As the Yost Plays Host to Pulido y los Dinos…

As I write these words, today’s meeting of the Santa Ana city council is taking place at the once historic Yost Theater. There’s so much political discussion these days surrounding Pulido y los Dinos (and Benavides) that I’m sure it will be an interesting afternoon. I do find, in the midst of arguments in favor of Santa Ana’s purported progressive political makeover, the location of tonight’s meeting to be of keen interest. It’s quite telling, and here’s why…

The Yost Theater has a long history with the Olivos family spanning decades in the city. Rather than have me summarize its significance, I’ll let you all read a link to a story OC Weekly writer Gustavo Arellano published four years ago basically saying how Mexico was incredibly ahead of Santa Ana in recognizing the place: http://www.ocweekly.com/2006-02-16/news/a-toast-for-the-yost/

Done yet? If not, the cliff notes version is that basically the city screwed over the Olivos family back in the day ousting them in a renovation bait and switch. Ok, let’s move on to some more recent history. I got to know the Yost as it was resurrected by El Centro Cultural de Mexico – Santa Ana’s non-profit cultural hustlers. In 2007, the Los Angeles Times wrote of a Son Jarocho show put on by El Centro that took place there and filled six hundred seats of the theater. I was there to support Son del Centro and Los Cojolites from Mexico. It seemed the potential was growing and community possibilities were endless.

However, after publication of the article, the calendar and keys to the Yost slowly “switched hands” – shall we say – from El Centro organizers and into those of Koo’s Incorporated’s Dennis Lluy. The publicity El Centro generated unfortunately became a self-immolation as real estate broker/property owner Gil Marerro sent the  LA Times article onto Lluy with the intent of all that has played out since. Though the Yost is not a Mike Harrah owned building, the narrative bares his shadow as he and Marerro are homies. Lluy, coming into control of the building, tried to deflect charges of gentrification by a sudden revelatory admission in print that he was Cubano! The cynical version of these turns of events can be referred to as a  “Koo d’etat.”

Since then, Pulido has reportedly met Lluy and has been supportive of his business venture.  After that meeting, not a whole lot has been going on at the Yost musically. It’s undergoing renovations to include a restaurant and the likes, but music acts have been few and far between since then. My old music editor at the OC Weekly called it a “soft reopening” and noted that Koo’s Inc. was being “choosy” in their booking. A trip to the venue’s website reveals a blank calendar page. The myspace hasn’t had a blog update in ages. This has always brought to mind a simple question. In this economy, who can afford to be “choosy” and “soft” in reopening such a big property? I imagine rent must be difficult to contend with — especially with all the money being spent on renovations and no shows to generate revenue.

One year before Pulido’s reign as an elected official in the city began, the Olivos family was hoodwinked out of the Yost by the city on renovation shenanigans. Now, with Pulido y los Dinos onstage tonight, no such pressure is being exerted on the Yost Theater’s new operators.They can renovate with all the time in the world without worrying about booking bands. If only the Olivos family could have enjoyed the same. Either Lluy has encountered massive expendable income  in the time between Koo’s failing in Long Beach and now, or we must ask…

Where’s the feria coming from? Is somebody catching a break?


About Gabriel San Roman