For the love of Sports

dodgersbaseballThe year the Astros stole the World Series from us was the year I fell in love. He sat at the bartop of our local pub, taking a shot every time Cody Bellinger hit a home run. I was appalled and attracted at the same time.

“Bomb for bomb” he said, and the next thing I know I was chasing Jaeger with Guinness and Irish cream in unison.

We were animated. For the love of our team, for our boys in blue who were going to gives us a title since before we were born. He looked so good in his custom white jersey and his name embroidered on the back with the number 10. I’ll never forget. The Dodgers were hot and our rookie outfielder gave us reason to celebrate. Game after game, we met repeatedly at the bar and every time we went home with each other.

I always think of that one World Cup commercial where couples are shown in the delivery rooms of hospitals expecting their first child. Throwback to nine months earlier and it’s the same couple celebrating their country’s team winning the whole shebang.

I was living it. Sans baby. Sans title.

This post season was truly a special one, not because of Justin Turner’s walk-off homerun against the Cubs nor because of Puig’s bat lick; but because I finally met my match. Someone more theatrical, more exposed to any sport knowledge than I would ever know. The captain-MVP-all star-player to this team of two. The Dodgers became our bonding point.

“He’s so easy to talk to,” I thought and our series opened with a win thanks to our ace. Everything was going right.

His birthday fell on the second leg of the series and what better way to spend it other than in downtown? October is the best month for sports, and I say that as a borrowed statement from my whirlwind lover. We celebrated at the center of it all in LA Live and as fate would have it, the Lakers were tipping off right across the street. The Dodgers were up in the sixth inning and out of drunken confidence we left the restaurant we were at and bought tickets to the basketball game. 

All of Staples Center were watching the Astros come back from a two run deficit. You either saw the game from the televisions in the suites or on the apps of others’ phones. For a moment you almost forgot that you were at the Lakers game because the crowd was cheering for base hits during regular timeouts. Nothing was greater than seeing fellow Angelenos share the love for both teams and seeing my own love develop for this  fascinating man. As I sat beside him in the stadium, I felt my heart growing three sizes that day.

I blamed the Game 7 loss in the World Series on him. He is notoriously known for bringing bad luck to our teams every time he’s in attendance, and he was at Dodger Stadium that day.

Turns out, it was just the no good-dirty-rotten- sign-stealing Astros fault. I have since forgiven him.

The day that Lebron James became a Laker we playfully then aggressively bantered over LBJ and Kobe Bryant. Don’t get me wrong, I am loyal to the purple and gold but Lebron was my guy after he rebuked “shut up and dribble.” He bought me my own white jersey and took me back to downtown where it started.

With a last name like Figueroa, how can he not be attached to Staples Center?

I learnt of Kobe’s passing through him and we shared an unrecognizable grief together. Time stopped, traffic remained frozen, and the heart of the city was gone.

Soon enough we stopped arguing over who was the greatest of all time and started arguing over who was spending less time with who. I said to him, “you don’t care about me” and he said “that’s all that I do.”

At our best we were perfect, but at our worst we were a disease.

The last day I saw him I knew the relationship was over. I had gone to his house after a soul cleansing hike through Griffith Park. I needed air, my mind losing touch with reality. He stood there somber in his hallway and my gut already sank to the bottom of the floor.

I cried until the tears couldn’t pour out any longer as he painfully told me that he was unhappy. For the first time in two years we couldn’t look each other in the eye and somehow our match made accord wasn’t enough anymore.

It wasn’t a perfect relationship but he was easy to love. Together we never shared a winning season but had a good run. In retrospect, it was great while it lasted, but I hope the Dodgers and Lakers will see better days than us. For the love of the team.

Sports Culture

No one asked for my opinion on sports but here it is anyways.

FOR ME recreational activity that included any type of ball movement or hand eye coordination was something only posterized in U-12 AYSO action shots. Athleticism was never a describing characteristic nor a passion. But in the past four to five years, having not played a sport since I was 15 (I’m 26), I became a spectator and ultimately, a consumer in sports capitalism.

In the first half of my twentieth century decade I admit I was only interested in sports because I was day drinking at live events with ex boyfriends. But now in my middle aged twenties I can truly affirm that I love the Rams, I love the Dodgers, I love the Lakers, I am torn between Real Madrid and Juventus; I hate the Angels, I hate the Warriors, and I absolutely hate with all my heart FC Barcelona.

Now its hard to break away from that “she only likes that team because that’s her boyfriend’s team” thing BUT a girl is trying.

