What a difference a year makes! Last year I was sipping chocolate con leche in the beautiful zocalo of Oaxaca, watching the nightly parades of disfraces and bandas as they made their way through the cobblestone streets. This year, I’ve barely had time from work and my commute to even think about Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. For me, this is my holiday season, the time of the year I celebrate, decorate and look forward to. Unfortunately, the weight and responsibilities of daily life and the rat race have rudely interrupted my commitment to festivity. So this year, it’s about memories and I’ll start with photographs from last year’s celebrations in Mexico. Enjoy!
It wasn’t until the last few years that I discovered my family had been living in Los Angeles much longer than I thought. I always assumed it was my great-grandmother Matilde who decided to move west after my 32 year old great-grandfather Zacarias died from turberculosis (a disease most likely related to his working in the Arizona copper mines.) Apparently, Matilde’s mother, known in our family as Nana Grande had already been living here in Los Angeles and according to family hearsay had also been running a boarding house in New York City. I can’t imagine this last part is true because the rumor concerns some salacious rumors of secret offspring and such and furthermore, how in the world does a Mexican woman of limited economic means move between Sonora, Los Angeles and New York in the early 1900s? I suppose it’s somehow possible.
As I slowly make my way through the old family photos, I see “Los Angeles” on a great number of them, such as this photo of my great-great aunt Trinidad and her husband Enrique Porter. I often wonder what life was like for them? My grandmother has told me countless stories of discrimination and yet, it seems she and her family easily intermarried and mixed/socialized with non-Mexicans. Not too much has changed in this city.
Juan Gabriel in his prime, Venezuela, 1987.
Juan Gabriel is inarguably one of the greatest singer-songwriters in the history of Mexican music. He’s written so many amazing timeless and classic songs but it’s this performance of Costumbres I find the most engaging. An incredibly romantic anti-love song.
A friend of mine was back in town last week (she lives in Queens but grew up in SGV) and we had the following conversation:
Me: What have you been doing since you’ve been back?
Her: Last night I went to Punky Reggae at La Cita.
Me: Oh yeah, how was it?
Her: [long pause] uh…mmm…
Me: What? Too many hipsters?
Her: No…it was more like…if the Montebello Mall exploded!
[visuals flood my mind]
Another SGV friend claims the first Hot Topic store opened in the Montebello Mall (officially known as the Montebello Town Center). Can this be true? I think I was going to Schurr High School at the time (I lasted less than two months) when one of the punks came to school and said: “Oh my god, you guys! They’re selling Doc Martens at the mall!”