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Dennis Romero

Dennis Romero is a Southern California journalist who has covered popular culture, youth culture, raves, ecstasy, marijuana, electronic dance music, surfing, the housing crisis, wealth disparity, crime and other topics extensively in the span of 25 years. He participated in the Los Angeles Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the L.A. riots.

Before joining NBCNews.com in 2018 as daily contributor he worked as a 40-stories-per-month staffer at LA Weekly. He's also been a recent contributor to the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times. His work as also appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and the Guardian. He's been on the feature writing staffs of the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Emmis Publishing's Ciudad magazine. He's appeared on CNN, Investigation Discovery and Reelz multiple times to speak about stories he's covered. He's participated in panel discussions organized by Zocalo Public Square, the National Hispanic Media Coa…
Recent posts

News & Features

Journalism for NBC News, the Washington Post and more:
Elon Musk doubles down on a subterranean dream (NBC News, Nov. 29, 2018)
Migrants met with fear, disdain in Tijuana, Mexico (NBC News, Nov. 17, 2018)
A Chicano renaissance? (NBC News, July 15, 2018)
A comedian’s Cholofit videos spoof gentrification (Washington Post, April 6, 2018)
Visiting Friendship Park in the Trump era (California Sunday Magazine, March 29, 2018)
Will Marijuana Legalization Benefit People of Color? (LA Weekly cover, Oct., 2016)
Strider Wasilewski is the Dogtown Surf Hero You've Never Heard Of (LA Weekly cover, July, 2015)
How Hollywood Keeps Minorities Out (LA Weekly cover, Feb., 2015)
How Pasquale Rotella Built His Rave Empire (LA Weekly cover, Sept., 2013)
Koreatown: America's Hippest Neighborhood (LA Weekly cover, Nov., 2012).

Pop music coverage:
Gary Richards Splits With Live Nation (LA Weekly, Aug., 2017)
Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Co. Raise Dead (Rolling Stone, Sept. 2015)
Steve Aoki: The Neon Punk of EDM (L…

Favorites

The Rainbow Collision (Ciudad magazine, Oct./Nov., 2005): Tensions erupt between African-Americans and Latinos on Los Angeles streets.Dead of Night (Ciudad magazine, June/July, 2007): A look back at the Night Stalker's murderous reign of terror in the summer of 1985.The Other Side (Ciudad magazine, Feb./March, 2006): An examination of Latinos who vociferously oppose illegal immigration.The Gentle Beast (Ciudad magazine, Aug., 2007): A profile of Ultimate Fighter Tito Ortiz, who overcame a hardscrabble childhood to become a champion in a controversial sport.Desolation Boulevard (LA CityBeat, Feb. 5, 2004): A pre-Steve Lopez feature about the intractable conditions for the homeless people living on L.A.'s Skid Row.A Turbocharged Obsession (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 22, 1997): The first mainstream look at the import-racing scene that would inspire the Fast and the Furious movie franchise.Gangster's Paradise Lost (LA CityBeat, Nov. 6, 2003): A different angle on the gentrificati…

Sample This!

LA CityBeat Oct. 14, 2004
By Dennis Romero
It's a squealing guitar riff that's barely background noise in N.W.A.'s "100 Miles and Runnin'." Just a bit of acid ax buried under the rap. Nonetheless, this three-chord bit has helped make those who sample without permission - and permission means paying up - industry outlaws.
Astonishingly for some, the practice of sampling has been pushed against the ropes by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. A recent ruling by the court forces producers to get clearance for using even one-note snippets of others' performances. It has sent a chill through the hip-hop and dance music worlds. "In an instant," declared the anti-industry website downhillbattle.org, "this act made the majority of sample-based music illegal."
More than any other instrument, the sampler symbolizes pop music's post-rock, postmodern era. Hip-hop, electronic dance music, boy bands, and teen pop sex symbols h…

Gangster's Paradise Lost

LA CityBeat
Nov. 6, 2003
By Dennis Romero
Cover photo by Steve Appleford Losing the mural, it seems, was a sign of the times. In 2002, when the city renovated the recreation center at Stoner Park in West L.A., the last remnants of the Westside's Latino gang culture were told that the building's big Chicano-era mural would be temporarily removed to accommodate construction, but then returned. The big tableaux from the side of the building was an homage to the Mexican flavor of the neighborhood, and a point of homeboy pride.
But when Mayor James K. Hahn presided over ribbon-cutting ceremonies celebrating the completed makeover last summer, the mural was absent, and the homies still haven't seen it. (A council district field deputy who keeps his eye on parks in the area said he has no idea what happened to the artwork.) Today, a few survivors of the Sotel 13 gang, which has claimed the park since the early 1950s, still congregate at the rec center each weekday at 3 p.m. – lik…

Boomtown

LA CityBeat
Nov. 18, 2004
By Dennis Romero At Glendale Boulevard and Second Street, you can see the crossroads of L.A., old and new. Immigrants from the Mexican state of Michoacan play the pre-Columbian handball game of tarasca in a dirt lot destined to soon sprout a 276-unit, five-story apartment building, mostly for the middle and upper-middle classes. On the hill above, the $45 million Visconti apartment complex is already going up rapidly, faster than the graffiti that lines the historic Toluca Yard, a long-abandoned Pacific Electric rail stop that's become home to the nation's only known tarasca court. Five blocks to the east, the towing skyscrapers of Bunker Hill reflect the setting sun, washing gleaming rays upon this gritty but shifting neighborhood just west of downtown. The area is patrolled by the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division, once the city's leader in homicide reports, and once described as the Fort Apache of the LAPD. Now, Land Rovers, …

Desolation Boulevard

LA CityBeat
Feb. 5, 2004
By Dennis Romero
Cover photo by Steve Appleford
The curb along San Julian Street is more than a metaphor, it's the real deal - the ultimate backstop for a life's downward slide, the end of the row, even for Skid Row. It's lined with runners hissing out drugs for sale, men taking naps, and newly minted homeless teens passing a joint. On a recent afternoon, the smell of skunkweed mixes with the vapors of human waste. The gutter is filled with murky puddles, scorched blunts, a pink backpack, and tattered trash bags full of abandoned clothing - signs of throwaway lives. A worker at the nearby Volunteers of America shelter says she tosses out seven bags of belongings every day because owners fail to retrieve them from storage. The city's weekly street-sweeping crews bring along a trash truck just to deal with all the curbside refuse on San Julian. "Rats as big as cats" prowl the blocks, as one social worker puts it. Some men walk barefoot t…