Ai mi espanto!!
A couple of weeks ago I took a round trip on the train, LA to Albuquerque and back to LA, the trip was great, I bought a bottle of red wine, a couple of Italian sandwiches at Lanza Bros Mkt on North Main, got on the train, no search by Homeland Security, no taking off my shoes, belt, jacket, no emptying my pockets, no hard stares or grumpy questions, just got on the train, got my seat by the window and enjoyed the scenery.
In Burque I was met by familia and we drove up to the little mountain pueblito that my ancestors have inhabited for hundreds of years. Funny how little things change in some places, the language spoken is still mainly Spanish, the customs and traditions are still old school, a mix of Catholicism and witchcraft.
After a week I headed back down the mountains to Burque for the trip back home to LA on the train.
I had another botella of vino rojo and a couple of big fat homemade chile verde burritos for the trip. I had my cellphone charged so I could check on the Lakers game against Houston.
As I entered the station I noticed a couple of Immigration SUV’s parked at the entrance, hmmm very odd I thought.
I checked in my one maleta and went to the men’s room to take a leak before I boarded. So there I was doing my thing and thinking about the damn Lakers and how they were struggling with the Rockets when they should have been kicking Houston’s ass’s big time. All of a sudden blam! The door of the bathroom flies open and a middle aged Mexicano runs in, he was dressed in the typical country Mexicano fashion, gorro Texano, white snakeskin cowboy boots, with matching white snakeskin belt holding up his clean new blue jeans. The guy looked scared and he ran into the shitter and closed the door.
Weird I was thinking, when all of a sudden two uniformed immigration officers run into the bathroom, one starts looking in the back and the other one was staring at me as I was pissing in the urinal.
The migra in the back kicked the door of the shitter where the Mexicano was hiding; he started screaming loudly “levanta sus brazos! No te mueves!
The migra staring at me started yelling “levanta sus brazos tambien!” And I answered in Spanish since that was how I was addressed, “pos no puedo pendejo! Tengo my chora en mis manos buey!
Goddamn if the migra didn’t grab me while I was pissing and I ended up peeing all over his fucking uniform. I was ready to punch the motherfucker but the other officer grabbed me from the rear and they put me up against the sink, patted me down and handcuffed me.
I was all aguitado at this indignity and demanded an explanation about how I was being treated when the officer starts asking me questions, “where were you born?”“ I was born in Los Angeles California I replied, where were you born puto?” I don’t think that went over to big with these pricks so the next question was “What are monkey bars? “, I laughed in his face while answering, “well it could be a chain of white yuppie watering holes or it could be that schoolyard chingadera that little girls always went across faster and better on than the little boys could”
No smiles from these pricks, no sense of humor at all. Then with smirks on their faces “Well you probably wouldn’t know this being a Mexican, but I’ll ask you anyway, how many stars are on the American flag?”
My reply in Spanish was “how many hairs do I have on my balls?”
The silence was thick in the air and I thought the shit was going to hit the fan with these two fascists but they looked at me with real hate and one of them just said “You’re a real smart ass, Mexican, but I really enjoy my job picking up Wetbacks and shipping them back where they belong, and one of these days we’ll be coming for the rest of you too, Mexican.
Well they couldn’t do shit to me so they took off the cuffs (real slowly and rough), and pushed the poor Mexican through the door and took him away.
I got on the train and enjoyed the trip home, the Lakers won and the train arrived on time 7;00 AM on an overcast LA morning.
That Saturday night I was in the chante sipping some good brandy and smoking some fine yesca my brother had brought down from the Santa Cruz Mountains.
I started thinking about the scene with the migra at the Albuquerque train station, the poor Mexicano who was dragged away like a dog, to who knows where, by those fascist bastards, I started thinking about the warning that the puto migra had given me, “We’re going to be coming for the rest of you too”.
Well this Chicano wasn’t going to get caught by no migra’s but I figured I better warn all the raza about this dire threat made by these migra’s, their appearance could be a harbinger, like a biblical prophesy, the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”, “pestilence, war, famine, death, and now “la migra”!!
So I took off my Stacy Adams shoes and my “Zoot Suit”, and quickly put on my best huaraches, a dirty LA Dodger hat, and planned a route for my escape, but I was also wondering where I could warn the most Mexicans about the “la migra” coming to get us.
I was thinking I could be like a Chicano “Paul Revere” who ran through the countryside yelling a warning, “the British are coming, the British are coming!!”
I could be remembered as “don quixote” who tipped off the raza “the migra are coming, the migra are coming!!
But wait a minute, why would I need to run from the migra? Shit with that noise, I was born right here in LA, at the Queen of Angels Hospital, and grew up here on the Eastside my whole life!!
