The documentary film East L.A. Interchange will makes its world première this Sunday at the Downtown Film Festival L.A. The film is an eight-year labor of love from director Betsy Kalin, and follows the evolution of Boyle Heights and how the neighborhood survived the construction of the largest and busiest freeway interchange in the nation. The film features interviews with people like Xavi Moreno (pictured above in a photo by Chris Chew/Bluewater Media), will.i.am (The Black Eyed Peas), Father Greg Boyle (Homeboy Industries), and Josefina López (Real Women Have Curves). There’s also an original song by Raul Pacheco (Ozomatli) and voiceover from Danny Trejo.
The following story comes from the forthcoming Tell Your True Tale Volume 3. These compilations, created by Sam Quinones, have become an increasingly rich mix of stories out of the ELA area. Volume 1 and Volume 2 are also available on Amazon. The county library has created a dedicated site for the project, and the authors along with Sam will periodically do live readings and workshops. Additional information available at the end of the story.
As we walked toward the corner of Juniper and 108th, the bright glow of the streetlight made it even harder for us to keep from swaying. There were three of us, Jose Varela, Jose Villalobos, and myself, Jose Nunez, trying to decide which way to go.
Varela, the oldest, swayed and yelled, “Ya fools are drunk as hell!”
Villalobos giggled and stomped toward Varela and scolded him.
“What you expect? We just drank a 40 of Old E.”
Varela pushed him away.
“Shut your ass up before I knock you out.”
Villalobos put his hands up and threw a couple of punches.
“What’s up? You want some? Come get some, homes. What, you scared? Chabala. Ranker. Leva. That’s what I thought, punk.”
Everyone knows Ramona’s Mexican food products, especially their frozen burritos which have been available for years in supermarkets and convenience stores all over California. If you grew up in this area, there’s almost no chance you haven’t heated up and eaten a Ramona’s burrito at some time or another.
What you may not know too much about is the amazing life story of Romana Acosta Bañuelos, founder of Ramona’s, which started as a tortilla factory back in 1940. Romana was born in Arizona in 1925 (she turned 90 last month), but due to anti-immigrant backlash and the great depression, was forcibly “re-patriated” to Mexico in the early 1930’s by the U.S. Government. Back in Mexico, young Romana learned the basics of Northern Mexican cuisine, including the baking of tortillas and other staples. (Continued)
The following is one man’s personal history that starts with a move to Los Angeles, where he became interested and then obsessed with documenting gang graffiti and the world in which it flourished. The photos that accompany the piece represent a small fraction of the photos in eF Be‘s archives. You can view more here.
Graffiti is illegal. That’s really the main reason why I was initially attracted to it. We can discuss the significance of self-expression or dig deeper into the social ramifications of this ever-growing medium of aerosol exchange, but the bottom line is that it is against the law. It’s a blunt “fuck you” to authority, and that alone was enough for me to buy the ticket, and as we all know, once you buy the ticket, you have to take the ride.
My dream had always been to live in this world I had created inside my head that was composed of CHiPs episodes, Freestylin’ Magazine, Thrasher, Colors and Boyz In The Hood. That was all I knew about this mystical land of danger between the desert and the ocean. In 2002 I stepped out of a cab in Kentucky and rode a horse by the name of Seabiscuit all the way to Los Angeles. Upon arrival I immediately connected with some people in the skateboarding scene. I shot photos at backyard pools, parties and shows, and while graffiti was never too far from the frame, it was never clearly in focus. It was only after returning to Los Angeles from a brief hiatus in New York that I began to read the writing on the wall.
Nordic Ware, a family-owned manufacturing firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was founded in 1946 by brothers Dave and Mark Dalquist, as “Plastics for Industry.” In 1950, the brothers bought Northland Aluminum Products, a small firm with a line of “Nordic Ware” products including griddles and steak platters. The same year, Dave Dalquist created a cast aluminum, fluted cake pan and trademarked it as the “Bundt” pan. The company continued to grow its product line to include specialty baking and cookware items, including the microwave turntable.
