Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2018 in Los Angeles & Surrounding Areas

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by Tom Nguyen

Here’s my roundup of Dia de los Muertos in and around Los Angeles. As I repeat every year like my first guide, please learn about and honor this respectful celebration of departed loved ones, an important tradition that goes back to indigenous roots, and not turn it into another culturally appropriated Cinco de Mayo.

By no means is this list complete — there are so many great Dia de los Muertos events all over Southern California, I couldn’t possibly list them all. Events below are ALL AGES and FREE, unless otherwise noted. Continue Reading →

Our Picks for NYE 2017 in Los Angeles!


by Tom Nguyen

When I’m considering where to spend New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles, I look for 3 things:

  • Great live bands and dance music we typically cover on this site.
  • It won’t break the bank (Some free, most under $30).
  • Whether big or small events, I’m looking for good vibes, not pretentiousness.

If you’re looking for the same, here are my recommendations (in order of cost): Continue Reading →

Airbnb is having a slick celebrity-studded Festival in Downtown LA and no one is talking about it

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Screenshot of airbnbopen.com

by Tom Nguyen

This morning, I noticed a musician friend announce on Facebook he would be performing on the same stage with bands like Maroon 5 at Airbnb Open 2016, a festival hosted by Airbnb in downtown Los Angeles November 17-19. It’s an annual community gathering and festival of hosting that brought together 5000 hosts from 110 countries at last year’s festival in Paris, France. This year, the festival offers music, art, food and talks by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashton Kutcher, and according to their press release, will “highlight the thriving downtown area of LA, taking place across four historic theatres and involving many local restaurants, cafes and other small businesses.”

It sounds great doesn’t it? It’s just no one in our communities knows about it because there is a vacuum of press that this is happening this week. LA Times, LA Weekly and Curbed.com which regularly write about neighborhood complaints about Airbnb, the effects of these short term rentals on LA’s already insufficient supply of renta units, and the city’s efforts to regulate them, are curiously silent. The only news I found were on My News LA and Timeout back in July when the festival was first announced.

Curbed.LA wrote a great piece “Airbnb vs. the city: How short-term rentals are changing urban neighborhoods” just last week. The article gives a good summary of Airbnb’s history from its founding in San Francisco in 2007, it’s tremendous growth, estimated to grow 89% from $900 million in 2015 to an estimated $1.7 billion this year, and how cities across the country are increasingly cracking down and grappling with how to enforce and regulate what are essentially illegal hotels. Curbed.LA says “2016 has been a year of backlash against illegal short-term rentals.” It’s no wonder Airbnb and its high powered PR are staying mum on this week’s festival. If the festival flies under the radar the way their short term rentals do, away from too much scrutiny, Airbnb and their gathered hosts won’t have to answer difficult questions, like those posed by ShareBetter.org and a few other critics I found while searching under #AirbnbOpen hashtag on Twitter.

Continue Reading →

Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2016 in Los Angeles

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by Tom Nguyen

Here’s our roundup of Dia de los Muertos in and around Los Angeles. As I repeat every year like last year, please learn about and honor this respectful celebration of departed loved ones, an important tradition that goes back to indigenous roots, and not turn it into another culturally appropriated Cinco de Mayo.

By no means is this list complete — there are so many great Dia de los Muertos events all over Southern California, I couldn’t possibly list them all. For a more complete list, check out this one. Events below are all ages and free, unless otherwise noted. Continue Reading →

8th Annual Hola Mexican Film Festival: Top 10 Picks and Interview with founder Samuel Douek

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by Tom Nguyen

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©2015 WilkiIMAGE Photo By Wilki W.K. Tom

The 8th Annual Hola Mexico Film Festival which showcases the most recent cinema from Mexico opens this Friday, May 13 and runs through Sunday, May 22, in downtown Los Angeles. I had a really enlightening conversation with founder Samuel Douek who gave me a frank, honest insider look at the challenges of putting this festival together and marketing it beyond just the Mexican American community in Los Angeles. As daunting as it is, Douek and his hard-working team have put this festival on 8 years strong and I hope you come out and support it! My top 10 picks follow our interview:

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Weekly Highlights: Denim Day Launch, StartupDTLA + Street Vendors, REDCAT, Cuicani, La Santa Cecilia and Buika!

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Courtesy of Peace Over Violence

by Tom Nguyen

Last Monday March 22, Peace Over Violence had their official launch for Denim Day, an annual campaign to raise awareness on rape and sexual violence. Patricia Giggans, executive director of Peace Over Violence, founded Denim Day in 1999 in response to a rape conviction that was overturned by the Italian Supreme Court because the justices did not believe the rapist could remove the victim’s tight jeans without her assistance and consent.

Following that verdict, women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim and to protest the ruling. Giggans was inspired by their actions to create Denim Day as a yearly day on a Wednesday in April to wear jeans and highlight the prevalence of rape and sexual assault and the rape culture that further punishes survivors with victim-blaming and shaming. The slogan and message is There is No Excuse and Never An Invitation to Rape and this year’s Denim Day is Wednesday, April 27.