Call me paranoid, but in that state of mind I thought, why take chances! That gavacho migra dude came off like one of the “Rinche’s de Texas” (Texas Rangers), real Mexican haters who don’t give a shit what side of the frontera your from.
And the more I thought about it my conclusion became more clear, I better run!
I decided my best bet would be south and east due to the huge Mexican population there that I could both warn and blend into, (Apologies to Santiago, and the other Carnals out in the San Fernando Valley, I know there’s a million Mexicans there and I hope youse vatos make it, dispensa San Gabriel Valley, the OC, and the IE, and all the other areas where there are millions of Mexicans,) but I had to go where I’d do the most good.
So off I went, running down North Figueroa like one those Tarahumara Indio’s who run for days and hundreds of miles in their huaraches, drinking nothing but beer, and maybe smoking a little mota, tu sabes, for the trip.
As I was running down Fig. I started to sing (like whistling in a graveyard?), and to warn the raza, and since I didn’t have a bell like the patriotic Paul Revere, I sang as loud as I could in a high falsetto voice, “If I had a hammer, if I had a bell, I’d ring out a warning, all over this world, I’d ring out for justice, I’d ring out for freedom!” But then, a la madre, Palo! Un jodaso upside my head! A bunch of little vato locos at the Highland Park Playground were throwing rocks and shit at me and yelling, “shut the fuck up you crazy motherfucker!!
After quickly picking up speed and passing these ungrateful little Chicano falso’s, all the while checking my head for lumps and blood, I continued running down No. Figueroa, singing, and yelling out a warning to all the raza, I turned left on Ave 19 to No. Broadway, Lincoln Heights, my old neighborhood, my chancla’s were smoking but I was feeling good, yelling “Ahi viene la migra” run for your lives!!
But I got nothing but curious stares and shaking heads from all the raza I passed, they were just going about their business, very strange!
I ran alongside the LA River and the old railroad yards, pretty Elysian Park on the other side, then at No. Broadway there it was, the Downey Playground, where I became a gangster from East Side Clover when I was 12 years old. How proud I was that day, like a high school graduate, even though I ended up with a bloody nose, a shiner, and took six stitches over my eyebrow from the bottom of a “Florsheim”.
Orale! The old neighborhood, close to where LA began as a small Mexican Pueblo, all the familiar smells of the LA River, the wet concrete, toads, pigeon-shit, slimy green moss, the oily creosote from the railroad tracks, and the smell of La Llorona and rotting fruit from the alleys of Lincoln Heights.
So I continued up North Broadway yelling out a warning, but still the Mexicans just stared at me, hardly glancing at me, past Lincoln High School, yea! The first of the 60’s high schools to walk out on the shitty and prejudiced education given to Mexican Americans in those days.
And besides, that’s where I first laid eyes on my “Querida “, 15 years old, with those dimples on that pretty brown face, those rosy cheeks, her shy beautiful smile, and she’s still beautiful to me all these years later, and I’m lucky enough to see her pretty face every morning when I wake up.
I ran faster up North Broadway, too many ghosts were chasing my ass in Lincoln Hts.
Up Over the hill to Huntington Dr., catch Soto St. running and striding, yelling out the warning “the migra is coming” and all the Mexicans I ran by, just going about the business of living, nobody was listening to me! Past Hazard Park, down Soto past Wabash, across Brooklyn Ave. (oops Cesar Chavez now), on past 4th St. then a left on Whittier Blvd, nothing but Mexicans everywhere I saw, still yelling at the top of my lungs “the migra, corre corre!
More blank stares and shaking of heads from the masses of Mexicans who just kept working.
As I ran near “Calvary Cemetery “ I started to tear up, thinking about all my relatives and friends whose bones reside there. My Grandmother, who was the matriarch of the family and a mother to me, she came out to LA as a young girl, and soon became a widow, with young kids in the middle of the Great Depression, she never let them down, raising them and other orphaned and abandoned young relatives, they never felt poor even though they were. There was no welfare or food stamps in those hard days.
And my Grandfather, who came to LA like a lot of Mexicans still do. He had a lot of dreams and aspirations for a better life but was killed in a car wreck near McArthur Park at 31 years old, and even though he was born in the USA the old yellow newspaper article from the LA Times says, “Carlos Trujillo, “a Mexican”, was killed in a one car accident on Alvarado St.”
My great Grandmother, I still remember her, her whole life was dedicated to her family, illiterate, she never spoke a word of English except ‘Sanganabichi”! Her mother was born in Mexico, in what later became New Mexico Territory. Her tombstone inside Calvary reads “Querida Madre y Abuela”, I’m glad she’s dead and in peace or “la migra” would be chasing her ass down too!