I would like to say however Los Angeles teams are very near and dear to my heart, refer to Los Angeles, I love you.


In the beginning, God created man. Man in return, created football. Yes, American football and yes, fútbol. Man then became obsessed and confrontational in pop warner and then in high school and especially in college. When that wasn’t enough, man gave us the NFL to help every other grown man express their emotions by crying, laughing, hollering, and even degrading their professional football team or becoming a professional athlete.

As you know, in many ways the National Football League is problematic. 1) It turned peaceful protesting of police brutality into messy ass drama that has since been misconstrued indefinitely. 2) It has a very lenient protocol on misogyny and harsh punishments on cannabis. 3) It has proven brain damage in its athletes across the board and now is endangering retired professionals into obesity.

The list is mini but also mighty. Oh and lets not exclude how NFL cheerleaders are also underpaid and overworked. If dancing/cheering has always been side by side with football, then why don’t cheerleaders earn a living income when they go professional?

But the game must go on. For the people. For those who believe in faith, family, and football. But I digress. Once the Rams made it to the Super Bowl, I was the first to post on my my story about how we deserved this after a brutal call in last year’s playoff game against the Saints. I was also the first to to be the “WooHoo” girl in Denver against the Broncos when my boyfriend’s family didn’t know what they were getting into when they invited me. Not to mention, I was also on the cusp of kicking some Eagles’ fan ass when she kept yelling WHOSE HOUSE after they beat us at home when they weren’t even nearing the postseason.

***

The NBA, however has treated me differently. When the Lakers starting five once consisted of Tarik Black, Jordan Clarkson, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Jeremy Lin, I was writing game recaps for an internship I don’t even know how I got. For the most part it was written word vomit as I didn’t quite know how to organize my thoughts just yet. But I became very decent at writing briefs on player’s haircuts. When I worked at a restaurant during Kobe’s last game, my tables and I bonded over what essentially became his Yard House retirement party. The shots were ordered, the 60-points were dropped, the tears were flowing from the bar patrons. Is was the ending of one era and the soon to be beginning of anew. The day we drafted Lebron James, most of Los Angeles was torn down the middle but I was ecstatic. Thank you LeBron James for exposing America for what it is. Athletes are citizens of this world and have every right to express their views, so please continue to negate how players should just “shut up and dribble.” LBJ has provided more opportunities for students in Akron, Ohio than the president has to this country, i.e. Betsy Devos. And dare I say, he’s even reigniting showtime in the purple and gold?

***

Honestly, I don’t even want to talk about the Dodgers.

***

Last but not least, the sport I love most, soccer. Or maybe just Cristiano Ronaldo. And maybe just European soccer after-the-fact.

I lived a good life being a Real Madrid fan. Things were simple and easy-going, los merengues were winning back to back to back Champions League, and hey, even threw in a Liga title before Zidane made his debut. I attended a live game at the Bernebau and did the Ronaldo “SIUUUUUUU” when a last minute header saw the back of the net. I was in Spain when Portugal won the Euros against France. I had bragging rights over PSG, Juventus and Barcelona. But most importantly, I saw Ronaldo win his fifth Ballon d’Or.. rejected Messi’s quest for his sixth. I was happy. Enlightened. Euphoric.

Then like a soccer ball to the nuts, Ronaldo leaves Real Madrid to join Juventus… only months after scoring a bicycle kick against their beloved Buffon. But I can’t hate. The Italians were in the stands giving the GOAT a standing ovation. A spectacle and contender for UEFA’s Goal of the Season. I was at a bar in Universal Studios with my Messi-loving boyfriend, I was losing my sh*t.

Now we (me) are Forza Juve, but still wish the best for Madrid. Still have no luck with my Mexican national team. But things are looking up in L.A., considering what LAFC has cooking up next season….


What is a true fan? What separates a know-it-all “name me five players” from someone who genuinely cares about a team’s advancement towards a championship? The answer is class. Sometimes fans aren’t born into families where sports were practiced every weekend or had parties for the Super Bowl. Sometimes we tag along a little later in life and we learn by watching, listening, and even reading if we never had those opportunities to physically play growing up.

I love sports. I love it so much that sometimes I still cant believe that I actually give my money to these people. It

Below is an actual video of how it feels like to talk to me when discussing sports.

