Saturday, October 22, 2011

Let Los Días de los Muertos Begin!

LatinoLA is in the grips of Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday traditionally held on November 1 and 2 which focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends, family members and others who have died.

It's gotten so popular that fiestas, art exhibits, concerts and more are already taking place this weekend, including the Rose Hills Annual Dia De Los Muertos Festival & Marketplace. Check out our Calendario for other activities.

Are we concerned with the over-commercialization of this rich and spiritual belief? Not as long as the organizers maintain some authenticity and attendees come away with lasting insights on nuestra cultura.

While I have you here, check out my Abelardo de la Peña Jr. blog.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Weekend Warrior

Weekdays are wall-to-wall work. Weekends can either be kick back or hectic. This one was a little of both.

Thursdays seem to be the start of my weekend. After settling my wife and granddaughter at home, I went to help set up the for the Multicultural Alliance of Entrepreneurs's presentation at the Mexican Cultural Institute (MCI) called "Latino Population and Business Trends." Then it was off to Pico-Union to do a drive-by at Centro for Latino Literacy's Manos Amigas Celebration. I stayed for a few minutes, but here you could read an entertaining article on the night's events, written by my partner at, Richard Koffler. Then, back to MCI for the clean-up.

Friday, my wife Linda and I drove over to Westwood to attend a performance of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at the Geffen Playhouse. We were invited by Valerie de la Garza, who is on the theater's community advisory board. Although the play, a powerful and hyper-kinetic carnival of words, music and professional wrestling, had a Latino-centric theme and is written by Kristoffer Diaz, there wasn't much outreach to Latino audiences. Thus, Latino Social Night, with invites going out to bloggers, writers, influentials and others (like us). They also bought some ads on LatinoLA! Very enjoyable experience. See it if you can!

Saturday, we got off to a late start (actually slept in a bit), then on to the home-cleaning. I left at about 4 to get ready for the Cucaracha Crawl at MCI, where Lalo Alcaraz was to present a slide show and talk about his exhibit: Lalo Alcaraz Heritage Month: 500 Years of History/Art/Satire. Light, but enthusiastic, crowd, but I got to talk with Lalo on some upcoming projects. The exhibit goes on until October 15.

Sunday morning: Back to the Mexican Cultural Institute, first to meet a group of Chicano Studies students from Cal State Long Beach, lead by their professor and the Institute's board chair Armando Vasquez-Ramos; then participated in the Dia de los Braceros presentation out in Plaza Olvera's kiosk; ending my stay with a brief visit to La Plaza de Cultura y Artes to hear a lecture on the America Tropical mural.

Headed home for a breather. My son Michael came over for a while, so we had a roomful of little girls (his two daughters and our other granddaughter Jewel, who stayed the night with us) laughing and screaming, jumping and dancing, and having fun with papa (me).

Finally, at about 4:30 pm we drove to Hollywood to see John Leguizamo's latest one-man play, Ghetto Klown at the Montalbán. This one was a riot, a chronological tour of his career in show business. He is a master mimic, a great dancer, fast and furious with his warts and all portrayal of his relationships, both personal and professional, and his successes and failures. Hilarious, nostalgic and confessional, it was frantic funny and heartbreaking at the same time.

Weekends aren't usually this Krazy, but when opportunity comes, it's time to suit up and enjoy.

Who I saw: Gloria Molina, Raquel Hernandez, Roy Jasso, Martin Albornoz, Yvette Doss, Kevin de Leon, Flavio Morales, Dyanna Ortelli, Baldomero Capiz, Valerie de la Garza, Cris Franco, Jose Huizar, Dan Guerrero (twice), Cisco, and a whole bunch more. If I didn't greet you (or forgot who you were), desculpame, por favor!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Back to School

Class is in session! Amazing how fast summer zoomed by, and as usual, the first week of school is the hottest.

We sent off our youngest daughter to art school in Oakland (wasn't easy), enrolled our granddaughter in LAUSD's crown jewel, the Cortines High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, and applauded our oldest son, transferring from PCC to Occidental College. Not bad for a 40-year-old War on Iraq vet.

Getting into a good school is a challenge. Staying in any school is even harder. If you are in school, don't give up! If your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin ... anybody you know ... is in school, give them support and encouragement. And lunch money doesn't hurt, either.

And me? Banning High in Wilmington's class of '71 just had our 40th reunion. Soy viejo, but I'm still learning.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Luminarias" Illuminates LatinoLA 10 Years Later

Ten years ago, was a fledgling website with a singular mission: To be the local go-to website to promote Latino arts, entertainment, culture and community, in the words of the writers, artists, musician and more who lived it.

