Buyepongo says Misogyny will not be tolerated after women fans groped at their show

by Tom Nguyen

[Buyepongo is about breaking down borders one dance floor at a time. Its about getting to know one another.. and yes it’s about shaking yo booty, How ever you want to get down!! We want to make it clear to all these foos that think they are gods gift to woman and think they can come and straight up disrespect a woman at our show.. fuck that!! We see you and we will approach you!! Last night we had a situation where 2 #buyeseras were touched and groped and without consent simply for the fact they allow him to dance with them. We want to say it loud and clear THAT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED AT A BUYE SHOW!! Even if its a friend , brother or even a Buye member they will get checked appropriately. And If you see this happening you gotta step up and protect our people!!! We love all woman and men!! And we want yall to come to our shows and feel free to do your thing but all ways be respectful and NO MEANS NO!!!! This conversation must happen so we can create a better future for our seeds. This has been a Buye service .. announcement. Con todo respeto y amor !!!! #fuckpatriarchy #buyangu]

Thank you Edgar Meshlee Modesto of Buyepongo for calling out the man who groped 2 of their women fans at their show this past weekend, and saying any behavior that disrespects and violates folks, will not be tolerated. He also importantly says, as men, we need to challenge and confront other men when we see this happening, instead of looking the other way and being bystanders. It’s an important issue many of us recently discussed at Art Making Party: Gear Up for Denim Day! led by Sumaq Alvarado-del Aguila of Peace Over Violence.

This kind of behavior happens so much at shows, that we’ve become so conditioned to ignore it….women learn to accept it as a reality of going out anywhere, men learn they can get away with it, because no other men are saying or doing anything about it. When is this going to change? When are each of us going to take a stand like Edgar? For my partner who is a survivor of sexual assault, for my niece who is growing up, I want to the the kind of man who doesn’t hesitate to call out misogyny and patriarchy. Shit like this is not harmless. It’s not boys being boys. You touch somebody without their consent, that’s assault…that’s violence. And it doesn’t matter who it is — we can’t give folks a pass just because they’re popular or well-connected. There has to be consequences for bad behavior. Edgar says he will check his own band members.

And that’s why you’ll never see Tropa Magica / Thee Commons events here…I’ve seen the 2 brothers harass and manhandle women many times and I won’t cover any misogynist bands, or give them a pass just because people expect rockers to be bad boys. No, just because you play in a band, manage a band, think you’re with the cool kids, doesn’t mean you get to violate and take advantage of folks. Support artists like Buyepongo, Earth Arrow and Weapons of Mass Creation who call out the bullshit that patriarchy is, and who absolutely demand that all folks are respected and safe at their shows.

And demand safe spaces where you spend your money! One venue where I see bad behavior tolerated all the time is Resident, where security is only outside checking IDs, but none anywhere inside. So, there are men who feel they can get as drunk as they want and act with impunity. And you feel like you have to act on your own with no backup…the one time I confronted a man who was groping women on the dance floor there, their security threw me and my partner Vanna Mae Art (people of color) out, and let the perpetrator (white male) stay. These spaces that profit from us absolutely bear a responsibility to ensure a safe space…hold them to it!

And we wouldn’t be having this conversation openly if the 2 brave women didn’t tell Edgar after the show what happened. Let’s talk about these issues openly instead of remaining silent. Have you had bad experiences or witnessed them? What can we do to protect one another better and respect folks’ space and safety at shows? On a bright note, a man I got into a physical confrontation with at La Cita Bar last year over his groping of women, approached me and apologized to me recently for his bad behavior. So, people can atone and change, but it starts with telling them their bad behavior is not to be tolerated.

Bombino Drops 1st Single off New Album “Deran” and plays Zebulon LA on July 17!


by Tom Nguyen

Tuareg guitarist and singer-songwriter Bombino from Agadez, Niger just announced his next album Deran, being released May 18, 2018, and you can listen to the new addictive track “Tehigren” and pre-order the album below.

