Before her death, Dolores Janney "Jenni" Rivera, was one of the best-selling regional Mexican artists of her generation. The scrappy tomboy daughter of Mexican immigrants came from dirt-poor Long Beach and struggled through teen pregnancies, domestic violence and more to sell out arenas in the motherland.
Yet she went largely unnoticed by non-Hispanics until the small Learjet she was riding after a concert crashed into a hillside in Nuevo León on December 9, 2012, killing everyone on board.
She was 43.
Though her explosive, uncensored personality and often-public feuds made her a polarizing figure for many Mexicans, the woman known as La Diva de la Banda built an empire, with her own reality show, a cosmetics line, a denim line, and a mini chain of stores to sell it all in, among other ventures.
At the time of her death, she was anticipating the announcement of her first crossover move — an English-language sitcom for NBC — which made her passing even more tragic.
But there are many ways to remember La Mariposa del Barrio, as she called herself. Here are five places across Los Angeles County, from Long Beach to the San Fernando Valley, where you can still feel Jenni's presence.
Polytechnic High School
1600 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach
Before she was La Diva de la Banda, little Janney Rivera was a dorky honor roll student at Long Beach's Polytechnic High School. Well known to football fans as the school that has bred the most NFL players in history (60-plus!), it's also where Snoop Dogg, Cameron Diaz and Jenni walked the same halls together in the mid '80s.
Despite her natural smarts and future college goals, Jenni got pregnant when she was 15 and dropped out because she wanted to be — in her words — "a gangsta wife." She eventually got her GED and went back to college (also in Long Beach!), but always repped the Poly Jackrabbits, especially when they honored her in 2011 with a star on the school's newly minted walk of fame. Find it on the outside of the athletic field's fence on Martin Luther king Jr. blvd., a block or so from VIP Records.
Cintas Acuario HQ
430 E. Market St., Long Beach
In the mid-1980s, Jenni's dad Don Pedro started releasing cassette recordings of narcocorridos, under a label called Cintas Acuario, one of the first Stateside labels to represent norteno and banda artists like Chalino Sanchez. Don Pedro also started releasing his own songs on the label and soon enough his son Lupillo was signed to the family business, becoming famous as a corrido singer in his own right.
After helping run the business for years, Jenni finally decided to start recording her own songs in the late '90s and spent years trying to prove she could hang with the boys and wasn't just riding her family's coattails. From an unlabeled building where it first began on Market St. in working class North Long Beach, Cintas Acuario continues to thrive. Though not an official retail space, you can still stop by when the door is open and say hi to whoever is manning the warehouse.
Paramount Swap Meet
7900 All America City Way, Paramount
Before you could buy regional Mexican music online, Cintas Acuario albums were exclusively sold outdoors at the Paramount Swap Meet. A short drive up the 710 freeway from the family's Long Beach home, the mass of tiendas spread across 45 acres was the perfect spot for the Rivera family to reach their Latino audience directly. A stand in Paramount led to another in South Gate and others throughout southeast Los Angeles where, during the early '90s, immigrants and their children fell in love with music that told them stories of home.
Jenni used to work days behind the counter here, slanging her father's records before she became famous in her own right. The last Cintas Acuario stand closed in 1995, but you can now purchase the label's albums (as well as Jenni's) at Wal-Marts, Targets and mom-and-pop discotecas.
All Souls Mortuary
4400 Cherry Ave., Long Beach
When the Rivera family returned to Long Beach from Mexico with Jenni's remains, there was no way she was being buried anywhere except in La Playa Larga — Long Beach — the city she always said was home. Her final resting place is inside this Catholic cemetery in North Long Beach in a newer section of the park where fenced off gardens protect entire families for eternity.
Look for the only waist-high structures in the south lawn and her grave is about three-quarters of the way down from the street on the right hand side, in a separated area her family dubbed "Momma's Garden." The gate is locked so you can't walk inside the space, but you can pay your respects over the fence and add your offerings to the piles of roses and decorative butterflies.
The Jenni Rivera Boutique
8544 Van Nuys Blvd., Panorama City
Though it opened nearly a year after her death, the Jenni Rivera Boutique in the San Fernando Valley is the fruition of three years of work Jenni did before she died. Inside is all things Jenni. It sells jeans made from fabrics she purchased, terry cloth jumpsuits she designed and long-awaited licensed products like her tequila, perfumes and autobiography. The Boutique is a one-stop shop where fans can purchase her complete cosmetics line, her entire discography and everything from mugs and tumbler glasses to baseball hats and quinceniera dresses.
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