I would be receiving a service survey from his corporate headquarters to complete and asked if I would give him the highest marks of 10 for his great service.Â I said “uh, sure”.Â When I picked up my car and the manager gave me the skippin’ &Â a’hummin’Â walk to my car (including opening the driver’s door for me), he again mentioned the survey and that “10s would be the only acceptable marks” I could give.Â Â I said “uh hum”. Continue reading →