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In this issue: We’re digging into the roots of a rumor about the legendary East LA Pine. The LA Times delves deep into COVID in East Los. And we mourn for Tierras Rudy Salas.
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Antonio Mejías-Rentas, Editor | East LA Weekly
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East LA landmark El Pino goes viral over unsubstantiated rumors
El Pino is a Bunya pinewho are based in Australia.
Early in “Blood In Blood Out,” 18-year-old Miklo returns home from an extended stay in Las Vegas and meets with cousins in East LA, who ask him where he would like to go first.
“El Pino,” he tells them.
Minutes later, the cousins are standing in front of the towering pine tree on a hill overlooking Boyle Heights and downtown. “This tree is East Los for me,” says actor Damian Chapa’s character. “It’s good to be at home.”
If the 1993 film helped make El Pino a landmark, a year-end rumor turned the bunya pine into a social media sensation.
In the last few days of 2020, rumors that the revered tree should be felled started spreading on social media. Dozens of Instagram and Twitter posts lamented the tree’s impending fate. Locals and visitors rushed to a tree towering over a house in Indiana and Folsom to snap selfies and videos.
“It’s a milestone that everyone in the community knows,” says Armando Velez from east LA, who took a framed photo of El Pino when he went to college in 2001. “I was sad to hear it came down.”
As a television cameraman and cameraman, Velez took a drone to shoot a tribute video the day after the rumor. It shows a number of lowriders making a farewell ride to honor the tree.
But it turns out that Velez and the many fans of El Pino had nothing to fear. The rumor of the fall of the tree turned out to be false. In fact, it turned out to be a joke.
On December 31, County Supervisor Hilda Solís used her social media to explain that a new owner planning to build a maisonette on the property had no plans to drop the jaw.
That owner is Art Gastelum, an East LA native who says he bought the property precisely because of El Pino.
“I never want anything to happen to this tree,” Gastelum told the LA Times in a story that traced the rumor back to a December 28 post on a Facebook page in Mexico City saying “Blood In Blood Out” dedicated. The author said it was intended as a prank for Día de los Santos Inocentes, a Latin American custom similar to that of April Fool.
For those who haven’t heard the rumors were a joke, a new sign on the fence in front of the pine tries to correct the record: “Spread the word: El Pino is not hacked.”
COVID RESOURCES / UPDATE
1,300 new cases in East LA in the first five days of 2021
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In East Los Angeles, the number of COVID infection cases passed the 18,000 mark on Monday. More than 1,300 new cases were reported in the first five days of the new year.
Here are the latest East LA numbers:
- 177 new cases were reported on Tuesday.
- As of Tuesday, a total of 18,330 cases had been reported in the community.
- 36 new deaths have been reported in the past 14 days. The total number of deaths is now 192.
Story delves deep into COVID in East LA
A long article published last week by the Los Angeles Times examined how East LA residents and businesses are dealing with the grief and behavioral changes associated with the pandemic. “It’s been 284 days since California was first locked, and here in East LA – a hot spot of infection – almost every street corner is showing signs of the virus that has stolen more than 24,000 lives, widened the wealth gap, and recreated it has wired rhythms about how we grieve, learn, work and worship, ”it says in a poignant paragraph.
The characters in the story include:
- Owners and employees of Continental Funeral Home, the number of cases has quadrupled.
- A woman struggling to survive and helping her children by taking over her husband’s flower shop after he was deported to Mexico.
- Two teenagers from East LA who were admitted to Stanford University on full scholarships.
- A family of three received donations from a pantry in Guadalupe Church.
NOTITAS / NEWS LETTERS
Services for the late Tierra founder Rudy Salas are still pending
On Tuesday, Rudy Salas, the late leader, co-founder and guitarist of the Chicano R&B band Tierra, would have celebrated the 72nd birthday that helped define the Eastside sound. Salas died on Jan. 1 of unknown reasons, The Eastsider reported. Salas and his wife Joanna Alvarado had just celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary in Las Vegas. No memorial services were announced. A Go Fund Me page helped the family hit just over two-thirds of a $ 15,000 goal on Tuesday.
City Terrace mural to get a makeover
An early City Terrace mural by Chicano artist Willie Herrón is undergoing renovation thanks to a grant from the LA Plaza Eastside Arts Initiative announced this week. “La Doliente de Hidalgo” is one of three public works of art that share funding of US $ 25,000.
In 1976 Herrón painted the extensive mural on the front and side walls of the former Farmacia Hidalgo opposite his parents’ house. The mural with Father Miguel Hidalgo, the father of the Mexican Revolution, was restored in 1990.
CRIME / SECURITY
Shooting victims identified
Authorities on Tuesday identified the 19-year-old driver who was shot dead in East Los Angeles in the early hours of Monday morning. This was the first murder reported in the neighborhood that year. Juan Pelayo, of Los Angeles, died at the location of the shooting reported just before 3 a.m. on the 1200 block of South Hicks Avenue. CHP officers responding to a traffic accident discovered the man in the driver’s seat of a vehicle who was unresponsive and suffered from multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body.
The deadliest week of 2020 began in East LA
The deadliest week of 2020 in LA County was the seven days between June 29 and July 5 when 29 murders were reported, according to a Los Angeles Times story. The first murder this week took place in East Los Angeles.
In the early hours of June 29, Eddgar Perez, 32, got into an argument with another man in a car wash in Union Pacific and Vancouver. Pérez drove off after the fight broke off, but the other man was waiting for him in a nearby alley, where he suddenly pulled out his car and forced the victim to stop and then shot him four times. The murder was originally reported as a crash.
Perez was one of 18 murders that occurred in East LA last year, according to the LA Times Homicide Report.
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Antonio Mejías Rentals