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 SUVâ€™s parked at the entrance, hmmm very odd I thought.
I checked in my one maleta and went to the menâ€™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 Houstonâ€™s assâ€™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 â€œlevanta sus brazos! No te mueves!
The migra staring at me started yelling â€œlevanta sus brazos tambien!â€Â And I answered in Spanish since that was how I was addressed, â€œpos no puedo pendejo! Tengo my chora en mis manos buey!
Goddamn if the migra didnâ€™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, â€œwhere were you born?â€â€œ I was born in Los Angeles California I replied, where were you born puto?â€Â I donâ€™t think that went over to big with these pricks so the next question was â€œWhat are monkey bars? â€œ, I laughed in his face while answering, â€œwell 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 couldâ€
No smiles from these pricks, no sense of humor at all. Then with smirks on their faces â€œWell you probably wouldnâ€™t know this being a Mexican, but Iâ€™ll ask you anyway, how many stars are on the American flag?â€
My reply in Spanish was â€œhow many hairs do I have on my balls?â€
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 â€œYouâ€™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 weâ€™ll be coming for the rest of you too, Mexican.
Well they couldnâ€™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, â€œWeâ€™re going to be coming for the rest of you tooâ€.
Well this Chicano wasnâ€™t going to get caught by no migraâ€™s but I figured I better warn all the raza about this dire threat made by these migraâ€™s, their appearance could be a harbinger, like a biblical prophesy, the â€œfour horsemen of the apocalypseâ€, â€œpestilence, war, famine, death, and nowÂ â€œla migraâ€!!
So I took off my Stacy Adams shoes and my â€œZoot Suitâ€, 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 â€œla migraâ€ coming to get us.
I was thinking I could be like a Chicano â€œPaul Revereâ€ who ran through the countryside yelling a warning, â€œthe British are coming, the British are coming!!â€
I could be remembered as â€œdon quixoteâ€ who tipped off the raza â€œthe 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!Â That gavacho migra dude came off like one of the â€œRincheâ€™s de Texasâ€ (Texas Rangers), real Mexican haters who donâ€™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 toÂ Santiago, and the other Carnals out in the San Fernando Valley, I know thereâ€™s a million Mexicans there and I hope youse vatos make it, dispensaÂ 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 Iâ€™d do the most good.
So off I went, running down North Figueroa like one those Tarahumara Indioâ€™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 didnâ€™t have a bell like the patriotic Paul Revere, I sang as loud as I could in a high falsetto voice, â€œIf I had a hammer, if I had a bell, Iâ€™d ring out a warning, all over this world, Iâ€™d ring out for justice, Iâ€™d ring out for freedom!â€Â Â But then, a la madre, Palo! Un jodaso upside my head!Â A bunch of little vato locos at the Highland Park Playground were throwing rocks and shit at me and yelling, â€œshut the fuck up you crazy motherfucker!!
After quickly picking up speed and passing these ungrateful little Chicano falsoâ€™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 chanclaâ€™s were smoking but I was feeling good, yelling â€œAhi viene la migraâ€ 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 â€œFlorsheimâ€.
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 60â€™s high schools to walk out on the shitty and prejudiced education given to Mexican Americans in those days.
And besides, thatâ€™s where I first laid eyes on my â€œQuerida â€œ, 15 years old, with those dimples on that pretty brown face, those rosy cheeks, her shy beautiful smile, and sheâ€™s still beautiful to me all these years later, and Iâ€™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 â€œthe migra is comingâ€ and all the Mexicans I ran by, just going about the business of living, nobody was listening to me!Â 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 â€œthe migra, corre corre!
More blank stares and shaking of heads from the masses of Mexicans who just kept working.
As I ran near â€œCalvary Cemetery â€œ 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, â€œCarlos Trujillo, â€œa Mexicanâ€, was killed in a one car accident on Alvarado St.â€
My great Grandmother, I still remember her, her whole life was dedicated to her family, illiterate, she never spoke a word of English except â€˜Sanganabichiâ€! Her mother was born in Mexico, in what later became New Mexico Territory. Her tombstone inside Calvary reads â€œQuerida Madre y Abuelaâ€, Iâ€™m glad sheâ€™s dead and in peace or â€œla migraâ€ 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, â€œthe migraâ€™s coming pendejos, run!â€Â 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 partyâ€™s, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adgNcdcuoBE â€œPasaran mas que mil anos, y muchos mas, Sabor a Miâ€, 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, â€œJesse Belvinâ€ singing, â€œnow Iâ€™m not king on a throne ohohoho, no treasures do I own own, Beware Iâ€™m out to get you, you better bewareâ€Â 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 didnâ€™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 chanclaâ€™s slapping the sidewalk and keeping time, gritandole como una chillona!! The migra is coming, hide your culoâ€™s de voladasâ€,
Pero nada, nothing from none of the Chicanoâ€™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 Chicanoâ€™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 â€œ all you Mexicans in LAâ€ by a couple of those ICE agents in Albuquerque New Mexico.
The vatoâ€™s just laughed like hell and told me, â€œno te preoccupies manoâ€Â la migra or the jura donâ€™t mess with us, serio! Itâ€™s just for publicity and show, thereâ€™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,Â now head on home, calmado ese!
I still didnâ€™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 couldnâ€™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 Cholitoâ€™s and Lowriders but I never got messed with, guess I didnâ€™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, Iâ€™ll be surrounded by Mexicans there too!
I, feeling muy Mexicano, starting singing the old Mexican song â€œCancion Mixtecaâ€ 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 Iâ€™m a Mexican but Iâ€™m as American as 4th of July too, this is my home, and home to Mexicans since before the Pilgrims, Iâ€™m not from the country of Mexico Iâ€™m from LA , so fuck â€œla migraâ€ and any other rascists that want some.
We are here to stay! Viva la Raza, Viva la Huelga, Viva Eastside Los,Â Viva Los Obreros de todo mundo!