¡Oye! A LAtina perspective on food, fashion, familia and art.

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by Laura E. Alvarez

Just another Morrissey loving Mexican here, and his concert is tonight here in Los Angeles.  But we all have our story of how we got here, don’t we? I’d love to hear more stories.  There could be a series.  “How the Mexican got to Morrissey:  A Collection of Short Stories from Across the Globe”. Yes, across the globe.  You heard me.  Mexicans are everywhere now.  I heard they even have good Mexican food in London these days.

Santa Cruz, 1987.  Orange County girl meets Venice local boy.  She’s 100% Mex.  He’s 100% Euro mix. So, naturally he introduces her to two life changing artists, Frida Khalo and Morrissey.  Now, before this the girl only appreciated Renoir and Bananarama.  That’s not true, she also liked Nagel and Spandau Ballet.  It wasn’t instant, her appreciation of The Smiths and their front man, but by June of that freshman year of college, she went home with some Smiths tapes that she would listen to all summer on her Walkman.  How was this passion ignited, exactly?  The Venice boy was very persuasive.  He courted her using Morrissey lyrics sung to her so sweetly.  Did I mention that he was extremely, extremely handsome in an English romantic hero kind of way… and spoke perfect Spanish?  Ah, she was smitten, you see.

Frida and Morrissey.  Yes, let’s discuss.  Everyone knows that Mexicans love Morrissey because of the whole love of dark humor, dark romance, dark everything.  Mexicans invented Day of the Dead.  They have magazines that specialize in just showing car accidents.  They might have started the whole roadside memorials to car accidents.  Noticed we have those here now.  Interesting. They also invented Mariachis who sound like they are wailing at times over some heartbreak.  And the telenovelas I grew up on?  Those are full of tragedy… to the point of being funny.  By the way, Frida would have loved Morriessey.  Absolutely.  Girlfriend in a Coma?  It was her favorite song.

Yorkshire, 1990. The two aforementioned Americans attend art school in Leeds for a year.  Leeds is in the north of England .  Manchester is in the north of England.  Morriessey is from Manchester. Morrissey comes out with his second solo album while they live there.  All of their Brit friends make fun of it.  The two Americans secretly love it.  Her art stops looking like English landscape paintings (the reason she wanted to go study art there) and starts looking very… Chicana.  Interesting.  I think it’s all Morrissey’s fault, don’t you?

This scan of poster from this great random Moz stuff site. The show above? On March 5th?  I was there and was a crazy maniac.

Los Angeles, 1992.  Let’s stop writing in third person.  Up until October of 1992, I was completely unaware of the Latin love for Morrissey.  I was unaware as I worked at a pretty Chicano arts non-profit just out of college, in an art scene full of Chicanos, and living in a city that is second only to Mexico City in it’s Mexican population.  I was unaware as I purchased our tickets to go to Morrissey’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl.  Unaware walking in and then… Bam!  It was like we were at a concert in Mexico City.  It was packed.  And not just packed with young people, but packed with three year olds and grandmothers.  Mexican grandmothers!  I’m sure some are laughing at me as they read this.  “Oh, Laura.  I grew up in Boyle Heights and that Morrissey obsession was so old by 1992.  My Moz tattoo was already fading by then. 1992!  Where had you been before that?” Uh, I don’t know.  Manchester?  Weird.  Anyway, our favorite quote from that night was when we ran into Leti, the sister of an artist I worked with and we asked, “You’re a Morrissey fan?  Where did this come from? And your mom is here?  And your three year old?” I’ll never forget her face as she held her daughter’s hand.  “It’s MORRISSEY!” she squealed.  That’s all she had to say.


Los Angeles, present day.  Since then it’s been oh, twenty years.  I married the Venice boy at the church near where my mom grew up in Tamaulipas, Mexico.  The d.j. played cumbias at the reception at my grandmother’s ranch.  No Smiths unfortunately.  I think most of the Morrissey, Depeche Mode, etc. fans are in larger cities.  We’ve been to a few more  Morrissey concerts thanks to our partners in our appreciation of all things Moz, David and Chloë.  I think I listen to The Smiths or Morrissey at least once a week.  My teenage sons put it on in the car in the morning when they sense I am stressed.  That kind of says it all.


