Showing posts from November, 2017

L.A. Artisan Builds True Life COCO Guitar Replica for Pixar

Tim Miklaucic (l.), Germán Vázquez Rubio, and Armand Arnazzi. Foto: Armand Arnazzi by Fabiola Prieto On the final day of one of Hollywood’s largest industry conferences, the D23 Expo—known to the legions that attend as the definitive all things Disney mega-event—one man stood there, alone and anonymous among the roughly 100,000 assembled fans. He was one of the entertainment industry’s biggest celebrities, if only briefly. German Vázquez, 65, a man of old-world formality who speaks broken English, blended easily into the overflow crowd as just another aging senior. Yet his story has the makings of a film that you will never see. He was born into poverty—though he would never call it that—in a Mexican pueblo as one of seven children. His father picked corn, and his mother was a homemaker. He came from nothing. Now, here he was, appearing in a video prepared by Disney’s massive storytelling team. It was the hand-crafted guitar of his own making, lovingly created in a worksh

Indigenous People's Day, Columbus y los Sefarditas

by Alan R. Diamante President Trump proclaimed October 9, 2017 as Columbus Day and he made no mention of Native Americans. Being more sensitive to the plight of the indigenous American than the President, multiple cities and counties have replaced Columbus Day with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” including Los Angeles. Christopher Columbus’ accidental discovery of the Americas in 1492 sparked one of the greatest genocides in human history: The indigenous peoples of the Americas experienced massacres, torture, systematic oppression, and forced relocation. Some scholars believe that 75-100 million indigenous peoples were killed through the centuries by Europeans and their descendants. Is Columbus to blame? Perhaps he is because he did report to Queen Isabella of Spain that the natives “ought to make good slaves.” And that is precisely what happened to the survivors of the conquest. In addition to its historical significance as the year in which an explorers folly launched mass genocide,1

Cuento: To Bowl or Not to Bowl at Beverly Lanes

by Luís Reyes Having nothing else to do is the way a lot of shit begins. Some of it regrettable, unfortunately. But not everything. Sometimes it’s fun and memorable. Like the time we went to the Beverly Lanes for the first time. (It wasn’t everyone’s first time there.) That turned-out to be a fun trip. We would eventually learn that we didn’t even have to bowl. We could just sit at the bar and drink cheap pitchers of beer. The bowling excuse had been kinda fun, I guess, but none of us were any good at bowling anyway. Plus, it cut into our drinking budgets. So we just ended up on the other side of the wall, watching whatever sport the barkeep had on. But this new found knowledge wasn’t what made the trip memorable. What made it memorable was that the visit began with weed smoking in the parking lot. There’s no memory of whose weed it was or what method we used to light it up, but we did get high as soon as we got there. Right there in the car with shame obligating us to feel we

First María then Empire (Trump) Strikes Puerto Rico

  Editorial by Alci Rengifo When Hurricane Maria decided to lay her wrath on Puerto Rico, she had no idea that her winds would lay bare the cruel face of both American capitalism and American imperialism. Though far away in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico’s history is closely linked to the Latino experience in America, for we are all the children of empire, especially in L.A., which is a city marked by the imperial acquisition of Mexico in the 19th century. As Trump bullies Puerto Rico, so the system has treated its Spanish-tongued subjects everywhere. “Imperialism” is a dirty word in the halls of American political discourse, whether Republican or Democrat, because the Norman Rockwell view many cling to cringes at the idea that we are (gasp!) an empire. Our countless bases overseas, our base in Guantanamo, Cuba, our continuing presence in Afghanistan, Iraq and parts of Syria are all driven by the hand of manifest destiny according to the cultural daydream. We refuse to believe we are

MCI/Placita Olvera Día de Los Muertos Sidelined, Again

Día de Los Muertos Altar dedicated to los perdidos en Tlatelolco '68 and the 43 in Ayotzinapa. Courtesy of J.A. Aguirre. by Abel Salas To most Angeleños* and roughly two million visitors from across the city, the state, the country and abroad who visit annually, Olvera Street is little more than a touristy relic, an antique collection of structures and buildings that once functioned as the city’s bustling center. For them, it provides a portal to a quaint, picturesque and romantic—if reductive and grossly idealized—vision of an idyllic colonial pueblo once home to the original 44 Native American, African, European and Mestizo settlers who founded Los Angeles along the banks of the Río de Porciúncula (Los Angeles River) in 1781. Declared a state park through the efforts of preservationist and persistent civic booster Christine Sterling, the cradle of Los Angeles had already fallen on hard times by the 1920s when she turned her attention to its shuttered adobe and early brick

Tropicália Music Fest Storms into Southland

Chicano Batman, de izq.- Carlos Arévalo (lira), Gabriel Villa (batería), Bardo Martínez (voz, teclas, lira), Eduardo Arenas (voz, bajo ) from staff reports Already a buzz among L.A.’s ultra-hip alt-Latino, electronica, retro lo-fi, vintage surf Sangra-burban ponquero goth-rock, crossover Regional Mexican, ’90s hip-hop, ’70s soul and ’50s rockabilly music aficionados, the Tropicália Music & Taco Festival, has, in short order, become one of the most highly anticipated SoCal music festivals of the year. And it is safe to suggest, even in advance, that it will go down in history as the proverbial straw that broke the millennial camel’s back and proclaimed loudly to the world that Latino music IS the mainstream, even if “Despacito,” the all-time most downloaded song in U.S. history was ignored at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. The sonic equivalent of the blockbuster PST: LA/LA (Pacific Standard Time: Latin America/Los Angeles) series of art exhibitions and surveys being held ac