On September 11, 2001, I was living in Mexico City, preparing to go on a trip with a driver from a Mexico City mortuary. I was working in the capital at the time as a freelance writer.
Part of the mortuary’s business was to pick up the bodies of immigrants who had died in the United States and whose families had flown them home to be buried.
The mortuary would provide the service of retrieving the body and driving it back to the immigrant’s home village. That morning the body of an immigrant was due to arrive from Denver.
I was set to go with the driver to the airport and then to the village.
I called the mortuary and the owner told me, “There are no flights today. I think someone just bombed your country.”
I spent the next two weeks in front of a television.
I was out in South Gate recently visiting Carlos Herrera, who owns Interior Removal Specialist, a company that takes out the interior of offices that are about to be remodeled.
His mother, a Mexican immigrant, started in the junk collection business years ago, as a way she stumbled on to raise her children alone. In time, she had trucks and drivers. Carlos has continued on in her footsteps.
This place is amazing — piles of drywall, rows of desks and office chairs. Next door is a plant that recycles most of the tin cans used in LA County, most of which will end up in China, I assume.
I’m always fascinated by recycling. So much stuff that once was used — all at the other end of the economy, the one we almost never see.
It’s why I like places like South Gate and Vernon. Their ruggedness makes them photogenic and their stories make them mermerizing.
Here are some photos.
Saw this guy during the May Day parade on Broadway.
He stood like this, unmoving, as I snapped some shots and stayed that way when I left.