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Korean Drama Style: I Can’t Get Enough

by Laura E. Alvarez

It’s an obsession, but  just give us a chance.  You will come to the dark side… wait, I mean the K pop side of T.V. dramas.  Here is a list of why I love them so much.


1.  The Fashion.  Is the costume design for some of these shows genius or do I just appreciate the way they over-simplify the wardrobe of every character?  It’s like if Im Meari doesn’t always show up in some kind of Peter Pan collar I might forget who she is.  That could be annoying… if the Peter Pan collars weren’t SO ADORABLE.  While not the star, she’s my favorite style-wise, you will soon see… but if you actually watch Gentleman’s Dignity, do yourself a favor and skip the parts where she cries.  I won’t even try to describe the sound.


2.  The Men’s Fashion.  To be truthful, the men’s fashion in K dramas is WAY better than the women’s in my opinion.  It’s kind of funny to go so crazy over clothes I’m probably never even going to emulate, but you know how puritan men’s fashion can be in this country.  It’s refreshing to check out men’s fashion in basically any country other than ours for that matter.  Once again, the wardrobes are simplified for each character, and we have a wonderful 80’s style going with this particular character – Jung-rok.


3.  The Art Direction.  Just check out the cafes in a lot of these shows.  Maybe cafe interior design is particularly creative in South Korea.  Maybe they are just represented in an amazing way on the shows.  On GD in one episode you can typically see around three scenes in different cafe’s. The attention to detail is marvelous.  The unique personality of each cafe is like another character in the scene.  It reflects the tone of the scene as well.  In the above scene, the humor comes from the fact that the three men in their forties are trying to relate to this teenager so… obviously, they have to take him to this teddy bear cafe. Over the top.



4. Composition. I guess this is an art term, so maybe I mean the cinematography.  It becomes composition when I take screen shots.  You could just take screen shot after screen shot all day and never get tired of these beautiful compositions.  On GD the camera tends to linger on shots of beauty and contemplation.  It reminds me of that appreciation for color and balance that I love in so many great anime films.



More composition… Excellent Sequence of color, composition and drama.  But, also look at the lovers’ color coordinated looks.  They are connected, even though he fights it.  She is so out of some resort wear collection.  And he is so casual 80’s.

Picture 2Picture 3

5.  Intersections of Cultures. Here is a particularly sad but funny sequence where Im Meari is rejected by Choi Yoon for the 54th time. This time, instead of doing that crying thing she goes to a bar in the middle of the day to get drunk and sing sad songs. Wondering what to wear for such an occasion?  A Day of the Dead t shirt and happy 80’s cardigan, of course!  K dramas are full of great cultural combos like this that perfectly capture the complex emotions.

Thanks for indulging me, and I hope you enjoyed this peek into K drama style.  I am totally controlling myself by not going into the fashion in the next series I watched, That Winter the Wind Blows…

… Oops.  Did I just add that photo?  Guess I didn’t control myself.  Both shows available for your viewing pleasure on Netflix.


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When Trader Joe’s Shares It’s Parking Lot with a Costume Shop It Can Only Lead to One Thing

by Laura E. Alvarez


Yes, only one thing.  See, this is why members of a household have different responsibilities that correspond to their strengths.  Some people are really good at going to the market in an efficient, focused manner and other people are good at filling out forms on line.(Oh my goodness, this post was seriously going to be about free family fun and crafts with recycled materials, not sticky psychology issues.  Oh well, I get to give into my digressions sometimes.  It’s fun.  Wait, this is EXACTLY  what I was just going to talk about. Digressions.  Distractions!) Lets say that I am not the best person to send to the market because it will take twice as long.  This isn’t good if people at home are hungry.  Well, anything takes twice as long if I give into impulsive play and creativity.  For example, I stand back looking with pride at the beautiful way I have rearranged and cleaned everything on the kitchen counter and someone walks in and says, “When I walked in here an hour ago, I thought you said you were about to make dinner.” And of course, I respond with, “Now I’m ready to make dinner… I just need to find the right Pandora station and then I’m really ready!”

