Inside Chicano Culture – East LA

Feb 06, 2022 4.8M Views 9.3K Comments

Join me as we dive deep into the Chicano culture of East LA. Here we discover lowrider culture, delicious food, and stimulating conversation with the locals. We learn about neighborhood dynamics, everything from gangs to the place where Sean Penn hung out, why East LA has such a strong and unique culture, and how the local Chicanos view themselves and the world.

♪ hip hop ♪
[hydraulics]
[siren]
[music fades]
Good morning, guys.
Here in greater Los Angeles.
One of the biggest
cultural melting pots in the world.
Today I have
a very interesting story for you.
We’re going to go deep into East LA
and meet up with a local
who’s going to show us Chicano culture.
Should be fascinating.
I’m excited for this one, let’s do it.
♪ hip hop ♪
[music fades]
-Andy?
-Yeah, what’s up, brother?
-Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
[hydraulics]
[hydraulics]
How you doing?
Nice to meet you, brother.
-Thank you.
-Yeah, absolutely man.
-I appreciate it.
-Absolutely.
How much of life does this consume?
Like, this car?
Are you thinking about it all the time or?
All day, every day.
-My first language is English.
-Okay.
I’m of a Mexican descent but both of
my parents were born here in California.
People will always call you Mexican though
no matter what you tell them.
Like, “Oh, no.” you know?
‘Cause technically
we are all Americans, we’re all born here.
Yeah, yeah.
You can say whatever you want
but at the end of the day
you’re gonna be considered Mexican.
What do you want people to call you?
No, I’m fine with Chicano.
I will consider myself Chicano
but my Spanish is very broken.
I could get by,
I could translate and stuff like that
but my Spanish is horrible.
-What do we got here?
-It’s a pork tamale.
Part of the Mexican culture right here.
It’s wrapped in a corn leaf.
It’s made out of corn
and it has meat in the center of it.
-It’s just a burrito.
-Burrito?
Yeah.
Chicken taco.
-He got a burrito over here.
-Burrito happening.
That’s a beef tongue.
-Beef tongue?
-Yeah.
Now you gotta ask the people
which do they prefer
the green or the red sauce.
You’re gonna get people battle it out.
Say the green is better
or the red is better.
-I’m a red sauce for life.
-The green is a little more tangy.
I like ’em both.
This is good though.
[object drops off-camera]
-’64, ’65, and a ’61.
-Yeah.
So explain to us gringos that haven’t
spent any time in these neighborhoods
like… Chicano means…
Chicano is basically somebody
who was born of Mexican descent.
So I’m Chicano.
My grandparents, they came from Mexico
and my parents were born here,
I was born here.
So I am of Mexican descent.
The idea of identity for us here,
what do we call ourselves
if everyone in America
is calling us Mexicans?
When you see family in Mexico
they’re like, “You’re American.”
Of course.
-Or Porcho.
-Or Porcho, could be Porcho.
And here, some people say you’re Mexican?
Well yeah.
When I travel to places like,
“Oh, he’s Mexican.”
Okay.
I could have the same debate with a person
of African American descent, right?
Yeah.
They could say, “Hey, Ronin
my favorite Mexican.”
and I could say,
“Hey, Joe, my favorite African.”
He’s not really gonna like that
too much because he’s not from Africa.
He’s an American born here
of African descent.
-Gotcha.
-And the same thing goes for Chicanos.
We’re of Mexican descent born in America.
That’s kind of technical, but…
-It makes sense. Can we walk down here?
-Yeah, yeah, we can walk.
This is the street that I grew up on,
this is 2400 block of Cincinnati Street.
So I have it tattooed on my arm here too.
Boyle Heights, 2400, Cincinnati.
And my family when they moved here
in the early 1940’s
this was an all Jewish neighborhood
and they were some of the first
Mexicans to actually come in here.
Wow.
And over time in the 50s and the 60s
the neighborhoods really changed
and then they became more Spanish speaking.
So what was it like growing up here?
It was fun, I stood in this house.
I used to play here all the time.
I have a friend that lived there.
This is obviously like the gentrifying
of the neighborhood, you know?
That writing on the wall,
that’s the dominant gang
in this neighborhood
if you want to catch that on your camera.
-See the black writing on the wall?
-Okay.
That stands for Krazy Ass Mexicans.
So this is their neighborhood.
How many gangs are around here?
On this side there’s just one.
There’s that gang but as soon as we cross
the main streets there’s different gangs.
On the other side of that street,
that’s another territory.
-Just on the other side of that street?
