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30 minutes | 13 days ago
SGV 013: Pomona’s fading graffiti reborn as exalted poetry
Michael Torres doesn’t revel in the idea of ‘making good and getting out of the hood.’NPR’s Best Books of 2020? Yeah, that’s pretty sweet.Getting paid to write and teach? Of course, that’s good.Being able to hold the memories of your past life as a graffiti artist and not feel like you betrayed or lost who you were? Maybe that’s what success is. Torres was born in 1986 and raised in South Pomona. The speaker in his book, An Incomplete List of Names, describes the joy and pain of growing up part of a graffiti crew: Being there for a homie who just got dumped and wanted to do figure 8’s in the mud in his convertible… Inspecting a bullet hole at school in the computer lab… attending numerous post-funeral family reunions. These are the kinds of memories Torres reckoned with for years after he moved to Minnesota to pursue his Master’s of Fine Art. His book’s title is a wide open reference to everything and everyone he left behind. He laughs now at the life-changing day when he got arrested for painting on the roof of the Indian Hill Mall, but the bulk of An Incomplete List of Names struggles (not to be read, Torres is very clearly spoken). It struggles with violence, racism, family taken away, friends forgotten, and the shedding of a constructed identity - REMEK, the painter. Most of all, Torres grapples with understanding his motivations to move away to evolve as a writer, and the consequences of that. However, by getting through it Torres has created the opportunity to construct his identity once again. Whether or not he intended to, he also gave his readers from the San Gabriel Valley a great gift in laying out his journey. It may help them on their own.Buy a special graffiti-autographed copy of An Incomplete List of Names here.Buy a less special, regular copy for $2 less here. By the way, this is the season one finale of SGV Weekly. Thanks for listening! You rock! Talk soon!
24 minutes | 20 days ago
SGV 012: David & Bigot Goliath after El Monte's church bombing
Looking back at the news coverage of the explosion at First Works Baptist Church, the question that rises to the top is why weren’t we hearing more from the group that had protested the Church’s hateful teachings? Keep El Monte Friendly was treated fairly in local reports, but we mostly just saw them in the context of their one protest. Their profile felt greatly overshadowed by the multitude of existing soundbites and loud personality of Pastor Delfin Bruce Mejia. Meeting two members of KEMF over Zoom, Abby and Bee, they were neither fervorous nor confrontational. They were soft-spoken. We discussed the highlights of their day of protest: a train of cars showing support, mothers crying tears of joy, the realization of not being alone. Then they shared their confusion and fear at the news of the bomb. They did not condone the attack and showed concern that the explosive might have hurt someone. It was clear that they wanted to move on from the experience. This episode isn’t to say that reporters local and national didn’t make balanced coverage. Rather that the story has largely been focused on a hate group whose main tactic thus far is speech over action, who have now assumed the role of victims (as they proclaim their bravery). In that, there wasn’t as much of a look at the people they’re hurting, or how a group like them comes to exist. But there were a few outliers in what was written about the event. Gustavo Arrellano’s column in the Los Angeles Times gave a meatier depiction of KEMF’s stake in the story. His piece also broke away from the pack in that he wrote the only story in a major publication that called out First Works’ bigoted values. It presented a good opportunity to talk about morality in journalism - and explain how columns and opinion pieces work for the media illiterate - so the former OC Weekly editor is the second guest in this bizarro media roundup. The third and final speaker is Dan Cady, a history professor at Fresno State who researches American hate groups. Cady’s chapter on the Ku Klux Klan from the El Monte history book East of East was quoted in Myriam Gurba’s LA Taco piece (which examined Mejia’s particular brand of hate preaching). Gurba raised a very important question: could First Works’ be a descendant of the KKK? Cady joined us to offer a more drawn out illustration of the Klan’s association with the Southern Baptist Church and how their mission and tactics inform organizations like First Works. He also outlines the flexible politics of American Christianity. Bruce Mejia was contacted with the following questions, but did not reply by publishing time. Members of Keep El Monte Friendly denounced the bombing, but their members say they have been issued hundreds of threats since then. Do you believe these threats are deserved? Gustavo Arrellano's column in the LA Times compares the presence of First Works in Monte to the Nazi Headquarters that was in town in the early 70's... Myriam Gurba's piece in LA Taco likens you yourself to the Ku Klux Klansmen of Monte's past... What do you say to these comparisons? What do you say to the random assortment of people on Social Media who say that your values aren't truly Christian? Special thanks to La Puente Eats for use of the sound from the arrest of Tacos Los Palomos in El Monte in this week's newscast.