This is almost too much to read already.  Where does the time go?  I mean… word count.

I usually avoid the many tempting shops near the Trader Joe’s.  (There’s also Sewing Arts Center which last I looked, has crazy beautiful Japanese cottons I don’t see anywhere else.  Just made some napkins out of it.) However, on this rare market stop… I had the Actor with me.  He and his friend used to have a saying:  The Laura’s never say ‘”no”.  I’ve gotten better at saying no, but I still say yes a lot. So, I said yes to going into the costume shop called Make Believe that shares a parking lot with Trader Joe’s.  As we entered the shop we were instantly transported to Venice, Italy.  We had a ball to get ready for.  These masks are seriously art pieces!  There was even a little Egyptian department.

Back at home, a few days later, this mask made of cardboard, packing foam, popsicle sticks and spray paint was created by the Actor and a friend.

Oh yeah.  And we got some almond milk.




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rogue parenting – playing hookie

Deviating, renegade, playfully mischievious?  Yes.   Dishonest, to destroy, knavish?  Of course not.  To cheat or no longer belong?  Well, here it gets a little fuzzy.

Rogue.  It’s exciting.  It’s adventurous.  It’s “a handsome rogue.” It’s “She’s gone rogue!”  Oh my goodness, what is she going to do next!  It questions the norm in its actions.  Typical artists… to love this word.  However, rogue is for everyone.  It’s unplugging from the matrix.  It’s connecting.  Are we stretching the definition a bit?

This little cutie has gone rogue.  We know.  You didn’t think that this is what rogue looked like.  Stretch your mind a bit.  It’s a wonderful rainy school day.  These children have made a lovely morning tea party… on a school day.  Yikes!  Rogue!  I warned you.

For the moms – green tea.  For the kids – chocolate chai (decaf).  For all – black berries and rasperries on top of coconut cream.

Requisite contemplative rainy day photo.  Just couldn’t resist.

Our magical destination for going rogue today?  Disneyland?  Six Flags?  Build a Bear?  No.  Atwater!!

This or Die.  A place where you can see art, feel hip AND get your hair cut.

And like, that really cool tattoo artist kind of art.  All fantasy and delicate.

Even the rain boots are celebrating this rogue outing with their purple and gold colors.

No, the salon is not enough.  While the haircuts commence, we need to go buy coffee… and tea… and hot chocolates so we can have a haircut party.

The excitement of the hairbrush!  So many beautiful colors on one head of hair.

Here’s something we do when going rogue.  Going on adventure?  Throw a sketchbook at it.  Oh, and don’t forget the drawing tools like we did.  There is no perfect in going rogue.  No map.  Sometimes you have to wing it and borrow a number two from someone.  And we just want to say the grown ups were drawing, too.  Just have to say.

Indulging in the soft light on a fresh cut.

Indulging in the soft light on a butterfly earring.


Atwater.  And the sun came out.

Bon Vivant Market and Cafe.  A site of riches. It’s like we are on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride!

See, it is a ride.  Hiding monsters.

Not doing that right now, but it’s really pretty.

Hey, maybe this is someone else’s rogue parenting moment.

by Laura E. Alvarez

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Put a Little Reggio in Your Life


I am a strong believer that your environment teaches you and gives you some of the most valuable experience that no traditional classroom will ever be able to give you.  But, to get anything out of it, just like a traditional school, you have to pay attention.  The reason that the Reggio Emilia Approach speaks to me is that as an adult I’m always searching for beautiful and imperfect, sensitive and firm, freedom with boundaries.  What I needed for my children was a place of safety,  a place of expression where there was encouragement, but where each new accomplishment was not lauded as genius.  There is a respect that takes place in a Reggio environment.  These children learn it from an early age.  They learn how to respect their surroundings, each other, their lives.



Reggio Emilia is predominantly found in toddler and preschool environments.  But, it speaks to all ages because it’s philosophy is timeless.  Below, I have have given you some examples from a profound book called, The Hundred Languages of Children.