-Yeah, where that blue tent is.
That’s a whole ‘nother territory.
On the other side of that main street
it’s another territory.
It’s a constant struggle
for real estate here, you know?
So how do you get real estate?
You physically come into the street?
You talking on a gang member?
On the gangs, yeah.
Well, yeah, they start showing tags
in their neighborhood and
they start pushing boundaries
because they play a different game.
-They battle it out with arms and money.
-Yeah.
The more arms you have,
the more money you have
the more power you have,
the more you can push, push, push
and eventually one stronger entity
eats the weaker entity
and then that’s how
they develop more power.
Correct, yeah.
I wouldn’t say it’s a job,
I think it’s just influence but
you can recruit.
The younger people are gonna be
the ones to recruit, right?
Because they’re the ones
that are most influential.
If I come around and I’m a guy
and I’m older, and I have nice cars,
and I have women, and I have jewelry
and I dress nice, and you’re poor,
and you don’t have none of that stuff
you’re gonna listen to me.
I’m gonna have a lot of influence over you.
Gonna be like, “Oh man, that guy,
he’s so cool. I want to be like him.”
You know, so…
-Let’s keep walking, we’ll walk around.
-Yeah.
I would say towards the end of
elementary school into junior high.
So probably as young as 10 to 12
people get into gangs.
Down here… I don’t want to go down there
but there’s a liquor store down there
I had a couple friends over there get shot.
So even though that liquor store
might be closer
I’ll always go to a liquor store
that’s further away because
if I know that there’s drama
over there then I don’t wanna.
-You don’t want to go down there now?
-No, I don’t.
-Really?
-I’m fine, yeah.
It’s a hot area, you know?
I don’t…
So you feel it block-by-block pretty much?
From out of maturity,
I can foresee consequences
that people can’t see
and I already know
all the bad stuff that happens over there.
-I’m just gonna stay away.
-Gotcha, gotcha.
I respect those guys and what they do,
I just don’t need to be in the mix.
Gotcha, a lot of it is
about respect, right?
-All about respect.
-Everything?
I think that in most
impoverished neighborhoods
people don’t have a lot of money
they don’t have items,
materialistic things.
All they have is their respect.
All they have is their reputation.
-Right.
-So it’s a big part of the community.
This is impoverished you’re saying
but I haven’t seen from driving in here
just the little walk we’ve done
I haven’t seen one homeless person.
Well, this is an interesting thing.
Currently, right now
I live in the jungles
in the Crenshaw District, right?
Okay.
The homeless people hang out
where they have the opportunity
to beg and get money.
Watchu gonna get here?
What are you gonna get from these people?
Right.
They’re not gonna be here,
that’s why there’s no homeless people.
Right.
This is it.
You were saying too in the restaurant
you were saying something.
For the most part, I mean just look around.
You won’t see really Mexicans begging.
You won’t see them…
-You’re gonna see them working.
-Yeah, they’re good to work.
Clean your windows, sweep your driveway.
You won’t see them beg,
that’s one thing that you won’t do.
I mean look around.
You got someone there.
Yeah, so in Santa Monica
there most likely would be
some sleeping bag
or someone going horizontal.
There’s probably a few
homeless people here.
I’ve had people who lived
in my alley when I lived here.
The energy is like, “Get out and hustle.”
Find something to do,
get some money, go collect cans
go sell something, you know?
-They’re selling clothes, you know?
-Okay.
If used or not, they’re selling clothes.
This lady’s selling chips.
-So everybody’s doing something.
-They’re all hustling.
Doing what they can.
Even over there, there’s a lady over there
on that corner, look.
Right.
She’s got some churros over there.
So I don’t know if it’s a pride thing.
We just don’t ask for a handout, you know?
We don’t do that, you know?
You work for your money.
Hot dogs.
Hot dogs, yeah.
The LA dog.
LA dog with bacon.
Right.
-There we go.
-See the flowers?
-Guadalupe?
-Yeah.
I got the Mexican flag
and the American flag.
Oh, wow.
And the Guadalupe.
That’s my grandfather
and them working in the fields.
[clear throat]
And my pops, he was in Vietnam.
That’s the blend of the culture.
Wow, so even in your tat
you have it like 50/50 there.
The story, yeah.
See that KAM?
-KAM.
-Yeah.
The tags are like
Chicano hieroglyphics, you know?
You gotta know how to read them
to know where you are.
Of course to you they mean nothing
but to us that grew up here…
So what does that mean
when you see KAM?
It’s a gang.
Okay, it means don’t go over there or?
