This summer Katie Quinn (aka Katie Q.) made headlines when she published her infamous video about discovering the “quirky cool” combination of mangoes, salt, lemon juice and hot sauce. Pobrecita. The Internet did not let her live it down.
Amongst the backlash emerged the new, inspired and hilarious video series, La Quirky Nancy. In Nancy’s first adventure, she heads out to East L.A. and discovers the Mexican street delicacy she dubs a ” flower mango.” But things don’t smoothly. Watch the video above to see La Quirky Nancy fumble her way through ordering, trying to pay with a credit card and barely overcoming the language barrier. At least she got worthy pics out of it.
For many in Boyle Heights, a working-class neighborhood in East Los Angeles, Labor Day was to supposed to be a relaxing stress-free day. However, on Monday afternoon, local residents living next to Hollenback Park were dealing with Blank Slate Pictures, a film production company, that was towing their vehicles. The messy ordeal was something that Boyle Heights resident and artist Nico Aviña had previously seen before but never on a national holiday like Labor Day when many in the working-class community have the day off.
The predominately Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights has become a popular area for filming movies and television shows. Yet quite often, the production crews that come into the area haven’t had good communication with local residents when it comes to things like moving their vehicles.
According to L.A. Taco, Aviña saw the situation unfold right before his eyes as he was doing yard work in front of his home. He noticed that neighbors across the street from the park began alerting each other about their vehicles being towed. Upon checking out the scene, Aviña saw a tow truck begin taking cars away and a parking enforcement officer placing tickets on cars windshields.
That’s when Aviña took things into his own hands and began to ask members of the production crew why they were doing all of this.
In a series of four Instagram videos, Aviña shared his confrontation with members of the production crew asking them what business they had coming into the neighborhood and towing away residents vehicles. Since this wasn’t the first time he’s seen this happen, Aviña began questioning the motive behind crew members calling city parking and promptly towing away cars.
Aviña made sure that David Mandell heard his frustration about outsiders disregarding community members in Boyle Heights.
“So this is what happens when people from outside of the community come into our community. They use the city against the community, towing cars,” Aviña says as Mandell, a co-founder of Blank Slate Production, argues back.
In the series of videos, you can hear Aviña begin to get frustrated with crew members as they dodged questions about why they were towing cars and why they didn’t give notice to residents about parking restriction before the weekend. Speaking to L.A. Taco, he said that many of the families in the neighborhood were out town due to the holiday weekend and might have not seen a notice about the production crew and possible parking restrictions.
“In the video, you hear one claim the signs went up Friday. Kids didn’t go to school on Friday. So if people took a four-day trip how were they going to see the signs?” Aviña told L.A. Taco.
Aviña took exception with the production crew as he asked them why there was no alternative to calling a tow truck on residents cars.
“This is a working-class community. On Labor Day, you’re towing cars. Are you for reals? Did you guys think about that? Did you guys think about this is a working-class community and you guys are towing cars on our day off and we have nowhere to park? Aviña says in the video. “Where’s the alternative parking that you guys offer?”
Aviña and Peter Vogel, co-founder of Blank Slate Production, discussed the parking situation at hand. “You may park in that parking lot over there,” Vogel told Aviña. “It’s open.”
“No. You just said that right now, but you know it’s closed. I just told you it was closed,” Aviña responded.
“No, you didn’t,” Vogel said.
“You’re going to act like that? Are you going to act like that?” Aviña replied.
Ironically, the film that the production company was filming is about a woman who is “forced to raise her son in her car” as they “attempt to find a way out of homelessness.”
Blank Slate Pictures was in Hollenbeck Park to film the upcoming movie “Like Turtles,” which according to IMDB is based on a mother who “is forced to raise her son in her car and attempt to find a way out of homelessness all while never letting her son realize the severity of their circumstances.” Some on social media found irony in the situation that a film crew doing a movie about a person living out of their car while at the same time towing away residents cars.
Parking tickets have become a notorious problem in the neighborhood as there are limited spaces for residents to park their vehicles. With the addition of weekly street cleaning, many residents are forced to move their cars and shuffle spaces to avoid getting a ticket. Those tickets come at a steep price, according to the LA Times, retrieving a towed car can cost close to $290, this includes a $133 charge for the tow, an additional $115 to release the car and $46.56 for each following day the car is in city storage.
