Candelas Guitars in Boyle Heights fights to survive, with some famous friends’ help
When he’s not singing or playing guitar, Paul Cruz spends a lot of time telling stories in Boyle Heights, on the border of Los Angeles in the shadow of the Sepulveda Freeway.
It’s a tough place, he said. “It’s not a great place to live.”
So with a bit of foresight, Cruz, 35, found a home along with his roommate, who, he recently learned, is a well-known performer and music teacher. After that apartment burned down, they found their current home in a neighborhood of small, run-down, converted bungalows that feels as if it were carved in stone.
Cruz hopes the neighborhood can be saved. And so far, he’s winning, with the help of well-wishers and other friends who have pledged money and supplies.
That’s why he had so little time to sing, play guitar or tell stories.
It was April 2008, and he was in the middle of a 12-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles, where he’d been booked in a gig for the night he’d scheduled at his favorite club, the Black Box.
“I had to fly,” he said. “But I had a great show, got some good tips and that was it.”
A few nights after the show, Cruz’s roommate told him he could use some money to make a move.
“I told him, ‘You know that place, you know, you can’t really afford to live there,’ ” Cruz recalled.
Cruz’s roommate called him a few months later, saying maybe Cruz could get a small apartment for the night.
“I thought that was ridiculous, so we talked about it.”
He told his roommate he’d be in LA in two months, staying in a friend’s apartment, and could he pay him in a few days so he could get an apartment, or have him pay him.
He decided to just take the guy out to dinner. “I said, ‘There was nothing to it, I’ll just go up to his place,’ ” Cruz said.
They talked about their lives and dreams. He said he didn’t have money for a place, or to buy groceries. He remembered the place he would like to give his home to his friend