CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 22, 2011 |
The oldest gathering place in the city now has the city's newest cultural attraction. LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes is across from the old plaza downtown. It's a museum and cultural center dedicated to Mexican Americans and Mexicans. I don't belong to either of those groups. But I decided I really needed to visit LA Plaza anyway because I'm a native Angeleno and lover of L.A. culture, and I know that Mexicans and Mexican Americans are at the center of my city's history. The people who run LA Plaza have decided to take this inescapable truth and slap me with it. "This is our culture.
April 21, 2011
From feathered to furry, the animal kingdom's citizens are celebrated at the 81st Annual Blessing of the Animals, a longtime Olvera Street tradition. A procession of humans and their pets will precede the blessing ceremony, which the Archbishop of L.A. Jose H. Gomez will oversee. Additional entertainment includes an equestrian show, pony rides for kids and a petting zoo that will feature llamas, sheep, cows and other animals. El Pueblo Historical Monument, 125 Paseo de la Plaza. 12-5 p.m. Sat. Free.
January 30, 2011 |
The tourists think big. Arriving in Southern California, they expect to conquer Disneyland and Hollywood, perhaps on the same day, in between the surfing and snowboarding. Then they get stuck in traffic. Then come the recriminations, the tears, the vows to visit an island next time. The locals think small. Tracing tight little loops between home and work, they dodge freeways and alien neighborhoods. There are Los Feliz people who haven't set foot in Venice since the latter Bush administration (I'm one)
January 13, 2011
What happened to the old cemetery near Olvera Street where some of the earliest foreign settlers in this area were buried? Records of the Los Angeles Archdiocese say the remains of those buried there were reburied elsewhere in the 1800s ? but give no clue as to where. Now, excavation of the site for the construction of a cultural center reveals that if the cemetery was indeed moved, the job was less than thorough. This is an extraordinary archaeological find. Though the cemetery is far from intact, the patch of land nonetheless represents a unique piece of local history.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 10, 2011 |
It's not unusual in Los Angeles for construction crews to find buried remains, but it is surprising to find a cemetery. Under a half-acre lot of dirt and mud being transformed into a garden and public space for a cultural center celebrating the Mexican American heritage of Los Angeles, construction workers and scientists have found bodies buried in the first cemetery of Los Angeles ? bodies believed to have been removed and reinterred elsewhere in the 1800s. Since late October, the fragile bones of dozens of Los Angeles settlers have been discovered under what will be the outdoor space of La Plaza de Cultura y Artes downtown near Olvera Street.
December 16, 2010
FAMILY The merchants of Olvera Street in downtown L.A. commemorate the nine nights leading up to Christmas with Las Posadas, a reenactment of Mary and Joseph's journey into Bethlehem to find shelter. The annual tradition features a procession, hymns sung in Spanish and English, entertainment, the breaking of a piñata, and complimentary pan dulce and hot chocolate. Avila Adobe, 10 Olvera St., L.A. Activities begin at 6 p.m., procession at 7 p.m. Thu.-Dec. 24. Free. (213) 625-7074.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 6, 2010 |
Scores of people in outlandish costumes, colorful wigs and bulbous red noses transformed a portion of downtown Los Angeles into a circus Sunday to honor a traditional Mexican holiday that pays tribute to the comical buffoons who make us laugh. The annual Dia de los Payasos ? Day of the Clowns ? held in the Olvera Street Plaza, attracted large crowds of onlookers who laughed at the antics of nearly 60 clowns drawn from as far away as Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Francisco. The morning started with a blessing of the participants at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels before the daylong performance.
September 19, 2010 |
Seventy-eight years ago, on Oct. 8, 1932, David Alfaro Siqueiros — at the age of 36 already an important Mexican artist but not yet the icon he would become — sweated shirtless on a cool fall night as he "painted for dear life," The Times' art critic, Arthur Millier, wrote at the time. He was on a deadline, and running late. The unveiling of the work "America Tropical" was just hours away, and the very center of the mural had yet to be filled in. No one except Siqueiros (and Millier)
June 5, 2010 |
If newspaper headlines were still set in lead type, we could keep this one handy and drag it out every few years: "Trouble on Olvera Street." The block-long alley-cum-marketplace is part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, the Tut's tomb of the original city, Spanish Mexican style (Native American traces are long gone). The "birthplace of L.A." was a tumbledown mess in the late 1920s when Christine Sterling saved it and spruced it up and made Olvera Street a huge tourist draw.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 5, 2010 |
Jack Sanchez is a descendant of the old Californios, the people who lived in Los Angeles when it was a frontier outpost of Mexico. In their day the Californios were wealthy and respected. Even after the United States conquered California and made it the 31st state in the union, most of the new English speakers here addressed them by the honorific Spanish title "don." Eventually they lost nearly everything they had. Sanchez called me to get a small bit of their glory back.