Some Impolite Questions to Ask at the Yost Theater's Grand "Re-Opening" Tonight

Tonight, if all goes according to plan (although it just might not), the Yost Theater will hold a big concert that its promoters have advertised for months as the venue's grand re-opening. Our music editor, Lilledeshan Bose, penned a great cover story last week on the controversy surrounding the Yost, controversy that SanTana's Brave New Urbanists have no use for because, hey, we live in new times now in Orange County, and there's no such thing as gentrification and racism happening anymore because it's an all-Latino city council and one of the Yost guys is Latino!

HA! SanTana's usually my beat, but I insisted that Lille take this story, because she'd be able to get interviews with people that run away from me at sight. She did a great job letting the Yost's protagonists let their own words show them to be the deceptive pendejos that they are. But there are some questions she didn't ask that someone should ask tomorrow--maybe the people from the Centro Cultural de Mexico--the non-profit that showed Orange County the Yost could rise again, only to have it cruelly stolen from them--holding a counter-reformation of sorts tomorrow starting at 11 a.m.

To wit:

  • Yost Theater owner Irv Chase has put a litmus test on his Latino tenants--assimilate, or leave. What is that litmus test? And how long will it last?
  • He also claims that he started switching over to a non-Latino marketing strategy because the Latino consumer was no longer there, because the Wal-Marts and Targets of the world took business away from the Latino shopping corridor that is SanTana's Fourth Street, and because a new generation of Mexican-Americans need new options. What about when swap meets ruled Latino shopping habits during the 1990s and last decade, back when the Orange and Lemon drive-ins still existed--how did they, which offered even cheaper deals than big-box retailers, not affect Fourth Street? What about all the Targets that have existed in Orange County since the 1980s, and Wal-Marts since the 1990s? What about the previous generations of Mexican-Americans who needed something cool to do but went elsewhere?
  • It wasn't too long ago (and it just might very well still be the case) that Fourth Street was SanTana's second-largest tax revenuer. Why didn't the SanTana City Council help the piggybank in its time of need?
  • Will Chase ever apologize to Louie Olivos, Jr., and his family for playing along with the city's efforts to steal the theater from the Olivoses?
  • Did Chase ever offer three years of free rent to other tenants, as he has for the Yost? Does he subsidize the rent of his other, newer, non-wab tenants? Why doesn't he whine about this like he did his wab tenants?
  • Dennis Lluy, one of the Yost guys, says he doesn't care much for talk about the Yost's racialized past because "it has nothing to do with me." Yet why is it that when talks of gentrification come out, Lluy and his supporters always trot out the fact that he's of Cuban descent as a shield against such criticism? Why isn't he Cuban the rest of the time?
  • Why hasn't Irv Chase talked about how, in early 2008, shortly after the concert that convinced him about the viability of reopening the Yost occurred, he openly talked about turning the front of the Yost into a replica of Olvera Street, with outside vendors selling crafts imported from Mexico? Why doesn't he talk about how at that time, he wanted the Centro Cultural de Mexico--which Chase is now trashing in the media yet seeking to be his token Mexicans--to move into the second floor of the building right next to the Yost? And not rent-free?
  • What the hell is that ugly waterfall doing at the front of the Yost?
  • How is tomorrow's show the "grand re-opening" of the Yost considering the Centro re-opened it in 2007 and 2008?
  • SanTana planning head Jay Treviño told the Orange County Register that he had "numerous staff members who came in on their day off" to help the Yost get up to code and open in time. Can other businesses in SanTana expect the same kind of treatment?
  • If Lluy insists he's the same DIY rebel who ran Koo's a decade ago, why is he accepting free rent? Why is he friendly with a unethical SanTana City Council?
  • And why is it that when those of us who know the Yost's true history--who were there when it was a Spanish-language theater, who couldn't go in when Chase rented to crazy Pentecostals, who were thankful when Chase allowed the Centro to hold events there and were aghast but not surprised when Lluy rode back into town in a horse provided by SanTana's city fathers--bring it up, we get lambasted by Brave New Urbanists as whiners, racists, class warriors and to get over it?
Inquiring minds want to know!

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