The festivities took place at MOCA in downtown and began with a powerful rendition of Til It Happens To You by Acasola, a co-ed acapella group from California State University, Northridge. The song was Lady Gaga’s tribute to rape survivors at Oscars 2016.

Continue Reading →

Top Picks for NYE 2016 in Los Angeles!

15 Film Picks (5)
by Tom Nguyen

When I’m considering where to spend New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles, I look for 3 things:

  • Great live bands or dance music we typically cover on this site.
  • It won’t break the bank (Some free, most under $40).
  • Whether big or small events, I’m looking for good vibes, not pretentiousness.

If you’re looking for the same, here are my recommendations (in order of cost) all across LA: Downtown, Silver Lake, Hollywood, Mid City, Santa Monica and Long Beach: Continue Reading →

Here’s our Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2015 in LA and a word about Cultural Appropriation

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by Tom Nguyen

Dia de los Muertos is upon us as the weather in LA finally starts to feel a little bit like Fall! As I repeat from last year’s post, as the holiday gains mainstream popularity, cultural appropriation seems inevitable as more and more people “discover” the holiday. I consider myself part of that problem since I myself was discovering Dia de los Muertos as a more culturally deep alternative to commercialized Halloween. As a person of Asian descent who’s called out racist stereotyping in other costumes and cultural events around LA, I am trying to educate myself where the line is between cultural appreciation vs. cultural appropriation when it comes to this tradition as well.

So please know that I publish this list of Dia de los Muertos events in support and respect of the communities, the artists, the musicians, the cultural organizations and the small businesses, who work so hard to preserve and celebrate the roots and traditions of this important time of year. For people new to this holiday, please ask this question yourself and don’t be afraid to ask people in the community: how do I participate in this holiday in a respectful manner?

The first step to genuine cultural appreciation is to educate yourself on the tradition’s history and significance to the communities where it originates. Get to know the community and issues that affect people in it, beyond just donning face paint for your entertainment one day a year. If I can extrapolate further, don’t just enjoy black traditions of music and dance and not care about #BlackLivesMatter. Don’t just enjoy the great LA street food and not care about poverty, lack of opportunity and criminalization of undocumented immigrants. Don’t just wear a coolie hat in Chinatown and not care about why there’s a Chinatown in the first place. So please keep this in mind and I hope to see you at one of these great Dia de los Muertos events!

By no means is this list complete — there are so many great Dia de los Muertos events all over Southern California, I couldn’t possibly list them all. For a more complete list, check out this one. Events below are all ages and free, unless otherwise noted. (Click on each event to jump to more information and scroll down for a list you can print):

Sat, October 17

Fri, October 23

Sat, October 24

Sun, October 25

Mon, October 26 – Fri, October 30

Thu, October 29

Fri, October 30

Sat, October 31

Sun, November 1

Mon, November 2

Wed, November 4

Fri, November 6

Sat, November 7

Sun, November 8

EnClave LA guide to Dia de los Muertos 2015

5 Days to Support Los Jornaleros Del Norte 15th Anniversary Album Kickstarter!

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by Tom Nguyen

(Los Angeles) — This is an urgent appeal to the community to help Los Jornaleros Del Norte complete their 4th album “Tumbando Muros/Chant Down the Walls” via their Kickstarter campaign! 15 years ago, an immigration raid at a corner of day laborers in City of Industry inspired Omar Sierra, a day laborer and musician, to pen a song that inspired others to share their struggles and their hopes through song and poetry. With the help of Pablo Alvarado, founding member and Director of NDLON (National Day Laborer Organizing Network), Los Jornaleros have become the soundtrack for the day laborer and immigrant community’s struggle for visibility, inclusion and equality.

Continue Reading →

Film crew tweet slanders East LA community center upset about Eva Longoria’s Low Rider film

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by Tom Nguyen

What is it with film crews working in our downtown and East LA communities lately? I live in Boyle Heights where there have been film notices taped outside my building and late night filming multiple times this past month. On Thursday night, while I was helping a woman spread the word on Twitter regarding a security guard who harassed her on a downtown location for Hand of God, I came across this tweet from Film Crew L.A., a film crew union:

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Now, full disclosure, I know many people at Eastside Café, an autonomous, progressive community space in El Sereno, which is very committed and invested in the community, offering classes, workshops and socially conscious events. It’s where one of my favorite East LA bands, Las Cafeteras, got their start (and so named after the center) and I was last there on May 14th for a Free West Papua event. Since that time, I hadn’t known about this sign nor the movie, Low Rider, being filmed in the area. I forwarded the tweet to Eastside Café’s Facebook page, which quickly replied that they would write a response to this. I then tweeted some East LA media and community members for their thoughts: Continue Reading →