They’re letting you know
where you’re at.
The macho way too though is always
to be showing strength, you know?
You always have to…
It’s like the dominant gorilla
or the dominant tiger.
It’s like, “Get out of my way.”
You know, my wife and I
haven’t gotten married yet.
We’ve gotten married yet by the government
but we haven’t had our actual wedding
’cause the pandemic started.
Maybe you could come here.
Here we go.
-Come here, man.
-I’ll be your witness.
Terra Santa
You got some cool old buildings here.
[muffled]
The symbol of the two-headed serpent,
the mother goddess.
Yep.
That’s a dope building,
I love this old 50s style
where they go glass and like, curve it.
So tell me about the street art, guys.
Big thing in Chicano culture
or just being in East LA,
or what’s the story there?
I think that we’ve always been
artistic, creative people.
How many museums are in Mexico,
how much art, you know?
Right.
So this looks like a…
So people sell everything.
Everything and anything.
[man speaking Spanish]
A lot of people
they have their disagreements
with gentrification, right?
But when we were out here hustling,
doing illegal stuff
or doing legal stuff
and we had the opportunity
with a bunch of money,
we should have bought the land.
We should have bought the land
when we had the opportunity, you know?
The tension is gonna come
when the residents
of a different cultural background
move in and they don’t assimilate
or understand this culture.
Right, but that’s always happened, right?
That’s always gonna happen.
It was Jews, Russians…
It evolves, yeah.
Changes.
-Japanese…
-Mexican.
Mexican and something will be next,
it’s just a matter of time, right?
Yeah, something will be next.
I hope that if that is true
then that shows that
the Los Angeles Mexican community
is showing progression
and evolution
and that we’re going to better places.
We deserve that for ourselves too.
We’ve been here 50 years
or whatever, you know?
All right guys, we gonna cruise?
Take a little ride right now.
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Now back to the video.
All right, we’re going in
for a cruise, guys.
Oh, that’s comfortable.
Just please be careful with the seat belts.
-Try not to sit on them.
-Yep.
Should I put ’em on?
That’s optional.
[door closes]
I’m not going to be speeding or anything
but as long as you don’t sit
on the buckles.
Oh, there we go.
Lifting of the back-end.
Oh, look at that, beautiful murals.
♪ hip hop ♪
Synagogue.
It’s not in use anymore, huh?
Look at this.
Go right over to this house.
This would be old, right?
20s maybe 30s
and then the beauty of California.
Look at that tree.
[pressing buttons]
Oh, okay, we’re going up.
Okay.
Don’t know if you guys
can see it on the video
but he’s lowering,
raising the back, the front.
You can do separate wheels, right?
Yeah, I got front, back, side to side.
Here we go.
[hydraulics]
What’s a kit like this cost
to do all the hydraulics?
-Well, this is airbags.
-Okay, airbags.
So at the end of the day
I spent about $5,000.
Oh, that’s not too crazy.
It’s not, I did go crazy
and buy a lot of upgrades.
This is the police station
over here to your right.
Okay, talk about those relations.
How are they right now?
-Between?
-Cops and the people.
You know…
LAPD is just trying
to do their job too, you know?
But the criminals are trying
to do their job too.
So you have that conflict.
Right.
The criminals here,
they’re nothing to mess with
but the cops
are nothing to mess with either.
They’re tough cops too, you know?
They haven’t gone soft?
[chuckles]
I don’t think so, no.
[man yelling from sidewalk]
[Peter chuckling]
That police station right there,
the Hobart Police Station
is where they captured Richard Ramirez
the Nightstalker serial killer.
Where he made the
worst mistake of his life
by coming to Boyle Heights, East LA
and then the neighborhood
just captured him.
-Early 80s?
<Yeah.
Okay.
I was a kid back then
but he was over here terrorizing…
-This is like a…
-Oh this is beautiful, man.
Yeah man, it’s a cool city.
It’s plush, it’s… Okay.
It’s plush, it’s thick foam,
lot’s of springs.
It’s a comfortable experience.
They don’t make those anymore, huh?
[door closes]
-The seats like that?
-No.
When I was a teenager
I used to hang out in front of my house
and there was this dope dealer
who used to pass by my house all the time
and he had a ’65 convertible
and every time he would pass by
I would stare at his tail lights.
That’s what made me
fall in love with this year.
It’s the ’65 tail lights.
Okay, ’66 were different?
The ’66 have… Yes, they’re different.
They have square lights in the back.
So you knew from a kid, on,
you wanted a ’65?
’65 was my favorite.
Had to get a ’65.
