How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

RIP Richard 'Scar' Lopez

Earlier this morning I linked to a post in LA Observed noting the recent death of Richard "Scar" Lopez, a founder of Cannibal & the Headhunters, a revered Eastside vocal group that for a short period in the mid-60s had a wildly successful run with "Land of 1,000 Dances." (The song is best known to later generations who grew up hearing it on oldies stations as that song that starts with "Na, na-na-na-na...") In its heyday, the band opened for the Beatles (at Shea Stadium, no less), the Rolling Stones and the Righteous Brothers.

Lopez, a graduate of L.A's Lincoln High School, died July 30 in Garden Grove at 65. The Los Angeles Times also has an obituary today, featuring  quotes taken from a 2005 interview that Lopez did with the LA Weekly. This is one of my favorites:


Castellano's list: New school brings to light a little-known hero of the Holocaust


Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A photo of José A. Castellanos, displayed at the new charter school

A new charter elementary school in West Adams is being named for a scarcely-known hero with a story as dramatic as that of Oskar Schindler: José A. Castellanos, El Salvador's consul in Geneva, Switzerland during the Holocaust, who helped save the lives of tens of thousands of European Jews by issuing them fake Salvadoran citizenship certificates. Really.

The story behind the namesake of the new José A. Castellanos Charter School goes like this: While stationed as the consul in Geneva in the early 1940s, former Salvadoran army colonel José Arturo Castellanos Contreras was approached by George Mandel, a Romanian-born Jewish businessman, who told him about the imminent danger that his family and others were in.


Muslim employee files complaint against Disneyland, seek to wear hijab at work


Photo by IIOC Masjid Omar AlFarouk/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Two women in hijab at a Southern California picnic, June 2008

Learning about the First Amendment as she went about applying for U.S. citizenship inspired a young Muslim woman who works at Disneyland to challenge a company policy and wear her hijab to work.

Today, Imane Boudial filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging she is not allowed to wear the traditional head scarf while on the job, according to 89.3 KPCC and other news reports. Boudial has worked at the Grand Californian Hotel's Storytellers Restaurant for more than two years. More from the KPCC story:

"As long as she's been there, she took off her hijab before she went to work because it's against Disney policy,'' said Leigh Shelton, a spokeswoman for Boudlal's union, Unite Here Local 11. "But more recently she's gone through some experiences that have enlightened her a little, and she wanted to challenge the policy because it's illegal and wrong.''

Several months ago, Boudlal, who is Arab, applied for U.S. citizenship, Shelton said, adding her lessons on the First Amendment changed the way she started thinking about the issue.