Local Lowrider Documentary Needs Help for Post-Production Costs
By Brent E. Beltrán
In my neighborhood of Barrio Logan lowriders are a ubiquitous presence. They’re part of the cultural fabric that sews this community together. It’s not a new phenomenon. They’ve been around here for decades and are part of the history not only of Barrio Logan but of San Diego as a whole.
Recognizing a need to document and tell that history local lowriding legend Rigo Reyes joined forces with professor Alberto Pulido to create a documentary on the beginnings of San Diego’s lowrider scene. Though the film, Everything Comes from the Streets, might be their first these two longtime San Diegans know their stuff when it comes to lowriders and Chicano history.
Rigo Reyes is a founder of Amigos Car Club, which organizes the annual Chicano Park Day lowrider car show, and the San Diego Lowrider Council, which have been in existence since the late 1970’s. Dr. Pulido is the chair of the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of San Diego. Both have been members of the Chicano Park Steering Committee for many years, Rigo since the takeover on April 22, 1970.
As a professor Alberto has come to recognize that all learning doesn’t happen inside the ivory towers of academia. A lot happens outside the hallowed halls of learning institutions. “As an educator one of the things that I’ve come to realize is that so much of the knowledge that we’re trying to do in the classroom is actually out in the community or like our film says its out in the streets.”
And those streets provide a gritty backdrop to the history of a Chicano subculture that has been maligned over the years by the ignorant and praised by the culturally astute. This film is a living, breathing homage to those veteran car owners and clubs that didn’t care if the mainstream culture didn’t see lowriding as a legitimate form of expression. Those vatos and homegirls didn’t care what anybody thought about their rides. They were doing it for themselves using barrio brilliance and Chicano knowhow.
“Everything Comes From the Streets features men and women from San Diego and Tijuana who shaped and influenced the unique car customizing movement, defined by self-expression and cultural ingenuity. Our story traverses politics, self-preservation, and the emergence of critical spaces. The film provides a different perspective contrasting the belief that lowriding is tied to ‘gang banging’ and violence. Instead lowrider car clubs can be an extension of families that affirm and build communities in the colorful and complex fabric of the borderlands of the American Southwest,” says Dr. Pulido.
Rigo’s motivation for making the film was to highlight the affirmative aspects of lowrider culture. He says: “Unfortunately sometimes we get stereotyped as being related to gangs — the whole barrio lifestyle, the negativity of it and very little is ever highlighted as far as the positiveness that we contribute to the community and particularly to the Chicano movement.” This film is all about affirming lowriders as a positive form of Chicano cultural expression.
In addition to Rigo and Alberto others have contributed to make this documentary a reality. Emmy nominated filmmaker Kelly Whalen co-produced the film as well as photographed and edited, Jessica Cordova received an associate producer credit for her work and the music of local Chicano icon Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez was used extensively throughout.
Everything Comes from the Streets is pretty much finished. It only needs a few strokes to complete the canvas. But what isn’t done is some of the post-production work. Final funds are needed to get the film completed. It costs money to get the film out there to festivals and get it ready for potential broadcast. San Diego public station KPBS is interested in airing the film and there’s a possibility for national distribution on their mothership, PBS.
KPBS’s director of programming, John M. Decker, says, “Not very often are we treated to such an important story told in a compelling way. Everything Comes from the Streets is a cultural import wrapped in chrome and metallic paint; a cruise through the streets of growing up Latino on the border.”
Dr. Pulido and his crew have set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise the last bit of funds for Everything Comes from the Streets. They’re seeking $20,000. So far, slightly more than $8300 has been committed by over 80 backers. The campaign ends on September 21 yet they are less than halfway to their goal. They could use a little push. Please consider pledging. There are a lot of cool gifts for those that pledge anywhere from $1 all the way up to $2500.
Lowrider cars are a legitimate form of art just like muralism and music. The history of this art, this Chicano artform, needs to be told. It is good to know that there are dedicated cultural and academic stewards like Rigo Reyes and Alberto Pulido willing to commit the time and effort needed to tell the history of San Diego’s lowrider culture.