Showing posts from February, 2016

Singer-songwriter Lysa Flores: From East LA with Love

On the Sixth Street bridge before its demolition. Photo by Pete Galindo. Words by Abel Salas It’s a mild Saturday night in January. Lysa Flores has accepted an invitation to play at an event commemorating the release of a high profile Latino literary magazine being held in the private home of a respected Chicana historian turned documentary filmmaker and her husband, a well-known, award-winning novelist and former LA Times staff writer. Dressed in black and armed with a fire engine red Fender Telecaster, Flores is joined by drummer Fredo Ortiz and break-out prodigy Giovanni Verduzco on electric bass. What was supposed to be a half-hour set is extended by a barrage of audience requests for encore after encore. Flores is happy to comply. Her voice, long lauded as a uniquely powerful extension of her poignant and riveting work as a songwriter, is compelling. Honest and honed, it resonates with a razor sharp readiness. The living room crowd is understandably weighted in favor of w

Proyecto Jardin Evicted in Gentrifier-Friendly Takeover

Todos somos Proyecto Jardin. Contributing writer Susana Sandoval. by Susana Sandoval with additional reporting by Abel Salas For the last 15 years, Proyecto Jardín, a community garden project that took root as the result of one physician’s determination to see something beautiful in place of a vacant, neglected parcel of land within eyeshot of his office at White Memorial Medical Center, has stewarded the one-acre farm, outdoor classroom, playground, meditation center, nutritional health resource and public art showcase. Dr. Rob Krochmal, the medical resident who looked out from his office window, imagined a tranquil, beautiful, well-tended greenspace where neighbors from the surrounding Boyle Heights community could garden, heal, exercise, and learn as part of an “Integrative Wellness” approach he still champions today, according to his website. As the grandson of a doctor who was one of the last physicians to make house calls on the East Coast, he initiated discussions bet

Rock History Sizzles in EASTSIDE HEARTBEATS

     From  left to  right:  Angel Marie Galván,  Gabriel  González,  Diana  Castrillón,  and  Kenneth  López  as  the  Ramírez  family in Eastside Heartbeats at Casa 0101. Review by Abel Salas What if it was 1965 and your East LA rock ‘n’ roll band, inspired by Ritchie Valens as well as the runaway  success of  ’50s and ’60s Motown rhythm & blues,  was about to break out in a big way?  What if, for one glittering moment, your memory could zoom in on the still photo of your group racing across the tarmac at LAX to board a flight with the Fab Four, yes, those blokes from Liverpool, headed for New York City after a jaw-dropping, show-stopping gig at the Hollywood Bowl as an opening act for The Beatles themselves? Would you pinch yourself? Would you die and head straight to heaven, the dream of a lifetime made real? What if this really happened? Well, it did. And it was high time someone did something to remind the rest of America that “once upon a time,” doesn’t always mean

Cinema Visionary Guillermo Yanquez, 1904 - 1984

Chile's Guillermo Yanquez, film pioneer, by William Alexander Yankes Guillermo Yanquez was a Latin American actor, born April 20, 1904, who starred as a lead in both silent films and the talkies. For Chileans, he became a symbol of self-esteem when the country lacked it.  A century has elapsed since he first appeared on screen. He was my father. Thirty-one years have transpired since he left us. Aside from my family and me, perhaps he will also be remembered by those who appreciate the pioneering and heroic days of Chile’s nascent film industry. During those heady, groundbreaking years, he married Nina Pinto Riesco, a granddaughter of two Chilean presidents. With no divorce law, the two soon went their separate ways. Several years later, he partnered with Maria Teresa Casanova, a member of Chile’s oldest aristocracy. She died a natural death after eight years together. There were no children from either of these two unions. My father’s  film career coincided with other d