Please Uplift the Name of Luis Ek, whose daughters, now miss their Papa

This Tuesday, April 13th, in the early morning hours, Luis Ek, pictured above this column at the top right with his two daughters, died of unknown causes just a block away from his home while attending to an errand. He was only 31 years old.

Luis Ek (Licho to friends), second from the left, with his clan since childhood in 2007.

As was customary for youth growing up along Virgil avenue in the early 2000s, Luis attended Lockwood Elementary, King Middle school, and John Marshall High school.

Also true to the fashion for many young Latinx kids in our community, Luis came to love heavy metal music at an early age in his life, and was as true to the form, replete with the rockero style of black hoodies, jeans, and skateboards, as he was loyal to his many friends, primos, and more who knew him.

One of Luis’s life-long friends and neighbors, Rene Martinez, noted of Luis, whose nickname was Licho:

“Happy, always smiling, ready to crack jokes. And always willing to help no matter what. Always had your back.”

In his early twenties, Luis became a father of two girls. After a separation from their mom, Luis faithfully attended to his daughters as their single parent. His daughters will now miss their papa, who could often be seen walking with the girls along Virgil avenue on their way to school, or just out for a stroll along Hoover street and the accompanying thoroughfares.

Constantly on his feet, one could also run into Luis picking up some pupusas after work at local California Grill, or laughing with one of the compradres over a drink after work. He was rarely ever truly alone; constantly on his way to someone, or for someone, in good spirits.

In 2018, for our community’s first-ever Back 2 School Party, Luis attended the show with his daughters, reliably smiling on. Our main photographer for the event, Samanta Helou-Hernandez, captured this photo of the trio.

Luis Ek (Licho), with his two daughters at the first-ever Back 2 School Party in East Hollywood; August 25, 2018. Photo courtesy of Samanta Helou-Hernandez at This Side of Hoover.

Luis is now survived by his two daughters, his mama and papa, siblings, tios, tias, primos, and many friends locally in Los Angeles and out as far as Yucatan, Mexico.

His prima, Genesis Ek, has set up this FUNDRAISER for a proper ceremony with respect to his untimely passing.



Used to be inseparable. Just two kids from two cities along campus ground together.

Used to philosophize and riddle and debate as if no issue in our midst couldn’t diffuse.

Used to reflect on our classes together. Mutual friends. Romances. Foreign policy. No end.

Broke down habits. Responses to each other. Prism of our minds. That’s what homies were.

What being alive was.

Remember our deliberations on these grounds together:

Maximum profit by maximum strain,

Watching it unfurl across the world around us in lanes.

Student debt. Police. Prison policy.

Fast food. Oldies. Air in our pockets.

Worn out rooms another night. But, the unity.

Except never would have expected walls to build around us as they did,

Somewhere along the way the strain got the best of us.

Perhaps the best of me,

Perhaps the best of you.

Now memory flutters wailing past Los Angeles,

Slave patrol still hovering.

People still coughing up on the sidewalk

While still more profits margin.

Turning the corner,

A brother hobbling along the street asks if I know

Where he can find a pookie,


It’s been ten summers since we first spoke the rage.

Before another ten go by, I hope to find you again

If only to break free from this rift with you.

One between two


Top 5 DON’TS with Your Friends this Summer

Okay, so hanging out with your friends (or not) over Summer can be a little tricky sometimes. This is especially true when you’re mostly used to seeing your friends at school since once school is out, there are different challenges that come up like not being able to see each other, or not exactly knowing what to do when you do see each other since you’re not on your usual routines. Here are five tips to keep in mind to make the most of all of it!

1. DON’T underestimate how much fun you can still have without your besties this summer. While it’s true that once school is out you can technically spend more time with each other without teachers looking over you, more often than not, summer STILL keeps you from many of the friends you enjoy talking and laughing the most with. This can feel very isolating. At some points you may even ask, “If we’re not seeing each other, are we still friends?” You’ll have time to figure this out later, but for now, just know this: you can definitely still enjoy the gifts of summer sunshine even without the cast of your besties surrounding you.

2. DON’T worry if it seems like “things are suddenly changing” with your friends for some strange reason. The fact of the matter is that things, including people, are always in motion. Even through the sluggish nature of the season at times, things continue shifting all around us. Take the tectonic plates of Southern California, for example; in less than three weeks this summer 2019, we’ve had hundreds of earthquakes rattling everything around us! So even the earth is moving, my friend, just like us. As it was during the shaking and rolling quakes, the whole feeling of “being out of control” over what happens with your friends can be strange and overwhelming. But then, after you get through it, it’s actually a pretty cool Cuento to look back on. And you know how much we love Los Cuentos!

