Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Concept drawing of new apartments courtesy of

The lastest update from the proposed redevelopment project of the Wyvernwood Apartment Complex comes from the City of Los Angeles releasing the final environmental impact report. The entire report, which can be read here, and is available in Spanish and English, can be read at one of these four libraries.

Central Library
630 West Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Benjamin Franklin Library
2200 East First Street
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Malabar Library
2801 Wabash Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Robert Louis Stevenson Library
803 Spence Street
Los Angeles, CA 90023

The report will be reviewed by Council Member Jose Huizar, but also by Wyvernwood residents who are eager to read what the report says and whether the proposed redevelopment will continue forward or come to a halt. In a community forum held in September of 2012, I reported on how Huizar heard public comment from residents against and for the project. From that meeting, Huizar and his staff explained to residents that once the final environmental impact report was released, he would host another community meeting to hear folks out and to gauge if the project should continue forward.

You can also attend the public hearing scheduled for Jan. 9, 2013 at 10:00 am.
Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012


Take advantage—10 miles of streets will once again close to car traffic for CicLAvia on Sunday! This time, enjoy a slightly different route with new extensions and five new hubs, including Mariachi Plaza and Soto Station. That’s right, this time it’s for real, no misprints like April.

So if you haven’t already taken note: the route will no longer travel to Hollenbeck Park–it’s 1st Street getting most of the action in Boyle Heights.

I haven’t missed a CicLAvia yet, but I may just have to this time. At 39 weeks pregnant, there’s a possibility I’ll pop this baby out before Sunday. For safety reasons, I will leave my two wheels at home, trek my way down Soto and 1st to Mariachi Plaza, and see how far I can go. Although there’s a group organizing WalkLAvia, a two-hour walk ending at Exposition Park, I plan to stay mostly on the Eastside. So join me if you wish, and let’s see if CicLAvia is as cool (and safe) as they say it can be on two feet.

I’m hoping the little one stays in the oven through this, otherwise headlines might read: “Mother gives birth at CicLAvia”

Check out the map:

It’s Monday, and people still can’t stop talking about the huge hoopla at last Friday’s Boyle Heights Farmer’s Market- look at us, we still are…

As I learned, Jack White and his people booked the “secret” show two weeks ago, but not much was said since BH Farmer’s Market peeps were unaware of this man’s multiple albums, bands, productions and Grammy awards.

So when it was announced on Twitter and KROQ that the White Stripes’ former frontman would be performing on the Eastside, at least 50 KROQ-listening hipsters (and a few other lucky ones like @GoEastLos who was tweeting live) swarmed Mariachi Plaza.

Vendors tell me they were puzzled by the unusual multitude, and mariachis- who according to the LA Times ended their set with Besame Mucho- may have questioned this guy’s musical ability and odd sense of fashion, except they probably thought the white shoes were fly.

Anyway, by the time I headed over, things were back to normal. It was a hot, dry, quiet day at the farmers market. The fans were gone and locals slowly began preparing for the night’s anticipated performances: Buyepongo and Cihualt Ce.

Pssst: I heard Jack might make another appearance on the Mariachi Plaza stage, perhaps Día de Los Muertos?

Watch a video of the action below or a performance of Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground here.

Featured photo by Twitter user @GoEastLos

For three months, Nancy Meza and I, along with one other young lady, filmed our everyday lives for a film project titled ‘Limbo.’ Partnering up with director Eliot Rausch and producer Mark Schwartz, we wanted to share and lay bare our reality of being undocumented in the United States. Both Nancy and I shared our stories because we know that only by putting a face behind the multifaceted issue of immigration in the US, we can change the dialogue of what it means to be an immigrant. Immigration is nothing new for Boyle Heights or East LA, both communities have thrived and changed over the years as a result of all of the families that have come from Latin America.

Both Nancy and myself still continue to work in our communities to fight for the rights of undocumented immigrants. Whether it is a high school presentation of how student can continue on to college or organizing protests and rallies fighting for the Federal Dream Act, we know what it’s like to grow up undocumented in this country and know that there are more students coming behind us. While this film only shows a brief window of what we do in our everyday lives, at the end of the day, we’re just like everyone else, trying to make a dollar outta 15 cent.

