Louie F. Pérez of Los Lobos shares his L.A. story, and tells DINOSAUR about the two radios that provide the soundtrack for his memories.
“It seems like it was just a day ago that I was riding my Schwinn Sting-Ray around the streets of my busy neighborhood in East Los Angeles, singing out loud to the songs playing on the red plastic transistor radio taped to the handlebars. Looking back, it seemed as if there were two radios in my young life.
There was the brown Bakelite Zenith on the counter by the blender in my mother’s kitchen. That was the “Mexican” radio. My mother had it tuned permanently to the one Spanish-language AM station that woke us up every morning to the sound of rancheras. That radio serenaded my mom as she toasted French bread on the comál and made coffee in an old dented tin percolator.
Then there was the other radio – the one attached to my blue bicycle that was just about the size of the pack of Camels my tio Manuel smoked. That radio cranked out the sounds of The Miracles, The Four Tops, The Rolling Stones, and The Byrds.
Back then, I never imagined that this city would become such a big part of my life. It changed my perspective, the way I looked at things – the gritty reality all around me in East L.A. became something poetic and beautiful.
In the dreams that sometimes dissolved into bitterness and regret, I saw poetry instead. In the smog-shrouded lavender sunsets beyond the horizon of downtown Los Angeles, I saw a thing of beauty. I heard the music of joy and promise as I rode my bike past a house where a newborn baby was crying. I saw the look of hope and wonder on the faces of children as they walked to their first day of school.
Not long after high school in 1973, Cesar, David, Conrad, and myself formed Los Lobos. That band subsequently took me out of my little neighborhood to every corner of the United States and to countries all around the world. But to this day, no matter where I find myself or whatever I might be doing, I know that way down deep in my bones is that little house on Hammel Street. This is my Los Angeles.
– Louie F. Pérez – Los Lobos
Los Angeles was our destination city of choice for our Bowie-Tribute issue for a number of reasons. As much as we love them both, Berlin seemed too obvious, and London too costly to shoot. We chose LA because, in our humble opinion, Bowie’s masterwork, Station To Station, was created here.
For this issue, we asked several Angelenos to tell us what brought them here, and to share why they stayed.
All photos by Jamie Betts / Jamie Betts Photography