Watermelon Woman

By highlighting and exaggerating the stereotypical preference among Brazilians for. …ahem… “aBUNDÂncia”, Andressa Soares aka Mulher Melancia (Watermelon Woman) has done more than merely extend her 15 minutes of fame. She has added fuel to the flames of a pop culture challenge to mainstream formulations of “beautiful”. Giselle and the other long lanky cover girls that are genetically engineered from a petri dish in some secret Porto Alegre laboratory don’t really whet the palate of the popular Brazilian imagination. Apparently real Brazilian men gravitate toward real Brazilian butts. Real big Brazilian butts. Always tuned-in to the POVO, the PUEBLO, the PEOPLE, Vice Magazine goes to get the inside story, the story behind the bunda, in a video segment on the most celebrated buttocks in Brazil. It’s a full 15 minutes but well worth the watch because there are some super-tasty nuggets in this piece. My personal favorite is Andressa’s esthetician waxing philosophic on the correlation between ass size and socio-economic status. Link:  See the video @ VICE: Mulher Melancia


Demographic Pendulum



Miss Chinatown @ Lion Country Safari – Irvine 1974

Tigers up close – Framework – Photos and Video – Visual Storytelling from the Los Angeles Times.

Miss Chinatown 1974 at Irvine’s Lion Country Safari.Tiger moms in the mirror? Definitely classier than the Real Housewives. Sigh, weren’t orange groves and self-service safaris so much nicer than tract home hell and logjams on the 5?

These same assholes were holding up traffic on the 405 yesterday.

Revista Trip – Banksy versão 2012


As we noted this morning, Banksy is on the move.  Which means every geek from Cal Arts to Art Center is gonna be walking with a semi-chubber for the next couple weeks. So be conservative with your personal space-cushion whilst riding public transit or waiting in line at a Pasadena coffee house. It could get awkward.

Our brothas from Brazilian mothas at Revista Trip posted some good Banksy grabs including #2 which demonstrates the tasteful grooming of a good humored pubic servant. Although call me old fashioned but I’m kinda digging the wildstyle bush in #1.

Link: Revista Trip – Banksy versão 2012.

The LA Riots

For as long as he doesn’t sue us to take down his photos, Ted Soqui (the lens master who’s Occupy LA photograph graces our homepage) will remain a special member of the HELA family. Of all the photos I’ve seen during this year of commemoration, Ted’s are the one’s that take me straight back to ’92. At that time, there were a handful of images that would remain indelible. The burnt and burning strip malls, Reginald Denny getting dragged from his truck and curb stomped on live TV, and soldiers guarding storefronts. And while I’d grown up with plenty of Korean-Americans, I’ll always remember the LA riots as a sort of coming out party for the K-Town locals.

When I first saw the photo below I thought, “These guys aren’t the cops, they’re not the National Guard, they’re not gangsters… they’re just shopkeepers protecting what’s theirs …and these hombres do NOT fuck around.” It reminded me that there are times in life when you gotta draw a line in the sand and the only person you can ultimately rely upon to hold that line is you, yourself, and maybe a couple of your closest brochachos.

There was also something jarring about seeing this group of people in a new light. It’s rare that we ever imagine immigrants for who they were, that is, for who they used to be. I mean, we take for granted the entirety of a life experience that brought someone across an ocean or a desert and through a Kafkaesque bureaucracy -with or without their family- to set up shop on this side of the border. Of course, not every cab driver was a surgeon in a past life, but this photo told me that the guys who stock the shelves and ring up your groceries had definitely gone through some serious shit before planting themselves in the ciudad, and they weren’t about to see their new life go up in flames.

Photo: Carlos Schiebeck

If I can shift from the journalistic lens to a little duder’s eyewitness account, there was another interesting phenomenon that became evident in the aftermath of the riots. While the ashes still burned, you could see that there were a lot of small and humble ways that people expressed their commitment for a return to normality. Despite the wanton recklessness and gratuitous destruction of property, it wasn’t ENTIRELY as our good man Bradley once stated “about comin’ up and stayin’ on top and screaming 1-8-7 on a motherfuckin’ cop.” A lot of people moved quick to clean things up and do their best to support their less fortunate neighbors. Because once a city’s collective outrage spills over into the streets, the havoc it wreaks becomes indiscriminate and the jackasses lighting everything on fire didn’t pause to think much about who would suffer most from the collateral damage.

In Soqui’s photo essay for the LA Weekly, he juxtaposes “then and now” shots of various ground zero locations and you can see that some of these neighborhoods never totally recovered. Some businesses burnt to the ground and 20 years later the only thing to rise from the ashes is a couple weeds in an empty lot. But in the moment, there were little things that helped the city move forward. And while it may not seem like a big deal, one of those little things was high school sports.

