The Price of Beer

As a 20-year-old coed at UCSD the newness of each day as an adventure, still had its momentum. The first female in my family to go to college, to move out at 18-years-old was at once my second-generation-immigrant family’s dream and nightmare. My first year of away-from-home loneliness was defeated by my freedom. I sucked it up, and watched other ingénues file out one by one—until there was 1 Chicana for every 17 Chicanos in my class of 100 in a sea of 7000 students. Freedom meant learning to think and speak critically, handling finances, self-management, validating my culture, being creative, making wise choices, defining myself and not appearing to have been too sheltered by my Christian-freak family.

Being away from family also gave the freedom to live completely bacchanalian, if one chose it. It was an undergraduate rite of passage “to thy own-self be true” and part of the experience needed on the road to where you were headed. By the time some of my high school friends became freshmen, I was their mentor and resolver of all acculturating problems.

I’m not sure how the situation came about–my high school friend Danny taunting me into asking Jose a 22-year old senior to buy us beer, because we were too young. I was uncomfortable, knowing that I would owe Jose some favor that I could not pay back—because he was obviously interested in me. The night ride down Torrey Pines Road in the back of a dark VW bus with Jose and my napping, assigned-sentry Raul, with John as shot-gun and Danny driving, seemed excruciatingly long. Occasionally Danny would pull back the blue Hawaiian print curtain that divided the cab from the carpeted surf den to say, “Is everything ok back there?” followed by a wink and grin at me. He knew I went reluctantly and this was his silly gesture to make light of it, while protecting my honor. Continue reading

Rambling On My Mind: South American Edition: Manizales, Colombia Where The Score Is Vishnu 3 Jesus Cristo 0

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

got up, gotta do some good byes cuz i’m blowin out of medellin. visited new friend at kiosk in plaza botrero, went back to vegetus for breakfast. went to arbol de la vida for dessert and just to say thank you for existing. the owners were so gracious and wished me a safe journey. hung out in downtown and took some pics. checked out some english language schools just for the hell of it. lexicom folks were kind of rude. went back to el poblado and said bye to my new friend at chinese place. all was good again with his wife, seemed happier. final walk to hostel up the street, paid up. 60 bucks for about a week. not bad. took a taxi to the terminal and i made the 7:30 bus to manizales, a place i decided to visit a few hours ago. you see, how much planning goes into this?
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Intersecting Realities: Visions of Immigrant Narratives

Save the date for June 18th 6 p.m. for what will be one of many art shows that looks at the Dream Act movement from the point of view of the individuals who make it up. This is a show that has been a long time in the making and through a collective effort of individuals and artist, a space has been created in which the movement will be seen a little differently that the normal political context. Seen the way we see it ourselves everyday going to work, school, being activist, artist, brothers, sisters, daughters,sons … human beings making the best of what was given to us.People see us as the students, dreamers, activist and youth, but rarely do those same people get to see the other sides of our lives outside of these spaces. Truly, a persons personally is like a kaleidoscope, perpetualy changing, sometimes too fast to notice.

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don quixote and Querida 1963, 17 years old at the Long Beach Nu Pike

The love of my life passed away last month, April 2, from both complications of diabetes and a broken heart due to the sudden death of our only son in January. He was a great son and a guy everyone loved, he must have been having health problems but didn’t tell anyone, he caught the flu, which turned onto pneumonia. As he battled in the ICU in an induced coma we stayed with him day and night for a week until the doctors advised us that his prognosis was terminal and we had to pull the plug. We stayed with him telling him how much we loved him until he died.
My wife and I were both from the neighborhood and I loved her since the first time I noticed how beautiful she was with her laughing smile, her dimples, brown face and rosy cheeks.
At the time of the photo above I was a real mess, always locked up for one reason or another, usually gang related, a heroin user, and going nowhere fast but she stuck with me through thick and thin.
This was our song then, we danced to this at our wedding party, we were nineteen years old, “Sadness will never be” Wow!

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Rambling On My Mind: Final Daze in Medellin: Like A Walk In The Park

Part I
Part II
Part III

2 homies still asleep in hostel. whole place is quiet. i leave and at 945 i’m on the metro, not packed. get to vegetus in downtown, across from this parking lot. small spot, kinda cramped. they tell me it’s all vegan. hells yeah! get lasagna and it’s alright. yes, lasagna at 1030! even got some ice cream made of avena. i take some pics of menu and a woman kindly asks me why and i tell her, just for memories. she goes over to the counter and brings me a menu and says, “you can keep this one.” here it is

i split and it’s noon and hit up a net place and write some shit. walk around and at a corner, in front of shopping center, is a long-haired metal head selling the latest in death and black metal. i walk over and we talk. i dabble in the metal arts, i say. i favor the traditional heavy style a la trouble. push play, sucka, and let the dark riffs remind you why ozzy and tony are seers. and no that is not ozzy. as if.
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Rambling On My Mind: South American Edition: Guatepé, Antioquia, Colombia: Meet Me At The Bottom:

Part 1 here
Part 2 here

up at 8, showered night before. got out by 845, got to parque lleyras and like calle 10, it is empty. take metro to poblado to metro caribe then to north bus station to get bus to Guatepé. 11000 pesos it ran me. bout 5 bills
i’m right on time, sit in the back, wait 5 minutes.

last minute folks getting on, hustling for chairs. windows somewhat tinted and chairs not too comfy. i never thought of myself as tall, but every bus so far on this trip has chairs that dislike my knees. i have the bruised knee caps to prove it. and off we go (“so saddle up MC’s, and off we go. it’s not a rodeo, but i carry a lasso”). some tourists start to talk and i am grateful i have my ipod, i throw it on and vader accompanies me. Continue reading

Are The Paisa Bars Disappearing?

My compa Don Ignacio SMC, inspired me to write this post because he had some videos on his Facebook page with old Rancheras/Corridos/Nortenas. While browsing through  the videos and listening to others on YouTube I noticed a common theme of old paisa bars, they seemed always pop up in the older videos. Artists such as Vicente Fernandez and Los Tigeres del Norte and countless others always had scenes in old paisa bars. Most of these are classic movie clips they starred in from back in the 1970s and 1980s.

No tengas miedo metete…..

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Zeus from Highland Park

Zeus and his guitar

The past week I’ve been reading the book Outliers, The Stories of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. The basic gist of the book is very successful people, outliers, owe their success to a few proven factors: time spent practicing their craft, dedication and luck (class, unique historical moments, when they were born etc.) Anyways, I immediately thought of this book when I went to the Rite Aid on York and Ave 64 this evening and spotted this young dude playing his guitar and singing outside the front door.

I’ve seen him all over Highland Park, at the farmer’s market, the library, on Figueroa, all sorts of places and he’s always with his guitar. I thought to myself, it’s not too many young people that would have the dedication and gumption to stand in front of Rite Aid playing on a Monday night. But it seemed to be paying off, I saw a man go to his car, get money and come back to put it in the already-full-of-bills of hat. Nobody does that in Highland Park, c’mon! Make an extra trip to give someone money? They wouldn’t even do that for their mom! Something about this dude’s spunk was admirable and piqued my interest so I asked him if I could interview him for the blog. He was really nice and said yes, even though I interrupted his song. It’s okay it was a Beatles (gag) song.
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