All posts by EL CHAVO!

EL CHAVO! is the pen name of some menso living in Lincoln Heights.

Eastside 101: El Mercadito & 5 Puntos


For this second installment of Eastside 101, we take a trip to El Mercadito, that one-stop shop for all your south of the border needs! Even though the place is actually named El Mercado, everyone knows it as El Mercadito (the little market) because its so big, relative to most other shopping places on the Eastside. It’s one of my favorite spots to take out-of-towners since they can be entertained gawking at all the weird stuff while I get to stock up on some essentials. Want to see what this place might have for you? Well hop into the virtual ranfla and lets take a ride to find out!

(Warning! MANY crappy, out of focus pics ahead! Warning!)
Continue reading Eastside 101: El Mercadito & 5 Puntos

Eastside 101: Hollenbeck Park


Ed Fuentes of View from a Loft pointed out a new publication to hit LA, a monthly that imagines itself as “a meaningful upscale magazine” for the Eastside. A quick look at their site and it suddenly feels more like a slap; their Eastside is nowhere near to the one I grew up in, that vast expanse of mostly Latino humanity on the other side of the river. Ugg. Here we go again, the re-imagining of our city in a historical vacuum. A cultural demarcation by terms. Just have a damn flag planting ceremony already, make a few decrees about the new Easternmost territories held by the Westsider Cultural Empire, declare East LA to be inconsequential (until further notice) and call this vision the new LA. At least that way we will have something to work with, or something to fight against.

I’m tired of this “debate” since it mostly consists of Eastsiders fighting to preserve a semblance of place, informing newcomers from the far off West or beyond that we, on the other side of the river, do exist, and that (at least to ourselves) we do matter. Before I raise my army for the coming culture wars, and before the divide between the two LA’s gets even wider, I figured I’d do some preliminary bridge building: I’m going to embark on an occasional series of posts to highlight aspects of the Eastside that I know. Mostly it’ll be about places you can visit but sometimes there’ll be posts that are based on the map of memory. Maybe it’ll help some out there to take us seriously. (Ha, ha!) But even if it has no effect, and people still insist on erasing our identity, it’ll be a record of the Eastside that actually means something to me, the place I call home.

For our first lesson, turn to the page marked Hollenbeck Park!
Continue reading Eastside 101: Hollenbeck Park

Generic Car


In a city where the vehicle you drive is supposed to define your individuality (as if somehow the items you buy could cover up the sad fact that you’re really just a dullard) it’s refreshing to see this new model of automobile hit the streets: car. No fancy pseudo-exotic name, no “green” gimmicks to make you feel good, just a steel contraption to get you from one point to the next. If they make one with spinning rims then it’ll definitely be my next ride!

Very Be Careful

Image by the_toe_stubber

In 10 minutes, NOW if you turn off that blasted TV and turn on your radio to 90.7 KPFK you might get a chance to hear the Mark Torres show “Travel Tips for Aztlan“, an always good listen for info on the latest music that Latinos are tuning in, or at least should be. Tonite though he has one of LA’s best party bands, the group known as “Very Be Careful“, a Columbian Vallenato style band that brings the Cumbia like nobody else. Some might snicker at the thought of an accordian but for many it’s not the sound of an antiquated polka, but the bellows of a yearning for dance and movement. If you’re on your computer this late on a Saturday night, you ain’t got nothing better to do, tune in!

Polvo! Polvo! Polvo!

Update: you probablly missed it, but if you want to hear the archive within the next few days, check it here

Tejuino Los Reyes


As things start to warm up in LA, naturally we all start thinking of ways to keep cool. Over on the Westside you all have your Pinkberrys and Scoops and Jumbled Juices or whatever it is you kids get all excited about nowadays. But on the Eastside, land where many big companies fear to tread (yay!) we have our own options. Of course, we have the men and woman of the Raspado and Paleta Patrol, those unsung heroes that bring tasty refreshments to our neighborhood sidewalks. But sometimes, when you can’t wait until you hear the next round of ring-rings, honk-honks, or the sing-song call of the ambulantes (“Paletas! Que ricas, Paletas!”) and you just need your cool snack fix now, then it’s time to head over to an old school brick and mortar shop. And in my neighborhood of Lincoln Heights, that always means Tejuino Los Reyes!
Continue reading Tejuino Los Reyes

Kid Lamp


I didn’t make it out to table at the yard sale yesterday, mostly because I didn’t think my collection of mole jars re-purposed as drinking glasses would fetch enough to make it worthwhile. And I figured the market for old tortillas de maiz that have started to curl at the edges was going to be a small one, that trend has yet to catch on outside of the select circle of chilaquile makers in the know. I was on my way there anyways, just to see what new things I could add to my collection of value items I-hope-to-someday-put-into-use, when I realized my EBT card was all tapped out: I ain’t going to be able to buy nothing! Heading back home, I spotted this other yard sale, where they must have been really desperate for cash: they were trying to pass this kid off as a floor lamp! I can understand trying to cope with the burden of poverty but I do not condone the selling of kids as furniture, that’s just not right. Wood, plastic, and metal are much more durable.

May Day Police Violence: Caught on Tape!


Expect to see lots of video coverage tomorrow of the heavy handed police reaction at MacArthur Park, the rally point for the second May Day march. I was watching the coverage on the national Univision broadcast (similar to the major network 6:30 pm programs) and while the local reporter was giving a live update, the police could be seen in the background shooting foam bullets at the crowd. Telemundo had even crazier footage with the news team getting manhandled in their broadcast tent, also while they were broadcasting live. Fox 11 has footage of Christina Gonzalez getting her own sampling of excessive force, and in her report tonight she was rightfully pissed and was demanding an explanation. Even though there were reports of some young kids throwing things at the cops at some breakaway march, nobody can understand why they went after all the families that were in the park far away from all that commotion.