The song is a fusion of Tuareg rock and reggae, which he likes to call “Tuareggae”: the first half in a slower reggae drum and bass, and then it finishes with his frenetic, blistering and masterful guitar riffs. According to a JamBase interview, Bombino says “The song is about my own struggle with being on the road all the time, away from my home. It is a nostalgic song, remembering the beauty of my home.”

The album was recorded in Casablanca, Morocco, and he has also announced summer tour dates in support of the new album. Bombino will perform at Zebulon LA on Tuesday, July 17th, 2018, and tickets go on sale Friday, March 9th. Be sure to get yours, because Zebulon LA has been booking incredible artists of the African diaspora and the show will sell out fast!

Racism rears its ugly head all across SoCal following the election of Donald Trump

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by Tom Nguyen

Following the election of Donald Trump, it didn’t take long for reports of blatant racism and hate crimes to start coming in from around the country. These incidents immediately took me back to my youth, as a Vietnamese refugee growing up in Orange County, historically the most conservative county in a blue state. Racism and prejudice were common and often blatant but becoming less of a worry as I entered college.

Then in 1996, my high school sweetheart’s cousin was viciously murdered by a white supremacist, a hate crime that drew widespread coverage and outrage. Looking back, the murder was an aberration at a time when white skinhead gangs once prevalent in OC were losing their foothold and hate crimes in OC by 2000 would drop to a 10 year low. Racism became less of a concern for me as white flight from many OC cities and growing Latino and Asian populations were changing OC into a more diverse place.

After moving to Long Beach, then Boyle Heights, I never looked back. Until this week. The last almost 10 years of covering LA’s diverse communities and cultural arts scene gave me hope and optimism that we had moved forward, past an era where I or anyone of a minority group would have to worry about violent extremists and hateful bigots.

The election of Donald Trump has quickly shattered that sense of progress, normalcy and security. His xenophobic, racist, homophobic, misogynist rhetoric has opened the floodgates on unabashed targeting of anyone he and his supporters deem foreign, or an outsider, or a perceived threat to the preeminence of straight white males. This is what Muslim communities have been contending with in a post-9/11 nation, with an increase in hate crimes specifically against Muslims or anyone mistaken as Muslim in just these recent years.

Living in a globally diverse Southern California region doesn’t make us any less immune to this type of deplorable and frightening behavior. Here are incidents I’ve gathered this week, mostly on social media. Most heartbreaking to me are young children being targeted by their fellow classmates and in one case, even a teacher. It is triggering to me on so many levels, back to memories of arriving in this country in the 70s as a 5-year-old child. Like any child, I had no concept of race and why certain kids taunted and bullied me and just remembering the innocence lost because of acts like these…it’s utterly heartbreaking and unacceptable!

I think it’s crucially important that we raise awareness whenever these are reported as a reminder for us be vigilant and watch out for one another. If you have heard of other incidents, please let us know. If you have been victimized, please report it to your local law enforcement as well as to the Southern Poverty Law Center which monitors hate crimes and hate groups. And lastly, if you witness acts of hate, please don’t be a bystander and intervene if it is safe to do so. Watch this video in response to a similar increase in hate crimes following Brexit in UK:

Los Angeles:
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West Hollywood:
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Pico Union Project Unites Community through Faith, Music and Outreach

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Story and Photos by Oscar Bautista

Located on the corner of Valencia and 12th, near the middle of the Pico Union district, the local non-profit organization Pico Union Project (PUP) stands tall in a community as diverse as its members. No matter what your background, PUP is proud in welcoming any and all members of the community looking for a space of inclusion and respect, a basis of their core Jewish values that they actively promote.

“We’re a multi-faith community space based around the idea of using arts to promote bridges between different cultures, different faiths, different communities,” said Jason Chu, Chief Storytelling Officer at the Pico Union Project. “There’s a Jewish community that makes this home. There’s actually the first women’s mosque in America…in the Muslim community, that is controversial, but they make their home here.” Continue Reading →

Boyle Heights Urban Garden seeks Community Support in Dispute with Landowning Hospital

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Story by Oscar Bautista and Tom Nguyen
Photos by Oscar Bautista

IMG_0061For the past 15 years the non-profit Proyecto Jardin has been serving the community by creating an urban oasis in what was an empty lot on Bridge St. in Boyle Heights. Over the years, Proyecto Jardin has transformed this plot of land into a community garden blossoming with fruit, herbs, and vegetables, all grown by volunteer community members. After this long stewardship, Proyecto Jardin is being removed from overseeing the garden after the landowner, neighboring White Memorial Medical Center (WMMC), has denied them the option to renew their lease and has ordered them to vacate the garden by January 31.

