South LA native Dr. Dre is Compton’s newest billionaire + New regulations for Exide Battery Plant


A sign for Compton Boulevard running through Compton. | Boo Reynolds / Flickr

A sign for Compton Boulevard running through Compton. | Boo Reynolds / Flickr


LA Times: Compton celebrates, and contemplates, its newest billionaire, Dr Dre.

SCPR: The Exide Battery Recycling Plant in Vernon has new regulations that may allow it to reopen, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. See from Intersections: Facing off against pollution in South LA neighborhoods

ApparelNews: Knitting becomes big business in Huntington Park.

LA Times: Police offer a $50,000 reward for any information or leads in two separate murders.


Thousands visit Vernon psychic’s shop

Psychic Brings in the Money from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.

Psychic José Ledesma says he’ll get famous on his merits, not just the numbers of people who visit his shop, which he says number in the thousands.

He reads tarot cards, makes potions, creates talismans and just plain talks to people. All from a closet-sized space at the back of his botánica on Central Avenue in Vernon. His shop is called Esoterica, and he’s had it for a little over a year.

“I try to help people,” he says.

He listens to complaints ranging from bounced checks to phlegm-filled lungs to a spouse’s infidelity. And he tries to fix the situations. “I’m going to be famous because what I know needs to be known.”

What needs to be known from Ledesma comes from a long lineage of people he calls “seers.”

“My aunt, my grandma, my great grandma, my great great grandma all did this,” he says. To make some potions work, he says he calls on his ancestors, in Spanish, in West African dialects and, sometimes, in Sanskrit. He asks them to help make a tincture to clear away headaches, a hex to scare away mistresses.

Botánicas, which seem to be popping up all over Los Angeles, are a one-stop-shop for spirituality, religious supplies, health care and therapy.

While they’re generally associated with “folk Catholicism and other Latin American religious traditions,” these shops can appeal to a broad client base.

Back at his shop, Ledesma focuses on helping his clients become financially stable. He says people fly in from Australia, Africa and Europe to hear what he has to say. They also walk to his shop from down the street in Central Los Angeles.

He tells them that the best way to awaken the spirits that hold the cash is to buy a specially formulated talisman.

“I’m so sure that whenever you possess one of those, you will be wealthy and you will be prosperous,” he says. “Your economic situation will grow and grow and grow, as long as you possess the talisman. You will have food, you will have money, you will have everything. Then, you will not lack of anything. You will have a comfortable life.”

In the little shop in Vernon and across the world, a lot of people buy that.

This story is part of a collaboration between and Intersections: The South Los Angeles Report.

Photo credit: Jake de Grazia

Happy pigs adorn pork-packing plant that makes Dodger Dogs

Profile of the Farmer John pork packing plant in Vernon, Calif. from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.

The Vernon-based Farmer John pork-packing plant is the second-largest employer in the industrial city of Vernon.

Last baseball season, you may have heard a new ad campaign pushing old-fashioned Dodger Dogs.

Maybe you even got a free one at a baseball game.

You know, those hot dogs people slather with relish, ketchup and mustard at Dodger Stadium? Those commercials came from Vernon-based Farmer John pork-packing plant, the second largest employer in the industrial city.

The exterior of the pork-packing is 30,000 square feet of painted pigs.

According to the company’s Web site, brothers Francis and Bernard Clougherty started Farmer John’s parent company Clougherty Packing in 1931.

This is the plant that makes Dodger Dogs.

The mural wasn’t painted until 1957 when Bernard “Barney” Clougherty commissioned artist Les Grimes to fill the empty walls with pastoral pigs. Grimes ended up spending 11 years working on the project until he died on the job. He fell off the scaffolding he was using to paint the blue sky.

After Grimes died, the mural legacy continued with Arno Jordan. More artists have helped up keep the pastoral scenes. These include Philip Slagter and Alex Garcia.

While the pigs on the outside of the slaughterhouse seem happy enough, besotted with their bucolic scene, there are some hints of darkness, like the signs pointing the way to the slaughterhouse entrance and the smoke rising up from the plant. But, these aren’t the piggies who have to worry.

Despite the bizarre contrast between happy farm animals and the smell of smoked sausage, it’s still worth a look. Just for the spectacle of an industrial complex that has incorporated art into its facade.

This story is part of a collaboration between and Intersections: The South Los Angeles Report.

Photo credit: Jake de Grazia