 

VERY LA: Inside the Melrose Trading Post

fairfax
Courtesy of @MTPfairfax

On the corner of Melrose and Fairfax an eclectic group of Los Angelinos set up shop in the parking lot of the local high school. To them, it’s just a regular Sunday of selling handmade graphics of Star Wars’ C-3PO meshed with Barack Obama and bartering for The Plays of Shakespeare, book-turned-clock.   

The pop up flea market that has inhabited the blacktop of Fairfax High School is the urban Melrose Trading Post. The post, which is a center for vintage fashion, handcrafted goods, and other unique items, has been making its name on the list of things to-do while in the city.  At the Melrose Trading post, a keen eye could find the missing piece to a collection of crystalline rocks or the decorative picture frame for a studio.

The Melrose Trading Post can be recognized for its lively yet mellow crowd. A colorful audience of different cultures reflects the unique, special valuables of the vendors. Around the corner a trio of women have a conversation in Japanese and within just a few steps a British pair contemplates buying leather shoes. The attendees were young enough to walk through the market on their own and old enough to reminisce on fashion styles of the 70’s.  The absence of police officers showed the tranquility of the post.

Established in 1997, the Melrose Trading Post has grown into a financial support system for Fairfax High School. The post has awarded the home of the Lions with funds for new sporting equipment and other projects benefiting the schools programs.

“We are a non-profit organization,” said Pierson Blaetz, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Melrose Trading Post.

Blaetz is part of the Greenway Arts Alliance program that unites communities through art, education, and enterprise. This specific role aids the theater program at the high school and supports their future productions.

A $5 admission fee is the backbone to the financial aid the school receives but still offers free parking. Along with the grants, the market provides student employment opportunities.

Albert Zarzau, 16, is a part of the student staff and was working with graduates to direct the staff what tasks needed to be done that day. He said that student staffers are required to clean tables, assist in parking, and help move items from one place to another. Their red crew work shirts distinguished these students from guests.

“I like it here because it takes effort in this job to get things accomplished,” said Zarzau. “[Everything] looks great today.”

Alongside the staffers are vendors who contribute to the bohemian ambiance of the post. At the Los Angeles Tea Company booth, where organic tea and fresh herbs are blended, Erin Wieczorek, 22 and co-owner, sold $5 bottles of green tea.

“It’s awesome meeting new people here but the best thing about [the Melrose Trading Post] is to people watch,” said Wieczorek. “It’s interesting to see what people are wearing in L.A.”

In between a tent featuring baby blue table furniture and another tent with prints of Milhouse Van Houten was Matt Warren’s booth. Warren, 33, owner of The Exiled Elite, a custom design and illustration company, took his passion for art from the United Kingdom to California. His products include hand drawn alternative-movie posters that were sold as prints or t-shirts.

He said about the trading post, “when no one turns up on hot days like these or there is an event, that’s kind of frustrating. But even if you don’t get many sales, it’s still good for exposure.”

Warren uses the slow days to his advantage.

“I still get to see what kind of people buy my stuff and age group- which kind of designs are the most popular, so they are the ones I can get.”

So far his top sellers have been prints of the films Amelie, Point Break, and Pulp Fiction. Tees of these prints cost $25 while copies of the print $18.

“We do not have a lot of competition, ” said Blaetz. “[But] we are an outdoor market so weather does affect us.”

Hot or rainy days attract fewer customers but when it’s overcast, more customers visit the post, according to Blaetz. His only solution would be setting up a tent that stretches over the market but because of space and monetary restrictions the staff opted out.

Just up a set of stairs across from Warren’s booth and past a flock of food trucks was the main stage for musical performances. Laid out carpets and small lunch tables invited attendees to watch punk band, Girl Fry’s first performance at the post.   

Alex Si, 25-year-old bass player, and band mate Jessy Espino, 25-year-old vocalist of Girl Fry, shared similar opinions of their first experience at the trading post.

“I wish they hadn’t kept telling us to turn certain things up and put certain things down. It made it difficult to play consistently,” said Espino. “But I kinda like the outdoor thing.”

“Yeah, it was the first time we played outside,” said Si.  

The female fronted band simultaneously agreed on returning again to perform- except this time with a sound guy.

Milli Dawson, 29, born and raised in Los Angeles, has been attending the Melrose Trading Post for the past 10 years. His style manifests the modernity of the city and showcases his sense of individualism.

“It’s a place to inspire, a place to find things you won’t find normally,” said Dawson. “It’s part of L.A.”