18 minutes | a month ago
SGV 011: Thwarting bike death - non-profit designs street justice
El Monte and South El Monte are emblematic of inequity in the Valley. That’s where Active SGV’s executive director David Diaz is from. From his “frozen food” fueled childhood to being a new father there today, little has changed in the area’s streetscape. There are few neighborhood parks, an unreliable sidewalk system, and it's still a dangerous place to commute on a bicycle. After going to Rio Hondo College, Diaz became fixated on how the built environment he grew up in affected its residents' health. The two cities are surrounded by three freeways, a dump, freight lines, a private airport, and a very busy Metro Bus hub. They do however have two notable bike paths - the 38 mile San Gabriel River Trail and the 17 mile Rio Hondo River Trail. Overall, besides these two recreational paths, the SGV at large doesn’t have much cycling infrastructure. Active SGV is trying to change that by partnering with our cities to build greenways, bike lanes, and pedestrian walkways in majority minority communities. The non-profit began 10 years ago as a cycling group on Facebook, but over time it’s members expanded their focus from just mobility to environmentalism and public health. A founding principle of what the organization is doing is equity for the Valley’s most marginalized. Diaz comes across totally sincere in that. This interview includes questions about the relationship of bike infrastructure to gentrification, what working class concerns over bikeways really are, and how power can be built at a grassroots level.Special thanks to Boom California Journal for their interview with Diaz, which served as a background primer for this piece. And to Kevin Greenspon for recording street ambience on Valley Boulevard from the back of his Fairdale bike.
20 minutes | a month ago
SGV 010: Mish Mash Grab Bag! A Real Sausage Fest!
The saga of Phil Spector’s murder castle in Alhambra... A chat with a young progressive delegate hopeful from Bassett… The rebirth of Dr Rubin’s World Famous Pomade… and a mystery meat lunch in Arcadia Regional Park. This is our first compilation episode.-First priority. If you are registered to vote in the ADEM Election, the deadline to submit your ballot is Wednesday 1/27. With Bassett education worker Aaron Simental, we discuss what his vision is for progressive politics in the 626. He’s running with the slate Challenging the Establishment in the 48th District. -Phil Spector died last Sunday. Finally. The Pyrenees Castle in Alhambra, where he took the life of actor Lana Clarkson 17 years ago, was a fortress of broken dreams long before the gun toting producer bought it in 1998. Now it could be yours. -A brown paper bag deal gone right - the rich history of Dr Rubin’s world famous pomade, from an Army laboratory in WWII to a couple of rockabilly grease monkeys burning up the Eastside. -What is that sausage-like substance in our noodles? And why does it compel us to hurl discs at each other?-Ambient music by Kevin Greenspon
20 minutes | 2 months ago
SGV 007: El Monte's racist pioneer myth exposed in East of East
The history book East of East began out of disgust with El Monte’s origin story as the "End of the Santa Fe Trail." In 2012, the city celebrated it's centennial with a wagon train parade based on the sanitized narrative of the southern pioneers whose descendants founded the township - instead of honoring Monte's actual residents, roughly 95% of whom are Latino or Asian. The book’s editors decided that they would investigate the area’s public history, centering the stories of people of color while exposing the truth about the pioneer settlers. The project was founded by South El Monte Arts Posse’s Romeo Guzman and Carribean Fragoza. Fragoza is an art critic, journalist, and poet who's written for KCET. She was born and raised in South El Monte and graduated from SEM High School in 1999. Her creative non-fiction as well as journalism graces several chapters of the book. Guzman was, at inception, a historian in training at Columbia University (as well as a Mt. SAC alum), and now teaches public history at Claremont Graduate University. His family has roots in South El Monte, though he grew up in Pomona and attended Garey High. He served as East of East’s lead editor. The book was also edited by Ryan Reft and Alex Sayf Cummings. Initially, oral histories were recorded with the help of other locals and homies. Over time articles were published on KCET that would eventually become chapters of the book. An older history written by the Works Progress Administration under the New Deal proclaimed the town had no Spanish, Mexican, or Indigenous roots - Whites Only. East of East starts with the region’s indigenous background followed by colonization as the bedrock of its story. This legacy of racism and discrimination gave way to the radical politics of the Brown Berets, Teatro Urbano, and legendary exiled anarchist Ricardo Flores Magon, as well as the Monte boys lynch mob, Klansmen in public office, and a fledgling outpost for American Nazis. Seeing El Monte as a point where a clamor for equality was continuously fomented, if not glorified, East of East documents a fuller identity for the town than the “End of the Santa Fe Trail” (which it is not). This episode also looks at the pre-existing, segregated narratives of El Monte that have existed for decades at the town’s two museums, the El Monte Historical Museum and La Historia. The original version of this story ran on KCRW’s Greater LA with Steve Chiotakis on June 24, 2020. It was edited by Sonya Geis.
