Category Archives: Virgin


The Corner of the Virgin: 41st and Broadway

No corner of the city appears better protected than 41st and Broadway in South Central LA.

There are five virgin murals on three buildings at one corner, and another two on a mini-market a block away.

“We’ve put up flowers and kind of modern rock n roll paintings,” said a woman named Dolores, from Guatemala, who was behind the plexiglass at the mini-market.

“But the cholos come and spray-paint them. So we had the Virgins painted. They’re not cheap – one cost $800 and the other $500. But the cholos respect them.”

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Filed under California, Culture, Gangs, Los Angeles, Southern California, Virgin

The obituary of a woman named Guadalupe

Virgin of Serrano St (2-12) - 14

I was meandering online this morning when I came upon the obituary of a woman who died a couple years ago.

I was struck by its simplicity — the spare way it summed up a life. I’ve removed her last name and re-lined the obituary to highlight its poetic sense.  Hope you like it …


March 16, 1913 – March 5, 2011
Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, Guadalupe was the mother of 7 children.
She came to the U.S. in 1945 and raised her family in Los Angeles
With her husband, Luis , to whom she was married 77 years.
Up until the last days of her life
She lived in her home on Sichel Street in Lincoln Heights.
She loved her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren deeply.
All of us will miss her.


Filed under Los Angeles, Mexico, Storytelling, Virgin, Writing

The Virgin of the Carpet Store

2012-07-05 13.18.52-2

One more of the Virgin in Los Angeles, again in the southern part of the city, though I can’t remember where.

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Filed under California, Los Angeles, Mexico, Streets, Virgin

LOS ANGELES: Valentine’s Day, Cops, El Big Happy & the Flower District

This being Valentine’s Day, there’s no place better to be in Los Angeles than the Flower District downtown.LA Flower District

I went to 7th and Wall, where the major flower mart is located. There were police cars everywhere.

“You could rob a bank and they wouldn’t come. They’re all down here buying for their wives and girlfriends,” said Gloria, a flower vendor who became my guide to the district. “Maybe even some girls on the street. It’s like this every year. Every year they come.”

(One cop told me he and his partner were also buying for secretaries back at the office.)LA Flower District

“Plus, they caught the guy [Christopher Dorner], so they’re all happy,” she said.

Gloria and I started chatting about the benefits of Berkeley education, as she saw me wearing my BERKELEY sweatshirt. Her nephew graduated in astrophysics from the university 10 years ago.

Outside was a lunch truck called El Big Happy, wishing everyone Happy Valentine’s Day and advertising “L.A.’s Most Wanted Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog.” I hadn’t had breakfast, so I passed on the opportunity.

Gloria’s been selling flowers longer than that. Flowers are the ultimate non-economic barometer. Doesn’t matter how bad things are, she said, “people always spend that last little money they have” on flowers for their honeybunches. Mother’s Day, the Virgin of Guadalupe Day (december 12) and Valentine’s Day — the three dates no vendor in the Flower District ever calls in sick.

Gloria had already virtually sold out, she said. All her red roses were gone yesterday.

Gives you some hope for love in this jaundiced, media-drenched age.


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LOS ANGELES: “I Who Am Your Mother” …The Virgin of Guadalupe

I’m not Catholic, or any kind of Christian, but years in Mexico formed a soft spot in my heart for the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose day is today: December 12.

She seems to embody all the best of the philosophy of Jesus Christ: tenderness, patience, love, caring for the poor and forgotten.

I also liked how, in a very Protestant way, many Mexicans shaped their own personal relationships with her, far, very often, from the church hierarchy.

These photos are from La Placita in downtown Los Angeles early this morning.

Happy Virgin of Guadalupe Day to one and all!


Filed under Los Angeles, Mexico, Religion, Virgin

VIRGIN: The Virgin of Nadeau Street

Much of the sweetness of the Virgin of Guadalupe, I believe, lies in her eyes, which are cast down, and the humility that implies.

Always an oasis in LA, whenever I see her.


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Filed under Los Angeles, Mexico, Migrants, Virgin

VIRGIN: of 6th Street

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Sixth Street lately, near MacArthur Park.

These were taken Thursday about 7 p.m.

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LOS ANGELES: Virgin of the Sundown

Another in my continuing attempt to photograph all the Virgins of Guadalupe in Los Angeles — this in South L.A., on Central Avenue, I believe.



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VIRGIN: Virgin of the Razor Wire, “Pray for Us”

Virgin of the Razor Wire, Highland Park, Los Angeles

In a back alley in Highland Park, northeast Los Angeles.


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VIRGIN: Nino’s Meat Market

Virgin of Nino's Meat Market, Avalon & 51st Street, Los Angeles

Another in my attempt to chronicle the many Virgins of Guadalupes on Los Angeles walls.

The more I do it, the more I’m struck by the way the street of south LA and of Pico-Union, Hollywood and other neighborhoods make up what amounts to a massive open-air modern art museum.

It’s an interesting time. Who knows? In 10 years, a planning-commission-like conformity may have come to these areas. But for now they’re a jangle of images, much of related to commerce, yet the overall effect is riotous color.


Virgin of Nino’s Meat Market, Avalon & 51st Street

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STREETS: Virgin of the Carniceria


Virgin of the Carniceria, Beverly Boulevard

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Pay Phone Virgin – Broadway & 42nd

Xochilt Market at Broadwway & 42nd Street

Another in my campaign to shoot every Virgin of Guadalupe in LA. This one protects the last pay phone in town.


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Filed under Los Angeles, Mexico, Migrants, Streets, Virgin