Sunday, October 9, 2011

Home Remedies

Mom is always right. Whenever you are at a crossroads or run out of ideas, just remember that Mom is always right. I say this as I sit here with my mom's home remedy for the cold, a warm tea made from lemon juice and honey. After a week of taking the dreaded "Western medicine" made of 1000 chemicals that may increase the chances of growing a monkey tail out my butt, I decided to return to Mom's advice and make the lime juice, honey tea. I added apple cider vinegar for good measure. That's a tip from the Mother of healthy living Patricia Bragg. (Check her stuff out at While Patricia knows all there is to know about healthy living, I'm not quite ready to go on the raw food diet just yet. So I'll settle for the quick fixes, or little gems of wisdom my Mom has passed down to me now that I'm a mom.

I suffer from sore throats quite a bit so when Mom's in town, she makes a horrendous concoction of garlic, red onion, lemon juice, and honey. Blend it all together into a chunky pink salsa of sorts and stores it in a glass jar in the fridge. I think she puts about 15 cloves of garlic and a whole lot of red onion. It's safe to say that if that doesn't kill in the infection nothing short of an atomic bomb will. I admit that I caved in this time. I took myself to urgent care and got my handy Z-pack. Yes, this time around, I opted for a  methyl-substituted nitrogen atom which has been incorporated into a lactone ring instead of reeking like a vampire killer by day. Ahhh, the torment of being a hyphenated American! I just really didn't feel like stinking!

When I arrived at urgent care, they asked me what I was there for, and I said, "for the penicillin". I know what I have and what I need. Why aren't we trusted to medicated ourselves? Same with school. My daughter has a cough and I know what it sounds like and I know that it's not that bad. There's nothing I can do about her sounding like a cat with a fur-ball stuck in her throat but I do know she's not that sick if she's still running around and bouncing off the walls like usual. The first thing the school asks is if I checked with the doctor. It's a bit infuriating. Season after season, we get sick, kids get sick, they get everyone else sick. It happens! After a few years, I think I know a thing or two about colds and coughs. Why must I spend a copay and time just to validate my judgement as a mom? So I said "yes, the doctor said we just have to wait it out. Nothing much else to do". That was last year so I don't really need to go waste my time and money to hear the same thing again to put the school at ease for fear of me being an idiot. Of course, my mom suggests I should have told her I needed the penicillin for myself because she would have brought some from Mexico. You know what, she's probably right! I spent $30 and 2 hours to get the generic of what I already knew I needed.  It should be available at the local CVS just like Tylenol and Robitussin like in Mexico.

Another home remedy that every good Mexican should know is the power of Vicks! Yes, absolutely. Vicks should be up there with the color of the flags: verde, blanco, colorado y Vicks! It's a point of national pride, just like soccer. What you do is after a warm bath that loosens up your congestion, you head off to bed, have your grandmother, mom, or whoever is available, massage your chest with the mentholy-goopy goodness. Next, massage the bottom of your feet and  immediately put on the warmest socks you have. Head up the leg to the back of knee. Massage that area in a circular motion with the Vicks. Same goes for behind your elbows. Wear long sweat pants and a long sleeve sweat shirt. If you're brave, then go ahead and rub some Vicks on your upper back and just a tiny dab on your upper lip, just outside your nostrils. Ahhhh! Wrap yourself up like a burrito and go to sleep. You'll start to feel your pores open up and the Vicks penetrate. You'll start to sweat and eventually go to sleep. If you can drink some warm lemon juice and honey tea before bed, then you've got yourself a great home remedy. You'll feel like a new person in the morning. Guaranteed! You can still fake it and call in sick or convince your abuelita to make you a warm caldo de pollo, but you'll feel much better.

Mom also suggested I take a walk around the block. Not for exercise but to clip a few eucalyptus leaves off of the neighbor's tree. Ayy! Apparently she snapped off a few branches herself and made some for her and my dad back in Texas. She knows my neighborhood by plant and fruit tree. Has no idea what street she's on but will take a long walk and come back with groceries. Make a left at the avocado and a right at the naranjo.