For Aviña, this issue goes beyond just towing cars but is a perfect example of when outside forces come into the neighborhood and don’t bother to reach out to the community.
Aviña brings up the issue of privilege and gentrification that has affected the working-class neighborhood for the last decade. He points to the production crew as an example of this and them not reaching out to the local community. Boyle Heights has been ground zero in LA when it comes to gentrification as many longtime residents have lost their homes and businesses due to rising rents and development.
“You see what I’m talking about, the privilege? You could’ve easily knocked on doors, man. You could’ve easily warned the community. Instead, a working-class neighborhood that is barely affording the effects of gentrification that pays the rent. […] A working-class community that can’t afford the rent because of the exploitation, because of what’s going on with gentrification. And instead of knocking on their doors, what do you do? You get their cars towed away,” Aviña says in the final video to the production crew. “So now they got another fine. Now they got a parking ticket, plus get their cars out. You know I’m making sense. You know it’s the truth. It’s our reality. We live this shit every day. You’re not the only ones that come and film here. We gotta deal with this daily.”
After months of speculation, Amazon announced that the locations of its second headquarters will be in Long Island City, New York, and Arlington, Virginia. The announcement has been met with criticism from local community members and officials that say the influx of tech workers would fuel gentrification and hurt lower-income populations. Newly elected Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the most vocal public officials to condemn Amazon for moving to Long Island. Ocasio-Cortez represents the 14th Congressional District of New York, which borders the district that includes Long Island City, and says the move “is extremely concerning to residents here.”
Residents and real estate watchers are monitoring the impact Amazon will have on rent and living costs in both New York and Virginia.
Housing displacement was a platform issue that Ocasio-Cortez ran on and is a vocal advocate for affordable housing. She took to Twitter to voice her displeasure about Amazon’s announcement. Ocasio-Cortez said that “shuffling working class people out of a community does not improve their quality of life.” Community members fear that Amazon’s decision to set up shop in New York will hasten gentrification, increase housing prices and displace current residents.
Northern Virginia realtor Jen Walker told NBC Washington that there has already been signs of the “the Amazon effect” on the local real estate marketplace. “They woke up this morning, saw the Amazon announcement and they decided they wanted to move forward with a contract,” she said. “They said, ‘We’re going to get priced out if we don’t do this now.'”
Alex Howe, a member of the group runs the website NoVa Says No to Amazon, echoed a similar message as Walker saying that the real estate market will drastically change now that Amazon is here. “Those already prospering will flourish and those who struggle in our region will be further pushed out and erased,” Howe said. “If Amazon comes here, it should be on our terms and they should pay their fair share in our community if they expect to set up shop here.”
Amazon says it will invest $5 billion and create more than 50,000 jobs across the two new headquarters locations but some are questioning if the company will follow through.
Dear New York and DC,
Amazon isn't bringing you 50,000 high paying jobs. They're bringing 50,000 people with high paying jobs to where you currently live. This won't help your community, it will replace your community.
Rising home prices and cost of living have been huge concerns for many communities across the U.S. in places like San Francisco and Seattle, where Amazon is already established. Amazon says their new headquarters will generate millions of dollars in revenue and jobs opportunities. Yet many don’t see it that way as tech companies have been known to price out many long-time residents and hire from outside local communities.
“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said in a statement. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come. The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”
Since Amazon’s arrival, Seattle has become one of the most expensive cities to live in the U.S, forcing many Latino and black residents to move to far-off suburbs.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in New York to voice their displeasure with the announcement of a new headquarters.
Hundreds of people here in #LIC — the site where @amazon will build up to 8 million square feet — to protest the deal. Among their grievances: $3 billion of tax breaks, no community process, rising rents, stress on infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/UwjPWBI6jl
On Wednesday, protesters gathered near Amazon’s soon-to-be headquarters in New York City to voice their concern over the multibillion-dollar incentives being awarded to Amazon. Protesters warn of the potential impact it will have on their community.
Ocasio-Cortez has echoed many residents worries and said she is concerned not just about Amazon specifically, but rather about the relationships that the government has with its citizens and corporations.
“This isn’t just about one company or one headquarters. It’s about cost of living, corps paying their fair share, etc,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s not about picking a fight, either. I was elected to advocate for our community’s interests – & they’ve requested, clearly, to voice their concerns.”
Mitú reached out to Amazon but there has been no response as this time.