How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

What's in a name: Oaxacalifornia


Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Juan Antonio, proprietor of the Oaxacalifornia Café Juice Bar in South L.A.

The name of this modest little juice and snack bar inside South Los Angeles's Mercado La Paloma caught my eye the other day as I stood in line, along with an immigrant from Ghana, watching a couple of employees whip up tropical-fruit licuados and dish out black mole tamales. When owner Juan Antonio peered out from the kitchen, I mentioned to him that I found the name intriguing.

He told me he was sitting around the dinner table with his family seven years ago when he was preparing to open his business, trying to think up names, when "Oaxacalifornia" popped into his head. "It represents the Oaxacan presence in California, the food, the culture," Antonio said. "There's a big Oaxacan community in California."


In the news this morning

Good morning. Here are a few of the top immigration stories from the weekend and for today.

  • The New York Times reported on the resistance to various planned mosques around the country, including in Temecula. Great story.

  • The NYT also reports on how amid an increase in deportations, students who came to the United States illegally as children are being spared.

  • In a related story, the Arizona Daily Star reports on the case of Marlen Moreno Peralta, a young mother whose case had become a cause célèbre among DREAM Act supporters and who has been granted a last-minute reprieve from deportation.

  • USA Today visits Apache Junction, Ariz., a border town where the arguments over the newly implemented state anti-illegal immigration law SB 1070, as viewed by residents, aren't so simple.

  • In this interesting item in The Huffington Post, a North Carolina sociologist debunks myths about birthright citizenship, and also discusses a fascinating Supreme Court decision from 1898 regarding the 14th Amendment as applied to a San Francisco-born son of Chinese immigrants.


And in case you missed it: The OGs talk books with Huizar

The nonagenarian video bloggers from Boyle Heights known as the The OGs, Harry and Barbara "Cutie" Cooper, have posted this video of Cutie's meeting yesterday with José Huizar, their City Council representative, and Libros Schmibros owner David Kipen to talk books and library cutbacks.

The OGs, for those who aren't familiar with them, are a long-married (73 years!) Jewish couple who returned two years ago to what they term "the old neighborhood" to live in the Hollenbeck Palms retirement community. Boyle Heights, of course, was the site of the original Canter's and the Breed Street Shul, an immigrant community since the dawn of time, in L.A. years. Which makes Cutie and Harry original gangstas indeed.


Because it's Friday: Chico's Angels

The 89.3 KPCC website has this slide show and feature on the Latina drag queens known collectively as Chico’s Angels, whose latest comedy "Love Boat Chicas" runs through Sunday at the Cavern Club Theater in Silver Lake, in the basement of the Casita Del Campo restaurant.

Riffing on seventies- and eighties-era TV staples that range from "Charlie's Angels" to the "Love Boat" to Charo (who can forget Charo?) the trio of comic glamour-sleuths attempts to solve yet anther mystery amidst sequins, stilettos, and very, very big hair. The Angels, who also go by Kay Sedia (gotta love that name), Frieda Laye, and Chita Parol, have been performing together for seven years.

Casita Del Campo is at 1920 Hyperion Avenue. Good margaritas there, too.


Short film: 'Borderland'

Last week, as the furor over Arizona's SB 1070 was coming to a head, the late True/Slant posted as one of its final items this intriguing short film about border security, as seen through the eyes of two grizzled and armed border residents. One stalks drug runners, another takes pity on migrants being led by smugglers through brutal terrain. For those who live along the fence, many of whom I've met and interviewed, there is nothing abstract about the debate over border security.

True/Slant's all-too-brief run has wound to a close following its acquisition by Forbes Media earlier this year.