So the next time your mom or grandmother comes at your with a spoonful of garlic and honey, just take it. Or the next time you think they're cooking up some hot chocolate and remove the lid off the pot to find a bunch of twigs boiling in water, just drink it. And the next time you burn your hand on the stove and grandma grabs the butcher knife, don't be scared. Relax. She's just going outside to cut off a piece of her aloe vera plant to heal your burn. There are countless home remedies out there and if you just remember my mantra--- Mom is always right!--- you'll be feeling much better . . . a bit stinky, but much better. Plus, you're guaranteed to not have fluorescent green poop the next time you go, and no third nipple will appear, nor will your pinkie toe grow longer than your big toe, and that's worth all the temporary nose pinching and hallucination-inducing Vicks trip you'll experience.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Authentic John Leguizamo

I had the pleasure of seeing John Leguizamo's Ghetto Klown tonight at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre in Hollywood. I -could- not- stop- laughing. From start to finish, it was comedy but not the slapstick comedy criticizing things he observes about the outside world as most comedians do (think Seinfeld). It was John looking at himself, his internal struggle with life (as we can all relate), in a very open and honest way. As a fan of his films, I loved his imitations of Al Pachino, Patrick Swayze, and Steven Segal. To Wong Foo was just on last night so I stayed up to watch. He made such a good-looking woman that his best friend hit on him thinking he was a real Cha Cha from the hood.
He talked about landing his first tv role as a Colombian drug lord in Miami Vice, getting slapped around by Sean Penn, his first love, his daddy issues-and boy does he have daddy issues-, and the loving advice from his wise grandfather. Spot on imitations, and his fun and funky period dances (70s, 80s, 90s) take the audience back to those relateable moments in time that we've all lived.
What struck me most about his performance is that it wasn't a performance. It was John telling the story of his life, as natural and unscripted a scripted performance can be. It's his life disguised as a play--- John's therapy session with a few hundred people. Never once do you think you are watching an actor. You are watching a friend reenact his experiences ---who just happens to do a great Pachino imitation and has fantastic set designer friends. He did have one Seinfeld moment I must confess. "Why isn't phonetically spelled phonetically?" he asks, but it related seamlessly to his real-life struggle as he hit rock bottom, lost his best friend, realized he was still broke despite his fame, and used all of that as inspiration to write his plays. It seems he may have come to terms with it all---his career, family life (despite his dad suing him), and personal demons ----but after all the struggles, it makes one wonder if he's learned anything from them and is finally getting paid properly for this performance.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day of the Dead 2011

Danza Azteca Xocoyote at the Autry's iVivan Los Muertos! Photo by Abel Gutierrez

It's that time of year when we pay tribute to our dearly departed and celebrate their lives. If you didn't grow up with the holiday and would like to learn more about it, now is your chance! There are many wonderful Day of the Dead events around town this year. So many organizations are putting on great celebrations and making this holiday THE Mexican holiday of the year. Forget about el Cinco de Drinko. That's just a Budweiser holiday about a battle that Mexico itself doesn't even celebrate. Mexican Independence is great, but I really despise the legions of vendors armed with single-servings ready to chuck them at you as you wait in a line 50-deep at these celebrations, or the heavy advertising for beer and cheese, much less the the large crowds clamoring for freebies or a turn at spinning a wheel to win a full-size bottle of Ajax. The enormous amount of corporate vendors dilute any ounce of culture these events attempt to inject into the celebrations. The entertainment is often some hoochie singer or a popular band that causes such chaos that you don't want to be anywhere near the mob. What has managed to stay cultural is Day of the Dead.
So please take a look at the list below. Self Help Graphics will be hosting workshops all month long. Rose Hills and the Autry are in their second year and have proven to be popular. I'm looking forward to seeing my friends at La Muerte Vive, Ruby Champagne and El Gavachillo, Wil-Dog from Ozomatli.  Hollywood Forever is probably the biggest but also more crowded and dark at night. Parking is crazy. Olvera Street will have altars up for a couple of weeks so you will have time to plan your visit to the historic site. Whatever your preference, one of these events will fit your style. I encourage you to attend at least one of these events this year. You and your ancestors thank me later!

Free Community Art Workshops at Self Help Graphics

Every Saturday in the month of October: 10/8; 10/15; 10/22; 10/29, 12 pm - 3 pm
Self Help Graphics, 1300 East First Street, Boyle Heights, CA
SHG is pleased to offer the following Dia de los Muertos Community Art Workshops. All materials and teachers are provided by Self Help Graphics & Art! Please be on time, wear clothes that are not too precious, enjoy a Saturday afternoon of fun & tradición with new friends and old ones too. Free for the entire familia! Information on specific workshops is forthcoming.

Día de Los Muertos Festival at MoLAA
Target Free Sunday
Sunday, October 16, 2011, 11am - 5pm
Explore Día de los Muertos, a vibrant celebration of life and loved ones at MoLAA's Annual Festival! Learn more about Día de los Muertos and Latin American culture through workshops, live performances, gallery tours, food, face painting, unique craft vendors, and an altar contest display.

