My great-grandmother Guadalupe NuÃ±ez Martinez from Pastor Ortiz, Michoacan and founder of Las Guadalupas de San Antonio de Padua Church in Boyle Heights was the queen of buÃ±uelos at the church ferias. Around Christmas time, every countertop in her tiny cottage kitchen would hold stacks of them. They towered over me like skyscrapers made of sugar.
I came across this 8 1/2 x 11 photo of my mother while helping her clean the house the other day.
I hope she doesn’t mind me secretly spiriting it away for use on this blog. It’s such a lovely image, she reminds me of Anna Karina or I think Anna Karina has always reminded me of my mother. No one in my family reminds me of Serge Gainsbourg, that’s probably a good thing.
Perhaps it’s the size of the photo or the starlet affectation of her pose that inspired the joke note to my father (her boyfriend at the time) written on the reverse. Or maybe every young woman that grows up within sight of the Hollywood sign harbors a secret desire to be famous.
Of all my family photos, this is definitely one of my favorites. It is of my great-grandmother Guadalupe Martinez (originally from Pastor Ortiz, Michoacan) at a presentation in her honor. She won out over the other women (presumably, her court) to be crowned “Grandmother of the Year.” According to family stories, the other ladies weren’t too happy about losing. It’s kinda apparent, no?
The dance took place at the CSO Center on Brooklyn Ave (Cesar Chavez) across the street from San Antonio de Padua church. I imagine my great-grandmother’s revered role as the founder of the Guadalupana’s club at the church and provider of the feria tamales and bunuelos contributed to her anointment. Strangely, her involvement with this church would benefit me even after her death and in the most unlikely of ways.
I love the band. You can just make out their name, The Fairlang, artfully done in the infamous Mexican Blackletter.
Photo courtesy of The Figurehead
It was sometime in the future, I had recently returned to Los Angeles after a long absence. I was pleased to discover not only had the Gold Line been finished but I was told the subway to the sea was also completed. I entered the Gold Line station at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights hoping to get to the ocean. Around me the station teemed with thousands of Brown folks. I followed the masses down escalators, assuming they were headed to the platform where I could catch the train to the beach. The escalators kept going down, down, down and then I ended up wandering through a complicated Escher-esque maze of escalators and tunnels. Finally I could see this intense bright, light coming from the floor I was heading to. As the view became clearer, I see the ocean, so brilliant blue, the sand, the palm trees swaying and I can feel the ocean breeze. At a railing, Latino families stand admiring the vista and smiling. As I get closer, I make a shocking discovery. It’s not the ocean at all but a giant hologram, an extremely realistic simulation of the beach. No one around me seems to notice and I feel like that character in the Twilight Zone episode where a woman is yelling to the humans boarding a spaceship to another planet that the alien book titled “To Serve Man” is a cookbook not a manual for the betterment of humankind. I feel incredibly disappointed and let down. Worse yet, I look over and notice in between the teeming tunnels and escalators are stands for every fast food chain and long lines of people waiting to order.
Keep dreaming Los Angeles.
I know it’s totally self-indulgent to share dreams but I was reminded of this one after reading a subway to the sea discussion on LA Eastside.
More than a year later and still the same old letters holding on. Soon after I posted my initial photo here, the folks at Los Anjealous attempted to rally their readers to take over the bar but it seems no one took up the challenge. Perhaps too many folks think like Curbed readers and assume any neighborhood with lots of Mexicanos is too “ghetto” for them.