You take the body off the frame
and you redo everything.
Remove all the rust, change all the bolts.
Clean it up basically from scratch.
Do non-Chicanos roll in these?
Yes.
-Russians…
-It’s the culture, there’s people…
There’s white people,
there’s a lot of brothers,
black guys that do it, Asians.
It’s world wide now.
So when you guys all get together,
say the Asians and you.
You got the car, you got that connection
and it’s all brotherhood, right?
It’s like Harleys maybe?
Yeah, exactly like Harleys, yeah.
-Okay.
-You go to…
What they say, if you’re feeling lonely
go to those places
where you have things
in common with people
and then you come
and cars are what you have in common.
So regardless of your ethnic background
if you meet some other guy
and he’s from Russia,
and he has a ’65 Impala too
they’re gonna bond on that right away.
They’re brothers instantly?
Automatic connection.
and then politics, religion,
none of that matters, right?
None of that, exactly.
What would you guys say
the biggest challenges are now?
Say in East LA?
What he was talking about, gentrification.
I just think people
preserving the culture here.
Right.
I’ve already been to Echo Park,
I’ve been to Northeast LA
and it’s already changing a lot.
I think people here
want to preserve what they have.
What’s really important too
is to also…
What helps with
videographers like yourself, right?
Is that you’re
showcasing a different side of culture.
Showing that the people are artistic,
they’re intelligent
they like to do performing arts.
This is artwork too
this is not just a car.
This is artwork, you know?
‘Cause a lot of times,
stereotypically in movies
with me working as an actor
it’s drug dealer, cartel member,
prisoner number one
or gang member, thug.
So the stereotypical image
of people around the world
that’s what they think.
Yeah.
You know?
But people love Mexican culture, you know?
I remember when I was in South Africa
and the guy,
he was looking at my tattoos and he’s like
“Hey man, where you from?”
and I told him I’m from Boyle Heights,
I’m Chicano.
He’s like, “Chicano, like Carlos Santana.”
you know?
I like that he had
a positive perspective on that, you know?
Santana is one of the best
representatives, huh?
Yeah, he’s a good representation.
You see the lights in the back?
’65.
[woman blows kiss]
-You get that all day?
-Yes, sir.
The reason I love doing this
is every culture I go into
I learn something.
Yes.
I can learn something from everyone.
It doesn’t matter how…
What background, where from, any of that.
I’ll learn something today
that will add to me.
And that’s the great thing
about the internet too
because you’re not only learning
but you’re teaching your viewers.
Yes.
Or your subscribers,
they’re becoming multi-cultured
by watching your videos.
Thanks guys, for watching
’cause then I can do this.
-Comment, like, and subscribe.
-[chuckles]
I never say that to be honest.
I feel like if someone likes it
they’ll do it.
Yeah, they will.
-Let’s walk up on top here.
-This is cool
You can see all these guys
and we’ll talk about it up here.
-This is really cool.
-This is a typical style…
-Like plaza you’d see in Mexico.
-Okay.
In the center of any small town
or even large town
you see plazas
all in different parts of Mexico.
I’d come down here when I was a kid
but it was a lot more different
when I was a child here.
-So it’s gotten safer since you were a kid?
-Much safer.
And here you can see
all the mariachis here.
They’re here for hire,
they’re here for work.
They’re taking a break right now
or they’re actually gonna do…
Are you gonna have a wedding
at this chapel
and you want to have some
live music in your back yard.
You can come talk to them
and negotiate with them
and see if they’re available that day,
that time.
In a way, it’s a bit old school here.
You don’t go online, you actually
just walk down to the plaza.
Exactly.
Mariachi performers, musicians.
Taking a break and for hire.
Taking a break right now,
eating before we go to play, yeah.
Very cool, very cool.
-Hasta la huego.
-Okay.
You know give them a ride
from the house to the church
and so when the lady
gets into the back seat
she goes,
“I remember the back seat
we used to come back here
when we were teenagers.”
[all laughing]
Holy sh*t, older lady.
She said it in Spanish.
That’s funny.
And then you’re basically downtown, right?
Very fascinating sliver of Los Angeles
I’ve never seen at all.
It obviously feels like the US
but it feels like
another country at the same time
and
very colorful
very distinct
very flavor… Like, there’s
a very strong identity you can feel here
that I respect, those places.
Because the people that hold their cultures
aren’t pushed over easily
and I always respect that.
Some places fold easily
others stay strong
and this is one of those places
that has that feeling of
just like it knows what it is,
it knows who it is
and I’ve only been here for a few hours.
