Wednesday, March 5, 2014


NELA stands for Northeast Los Angeles, and in my case NELA stands for me and my story! Just outside of Hollywood nestled between the San Andreas mountains, NELA has a long history of culture and renaissance. With communities like Highland Park, Eagle Rock, El Sereno and Cypress Park just to name a few, NELA's tradition and roots go way back to the days of gangs and violence, right around a time when Latinos were starting to emerge in these inner-city neighborhoods. As a native of Northeast Los Angeles, having grown up in both Eagle Rock and Highland Park, I have to say that it was a life lesson that felt like a ride at Magic Mountain.

I grew up in Eagle Rock just outside of Glendale. I lived in an apartment complex on Colorado blvd. right next to an exotic car mechanic who worked on Porches's, BMW's and Mercedes. Almost once a week I would hear a car accident from cars racing down the street. It was nuts. My dad and I would hear the skid marks and then...boom! We'd grab our slippers and run out there to see if we could help.

On weekends I would walk to the Eagle Rock Plaza with some of my friends to see if we could pick up on girls and get their numbers. My friend Richard who was horny like a toad was pretty aggressive. He had big balls and could walk up to girls no problem and spit game. Than there was Steve Somonian, halfe armenian and half asian cat. Looked like he was mexican but didnt have one ounce of latin in him. Straight up Armo Power.  This dude was a smooth talking machine who pimped girls like he was a grown ass man. Forget that he was only 13 but was banging chicks like no ones business. Than there
me, a pretty confident kid who's willing to take some risk. Shy when it comes to the girls but wants to learn. There was something about the three of us and our synergy that would lead to starting one of the largest Junior High clicks in LAUSD.

On the first day of Junior High I rolled up with my brother. He was older than me so he had that wierd complex where you couldnt' hang with your little bro. I didnt understand him and most of the time thought he was weird for not talking to me at school much. It didnt bother though. I knew I would be just fine with my new homies. As soon as I got on campus the first person I see posting up on the gate is the homie Richard. Richard was so dark, we called him "Tarbaby" yea, I know...fucked up huh?!

Richard rolled up to me with a huge smile and gave me some dap. We walked down the halls together and see another one of our homies we grew up with, Bubba. He asked us about the click we were starting to put together and said he wanted in. Just like that we were four deep. Feeling like the vatos from American Me, we were doing our thang and we were only seventh graders.

The bell rang for nutrition and our click posted up in the middle of the quad. In less than 10 minutes of being outside, we had 10 people ask if they could get in our click. We couldnt believe it. We really hadnt even had a name yet and already people were trying to join, guys and girls. One of the next guys we got it was Hormones. This cat was 10x hornier than tarbaby and looked like a little man. Mustache like he was 18 and shit. Than there was Big Mike who was Bubbas cousin. Big ass nigga... like 6'2 who looked like our Body Guard. The next few days we spend jumping dudes in, in the back of the bungalows.

This time the bell rang and now we were 40 people deep and had created something that some of the Seniors were starting to get concerned about. The next day we were all hanging out in the back playing quarters. We use to throw quarters against the wall and who ever came closes would take the money. Shit was hella fun. I used to win most of them of course. I end up walking back with my pockets jingling most of the times. But this time when the bell rang, I picked up my winnings when out of the blue skies a punch gets thrown at my head. Some young cat who I didnt know came from behind and clocked me. Good thing I saw him from my peripheral and moved enough to avoid full impact. He yelled JK and took off. We let him go as security showed up.

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