Interview With Shanks Rajendran, Filmmaker Behind the “Los Scandalous” Skid Row Documentary

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Shanks Rajendran is an Australian filmmaker who has made waves in the United States for his searing look at forgotten and ignored areas within big cities. His first documentary here, Liberty City: Miami explored South Florida’s toughest neighborhood from the inside, and was hailed as raw and searing by online reviewers. Now he’s come to Los Angeles to bring the same outsider-yet-insider point of view to our most deprived part of town- Skid Row.

What brought you to skid row?

When I first came to Los Angeles for a holiday two years ago I was sight seeing. I went to Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood Hills, Staples Center and then my friend said: “Look I know you love doing documentaries so I want you to see something.”

Two blocks down he drove and there it was.  Something I’ve never heard of or seen.  SKID ROW. It was night time so there were just tents and tents and more tents. I saw people hanging around…saw a fight, saw a fire truck pulling someone out of a public bathroom, all that stuff. It was all happening right before my eyes within the period of a good 15-20 minutes.

Coming fresh from a place like Melbourne, Australia – I’ve never seen anything like this. It was one of the most confusing moments in my life… I remember asking myself  “What is this?”

As a documentarian, I live and breathe issues concerning poverty, deprivation and failures. At that point, I knew Skid Row was something I wanted to look into.

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Interview with Sam Sweet, Author of the Forthcoming “All Night Menu,” A Secret History of Los Angeles

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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.

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Lego Taco Kit

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A couple years ago we told you about Bruce Lowell, a lego artist who made a cool lego taco. Due to the success of that item, Bruce is now selling his own Lego Taco Kit, which includes all the real Legos you need to build your own. The kits cost $13 in the USA and $17 internationally. Buy here.

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DJ Yella And Lil Eazy ~ Live at Amor Y Tacos ~ Cerritos

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Photos by Andrew Bangs and Carl Larsen

 Amor Y Tacos ~ 13333 South Street Cerritos, CA 90703 ~ 562-860-2667

We love tacos and we love N.W.A. So when we learned that the group’s OG producer DJ Yella and Eazy E’s son, Lil Eazy, were coming together to play at Amor y Tacos in Cerritos, we had to come for what might be the closest thing to an N.W.A. reunion as the world may see. Amor y Tacos comes from Tommy Ortega, a Cerritos-bred chef with a fine dining background and the owner of Ortega 120 in Redondo Beach. We knew good things were afoot when we laid our eyes on a woman making tortillas in the restaurant’s front and a painting of El Chapulin Colorado on the back wall.

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Amor y Tacos’ chef and owner Tommy Ortega (center), with Eazy E 3, Yella and Lil Eazy

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Mexico City’s DJ SMURPHY Lands in Los Angeles

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THIS WEEK MEXICO CITY’S DJ SMURPHY STOMPS OVER THE BORDER AND OUT OF TIJUANA’S ALL MY FRIENDS FEST TO PLAY AN ONSLAUGHT OF SHOWS IN LA. DJ SMURPHY PART OF SPIRTUAL REGGAETONERO LABEL N.A.F.F.I. PLAYS #TRIPMENTAL MUSIC- THINK CUMBIATON RAVE MUSIC PLAYED OUT OF A LOWRIDER ICE CREAM TRUCK ON A SATURDAY MORNING CARTOON.

The electronic music scene in Mexico that exploded in the last few years is beginning to mature.. How has that sound developed? What’s the party/music scene in DF like these days?

I think music scene in Mexico has grown just by the need of young people to party. Is relatively easy to make it, and so fun to spread it around and get people response. Mexican people love to party, its our nature!!! and we do it well!!! DF is such a wild place, we have like certain different music movements around, formed by very different people -socially and economically – with very different backgrounds. You can be in a neighborhood in DF and move a few miles and find a total new place, also in the last years must people from other parts from the country moved here, and the vibe of the city however have changed a lot. It could seems that scene in DF is just at cool neighborhoods like Roma or Condesa – our “soho” (lol) – but thats not true. The city has a huge variety of ghetto places, with their own music movements – cumbias, huarachas, salsa, reggaeton, hardstyle, punk, tribal, house, electro, even hippies!!! – there are a lot of young people starved to party, but unfortunately, we have just a few clubs, and not much money! As well, to party in DF is quite expensive, most for young people. We all just wanna have some fun, tho.

