Cesar E. Chavez Day

I have a few questions/issues regarding why Chavez is/was so venerated in the culture.

As a child, my dad took me to strike rallies where Chavez spoke and I felt how much people liked him. When I was in college I went to his funeral. In graduate school I began to question. Here are some thoughts:

Yes the corporate owned media and 'the man' would rather give a person using peaceful non-violence methods rather than self defense for self determination, but why did everyone else join in?

In that era, the late 1960's-early 1970's, EVERYONE was ready for a revolution. The civil rights movement fueled a conversation that had all colors, and most classes, demanding and willing to put their lives on the line for a plethora of issues: racial, sexual, class, the end to the Vietnam war, better education, police abuse, abortion rights, animal rights and the environment (yes even back then). Yet many chose to make sure that farm workers got better pay and treatment. Yes, they were being abused and exploited and deserved better, but in that era of cultural, social and political changes, asking for a raise and better treatment, just seems a tad myopic.

It seems like many of us chose to look out for a small minority of the population instead of fighting for the majority who lived in the city, were in screwed up schools, were being beaten by police, being sent off to war, discriminated against in jobs because of their gender or race, and some were even fighting over land. The American Indian Movement, Reis Tijerina's Allianza de Pueblos, and to a degree Corky Gonzalez's Crusade for Justice were fighting over land use/rights issues (and many other related issues) that cut to the core of many of the problems in the US.

Were we duped into fighting an easier battle and giving up the war? Chavez was an inspirational speaker, in an era of inspirational speakers. Why was his voice amplified the most by the media and then us? Was it easier to sit and fast than to pick up a gun for A.I.M, the Black Panthers, the Brown Berets, or any other group at the time? Did Chavez believe in Aztlan? Did he feel bad when he called the migra on strike breakers?

I know as a leader of a union Chavez had to be focused on his cause. Yet, when the spotlight was on him did he acknowledge and support the other causes and fights for justice going on at the time?

Today we are again being led to march and fight for a minority in the population_____________. Yes they need us to fight for them, but imagine if we could get everyone to march and speak out on the issues that affect the majority of us, such as____________? (Fill in your choices)

I'm glad we have a Chavez Day. He was positive and worked in and for light. His light touched and ignited other lights who went on to fight in other fronts. I await other days for other warriors that lived, fought and died for a cause that served others.


The Deep East: Nueva York

What could I say new about NYC that hasn't already been said?
We had my 11yr old Q and R's 15 yr cousin F, so we did a lot of the tourist stuff that you've probably seen or heard of time and again.
We went to see "Grease" at Q's request, and saw "Shutter" in the AMC 25 in Times Square at F's request. Both cool, but let me say seeing a scary film in NYC surrounded by locals was a helluva lot of fun and loud. Here are some brief thoughts and pics about our trip.

One of the big highlights for me was the Florencia 13 restaurant, that Adrian of G727 recommended to me. This was a much needed slice of East L.A. in the middle of SoHo. The owner Ralph Camarillo came over to our table, since I made it clear to the waitress that we were from Boyle Hts. He dropped some heavy knowledge on us about his life and what inspired him to do this. He mentioned that due to the success, he is considering opening up another restaurant in L.A. but obviously would need another name that wouldn't lead to drive bys on this coast. So if you see a restaurant called Bronx 13 or Brooklyn 13, just know I gave him those names.

Another supa dope spot was Little Branch a recommendation from my poet homegirl Diana Delgado, who is just about finished with her MFA at Columbia. This place is so cool it belongs in L.A. It is total speakeasy, with a low profile door that opens onto a steep flight of stairs going underground. The drinks aren't cheap but worth it for the home made ingredients, like their 12 kinds of ice!!! They really take care in the art and mixology of drinks.

Cielo, the 'hottest' club in NYC was a let down in terms of space, due to all the hype I've heard about this place. I just expected it to be bigger. The sound was impeccable. It was very supa dope that Joe Berinato of King St. hooked me up, that it was Louie Vega's "Roots" party and that Barbara Tucker was celebrating her birthday. It was house heaven.

We went to the Whitney for the Binneal and Alex Gray's CoSM (Chapel of Sacred Mirrors), both very inspiring and impressive.

This is a sneaky pic at El Museo Del Barrio where Harry Gamboa Jr. was showing. They don't allow pics in here, so R snuck one for me.

