News And Politics

In honor of 2012, our top 12 South LA stories of the year

Dec. 21, 2012, 3:53 p.m.

Ray Goren's been playing guitar for about three-and-a-half years, and he's already got a signature lick and is being called a musical genius. He played at the 17th annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival in July. (José Martinez/OnCentral)

As an end-of-the-year gift to our readers, we've curated a list of some of the most popular, interesting and important stories we've published – 12 of them, in honor of the year that's about to end.

We also took a look ahead to 2013, focusing on the shortage of doctors that's likely to hit South Los Angeles particularly hard due to a provision of the Affordable Care Act. But for now, we reflect on the year that's passed, organized by publication date:

1. Oldest man in South LA? The 105 years of 'Poppa Si'

We talked to the oldest man in South Central Los Angeles. (At least, the oldest as far as we know.) Among Simon Redditt's hobbies: drinking Hennessy, Chivas Regal and champagne. // Hayley Fox

2. Know Your Graffiti

Gang officers from the LAPD's Newton Division told OnCentral everything we ever wanted to know about graffiti in this three-part series, including what sort of symbol indicates the presence of gang members who are doing the bidding of the Mexican Mafia. // José Martinez

3. The Shattering of South LA: 20 years after the riots

We marked the 20-year anniversary of the 1992 South L.A. riots with this series of in-depth interviews with people who were there. // Martinez

4. Nitrous: Providing courage, highs and more horsepower

After nitrous caused a deadly explosion near the intersection of Adams Boulevard and Grand Avenue in June, we took a closer look at the mysterious compound – and its illegal use as a recreational drug, in particular. // Martinez

5. A constant uncertainty: Behind the scenes at a South LA clinic

At the core of the health care provision infrastructure in South LA is the community clinic: a place where folks who can't pay very much or anything at all go to receive health care, regardless of what's in their wallet. We took a tour of South Central Family Health Center, and talked to the medical and development staff about how the organization deals with chronically limited resources and stays afloat. // Martinez

6. 'Elated and ecstatic': Southside health advocates are happy with SCOTUS ruling on health care reform

Local health leaders were waiting with bated breath to see whether the Supreme Court would rule that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional – and when the justices delivered their verdict on June 28 affirming that it was, they celebrated. // Martinez

7. Spirit of jazz clubs revived during Central Avenue Jazz Festival

Why is the Central Avenue Jazz Festival such a big deal in South L.A.? For one, it harkens back to a time when the southside thoroughfare was like the Strip in Vegas. "It never did sleep," said one 75--year-old Central Avenue native, who recalled the rich, jazzy history of what was once known as "Little Harlem." // Kylie Reynolds

8. 12-year-old blues guitarist phenom plays 'like he's about 50 years old'

Ray Goren's been playing guitar for about three-and-a-half years, and he's already got a signature lick and is being called a musical genius. Most people who listen to him play become awestruck – and he's only in the seventh grade. Goren played at the 17th annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival in South L.A. in July. // Martinez

9. Illegal little houses: The dangerous underground club scene of South LA

Next time you drive by an innocent-looking house in South L.A. around, say, 3 o'clock in the morning, remember that it could be an illicit, after-hours club run by gang members that features illegal gambling, alcohol, drugs and prostitution as its main attractions. (With special appearances by the Mexican Mafia and cartel members.) // Martinez

10. 'Killing you daily': An abuse survivor who killed her abuser tells her story

OnCentral spoke with 36-year-old Kelli, who told OnCentral about the 15 years she spent in jail for manslaughter after she killed her abusive husband. But it could have been more. "Here I was, a woman sitting in the court with scars on my body and police reports as well as doctor reports from the abuse I experienced," she said, "and they were still trying to give me 35 years to life." // Martinez

11. LA becomes official 'Meatless Monday' city: Will you participate?

The southside's health struggles are no secret, and with this November city council resolution to support Los Angeles' observance of Meatless Monday, we asked the question: How can going vegetarian, even just for a day, help people maintain a healthy diet? // Fox

12. Seasons Givings: South LA kids make PALs with LAPD

Officers from the LAPD's Newton Division converted their underground parking garage into a training facility so that people like Ronnie Teasdale and Robert Sale can volunteer their time and teach the area's kids how to Crossfit train and box, respectively. // Martinez

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