Latest Best of LA

Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

April 7, 2011 11:29 PM

View Comments
(credit: Kim Kuhteubl)

(credit: Kim Kuhteubl)

louie poster Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

(credit: Kim Kuhteubl)

You probably know Louie Pérez principal songwriter and multi-instrumentalist for his work with the acclaimed Grammy Award-winning band Los Lobos, but do you know where he came from? Pérez showed us the spots that mean most to him –- the spots that celebrate, define and inspire the Chicano experience and make East LA his home.


featured louie Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

(credit: Kim Kuhteubl)

C & R Auto Electric Shop

506 North Brannick Avenue 90063
(323) 269-7046

We started north of Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, nestled on the edge of a quiet residential street at C & R Electric, an auto repair shop owned by another Louie — Louie Silva. The garage has been in the Silva family since 1956 when the two Louies were young boys and their mothers became friends. Louie is the eyes and ears of the neighborhood; there is nothing he can’t tell you about its history.

featured whitier blvd Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

Whittier Boulevard

4931 Whittier Boulevard, Los Angeles
(323) 268-4280
More Info

Perez dubs Whittier Blvd., starting at Eastern Avenue, the Chicano Miracle Mile.  “This is where all the movie theatres were and this is where the cruising took place every Sunday night starting on Eastern Avenue.  Everyone would cruise all the way to Atlantic Boulevard, turn around and come back,”  says Perez. “That Top Value used to be the Johnson’s Market. Conrad and I used to stand right in front. We didn’t have a car to cruise in, so we’d just stand there and watch all the cars go by.”

featured garfield Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

(credit: Garfield Highschool)

Garfield Senior High School

5101 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90022-3209
(323) 981-5500
More Info

In March 1968, students from Garfield Senior High School –– Pérez’s alma mater — and four other East Los Angeles high schools (Lincoln, Belmont, Roosevelt and Wilson) protested unequal conditions in the Los Angeles Unified School District by walking out. Students were forbidden to speak Spanish and those who did were punished with the spanking paddle in front of their classmates. The curriculum mostly ignored or denied Mexican-American history, and Chicano students were pushed toward menial labor or the secretarial pool instead of college. The protests soon spread to 15 additional high schools, including ones in Huntington Park, Venice and Hollywood. In all, 22,000 students walked out.

featured mariachi plaza Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

(credit: David Mcnew, Getty (main)/Hotel Boyle (inset))

Mariachi Plaza Los Angeles

1783 E. 1st Street, Mariachi Plaza
East Los Angeles
More Info

One mile west of Downtown LA in Boyle Heights, the historic Boyle Hotel and surrounding Cummings block, link a legacy of mariachi music with the vibrant Latino culture of the Pueblo of the 1800s.  Since the 1930s, mariachis in their tidy charro suits have gathered outside the hotel on the plaza with command performances for restaurants, parties and the neighborhood. The 118-year-old Mariachi Hotel is currently undergoing restoration and will reopen in the Summer of 2012, but the plaza is open for business and music.

goez art gallery joe luis gonzalez Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

(credit: Jose Luis Gonzalez)

Goez Art Studio

5432 E Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA. 90022
(323) 839-472
More Info

Painter, muralist, sculptor, restorer, and curator Jose Luis Gonzalez is one of the pioneers of the 60s Chicano mural movement. In 1969, he founded his studio and gallery dedicated to the recognition and training of Chicano artists in the United States. It was the first gallery devoted to Chicano art in the country.

east side luv Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

(credit: East Side Luv)

Eastside Luv Wine Bar y QUEso

1835 E. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90033
(323) 262-7442
More Info

Formerly the Metropolitan, this corner bar in the barrio has been in business since the 1940s and the new look and name is about the love owner Guillermo Uribe has for the Chicano/Pocho/Latino Eastside experience.  The lowrider “chaindeliers” inspired by lowrider chain steering wheels, black corduroy and Pendleton fabric are old school authentic, so much so that the bar has been used as a filming location for series like NCIS LA.

max airborne panoramio greenmillliquro2 Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

(credit: Max Airborne,

Green Mill Liquor

3812 Whittier Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90023-2402
(323) 262-1249
More Info

On August 29, 1970, Rubén Salazar, a Mexican American, investigative journalist, was killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy Tom Wilson, during the National Chicano Moratorium.  What started out as a peaceful park protest against the Vietnam War turned into a riot when the owners of Green Mill called in a complaint about people stealing from them.  Deputies responded and a fight broke out.  Forty-two-year-old Salazar, a Los Angeles Times reporter for over a decade, had left the paper about a year before to become news director at the Spanish-language station KMEX-TV.  He was shot in the head at short range with a tear gas projectile sitting inside The Silver Dollar Cafe (now a discount store).  A coroner’s inquest ruled the shooting was a homicide, but the deputy was never prosecuted.  At the time many believed the homicide was a premeditated assassination of a prominent, vocal member of the Los Angeles Chicano community. The Chicano Moratorium was the largest anti-war action on the part of any ethnic community in the United States.

featured el vaquero Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

(credit: Kim Kuhteubl)

Arte & Charro

2737 East Cesar Chavez Avenue
(323) 263-5814

The American cowboy traditions of the late 19th century grew out of the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico, but the deep history traces back to Spain. On the block for at least 20 years, Arte & Charro specializes in custom alterations, Mariachi alterations, custom made charro suits and a whole line of vaquero wear for every Don and Dõnia.