One memory I will always have is about my Q showing me her haggling skills. We had come off the Statue of Liberty ferry in Battery Park and were making our way to the subway. There were the usual African immigrants selling bootleg goods along the pathway. One minute we noticed Q was digging into a box full of purses. She then pulled out the pink Chanel bag. She asked the 6' 3'' African man how much he wanted for it. He said $45. She responded with $25!!! He dropped and dropped again. Looked at us when he hit $35 and he saw the shock on our faces. I never knew this side of Q since I don't take her shopping to the alleys with me, now I know better. He looked back at her, knowing he HAD to deal with her and only her. She said again $25!. He said, "No, No, $35." She gave him look and said "It's my birthday, $25!" (She is a July baby). He said $30. She said in a lower voice "It's my birthday, $25." He looked around and said, "OK, take it and get out of here." She paid him and practically floated away. Her mom told me later on the phone that she does that all the time. New to me. Thanks to NYC for letting me see this side of my Q.

On Religious Parties

I got several calls on the 17th about what I was going to do for St. Patrick's Day. I simply responded, "I don't do that, St. Patrick's Day is like Columbus Day."

The story goes St. Patty went to Ireland to drive the snakes out. But get this, there are no snakes in Ireland!!! So what did he do? He went to get rid of the Druids, and Earth Mother/Mother Nature based religions -which are represented by snakes.

So to celebrate this tool of Christian conversion is like celebrating Columbus. No thanks, I'll stay home and listen to U2.

Last year I thought about starting a movement to make Easter a bigger holiday than Christmas. My logic is that all prophets were born, but only Jesus came back to life, so we should celebrate his resurrection more than his birthday.

Anyone want to help destroy the Christmas capitalist machine?


Pachucoville goes east: NYC here we come...

Rolling out tomorrow for an early b-day trip for both Q and R. Taking R's cousin F who is 14, so my 11 yr. old Q can have someone else to talk to when we bore her.
It is Q's and F's first trip to the Big Manzana. Excitement is in the air.
A lot to do today: finish grading some papers, pick up Q, last minute shopping for thermals, get torta ingredients (to make tortas) and munchies for the plane and packing.

Any suggests, aside from the usual tourist traps?

We are planning on getting to all of these in our 4 days:

Central Park
Times Square
Statue of Liberty
Empire State Building
Brooklyn Bridge
Ground Zero
Wall Street
Rockefeller Center
Broadway Show

Metropolitan Museum
Natural History
Alex Gray
Whitney (Three Chicanos from So. Cal are showing)
Museo del Barrio (Harry Gamboa Jr. has pics there!!!)

Meat Packing District
Brooklyn/Williamsberg (need to go make fun of hipsters)
Grenwich Village
Little Italy
Upper East Side

I would love to go see:
David Letterman
Conan O'Brian

Little Louie Vega @ Cielo

Will update you if I have access or when I get back.


Mujeres de Maiz

I was fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time in Highland Park when Arroyo Books and the Centro Regeneracion / Popular Resource Center (PRC) were in full swing. I had a radio show on the micro radio station that broadcasted to all of the Highland Pk. valle.
Right before my show 'In The Mix,' was a an all women show called 'Mujeres de Maiz.' They read poetry, manifestos, chapters from books and talked about issues. At least that is how I remember it.
Soon there was an all woman art show called Mujeres de Maiz and it made an impact on the community that we are still lucky to be feeling today.
This past Saturday at Self Help Graphics Mujeres de Maiz kicked off a month long celebration of their 11th anniversary, 6th publication, International Women's Day and Women's Month. I had to be there. My daughter is 11 years old. I feel safer that there are mujeres de maiz 'putting our indigenous core, into the center of their art, music, words and medicine,' and that my daughter, even though she may not 'get it' right now she is surrounded by them, familiar to them and will understand more deeply when the time is right.
Gracias hermanas. Congratulations.

Mujeres de Maiz


A Month-Long Series of
intercultural, intergenerational, interdisciplinary
ART Events

*Celebrating our 11th Anniversary, 6th publication,
International Women’s Day, and Women’s Herstory month*

March 2008, Los Angeles

Self Help Graphics & Art (SHG),
3802 Cesar Chavez Ave. LA, CA 90063
unless otherwise noted.


Bike Riding...

I've mentioned my journeys and adventures on my bike throughout the life of this blog, but I have never written about just bike riding.

As a kid I lived on my bike. Met the girl who would give me my first kiss while riding around my block, over and over again. My bike was a bmx, with heavy duty web rims, it was sweet but heavy. I raced others on ten speeds and would beat them somehow. I got jumped three times by older kids who wanted my bike. The fourth time they got it. Didn't have another bike til college.

