Things That Matter

After A Film Crew Went Into Boyle Heights And Began Towing Cars On Labor Day, A Local Artist Confronted Them

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.

Credit: davidmandell / Instagram

“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.

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Part. 4

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“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.” 

Credit: @elrandomhero / Twitter

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.

Credit: @avalonsensei / Twitter

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.”

READ: This YouTuber Thought It Would Be Funny To Dress As A Mexican In Boyle Heights But Didn’t Get The Response He Wanted

I Watched ‘Gentefied’ On Netflix And These Are My Brutally Honest Thoughts

Entertainment

I Watched ‘Gentefied’ On Netflix And These Are My Brutally Honest Thoughts

gentefied / Instagram

Guys, this. is. crazy. Two people claim that I look like Carlos Santos from Netflix’s new series “Gentefied.” Que honor! I mean, whatever, it was my wife’s tía who said I look like him and my wife.

Check it out, y’all.

Credit: ofcourseitscarlos / Instagram

I mean, I totally see it and there is no way I can be biased.

Carlos Santos, If you need me to do your stunts or stand in for you when you eat a taco or bite into a torta ahogada, just let me know, homie. I’m ready for Hollywood, cabrón.

Enough about me being famous and extremely handsome. I’m here to let your booty know if it’s worth it to sit through ten episodes of “Gentefied.”

Here’s the premise of the show:

Two feuding cousins struggle to keep their abuelo’s taco restaurant afloat. All the while, the threat of gentrification, and the emergence of young hipster customers force the traditional taco joint to adapt to survive. 

I grew up in Huntington Park, California and this show should be praised for how it handles complicated themes. From gentrification to Chicano identity and the struggles of lower-income families, the show reminds me un chingo of my hood, my childhood, and even my present-day life. “Gentefied” took the stuff I grew up dealing with, and found a way to present it in the context of a comedy series. But, make no mistake, you will cry while watching this show because you will see your own community represented.

Casimiro (A Traditional Compa in Changing Times)

Recognize this dude? Of course! You know he looks like your abuelo. I know he looks a lot like my abuelo. The casting for Casimiro (the abuelo and taco restaurant owner on the show) is perfection. This viejo knows how to make you cry.

For starters, Casimiro is still in love with his deceased wife, Delfina, and you’ll catch him getting sentimental thinking about her every now and then. My heart was not ready for that kind of love and the tragedy of his character is already implied in his name. “Casi”-“miro,” Spanish for “nearly sees,” because this poor character’s conflict throughout the show is his struggle to hang on to his tradition and values while keeping an eye on the ever-changing present and trying to adapt.

Casimiro is surrounded by change. Rent going up. Menus evolving to catch the attention of young customers. Rich developers swooping in on Boyle Heights and buying up property as the city quickly becomes a hot spot. You’ll have to watch the series to see if this sweet old abuelo can keep up with everything happening around him.

Gay Representation & Struggling Artists: HEY, GURL, HEEEY!

The queer topic is still highly taboo in Latino culture. We don’t talk much about it, at least not with older generations of Latinos. Even though LGBTQ+ rights made huge strides leading up to 2016 and shows like “Queer Eye” are beloved in the mainstream, older Latino generations still have reservations and a hard time accepting queer family members.

In the show, Karie Martin, plays Anna Morales, a queer muralist/painter. Morales gets caught between her protesting girlfriend’s war against the gentrifiers and Casimiro and family’s attempts to keep the business alive. Anna is a struggling artist with a heart of gold but her storyline gets deep when she finds herself being commissioned by the very developers who are out to buy up her neighborhood. The drama gets thicc, fam.

The show raises a lot of moral questions about making pure art versus profit, and how artists can sometimes end up putting aside their values because sometimes you gotta pay the bills. Definitely watch how this plays out. You definitely want to keep an eye out on episode 5. It’s a gem and gives a little insight into the queer struggle amongst Latinos.

The “Not Mexican Enough and Not American Enough” Issue

Back Carlos Santos, who plays Chris on “Gentefied.” Chris is the grandson of Casimiro and is trying to get out of the hood so he can become a 5-star Michelin chef. His family refers to him as a “coconut,” which is what you call someone who’s brown on the outside, but gringo af on the inside.

Throughout the show, Chris’s Mexican identity is always put into question. His coworkers literally make him take a “Mexi-test” to see if he passes as a true Mexican. His family cracks jokes about his hipster tastes. Yet, in the face of his Caucasian boss, Chris is basically another brown dude, with a little bit of skill in the kitchen.

I can relate, like so many. I was born here. So, yes, I like Tame Impala. I like sushi. However, arroz y frijoles has my heart and so does Selena. Chris’s character represents an identity many children born to immigrant parents might sympathize with. Our struggle is we never feel like we belong, but we can take comfort in the fact that shows like “Gentefied” are shining a light on this identity. You’re not alone. If you think you need to pick a side and choose which nationality you rep more Latino or American, this show encourages you to be both and celebrate your intersectional identity.

Latina Moms

Look, I don’t want to spoil anything, but when you get to episode eight, “Women’s Work,” you’re going to get a strong urge to knock on your mom’s doors and cry-hug her. Anna’s mom on the show played by Laura Patalano is everyone’s mom. She is a queen and a true icon. She is sarcastic. She is harsh. You end up respecting her or at least sympathizing with her by the end of the series. I could write an entire book on this character.

So, should you watch “Gentified”? Yes.

