• How the Hamburger Hamlet restaurant chain helped create a kitchen dynasty of Zapotec Indians in Los Angeles. The piece revolves around Marcelino Martinez, who came to work for the chain in 1970 and remains there still.
• An LA Times story on the centuries-old system of local Indian governance in Oaxaca, Mexico — usos y costumbres — which once served to unify villages, but now pits townsfolk against migrants, who are forced to do unpaid jobs back home or risk losing rights, land and property.
• The emergence of innovation and experimentation among Mexican banda tuba players. LA — tuba capital of the world, who knew? Then a follow up story about a rash of tuba thefts at LA-area high schools, due largely to banda’s popularity.
• An LA Times story about workers who unionized a car wash in Santa Monica, believed the first to do so in Southern California, if not also the country.
• The death of club owner Emilio Franco, whose El Farallon Club in Lynwood, near Los Angeles, was a center of the narcocorrido scene for many years.
• LA Times stories on the NorCal pot world:
– Indoor-grown marijuana allowed the “kids of hippies and rednecks to get rich.”
-A deputy sheriff patrols the world of weed.
– An anonymous pot-fiction writer tells the stories of the pot underground.
– The strange saga of the community known as “Buddhaville” in SoHum.
-… and a story about Fort Bragg, and the violence in the mountains of Mendocino County, after the killing of the town’s beloved city councilman.
• An LAT Magazine story about Los Tigres del Norte, the greatest binational pop band and the best chroniclers of Mexican immigrants’ experience in the USA. Plus, the band that showed me another part of Mexico and America. Many thanks, guys!
• Dr. Fresh, an Indian immigrant, built a dental empire in Buena Park, then became his brand and the guru of flossing.
• Why are the cities southeast of L.A. so weakly governed? An LA Times story finds the origins of the Bell salary scandal in a little-noticed policing contract in the neighboring city of Maywood.
• Foreign Policy magazine story on Mexico’s drug war.
• St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in LA, moribund and empty, revived when a priest turned it over to saints from Salvadora, Nigeria, Oaxaca, and Guatemala.
• A gang shotcaller testifies against his former homies. The first story, which ran two years earlier, told of how his family and relatives from a small town in Mexico made Drew Streeet the scariest two blocks in L.A. And for the LA Weekly, this story on the shotcaller’s sentencing.