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Taco Research: How Many Tacos Can You Eat in One Sitting?

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An enterprising group of taco researchers on Reddit have been putting an important question to many celebrities and luminaries around the world: How many tacos can you eat in one sitting? Let’s take a look at some of the responses…

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My Favorite Taco: Britt Ehringer ~ “Tacos at Midnight” Opens in Ojai on June 14th

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Britt Ehringer may be best known for his pop culture works such as Scarface on top of the pile of kittens (see below), but he’s also obsessed with Southern California. A Manhattan Beach native, his latest show deals with the essentials of SoCal life– tacos, skaters, beaches, and a certain grit and grime that doesn’t make it into Hollywood treatments. The show opens on June 14th in Ojai, CA. So, Britt Ehringer, what’s your favorite taco?

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HUEMAN ~ My Favorite Taco

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Allison “HUEMAN” Torneros has created beautiful murals, impressive gallery shows, and unique projects in Los Angeles for the last few years, and she has a new solo exhibit opening June 5, 2014 at Project Gallery. “Between the Lines,” will showcase more than 12 new pieces on canvas and wood until July 20. Project Gallery is located at 1553 N. Cahuenga Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90028. We had one burning question which you can probably guess. HUEMAN, what is your favorite taco?

Tacos Mexico on Broadway.

Thank you, Allison! The show opens TONIGHT. Some preview images to whet your appetite… (Continued)

Interview with Peanut Butter Wolf

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Peanut Butter Wolf is a DJ, Producer, boss of influential Los Angeles based Stones Throw Records, record collector, and general inspiration to all of us at L.A. Taco. Stones Throw is releasing a 4LP boxset to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the passing of  his friend Charizma and the collection of works he and Peanut Butter Wolf  created between 1990-1993. Compiled by Peanut Butter Wolf, the anthology  includes rare, classic and unreleased tracks that makes up eight sides of vinyl, along with never before seen photos and ephemera. Based in Los Angeles for over a decade and currently living in Highland Park, PBW was kind enough to answer some questions on L.A., Charizma, and of course his favorite taco spot…

How is having the Stones Throw HQ in Los Angeles important to the label as a whole and how does it influence you?
Well, I was raised in San Jose where there was a loyal, yet very small hip hop community so I moved my way up the coast when I was old enough to live on my own. I started the label in my bedroom in San Mateo which is in between San Jose and San Francisco, then moved to San Francisco and took the label with me the following year. Lived there for a few years and decided I didn’t like cold weather or parking tickets and moved down to LA. A big motivator to moving down here was because Madlib lived down here. And I loved LA immediately after doing so. There’s a saying that LA is the city that chews most people up and spits them out in the first 6 months and if you make it past those first 6, you’re good. Luckily I didn’t hear that saying til after I was here several years. I always wanted to live here ever since my best friend’s parents used to take us down here for vacations every year throughout my childhood and teen years so it was ingrained in me before I even knew there was a music scene here. But I don’t think it would be the same anywhere other than Highland Park, where I’ve been for the past 13 years.
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Jason Bentley ~ My Favorite Taco

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Jason Bentley did an AMA on Reddit a couple months ago, and while scouring the archives we discovered he revealed his favorite taco spot. With some additional sleuthing via asking him directly on Twitter (because he got the name wrong the first time), we discovered this local radio icon’s favorite place to get a taco in LA. So, Jason Bentley, what’s your favorite taco?

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Interview with SEITE BOOKS ~ East Los Angeles

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SEITE is a highly curated bookstore located within the owners’ mother’s beauty & snack shop in East Los Angeles near East Los Angeles College. The shop’s owners, Denice and Adam, are hyper literate zine-heads and the tiny shop is stocked with new and used rare gems with an extra healthy smattering of Spanish-language texts, people of color centric zines and mega hard-to-find East Los printed matter. SEITE also organizes the annual EASTSIDE ZINE MARKET which was inaugurated last year…

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