Interview with Ryan Gattis, Author of All Involved

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Ryan Gattis is a novelist living and working in Los Angeles. A member of the art crew UGLARWorks, Ryan’s writing is both personal and a reflection of the city that helped shape him as a writer. His latest novel is All Involved, which is set mainly in Lynwood during the L.A. Riots. The book follows over a dozen characters as they attempt to survive at one of the most critic“When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.” ― Steve Jobsal points in Los Angeles history, and is gaining rave reviews from L.A. to N.Y to London. We caught up with Ryan to discuss the riots, the book, and Tacos El Unico.

Where were you during the riots?
I was in Colorado. I remember standing in the kitchen of my parents’ home in Colorado Springs while watching a nightly news report. Before the clip rolled, viewers were warned that what was to come was very violent, and that those with weak stomachs should turn away. I must have been thirteen years old at the time, so I didn’t turn. I leaned in. What came next was Damian ‘Football’ Williams smashing something heavy into Reginald Denney’s head. When it hit, I recoiled. I think my father even shouted when he saw it. My next thought was that Reginald Denney was certainly dead, and that was the first time I’d ever thought I’d seen a dead body, right there in the intersection of Florence and Normandie.

Since you’re not from Los Angeles, what was it like researching this book?
It was daunting, but in retrospect, I think being an outsider actually helped me. I came to the subject without biases; I was simply open and ready to listen. Over the course of my nearly 2.5 years of research & background work, I spoke with dozens of Angelenos, watched hours & hours of news footage—in addition to raw footage of the 1992 L.A. Riots, read every book I could find (Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 by Anna Deveare Smith, Official Negligence by Lou Cannon, Fires & Furies by Major General James Delk, to name a few), and dug through reels & reels of microfiche. But my research primarily began with speaking to former Latino gang members about the late 80s and early 90s, a time it seemed to me, that resembled the Wild West in many ways.
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Molly Lambert ~ My Favorite Taco

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Molly Lambert is a genius writer from the Valley whose appeal seems to cut across borders and boundaries in Los Angeles. If you need a concrete example, check our Gmail inbox or our Twitter mentions– people from East L.A. and Brentwood, Long Beach and Culver City, Boyle Heights and Encino forward us her columns in Grantland, usually without comment. People just want us to be aware of what she’s written, which is a nice thought but FYI we’ve usually already read the column…

Just this year Lambert has written about Clueless, Janet Jackson, Mad Men, Noah Baumbach, Rihanna, Van Morrison, Robert Durst, the Glendale Cat Show, and (perhaps most memorably) the AVN Awards in Las Vegas. It would be easy to look at one’s own pop-culture diet and for a moment not be overly impressed by that list until you remember that Molly is not just watching and thinking about those shows/movies/people, she’s illuminating them like a diligent monastic scribe. Presumably working by MacBook light in an Echo Park area cloister, Lambert paints the margins of today’s cultural artifacts with trenchant references to other works of art, while also giving us often hilarious insights and an opinion that is both unmistakably her own and resonant with a lot of people in this city.

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L.A. Taco interview with Allison “Hueman” Torneros

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In honor of POW! WOW! Long Beach which just kicked off on Monday, we’ve been getting in contact with some of the participating artists and organizers. We recently published interviews with Jasper Wong and Benjie Escobar, and this week we bring you an interview with Allison Torneros who goes by the name HUEMAN.

Over the past ten years, Hueman has edged ever closer to the art world spotlight, as her unique blend of mural and gallery skills are appreciated by a an expanding global audience.  Though she just recently moved back to the Bay Area, we still hold her close to our hearts as an honorary Angeleño. Hueman’s work speaks volumes, as the beautiful chaos she creates converges in harmony, causing you to simply stare in wonder at her paintings. Allison has also done work for Nike, Disney, CNN, and Miscrosoft, all while completing walls throughout Los Angeles, San Francisco, Florida, Hawaii and (this week) Long Beach. L.A. Taco’s Desilu recently had the chance to ask Hueman some questions: follow the link for more and remember to check out POW! WOW! Long Beach going down all this week!

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L.A. Taco Interview with Benjie Escobar

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We recently had the chance to sit down with Benjie Escobar at a bomb new ramen spot in Little Tokyo to discuss his current projects, what he’s been into lately, and what he has in store for POW! WOW! Long Beach. A true kid at heart (like most of us) Benjie stays in touch with his roots and aspirations through his multifarious artistic explorations. Benjie is involved in so many art forms it’s hard to keep up– he’s into restoring low rider bikes, illustration, photography, collecting odd stuff, and the ever so delicious musubi.

If you haven’t already heard about POW! WOW!which will be taking place all next week, Benjie will be there painting a huge wall that will be his largest project to date. Even if you don’t know Benjie’s name, you’ve probably seen one of his designs on the internet or on someone’s t-shirt. Most recently one of his designs was copied and reposted all over the internet like Kim Kardashian nudes.  The only downside was that he didn’t get much credit for his witty Venn diagram. Benjie being the humble and funny artist he is made a parody of his original design. Hopefully that one gets ripped off too and makes it to Juxtapoz’s instagram again. 

What are some of your past and current influences?