Día de Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever
October 22, 2011, from 12pm-12am
Holllywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA
General Admission: $10 per person, children 6 years and under free (please bring exact change)
The 12th annual “Dia de Los Muertos“ will be held at Hollywood Forever, Los Angeles's oldest memorial park, on October 22, 2011, from 12pm-12am. Come join us this year as we welcome, honor and celebrate the memories of the beloved souls. Rejoice and observe the mystical beauty and wonder of this ancient spiritual celebration. Partake of various sacred ceremonial tributes and memorable altar creations on the grounds of the historic Hollywood Forever cemetery.Click here for more information.

2nd Annual Día de los Muertos Cultural Festival & Marketplace at Rose Hills

Sunday, October 23, 2011, 11 - 5:30 p.m.
Rose Hills Memorial Park located at 3888 Workman Mill Rd., Whittier, CA 90608
With activities for every member of the family - from children's activities, to entertainment and great food - the day will be full of color, music and rich heritage. And a special altar contest tops it all off so don't forget to enter the contest by visiting our website.

¡Vivan los Muertos! at the Autry

Saturday, October 29 · 3:00pm - 9:00pm
Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Autry celebrates Day of the Dead with ¡Vivan los Muertos! This community festival invites the public to learn all about Día de los Muertos with hands-on activities, artists selling their calaca (skeleton) works, traditional food, elaborate altar displays, and an interactive community altar. Plus, artist Luis Villanueva will showcase his whimsical altars. Music and dancing will complete this lively event in honor of our dearly departed. Click here to view the event page on Facebook
Featuring Aztec Stories by Michael Heralda. See video below.

Noche De Ofrendas at Self Help Graphics
Self Help Graphics, 1300 East First Street, Boyle Heights, CA
Saturday, October 29, 2011
6 pm - 9 pm
A day of art workshops concludes with the construction of a large community altar in Self Help Graphics &Art’s ballroom. Lead by premier altar-maker and community resident, Ofelia Esparza, participants are invited to place their newly created offerings or those brought from home together in creating a community altar for display throughout our Dia de los Muertos festivities. This inspirational and important art of traditional altar making serves as a way for the community to contribute their memories with special tokens of remembrance. Poetry readings, Pan de Muerto and Xocolatl will also be a part of this special evening.

Fiesta de Muertos on Olvera Street
Mid-October to November 2
Olvera Street, Downtown LA
Children’s workshops, Fiesta de Muertos, Pre-Columbian Novenario procession and blessing. Beautifully decorated altars. Exhibits and Live Entertainment.

38th Annual Día de Los Muertos Celebration: Revival 2011 at Self Help Graphics

Wednesday, November 2 · 5:00pm - 11:00pm
Self Help Graphics, 1300 East First Street, Boyle Heights, CA
Self Help Graphics & Art was the first organization in the country to create a free public celebration of Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead through the leadership and initiation of local artists in 1973. As in the different Mexican regions, Self Help Graphics’ celebration is distinct to the East Side artistic community it represents. Every year, on November 2nd, Self Hel...p Graphics’ yearly day of remembering that life is a dream from which, one day we will awaken, celebrates our beloved who are no longer with us. Every year we paint our faces in duality -- half calaca and half ourselves, revealing the ancient comedy of life as our ancestors have taught us. Click here to view the event page on Facebook

La Muerte Vive at Million Dollar Theater
Wednesday, November 2, 2011, Door opens (exhibits) 3:00 p.m. Event will end at 11pm. This Event Will Sell Out! Tickets: $10.00 - $45.00, 18 and over (no kids)
Million Dollar Theater, 307 S. Broadway Ave., Los Angeles, CA90013
1st Annual Holiday Cabaret Show, Sponsored in Part by Corralejo Tequila, Inspired by the Mexican traditions of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) featuring the Nations largest collection of Giant Judas (Paper Mache Puppets ) created by artist Tony Dominguez, in a unique event of Cabaret (Teatro, Art, Music and Dance), hosted by Santos de Los Angeles at the Historic Million Dollar Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles. The “Rock Opera Cabaret” will feature performances by El Gavachillo (Wil-Dog of Ozomatli) y su Banda, The Wiseguys 18 peice Big Band Machine and will feature a Special Performance by Miss Ruby Champagne. Click here to view the FB event page.