So I can’t speak like I’m any expert
but there’s a foundation let’s say.
It’s very cool.
That’s the vibe I get from here so far.
I got some good looking women
and then I get some okay looking women
doing photo shoots in my car
and she gets mad.
-Your wife?
-Yeah.
I missed it with the camera
but we’ve had quite a few ladies
screaming out.
So the car is basically
like a Tinder device.
[chuckles] Tinder device.
-Right?
-Yep.
It’s your calling card.
That beautiful row of palms.
So Southern California.
So what happens
when someone gives you a door ding?
[chuckles]
The off-video conversation.
This is the freeway, Boro Heights is…
-Oh, right up there?
-Yeah.
Boro Heights itself
is a unique part of the city
because it’s surrounded by the 60,
the 5, the 10, and the 101 Freeway.
So it’s a part of the city but it’s kind
of disconnected from the city as well.
So that’s what makes it unique
because it’s surrounded by freeways.
So it’s an island surrounded by freeways.
So nobody really comes to the island
from the outside?
I haven’t seen one tourist in here really.
That might be true, yeah.
Usually it’s just people that are locals.
People that have
lived here before, you know?
Right.
Ernie’s parents,
somewhere in the concrete.
As in their signatures.
They had a lot
back in my parent’s days right there.
What do you got there, Andy?
We’re not too far from there
but this is where we’re gonna…
[phone playing]
-Sean Penn?
-Yeah, Sean Penn and…
-What movie is this?
-This is Colors.
You see the arches?
We’re gonna pass by,
we’re not too far from there.
White Fence is a gang…
Is that one of the big ones?
It’s one of the older ones.
Yeah, probably from the 20s or the 30s.
So why did you guys never get into this?
I mean there’s so much
gang culture around here, there’s…
You don’t have to answer this but…
I never joined a gang because my father,
he went to Vietnam and he said,
“I didn’t have to join a gang
to see what it was like
to stab someone with my bayonet.”
Is that the big challenge
growing up out here?
Like how to avoid the gang or?
I think the lack
of a male figure in the household.
If you don’t have
a male figure in the household
joining the gang is very inviting
because you’re meeting somebody
who’s older than you
who’s a figure
that you want to identify with.
‘Cause all boys are looking
for someone to identify with.
But it’s that simple,
if you have a strong father figure
then it’s…
your chances of joining a gang
are much lower?
If you have a strong
positive male role model
I think that makes
a big difference, you know?
So
it matters, you know?
A lot of people, you know,
it’s just from the generations.
Like their father’s father was from a gang
it just trickles down into the kids.
But that has to do
with the positive role model too ’cause if
your grandfather was in a gang
and your father was in a gang
then maybe somehow
you feel inclined to join the gang
because it feels almost like a tradition.
Okay.
So the movie business what?
The movie business
became an option for me after I had
got caught up in the drug business.
Okay.
So I was involved in that
when I was younger
and I realized that
it’s true what they say
“You got death or prison.”
Most of my friends that I grew up with
they’re no longer living
and a few of them are
never getting out of jail.
Okay.
So I had to make that choice myself and…
What age did you make that choice?
I was probably about 24.
-Okay.
-And I was facing 20 years in jail.
-Oh wow!
-So I chose to make a change, you know?
I got really lucky,
I had a really great lawyer.
I saved a lot of my money
and I was able to buy a good lawyer.
But in that moment
I had to make a choice
“Is this what I wanna do
or do I wanna change?”
Okay.
And I got the option
to start in the motion picture business.
I started working
for the writer, director Mark Brown.
He gave me an opportunity,
I worked for him as an intern.
Then I started doing background.
The first movie I did
was Hancock with Will Smith.
Okay.
And…
I did like assistant camera,
I was a production assistant for two years
for Judge Judy
and Judge Joe Brown at KTLA.
Okay.
And I did Insurgent, Divergent, Alegiant,
Alvin and the Chipmunks, Black Panther.
Acting is what
I enjoy doing the most though.
Okay.
In July, I was fortunate to book a pilot
and made more money
than I’ve ever made in my life.
-So I’m gonna reinvest that.
-Good for you.
-And do more acting.
-Cool.
It’s easy to go back and do the same thing.
It’s hard to do something
that you’ve never done before.
Yeah.
It’s hard to…
It’s scary.
But you just gotta have faith and trust.
Was your dad supporting you then
when you made that transition?
Was he there?
Yeah, he was proud of me.
They didn’t really understand
what I was doing
in the movie business
in the beginning but…
A good parent is never gonna
want that kind of life for their child.
