Archive | May, 2010


20 May

Jose Ortiz of Street Inspirations is a product of the 1970s Chicano low rider culture of Oakland and sponsor of this benefit car and motorcycle show.

Low Riders Making a Difference in Oakland can also be found at

Jose Ortiz was profiled in the East Bay Express, where he talks about that time, when lowriders painted the streets with a deeply personalized sense of style. Custom-modified machines that doubled as works of art were set up with hydraulics, impressive sound systems, classic or candy-coated paint jobs with graphics and maybe even chrome or gold-plated accessories.

But then police got involved.

We reached Ortiz and he told us, “In those days, they stereotyped lowrider people as gang members, drug dealers, bad people. That was always a stereotype, and it was unfortunate.”

Ortiz said there used to be a big community of lowriders in Oakland 30 years ago, and they would cruise together on weekends. But people got tired of the trouble from police and didn’t get together as much to avoid getting tickets, getting arrested or getting their cars taken away. The movement began to die a little.

Ortiz then started Street Inspirations, a community outreach organization that would work to prove to the police that lowriders could be good for the community and to get respect.

“We started going into the community and cleaning up trash, giving away toys, going after school and spending time with the children,” said Ortiz. “So people can look at us and say ‘they are really giving back to the community’ and they won’t stereotype about them. We have something to do every month to make a difference in the community.”

City officials started noticing.

“That’s something you don’t buy in the store. You can’t go to Safeway and buy it; you have to earn it. And finally they got the message,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz helped create the first lowrider police car in the nation in 1994 and has since suped up 20 police vehicles from Miami to Altanta to Puerto Rico.

Police lowriders are changing the dynamic between youth and police. When officers drive through neighborhoods, kids come to check out the tricked out vehicle. Ortiz said this machine gives the riding officer an opportunity to reach out to youth and show that they are human beings and willing to help out.

Ortiz is putting together a crew with 100-200 lowriders that will cruise the freeway from San Francisco to Los Angeles, possibly this summer.

“The lowriders will never die, it will always be there,” said Ortiz.

Apart from Ortiz’s work to keep lowriders visible, there are a few places where you can still see this Chicano lowrider culture. “Chrome & Cops 4 Kids” is a benefit car and motorcycle show where a good collection of lowriders can be viewed, and it will take place this Sunday, May 23, at Bob Dron Harley-Davidson (151 Hegenberger Rd., Oakland) from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Meatless Mondays in San Francisco

5 May

San Francisco is the first city to adopt Meatless Monday! In an effort to encourage a more healthful eating practices, The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the vote April 6, 2010.

See ABC’s coverage.

Ise Comic of the Week

4 May

Illustrated by Richard Silvoy 2010