La Mission Mysteries Solved!

In the past four days I’ve hung out twice with actor Jeremy Ray Valdez, better known as the actor who plays Benjamin Bratt’s son in La Mission. On Thursday I spent an evening trailing him as a hired photographer at a benefit screening of La Mission. In between photographing Jeremy with attendees and donors at the event we got to chatting about La Mission and some burning questions I’ve had about it. I also met up with Jeremy this past Sunday at the SF Pride festival at the La Mission booth. Here’s the scoop on some mysteries of La Mission.

Mystery #1: Bootleg Flattery?

A couple of weeks ago I made a short video with Mission Loc@l’s Amanda Martinez contemplating the appropriateness of bootleg copies of La Mission being sold on Mission Street itself. Is a Mission bootleg the ultimate tribute to La Mission or are we ripping off hard working Latino directors and actors?

To get the answer I asked Jeremy what he thought of bootleg copies of La Mission being sold on Mission Street. He told me a story of an autograph session he did in the Mission District during Carnaval and how a young girl brought him a bootleg copy of the movie for him to autograph. Jeremy was highly offended at the thought of signing a bootleg copy of La Mission and expressed his extreme displeasure that Mission locals are pirating his work as an actor. According to him, bootlegs have a more adverse affect on smaller productions like La Mission as opposed to large big-budget Hollywood films.

Answer: It looks like the official word on the bootleg question is that Mission Street bootlegs of La Mission = bad.

Mystery #2: Is Che a Sureño?

The one thing that haunted me after seeing La Mission for the first time was Benjamin Bratt’s wardrobe in the film. His character, Che Rivera, wore a lot of blue throughout the whole movie. It left me wondering if there was an implied subtext that Che (and by extension his son) were Sureños. There’s no acknowledgment of the Mission’s color-coded terrain in the film and how much it weighs heavily on the minds of Latino residents of the neighborhood. To me, it bordered on offensive to have no recognition a Sureño character being a Sureño in the Mission District.

I asked Jeremy if Che and/or his son were intended to be Sureños and he answered absolutely not. He told me that Peter Bratt and the production crew were very conscious not to portray Norteños and Sureños in the film and that no character in the film was intended to be a former or current gang member.

Answer: Ain’t no colors in La Mission, blue Pendletons be damned.

Many thanks to Jeremy for solving these mysteries and for being so friendly on both days our paths crossed.




Homegirl プリクラ

Homegirl プリクラ is a collaboration between artists Rio Yañez and Mayra Ramirez. It is the next phase of Yañez’ art series examining the relationship between Japanese youth emulating Cholo and Chola culture and their counterparts in the United States. Homegirl Purikura reverses the appropriation of visual aesthetics and uses Japanese photobooths (Purikura) to create portraits of Cholas.

The use of Purikura enables Yañez and Ramirez to create a hybrid visual presentation of portraits decorated in Chola cultural references but using uniquely Japanese visual tools to do so.

To see a full gallery of Homegirl プリクラ CLICK HERE.



Cali Love Opening Reception

Last night I made my way to Free Gold Watch in the Haight to attend the opening reception for Amanda Lopez‘ Cali Love. The exhibit features Day of the Dead inspired portraits of Amanda’s closest friends, including my favorite twins Amanda and Allison Martinez. After being in the same shows and communicating online for years it was so great to finally meet Amanda Lopez and talk about her amazing work.

I shot a quick interview with Amanda and model Allison Martinez. Check it out below:

I also met some amazing artists and creative people at the reception. I was thrilled to meet the super friendly Mike Giant. As luck would have it I wore one of his shirts to the opening that night.

Equally impressive was my chance to finally meet the legendary Mayra Ramirez.

Mayra is the brains behind the Chola page on facebook and the Hella Breezys blog. She is a Chola muse to many artists and the leading public authority on chola aesthetics and culture. I’m looking forward to our future collaborative projects together. I’ll be revealing some artwork that we got the ball rolling on soon! Until then enjoy this video of Mayra getting down to Mellow Man Ace’s Mentirosa.

Cali Love will be up for a month at Free Gold Watch. I’ll leave you with this photo I took of an OLD Apple IIGS computer they had at the reception. I thought it was a great alternative to a sign-in book.



Reclaiming the Animated Gif via Gemini

If you’ve been following my twitter or twitpic streams you’ve noticed that I’ve taken them to using them as a platform to publish animated gifs that I’ve shot with my iphone. The images below have been taken using Gemini for the iphone, my earlier gifs were taken using an app named 3D camera but Gemini has allowed me to do a lot of great street reporting on the spot.

Aside from my twitpic/twitter feeds I have a gallery of select gifs on flickr. Twitpic doesn’t allow embeds so the below gallery of images are all from flickr. If you’re viewing this blog through facebook or some mobile devices you won’t be able to see them move. Check out the original post at

Fire in Chinatown
The Beauty of 24th and Mission at Night
Laundry Time
Passing me by...
Muni Scene: 26th and Mission
Rene walking down Valencia
Thrifted, loaned, and pawned



Working Retail

23rd & Capp in the Mission District. I’m working on some new aesthetics for a project with Mission Loc@l. The blue and orange match the colors of their page layout. More to come soon.



Reporting from the Front Lines of the Mission District

I’m back with another report from the front lines of the Mission District. I’ve been keeping my ear to the streets and my camera pointed at the scene. Gather ‘round while I put it down for the hood once more!

Glory Stickers

As many times as I’ve walked pass this sticker machine on Mission street between 22nd and 23rd I’ve never taken time to appreciate the amazing art of the “Glory Stickers.” Who knows where the art can be traced to, Mexico? China? The United States? East LA? It’s the most stylish that I’ve ever seen. Kinda like a Lisa Frank/Trapper Keeper version of most religious sticker art.

Is it sacrilegious to let stickers of religious icons bake and fade in the hot sun? Hmmmmmmmm…

The art of these stickers are amazing. Guadalupe looks like a total tenderoni. Check out those doe eyes and her fly Jughead crown. Poor Jesus ain’t fairing as well. He looks like he’s passing something really uncomfortable on the can. Somebody get him some pepto!


I love the windows at Julio’s on 25th and Mission. Most of the stickers are from the 1980’s and have held up pretty well over time. Where else are you going to see the Virgin of Guadalupe and John Lennon given equal presence? Here’s a couple of favorites.

The window displays at Julio’s are ever changing and always densely packed with old school Mission flava. Julio and his store have been around since I was a kid and has always been the most reliable place for me to buy Mexican comics, Loteria cards, and various tourist objects. At this point Julio’s is also one of the last remaining music stores on Mission Street. If he ever goes under who will sell Jenni Rivera records and hand out Ricky Martin posters in the hood?

Tortilla Art on the Loose!

Spotted on Valencia Street. It looks like a member of the Great Tortilla Conspiracy has been out and about in the Mission. Hopefully more of these will be popping up around the hood soon.

Take your pick for the most airbrushed homegirl in the Mission!

Whenever I walk down 22nd street I always make sure to check out the latest and greatest ads for Only true Mission homegirls can appreciate airbrushing this thick. Check them out, all of their photo-portraits have an airbrush gloss that never escaped 1987! That makes not just someone’s portrait studio but a time machine as well.

That’s it for now! Until next time, be excellent to each other.