Tag Archives: Pico-Union

Faustino Diaz: Trombone master from Oaxaca in L.A.

Faustino Diaz, the Oaxacan trombone master, returns to Los Angeles this weekend for a concert at the Ukrainian Hall, 4315 Melrose Ave., this Sunday at 2 p.m.

Diaz thrilled Mexico last year when he won the International Trombone Competition in South Korea.1511733_908562385837387_4934257276349175473_n

A few days later he visited the Pico-Union District and the music school run by director Estanislao Maqueos, who has used his school to organize Oaxacan youth orchestras.

There, I had the chance to sit down and talk with him about his life, and having to venture out into the world to find his music like a migrant finds a future.

The interview is above and in Spanish.

Check out the concert. Should be good.


Filed under California, Culture, Mexico, Migrants, Southern California

Hundreds Crowd to Watch Barefoot Triquis in Pico-Union

The by-now world famous barefoot Triqui Indian basketball players from Oaxaca played their first games to huge crowds at a children’s tournament at Toberman Park in Pico-Union today.

The Triquis, ages 10 and 11, use an impressive warm-up routine, smothering full-court defense and able ball handling to suffocate opponents. They’re hampered only by the fact that their thin arms and small bodies can sometimes barely hoist the ball above the rim.

Still, one local team didn’t score and lost to what I took to be the Triqui’s second string, 10-0. Another team lost to the Triqui first string, 47-4.

As I wrote in a blogpost below, the team from Rio Venado, Oaxaca — some of whose players went barefoot today — comes from a school formed to instill discipline and conserve the group’s languages and traditions. Along the way, it has become a public-relations strategy to call attention to Mexican Indian poverty, and in particular that of the Triquis, who are Mexico’s most impoverished ethnic group.

Basketball being a huge community sport in Oaxacan L.A., the crowds were large and discerning and lined the court. Vendors also lined up to take advantage, selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs and ice cream.

As is often true about basketball in L.A.’s Oaxacan community, the event and the Triqui team became about something transcending sport, to include immigration, assimilation, poverty, and more.

“The reason these kids are better than ours is that we want to give our kids everything we never had when we were growing up poor, so we give them everything they ask for” and spoil them, said Enrique Perez, who sells cemetery plots in Inglewood, lives in West LA, and came from Oaxaca 20 years ago. “These Triqui kids have to earn it.”

Also, Perez went on, “here when you tell a kid to do something, he won’t. He calls the police. The kids in Mexico obey. So they’re more disciplined than ours.”

The team still had three games to play when I left and will finish the tournament next Saturday.

Don’t miss it.


Filed under Uncategorized

MIGRANTS: Salvadorans and Koreans

Yesterday I spent some time with Salvadoran immigrants as they inaugurated the corner of Pico and Vermont as Monsenor Oscar Romero Square.

An interesting exertion of the ethnic presence in an area where Latinos are the majority population, but the economic power is largely Korean.

These kinds of (I’ll call them) tensions make I think for interesting stories. The square and a hoped-for El Salvadoran Corridor down Vermont was presented to me as a way of having Salvadorans recognized, but also saying to Koreans that Salvadorans are here and to be taken into account.

Salvadorans were stung two years ago when Korean-American leaders tried to expand the official boundaries of Koreatown to include (largely Latino) Pico-Union without consulting them.

It’s unclear how forceful a square or corridor will be — but the precedent of Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Armenia, etc. is there. So Salvadorans feel they have something coming, too.

The other interesting point to come out of it, seems to me, is that the Salvadorans pushing this are, for the first time, business owners and Salvadoran-Americans, and mostly younger.

The Salvadoran community took shape in the 1980s amid lots of attention to its civil war. Nonprofits formed here to attend to the needs of the new refugees. The folks who ran these nonprofits became the public face of the Salvadoran community and have been there ever since. The business community was small and disorganized and the political class was nonexistent. (Salvadorans still have elected no one to public office in LA County.) Yet these nonprofit leaders, apparently, often clashed with each other over; occasionally the dividing lines were the same as those during the civil war. Most folks I spoke with count this as a reason why Salvadoran economic and political power has lagged here in L.A.

But that now seems to be changing, as a new generation steps forward, and seems to leave behind the divisions created by the country’s civil war (1980-92). Be interesting to watch how it unfolds.




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Filed under Los Angeles, Migrants