I’ve noticed lately that Mariachi Plaza on First and Boyle has been used as a political rally point for protests. For the third time in two months I’ve come across large protests taking place at the 3-year-old Metro station– and those haven’t been the first. From gatherings on immigration to education, the space has been put to use by those who it was meant for: the people.

While one side of the plaza acts as a worksite for mariachis, the other end is used for a weekly farmer’s market, a meeting point for bike groups, a spot for break dancers and your occasional skater. The large, open space is conveniently close to downtown, sits atop a metro station, and has a stage, perfect for demonstrators, entertainers and anyone else willing to use the space. I think we’ll see even more people making use of the plaza in the future, especially with the recent opening of Libros Schmibros and the soon-to-open Boyle Hotel Apartments.

I took a few pics at last week’s rally, where hundreds of people gathered to protest against the major cuts adult education currently faces in Los Angeles. Watch my slideshow below.

Photo of mis-printed flyer by El Random Hero

If you’ve seen CicLAvia flyers around town you might’ve gotten a little excited about the tiny, but significant extension in Boyle Heights. The flyers for April 15 show a spur going north on Boyle Avenue toward Mariachi Plaza, the same day the Mariachi Festival is being organized.

Yesterday, Mis Neighbors contributor El Random Hero blasted the possibility on Twitter. Immediately, I questioned it. Along with Random, I was part of the outreach to bring an extension to the Eastside, and to my knowledge, this wasn’t happening in April, WTF?

Today, LA Streetsblog confirms flyers are indeed a mis-print.

From the post:

    The April 15 CicLAvia route will follow the same path as the October 9th route, without an extension north to Mariachi Plaza.

    Initially, CicLAvia planned to extend the route to Mariachi Plaza, but the costs to extend the route proved too high for the upcoming CicLAvia, explains Joe Linton, CicLAvia community organizer. Linton added he didn’t know how many flyers were printed with the error.

Oopsie! La regaron! Let’s see if we actually get the ball rolling to make this come true at all. They say maybe October, but don’t hold your breath…

Photo by Daniel Covarrubias via Mercado Negro Facebook page

With all the attention the Wolfpack Hustle L.A. Marathon Crash Race is getting, it’s easy to overlook the fact that they won’t be the only ones crashing the marathon this weekend. For the last couple of years, I’ve been crashing the marathon route with friends and fellow bike enthusiasts in the wee hours of the night/early morning before the actual marathon starts. Long before it became a big deal, I got into crashing the route after a friend, who’s been doing the crash ride longer than I have, invited me to tag along. Since then, I’ve been crashing the route every year and getting more folks to join along and enjoy this once-a-year experience.

With the marathon happening this Sunday, we are crashing the route once again, rain or shine. Meet up for the Boyle Heights contingent starts at 3 am at Mariachi Plaza. We’ll be riding out at 3:30ish and hitting the marathon route in Downtown L.A.. Be forewarned that it will rain, just like it did last year.

And if you don’t like getting your fundillo all wet, make sure to wear a garbage bag or something to protect yourself from the rain. Layered clothing is also a must, as it will get chilly and combined with the rain, it’s gonna get cold up in here. You must also have your bicycle in working condition and working front and back lights. Other riders, including myself, will have basic tools to repair any possible flats along the way, but that’s it. If your bike breaks down, we’ll do our best to help you, but chances are you’ll have to walk it to the nearest train/bus stop. We’ll be making our way back East by riding to the Hollywood/Vine Redline Station and then Goldlinin’ it back to Boyle Heights. Other than that, expect to have an amazing time seeing the city from a whole new perspective. 

It may come from different voices; in various volumes and intonations. But to most of us, it’s a familiar sound.

         Photo by Armando Velez

I remember my Sunday mornings as a kid– most of them were religious. We did church or watched soccer matches on TV (if my dad’s Chivas were playing). On a lucky one, my family and I would sit at the table digging in on a big wad of carnitas from Zamora Brothers Carnicería in Boyle Heights, the meat market with the droopy-eyed puerquito logo.

