This is true story of my fight to earn the right to be Smiley #1

My mother, Carmen, often sent me to La Paloma Market, while my brother Salomon watched I Love Lucy re-runs. We lived in East Los Angeles’ Ramona Gardens housing project, where I had to be selective about the routes I took.

Since I feared the barking dogs along the alley, I always took a shortcut through the hill that was controlled by a local gang, the Hill Boys. The homeboys never bothered me on my daily trip for groceries, especially since we attended Murchison Elementary School at the same time.

Mas…This is true story of my fight to earn the right to be Smiley #1

I didn’t know I was a poor Mexican until the day I started junior high

salomon_y_carmenWhen you grow up in a segregated community and poor, often times, you’re not aware of your ethnicity and class status. Growing up in tight-knit Mexican communities, from Tijuana, Mexico, to East Los Angeles, I didn’t realize that I was Mexican and poor until my first day of junior high school.

As part of federal integration programs, I — along with classmates from Murchison Elementary School in East Los Angeles — was bused to Mt. Gleason Jr. High School in Sunland-Tujunga. Nervous about leaving the notorious Ramona Gardens housing project or Big Hazard projects for a strange place, I braced myself for the unknown.

Mas…I didn’t know I was a poor Mexican until the day I started junior high

Watch: BuzzFeed serves Taco Bell to L.A. Mexicans + @RoValderrama

mexicansattacobellWhen BuzzFeed served some Taco Bell specialties to L.A. Mexicans, reactions were — let us say — mixed. We know it’s L.A. because they mention King Taco in East Los. Try it, you’ll like it. We also recommend Guisado on Cesar Chavez. And Eastside Luv right by Mariachi Plaza offers a great selection of refreshing beverages for an 80°March day like today.

Mas…Watch: BuzzFeed serves Taco Bell to L.A. Mexicans + @RoValderrama

Richard Montoya and Edward James Olmos walk into a bar…


It was a hot afternoon, much like today. Walking into the cool darkness of East Side Luv in Boyle Heights was a relief. It was crowded, about two dozen people milling about, some busy setting up recording equipment, others huddled in small groups. Waiting. It was “media day” for Water & Power, which comes out today.

I’d watched the movie the night before in a small screening room somewhere in Hollywood. Dark, unsettling, violent, suspenseful, heartbreaking, redemptive … I had questions, but so did everybody else.

I was finally called over, and before long, the movie’s writer and director Richard Montoya and Edward James Olmos, the film’s presenter, were seated in front of me. I had 15 minutes, more or less.

Abelardo de la Peña Jr. (AdlpJr): What got you involved in Water and Power?

Edward James Olmos (EJO): The single most important thing about movies: The script, the story, the writing. Richard is a genius. Go watch the movie. You watch the movie, and you see, all of a sudden …

Mas…Richard Montoya and Edward James Olmos walk into a bar…

Breaking: Japanese actor Bad Badtz-Maru cast as Chicano

angrybirdog(PNS reporting from TOKYO) Japanese character actor Bad Badtz-Maru will star as a gang-banging, tagging Chicano in a new animated feature called Angry Bird O.G., PNS confirmed on Sunday.

This could be a comeback role for 20-year-old Badtz-Maru (バッドばつ丸). The spiky-haired method actor has found little work since playing the mascot at the 2006 FIBA World Championship of Basketball here.

Mas…Breaking: Japanese actor Bad Badtz-Maru cast as Chicano

New ‘East Los High’ web series exposes sexrification of East L.A. (video)


(PNS reporting from EAST LOS) A new web series on Hulu is poised to blow the lid off the unprecedented rise of sexy Latinos currently overrunning East Los Angeles.  The series, East Los High, is a riveting expose of the rapid “sexrification” of the historically low-and-slow Chicano community.

“The kids at East Los High are hot, they’re ripped, and they can dance,” said Garfield High School alum Alberto “Sleepy” Gonzalez.  “When I drop my kid off at school, it looks like he’s stepping into another country, like Puerto Rico.”

Mas…New ‘East Los High’ web series exposes sexrification of East L.A. (video)

PNS*Hot*Flash: Chicana frets – winged eyebrows or eyeliner?

(PNS reporting from EAST LOS ANGELES) Veronica Gonzalez has a conundrum: Should she go rockabilly and do winged eyeliner or go chola and do winged eyebrows?

“It’s, like, hard, you know? I’m just trying to keep up with my heritage,” Gonzalez told PNS Wednesday.

Gonzalez said that if she went rockabilly it would not only look cute with her new cats-eye glasses, but she would be able to dress more girly. If she went with the chola eyebrows, then she would have to wear more khaki and that’s just not her color.

Mas…PNS*Hot*Flash: Chicana frets – winged eyebrows or eyeliner?

Great pochos in rock history: The Premiers ‘Farmer John’ (video)


The Premiers were an American garage band in the 1960s, best known for their 1964 hit, Farmer John.

The band was formed in 1962 in San Gabriel, CA by brothers Lawrence Perez (guitar) and John Perez (drums), and neighbors George Delgado (guitar) and Frank Zuniga (bass).

They practiced in the Perez brothers back yard, encouraged by their mother, and soon started drawing crowds to their rehearsals. They were discovered by Billy Cardenas, who managed and produced other Chicano bands in the East Los Angeles area and won the group slots supporting artists such as Johnny “Guitar” Watson and Chris Montez.

Mas…Great pochos in rock history: The Premiers ‘Farmer John’ (video)

Around Our Town: Where to go, what to do for the Mayan Apocalypse

Rancho Pocho and surrounding communities will be alive with excitement tonight as everyone awaits the End of the World As We Know It at midnight local time. Don’t stay at home — party hardy or die Mayan!

Here’s what’s going on around town:

• FOR THE GENTS: In the Rancho Pocho Downtown Historic District, Club Rico for Gentlemen is offering no cover admission to a special presentation by the North Pole Dancers, the chillest elvettes to ever stuff a thong. Dressed as Santa? All lap dances are 50% off!  Prices good until midnight, of course.

• FOR THE LADIES: Don’t be fat at the end of the world — burn fat at the Grand Opening of the new Spin ‘N’ Thin Spa located where the Gun ‘N’ Run sporting goods store used to be on Miramar in Pocho Hills. Burn, baby, burn with “all you can spin” classes at two-for-one prices. Bring your BFF and spin till you barf at one low price. It’s never too spin to be thin! Special available until midnight.

Mas…Around Our Town: Where to go, what to do for the Mayan Apocalypse