(Baby dq, with madre, abuela, y bisabuela in Lincoln Hts 1946),
I was striding now, but still none of the raza gave a second glance at me and my yelling and warning, “the migra’s coming pendejos, run!” Just bemused looks of wonder at me, in my smoking huaraches and dirty Dodger hat, running down Whittier Blvd and now singing the song heard at a million Eastside wedding party’s, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adgNcdcuoBE “Pasaran mas que mil anos, y muchos mas, Sabor a Mi”, hiiijole! Dancing slow and close, with a beautiful Chicana!
Hey wake up! Now back to the task, running past Gage St. where I met a long ago lover at a house party. My mind started to wander again.
Dancing together like one in the dark, “Jesse Belvin” singing, “now I’m not king on a throne ohohoho, no treasures do I own own, Beware I’m out to get you, you better beware” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8j-px3fojw
Holding each other so tight we could feel each others hearts beating, the sound of the next 45 rpm record dropping on the turntable and still holding each other, low and behold, the finisher, the Chantels singing “The Plea” with voices like a choir of angels,
With a jolt I snapped out of it! Was someone behind me, could it be the migra!
No it was just a Sheriffs Patrol car, out looking for gangsters, they slowed and looked me up and down but kept rolling on Whittier Blvd. (glad they didn’t run a check on me, it might of got ugly!),
At the corner of Whittier and Atlantic I had a decision to make. Should I continue east on Whittier to warn the raza in Montebello, Pico Rivera, Santa Fe Springs, Whittier, Norwalk, La Mirada, Artesia, and Hawaiian Gardens? A shit load of Mexicans needed warning.
No, I decided to turn south on Atlantic and warn the Raza in Cudahy, Bell, Maywood, Bell Gardens, South Gate, Huntington Park, Lynwood, Long Beach, and ECT;
So off I went, picking up speed down Atlantic Blvd., my chancla’s slapping the sidewalk and keeping time, gritandole como una chillona!! The migra is coming, hide your culo’s de voladas”,
Pero nada, nothing from none of the Chicano’s or Mexicans, just smiles and looks of curiosity.
Then as I was running down through South Gate my huaraches suddenly had a blow-out so I stopped to fix them at a tire shop. A couple of Chicano’s who were working there (Llanteria S A LOCO), invited me to share a cahuama (40 oz) with them and smoke a little yerba for the road while they fixed my huaraches
As I thanked them for the repair they asked me what my viaje was about, so I explained to them that I had been warned that the Migra was out to get “ all you Mexicans in LA” by a couple of those ICE agents in Albuquerque New Mexico.
The vato’s just laughed like hell and told me, “no te preoccupies mano” la migra or the jura don’t mess with us, serio! It’s just for publicity and show, there’s way too many of us now and we do all the work and support all the hueros with our labor and taxes. Fuck em, now head on home, calmado ese!
I still didn’t feel safe so I thanked them and headed off across Firestone Blvd, to Pacific and up through Lynwood and into Huntington Park. My voice was thrashed by then so I couldn’t yell much, but I started to feel safer with the raza all around me, yes I know all about the LA gang problems, and sure enough I saw lots of Cholito’s and Lowriders but I never got messed with, guess I didn’t fit the profile, I only witnessed respectful and hard working families, all hustling and scuffling, making a living in LA.
Hmmm I started to feel downright Mexican! Fuck the migra! They can take me to Mexico if they want, I’ll be surrounded by Mexicans there too!
I, feeling muy Mexicano, starting singing the old Mexican song “Cancion Mixteca” a paean to Mexico sung by a homesick Mexicano,
Que lejos estoy del suelo donde he nacido!
inmensa nostalgia invade mi pensamiento;
al ver me tan solo y triste qual hoja al viento,
quisiera llorar, quisiera morir de sentimiento.
Running again up to Soto St. I saw the downtown skyscrapers, smelling the smells and seeing the familiar streets, the same distinct noises found in the LA Eastside, then across to Mission Rd. back into Lincoln Hts, the little houses, where long ago friends and relatives had lived, I ran quickly up Pasadena Ave to North Figueroa and back to Highland Park and home.
Finally in my own chante, then I had a moment of clarity, yes I’m a Mexican but I’m as American as 4th of July too, this is my home, and home to Mexicans since before the Pilgrims, I’m not from the country of Mexico I’m from LA , so fuck “la migra” and any other rascists that want some.
We are here to stay! Viva la Raza, Viva la Huelga, Viva Eastside Los, Viva Los Obreros de todo mundo!