I love these Sunday meals… maybe it was the subliminal messages they fed us before even walking in the door, as captured here by photographer and Mis Neighbors contributor Rafael Cardenas.

Photo of Zamora on Cesar Chavez and Mednik in East L.A., but you can also find Zamora on Cesar Chavez near Warren in Boyle Heights.

Yesterday’s AirTalk segment on KPCC featured a discussion that’s inherently passionate, the Eastside vs the Westside. For a second there, I thought they were discussing the musical “Westside Story.” Pero no, seems folks still can’t distinguish between what parts of town are considered Westside, which are Eastside and the vigorous meanings they carry in this city. Folks, of course, sounded off and shared their two cents about where’s what and why. The conversation continued on Twitter as well, where more folks chimed in.

So what defines the Westside/Eastside boundaries in this city? Is it a street? An invisible line? Access to organic foods? The LA River? That all depends on whether you’re talking to someone who has migrated to LA or folks who have lived here all their lives. This isn’t the first or last time this conversation is going to happen and it certainly won’t to be the last time Eastside residents are going to have to chin check others in LA geography.

Bloggeros/as like El Chavo, have long been ‘correcting’ others on their inappropriate appropriation of the term Eastside when referring to any place in LA that isn’t East of the river. 2009 was the last time this debate got heated enough that the LA Times even picked up on it after folks in the community got together at Eastside Luv for a night of Eastside appreciation. That article even mentioned a get together LAEastside bloggeros/as had that year, in which we burned some incorrect maps promoting Silver Lake as the Eastside. Chale, the LA Times mapping project defines the Eastside as Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, East LA, El Sereno and by extension Highland Park. So why can’t others?

In the end, there’s more to this conversation than just defending a name or tittle. It comes down to still breaking through ignorant and short sighted stereotypes outsiders have about our communities, families and way of life. There are those who still think East LA is one giant ass ghetto with poor people living there and it’s our responsibility to us to say ‘Ohhhh hell nah. You did NOT just say my neighborhood is shitty. Girl, hold my earrings.’ When that conversation changes, then debates about the Eastside or Westside won’t come up anymore.

The Eastside is something earned and not to be taken lightly. As Dewey Tafoya shares,

“Where you from holmes?! I’ve heard that from too many times before, with an added ese or puto or punk or holmes at the end. I’ve earned the eastside. My eastside. Japanese, Jewish, Black, Mexican eastside. My dad’s eastside, where pachucos traded their suits for army boots. Where Japanese neighbors have been forced into concentration camps, where freeways destroyed our homes, where we still ask ‘what we can’t do for our country?’ That’s how I was raised to be proud of who I am and where I’m from, Boyle Heights, the Eastside.”

Watch below:

Map image from GOEZ Art

It must have been an elote. No, a tamal. Or maybe a tamal de elote…

It’s been too long to remember the first bite of street food I ever had in Boyle Heights. But perhaps it was from the sweet lady who sold tamales outside of Sheridan Street School, where she stood every morning, surrounded by hungry escuincles like me who opted for her delightful bites of masa, meat and chile over the school’s free pigs in a blanket.

Neighborhood street food vendors are a part of our everyday lives. They are our neighbors, our mothers, our friends, or simply a familiar face. And although not all community members agree with unlicensed street vending, and police have cracked down on them at higher rates recently, they’ve maintained a following. People seek them because they can’t resist their sazón; because it’s a better option than McDonald’s pink slime; or because their food is a reminder of home-coked meals.

Now, street vendors in Boyle Heights are looking for ways to vend without the fear of being ticketed, arrested or wiped away from all their goods. East LA Community Corporation (ELACC) and local vendors are launching “a campaign aimed at providing paths to self-sustainability and better economic opportunities for local microentrepreneurs.” Their efforts will help raise funds for required permits and new equipment so that street vendors can meet their goal of setting up an Evening Farmer’s Market in Boyle Heights.

This Friday, February 3 from 5-10pm, ELACC will hold a fundraiser to help eight vendors who have been displaced by strict police enforcement. Bring cash for tacos, quesadillas, pozole and more, and for the $1 admission at the ELACC house 530 S. Boyle Ave, Los Angeles CA. To donate, visit their page here.