Try to realize that even after things had cooled down a bit, a lot of parents didn’t want their kids being bussed into the ashes. Even if their neighborhood was already torched up, there was still a somewhat legitimate concern that when their kids stepped off the bus at a rival high school, they’d have to dodge bullets. A riot is anarchy and nobody was really sure what the unwritten rules would be moving forward. Times were tense and kind of weird. There was a lot of fear and lot of anxiety and yet somehow people intuitively figured it out. It was a moment when fear briefly surrendered to …I don’t know… faith? As freaked out and traumatized as the city was, there remained an undercurrent of confidence that the same assholes sniping at firefighters the week before would know better than to pull the trigger on kids playing baseball and running track.

Photo: Don Emmert

That meant me and my fellow brochachitos -kids who had watched history unfold from the relative safety of the South Bay- spent the month of May in a yellow school bus trucking through all the neighboring barrios that got lit up during the LA Spring. One thing I’ll never forget, something that was simultaneously eerie yet reaffirming, was that we played ball in places where everything in the neighborhood had been burnt, wrecked, or broken …except for the school — especially the parochial schools. Little islands in an ocean of chaos. Everybody so pissed and so destructive and yet even during a moment of complete disregard for boundaries, there was an awareness that some things remained sacred. The church and the classroom. Two sanctuaries in a time of crisis.

A look 20 years back at HELA’s barrio today. Christine Burrill’s photo collage from the Free Venice Beachhead

LA TACO » Snyder ~ Los Angeles

With Banksy on the move and certain to once again use la ciudad as his canvas, LA Taco takes a look at Snyder, another Los Angeles street artist punctuating the urban landscape with his creations. LA TACO » Snyder ~ Los Angeles.


– by Jonesy (HELA Ambassador of Awesome)

It didn’t take too long on Tuesday morning for the shame to start to set in. Did it have to do with L.A. sports? Absolutely. The Lakers? Sort of. But not because of Kobe, Pau or Bynum. It had to do with the Dodgers, too. And they’ve got the best record in all of baseball. No, the real reason I was ashamed was because I’m part of a much larger group that, has, quite frankly, become an embarrassment to admit my membership in: I’m an L.A. sports fan.

And on Tuesday that meant reading about 3 men from that illustrious group who ganged up and kicked another in front of his pregnant wife (PREGANANT WIFE!) in the Dodger Stadium parking lot the night before, landing him in the hospital. The week before it meant hearing that Steve Blake had to block 500 (FIVE HUNDRED!)  people on Twitter who were not only threatening his life for missing a shot, but the lives of his wife and children.

It meant watching the news in horror on opening day of Dodger season last year as the reports came in that a Giants fan had been beaten within an inch of his life in the stands. Or watching as the streets of Downtown L.A. burn every year the Lakers win a championship. Notice I said win, not lose.

We’re not the only city that has thugs for fans. We’re not the only city that riots, although the ones that do can at least make the leap in logic to be happy when they win and angry when they lose. There’s a frightening glee that L.A. sports fans take in team-related violence that is very unique to our city, and no matter how many plain-clothes officers they put in the stands or people they block on Twitter, it’s showing no signs of stopping.

And those of us who go to the games have seen a lot more than what ends up on the news that night or the sports page the next day. A friend once told me of seeing a group of Dodger fans pour a beer on an opposing fan’s head in front of that fan’s little girl. His crime? Wearing the baseball hat of the opposing team. I had to leave a Dodgers/ Angels game early once after the combination of 1) a pack of teenagers screaming, “Angels Suck!” in the face of an elderly couple (ELDERLY COUPLE!) wearing Angels gear and 2) the family behind us teaching their 3 year old daughter (3 YEAR OLD!) how to repeat the same phrase became too much for the girl I had brought. The kicker? It was her first Dodgers game. I doubt she ever went back again.

So what’s the excuse? That the stadiums are in a bad neighborhood? That may have worked back in the days of the Raiders and the Coliseum, where my 8 year-old self and a friend were once whisked out by his dad before a riot broke out against the Chiefs, but that doesn’t hold any $4 bottled water today. Sure, Boyle Heights is just down the street from Chavez Ravine, but so is Silverlake and Los Feliz. The Bronx isn’t exactly Park Avenue, but you never hear about anyone getting beaten to death in the stands, even when the Red Sox are in town. And Staples Center is not only so expensive to get into that you have to sell a kidney to get seats, but also happens to be surrounded by L.A. Live, which is basically the Las Vegas to Universal Citywalk’s Reno. Whiz Kalifa is playing across the street, not N.W.A.

So maybe it’s the rivalries? Steve Blake’s miss was against Oklahoma City, who didn’t even exist 6 years ago. Yes, Bryan Stowe was a Giants fan, but I doubt anyone responsible for almost murdering him knows that the storied rivalry started in New York before both teams moved, or better yet, who Mike Marshall or Will Clark even are.

