Communities around Orange County mourn their loved ones differently, but Chicanos hold a specific ritual: a car wash. Family and friends donate their time and energy to raise funds to cover the cost of a
funeral,and more. This practice is deridedcountywide as ghetto, inefficient and something only “ cholos” would dare host. But they're far more tender and moving than outsiders will ever bother to know.
The most recent such car wash happened this Sunday for Isaac Gonzalez, an aspiring 15-year-old boxer shot dead in the streets of
SanTanalast month while walking in a residential area. Adults and teens not only washed cars but also held a kermés—a street festival where vendors sold tacos, burgers, and Mexican botanas. Isaac's young friends broke a sweat washing and drying cars,while dancing to rap, corridos, funk, oldies and soul. But most of the time, no laughter could be heard from the youth—just rags hitting the roof of cars, and directions yelled at the drivers. “It’s hard to have fun," said one volunteer, "when you are reminded of why you are here."
Despite the sadness and tears, the economic potential of a community united around a cause was impressive. In the food lines, I witnessed mothers tell their children they could only afford one taco for each family member because they didn’t have much to spend. The sacrifice was in
solidarity,because they knew this tragedy could happen to any of their children, especially with murders in SanTanamaking long-time residents fear a repeat of the blood-soaked 1990s.
But the kermés car wash for Isaac offered hope: In just seven days, supporters raised $12,000 on
a’sGoFundMe page, while over 2,000 people attended the car wash. “Thank you all for being here," an old veterano, Modelo in hand, kept telling the crowd around him. "This is for Isaac. I am sorry you have fallen to the unfair gang violence in this city.”
Isaac’s goals and ambitions meant different things to everyone present. May his legacy,
spiritand power not have been in vain.
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After photographing countless SanTana residents over the past two years, one thing remains constant: the love of loncheras. Taco and produce trucks are a staple in the city of Santa Ana. For many vendors, selling on the street is their main source of income; for many customers, it's an easy, affordable meal. However, over the years, their right to operate has been challenged and, at times, made impossible. Unfortunately, the city council is about to implement stricter regulations on vendors, which puts the livelihood of this Santa Ana institution at risk. Regulating food trucks and their operations out of existence would create a socioeconomic disruption in the most impoverished neighborhoods. The loncheros vow to resist; in the meanwhile, we offer this photo essay of SanTana's taco truck scene and hope they keep slinging al pastor and pambazos for decades to come...
In a city where more than 70 percent of the residents live below the poverty line, a garage sale delivers fast and temporary economic relief to the weekend vendors. This past weekend, Santa Ana was bustling with locals setting up tents for las y
ardas,or, garage sales.
The City of Santa Ana only allows for garage sales to take place on residential properties the weekends of March, June, September, and December (which totals to eight days out of 365). No permit is required to hold a garage sale, which gives opportunities to many undocumented locals to sell goods.
Many vendors expressed their desires to sell more frequently as opposed to the eight days out of the year.
is a freelance photographer based in SanTana.