Right, right.
And he knew what I was doing
when I was doing negative stuff
and he would have
serious conversations with me like,
“Hey man, you gotta watch out, look out.”
Give me…
It’s like he knew
I was gonna do the bad anyway
so he tried to be supportive
of the bad also.
-It’s kind of interesting.
-Interesting psychology.
If he was super-hard on you
maybe you would have gotten worse.
Well then if he was super-hard
I probably wouldn’t have been
so transparent with it.
It was better for me to be
transparent with him
and him give me information
that was gonna allow me to succeed.
Than for me to act
like nothing was happening and he knew
something was happening.
Gotcha.
It was a better relationship
and it was like that
with my mother as well too.
At the end of the day,
at the end of the story
they’re happy that I changed my life.
I’m happy that I changed my life.
Yeah.
I think that it’s a good example
because there’s other kids
that come from this community
and you can evolve, you know?
You can teach yourself.
So you think there’s a lot of opportunity
for kids if they’re into drugs
and selling drugs right now?
You think there’s a possibility?
Like there is opportunity?
Yeah, there’s just a lack of education.
I would say that
you have a better shot
of being successful long-term
if you try to apply yourself
to be a pharmacist.
Okay.
Than to be a drug dealer.
‘Cause a pharmacist
is technically a legal drug dealer, right?
Yeah, sure.
And now if you’re a pharmacist
you’re providing…
You’re doing…
Less stressful.
You’re just not gonna have
that conflict with the law, you know?
Breaking the law is…
there’s a lot of people that do it
but that’s not the only way.
Sometimes you just need
to be shown that there’s other ways.
All my bills are paid for from working
in the entertainment business.
So am I a success?
I don’t do nothing.
I don’t have to do anything
like I used to do in the past.
So to me, that’s success.
Now the level of success
is gonna change of course.
Right.
We’re always gonna be striving for more.
If you’re a person with ambition.
Yeah.
You don’t want to pay rent forever,
obviously you wanna own.
You just wanna live the kind of life
that you want
but that’s what success is.
That’s what I try to tell them.
Success is subjective,
it’s not really the big car
-or the big house, you know?
-Yeah, I agree.
For me, it was getting as much experience
before the age of 40 that I could.
Way before the material.
-Like to see as many countries…
-Travel.
To live in different places
and there were sacrifices involved.
-Nobody gave it to me.
-Yes.
But that was like,
“Okay, by 40 I have to have that in
and then I felt success there.”
Now I feel success doing this
and it will be something down the road.
Of course, it’s always changing.
I think giving…
I don’t know if I’m gonna
put this on camera or not but giving…
Raising frequency in society
instead of deteriorating it.
-Instead of pulling it down.
-Yeah.
You know what I mean?
Like adding to someone.
Which therefore adds
to their life,
they add to other people’s lives.
[car starts and revs]
This is a hot area
’cause right here you have Evergreen.
Which is an old neighborhood too
and then on this side you have
the guys from White Fence.
So this street right here, 4th Street,
you have a lot of…
A lot of conflict right here.
I’ve seen a lot of helicopters today.
-Police helicopters?
-Oh yeah.
They’re always scanning the area over here
and letting their presence be known too.
They’ve been doing that for years.
Okay, so are they primarily getting, like,
people that out-sped the cops?
They’re just surveying the area
all the time
and letting their presence be known.
-Patrolling by air.
-Yeah, patrolling by air.
We kind of got used to it.
So when we would hear like at
10:00, 11:00 at night
almost every single night.
It would actually put us to sleep.
So we got used to it.
No, it’s weird, yeah.
-So here’s under the bridge.
-Okay.
I was showing you.
Okay.
You can see a lot of the graffiti
has been covered up.
Right.
They covered it up.
♪ hip hop on the radio ♪
And that’s East Los Angeles
and this is Boyle Heights this side.
That’s the difference,
Indiana splits the two sides
of the neighborhood.
Ernie, you ever let
anyone else drive this car?
Not even my girlfriend.
Never.
-Not happening, huh?
-But you know what?
I made a mistake one time.
I was doing a music video
and the girl,
they asked me to let her drive
and my wife didn’t like it.
As she should, you know?
She got mad at me.
But I made that mistake once.
Never make the same mistake twice.
All right, little pit stop here.
This is my friend Armondo.
He owns and operates this shop,
National Garage #2
right here on the corner of
Rosyln and East Street in Boyle Heights.
Quality auto repair,
very competitive pricing.
Yeah.
