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

mario-garciaby Amanda Wang

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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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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 →

Floricanto Center and Danza Floricanto/USA: Bringing Together East Los Angeles’ Artistic Communities

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by Katie J

Under bright strings of papel picado and colorful twinkling lights, an eager crowd mills about in the lobby of The Floricanto Center for the Performing Arts. The Center’s director, Gema Sandoval, softly glides through the crowd, smiling and welcoming the chipper guests. A warm and motherly soul, Gema has a history of bringing together families, artists, and diverse communities in the Los Angeles area. Tonight she has invited everyone for the 13th annual Fiesta del Dia de los Muertos performance, put on by her floricanto company. While the dancers prepare themselves in the dressing room, Mr. Sandoval ushers guests to their seats in the Center’s intimate theater space. The audience settles in, their excited chatter dimming with the lights, as Gema takes the stage to introduce the dancers and the company’s history.

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Gema and her husband, Frank Sandoval, are founding members of Danza Floricanto/USA, the oldest existing professional Mexican folk dance troupe in Southern California. “We started as an affirmation group,” Gema fondly recalls, “until we realized we were artists!” She chuckles to herself as she says this, and one can’t help but break into a smile with her. A lifelong educator, Gema has a gentle guiding spirit. She is a smaller woman with a calm demeanor, but within minutes of speaking to her, her matriarchal strength is obvious. Equally apparent is her deep love and respect for the art of dance, particularly folklorico (a collective term for traditional Latin American dances that emphasize local folk culture).

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Cry Now: Film set in Boyle Heights Premieres July 26!

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by Tom Nguyen

Cry Now, a new film directed by Alberto Barboza and produced by Cinético Productions, is premiering Saturday, July 26, 9:00pm, at the New Filmmakers LA Film Festival. The romantic feature film follows Vincent, an LA street artist, who falls in love with Luzy, a tattoo artist. Set in the culturally rich neighborhood of Boyle Heights, it’s great to see the eclectic Chicano music and arts community we love so much featured on the big screen for wider audiences!

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1st Ever Supersonico Lineup Announced & Why LA deserves more World Music Festivals like this!


by Tom Nguyen

(Update 7/10/14: Did some research and found out this festival have been long in the making by Latin Alternative Music Conference and Nacional Records founder Tomas Cookman and Coachella promoter Goldenvoice. They get why LA needs this so bad and we thank you!)

We couldn’t believe our eyes at first when we saw the lineup. You know those fake Coachella lineups that appear every year as people fantasize their dream lineup? This 1st ever Supersonico pretty much sums up our wet dream of a Latin Alternative festival!

Cafe Tacvba, Calle 13, Ana Tijoux, La Vida Boheme, Bomba Estereo, Nortec Collective presents Bostich & Fussible…like Anthony Valadez of KCRW said, “the promoters could have stopped with the 3 of the names and this would have been huge but instead they went deep.” Yeah no kidding! Great to see them also feature some of our favorite local acts like La Santa Cecilia, Ceci Bastida, Jungle Fire, Subsuelo, Kita Klane, LA tastemakers DJs Valadez and Raul Campos and incredibly, more artists are to be announced!

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Newport Beach Film Festival Film Showcases & Galas April 25-May 2


Having grown up in Orange County, I’m proud to say one of the most dynamic and well-run film festivals in Southern California and OC’s largest one is the Newport Beach Film Festival and this year’s 14th annual festival runs Thursday, April 25 – May 2. They screen an enormous amount of films in a week in many categories: Features, Documentaries, Action Sports, Shorts, Art, Architecture and Design (AA+D), Environmental, Music, Family, Youth and Collegiate. This year, they’re also partnering with the OC Music Awards to feature music videos. My favorite of the festival are the Showcases spotlighting films from different regions of the world, followed by a gala parties in the beautiful outdoor courtyard of Fashion Island in Newport Beach. These after-parties offer hordoevers  from select area restaurants, drinks by Absolut and Stella Artois, and live entertainment and are well worth the additional ticket (Discount tickets for some of them available below!). The OC Weekly has a good run-down on this year’s festival and here are the showcases: Continue Reading →