elacstadium Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

(credit: East Los Angeles College)

East Los Angeles College Stadium

1700 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Monterey Park, CA
(323) 265-0146

“My sister actually brought me here to see Sony & Cher, with Chad & Jeremy, The Lovin’ Spoonful and Bobby Fuller Four, in the 60s…Big rivalry between Roosevelt Highschool and Garfield Highschool and they would have the games there at the stadium and it would get full, it would get packed — almost as packed as the parking lot where they’d be drinking beer.  We’d always end up at Shakey’s, Shakey’s pizza parlor.”

featured anthony quinn Louie Perez, Los Lobos And East LA

Anthony Quinn Public Library

3965 E Cesar E Chavez Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 264-7715
More Info

Actor Anthony Quinn was born Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn on April 21, 1915, in Chihuahua, Mexico, to an ethnic Irish-Mexican father and an ethnic Mexican mother. After starting life in extremely modest circumstances in Mexico, his family moved to Los Angeles where he grew up in Boyle Heights and went to Belvedere Junior High.  His childhood home occupied the site of the present-day library and it was renamed in his honor in the 80s.

For more Chicano history, check out CIVIL RIGHTS AND GO-GO BOOTS, a groovy evening of theater, live music and facts presented by About…Productions and 89.3 KPCC at KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum, April 13, 20111, 7pm.  The workshop and community forum is part of a larger piece in progress, Evangeline, The Queen of Make-Believe, featuring the songbook of Louie Pérez and David Hidalgo and set for a world premiere in 2012. — Kim Kuhteubl

View Comments
  • Angelita

    So refreshing to see these hidden treasures of East L.A. Looking forward to the upcoming theater project, Evangeline, the Queen of Make-Believe.

  • luis torres

    Muy firme

  • Veronica

    The history of the Chicano movement, the walkouts, August 29 Moratorium and personal experiences like these should never be forgotten.

    Can’t wait to see the play/performance.

  • Luis Vaca

    Thanks for the history lession on East Los, Let’s not let the History of our culture diminsh. Good Job

  • SFC (RET) Joe Hernandez

    Wow, So many treasured memories of a long lost tradition of life in East LA. I grew up in a house divided. I went to Roosevelt and my sisters Garfield. Talk about heated rivalies! I’ve seen many other stories of places that are no longer around; like the closing of the 1st Street Store and Johnsons Market. Great Job. One day I will walk the streets of East LA Again…

  • Rudy Gandara..."lil rudy g":

    “The Chicano Children of the Revolution”
    For me, 1969 was kicked off, by joining chicano tribes from across America at the National Chicano Youth conference March 1969. Where we got to meet face to face chicano youth leaders,organize, discuss and plan for a revolution that “we thought” would finally put an end, and turn the page on generational discrimination against our communitys.
    A dream….a vision was forged amongst men and teenage Chicanos alike.

    *In an effort to provide direction to the efforts of Chicano youth, the Crusade for Justice hosted a National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference in March, 1969. The Crusade for Justice was founded and headed by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales. Corky Gonzales wrote the epic poem I am Joaquin. It portrayed the quest for “identity and its critique of racism” (Munoz 61). It also provides a critical framework for the developing student movement. The conference, held in Denver, Colorado, brought together for the first time activists from all over the country who were involved in both campus and community politics. During the week-long conference, it was stressed the need for students and youth to play a revolutionary role in the movement.

    Out of the conference, a doctrine, El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan, was written that would become the framework for the movement. El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan drew “its inspiration from Aztec myths and from the vivid expressions of Chicano cultural pride” (Gutierrez 185). Aztlan was the land to the north were the Aztecs originally came from. The word Aztec in Nahuatl means “people of Aztlan” (Anzaldua 4). The notion of Aztlan was to bring Chicanos together and to make a statement to the Anglo community. The message was that Chicanos were not foreigners and/or invaders of their (the Anglo) land but instead, it was the Anglos that were the foreigners. The Chicanos saw ” the brutal gringo invasion of our territories” (El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan). There were seven organizational goals: unity, economy, education, institutions, self-defense, cultural, and political liberation.

    March 1969 ,…and the Chicano Youth Coference,
    This all laid the ground work for
    Aug 29th, Chicano Vietnam War Demonstration and future protesting, strikes, and Boycotts,
    and Yes even today …”Boycotting Arizona”
    Bless the youth,
    my young brothers that stood with me, side by side,
    we we only 16 years of age, David Rodriquez shot, David Robles beaten near death and sent to the hospital many others jailed,
    but our voices were heard around the world.
    Like our zoot suited fathers, the chicano youth brought the fight from the rice paddies of Vietnam back to the streets of East l.a.
    and I understand many chicano soldiers refused to fight once they heard of the battles of Aug. 29th.

    Rudy Gandara

  • R. Ayala

    Hey, Louie, hope this second try goes better than the first try, love error messages!
    Anyway, its a real trip to recall an era when we were known as Chicanos and not Hispanics, Latinos, Mexicanos or whatever the currently politically correct label is!
    Like you I am fortunate to be acquainted with Louie Silva and his family, even if only as a liongtime customer. While he might not recall me by name, I remember him telling me about your friendship and him pointing out where you live in the neighborhood. A real sweetheart of a guy, as I’m sure you are. To those who were not of our era or who do not share our sentiments, I will recall a message from a Los Lobos song, “Mexican by birth,American by fortune!” God Bless.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Sandwich Generation

Listen Live