3. DON’T just copy what your friends are doing because that’s the only way you can stay friends. I’m going to remind you of a little secret we can all lose sight of as we “grow up” together: It’s a myth, as in, not true, that you’ve got to be “just like each other” to remain besties with your buds. The fact is that each of you can do the things that satisfy you personally, even if they’re very different things. You do not have to walk all the same streets together, or even walk and talk in the same way. If you truly “got each other’s” backs, you’ll respect the differences between you. 100!

4. DON’T let your friends miss their next chance to win a new Los Cuentos Hoodie. That would just be selfish. And wrong. Tell them about the contest so you can all give it a shot together like true friends. Or, I guess you can do it on your own! It’s your life! Don’t let me stop you!

5. DON’T just watch your friends’ stories online and figure that’s all there is to do. I know, this one is really hard. Our phones are addicting, even if most of us don’t like admitting just how addicting! But there’s good news: Human beings were doing just fine without smartphones thousands of years before they took control of our fingertips! Which simply means that you can definitely take just a few hours away from your phone to do something of your own thing. But hey, isn’t it ironic, or just a little funny, that I’m advising you to take time off your phones from my website, which by default requires you to be online, and which probably means you’re still spending more time on your phones watching other people’s stories, which is what this item on our list is advising you not to get stuck on?!

Okay, that’s enough, then! Excuse me while I unplug for a little while, friend.


With So Much Laav


It’s Sunday. It’s raining. And it’s just a day before Halloween.

It’s a super special day in L.A.

And I hope you enjoy it as much as possible!


And, Between Us and the Night

I took the day to take time off of everything, and it was a smart move. In the depths of my rest and recreation, I took a look back at some archives and resolved on an additional surprise for The People:

This December, I will send PRINTED COPIES of only the best photography from The L.A. Storyteller to each and every donor to A New Camera for J.T., as well as to the great folks who supported our trip to Miami for VONA.

At my core, I see that no matter how far we might be going in the days that follow, we can’t forget the people who have supported our work since the beginning; I look at J.T. now, and I’m truly proud of what I see: a gorgeous, ever-expanding accomplishment in community, but one which couldn’t be such without each and every individual that’s contributed to its L.A. stories from one day to the next.

Therefore, from the day-ones to the current ones, we will honor The People of these pages, and it’s going to be another beautiful time. Just wait and see!

Yours truly,


In Motion

What is the best way to let a world fade? Should we watch it dim from afar, like the soft light at the end of a match-stick? Or should we walk into the dimness and allow the light to consume us like that of a tunnel?

I go through the day, and in my head, I find myself confronted by the faces of so many friends and family.

The faces of these friends and family say nothing in actuality, but the fact that they appear so suddenly in my mind makes me pause.

Their faces are like those of still characters. Like those of puppets, even, of a play that won’t materialize until I give them lines to recite.

The lines I give them are my interpretations of what they each might say about my day, based on my experiences with them from our time together before, in the life of yesterday.

And yet, the lines I give the faces of my friends and family aren’t so important in and of themselves. What is more important is the voice that they recite them in. Every voice is its own entity, crafted by its own collision of forces from the world.

And what is life at its core if not sights and sounds, and the feelings created by these things? Sometimes I think that especially as a writer, what captures me first and foremost is the way the world looks, and how it makes so much ambivalent noise.

These things speak to me in an unintelligible language which is beyond words, but which I make into words anyway in an attempt to process what they mean.

I suppose that these sensations are just like the imagination of my friends and familys’ faces, then. Maybe none of them say anything; and maybe, in the grand length of time and space in the universe, they all say exactly nothing at all.

Here and now, however, neither my mind nor my heart are content with nothingness. Perhaps when my mind and heart stop pulsing, nothingness will be just fine, but while I’m still here, I want everything, including contradictory things:

I want to know how my friends and family are doing, at the same time that I want to know nothing about them at all. I also want them to know how I’m doing, at the same time that I wan’t them to know not a single thing about me.

I understand, however, that if I wanted to find out these things or share them about myself, I’d simply reach out accordingly.

I also understand that as a great writer once said: “the past is not dead; in fact, it’s not even past.”

Because every time I speak of the times, I speak of the past; because no matter when or for how long I pause to reflect, the world is always in motion.

This is when the ambivalence becomes solid clarity:

No matter how much any light may be dimmed by the times, the times are just based on perspective; I haven’t actually lost anyone in my life, because each individual I’ve crossed paths with is still a part of my lifeline.

In the grand scheme of space and time within the universe, we are all literally on the same wavelength, overseen by the same sunlight, breathing the same air, and wandering across the same ocean(s).

We forget, though. I forget.

I become wrapped up in my words, which at their core are feelings, that seem to come from anywhere in the galaxy except myself.

Maybe, they come from my friends and family, somehow.

Maybe I am with them –as they are with me– far more than I can understand in a single moment: rising together, falling together, and picking up the pieces to continue the lifeline no matter what, together.

I can’t be too sure, but the words do help me reach a kind of peace with the times. And as my friends and family observe the words, I can only hope they help them reach a kind of peace, too.

With More Soon,