Monthly Archives: January 2010

El Tepeyac: Take 2

My neighbor recently read my blog post on El Tepeyac (Bigger is better, except if it’s not authentic) and asked me why I was so tough on El Tepeyac. In all fairness, I did give El Tepeyac another shot and found it better on the second and third go-rounds. We ordered a burrito drenched in enchilada sauce and it worked out pretty well, so officially, my three stars review still holds, but it’s not like I won’t go to eat there on a Friday night when the meal budget is $5 each.
I decided to take a more positive spin on the restaurant reviewing however and actively support some of my favorite restaurants here in East LA. Soooo…if you’re looking for something BESIDES El Tepeyac (which is NEVER hard up for business), here are a few of my picks!

Best places to eat Mexican food in East LA besides El Tepeyac

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Filed under Los Angeles, Uncategorized

Nothing says census like burning sage

As a field representative, I go to quite a few grin-and-grip events that range from fun (free steak dinner and interesting people at my table) to mind-numbingly dull (two-hour long inauguration of a water recycling project). Well, it is officially census season. Last week, I went to the grand opening of the census office in San Dimas (practically the sticks). I expected cookies, maybe bottled water, but San Dimas served up a lot more. Things took a turn for the interesting when I passed a rooster strolling around as I pulled into the parking lot. The parking attendant vehemently denied any association with said rooster.

Then I walked inside and this was what I saw:

Awesome! We all got a blessing with a sage rub and I’m pretty sure they had the fire alarm disarmed…

As if it couldn’t get better, the open house wrapped up with bagpipers. Go census!

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A familiar death / Muerte de un familiar

Two weeks ago, a man from El Monte was kidnapped from a bar and shot in the head while on vacation in Mexico. He was one of six men taken from that bar and killed that night. His was one of hundreds of murders that year alone in the state of Durango, which has a population of only 1.5 million. Some 10 million people live in Los Angeles County.
Bobby Salcedo’s case broke the news story template though – he was an American, a school board member well-loved in his community, just 33 years old. He was visiting his wife’s family, who hail from Gomez Palacio.

LA Times: Civic leader from El Monte is victim of Mexican violence

In the newspaper articles, he is described not so much as a murder victim, which would imply some intimacy between him and his killers. He is simply: “a victim of Mexican violence.”
As Americans, we like explanations. Could he have been involved with the drug wars? Were the people he went out with involved in narco-trafficking? In the absence of any evidence that there was any reason he should have died that night, the conclusion was simply: wrong place, wrong time. Those who had to pin blame even had the audacity to blame Bobby Salcedo himself for ever having gone to Durango, or even the country of Mexico.
At his memorial, many asked us to honor his memory by being better people and serving our communities, “so he wouldn’t have died in vain.” We begged the authorities to intervene and give us all justice, just this once.
But I don’t think his real killer will ever be caught, nor do most Mexican-Americans on this side of the border. In Mexico, there is no longer an expectation of justice, other than the divine kind. Even karma seems more reliable than the Mexican justice system.
When I heard about Bobby Salcedo’s murder, I was shocked, saddened, angry, but I believed it. That an innocent man could be shot for no reason in northern Mexico was something I could believe.
I met Bobby Salcedo for the first time about a week before his death at a tamalada in El Monte. I didn’t know him, but I knew people who knew him, and his murder was simultaneously surreal and familiar. Narco violence. Kidnappings. Arbitrary killings. We’ve heard that story. We’ve stopped really hearing it anymore. Bobby Salcedo’s death reminds us that the drug war isn’t something that happened in the 1990s. People live and die by it every day.
Take a moment of silence for the thousands and next time you hear about tragedy in another country, pretend for a second that you have family there.

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Filed under Los Angeles, Mexico

Gracias for the heads up

Unfortunately, it’s a bit blurry, but this sign from the LA County Fair couldn’t slip by without comment or at least a head-scratch. The sign on the ticket booth had a number of generic rules on it like “Don’t carry a bazooka into the fairgrounds,” but it was the last line on it that caught my eye:

“Some fair employees do NOT speak English.”

Mainly, I don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, my natural response is “Duh!” – We’re in LA after all. At the same time, this peaks my natural curiosity. What exactly prompted management to put this on the sign? I just picture some disgruntled ride manager yelling at a riled up redneck with a mullet – “Do you know how to READ? Did you not see the sign?!!! I’ll get my lawyer on the phone right now – it’s not our damn fault you don’t know how to say ‘Stop the ride, he’s going to jump’ in Spanish!”
I guess this one will go down as just another one of life’s little mysteries…

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Filed under Los Angeles, Weirdness

La Opinion: Not afraid to call 2009 like it was

While arts and culture reporters lost themselves in a reverie of retrospectives and pontificated on the highlights of the past decade, at least one California newspaper cut to the punch. The New Year’s day headline for La Opinion (the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the US) read simply:

At last God-awful 2009 is over!

I think they accurately captured the populist spirit on this one.

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