Harvey Kubernik Interviews Gene Aguilera
Q: You hail from East Los Angeles and the landmark Boyle Heights area. Tell me about the region.
A: East L.A. is a colorful barrio, proud of its cultural contributions to the world. I’m from the Boyle Heights neighborhood, almost 100%
Latino population, that has managed to stay united despite being carved up (possibly deliberately) by the arteries of an overloaded freeway system. Little as it’s known, such diverse characters as Lou Adler, Antonio Villaraigosa, Donald Sterling, Oscar Zeta Acosta, Mickey Cohen, and Anthony Quinn are from Boyle Heights.
I feel fortunate to have lived and breathed the “Golden Age of East L.A. Music” (1960s-1970s); to have witnessed the impact such Eastside groups as Thee Midniters, Cannibal & the Headhunters, the Premiers, the Blendells, and Tierra made on the Billboard Top 100 charts.
I remember crossing the bridge from East L.A. to reach the Olympic Auditorium. I grew up collecting the gorgeous floating-head boxing posters from the Olympic which was only four miles away from Boyle Heights. I used to cut out almost every Mexican American boxing story that came out in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Los Angeles Times. Boxing and the East L.A. community go hand-in-hand.
Recently, I saw CNN celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain dedicate an entire episode of his show, “Parts Unknown”, to the cuisine of East Los Angeles. Watching Bourdain make it to Olvera Street to eat taquitos at Cielito Lindo (a favorite haunt of mine) made me proud to see East L.A. on the grand stage, yet sad to realize that Bourdain is now gone. Continue reading