Meet some of Boyle Heights street food vendors in a video produced by ELACC. Stay tuned for some of our videos where we’ll introduce you to Caridad, a street vendor famous for her pozole.

By this time, you’ve probably seen the YouTube video(s) of the man who was shot and killed by police Monday outside the Carl’s Jr. by East L.A. College.

To remind you, here’s the video we posted on Facebook Monday from YouTube user CaptainSanjeezy (it’s age restricted)

As reported by EGP News, Monterey Park Police arrived on the scene at 9:30am after 22-year old Steven Rodriguez had blown out several windows with a metal bar. The rest can be seen on the video– Rodriguez swings the metal bar and cops fire multiple times.

There’s no need to explain why the video has riled up so much controversy. Witnesses and viewers have raised questions on YouTube and discussion forums on whether police action was justified, why the guys in the video are laughing, and why it seemed to take so long to get an ambulance at the scene. I myself have a few questions, but I’ll share one: Did the cops need to fire so many times, especially after the man was down?

Today, Carl’s Jr. has boarded windows but is now open, the outside decorated with flowers, candles and photos of Steven. A candle light vigil has been organized for 5:30 pm today outside Carls Jr. in honor of Steven and to spread the word on other cases like this.

Some have deemed it police brutality, others say force was justified. What do you think?

Photos and H/T by Erick Huerta.

If you began your year with the most common news year’s resolution out there, chances are you joined a gym, got on a diet, or hit the jogging path at Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights.

Why not, right? It’s there and it’s free. It’s no Griffith Park; it comes with all the “amenities” of an urban area, surrounding one of the oldest cemeteries in L.A. But somehow the hectic traffic that blows into one ear is eased by the silence of thousands of headstones that blows into the other– sort of a serene moment…

It’s also kind of neat to know that this space was initiated with the effort of the Boyle Heights community. In 2002, The Evergreen Jogging Path Coalition, comprised of community residents and members from the Latino Urban Forum, began a campaign to fix the sidewalks and cracks in their streets. Their efforts not only got the city to revamp the streets but replace them with the Evergreen Jogging Path, a 1.5-miles long rubberized stretch around the cemetery that was dedicated a year later.

During my not-so-routine jogs around “el panteon,” –where so much life surrounds death– I’ve come across several features signature to the urban recreational experience in Boyle Heights. Here are a few of them:

1. Elote vendor: When should I say no to elotes? When I’m trying to get my fitness on! The vendor’s blaring honk could be a bit of a distraction to many. But if you’ve been living here long enough, you may not notice it anymore– these sounds have become part of the structure of your urban daily life.

2. Doggie waste [now with a bag]: As part of the city’s “Take A Bag, Leave A Bag” Pilot Program, dispensers were recently installed with free plastics bags and a waste basket to throw away your pet’s doo-doo. Did we need these? Yes. Will people using them wisely? Hopefully. There’s been too many surprises I’ve had to abruptly jump over– most of it which I’m sure come from stray dogs.

3. A mom with a stroller, three kids and two Chihuahuas: Another thing I wish I could jump over sometimes. I love that parents are leading by example and taking their kids on walks/jogs, but hey, when it’s such a big family, maybe practice single file? It might be my fault here for challenging myself to high speeds in what is meant to be a pedestrian friendly, slower pace route– I just really don’t want to step on any dog’s miniature limbs.

4. The smell of carnitas from Cinco Puntos and El Mercadito: It slaps you in the face, and it feels (smells) good. I usually hold my breath around these corners… I’m afraid if I don’t I will run right into one of these and grab a taco de carnitas para llevar while I finish my lap. At least I’m walking it off right?

5. Diverse, but segregated headstones: It’s always interesting to think about the thousands who have been buried in Evergreen Cemetery– about 300,000. Here, you can find segregated burial sites with sections for whites, Armenians, Japanese, and Mexicans. In 2005, during the MTA Goldline construction, archeologists found skeletal remains just outside the cemetery of what they deemed to be mostly Chinese people buried in the Potter’s Field, the only place that allowed their burial before the Civil Rights era.