In no order, going off of stuff I screen shotted on my phone: Horrible internet memes, self embellished clothing, iron on letters, Nintendo, my cat, pizza, burgers, musubi, gremlins 2: the new batch, people who can surf better than I ever will, UFOs, fairy kei, reformed Cholas with old photo albums, margaritas, luchadores, vintage local anything, American gladiators, pointy boots, multi colored hair, dragon ball z, pink or teal sweaters, flaming hot Cheetos, SGV dive bars, street fighter 2 endings, Japan, pastel cyber goths, the original point break, spaghetti, risograph, micheladas, tribal tattoos, and old Schwinns.
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Preview: Ferris Plock “The Fake History of The World” ~ Opens June 12th at Daniel Rolnik Gallery

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Ferris Plock is a San Francisco-based artist who will travel south on June 12th to show new work at Daniel Rolnik Gallery. The new show, “The Fake History of the World” caught our eye right off the bat because one of the series of illustrations is “taco vs. pizza,” one of the truly pressing conundrums of modern urban life. Plock uses acrylic, watercolor, spray paint, India ink, and collage to create detailed characters that have ranged from animals to people to food to anatomically incorrect human figures. This show is light-hearted and includes pizzas, tacos, tacos vs. pizza, and two characters named Richard and Peter who look like they love to have fun but are actually total dicks.

Q: Yo, Ferris, one quick question before we preview your new show. What’s your favorite taco?
A: Seaside Metal in Guernville has my favorite fish tacos.

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Interview with Eli Braden of the Howard Stern Show

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Eli Braden is a musician turned comedy writer who is best known for his song parodies on the Howard Stern Show. His ribald tunes explore every inch of co-host Robin Quivers’ anatomy in graphic and hilarious detail, all set to the top hits of the day. His work on Stern has caught the attention of the comedy world, and he’s written for Television since moving to Los Angeles. Please enjoy this Q&A where Braden discusses family life, his favorite taco spot, and how he get his start in the lucrative world of parody songs… 

Favorite taco spot in LA?
I live in Pasadena and like to go to Taco Lita in Arcadia. It’s really not that great, but supposedly Van Halen ate there back in the day so that’s kinda cool. My favorite tacos in L.A. are always from random food trucks I never remember the names of.

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Interview with POW! WOW! founder Jasper Wong

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Please introduce yourself to the L.A. TACO readers. Who you are and what you do?

My name is Jasper Wong and I’m the founder of POW! WOW! Primarily a mural festival that has become an art and music school, creative community centers, and more. It’s currently held in Hawaii, Texas, California, Taiwan and Japan.

This year is Pow!Wow!’s fifth anniversary. Congratulations. Please describe what Pow!Wow! was when you first started and what it has now become in 2015.

POW! WOW! originally started as an excuse to bring my friends together and paint. A very simple idea that became much larger in scale over the years. What began as a gallery exhibit became a mural festival with 100+ artists painting 70 murals over a period of a week. We’re now expanding globally and creating related programming with our free art and music schools for the youth.

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My Favorite Taco ~ Seven Davis Jr.

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(photo by Marc Sethi)

Seven Davis Jr. is the musician your favorite producer listens to, because he pushes subtle but important boundaries in house music and beyond. On July 24th, he will release his long-awaited debut album, Universes, via Ninja Tune. The album is said to be deeply personal, bringing a positive message rooted in freedom, integrity and self-improvement: “Finding your place. Knowing yourself. Being where you belong.” A mysterious figure who who quietly lived in Los Angeles for years, we got the chance to interview Seven over email last week to discuss music, travel, tacos, and happiness…

Favorite taco spot?
La Victoria in San Jose California

You’ve lived all over the world, what eventually brought you to Los Angeles?
Once upon a time I moved to Los Angeles to get away from a bad environment I had been in for years and to begin a new creative life. After almost 8 more (less harsh) years living in LA, I moved to Europe. I now live various places around the world. I still occasionally visit LA.
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The Photography of Meet Frankie C

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We first met Frankie C. when he shared his remarkable photos of Sikhs in Los Angeles with us earlier this year. His low profile and humble approach are rare in the era of social media and self-promotion, but his work speaks for itself. A native Angeleño, Frankie is deeply connected to the people of Los Angeles, and you can see that in his portraits of the city’s residents, and the details he captures on his sojourns around every part of L.A. Please enjoy this selection of his photography along with a Q&A with this emerging local artist.

What’s your favorite taco?
-Cheese tacos from Taqueria El Tapatio in Glendale. Traditionally made with cheese in between 2 small tortillas. I’m hungry thinking of them now.

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Preview: Mtendere Mandowa “Overgrown” ~ Opens March 14th

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Mtendere Mandowa, known to many as Teebs, first got onto our radar as a musician. His otherworldly music and unique sense of time and space within sound was mind-unravelling. As soon as we heard him play at Low End a few years ago, we knew he was on to something very special.

Back in 2012 he agreed to do an interview with LA TACO and while researching him, we discovered that he was an exceptionally talented visual artist. Many creative people excel at various forms of art, but it was still surprising to see just how accomplished and interesting his painting was, even back then at a fairly early stage.

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My Favorite Taco ~ The Most Best

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The Echo Park collective known as The Most Best make catchy electronic pop that can be either chill, or danceable and are winning new fans in LA and worldwide thanks to the single “Gold” (stream below). The band plays TONIGHT at Lot 1 in Echo Park, and on March 10th at Harvard and Stone. They also really know their tacos, as we found out below…
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