Yost Theater Whitewashes Its Own History When Not Telling Outright Lies

oldschoolyost.jpg
The Yost in its prime
In the next couple of months, you're going to hear and read all about the grand reopening of the Yost Theater in downtown Santa Ana, that old structure most famous in the Orange County story for serving as the focal point for Latino life for decades--but not anymore! You'll hear stories about how its debut after a couple of years of refurbishing (this, after nearly 25 years as a Pentecostal
Latino church that let no one in who didn't believe in the Rock) points to a "renaissance" of SanTana, that it'll inject energy into a "vibrant" area and all those other buzzwords the Brave New Urbanists have used to celebrate the de-Mexicanizing of the area.

Most reporters will rely on the words of the Yost's boosters or a quick Google search, will accept their version of history verbatim. Too bad that version is riddled with errors when it's not outright lying or hiding the true story.

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The Brave New Yost, getting ready for its closeup

Just look at the theater's history, currently compiled on the Yost's website. Composer Ernest Ball (who wrote "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling") did die at the Yost, as the theater states--but onstage, not in his dressing room (can't always trust Wikipedia!). It was Louie Olivos Sr. who owned the Yost during its Spanish-language heyday, and while Vicente Fernández and Antonio Aguilar did star in hundreds of movies between them, they were brought to the Yost to perform their music, as they were first and foremost musicians. And it was Louie Olivos Jr. who brought in English-language acts to the Yost, and the Olivos clan the very people whom Dennis Lluy's current patrons ripped off in a move that ruined the family, a move Lluy characterized as necessary.

What's even funnier about these errors is that the Yost wouldn't have existed all these years if it weren't for the Olivoses helping to keep downtown Santa Ana alive long after gabachos largely abandoned it. For all this, they get an error-filled bullet point? WEAK SAUCE.

The most telling omission and errors comes with the Yost's relationship with the Centro Cultural de Mexico. The website states the Centro "hosted the first cultural event at the Yost after the theater had remained dormant for years" in April 2008--when, in fact, the Centro had opened the Yost anew in November 2007. I know this because I was there both times, serving as an MC for the April 2008 event. I remember taking a walk through the Yost before that evening, from its dressing room to its offices, from the massive upstairs open space to the tiny box office. Then, the Centro was excitedly planning to move its cultural center into the Yost, with the blessings of owner Irv Chase. There were meetings, hopes, promises.

And then Dennis Lluy of Koo's Cafe fame came in--and not out of nowhere. As he admitted in a Riviera interview, Santa Ana's fathers approached him with the idea of swooping into the Yost after a Los Angeles Times article announced to the world Chase wanted to reopen it. Lluy worked himself into Chase's world, leading to an uneasy working relationship between the Centro and Lluy; eventually, Chase sided with Lluy and left the Centro hanging, a move santanero lifers view as the city's second betrayal of the Yost and a complete sellout by Lluy given his Koo's days. Somehow, this didn't make it into the official Yost history--thankfully, there's a documentary that did get all that.

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Wikimedia Commons
RIP, Fatty
Forget the Aztlanista shit, though. The New Yost's biggest sin deals with the movies. To try to make it even cooler for the Brave New Urbanists, who love nothing more than a bit of scandal and vice, the Brave New Yost mentions that silent-screen god (and former Santa Ana resident) Fatty Arbuckle once performed there. "In what was one of the first Hollywood scandals," the website breathlessly states, "he was later arrested and tried for the murder of a young starlet named Virginia Rappe."

Way to piss on Arbuckle's grave, Brave New Yost! Although Arbuckle did get tried for Rappe's death, any Film Studies 100 student at Orange Coast College knows Arbuckle faced three trials for the alleged crime and wasn't convicted in any of them--two mistrials and a final acquittal--and that the true guilty party was the Hearst press who demonized the mild-mannered Arbuckle. Arbuckle is one of the saddest cases in Hollywood--but who cares about the facts when you have a new ruse to sell?

All the above facts, by the way, are very easy to ascertain--but who cares about the past when there's a beautiful day ahead of us? The Brave New Yost opens in early May--prepare the hype machine. Now, excuse me while I go barf.

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22 comments
Adjective
Adjective

Further, though Fatty Arbuckle (who I have studied, by the way) was never convicted, his career was over after the murder trials, because of the scandal (people were no longer disposed to laugh at the antics of a clown who just may have killed a beautiful young starlet, who's last words, according to Kenneth Anger, anyway, were supposed to have been "Fatty did this to me"). It is a sad story but has very little to do with your argument against the Yost.

Adjective
Adjective

More TRIPE from Arellano. I swear, Gustavo, you are quickly becoming my arch-enemy. I find reading your pathetic 'Latino Crusade' hogwash does what you want, which is rile me up and get me angry, but not in the way you mean it to. You'd like to think that reading your biased, vague psuedo history will reveal the injustice that's been done to your beloved Mexico en la Cuatro (the wasted space on 4th street with way too many bridal shops), but what actually makes me seethe is your inability to see anything from a perspective that is not steeped in Latino culture.

Call what's happening in DTSA 'gentrification' as if that dirty word is what it is, but the run down businesses on Spurgeon that cater only to to the old and feeble (most familias now can get their tiajuana treats much cheaper at the neighborhood Target, thus making most those vendors completely obsolete) need to go because what atracts consumers are the gastropubs and eateries on Broadway. If getting rid of 20 or so bridal shops and jewellers is gentrification than sign me up. Seriously, I like Mexican food, too, but how many tacquerias do we really need? How about some Thai food? A decent Italian restaurant would be nice, but oh, we'd be stripping the Latin identity from the barrio. I lived in SA during the 80's and it was not nearly the cultural paradise you'd like to make us believe it was. What I remember most is the gang bangers selling bad coke on every corner and homeless junkies everywhere.  