19 minutes | 3 months ago
SGV 006: KNX’s Fierce City Hall Reporter, Claudia Peschiutta
KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta is known for many things in LA news: getting beanbagged by LAPD on her day off, yelling “I object!” at the second Lee Baca trial, and calling the Mayor of Los Angeles “Eric” at a press conference... Ok, those are all outliers, but her reputation is well-earned. She turns around compelling, human stories every day while pressing city officials for real information in an era of passing the buck. Claudia is a badass. And she probably has the best reporter Twitter too. Perhaps part of what makes her such a formidable journalist for Los Angeles is that she’s actually from here. Peschiutta was born and raised in Monterey Park. Her parents came from Argentina. When the Night Stalker was terrorizing the SGV, she was going to schools in Sierra Madre and San Gabriel. She even wrote for the Arcadia Weekly (getting in with a paper about the Canterbury Tales and a promise to work for oxygen). After she learned how to actually write news, she went to work for a subsidiary of the LA Times. Though she’d have to relearn it all over again when she began doing radio in the early 2000’s. There are no commas in radio. Does such a goofy break into the industry support the claims of some of her coworkers that she’s “fearless?” Peschiutta says no. Sticking a microphone in front of powerful people is still nerve wracking. But she manages to pull together some of AM 1070’s most defining coverage on their famously brutal turnaround - and that’s what this interview is about. It’s sort of a how-to for getting started in news media and what to expect on the job. We also talk about why local coverage of our Valley (the real Valley) has melted away so much as the news business has consolidated. And if you - like Claudia - would like to support small time journalism, SGV Weekly has a Patreon.
16 minutes | 3 months ago
SGV 004: Daughter Skateboards, Dad films, Slurpee destroyed!
Daughter Skateboards is a brand based in Hacienda Heights, dedicated to helping young girls in the skate scene. Bobby Redline and Jesus Ramirez founded Daughter after their kids Draven and Aberdeen got them back into skating. Aberdeen Ramirez, her younger sister, and Draven Redline The brand will belong to the girls when they get older. Meeting with Bobby, Draven, and friends Jaelyn Rose Sedano and her father Joe, the kids radiate confidence, and their dads seem happy and at ease. The girls take after their fathers; Draven the chaotic troublemaker, and JRose the focused competitor. A funny pair of friends, body slamming each other and sharing junk food. Draven Redline showing off a Daughter deck at The Garage in East Los Bobby grew up in Hacienda Heights (and Norwalk) and is the main instigator, taking his friends’ kids to skateparks all over the state, and finding sketchy local spots to shoot clips at. He recalls spending many an afternoon ditching school and trekking up to the Jungle Bowl, a burnt out pool at the top of Turnbull Canyon where a fire destroyed some homes in the 80’s. He became a father early in life, and has a humble but mischievous spirit - still young at heart. His 12 year old Daughter Draven is a video game addict, a piercing fanatic, and a fire alarm puller. She bought her first skateboard with her own money, and can now skate vert. She goes everywhere in her Misfits sweater and trucker hat. Jaelyn Sedano sitting with her Daughter pro-model Joe Sedano is a lifelong skater and sports lover. He named his daughter after Jalen Rose, obviously. He encourages skating not just for fun, but also as a form of exercise and responsibility. JRose is top five in the state in her age group, says Joe. She’s gotten paid shoots and gets to hang with pros like Daewon Song (former La Puente resident!). 12 year old JRose comes off very studious about her craft of skating, but also shows interest in coding. She handles the interview with thoughtfulness and professionalism. But she’s not above soaking Draven with water when the opportunity arises. Unique and Julie Ann Mora and Darla Encinas The team has 6 members: Aberdeen Ramirez, Darla Encinas, Draven Redline, Jaelyn Sedano, and Unique and Julie Ann Mora. They’re mentored by their dads (inc. Chris Encinas and Julian Mora) and the mysterious Defacing Property Griptape. The girls table events like Exposure and give decks to little kids. Joe believes that the Daughters are becoming role models for the next generation of girls below them, and that it’s important to have people close to your age to look up to. Or hell, even some young kids to shame you into putting new bushings on your old deck. All photos courtesy of Bobby Redline, Daughter Skateboards.IMPORTANT NOTICE: YAPO member James Valenzuela is currently being hospitalized with Covid-19. Please donate to his family's medical bill fundraiser. Thank you.
18 minutes | 4 months ago
SGV 002: Numbing Spice & The Boba Blow Up - West SGV foodwriter Kristie Hang
The San Gabriel Valley has America’s highest concentration of Asian immigrants, and a regional dining selection to match. The LA press corps has published plenty about this in recent years, but how much of it is actually relevant to locals? To kitchen workers? This week we hear from “Duchess of the SGV,” Kristie Hang, freelance food & travel journalist. She’s reported on the Valley’s full spectrum of Asian cuisine, from supermarket sushi to chicken you need a hammer to eat. We had a great conversation about the area’s Asian diaspora; its contributions to SoCal’s food scene, the dark side of the service industry, struggles with Covid, and why certain towns in the 626 aren’t feeling the magazine love. Listen up, and follow her on IG and Twitter!
2 minutes | 6 months ago
SGV 000: The Trailer
Coming Oct. 2020, SGV Weekly is an alternative podcast for the San Gabriel Valley. News and interviews about who we are and where we live. Hear the stories of punks, rappers, historians and more. East of East, West of Inland, North of Orange...From Alhambra to Pomona, get your fix of the 626. Hosted by Chris GreensponLogo by Felipe Flores & Rita GreensponTheme song by the Gun Club, courtesy of Manifesto RecordsAmbient music by Kevin Greenspon
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