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.
In California, there's a deep connection between bona-fide scientific research and the policy decisions that directly affect our coastline. The recently released "The State of the California South Coast"—a 60-page, full-color report compiled by ocean scientists from data collected by pros and amateurs—details the baseline condition of the state's 5-year-old...
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...
My two favorite quotes about Orange County, California—34 cities holding more than 3 million souls in 989 square miles of beaches, mountains, antebellum-esque gated communities and some of the worst poverty in America—come from those peas in a pod, Ronald Reagan and R. Crumb. It was the Gipper who emblazoned...
A Southern California man who purchased a $1,866 water cleansing machine based on advertisement assertions of its medical healing capabilities has filed a federal lawsuit in Orange County accusing the Los Angeles-based seller of operating a scam in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Suffering from...
Protesters Gather to Delay Orange County Sheriffs From Displacing Homeless at Santa Ana Riverbed [VIDEO]
The rain on Monday did not stop community members from coming out and showing their support to the homeless who reside along the Santa Ana Riverbed. When notices appeared along the Riverbed encampment last week warning the residents that early morning on Feb. 6 the Sheriffs Department would send out...