Recent postings about Chabelita (Western/20th St, just N of 10 fwy) bring back a bittersweet memory. During the 1992 arson attack on our community, the Grubster lived a few blocks from Chabelita. Virtually every business surrounding Chabelita for blocks was torched, looted, or both. During the riot's second day, looters were wheeling their shopping carts laden with liquor, shoes, tapes, et al to Chabelita, waiting patiently in line, paying for their tacos & burritos, then scurrying along the way to their homes, dropoffs, or whatever. A high, if surreal, tribute to the power of splendid chow.
That is quite a testiment to the loyalty of the patronage there. I grew up in that neighborhood, and remember being in complete shock as I saw news footage from my NYC apartment of the strip mall on Western and Venice engulged in flames. The McDonald's across Western was my first McDs. Sad to say that I never knew about Chabelita's, but now I'll have to give it a try next week when I'm in LA.
On a related story about uprisings in LA, in the '65 Watts incident, my father, then a recent immigrant from Japan, who lived around Jefferson and Normandie, decided to drive toward the scene just out of curiosity. Within a few blocks, he tells me, he was mobbed by a large group of African Americans rattling his gardener's van. Scared out of his wits, he did the only thing he could think of, and rolled down the window and started to shout "burn baby, burn!" in a thick japanese accent, I'm sure, to which he was joined by the mob that formed around him. I still get a kick out of the image of a my father driving a small parade of rioters down the street during the anarchy. I consider it a step towards cultural unity.