Cholo Ghosts

Do cholo ghosts haunt your hood?

Cholo ghosts, phantom cholos and spectral gangstas, call them what you will. I asked last year if anyone has ever seen a cholo ghost and received some interesting comments. Frequent LA Eastside commenter Rolo claims they don’t exist because it takes at least one hundred years in the ghost world for a spirit to take shape. Or perhaps the lack of cholo ghost sightings is due to other factors? Maybe there’s discrimination in the after life too?

My mother claimed to see the ghost of Little Ray once, a young teenage vato from her neighborhood who had recently been killed. He stood at the foot of her stairs and then left. My mother like so many other Latina women is Catholic and superstitious so it’s no surprise she has these kinds of tales. But just to get it out there, anyone else have spectral encounters of the “ese” kind?

(I write this post in jest, inspired after a long discussion I had with friends the other night. You often hear stories about New England roads or old buildings haunted by the ghosts who left the world in an unexpected fashion and yet, there is so much death and murder in Los Angeles and the only ghoul we have is La Llorona. What’s up with that? Just for the record, I mean no disrespect to anyone who has lost a friend or family due to gang violence. It’s a serious and important issue in our community.)

14 thoughts on “Cholo Ghosts

  1. I have never heard of a cholo ghost from anyone besides the conversations we’ve had about them. But rightly, the cycle of life and death is so often spinning round and round in our neighborhoods it’s wondrous that no tales have formed. Civil War battlegrounds are said to be haunted, as the castles of West Africa where slaves were “exported,” and so many other places imbued with history.

    Maybe because Los Angeles is tied with the notion of restlessness and being ahistorical that ghost tales never take root.

  2. Would the spectre of Lil’ Spooks or Casper count as double? How come with all the shitty Latino kids books (ugh, la llorona again?) nobody has run with this idea? Hmm…

    “Maybe because Los Angeles is tied with the notion of restlessness and being ahistorical that ghost tales never take root.” Excellent point Julio!

  3. Interesting question?? well it makes sense what you say that LA has been plagued with violence over the years and why would we not spot a cholo ghost. I think its because whenever someone does die they are mourned for, prayed for a long time. Vigils, rosarios. They are visited at graves often and I guess you can say taken to a peaceful place. I cant really say that is true but it might be the reason nobody really has spotted cholo ghosts.

  4. When i die i want to come back as a happy latino ghost

    I believe that when one dies in this world-present reality your spirit lives on in eternity. The human body is only the temporary container,vessel,facade.

    Once a friend told me that we die 3 times.

    1.- when you stop breathing.
    2.- when you are buried or cremated.
    3.- and this is the saddest death of all- when they stop remembering,talking and thinking of you.

    I think cholos and gang members are akin to vampires- come out at night, draw blood in shootings or stabbings- there should be a Twilight version like Crepusculo de Cholo, Nueva Luna de Cholo, Rompiendo Amanecer de Cholo, Verdad Sangre de Cholo, or something like that…lol

    Scary weird thing happened when i was finishing writing this- my keyboard froze up, i had to reboot and start over.
    Hand to God honest truth…scary…cucuy.

    Ok gotta jet thanks homie, vato,ese 🙂

  5. i thought that we were all ghosts in LA already, invisible phantom presences/absences navigating this nightmare. like how they (don’t) show us on TV & the movies, lurking in the background “out of sight,” always haunting their perfect veneer.

    maybe ghost stories would just be too redundant. that’s like everyday life already for chicanas/chicanos latinas/latinos dealing with dominant society in LA. a chicano ghost story would be like, “And then, I got off the bus in Westwood to go to my job…and it was like nobody could see me! Until the ICE van came…then I REALLY disappeared!”

    we are white LA’s cucuy already. boo!

  6. Brenda, I tweaked a graphic I found on MySpace.

    Boo, your comment is so incredibly awesome, really good points.I love LA Eastside readers!

  7. “Calle de la Eternidad”, the mural at 4th & Broadway, contains this poem from Octavio Paz.


    Mis pasos en esta calle resuenan en otra calle donde oigo mis pasos pasar en esta calle donde
    Solo es real la niebla

  8. Sorry Love n Hate been reading comments on my phone and missed your fabulous contribution which I think is good enough for a post in itself!
    I love the idea of a Latino/cholo Twilight, we’d own that! Cuidado with that spectral vato haunting your keyboard!

