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Someone Took Live Banda, Tacos, and Lowriders to Celebrate a Loved One Who Is Locked Up at DTLA’s Detention Center

3:54 PM PDT on March 14, 2022

In the streets of Los Angeles, not even the impenetrable walls of jail are strong enough to stop a proper Mexican-style birthday party from cracking. 

An exhibition of what is perhaps the most L.A. shit that has ever happened took place yesterday at the intersection of Alameda and Commercial Streets in downtown Los Angeles. Tehachapi resident Melanie Cordoba and friends brought a grupo norteño, lowriders, and a taquero to celebrate the birthday of her in-law who is currently doing time in the Metropolitan Detention Center. The man goes by “Wizard,” according to Cordoba, which explains the cartoon of a wizard figure on the backdrop behind the band, complete with a generator-powered P.A. system, accordion, and of course a tuba. The band’s frontman was local singer Caesar Aguirre

Cordoba preferred to not comment any further on why Wizard was detained, but she does tell L.A. TACO that he has been in there now for “a while” and that this is not the first time she brings the party to her loved ones behind the wall. “This is the fourth time I do this,” Cordoba tells L.A. TACO. The first couple of times was for her husband, who is also doing time there. In a video recorded for L.A. TACO by SELA-based contributor Oscar Rodriguez Zapata, over a dozen people are present at the informal gathering. There were tacos de adobada-style al pastor, cold beer, and good times. In that same video, you can also see the bright glare of a small mirror on the 7th floor of the detention center. Zapata also confirmed that just like at a traditional backyard birthday party where you hire a band, Wizard was communicating with the band and requesting specific songs.  

This is not the first time something like this happens. L.A. TACO OG contributor Erick Huerta tells us that musicians have a history of playing for the inmates in downtown Los Angeles. In 2014, Ana Tijoux played a show to promote national day laborers who have been detained. Mariah Castañeda also reminded L.A. TACO that in Adelanto, California, Grammy winner bands and artists like R&B artist Miguel have also played a show for the detainees there.    

Decades of Art Laboe dedications prepared us all for this moment and it is a reminder that there is no other place on the planet as gangster as Los Angeles.


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