Also ten years ago, a group of filmmakers released a feature movie that was as groundbreaking as it was entertaining. That movie was "Luminarias", written by Evelina Fernandez, directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela and starring a slew of outstanding Latino talent.

They're celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of "Luminarias" on Saturday, August 20 with a VIP reception and viewing at the L.A. Theatre Center. We are lucky to have one pair of tickets to give away.

Here's how to win: Send an email to, with "Luminarias" as the subject, and tell us why you enjoyed the movie or why you really want to see it. Simple, eh? Best response wins. Good luck! The winner will be announced on the LatinoLA Newsletter next Thursday, August 19. Still haven't subscribed? Go here.

More great LatinoLA events here!

Friday, August 5, 2011

¡Free Summer!

August is here -- the middle of summer, almost -- and LatinoLA is heating up. We're talking about music and movies, art shows and workshops, festival and fiestas ... and the best part is that many of them are for families ...and they're free!

Por ejemplo: Going on their seventh year is Caracol Marketplace, a unique bazaar-market where handmade crafts are sold by their makers. The free event combines music, art, health, wellness and amistad in an outdoor setting close to downtown LatinoLA: Tropico de Nopal Gallery-Art Space.

Come hungry and thirsty and open for new sights and sounds. It's free, but bring your wallet to buy their unique items, many of them home made by local artisans.

Also, thanks to all of you who have been "liking" the work of our fine writers and contributors, sharing them via Facebook, Twitter and more, and leaving your comments. Don't leave LatinoLA without having your voice heard! (scroll down to the end of the article or calendar listing and you'll know what I'm talking about!)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Morning

I've been helping keep the doors open at the Mexican Cultural Institute for about 7 years now, as a board member and now as the director, both as a volunteer. It's time-consuming, somewhat gratifying and necessary. And overwhelming. I had a dream about it last night and I woke up shaking.

Visit it when you can. The website isn't up-to-date. If you want to learn more how you can help, let me know.

In downtown L.A., there isn't a good panaderia. I've found a couple nearby, some in the Pico-Union area, but nothing with as good a selection and quality as El Aguila in El Sereno. So every few months, I make the drive and pick out the cuernos de canela, empanadas de calabaza and bolillos dorados. Worth it.

After breakfast, I walked the dogs. A bus was stopped on Grand and 8th. Someone called my name. It was the bus driver. I'd met Jose about 10 years ago when he worked in security at the Home Savings building on Figueroa and 7th Street and I worked as a freelancer for Durazo Communications (now gone). Jose had a lot of personality and was very helpful. And he played good guitar, bringing in his six-string acoustic into our office to strum a few tunes every now and then.

I first saw him driving a bus when I lived in South Pasadena and it caught me by surprise. He looked good behind the big wheel.

Still does.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back to Work

After taking the day off (a sick day with the mattress shopping thrown in for good the way, we bought an Englander Level 1 pillow top queen size from Mattress City, supposed to be delivered within the hour), it was back to the job(s). I've been looking for a statistic on African American women and their time spent online, or the number of blogs they author, or their Twitter rate, or something, but no luck. Last piece of a puzzle for an article I'm writing.

Also uploaded a few interesting events (Justio Almario's birthday concert, a talk with LA's deputy mayor), check on on Calendario.

And programmed an exhibit and event at the Mexican Cultural Institute.

Plus, walked my daughter Alicia to a couple places where she could apply for work, try to comfort granddaughter Jewel who's sick at home and missing her mommy, and other stuff. Anyway, back to work.

Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day Mattress

Sick, spending a lot of time in bed. Realizing, this mattress is pretty worn out. TV ads, newspaper inserts proclaim: President's Day sales. Featured item: mattresses. We walked over to downtown Macy's yesterday and lay down on a few. One hour out of the house wore us out, but got a good idea that even with discounts, we weren't going to get out of it easy. Late today, girded ourselves to try again (after a bit of online research and more meds). Went to a different place, lay down on a few more mattresses. Delivery Wednesday. I asked sales guy: Why mattresses on President's Day? He wasn't sure, but if honoring presidents by spending a few less dead one passes for patriotism nowadays, I'll take it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

February Blues

The newness of the year has worn off. It's cold and looks like rain. My wife is sick, I am, too. I am juggling too many projects. I'm trying to rid myself of bad habits. My daughter read my Tarot last night. Some good things, some not so good. My neck is sore. I have to walk to the post office to buy some stamps. I have to finish writing a lengthy article for my day job and pay some bills at the place I volunteer. Things seem heavy. Can't even get myself to listen to music, which usually cheers me up. But hey, I'm alive, it's going to get better and someone is going to smile at me and I will smile back. Or send me a nice email, like the one I got today. Thanks, Kat.