I DJed a gig and in lieu of cash they gave me a Nishiki. I rode that all over LA and for school. It didn't last long. One of the cranks got messed up and I just didn't want to bother fixing it as work, school and life got crazy.

In the later end of summer '06, I was leaving Grand Performances with my Q. When we got to Grand Av. and Sunset some guys on bikes rode up from Sunset and stopped in front of the cars. Behind them were hundreds of people on bikes. They were blowing whistles, ringing bells, honking bike horns, screaming- making noises of fun. Some were on tall custom made bikes and I saw a few in pajamas and a rabbit costume. I said "I need to find out who these people are and get me a bike."

I began looking for a bike in September. I ended up on Craigslist. I found some decent ones for $50-$100. I emailed my friend who knew a little about bikes for his opinion on which to get. He replied saying he had a bike in storage that he wanted to get rid of. We met and got LA Red-y. She is LA, red, and always ready to roll.

I took her around Boyle Heights and realized how much I needed to get in shape to be able to take on the rolling hills of BH. So we began. I took her up and down the bridges over the LA river. We went into downtown to tackle the hills that separate the haves from the have-nots in the city. It was great.

I got online an searched group rides, and there they were The Midnight Ridazz. They were having a ride called "The Warriors Ride" where they asked people to dress like their favorite gang from the 1979 film "The Warriors." It was cosmic, I had just rented that film the week before!

The instructions were to pick a meeting spot: Highland and Santa Monica or Highland and Wilshire on the Northeast and Southeast boundaries, OR Fairfax and Santa Monica or Fairfax and Wilshire on the Northwest and Southwest boundaries. We were to meet at our chosen starting point and then ride into the designated area searching for bikers dressed like the Warrior gang. If we found them, we were to take them to Pan Pacific Park for the big meet up. If we didn't find any, we were to go to Pan Pacific Park at 1 a.m.

I went alone. As I parked on Highland, just north of Santa Monica I could already see other bikers pulling bikes out of cars and riding towards Santa Monica. As I was rolling south I ran into a high school friend who was unloading his bike along with several of his friends. I stopped. They had done these rides before and told me how much fun I was in for. They let my fill my tires to proper psi and told me that they would keep an eye out for me and to ask for help if I get a flat or anything. "We leave no rida behind."

When we got to the gas station at Highland and Santa Monica there were about 250 ridaz waiting around in costumes, drinking, tuning their bikes, playing music from portable systems. It was something I had never seen. Soon someone got on a bullhorn and said we were going to start, he repeated the boundaries, the goals and the meet up time and place. He then began chanting "Warriors, come out and playayay." That got us all fired up and we rolled out. I was hooked.

Other rides that I found on Bike Boom took me through Hollywood Blvd., Sunset, Melrose and other crowd filled trendy streets where people in restaurants would run out to wave to us and cheer us on. We seem to make more people smile than not. Of course we have had problems with drivers who don't want to wait for our rolling party to pass by and get mad. We've had stuff and curses thrown at us. Recently three ridaz were hit by a truck driven by guys who has just robbed a liquor store. The ridaz had seen them run out of the store, so the robbers went around the block and intentionally mowed them down. They all lived, but one had to be taken to the hospital. She is doing better.

There are rides practically every night of the week for every level of rider. Some train for Century rides which are 100 mile rides. Most of the rides are fun rides. Many of them roll at an easy pace, avoiding hills, with stops at stores to re-fuel, and stops at parks and plazas to dance and use restrooms. There is a ride for everyone. Most of them have themes.

The ridaz are great. On a recent ride I got a flat and immediately 5-7 people were around me offering inner tubes, tools, air pumps etc. to get me back up and riding. I have seen this many times. After hills we often wait for the slower riders or peeps who had to walk their bikes up. We leave no rida behind.

It is a political statement and it is not a political statement to get on your bike in Los Angeles. I see lots of raza on bikes here in BH. Maybe because I ride, I notice riders more. It makes me a more patient and cautious driver. I hope to see more riders and ridaz. Then we might have even more patient and cautious drivers. Biking helps get you in shape, cuts down traffic, cuts emissions, makes roads safer and if you go to any of the websites I have in this post, you will have a lot of fun with great people.

Next up is the Midnight Ridazz 4 year anniversary "The Mother of All Rides," and getting ready for the Rosarito to Ensenda ride in April.

Ride On!!!