Before the L.A. Galaxy, Chivas USA, or LAFC, We Had The Los Angeles Aztecs

I wrote about the Los Angeles Aztecs of the North American Soccer League (1970s) for L.A. Taco:

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Perolli’s crew burned through the opposition, and won the Western Division Trophy. Weeks later, they won the NASL Championship Trophy after they defeated the Miami Toros (unrelated to the former LA/SD team) after penalties. It was the first time a professional soccer final was televised nationally in the United States.

“It was one of the most exciting games of the season,” says Gregory, “because we tied the game in the last minute, three to three.”

That debut season would be the only year that the Aztecs ever won a title. Their sister indoor squad didn’t fare any better as they won a single division championship in their final year, 1981. Gregory sold the team after the first season. He and Perolli accomplished the goals they set for that first year and he wanted to focus on his medical career.

“It grew so fast that it grew right out of my hands,” he remembers. “I was a doctor and I was actively practicing and I could never have handled it after that.”

Read the rest at L.A. Taco!

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Digital Football Review Roundup!

This one goes out to my fellow gamers and football fanatics! Below are short takes with links to the full reviews of both Pro Evolution Soccer 19 by Konami and FIFA 19 by Electronic Arts. Both reviews were published on Gamecrate.

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Writing about sports video games eventually evolves into an exercise of avoiding sounding like a broken record. The scenario depends on what the new, annual replacement brings to the table. Five years after my first review of a Pro Evolution Soccer title for this website, the scenario now teeters a bit into the negative side of things than the positive as Konami have delivered another solid entry but with fewer extras that gamers have come to expect from sports titles.

Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 19 & the power of football without many extras

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The Champions League is here! I’m not simply referring to the annual return of the Union of European Football Associations’ insanely popular football (nee: soccer) tournament. Electronic Arts has committed a huge coup with FIFA 19 as it’s the first title in the franchise to feature the European tournament in fully-licensed glory, along with the Europa League and the Super Cup. The inclusion marks another step forward for the franchise in EA’s quest to create the total digital football experience.

Review: In FIFA 19, champions, and a franchise, rise

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Who Are The ‘Real L.A.’ Soccer Fans? – A Look At The Growing Rivalry Of Galaxy vs. LAFC

I invite everyone to read my latest futbol article in L.A. Taco about “El Trafico,” the rivalry between the LA Galaxy and LAFC.

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Carlos Vela of LAFC heads in the first goal of a 2 – 2 draw against the Galaxy.

Story link: www.lataco.com/who-are-the-real-l-a-soccer-fans-a-look-at-the-growing-rivalry-of-galaxy-vs-lafc/

An excerpt:

This tug of war over the identity of the real Los Angeles is exactly what gives both teams the hallmark of being from L.A., according to Christopher Hawthorne, Chief Design Officer for the city of Los Angeles, who spoke to L.A. Taco about this subject in an interview.

“The real L.A. is a place where the boundaries between city and county, center and edge, urban and suburban, dense and low-rise, surface and interior, and even public and private, tend to be blurrier or tougher to parse than they are elsewhere,” Hawthorne told L.A. Taco.

“Which I guess is a way of saying that what’s quintessentially L.A. about our soccer teams is the way their rivalry is framed by these larger questions or anxieties about authenticity, and what does and doesn’t qualify in the American context as a ‘real’ city.”

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2018 CONCACHAMPS

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RIP LA Weekly

I wanted to write something about what happened last week at LA Weekly.

Much of the details can be found in this article by Jack Denton for Pacific Standard. The short version of the story is that a gaggle of libertarians bought the company and fired most everyone last Wednesday. The new EIC Brian Calle doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing or what he wants to do and neither do the owners as the site has yet to be updated with any new content other than a post introducing the new investors and since-deleted tweet offering unpaid work.

That’s not to mention the jaw-dropping ignorant statements that Calle and his investors have vomited out in recent days.

I contributed to the LAW for seven years with these past three years the best out of those seven thanks to everyone I worked with especially former music editor Andy Hermann who also wrote me a wonderful letter of recommendation as part of my application to San Diego State University.

The past three years were definitely something special. The four years before then felt like dangerous, shifting waters that threatened to sink LA Weekly with a revolving door of cuts and editorial staff. Then, somehow, the ship and waters stabilized and all went well again.

Until November 29th.

Some of my peers from LAW are fighting Calle and his ilk to prevent them from being able to do anything under LAW’s name. I’m not sure what will come of it but the new owners are off to a terrible start and many important names, retailers, and organizations in the city have joined a boycott against them.

I do believe it’s possible to save LA Weekly. I hope we can soon.

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The Oversimplification Of Complexities

Below is an essay response for a quiz in my “Race, Ethnicity, & Identity” class at San Diego State University.

The essay prompt is based on the 1986 film The Mission starring Jeremy Irons as Father Gabriel and Robert De Niro as Rodrigo Mendoza. The former is a Jesuit priest who lives in South America with the Guaraní. The latter is a slave trader who converts to the Jesuit order with the assistance of Father Gabriel and the Guaraní and both seek to protect the indigenous Guaraní from the Spanish and Portuguese powers that be.

The essay questions asks:

The struggle against racism and inequality has existed for hundreds of years and the decision as to how to combat it has been a key issue for activists. Discuss the struggle between Mendoza and Gabriel and then correlate it to how you think about activism related to racism today.

