don quixotes midnight ride, through the LA Eastside


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, “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”

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!


21 thoughts on “don quixotes midnight ride, through the LA Eastside

  1. Awesome post! Had me laughing many times throughout the story. Hahaha. Anyway, since I’m a stickler for geography (and a proud South Gater), you would run through Walnut Park, not Lynwood, on your way to HP from SG via Pacific.

  2. DQ, great post. The little stops with the music links for some reason had me thinking back to El Mariachi, Robert Rodriquez’s low budget prequel to Desperado. You reminded me of that guy running from the cartels, just him and his guitar, the beautiful woman, the cantina, the music. Anyhow, the overall point is so relevant. “Go back to Mexico” is the war cry of the minutemen clowns. They’re yelling this, in many cases, to people who were not only born in America, but whose ancestry traces back to Alto California’s pre occupation days. In other words, they were here all along. Modern day race politics have stoked this fire, but underneath it all I really blame our education system for not teaching kids the true history of California. They were going that direction in the ’70s, but the Reagan era ended that. America’s great, end of story, eliminate as much of the ugly history as you can and focus on the positive. So now you have a generation of young adults who really think that California was part of the US all along, and then suddenly these Mexicans just came out of nowhere and “invaded” us. It’s ignorance. They really don’t know. And you can’t chalk it up to the saying, “ignorance is bliss”, because it’s not bliss, it’s reality and this ignorance is the breeding ground for the type of behavior you described from the border patrol, not to mention so many in the media (I wish Lou Dobbs would go back to Mars). People talk about this generation of gang members being the “crack baby” generation, arguing that their total lack of conscience or rationale is based on the fact that they are brain damaged, born addicted to crack cocaine. This may be true. But we’re also seeing a “crack head” generation of poorly educated middle class Americans, in regards to history and Mexican immigration. At least the older bigots know the history. They just don’t care. But this younger generation really doesn’t know. They’re different from their parents in so many ways. A lot more outgoing, social, a lot less surly and vindictive. All the ingredients are there for them to get over this hump of racism. All that’s missing is the education.

  3. on one side of the family where about 3 generations of californians on the other a unheard of 9th generation califronian out of santa barbara.

  4. I don’t know if any of you have noticed this, but in the past few years you’re hearing a lot of people say that slavery ended 400 years ago (read: ended 400 years ago), so black people should “get over it”, etc. It actually started 500 years ago, went on for almost 400 years, and ended about 100 years ago. Only 300 years off. Something tells me that if these idiots spent more than one week a year studying slavery as kids, they’d have this down. Not knowing math, important dates in US History, and important quotes by presidents is unacceptable. But believing California is one of the original 13 colonies, that’s had to fight off a Mexican invasion since the Mayflower arrived, and that black people have had 400 years to become major players in the corporate and political world is perfectly fine. There’s your barrel of gasoline. All Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs have to do is light the match.

  5. A rich narrative, beautiful melodies, and engaging photographs. I can see your pretty daughter, Laura’s face, in that of your mother’s, DQ, and the quiet, seemly dignity of your visabuela. I’m glad you kept the chile verde burritos out of your pant pockets this time around (-: Finally, I know I’m going to regret saying this, but yea… you were a cute baby. See you on the Boulevard friend.

