You live in Malibu--why there? I love being by the ocean. It stills the voices in my head. Of course, I am often embarrassed to be labeled a Malibuite or Malibuvian, as I like to call it. I occasionally describe my neighborhood as "Topanga Adjacent" and try to stress that we are in the unfashionable, lower 2 miles of the "27 miles of scenic beauty." But, one should own up to this sort of thing. I live in Malibu, I'm here, I'll get used to it.
Do you surf? I am a surfer, though quite a poor one. [He rides a longboard, 8'10" from his friend Jose Lozano's company.] No key to Point Dume, sadly. No local standing at Surfrider, which means I must nibble away at the carcasses of waves like a vulture once the big predators have taken the best.
What are your favorite neighborhood haunts for coffee, a quick bite or a drink after work? Well -- stretching the idea of neighborhood considerably, Intelligentsia Cafe on Abbot Kinney; orEspresso Cielo on Main Street, which serves beans from 49th parallel, an amazing roaster in Vancouver. For food, Axe -- please come back soon; Venice Beach Wines on Rose for tapas. There is also a fantastic Japanese rice ball place on Main Street.
"A Better Life" took you to 69 locations throughout Los Angeles. Were there places you'd never been to or seen before? Did you discover any hidden gems? So many places I had not been before--Pico Rivera, the genuine Mexican rodeo ring in Whittier; El Premier, the Mariachi club in Bell; Ramona Gardens, the housing complex in Boyle Heights (itself a revelation). Cesar Chavez Avenue, one of the brightest lights in LA; and Homeboy Industries, a beacon of hope with good food at Homegirl Cafe.
The majority of your crew was Latino and Spanish was the primary language on your set. What do you find most intriguing about LA's Latino culture? It's complexity. Like Anglo culture here, it goes from low to high, is impossible to pin down, multifarious. And it's not just Mexican. There is Honduran LA, Salvadoran LA, Peruvian LA...bilingual Spanish LA, monolingual Spanish, monolingual English...