Preview: Benjie Escobar “Take it Easy”

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Benjie Escobar has a new show that opens this Saturday. We talk a lot about artists who have disparate influences, but rarely can they bring it all together into something as cohesive and actually fun. This show will sell out so if you want to buy something, try to get there early!

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DJ Dodger Stadium Live at KXSC FEST this Weekend at USC

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KXSC FEST is free with an RSVP (http://bit.ly/fest15eb) which is required to enter campus. Parking info, etc. is all available here: (http://bit.ly/fest15fb).

Q&A with COOP, whose “Work on Paper, 1987-2015″ Opens Saturday

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Christopher Cooper, AKA COOP, will present a retrospective of work on paper spanning over 25 years this weekend at Coagula Curatorial (974 Chung King Road). Originally from Oklahoma, COOP has been in Los Angeles longer than many of his millions of fans worldwide have been alive. We caught up with the new father to talk about his art, life in Los Angeles, and drunken dwarfs.

Are you a cool dad?
You’ll have to ask my son, when he learns to speak. (Continued)

Video of the Day: BEI RU “SWEET TEMPTRESS”

When this video starts, you might imagine you’re about to see a souk in Beirut or Amman. Little clues give it away– you can spot a piñata, the girl’s bandana is by CRYPTIK, and the car is an old Chevy.

The music is by Armenian-American L.A. local Bei Ru (who has performed at Low End Theory), and the video is directed by Postas. Check it out: things get weird and the music is tight.

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Tacos Straight Outta Compton

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A photo posted by TacoMell (@tacomell_catering) on

Our friends at First We Feast are celebrating “LA WEEK”, which you know is going to include lots of tacos. One article which stands out is L.A. Taco contributor Tony Chen’s Rise of the Compton Taco. Chen takes you on a tour of the various taco stands, restaurants, and catering options in Compton that feature what he calls “organic cross-cultural pollination” between the city’s Black business owners and the city’s majority Latino population.
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Squid x ESTO ~ Downtown L.A.

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Photos by Joe Jimenez.
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We Need to Do Something About Eric Andre

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Eric André is one of the funniest people on television and regularly delights us with his absurd, sometimes straight up insane comedy. His talk show is the last talk show that ever needs to be created as he pretty much demolishes the entire genre. Literally.
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Gabriel Kahane “The Ambassador” ~ This Weekend

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“Gabriel Kahane’s lilting, lyrical, loving art songs… deserves a spot on a bookshelf dedicated to LA.” – LA Observed
In singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane’s landmark collaboration with Tony-winning director John Tiffany, time—both real and imagined— is suspended, as we are drawn into a dreamlike experience of Los Angeles that spans Hollywood’s Golden Age to a post-flood apocalypse.

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An Evening With ABSTRAKTO ~ Thursday

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ABSTRAKTO is vocalist and multi-instrumentalist of the multi-Grammy-winning group Ozomatli, and music producer / actor Balthazar Getty. Keep reading for some music videos and more info…

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What You Need to Know About Gangs in Los Angeles in 2015 ~ A Q&A With Sam Quinones

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Sam Quinones is an author and journalist who lives and works in Los Angeles. He spent many years with the Los Angeles Times, and has done some of his best work since leaving the organization, including recent pieces in the New York Times, National Geographic, and Pacific Standard magazine. The author of several books, including the forthcoming Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, he is also the originator of the Tell Your True Tale workshop which we have featured here on L.A. Taco (here, and here). Sam is a nationally known as an expert on gangs in Los Angeles, and we wanted to get some basic information that could be useful for all Angeleños…

You recently said that the Mexican Mafia is something all Angelenos should know about. What are some basics that you can share with our readers?

That’s a big topic. Basically, the Eme is perhaps an enormously important institution in the lives of people who live in Latino barrios across Southern California. It is so because two decades ago it began organizing, from prisons and county jail, the Latino gang members on the streets, ordering them to tax drug dealers in their areas and funnel part of the profits to whatever Eme member controlled the gang’s area, or his associates or family members.

This new system was instituted by one or two, then copied by many other Mexican Mafia members. The taxation system transformed a prison gang into a mafia on the streets. It transformed local neighborhood gang members from guys who strictly were about controlling their turf into guys far more interested in making money and acquiring power.

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Above: “Boxer” Enriquez, former Mexican Mafia killer turned informant who was recently denied parole.

The local Eme member, from his cell in Pelican Bay or Corcoran maximum security, could in broad terms control things on the street, ordering a gang to kill its own members, which is something that never happened before. They also have ordered some gangs to tax certain businesses that have nothing to do with drug sales but are on the edge of legality – like ice cream and fruit vendors, cantinas and bar operators.

Some Eme members have ordered what amounts to crime waves in their areas. Many have let it be known that they didn’t want blacks operating in their territories, leading gangs to go on ethnic cleansing crusades for a several years.  (Continued)

Recap: 4th Annual L.A. Zine Fest

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Last Sunday was the 4th annual L.A. Zine Fest. The one-day-only event was very well attended, with people streaming in and out of the event site all day long. Interesting outfits and dyed hair was in abundance as were zines in every permutation imaginable. Some of our favorite tables were Freeways Collide, Adam Villacin, and Sleep Talk Press. The great people over at Influenza were on the scene, passing out hand stamped fliers to promote the 1st ever Long Beach Zine Fest.

A truly great thing about the LAZF is that it really promotes the D.I.Y. movement, and has helped inspire more and more people to create their own work and do their own thing. Within the last four years the LAZF has gained a huge following, as the event connects people from all over the world. L.A. Taco’s Desilu stopped by to support and document this very cool event that happened on a very hot February day. (Continued)