WMMC had initially offered Proyecto Jardin the option to stay for a final 6 months in 1/3rd of the lot (the other 1/3rd to be used by WMMC’s advertising and marketing department to re-brand the garden, and 1/3rd to be used by 2 unnamed non-profits) as well as instruction how to observe its Sabbath Policy in the garden (WMMC is a Seventh-day Adventist organization). 

Proyecto Jardin replied with a counter-offer of sole use for another 5 years without religious restrictions that it believed better served its diverse community of various faiths. Expecting further negotiation from that point, Irene Peña, Proyecto Hardin’s Executive Director, was surprised that the counter-offer was flatly rejected and WMMC gave Proyecto Jardin a 30 day notice to vacate the community garden it has built and called home for the past 15 years.

According to Peña, WMMC will allow the garden to remain, but will take away the community leadership which has been vital to making the community garden what it is today. She is now asking the community’s support and help in getting the word out and mount public pressure on WMMC to change their stance and come to a win-win solution for all parties. On Saturday, January 30, Proyecto Jardin will hold a community gathering from 9am to 3pm.
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Interview with Hayokaht: Defiant and Conscious Experimental Jazz in LA’s Eastside

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Story and Photos by Oscar Bautista

With belting horns and driving rhythms, Hayokaht is one act coming out of East LA that is bringing back jazz to the communities it calls home. Using the technical and chaotic styles of free jazz, while still venturing into new territories of sound, this group takes its audiences on a ride through the eclectic cultures of its members.

Playing as a quartet, Bryan Diaz (tenor sax), Angel Hernandez (alto sax from Buyepongo), Michael Ibarra (bass from El Haru Kuroi), and Harout Gulesserian (drums) form a powerhouse group of talented artists that tempt the edges of jazz to find their unique sound.

IMG_0047 With a residency at Eastside Luv, you shouldn’t be surprised to find a packed house every first Wednesday of the month as Hayokaht entertains a crowd of fans. It was especially packed this first Wednesday of December where people came out to support Hayokaht by donating to help them towards their first EP.

After seeing their performance first hand I quickly understood why the bar was bursting at the seams. Soul baring and never missing a beat, Hayokaht mixed the wild improvisation of free jazz and the dark setting of L.A. life into a great live set.

Glimpses of the jazz masters such as Sun Ra and Charles Mingus can be heard in their performance giving homage to the artists who molded free jazz. That’s not to take away attention from the amazing musicianship carried by all four member of the group – each providing their own flavor to the Hayokaht sound.

After their set, I got to speak with these new torches bearers of L.A. free jazz to find out more about how they came together, as well as how they connect to the community through music. Continue Reading →

Highland Park community members march and speak up against Gentrification while LA Councilmember Gil Cedillo hosts a Jazz festival

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Story and Photos by Katie J

(Highland Park) — “Gente Si! Gentrify NO!” A chanting crowd gathered at the York and Figueroa intersection, underneath the American flag and afternoon sun. “Here, take one.” A small child handed her friend a sign reading ‘Our Future! Our Fight!’ as she clutched her own, which proclaimed ‘I Love My Community.’ “Start them young, huh?” One mother said to another, as both laughed. The feel of family, unity, and neighborly love buzzed through the air. But there was a distinct, strong undercurrent of urgency — this was not a casual gathering. The individuals from across Los Angeles that came were there to fight, to speak their piece, to be heard. To support one another in the battle against the many-tentacled monster of gentrification. Organized by NELA Alliance, BKR Gang and Drug Intervention Program, Eviction Defense Network, and concerned residents and local business owners, the day’s march and resource fair were a direct response to growing threats within a rapidly gentrifying Highland Park.