“In a strongly firsthand way, deeply rooted in ongoing cycles of observation, interpretation, and documentation, Reggio educators have borne witness to child learning in its earliest genesis and in its least restrictive environment…Least restrictive in this case refers not to an “anything goes” chaos but an environment liberated from false boundaries and external caveats that inadvertently impede or unnecessarily parse the complex development of children.  Instead, the whole school environment of Reggio-infant-toddler centers and preschools is positively influenced by the presence of the atelier.

Teachers endeavor to continually provoke children’s natural propensities to search for meaning, to pose questions of themselves and others, and to interpret the phenomena of their own lives.”

-Margie Cooper, The Hundred Languages of Children (pg. 298)



“Often Reggio educators use the phrase rich normality to describe the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive environments to which they continually aspire, calling important attention to the promise of ordinary moments.  For it is the stringing together of  ordinary moments that ultimately give shape and quality to  human life over time, just as it is the stringing together of ordinary moments that ultimately gives shape and quality…”-Cooper (Pg. 298)




“How much positive attention do we give ordinary moments in our programs for young children in North America?  For example, the physicality children naturally express in their everyday encounters-running fingertips along a fence line, spinning and darting in open spaces breathing deeply the fragrances of the natural world, handling objects to view every angle-are wide ways children build understanding through natural dispositions for researching worlds polysensorially-that is, through all their senses.  Within these natural ways of children, there lives an aesthetic dimension, described by Giudici as the ‘pursuit of loveliness, of harmony, of balance, poise, equilibrium and sensibility to relations’ that exists epistemologically…aesthetics is not a separate dimension from experience but rather an element of it”-Cooper (Pg. 299)


Stop when you can, when you think about it and talk with your kids about what you are seeing, feeling. If you smell something desireable or even undesireable, what kind of sensation does that invoke in you? Be present with yourself, your kids.










I am convinced that this Reggio way of thinking does not end in preschool. For, I live it everyday.

-M. Byron Trent

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an unexpected journey

An unexpected journey.  From the start, this is what it was.  Coming out of a meeting with a fellow blogger, Byron said to me, “And I still want to go to San Francisco!”  Ah, one of the things I love about my partner in Simone Rey… her passion for ideas that just take off like a rocket. When I normally say, “How could we?”, Byron says, “We HAVE TO!”, and there we go.

The first time I ever went to San Francisco it was with my mom.  I totally forgot that it was with her.  The moment I saw the city, I had the strangest feeling I had come home.  I would live there for a couple of years eventually, and then I would really leave my heart there, as many of us do.  I still dream about it regularly… always searching, searching for my home when I no longer live there.  How does a city do that?  Magic?  Here, I look like I am searching again.

homemade scarf, homemade skirt, vintage Spanish boots, Moda International sweater

We woke up the first morning to a couple of IPad heads taking our pictures.  Photo shoot!  So fun.  No wonder it takes us forever to leave the hotel.  Hotel Monaco is SO San Francisco.  Just look at the colors and patterns!  When a girl says, “We have to get the bigger room!  The art, Laura, the art!” you know you’re in the right place with the right people.

After hot chocolates and coffee in the beautiful fireplace-warmed sitting room, we were ready – I guess – to run across the street and barely make a bus that was headed to our destination.  Out came the sketchbooks… and out came the more challenging aspects of urban transport.  We had to use our jedi mind tricks to avoid some shady characters on the bus.  But we wanted to do this the REAL way, and we were doing it.  After much confusion at our transfer corner, one chocolate croissant purchase, and a girl who said she needed a place to sit and eat her chocolate croissant, we decided to heed the advice of a nice San Franciscan resident and walk the rest of the way to our destination.

We had a beautiful, beautiful stroll up a hill in a lovely park.  It was truly magical.  My favorite trees surrounded us.  The wide open space.  Pretty old houses here and there.  Gentleman played golf.

We took to photographing everything.  The light was golden.  The air was so… northern.  Sigh.  While it was idyllic, the lack of real breakfast, the lack of memory on one six year old’s camera, the hill… it was all starting to wear on us.  We needed to get there.  It was beautiful, but we needed to get there, and we needed museum cafe food.