What I found interesting about the live Univision broadcast was the news reporter quickly coming to the conclusion that the excessive use of force by the police was the fault of the protesters, that they brought this onto themselves, which is often the line you hear on the news. But with so many news reporters becoming part of the story (some getting hurt in the process) and with video coverage of the event, this is going to quickly take on a new face. I wonder if this latest example of police over-reaction will affect Bratton’s chances at another term as Chief? Something tells me that once all the LAPD “investigations” are over they will declare themselves to have been completely justified. And so it goes.

Many personal accounts can be found on


You can see the footage from the Telemundo cameras and another video clip over at

Fiesta of Ads


On Sunday I went to the yearly promotional event that takes place on Broadway in Downtown, absurdly called a Fiesta, and I took a few pictures. It’s time the event changes its names to something more like Ad Fiesta, Ads on Broadway, or Crap Items You May Later Wish To Purchase Day, or it should just be canceled (preferably the latter) because there is nothing festive about this sucky, sorry excuse for an event. And it’s depressing that companies see Latinos as nothing but a marketing demographic. Although there are some stages for music, the bulk of what you are expected to do is to wait in long lines at booths to get some product samples. Let me show you! (cuidado: muchas fotos!)
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Rio de Los Angeles State Park


Taylor Yards in Cypress Park, sandwiched between San Fernando Road and the LA River, opened its doors last week as a new park: the Rio de Los Angeles State Park. The long battle by local groups to keep the yards from turning into warehouses has paid off nicely, a large piece of industrial use land has been converted back into a space welcoming of humans. The designers seem to have succeeded in incorporating the recreational needs of the local community with the needs for ecological preservation. I made a little trip to take a look around, click thru if you want to play! (Caution: lots of pics ahead.)
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Something’s Brewing


Even though “The Brewery” is squarely in Lincoln Heights, when they became an “art colony” I swore that I would never go back there and even made it one of my places to avoid. After their campaign against being part of the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council, (when they refused to be neighborly and desperately wanted to be part of the Downtown neighborhood council) one of their spokespersons had this summary of my neighborhood:

“While we don’t have any hostility [toward] our neighbors in Lincoln Heights, we don’t have much in common,” Levy said. “They have the interests that would be typical in the community–street maintenance, crime–but the interests that our population has are quite different.”

That makes it even clearer that I wanted nothing to do with this place. Screw you and your dismissive tone!

But that was around six years ago, maybe the colonists have changed their tune in the meantime. Our local drinking club has even made a few fun excursions to Barbara’s (a hat tip to the local borrachos!) so being the peacemaker that I am, I decided to let bygones be bygones, water under the Main St. bridge. Time to check out the Brewery in all its glory: a trip to the Brewery Art Walk!

But wouldn’t you know it, someone accidentally borrowed my camera. (Me la vas a pagar, cabrona!) Oh well, might as well dust off the pen and paper and get in the artistic spirit, time to take pics and notes the old fashioned way!

Yeah, my scribbling is sloppy and I failed remedial stickman drawing, I already know. If that bothers you, don’t click ahead. But somehow I think I’ll fit right in.
Continue reading Something’s Brewing

Hang Up and Drive !!!


When someone takes the time to print up a homemade sign and affix it to their car window just to tell you not to talk on your cellphone while you drive, maybe its about time you paid attention. And really, is the information you’re conveying so important that it’s worth being distracted from operating a machine known to kill buckets of people every year? Unless you have info on impending nuclear annihilation or a tip on a free beer giveaway, the answer is no.

Hey, Dirtbags! For Free!


If you’re planning on doing any gardening this weekend, the Bureau of Sanitation has a useful and free program where you can pick up all the mulch you need, just drive up and bag it yourself, though I’d suggest using buckets or rubber bins. It’s made from the yard clippings collected in the green bins so you might not want to put it near veggies you’ll eat. With 5 locations, there might be one near you, check the flyer. Now you have enough savings for a proper round of tasty beers!

High Onion Prices to Continue


In a week where the local media is covering gasoline price increases, proposed MTA fare hikes, and looming rent hikes, none of them have bothered to mention the one inflation item that is on all our minds: WTF is going on with the crazy prices on white onions?!? I don’t know about you, but I can’t cook without my beloved white onions. Pico de gallo, salsa verde, salsa roja, salsa, arroz mejicano, cebolla y cilantro, onion jam, cebolla con sal; it all requires white onions, and lots of them. So when I recently noticed that a bag at Superior was about to cost me $14 at the going rate of $1.99 a lb and since readers want fresh reporting, I decided to put on my huaraches and do a bit of gumshoe work. Err, make that tireshoe. Follow along for the pungent details!
Continue reading High Onion Prices to Continue

Effective Anti-Graffiti Measures


Are you having trouble keeping the tagger kids from hitting up your trash can? Are you tired of the constant scrubbing and painting of unsightly scribbles? Well now you have another option: cover your own trash can in anti-graffiti graffiti! Not only do you claim the available tagging space, you make your anti-graffiti stance known to others, in an utterly beautiful and artistic manner. If we can only get the City to pay for this message to be painted on every single wall in LA, the graf issue would finally be solved!