  9. Chimatli, Your post got me to thinking about the ghosts and spirits of cholo’s or as we were called in my days “Chuco’s” or Pachuco’s or Vato’s Loco’s.
    One of my favorite names comes from Roberto Bolano’s epic book “2666”, the character of the quiet young hitman who is recruited by the Juarez police, “Lalo Cura”, who lives as we used to say “La Locura”.
    The Vida Loca or La Locura has claimed many thousands of people throughout the years on the Eastside, and I can recall many, many, tragic endings that sent young Vato Loco’s into that LA Eastside netherworld of Ghosts and Spirits.
    Little Richard Castro from Clover, 16 years old, stabbed to death at the old Frostee Freeze on N Broadway and Daly, Tweedy Bird from Hoyo Mara left dead, hanging from a chain link fence in an alley, by filero wielding White Fence loco’s, Cowboy from Frogtown, shot in the back by a young kid protecting his father as Cowboy was beating the man to death in a Sun Valley bar, Big Calles from Dogtown, found OD’d in the bathroom of the Downey Playground with a spike still in his arm.
    My childhood homie Black Carlos, beaten to death by LAPD cops, his body found the next day in the parking lot of the old Bank of America on N Broadway and Daly. Crazy, mean, wanting to fight everyone, until someone killed him and put him out of his misery, a wet brain alcoholic from having continuous nightmares about the baby in the middle of the road he ran over while driving the lead truck, in a caravan, in the Vietnam jungle wars.

    Ghosts? I have seen plenty of them who are still walking around among us but are actually already dead; they are just waiting in line for their exit ticket.
    Years ago as a young drug dealer delivering a greatly anticipated shipment of chiva to a street dealer in an apartment, in the old brick hotel next to the Jack in the Box, on Mission Rd near Daly. I saw dozens of these spirits at one time. As I climbed up the metal fire escape at the rear of the hotel they were looking out the windows at me, as I walked down the hallway to the dealers apt. they opened their doors a crack and stared at me, when I was in the hypes apt collecting the money they could be heard walking down the hallway, scratching at the door, talking to each other in that language spoken by sick, sweaty, tecato’s and tecata’s, who would do anything for another ride on the dragon.

    All the vato’s I grew up with that have spent and are spending their lives in the pinta, who live in a time warp hell, of gangs, killing, plotting and scheming. Their families and children long ago moving on without them as they live in that purgatory as institutionalized zombies.
    I still run into ghosts and spirits in the alleys of the LA Eastside, drinking muscatel in brown paper bags, at the flagpole in Highland Park with a 40 ounce and empty, rheumy, eyes. They’re seen down on skid row, dirty and hung over, or slamming carga under the freeway near Hollenbeck Park.
    Many ghosts still stalk the streets of the Eastside; it’s just that we don’t see them, unless we put in the effort.

    This was written by my friend Ricardo Means Ybarra from his book “A Framing Job”, about a cholo ghost kid from Big Hazard named “Smokey”, shot to death by the police.


    My name is Arturo Jimenez, a.k.a. Smokey
    You don’t know me, do you?
    I was shot in the chest at a birthday party
    three days after the Rodney King beating
    three days out of road camp
    three days back with my girl.
    They left me on the sidewalk
    wouldn’t let the ambulance through
    I don’t know but I think I was already dead
    ’cause all I remember is the Virgen
    trying to calm the Sheriff
    trying to hold back his finger.
    Nineteen years old.
    Poco a poco, I’m getting closer to you.

    Que bonito es querer como quiero yo
    Poco a poco me voy acercando
    a ti
    Poco a poco la distancia se va haciendo menos
    “Llegando a Ti”,
    – Javier Solis

  10. El poder no es tenerlo todo
    El poder es unirse con el mundo invisible
    El ser uno con los espíritus
    Y nosotros uno con él

    Su corazón es el corazón de ellos
    Desnudo ante el río de la vida

    Quiero unirme a los que nunca se fueron
    A los que están entre nosotros pero no los vemos
    A los que sudan miel y emanan fuerza
    A los que ven que entre sus huesos
    Existen partículas fosforescentes de otras vidas

    Hay un río y es muy grande
    Dejen que nos lleve de regreso
    Hay que comprender y unirse
    A todas las cosas que son de la tierra
    Empezar a comprender el equilibrio
    Que esta alrededor de nosotros
    Y aprender a ver…

  11. I see them same “ghost” at the needle exchange sites I work at in HLPK, BHTS, LHTS, and Wilmas. You can also run into them at the methadone clinics.

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