**This article was written in the past for a previous assignment, some start up organizations or brands may no longer be up to date

Ode to Los Angeles

El Mercadito

I woke up today with a craving for the city. In its name the Spaniards once called the small pueblo something related to the angels. As divine intervention would have it, the pueblo grew into a city of mestizos and Americans and its origins boomed into one of the greatest places for cultural diversity. Then when the second World War hit, a young Mexican man served his duty defending civil rights and left to a world unknown. He came back to the United States with his indigenous wife and the two planted the Salas family tree in Los Angeles.

I developed my relationship with this city in the womb. I was born in Garfield Medical Center but was stripped from the urban jungle and taken to the suburbs in the nineties. My father, a baby boomer spawn of the fifties, always took my siblings and I back to where he came from, showing us every different house he lived in and every different memory that came with it. I remember never understanding how large the city was because my father always knew every street corner, every exit and every short cut of the municipality. Los Angeles was etched into the map of his internal system, like every boulevard and avenue were the routes directing his veins throughout his body and every landmark was a functioning organ. I am convinced he can navigate Los Angeles better than he can navigate his iPhone.

Somewhere in between East L.A. and El Monte I first heard the word Chicano. Then I heard it again when I saw Selena for the first time. I was confused, unaware of the differences what it means to be Mexican and what it means to be Chicano. Before I knew what an identity crisis was, I was already in it. But the city had so much to tell about both ways of living. Through Los Angeles I discovered cultural roots in Olvera Street and was struck by the burst of colors of ornaments and crafts that brought back faint memories of a trip to Guadalajara in my youth. I learned empathy for immigrants who refresh our definition of diversity and enjoy the fruits of their street vending, literally. Just like my father, I became a sports fanatic of the purple and gold and the boys in blue and just like him I verbally abuse my tv when they play. We became accustomed to carne asada on Saturdays and menudo on Sundays, también always finding time for a chelada on the weekends. I found a happy medium being Chicana-Latina-Hispanic-Mexican-American and an Angeleno in the mix.

Something about Los Angeles’s mysticism calls me; never knowing what it feels to be a true inhabitant of its county lines but always wondering what it has to offer. Once I started working near the city I reached half a goal I set for myself- to work and live in L.A. The commute is just as bad as you imagine but at least my heart has found where ‘X’ marks the spot. When I leave the city parameters and see downtown disappear from a magnificent set of skyscrapers to a object of nothingness in my rearview mirror, I feel dejected and again, I’m sitting alone in traffic.

I’ll admit it, it even upsets me when I meet out of staters that live in the city that I should be living in. Maybe now is not my time, but one day I’ll be there.

Los Angeles, I love you.

Hill St & Broadway

IMG_8013.jpg

After spending the holidays with my lover, I decided to spend some time with my lover of 12 years. So, my best friend Stephanie and I left the suburbs and trekked to the city where my heart longs to be, Los Angeles.

I spent the day daydreaming about a fabulous life in downtown, walking in my 6 inch Timberland Glancy boots, repping my giant gold hoop earrings, eating at the Grand Central Market during the lunch rush hour.

While enjoying my seafood paella I realized that three weeks into 2018 my personal goals have never been more adamant. Stephanie and I made a list of resolutions for us to have and to meet for the new year: to loyal friendships and relationships, to career growth, to new travels, and to a bigger wallet.

Already, I feel something inside me changing. I feel celestial but also earthly, like the moon guiding the current of the ocean and the waves creeping back and forth onto the shore. Like I’m finding the happy medium with the person I’m becoming.

I found solace in Amy Winehouse’s lyrics and admiration in Frida Kahlo’s photography. I also have a regeneration in self help using cooking and exercise as my therapy sessions. 

I worry less about what my significant other does on social media and have little to no worry at all about his past relationships. I’ve advanced in not jumping the gun when it comes to dating. Taking things slow and at my own pace. In return, I’ve found my heart growing in all different directions.

If 2016 was the “Year of Yes” and 2017 was the “Year of Uncertainty,” then 2018 is the “Year of Self.”

Making lists and writing things down help organize my thoughts so here are just some things I’ve jotted down for 2018.

-Plan a trip to NYC (Xmas time or earlier, watch a game at MSG or Yankee Stadium, drink a Manhattan in Manhattan)

-Buy a Nikon camera for blog

-Plan a trip to Vegas for Cinco de Mayo or go to Miami for my birthday

-Write about makeup and politics and how they’re intertwined; write a piece for Los Angeles Affairs

-Learn how to make paella and attempt to make it once

-Stop saying “lol” in texts

Fin!