Member Profile | FocusFeatures.com
L.A. from Every Angle
Posted April 01, 2010 to photo album "L.A. from Every Angle"
As Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg shows, there are many different L.A.s inside the city limits. Joel Bleifuss takes us on the tour of how artists imagine Los Angeles.
Slide 20: L.A. of the Mexican-American Writers
Richard Vasquez (1928 -1990) Richard Vasquez was one of 10 children born to a Mexican-American couple that lived in Southgate, California, near East L.A. In 1966, Vasquez wrote a letter to a friend describing how he came to be Los Angeles’ best known Chicano journalist and agitator: “In 1949, age 21, I was married and, being uneducated, I went to work as a common laborer on a construction job … by the time I was in my late twenties I was contracting specialized concrete work. It was during these ten years or so I came to know so well East Los Angeles and its inhabitants, as most of my crews were from there. At this time I was scarcely more than literate, and as my awareness and interest in the sociological aspects of this community keened, I felt an impulse to involve myself in communicating with the Anglo society. I was about 30 when I decided to become a writer, an absolutely incredible aspiration so far as my relatives and acquaintances were concerned. … The greatest thrill I ever had was the day that little weekly hit the streets of Pasadena (circulation 50,000) with a front page blurb on ‘The Cabbie—a new columnist who drives your streets with a heart as big as a watermelon and the wit of a gag writer, blah blah’ and a picture of me wearing a cab driver cap. It made a big splash. Everybody in town was reading The Cabbie, and within a month other papers had approached Mike asking to run the column. They paid me $5 per column per paper. … This brings us up to about two years ago, when I began taking extreme interest in the Civil Rights thing, realizing I may have been in a position to do what few other Mexican-Americans could, with my particular background. … I took a job as a supervisor with the War on Poverty, working actively in both the Negro and Mexican-American communities around Los Angeles, trying to keep the town from being burned down and dark-skinned people from being shot by 23-year-old scared Anglo cops.”