The new year is here and I must say, we’ve wrapped up a busy one!

Mis Neighbors marked its first full year online in November; we’ve brought you stories about life and happenings in Boyle Heights, and opened a conversation about news we’ve shared on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Personally, I’m also proud to have featured stories from Boyle Heights Beat—where I mentor students that produce a community newspaper and I manage the website open to community contributors (yes, I’m plugging).

I must also thank those who have contributed to this blog. As my time became limited this year, you guys had my back– let’s keep it going!

Before we move forward to 2012, let’s take a look at the top stories you viewed on Mis Neighbors (I would’ve probably chosen others, just sayin’). Here they are in no particular order.

Happy New Year from yours truly, Jessica Perez aka Jessicas2Cents.

CaminArte: Art Walking in Boyle Heights

Art walks have sprung up in neighborhoods all over L.A. recently. Last August, Boyle Heights debuted its own— bringing art, music and community together for the monthly event. From the post:

    Talks of art revival and an arts district along the 1st street corridor has been on many mouths for quite some time now. But as we’ve seen and as Nico Avina points out, art has always been part of the community and it’s the locals taking action into their own hands instead of waiting for validation from city-imposed signage.

    “It’s a continual process it’s not a renaissance; nothing ever died,” said Avina. “If we wait, we’ll have this when the community is no longer a reflection of us.”

See a slideshow of the first CaminArte below.

Ultimate 2011 Dia de los Muertos Event Guide: Boyle Heights

I asked my friend and neighbor Erick Huerta aka “El Random Hero” to share his annual Dia De Los Muertos Event guide with us this year. Although he came up with an amazing comprehensive LA guide, there were plenty of events going on in Boyle Heights for us to narrow in on.

See the photos from Self Help Graphics and Art’s Dia de los muertos event.

Boyle Heights hosts platica on Occupy movement, now reaching out to the hood

One of this year’s top stories in Los Angeles and across the country had to be the Occupy protests. As it became evident that the mostly-white crowds of protesters were not proportionately representing the 99 percent, activists hosted a platica in Boyle Heights to discuss the involvement of people of color.

Here are a few Twitter posts that can sum up the event:

One of L.A. Art Walk’s best comes home to paint a mural in Boyle Heights

Boyle Heights native Robert Vargas is famous for painting portraits of people at Downtown LA’s Art Walk. Mis Neighbors contributor Rafael Cardenas caught up with Vargas as he got ready to paint a mural outside Eastside Luv in October.

“I love to paint the people on the street… they are all so beautiful and worth immortalizing,” said Vargas. “I believe we are in the golden age of Los Angeles.”

Photo by Rafael Cardenas.
Watch a video by our East Los neighbor Steve Saldivar here.

Q&A: The Democracy of Music in Boyle Heights

Grand Performances had a series of events that celebrated the history of Boyle Heights this past summer. One of the featured events was dedicated to the musical and cultural legacy of Boyle Heights through the story of the Phillips Music Company. We talked to music critic and USC professor Josh Kun about this project that brought forth pride for new and old generations alike.
Watch a video produced by Boyle Heights Beat youth reporters here.

I’d like to think that as soon as we reported on the First Street bridge’s long-awaited reopening Wednesday on our Facebook and Twitter pages (via @viewfromaloft and @YoSoyLu), crowds of cars rushed to the bridge to witness it for themselves. But that wasn’t it.

First Street became an alternate route for those headed east from Downtown L.A. last week after a tanker caught fire and shut down the 60 freeway Wednesday afternoon. Here’s my neighbor’s reaction to the bumper to bumper traffic:

Jeebus, all the xicanos are using 1st st as an alternate route to ghettobello. #90033
ken montenegro

Parts of the bridge have been inaccessible since 2007 to make way for the Metro Gold Line that runs from Little Tokyo to the Eastside. For the last year or so you couldn’t get to the other side of the river going westbound on First Street. However, the bridge is fully accessible now and 26 feet wider!

City officials will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. Tuesday on the First Street Viaduct between Vignes Street and Mission Road.

Photos by Kris Fortin.

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