World’s Strangest

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The Los Angeles Gang Tour

Tired of going to the beach and other touristy places for a vacation? Try this instead: the Los Angeles Gang Tour, which gives tourists a look at the cradle of the nation’s gang culture, including the the birthplace of the Crips and Bloods.

The L.A. tour comes after months of planning, and is offered in a spirit of education and public service. Lomas, who will lead tours at first, plans to talk about important chapters in the development of the city’s core, such as how racist housing restrictions shaped ethnic enclaves and the formation of gangs.

Other aspects may raise eyebrows. Selling shirts painted on the spot by a graffiti “tagger” is one thing. But one backer said he also hopes to stage dance-offs between locals; tourists would pick a winner and fork over a cash prize. It wasn’t long ago that organizers decided against a plan to have kids shoot tourists with water pistols, followed by the sale of T-shirts that read: “I Got Shot in South-Central.”

“It’s going to be fascinating — but really controversial,” said Francisco Ortega, a field staffer with the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission and a respected mediator and neighborhood advisor in South L.A. Ortega said there could be great value in “sensitizing people, connecting them to the reality of what’s on the ground.”

“But the other side is that it could come across like a zoo or something,” Ortega said. “You’re being carted about: ‘Look at that cholo over there!’ It could be perceived as demeaning for the people who are living in these conditions. I don’t know how they’re going to manage those perceptions.”

At only $65 per adult, it’s a steal (though I’m not sure it guarantees that you won’t get robbed). Scott Gold of the LA Times has the story: Link (Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez / LA Times)

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