Ah, museum food.  Not just regular museum food, but nice San Francisco museum food.  San Francisco that appreciates taking your time in that nice European way.  San Francisco that has two Legion of Honor locations.  One has a David Hockney show that you have timed tickets for and one does not.  San Francisco that has Uber (“It’s fancy, Laura.”  “What’s fancy about efficiency, Byron?!” I was starting to get low blood sugar and had art show-missing anxiety setting in).  San Francisco that has happy Uber drivers that save you.  San Francisco that let’s you go to the cafe first when when you finally get to the right museum, and doesn’t care when you come into the timed, extremely popular art show because they see how hungry you are.  And San Francisco that has the fanciest coffee cart I have ever seen that has paper wrapped fresh baguette sandwiches, heavenly salads, and apple tarts.

An unexpected journey.  A beautiful thing.

by Laura E. Alvarez 

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wearing Hockney at Diego Rivera

First, we immersed ourselves in Hockney at the de Young in SAN FRANCISCO. How we got to the museum will be a whole other post on mistaken locations, unexpected journeys, and the genius of uber. I turned my nose up at uber as recently as two weeks ago, and in five minutes, in a tight pinch I became a devotee. Easy.

I’d been wanting to get to this show since I heard it was opening in October… I’ve been a long time fan of his work, loved his film, A Bigger Picture, and have been particularly interested in what keeps people interested and engaged in the new, in making things, in learning well past age 70… like my dad.

David Hockney is a life-long learner.  In a A Bigger Picture see how at an age when many people might just kick back, he moved back home to Yorkshire, U.K. and took up the Brushes App along with a new series of paintings.  He has long embraced experimenting with technology, so this is nothing new.  However, it reminded me of my dad, excited to get an IPhone in his eighties because he liked the camera… IPhone lessons commenced every Sunday.  The most recent lesson was how to access a Johnny Cash station on Pandora.  He loves it.  Ha!  I get it. Being open to the new, to change, and to being okay with not totally knowing what one is doing are ways in which we can stay young.  Willing to take risks is so Reggio, an education approach that has long guided my teaching and all around living.

David Hockney iPad Drawing printed on six sheets of paper (71 3/4 x 35 3/4 in. each), mounted on six sheets of Dibond,
143 1/2 x 107 1/4 in. overall. © 2013 David Hockney

Like the six year old I toured the almost four hundred works with said, “It’s almost all like fantasy because you’ve never seen a purple tree.”  Yeah.  That’s what I’m talking about.  If you’re going to make art, you might as well take advantage and make stuff up, but that’s just me.  This is why touring major exhibitions with six year olds is so essential.  They should be available at the entrance as private guides… wait, no that’s silly!  They could just do the audio for the headset tours.  Once again, do not, I repeat do not have a kid for the exclusive reason of having them give you tours of major exhibitions.  You’ve got to think these things through.

J Crew girl’s dress 

Who told this nine year old to wear an IPad drawing-like dress to the show?  Was there a memo?  No, just some indigo child fashion psychic powers at work here.  Might as well use those psychic powers for good, right?

This artist is soaking MORE art in at the Diego Rivera gallery post-Hockney.  A fresco in a deserted hilltop gallery at San Francisco Art Institute is just the ticket to balance out the bright screens and colors of a crowded, blockbuster exhibition.  Yes, this is a trip for serious art lovers.  Where a Rivera is like a nice cafe de olla after a Yorkshire dinner.

Ash ‘Babe’ Sneaker

We talked about how Frida used to bring Diego lunch while he worked on this mural… wearing shoes like these.  Okay, she didn’t wear shoes like these, but you couldn’t see her shoes because she had those awesome long skirts on.

The artist also picked up a lovely hat at Goorin Bros. Hat Shop.  But that’s a whole other post as well.  Oh, San Francisco.  So post-rich you are.  It’s a traffic jam of posts!  Stay tuned for more…

The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City (“Making a Fresco”) (1931) is one of four murals in the Bay Area painted by Mexican artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957).


by Laura E. Alvarez