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Ry Cooder: Chavez Ravine

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In the early ’50s, the Los Angeles city government, under the auspices of “public improvement,” evicted the residents of the tightly knit communities of Bishop, La Loma and Palo Verde from a plot of land amounting to something more than 300 acres. The area was initially intended as a site for public housing; ultimately the land was used to house Dodger stadium. Hundreds of family were left homeless, many of them receiving insufficient or occasionally no repayment for the land they had ceded.

The story is much more complex than this gloss, of course; it’s a complex historical event that speaks to the history of Los Angeles, the history of baseball, the history of Communism, Hispanics in California and the machinations of Social Services and Big Business in 1950s America, to name only a few subplots. It is almost too large, too fertile a topic for one project to attempt to completely encompass, but say what you want about Ry Cooder, the man is not afraid to back down from a challenge.

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