Noche De Altares in Santa Ana
Saturday, November 5, 2011, 1:00-10:00 pm
4th & Birch Street, Santa Ana
Noche de Altares is a community-based event celebrating Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), one of México’s oldest, indigenous festivals. Organized by volunteers, the purpose of the celebration is to honor the ancient traditions of the festival and bring community members together through art, culture, and compassion. Traditional altars, visual art, artisan vendors, arts and crafts for kids, food and live performances.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Urban Wilderness

Let me start by saying that I love nature. I yearn to be barefoot on the sand or strolling through cool, green grass covered in tiny wild flowers and buzzing bees. I still catch my breath when I see an elusive hummingbird fly by or at the first sight of a nervous butterfly. But if there's one thing that is driving me absolutely batty right now are all these friggen raccoons, possums, and stink-for-no-good-reason skunks. Yes, I live at the foot of a mountain but isn't there someplace more appetizing than under my duplex? And why do skunks have to make their presence known? Seriously. Come by and pick a few berries from this weird berry tree I have, but could you just for once, put the butt spray away? Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that these critters come out at night, waddle about slowly, and don't make much noise other than the sound of claws scraping up the tree, and that one time they scared my mom when one fell from the palm tree making all sorts of leafy noises and the grand finale big thud at 3 in the morning. Ok, fine. You're here, us humans are encroaching on your ancestral land. I get it. My trash can is filled with tasty rotting chicken skin . . . but you can't reach it. Oh, and I would really appreciate it if you all moved the disco out from under the house because the scratching is waking me up at night. I drove up the other night to shine my lights on a raccoon in my drive way. It was headed to the opening under the house. Did it scurry? No, he just stopped, check out the car, and waddled in slowly as if he just showed the bouncer his ID.
Oh and did I mention I have a mouse problem? This mouse has some razor sharp teeth because no matter what obstacle I put in front of it, it succeeds like some kind of mousy version of Angry Birds. I didn't steal your eggs mister mouse man. I do, however, appreciate the fact that it only nibbles on the Trader Joe's 99 cent bowtie pasta but this is getting annoying. It won't even fall for the clever traps I've set. It gnawed through the spray foam like cotton candy and for what? Just to get in to the paper label on the can of baking soda. This mouse should be on that "I eat strange shit" TV show where the one woman was obsessed with baking soda. Last night, I guess it couldn't get back out of the pantry and was making all kids of noise. I was, of course, petrified. I waited for my husband to wake up and deal with it. I figured it was finally caught in the trap but when we opened the pantry door and took out the trap, it was still set. I  have no idea where it went after all that ruckus it had been making. The only animals allowed in this house are the humans living in it and my turtle.
I have also seen coyotes. They're innocent enough just looking for food but they tend to stay on the street. Raccoons, skunks, and possums .  . . they have no manners. They will trespass without a care in the world. They climb the trees, hang out on your roof, scratch it up, dive down the other tree, then kick back under the house. And as a parting gift, the stinky old skunk will let you know it was there by leaving its stinky calling card of cloud stank. I'm sure it takes a farty walk all around the house, crop dusting, just to make sure you know it too. Really annoying. I thought this was LA.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lost Angeles

I decided to change the name of my blog. Since I am a Libra, it's hard to make a decision, but I decided that the previous title "Stuff I Like" was more of a cop-out from thinking about a new name, than a title with an opinion. I chose Lost Angeles because it's a city that will spin you around, push you to the side, and leave you face down when you least expect it. It's filled with people on the move, and they're all running late. One wrong turn, and  you're lost. You won't get there on time. You'll forget the way. You'll be redirected, off your path, by the city. Then one day, a miracle happens. You arrive on time, early in fact. And you're lost not knowing what to do with the free time. So you wait, and confusion sets in. Was it today? Where is everyone? Thank goodness for wifi and coffee.
I spent three weeks away from LA this summer. I didn't look at the time. I didn't wear heels. I hardly pumped any gas. What was there to do? I ate, watched tv, slept in late, saw some friends. I visited nature and thought about nothing. Coming back, walking into my home, I felt the tension. Back to work, back to the grind. Remember to look at the time. Fill up the gas tank, remember all the short cuts, break out the work clothes. No more home cooked meals or dollar margaritas. This is LA. Grab a bagel, wait in line, watch the time, use your card. Who has cash? Pay for parking, tip the barista, give some to the homeless guy outside. Spin around, don't trip, just gain your balance and drive.
Yet here we are in love and addicted with a city that may one day, perhaps give you back all that you have given it. Perhaps, you will achieve your dream you came here after. Maybe, just maybe, if you keep your focus, remember your way, you will see through the smog and won't be so lost afterall.

Hello Again

Hello Los Angeles! I've been away for some time but am back with many story ideas in my head that I have to get posted for your reading enjoyment. I hope everyone had a great summer.