National Garage Auto, yo.
You’re a trustworthy auto mechanic?
Yes.
I got roped into a promotional video
but I’m gonna go with it.
You need a good mechanic,
a good lawyer, and a good doctor.
What about a wife?
A wife too.
[chuckles]
At National Garage,
they actually have a new restroom.
I don’t think that’s ever happened
at an auto shop in history.
Ladies are welcome.
Okay, now everyone needs to come.
[chuckles]
Look at that, wow.
Okay, this is trustworthy.
I’m in.
Our mechanic will listen to the engine
and he’ll tell you
exactly what’s wrong with it.
Gracias.
Thank you.
And this is East LA, they love lowriders
everywhere you go, you know?
I gotta say it’s fun,
I’m enjoying this.
Just cruising,
it’s not like you’re driving.
You’re just sort of floating through
the streets with your buddies type thing.
Yeah, that’s the culture.
I get it now, I get it.
[sirens]
‘Dem boys.
[police car speeds past]
♪ hip hop on radio ♪
Taco truck?
Taco truck.
So for those of you who’ve never been to LA
it’s all about the taco truck.
People know when a lowrider’s coming in.
[door closes]
It’s like a plane landing, right?
[chuckles]
Yo quero dos tacos
pollo.
-No pollo.
-No pollo?
-Carne?
-Asada, pastor, cabeza.
Pastor.
Pastor?
Dos.
Dos tacos, cilantro, cebolla chile?
Chile, si.

[man calling out order]
Okay, here we go.
Fantastic food truck culture.
These guys are awesome.
We got all this food here.
This was like $14.00
Dollar tacos, unbelievable.
I got three tacos and horchata,
$5.00 that’s pretty good.
Unbelievable.
Street fine dining, yeah.
[chuckles]
The other place was good
but this might be next level.
This is straight to the street
right here, you know?
Right.
They got the Instagram right there
Los Tacos El Pecas.
This is great.
This is the perfect plate right here.
It’s the perfect plate.
Fantastico, muchos gracias.
A lot of color, lot of creativity.
A lot of good food.
This is a
very interesting neighborhood I gotta say.
And doing it in the lowrider
that’s a first.
I never understood it really
it just looked like people
hanging out in a car
now I get it, it’s an experience,
it’s not driving around.
It’s like a good bonding,
fun, unique experience.
I was just saying,
“I bet nobody wears
a hockey hat in East LA.”
and this guy,
Los Angeles Kings, yeah?
No, Rams bro.
Wearing a Kings hat,
I think he’s just liking the hat.
When I grew up right here
you had to be careful
what team you wear because…
So I’m from Cincinnati Street,
you have guys from Michigan Street
you got guys from Chicago Street.
So we would identify each other
by different sections.
By the teams
and sports jerseys that you wear.
So what if you come in
with a Florida Panthers hat?
Well it depends what…
That’s ambiguous here.
It’s like it doesn’t make no sense
but if you’re wearing something
that’s common like Chicago or Michigan..
And we have streets named after that
then they’re gonna recognize.
Can I ask what’s the neck tattoo here?
It’s my dad.
We did about seven,
eight hours on this on my neck, man.
Takes me home, we still have him.
♪ hip hop ♪
Cameras, on cameras, on cameras.
[music continues]
But it’s just a cool, like,
communal get together
with friend type thing?
Pretty much what it is.
Nice.
Like I said, you got kids here.
You know, you got the families here.
[crowd yelling]
[men chattering]
Grasshopper.
[hip hop from radio]
Yeah, that thing is sweet.
Beautiful, right?
Beautiful.
There’s a lot of work
in this paint job, huh?
That’s what it’s all about
is what sets your car apart
from the next person’s car, you know?
So this looks like it’s a tribute to…
A mural, yeah.
Look at that one, it’s right on the ground.
[hydraulics]
-He’s hoppin’ around.
-Hydraulics.
[women chattering]
[R&B from passing car]
[engine idling]
[hip hop from car]
Cops are coming through.
Nice rims.
Make it bounce, make it bounce.
They just come in, make sure
there’s nothing bad happening?
There’s not…
I mean do you feel threatened?
No, zero.
[R&B from passing car]
[man on bullhorn]
[car hydraulics bouncing]
-He’s got the whole family out.
-Yeah.
[muffled speech]
[engine revving]
You’ll catch everybody here, you know?
You’ll catch Samoans, Cambodians,
I’ve seen Cambodians in here.
Brothers will be up in here.
You’ll catch everybody in here. I mean
I mean we don’t…
We don’t discriminate
when it comes to this culture right here.
