Republic Of Lucha A Haven For Lucha Libre Fanatics

My latest story for KCET is now available for reading: Republic of Lucha Provides a Haven for Lucha Libre Culture in L.A.

EXCERPT:

“Lucha libre is something very dear and personal to all Mexicans,” continues Arau. “All of my work, be it music, animation, film or art, is about popular Mexican culture and lucha libre is one of the most visible things there is. Compare that with the culture here, the gringo culture, where a mask is usually something associated with terrorism, with sadomasochism. There’s no tradition behind it whereas in all of Mexico, the Indigenous communities use masks, all of the fiestas in every state utilize masks, there are museums dedicated to masks made of different materials. For us, masks are something very natural.”

The space features a store that sells custom lucha libre merchandise including apparel such as shirts, hats and leggings printed in-house at the Republic of Lucha Print Shop. There are small baskets filled with plastic-mold action figures of masked wrestlers. Two large, glass cases contain mannequin heads adorned with various wrestling masks worn in official matches by wrestlers such as Fenix, Penta, Psycho Clown, Tinieblas Jr., and others, all for sale. They also host the Lucha Movie Club most Saturdays each month when the rooftop is converted into an outdoor movie theater to screen classic lucha libre films, such as the ones featuring El Santo and Blue Demon, and more.

LINK: https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/republic-of-lucha-provides-a-haven-for-lucha-libre-culture-in-l-a

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!

Photos From Mexico vs. Ecuador International Friendly Match

The national teams of Mexico and Ecuador met at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday March 28th for an international friendly match. Mexico won the game 1 – 0 thanks to a goal by Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, his 39th for the national team which moved him past Cuauhtemoc Blanco as Mexico’s second leading goal-scorer.

It goes without saying I attended and got some great photos in the process. The full album of photos is on my flickr. Below are some of my favorites from the event.

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Memories of Pico-Union and USC

Many of my friends went out to USC for the big game against cross-town rival UCLA last night (USC beat UCLA 50 – 0). I’m not a fan of college sports but I do have a soft spot in my heart for USC.

I grew up in L.A.’s Pico-Union district of Central L.A. just two miles north of the campus, north of the I-10 freeway and a block or two away from Hoover St. The I-10 also serves as the border between Pico-Union/Central L.A. and University Park/South L.A. where USC is located.

Pico-Union is known for being the home of one of L.A.’s most notorious street gangs and for its large, mostly Mexican, immigrant population. Despite living in a crime-ridden, low income area, most of my memories of life in Pico-Union are happy ones.

The food certainly helped. Image courtesy Grub Street LA.

Continue reading “Memories of Pico-Union and USC”

Friday at Griffith Park Observatory

“There’s Griffith Park.”

“Griffith Park? Is that where the observatory is at?!”

“Yeah, up this hill.”

“Let’s go!”

20 minutes later, my friend and I were at the top of hill, parking her car and giddy with excitement. Neither one of us had visited this Los Angeles landmark since we were children:

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Not our ride.

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A bust of actor James Dean.

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griffithpark007 Continue reading “Friday at Griffith Park Observatory”