Not only is the series enjoyable to watch and will keep you carcajeando like your crazy tía when she forgets to take her medicine, but the characters are very well-developed, their story arcs join up beautifully, and you will fight back tears because this show hits home emotionally. As an extra incentive, some of your favorite mitú friends make appearances in the show: shout out to Jenny Lorenzo and Scar. A special shout out to Steph O. who worked behind-the-scenes.

Get binging, cabrones. And let us know what you think.

READ: Julissa Calderon And Annie Gonzalez On How ‘Gentefied’ Is Offering Empowerment And Representation In This New TV Era

American Cities And States Announce Mass Closures As They Brace For The Growing COVID-19 Outbreak

Things That Matter

American Cities And States Announce Mass Closures As They Brace For The Growing COVID-19 Outbreak

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Mayor Eric Garcetti / Facebook

A number of states and cities across the U.S. are taking drastic measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Bars, restaurants, movie theaters, concert venues, gyms, and schools are all shutting down to limit the spread of the virus that has infected more than 179,000 people globally. The death toll for COVID-19 in the U.S. continues to climb as more cases are discovered. Major cities are taking the virus seriously and taking extra steps to keep their residents safe and healthy.

COVID-19 has been detected in 49 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.

There are currently more than 3,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. with more than 70 deaths reported. Most of the deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities in Washington state among elderly people. California, New York, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Virginia have also reported deaths from the novel coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of President Trump’s COVID-19 response task force, doesn’t doubt that we are still waiting for the peak of infections and deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19.

“Well, it’s certainly going to get worse before it gets better and the kinds of mitigation strategies, containment, and mitigations that you’re talking about, is to do that kind of physical separation of people, which is one of the very effective ways you really mitigate the spread of the virus,” Dr. Fauci, an official with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said on ABC. ” If you look at the pattern of viruses, particularly these kinds of viruses, and even look at what’s gone on in China and in Italy and in South Korea, you go along like this the way we were then you have this big spike that goes way up. Then after a while, after much disease and suffering and death, it comes back down again.”

Dr. Fauci added: “The purpose of the mitigation is to get that peak and to blunt it so that it’s a bit of a hill as opposed to a mountain. We’re at a critical point now, more in some regions of the country than in others, the kinds of things that are going on will hopefully make that blunting of that peak so that we can save a lot of lives and save a lot of illness.”

Major cities across the U.S. are shutting down businesses and telling residents to self-isolate to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Update on COVID-19 Response from Mayor Eric Garcetti

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, I’m taking executive action to temporarily close bars, nightclubs, restaurants (except takeout/delivery), entertainment venues, and other establishments in the city of Los Angeles. These orders go into effect at midnight tonight and will stay in place until March 31 unless extended. There is no food shortage and grocery stores will remain open. We’re taking these steps to help protect Angelenos, limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, and avoid putting a dangerous strain on our health care system. This will be a tough time, but it is not forever. Angelenos have always risen to meet difficult moments, and we will get through this together.———————————————————Para ayudar a prevenir la propagación de COVID-19, estoy tomando medidas ejecutivas para cerrar temporalmente los bares, discotecas, restaurantes (excepto comida para llevar / a domicilio), lugares de entretenimiento y otros establecimientos en la ciudad de Los Ángeles. Estas órdenes entrarán en vigor a la medianoche de esta noche y permanecerán vigentes hasta el 31 de marzo al menos que se extiendan. No hay escasez de alimentos y los supermercados permanecerán abiertas. Estamos tomando estos pasos para ayudar a proteger a los Angelinos, limitar la propagación del nuevo coronavirus y evitar una tensión peligrosa en nuestro sistema de atención médica.Este será un momento difícil, pero no es para siempre. Los Angelinos siempre se han levantado para enfrentar momentos difíciles, y lo superaremos juntos.

Posted by Mayor Eric Garcetti on Sunday, March 15, 2020

West Virginia, Washington D.C., Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Michigan, Florida, Washington state, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Arizona, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Diego have all shut down schools.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Sunday night that entertainment venues, gyms, fitness studios, bars, movie theaters, and nightclubs would be closed until March 31. Bars and restaurants can only serve take-out orders in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf expanded measures to the rest of the state to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Tom Wolf called on the state to close all nonessential government offices and putting a stop to all nonessential business. Health experts are calling for Americans to do a better job od self-isolating and hunkering down to prevent COVID-19 from spreading further.

“This isn’t a decision that I take lightly at all,” Gov. Wolf told the press during a briefing. “It’s one that I’m making because medical experts believe it is the only way we can prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients.”

Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York joined together to pass similar lockdown provisions to tackle COVID-19 together.

‘”Our primary goal is to slow the spread of #Coronavirus so that the wave doesn’t crash our healthcare system,” Gov. Cuomo tweeted. “Social distancing is the best way to do that. I have called on the federal gov’t to implement nationwide protocols, but in their absence we are taking this on ourselves.”

On Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all hospitals to cancel elective surgeries, closed senior city centers, and postponed an election in Queens. Visitors are also no longer to go to Rikers Island.

Health experts are urging all Americans to take the necessary steps to prevent spreading COVID-19.

Social distancing and self-isolation are important tools Americans can utilize to make sure the COVID-19 outbreak is curbed. It is going to be a very tough time for millions of Americans who are hunkering down and waiting not the next few weeks as the global community tries to get this virus under control. Everyone has a part to play. Now’s the time.

READ: Navarro College Cheerleaders Of ‘Cheer’ Face Dayton Competition Cancellation Over Coronavirus