We’re all part of it, you know?
They’re a part of the West Coast culture.
They try to recreate it
other places though, right?
They do,
and they know how to do it as well.
Las Vegas does it.
Arizona does it, Texas does it.
They do it in other places
but I mean, I think…
and people will argue.
-This is where it was born, you know?
-Yeah.
-It’s the biggest culture, right?
-Yeah.
I think San Diego also.
-I think it originated down there as well.
-Okay.
[hip hop from car]
This lady’s just out for a cruise.
Thank you.
When you hear the Spanish music,
like for example this right here.
Yeah.
That’s called corridos.
Corridos are basically, it’s a drug ballad.
-A drug ballad?
-Yeah.
They’re probably singing
about a drug dealer
or drug dealer situation
or someone big in that business.
You know what I mean?
-Do the dealers pay for the song?
-Sometimes, yeah.
For the most part, yeah.
They do pay for the song.
There’s some where
the groups will just make it for them.
Like as…
-Like commemorating them or…
-Okay.
So if you hear a lot of
Spanish music here in this scene
that’s also street music
but it’s Spanish.
It’s like, you could say it’s rap.
What the rap music’s talking about here,
it’s in Spanish.
And them some of them are just about love.
Not only drug dealers, we’re also lovers.
[chuckles]
-A lot of emotion?
-Yeah.
We’re passionate about everything we do.
[car idling]
So guys,
we had to get away from the noise to
get some audio here.
There’s been more peace
in between the gangs.
I think there’s been more peace.
Right here, you don’t have anybody
asking anybody else where they’re from.
Which was the question back in the day,
“Where you from?”
Meaning,
“What gang are you associated with?”
So that’s not happening here.
So they’d get pretty violent before?
So back in the day, you know,
in the 90s we used to go cruising
in the early 2000s
you could not cross paths
with somebody else, you know?
Okay.
And that’s not me,
it’s just friends that I had that
had those situations or if I was with them
and they didn’t like that neighborhood
there’d be shootings
and you couldn’t cruise like this anymore.
I think there’s been more peace
in between…
I mean if you notice,
there’s families here.
So they’re not gonna…
You’re not gonna see anybody
asking each other where they’re from,
what gang they’re from
or worried about anything.
They’re here for the car culture
and that’s all it is.
So when you have unity,
this is what you see, you know?
You’re not from here,
you don’t look like us
but did you ever feel threatened?
-Zero.
-Right?
Everyone was cool.
So that’s what it’s all about.
This is embedded in LA culture.
This is embedded.
This isn’t going anywhere.
Right.
As long as there’s peace.
You know what I mean?
So that’s what I’ve noticed.
Thank you, guys.
That was awesome.
Thanks for coming
and checking out the neighborhood with us.
Yeah, man.
Actually, I wanna drop a few takeaways.
One, cruising around in a lowrider
is a lot of fun.
I never thought anything of it
looking at it from afar
but now I’m like, that’s fun.
Secondly…
[loud horn]
That.
-People have fun together.
-Yeah.
I didn’t feel much fear today
in the neighborhood.
I’m saying with the pandemic probably.
People had masks but I just feel
like life is sort of normal
in your culture from what I’ve felt.
People want to feel normal.
People want to do normal things, you know?
To get them away from thinking
that there’s a pandemic going on.
So people want to do stuff
that makes them feel normal, you know?
As you can tell here.
I’m gonna leave
both your guy’s Instagrams down below.
You’re both doing cool stuff.
Your photography…
I’m a photographer, yeah.
This is one thing that I like shooting.
I like just shooting Southern California.
But your shots, I would say more than this,
your photos
have a real feel to them
and like they always say,
“A thousand words” right?
A picture is a thousand words
but there’s like a soul.
I think you’re more than just cars.
You’re like, get the feel of a place…
The people, you know?
You can get the pictures of cars
but the people that built them
are the culture around it.
The people that make up this culture.
They’re beautiful people, you know?
You just gotta know how to capture it.
Yeah, the people is what makes my shots.
Not so much the cars,
I like the people.
Yeah.
To Ronin, Ernie, and Andy.
Ernie’s the man.
All right, guys.
Thanks for coming along.
Just a little peak into a culture
most of us don’t have much
of an understanding about.
And what I love the most is well-connected.
It just feels like a family, like a tribe.
It’s festive, it’s very unique.
Loved it.
Now the light is pretty much gone.
So I’m gonna end this video.
Thanks for coming along.
Until the next one.
♪ hip hop ♪

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