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On Faith, Love, and In Between: Community Arts in Los Feliz

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Hip hop in full swing at the Beautiful Gate’s Open Mic; Los Feliz, L.A.

Yesterday Los Feliz and East Hollywood were both treated to an Open Mic night hosted by the Beautiful Gate community of the Los Feliz neighborhood in North-Central L.A. The event brought together singers, dancers, poets, and other artists from all over Los Angeles for a jam-packed evening of expression; as a photographer for the night, I counted nearly three-hundred shots of people of all ages and colors enjoying each other’s company with relatively few strings attached.

The Beautiful Gate is a faith-based movement that launched earlier this year. Unlike many faith organizations, however, the Beautiful Gate aims to “change the way people experience Christ and the church,” according to Samuel Theophylus, the organization’s head visionary.
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Hey!

BeautifulGateOpenMic

Greetings Friends!

It’s my pleasure to invite you all to an Open Mic Night in Los Feliz this upcoming Sunday afternoon! In addition to holding a potluck, the event will also feature the return of the prolific Kim Mendoza to the stage! After a four-year hiatus from the mic, Kim will finally share some poetry with folks again, and as one of her biggest fans I can tell you that you won’t want to miss it! In addition to Kim’s return, yours truly will also be sharing some words about JT, and there’ll be even more great performers to see!

Plus, just between us, there’ll be some magnificent Indian food to enjoy, as well as arroz con leche. The address to the venue’s located on the flyer, but if you need any more info, just contact me and I’ll be happy to share more </:)

With Love and Light Your Way,

From the Hearts of L.A.!

Los Feliz: Perspective

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These photos were taken in the neighborhood of Los Feliz in north central Los Angeles, where lofty architecture promises a luxurious lifestyle for those who can afford it. As a humble photographer from south of Los Feliz, I cannot afford it! But I can sure appreciate the artistic dimensions, and when I document and share it, I create my own personal moment with the promise, which is its own form of living luxuriously.

Roger King: L.A. through the Decades

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Beautiful Cahuenga Library; East Hollywood, L.A.

No matter how much I love my city, it’s often hard to trace its roots. This is because unlike most historical metropolises, L.A. is constantly remaking itself. On the one hand, this creates a frequent sense of loss for those of us who call it home, as if the environments we know in the city are only temporarily here before some reset button takes them away.

On the other hand, living in a city with minimal roots to point to makes the stories of the individuals here that much more precious; the city they know breathes inside of them, rather than just through a wall or some other still landmark.

L.A. native Roger King is precisely this kind of individual. Born in South Los Angeles in 1945 “[just] three days after the Battle of Iwo Jima”, the sixty-nine year old chess and boxing coach is one of those rare Angelenos who actually knows a thing or two about L.A. through the times.

I first met Roger after spotting a flyer for a local chess club at the Cahuenga library in East Hollywood this past summer, at a time when I was deeply focused on improving my chess game. The flyer stated that the club’s organizer was a former tournament competitor, and while this made me a bit nervous at the possibility that I might not be good enough to hang with more experienced players, it made me even more excited at the prospect of talking with others about strategy, technique, and some of the different philosophies to the game; the following Thursday, I returned to Cahuenga at 4:oo PM sharp, ready for war.

To my surprise, however, upon meeting the chess club at Cahuenga it became clear that my guard-up wouldn’t be needed, or at least not at the notch I initially thought it’d be; the community of chess players at the library was a small but friendly group comprised of players of all ages ranging from toddler to senior years. To make things better, the club’s organizer, “Coach Roger”, was a friendly, welcoming club leader rather than a hard-liner, as a former competitive player might be expected to be.

“I only have two rules…” I remember him telling me as I sat down to play with my first opponent, who was a polite young lady in her early twenties named Gohar.

“No timers, and no trash-talking.”

This sounded fair enough. And I guess the rest is history, as they say.

Continue reading “Roger King: L.A. through the Decades”