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A little after 4PM, NELAA organizers called for everyone to circle up. Pastor Wayne Turner of BKR gave a rousing cry for unity in these difficult times, for neighborly support and outreach. “The Highland Park homeless population has grown almost 20%,” he said. “When the city cuts our resources, our problems only get worse.” Next, organizer Arturo read a piece he’d prepared, which asked everyone gathered to remember the roots of this fight. “Our ancestors walk with us… every step we take we honor the earth… we are a people of the river, of these hills.” As he spoke, organizer Melissa translated into Spanish. “This march is over 500 years old… let’s speak some truth to those that deny our existence.” A member of the Brown Berets spoke next, explaining that the Berets were there to help with crowd control, and asked that marchers remain on the sidewalks. “The police will look for any little reason to intervene, to stop us.” Miguel, another organizer, ended the short speeches and began the march with a powerful chant that overtook the crowd “Si se puede! Si se puede!” which continued as the crowd headed down Figueroa. “Si se puede! Our streets!” Continue Reading →

Museum of Latin American Art: Summer Kick Off of Afro-Cuban Concert Series!

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by Linda Vanessa “Nuves” Tovar

(LONG BEACH) — Having a father who has played percussion instruments for a majority of his life and a lover of salsa dancing for a mother, I made sure I was at the Museum of Latin American Art for their Summer Music Series Kick Off Party! Founded in 1996 by philanthropist, Dr. Robert Gumbiner, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, California is the first and only museum in the United States that exclusively features modern and contemporary Latin American fine art. Only a 30 minute drive from Downtown Los Angeles, the MOLAA has featured exhibits including: Viva La Muxer by Las Fotos Project and “Frida Kahlo, Her Photos”. The MOLAA’s mission is to educate the American public about contemporary Latin American fine art through the establishment of a significant permanent collection and the presentation of dynamic exhibitions and related programs.

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Dedicated to preserving and sharing the Latino experience and culture, MOLAA curates special programs and events for all to enjoy. Currently on exhibit is, Miradas: Ancient Roots in Modern and Contemporary Mexican Art, Miradas is a temporary exhibition provided by Bank of America Art in our Communities program can be visited through September 27th.

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To kick off the Summer Series was, “Remembering the Palladium Days, Chapter 3: Mambo is Back and here to stay”, which featured six-time, Grammy Award-winning percussionist, Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez and Freddie Crespo’s Mambo Revue Orchestra. Many of these musicians have shared the stage with greats like Tito Puentes! The caliber and professional experience of these musicians is not to be missed or overlooked. I mean, watch this short clip if you don’t believe me! Continue Reading →

Mario Garcia’s new book preserves Chicano Movement history with powerful testimonials by activist leaders

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Photo by Sonia Fernandez

(PASADENA) — It’s a little after 7PM on August 4th, a Tuesday. In the second story of the Vroman’s Bookstore, overlooking Colorado Boulevard, the murmur of a crowd would distract from the selection of gifts and stationary, and the children’s classics and colorful toys.

Before a curtain in Vroman’s signature green is Professor Mario T. Garcia, praised as the “premier historian of the Chicano movement,” here to sign his latest book, and the turn-out is such that more chairs would be a legal fire hazard. Amongst the community are elders with heads of hair long turned white, and spirited little ones, giddy and restless throughout the proceedings. Latecomers lean against the shelves and the stairwell. A member of the crowd cries, “Viva Pachuco!”

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The Arcs, new project by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, plays first live show at Espacio 1839 in Boyle Heights (Full video)

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by Tom Nguyen

I found out yesterday afternoon a new band The Arcs was going to have their first live performance at Espacio 1839 in Boyle Heights that very evening…and not just any new band…one formed by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. Now disclaimer: I haven’t listened to The Black Keys since ohhh 2010 but hey I live a few blocks away from Espacio 1839, and I’m not above being a curiosity seeker, especially when a new hipster band decides to premiere at one of Boyle Heights’ bastions of anti-gentrification. How does that even happen? Well apparently El Oms, an artist and good friends with Espacio 1839, did the artwork for The Arcs’ upcoming music video for the song Put a Flower in Your Pocket. The night was a celebration of the completion of the video, which will be released next Friday August 14.

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