  6. Shit that flies in NM and the other states doesn’t fly here in Cali. And it’s all about the numbers. We had our civil rights pleito here in the 60’s and coupled with our growing population, we finally started making some progress on getting treated like equal human beings for a change. Unfortunately, I’ve observed that the general populace in other states is still generally behind in treating Chicanos & Hispanics & other non-whites with respect and justice. I see places like AZ, TX, the midwest & the east and it’s like 1962 again. Me, I’m generally treated well here in my hometown L.A., because I carry myself with confidence and never allow myself to be looked down upon by a few ignorant rubes.
    The sad thing is that in many other places of this country (including in Cali) today, I’d still be just a another dirty spick. And I’m not just talking about low income whites, I’m including that middle to upper class professional from Connecticut for example, who moves here and who never needed to consider that brown people (all those maids & cooks)really mattered. (this ties in with the local misappropriation of the “Eastside” name, but that’s another tangent) Something more troubling is that in recent years a lot of these backward, ignorant rust belt rejects, and others, have been moving out here to the LA area and bringing their mentality with them. I notice it. It seemed like the tolerance and understanding between whites & browns was reaching acceptable levels about ten years ago here, but now I notice these newbie redneck voices around here getting more brazen and judgemental (I see it alot between the lines in cyberspace). Am I the only one whose noticed this disturbing trend? Last week two newbie fratboys were seen actually waving a Confederate flag from a rooftop in Silver Lake. What’s going on? I wonder,
    with the White people I know & love! The L.A. longtimers are my friends.We understand each other. We’re brothers. These newbies, not so much!:(
    I’m one of the last people you’d imagine who like to cry “racist wolf”, but I know I’m not imagining some of this stuff I describe.
    Thanks for your piece Don Q. I’ve been carrying around this rant for a while now but didn’t know how to put it out there. Your post just gave me that means I needed.

  7. great post. I feel you. When ever I’ve had run ins with the cops or been in bad situations like that where you need to use the wits more than the fists there is some energy inside that needs to get out and you feel like running all over town screaming and yelling.
    Gracias for the trip. Hey and bring some of that Santa Cruz stuff this way

  8. Thanks to all for the kind words, I very much appreciate them and all the thoughtful comments.
    Although the confrontation with the “migra” at the Albuquerque train station pissed me off and helped me initiate the post, I was trying to elucidate on more than just the hassle and attempt by these “keepers of the culture” and their ridiculous and vain attempt at putting me in my place, wherever the hell that is nowadays.
    I wanted to illustrate not only the futile effort by the fading powers that be, to keep grasping at straws, like a drowning man, of domination of the people, all working, minority, and freedom loving people, who are getting sick of the pathetic attempts of the old oligarchic power structure to continue their cultural and economic hegemony over the people.
    Their time has come to an end as evidenced by the recent failures in the US and world economic structure and what is clear, if one has the courage to “see”, is that a new and more democratic social order is at hand.
    But the old rulers will not give it up easily and so they resort to the old divide and conquer, oppressive, racist, and fascist tactics that have served them so well for so long.
    And even as Al Desmadre, Rob Thomas, Pachuco 3000, and others, so eloquently describe, specifically the more severe oppression of people, and especially Mexican American people, in other states where the ethnic minority’s are weaker politically , this too is coming to an end.
    I wanted to show, by my and my own family’s example, that historical amnesia and manipulation of popular culture and information is losing its effectiveness as a means of confusing the people and retaining power for the ruling economic class.
    We are all in the shit together and we all share similar history’s with each other.
    It’s time for isolating the real culprits and their false prophets and mouthpieces, and time to end the scapegoating of certain segments of our society who are just people trying to survive, and maybe have a little fun some times.

  9. yes it was a lot of running rolo, and that is why it’s so important to keep your toenails trimmed and to use the proper tire tread on one’s huarache’s

  10. After all that, did you get those old Huaraches retreaded? or did you just replace them with some new steel belted ones?

  11. DQ- Another classic post!!!WOW that’s all I can say right now, theres alot of issues there, prejudice, hate, indifference, still perpetrated against innocent Chicanos (in your case). It was starting to look like a scene from “Born In East LA” without the comedy though!! Just the way you start your trip, and all the things you notice, your wine, some good food, and some outright prejudice from the man are all things I can relate to.Excellent Post to say the least!!

  12. Thank you Vince, your compliment means alot to me.
    But I, like many Chicano’s have lived with that shit my whole life and it never destroyed me, it only made me stronger. All I can say about it is “keep on keeping on!”

    Al you pulled my covers! Being an old school Chicano and bien codo you know I went for the retreads, they’ll last me another 30,000 milla’s or por vida, which ever comes first.

  13. DQ- I call em’ as I see ’em. For ultimate performance, like you said, toe nails clipped to the optimum length, the perfect tread gauge, and perhaps the perfect amount of “Armour- All” just on the edge to keep them looking sharp and balanced!!

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