Nordic Ware is notable due to its history of product innovation through engineering, and its continued production of cookware in the United States. Sadly, it does not appear that Nordic Ware currently offers any taco-related cooking equipment. Keep reading for historical images and descriptions of the product, which we believe was the first mass market taco related cookware kit produced in the United States. If anyone has examples of earlier, complete taco kits, please drop us a line.
The summer of 2009 I spent in Houston working with janitors as they fought to renew a union contract.
That July 4th , local pastors held a press conference supporting the janitors. Several union janitors were asked to attend.
That’s when I met Carmen Sanchez. I picked her up and drove her to the event. Carmen was our shortest member, in her sixties, direct, well groomed. She was from Chihuahua, Mexico. She was always at union events. She’d been a janitor for 12 years.
That afternoon, driving her home, my car got a flat tire. I called AAA, but it was clear that due to the holiday help would be a long time coming.
So it was that I found myself with Carmen Sanchez in the middle of downtown Houston on July 4th.
I thought I’d just get Carmen a cab and have her on her way home. But she refused.
The internet archive just added thousands of scanned book images from their archives to flickr. We’ve found some great L.A. nuggets all ready, and many of them come from an amazing 1903 Book called The city and county of Los Angeles in southern California. This book is by Harry Ellington Brook and contains images of all sorts, and descriptions of Los Angeles and SoCal at the turn of the century. You can peruse the book in full on archive.org here. It contains many interesting observations such as:
here is a great variety of soil, as well as of climate, in Los Angeles county, varying from light sandy loam to heavy adobe. The price of land also varies greatly, ranging from $30 to $100 per acre for lands adapted to grain,hay and deciduous fruits, without irrigation,up to $250 or $300 per acre for first-classcitrus land, with an ample water right. Land may be purchased in Los Angeles county on easy terms. A great many improved places,with bearing orchards and comfortable houses
This video from the 1940s gives you a nice tour, including going inside the original Von’s on Olympic Blvd. Another interesting stop is a drive-through shoe repair business! Here’s the full list of locations visited:
Sam Sweet lives in Highland Park and has written about surfing, music, and Los Angeles culture for the New Yorker and the Paris Review. His latest project is All Night Menu, a 64-page book that is the first in a five-volume series about the lost heroes and miniature histories of Los Angeles. The writing takes to you places you didn’t know were real but are right in your backyard and introduces you to people who shaped this city in unseen ways. Created wholly in Los Angeles, the booklet is only available locally, in stores like South Willard, Mollusk Surf Shop, and Anzen Hardware. More info at the end of this interview.
How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and what neighborhoods do you like best?
I moved here in 2007. I like the usual stuff. How can you not? No amount of overexposure can diminish the greatness of driving on Mulholland, or loitering on the rim of the Venice Skate Park, or being on the top floor of the Arclight parking garage. Even so, I think you get the best of Los Angeles in places undefined by any particular attractions. I’m happiest when I’m doing nothing much in Lincoln Heights, Chatsworth, El Segundo. I love Sun Valley because it’s so fiercely unattractive but within that labyrinth of auto recyclers is a living culture that is unique to LA. In a more conventional sense, I think San Pedro is one of the prettiest towns in America.
Kwasi boyd-bouldin has lived in and photographed Los Angeles for over 10 years. His new project, the Los Angeles Recording, seeks to document his city, from Downtown to Hollywood over that period. Kwasi focuses on architecture, the small details of urban life, and the contrasts between soaring towers and daily pedestrian life. We asked him for 10 photos, one for each year to help show the scope and style of the archive.
From the project description: (Continued)
Wattstax is a 1973 documentary film by Mel Stuart that focused on the 1972 Wattstax music festival and the African American community of Watts in Los Angeles, California. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Documentary Film in 1974.
The concert was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 1972, and organized by Memphis’s Stax Records to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots. Wattstax was seen by some as “the Afro-American answer to Woodstock”.