The answer is much simpler: there is no excuse. So here’s a plea from someone who cares dearly about the Dodgers and Lakers (and the Kings, if it’s playoff time), but also acknowledges that sports matters about as much as what’s inside your girlfriend’s US Weekly: Stop acting like fans and start acting like human beings. You know, that thing you’re supposed to be when the game’s not on.

ANA TIJOUX with DJ ETHOS & 2MEX @ The Echo

TicketWeb – Order Tickets for ANA TIJOUX with DJ ETHOS & 2MEX

It’s so hard not to have a crush on this rapera chilena. She dominates the microphone. So very super-smoove. Tiny person… HUGE presence. Gringos may not know what’s up in Chile but we know our hip-hop and Ana Tijoux has earned respect and praise from all. Do NOT miss. The editorial board at HELA made a similar call for Outernational and everyone who made it to that show felt like they got kicked in the nuts by music. In a good way.

From the Echo:

“One of the most respected MCs in any language, Ana Tijoux is set to explode with her brand new record La Bala (the bullet), the follow up to her Grammy-nominated album, 1977. Born in France—where her parents were exiled during the military dictatorship in their native Chile—Tijoux became a household name in Chile with her first band, Makiza, as well as voicing the main character in the popular animated series Los Pulentos. After going solo, she quickly gained fame throughout Latin America with a string of hits including the smash “Eres Para Mi” with Julieta Venegas. But the world really began to take notice when she dropped 1977, an album full of classic beats and her signature flow that harkened back to the 90s and the golden age of intellectual hiphop.

International accolades soon followed, with praise from mainstream press around the globe as well as tastemakers like Thom Yorke, and the album ended up at the top of the “Best-of” lists of Amazon, Billboard, and iTunes, amongst others. Now she’s back with La Bala, a continuation in sound and spirit from this global activist and MC. Collaborations with the Oscar and Grammy winner Jorge Drexler, as well as Cuba’s hiphop stars Los Aldeanos, are just some of the highlights of the album. The first single, “Shock”, is her reaction to the student movement that has marked the last 6 months in Chile, where high school and college students have taken over their schools in a protest against the constitution that was made during the dictatorship, and the for-profit education system which they feel leaves them behind. The video for the song was filmed in one of these high schools, and its release in Chile was a true watershed moment, where seemingly everyone was talking about the impact it was making on the movement.

In concert Tijoux now takes the stage with her full band to flesh out the intricate arrangements of the new album. Her shows are a whirlwind trip through hip-hop, jazz, and funk, spiced up with a bit of politics and her great sense of humor that has made audiences around the globe fall in love with her.”

Argentina @ the Vanguard of Gender Rights

Sweeping Transgender Bill of Rights Approved in Argentina

As a younger dude, Argentina’s transgender community stood out to me because they would frequent the same clubs as the straight and gay …and not stand out. They might have tended to be a tad taller and a few years older than the coked up kids bouncing around the dance floor but there was no real substantive balkanization along gender lines. Buenos Aires nightlife was more or less democratized and the porteños -who can be so damn neurotic in so many other walks of life- seemed to form a kind of socially libertarian zeitgeist when it came to gender politics. That street level sense of equality has now percolated through the Argentine political apparatus and landed in the Casa Rosada. The pending legislation doesn’t just grant marriage rights to transgender citizens, it’s a comprehensive bill that includes medical coverage for procedures ranging from plastic surgery to hormone therapy. Images of the drug trade, cacerolazos, and Kristina’s [Pyrrhic] victory over Repsol make it easy to forget that economics aren’t the only benchmarks for progress and begs the question as to who’s really stuck in the third world. Right about now, shit’s looking pretty medieval on this side of the frontera.

TIME Magazine Cover: The Colombian Comeback – Apr. 23, 2012 – Colombia – President Juan Manuel Santos

TIME Magazine Cover: The Colombian Comeback – Apr. 23, 2012 – Colombia – President Juan Manuel Santos.

Una conejita Playboy argentina despertó miradas y polémica en el debate presidencial mexicano – lanacion.com  

I think it adds significant credibility to the Mexican presidential debates to have a conejita Playboy involved. Seriously, what’s the big deal. It’s not like it was all about her boobs. What? Oh.

Una conejita Playboy argentina despertó miradas y polémica en el debate presidencial mexicano – lanacion.com

May Day protests – Los Angeles Times: Framework

Shots by Lawrence K. Ho, Barbara Davidson, and Al Seib from the LA Times coverage of May Day protests in Downtown Los Angeles. Intriguing alliance between immigration / labor interests and the queer contingent. A growing blue collar Latino partnership with LGBTA activists undercuts assumptions that the political right will eventually be able to tap into conservative social values to build the Republican Hispanic base.

May Day protests – Framework – Photos and Video – Visual Storytelling from the Los Angeles Times.