My answer is below:

The struggles of Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) and Rodrigo Mendoza (Robert De Niro) bear a few similarities to the struggles as well as the methods used by Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in their respective attempts to combat segregation and inequality in the US during the 1960s. They also reflect some of the oversimplified rhetoric, as well as the complex issues underlying that rhetoric, in today’s era of the battles between Antifa and the Alt-Right.

Within both modern examples we see that the public understanding of the use of violence and non-violence lacks a deeper understanding of the complexities behind the pros and the cons behind the use of each as well as the reasoning behind the use of each. It is reflected in the (mis)understandings of the methods of MLK and Malcolm X and how their struggles are separated as a “good” approach versus a “bad” approach and also reflected in the (mis)understandings of resurgence of Nazism today and their privilege to a so-called non-violent, public platform versus their detractors, Antifa, who allegedly believe in nothing other than punching them in the face at every opportunity.

Arguments that favor defending the free speech rights of the Alt-Right are based on simplified, non-contextual understandings of the first amendment, Nazism, and non-violence that also lack the deeper understanding behind how speech is governed, who is entitled/privileged to speak, and who is given access to a platform to speak.

Meanwhile, the arguments against Antifa tactics enforce a belief that any idea and method that appears non-violent is the only one that should be held as valid, proper, and worthy of given a space.

The film ends with similar simplifications, which we can pin on the film industry’s crutch on “Hollywood endings” pinned on simplistic moral reasoning, on the ideals of violence and non-violence.

“If might is right, then love has no place in the world,” says Gabriel to Mendoza when the latter informs him that he and the other Jesuits plan to renounce their oaths to order and remain to fight alongside the Guaraní. His response to the larger threat of the impending attack by the Spanish and Portuguese reflects his strict religious beliefs and moral code, found within the biblical passage that Mendoza reads during his conversion, in the power of God’s love to overcome all obstacles.

Mendoza, meanwhile, decides to redeem his violent past by using said violence to help defend the Guaraní. In the end, both are slaughtered alongside those they defended. Neither of them alone, neither philosophy alone, was enough, which, I believe, is the lesson we should take from the lives of MLK Jr. and Malcolm X in spite of the simplified, competing narratives.

Simplistic understandings of the two men divide them into two camps. Those on Dr. King’s side and his belief in non-violence and others on X’s side of violence when necessary in the name of self-defense. The narratives behind these men can also be found in the narratives behind King and X.

Gabriel, like King, is a devout man of the Christian faith who stands behind it in a respectful manner. Mendoza is similar to X in that he lived a criminal past as a mercenary and slave trader before joining the Jesuit order just as X, then Malcolm Little, converted to the Nation of Islam’s black nationalist interpretation of the Muslim faith while in prison as he served time for the crimes of theft, drug dealing, and pimping.

Where Gabriel/King saw hope for a world filled with love, both Mendoza/X held a stronger grasp of its potential, and very real, cruelty thanks in part to their enriching their separate lives via that cruelty.

The simplistic narrative would defend a viewpoint that ends with Gabriel and Mendoza dying as King and X did in their respective ideological spheres. However, that viewpoint sells the lives of King and X far too short as both men evolved in their ideological outlook to degrees that some would be surprised about.

Dr. King, for instance, went beyond fighting against the injustice of simplistic notions of racism and segregation. He would soon go after the hegemonic powers of white patriarchal capitalist supremacy going so far as to echo the criticisms that Muhammad Ali levied against the war in Vietnam. He criticized Communism and Capitalism in equal doses and publicly shared his fear that he may have mistakenly integrated his people into a burning house. He began to question the limits of non-violence.

Malcolm X sung a slightly different tune after his trip to the Islamic holy city of Mecca. As a member and leader of the Nation of Islam, he never believed that white people could ever be part of, much less allow, a peacefully integrated society between the races. It was at Mecca where that belief was upended. He met Muslims of various ethnic and economic backgrounds and skin tones worshipping together peacefully.

Both men eventually discovered the limits of their beliefs. King never advocated the use of violence, but he realized that non-violence had its limits against an inherently violent society. X, on the other hand, realized that some integration was possible, even attainable, in his lifetime without the use of violence.

The Mission ends with Gabriel and Mendoza dead on the ground at the mission. Mendoza, mowed down in a barrage of bullets, looks on during his last breaths as Gabriel is shot while leading mass, defiant via his faith in the only way he knew how. Both men fail but the memories of their sacrifice will be remembered by the Guaraní children who survived much like the memories of the sacrifices of King and X survive today.

Those memories shouldn’t be tarnished by simplistic notions of right and wrong, good and evil, but should be understood and upheld within the proper context of their times, their ideas, and their hopes in creating a society that respected their autonomy and existence as a people.

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For L.A.’s Mexican-American Metal Fans, Todo Es Metal Was a Lineup for the Ages

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Transmetal at Los Angeles Theater. Drew Gurian/Red Bull

The Los Angeles Theatre on Broadway first opened its doors in 1931 with the world premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights. No one who attended that opening night could ever in their wildest dreams have imagined that the 2,000-person capacity venue would, decades later, host an event like Red Bull Music Academy Festival’s Todo Es Metal showcase this past Saturday, Oct. 21.

The event united rock bands from Mexico with their long-haired peers of the American diaspora for a night of thrash, grind, death, black and heavy metal. Southern Californian acts Mictlantecuhtli, XLesionsX, Scrapmetal, Blue Hummingbird on the Left, Volahn, Letum Ascensus, Sadistic Intent, and Terrorizer L.A. shared the bill with Thanatology, Disgorge and Transmetal from Mexico.

Read the rest at LA Weekly.

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