How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

At LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the questions are on the floor

Last weekend I paid a visit to LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the new museum chronicling Mexican American history and life in Los Angeles that opened Saturday.

The museum's downtown location is itself noteworthy: It sits across from Olvera Street near the city's birthplace - so close, in fact, that construction turned up the bones of more than a hundred early residents from a cemetery believed to have been exhumed in the mid-1800s.

The museum pays worthy tribute to early Angeleños, and the Californios and Mexicanos whose history has at times felt close to lost as waves of newcomers arrived and reinvented Southern California. Its interactive displays also highlight the more recent and familiar history of Mexican Americans in the West, from the Chicano civil rights movement to the farm workers' labor struggle in the Central Valley.

Read More...

Navigating the Armenian American supermarket: Part 2

Photo by Lory Tatoulian

In the meat section at a Super King in Glassell Park, April 2011

A post yesterday kicked off an occasional series of informal guides to navigating the ethnic supermarket, the mega-store grocery chains catering to immigrants that have become a part of Southern California's regional landscape as its immigrant communities have grown and evolved.

Guest blogger and L.A. comic Lory Tatoulian started us on a tour yesterday of Glassell Park's Super King, part of a popular Armenian supermarket chain. We left off with Lory in the meat section, a part of which she reserves a special name for.

(Continued from yesterday)

Then there is the science project section, which houses strange organs that look like they belong in a medical school laboratory.

These meats are for advanced carnivore consumers and are usually reserved for old Armenian men who classify the more bizarre the meat, the more delectable. In the early morning winter months is it not unusual to see Armenian men, dressed in business suits, huddled over a boiling vat of khash at Griffith Park while having a very loud conversation about world politics. Khash is a dense soup of beef tripe and trotters lavishly seasoned with garlic and also known to induce contentious conversation and cure a host of physical ailments.

Read More...

In the news this morning: No 'birther bill' in Arizona, minorities in special education, an immigration reform summit, more

'Birther bill' vetoed by Arizona governor - CNN Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill late yesterday that would have required President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates to prove they were born in the United States before their names could be placed on the state ballot.

Too many minorities in special ed, state says - San Jose Mercury News According to the California Department of Education, a disproportionate number of ethnic minority students in a Bay Area school district have been identified for special education, suspended or expelled.

Law student faces immigration battle - The GW Hatchet The George Washington University campus newspaper reports on Prerna Lal, a 26-year-old FIjian-born immigrant rights advocate and law school student who has now been placed in deportation proceedings herself.

Read More...

The Pulitzer-winning reporter who could have been deported

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

On a window outside Bell City Hall, September 2010

A post in late March highlighted the story of Ruben Vives, a Los Angeles Times reporter who was once undocumented, brought here as a child from Guatemala by his mother.

Last month, Vives was a contender for a Pulitzer Prize for his work on uncovering the Bell political corruption scandal. Today, it was announced that he won.

Vives, 31, and veteran reporter Jeff Gottlieb were awarded the Pulitzer gold medal for public service for a series of stories exposing how politicians in the working-class, mostly Latino city of Bell were paying themselves extravagant six-figure salaries and manipulating records. Their reporting led to criminal charges against former city administrator Robert Rizzo and seven other current or former city officials, who were charged with multiple felonies and ordered to stand trial.

Read More...

Navigating the Armenian American supermarket

Photo by Lory Tatoulian

The produce section scene at the Super King in Glassell Park, April 2011

As Southern California's immigrant enclaves have grown and evolved, so have their grocery stores. The ethnic mega-supermarket is now part of the regional landscape, making it as easy to buy once hard-to-find products from around the world as it is to shop at Vons or Ralphs. Want banana leaves for Central American tamales? No need seek out a carnicería in Pico-Union any more. Southeast Asian sambal sauce? There are supermarkets that practically stock aisles of it.

All you need is a good guide. So this week, Multi-American is kicking off an occasional series of informal guides to navigating the ethnic supermarket. Your first guide comes from guest blogger Lory Tatoulian, a writer, comic and highly savvy Armenian supermarket insider. Welcome, Lory.

The Armenian spirit is big, and so is its belly.

Read More...