By gr on 2006-09-02

While riding my bicycle on the way back from Sawtelle, I saw a dude on the sidewalk wearing black baggy pants, a white t shirt, shaved head, walking fairly brisk, with his head down on a cell phone. He had a swagger and looked to me like trouble. I got off the sidewalk, and rode on the street right next to it, thinking to give this guy his space. A few cars were oncoming, but no big deal, we're in a neighborhood. It's pretty quiet on a friday afternoon.

This image is from City Beat

As I got closer, it's no big deal until this SUV starts to get closer to the sidewalk, I'm not far away, and now have to figure out, 1) do I get back on the sidewalk and get in this dude's space. 2) do I veer right around the car that's now pulled up, but have to face more oncoming traffic. 3) do I stop. My bike only has front brakes that make a huge squeak noise.

I choose option 1. But right as I'm even closer, the guy leans out of the passenger seat. There's 4 dudes in the car, he's wearing a Dodger cap and says, "hey homie, where are you from?" He's a Latino dude in his 20s, and the dude on the sidewalk says, "SOTEL" in a grand and proud way. Although he's outnumbered, he's not backing down and walks towards the car window. Meanwhile, I'm going forward, it's too late to stop, and I end up riding in between the dude who's now on the city property grass, and the car, so we're talking 2 feet or less. This sounds dramatic, but in the end, their conversation was short. "What's your name?" and a reply with a regular Latino name, and that was really it. I kept looking back to see gun violence or a fight, but nothing. The SUV took off, making a left, and the guy just kept walking. I grew up in this area, and remember a lot of Sotel 13 kids. They lived in the area, went to my Junior high school, and were just locals. You see a lot less of them, but they're around and will throw up graffiti from time to time just so you know they're still around.

I'll write more about what little I know and remember about Sotel, maybe tomorrow.

This photo is from here. has a small entry that says they're allegedly defunct. I think they got their info from a Wikipedia entry on Venice13 that says Sotel is defunct. Just so you know, we don't use Wikipedia for any fact checking in Giant Robot.

Hispanic/Latino. Further south on Sawtelle, in the Mar Vista and Del Rey districts, is the traditional barrio of the allegedly defunct Sotel gang, which drew its members from descendants of the Latino farmhands who worked the orchards and bean fields that once covered the area. Today, much of the population immediately to the southwest of the 10-405 junction is now young white and Asian professionals and UCLA students drawn to the area's cheap rents and large UCLA housing complex, but enormous Latino communities are still found in Culver City and Palms...