The thing that really bothers me, though, is the way you demonize Dennis Lluy. I've known Dennis for many years, and he's about the nicest most thoughtful guy you could meet and it offends me deeply to hear you call him a liar when it's you who are cherry picking your facts (as you always do) to bolster your already weak argument. So many of the kids from the 90's are truly grateful for the bands and music that Koo's brought to the OC and so many more are excited for what the Yost will bring: Real bands of a National caliber. And it's not just the kids, ask any of the businesses; they're excited too.

But you don't care; you've got your agenda to promote at any costs. Bring back the dirty old church and the watery salsa music! How dare they play rock and roll. jazz and pop? How dare they put money into refurbishing an old worn down theater? Go ahead and whine, rally La Raza to your silly boycotts (though the only thing anybody should be boycotting is your profane little blog) but since you can hardly be fair about this issue, don't expect for the residents of DTSA to see you as anything but an enemy of the neighborhood.

1pissedkid
1pissedkid

Oh... And one last thing, its really easy to keep using the race card any time you see an "injustice". But the more you use it the less people listen. Save it for REAL issues, like a derringer in your boot, if you fire it all the time, the one time you actually need it...it won't work.

Ceazybarber1974
Ceazybarber1974

It's time to clean up our beautiful Downtown Santa Ana. The place is a mess. Even a blind person can see that. Stop with all this racial crap and let's just clean the place up. We need new young blood in our downtown. Fiesta Market place is dead and it's not coming back. It's time to move on or get left behind. Stop with the ignorant race card!! It's time for our Mexican American children to open up cool new trendy shops and restaurants. The check cashing , 5 dollar haircut salons, travel agencies , and some of the "dress shops" have to go!! They do not work anymore people! Wake up!!!

Ocbeaner
Ocbeaner

DE-MEXICANIZING??? this Beaner is all for it. its about time they fix it up, the place looks like shit Bro!! whenever my family from Mexico come to visit the first thing out of there mouths is " mira este pinche cochinero"  seriously Gustavo... que te pasa guey? its time to harvest that nopal from our foreheads and move on. when was the last you went to the mother land? it nicer over there than here, just becare where you walk you might trip over a body part. any gueys this is my first time posting on you Tavo, no seas odioso cabron!! later biatch Colonist fo life!! Puro Anaheimer 

Aarcat78
Aarcat78

Just came across this. Thank you Mr. Arellano from an Olivos clan member. I grew up in downtown and this article sure brings up memories.

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TCisneros
TCisneros

My best memory of the Yost is attending some sort of student awards ceremony there, waaaay back in the day, hosted by Edward James Olmos. I must've been about 10. I was star struck :)

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Carlos
Carlos

Man, I saw Blood In, Blood Out at the Yost theater and some Antonio Aguilar movies like Lamberto Quintero....So many great memories....West Coast was awesome back in the day cuz that's where I saw the Almada Bros. movies where they never ran out of ammo, the Apostolic church took it over....

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

If you're so worried about de-Mexicanization, why don't you and your beaner friends buy-up all the area and call it, "Sanctuary-Land"? Why do you always play the victim like someone else is responsible for your problems? Oh that's right, you're a beaner.

MayhemInTheHood
MayhemInTheHood

I always hate hearing about Fatty Arbuckle, only because most of the time it's someone quipping "Dude! He, like, killed a girl from being so fat during sex...or something.I don't know, just know he killed a chick back in the day." Good on you, Gustavo, for calling those sorts of folks out. He was a sad case, indeed, and I think this whole "pissing on his grave" happens on a daily basis.

Anyway, I thought the Yost had already been back open, or revitalized or whatever word you want to use. I was at that music fest a couple years ago, where International Noise Conspiracy played, and as I recalled that was supposed to be it's big re-opening. Obviously I'm wrong, but what was all that hubbub about? Was that just the hype from the Koo's dude getting behind it?

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Another apologist—and betcha it's been "your" SanTana for about two years...

Guest
Guest

Funny that they would have to buy land...that was originally theirs in the first place. Why do you always act like minorities are just trying to scapegoat others? Oh, that's right: because you're an idiot.

gabriel san roman
gabriel san roman

What you're referring to was that whole "Sound Downtown" multi-venue event. Lots of money was poured into that one.

Interesting "fact" #8 on the Yost website notes Barrio Night as the first cultural event in 2008 ( it wasn't ) That was billed as the re-opening of the Yost.

Anyway, I wonder if T(I)NC, being the Swedish Anarcho-Marxists that they are, would have played the Yost had they been hipped to the history that Gustavo provides a corrective for here...

1pissedkid
1pissedkid

Gustavo, be happy this is being opened by independent entrepreneurs, and not live nation or aeg. We are humans, brown black white or green, we all want progress and the true american spirit which is exactly what is happening in dtsa.

Talk to any cop in santa ana about the crime and its link to the impoverished people and unkempt buildings. Making a profitable business that THOUSANDS of la/oc residents can enjoy is hurting no one.... Congrats you can run your mouth about some facts that are wrong on a website, why don't you publish something with viable information instead of articles full of theories of a "master plan" to eradicate santa anas hispanic population and culture.

Your what's wrong with america, impeding progress, stomping your feet ,for what? To hear the sound of your own voice...move to santa monica and rally against cigarette smoking or circumcision you loud mouthed fuck...

Btw I've met you, and yes you are as pompous as your writing makes you sound!

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