Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

There are worse things in life, but today I read that one of, if not my favorite website is shutting down: www.scenefrommylife.com I’ve been visiting this site religiously since 2003. It’s been a quintessential part of my mornings since I discovered it on yahoo as one of the best sites on the web of 2003. It saddens me because of the impact this site has had on my life; regardless of how slight it was. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? I’ve always wondered what life was like outside my own, outside my Los Angeles. I love my city but recognize how tiny it is in respect to the rest of the world. It’s tiny y’all, tiny. I remember as a kid I’d hear about Africa, Sydney, Australia; Europe, I learned about Yugoslavia and actually did a report on it, I learned about many, many countries and umpteenth cities throughout the world, but never did I truly know what a day in the life of a local kid, adult, dog was like there (the site, appropriately used to be www.adayinthelife.org, but due to copyright b.s., it was changed). I never had a window to a world outside of California that was either outdated, via encyclopedias or accompanied by some sound byte on television. This site presented that window in a way unmatched by anything the ol’ tube could provide, adding to the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words…

“The concept is simple. Each day, one new photo will be posted on the site. A photographer is assigned to shoot one photo a day for seven days. The photo can be of anything the photographer wants. The only guideline is that the photo that's posted has to have been taken within the past 24 hours.”

So there it was. A few months ago I had the honor of posting a scene from my life photo everyday for a week. http://scenefrommylife.com/archive/2006/0515.html It was quite the experience. As in previous posts, I’ve always found the beauty of my city as something intangible, something unexplainable to those outside the L.A. County lines since we don’t have an epicenter as does New York in Times Square, as does Moscow in Red Square and so on. Our beauty lies in the details of our sprawl. In the Spanish lyrics on street signs, in the literal transplanted symbolism of our palm trees, in the cross valley bus rides. And this is what I received from scene from my life. I was privy to these kinds of things and a fresh perspective from around the globe on a daily basis. I spent time in Sao Paulo, Brooklyn, Paris, Dayton, Mexico City, Austin, Reykjavik, Chicago, Hong Kong, etc. as a local and I knew what life was like for a week on a tiny spot on a globe and a life not my own. I will miss that.

I will miss the daily fulfillment of wonder, the daily reflection of a world unknown to me yet attainable on a simple web site.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Absolute L.A.

"You live in a town all your life, and you get to know every street-corner. You've got the layout of the whole land. You have a picture of where you are. ... Since I was raised in L.A., I've always had the geographical and spiritual feeling of being here. I've had time to learn this city. I can't see any other place than L.A." - Charles Bukowski

I always try to unravel an absolute truth when I write or when I talk about life with friends, sisters, chica, strangers, etc. As if all the answers lie right beneath the surface of everyday interaction, of simple life - and they do but we don’t always look for them and they can be elusive at times. I get the highest sense of enjoyment when I employ the curiosity cat and let it run wild on my peeps. I’ve never written a thesis, but my sisters will tell you that I can probably pry one from your brain if need be. It’s these truths that mold our philosophies and eventually end up as a part of our ideological make-up - that which either helps, hurts or just is.

Plato I’m not; but a bar hopping, music loving, left field pavilion sitting, fist raising, Ritz-Carlton accounting, Tofurky eating, Mexican flag waving, dumbbell lifting, Bush hating, nostalgic thinking Chicano version, I just might be.

One of those truths…

It’s a cloudy Monday morning in early August in Los Angeles and surely Orion’s belt must be off an iota or two. My abuelita never liked August - an unexplainable sense of sadness overwhelmed her this time of year and I never understood why. Like clockwork, her demeanor would change - her bomb ass homemade tortillas would downgrade to bomb tortillas. The four kisses on my cheek would reduce to three. My only guess was that the desert rains of Chihuahua brought the August melancholy when she was a little girl - the change of seasons is always an emotional damper - more so when the end of summer and worse, baseball season approaches. But isn’t it always summer in L.A.? Yesterday said so...

As I was driving north on Rosemead Blvd. in my dirty ass truck while blasting Madonna’s "Material Girl" - hey, I’m comfortable with my musical taste and sexuality - I had a typically serene L.A. moment. When a warm summer day is accompanied by a cool Santa Ana breeze on a Sunday afternoon in the city of Angels, all is right. All is right despite the wars in the Middle-East, Africa, etc, despite the sad state of affairs a la Bush cronies, despite Kansas, despite my own fear of what’s to come if our world doesn’t dramatically change, despite Cuba. In no way am I promoting apathy and content but one must acknowledge a truth when it unveils itself from within after having experienced an exterior stimulant even Hunter S. Thompson would try. The truth is that I love L.A. and most everything about it, except the transplants that believe the shit they see on television. If you believe what you see on the E! Channel, please punch yourself in the face and avoid the ballots come November. I’ve been to New York and I don’t understand the fixation with a city that resembles a dump site with tall buildings and an average of 2.4 people per square foot. Plus, it’s quickly become a rich man’s city - it gives added meaning to the term “starving artist.” Randy Newman had it right, not Sinatra. I’ve never been to Rome, granted my lifetime eluded Rome’s rise, nor have I been to The Sacred Mosque in Saudi Arabia, no need I suppose - I’m not Muslim. From my not so humble corner I can say that the true Mecca in my lifetime lies in the old Aztec territory that we call none other than Los Angeles, albeit our metropolis stretches from here to what seems an eternity or even longer, depending on what freeway you’re trying to maneuver through. It’s a beautiful thing when a few dozen or so cities are still considered one.

I've been outside; the clouds have parted for the beaming sun.

I may be naïve to proclaim an improvable truth with none other than intuition & insurmountable epiphanies that I’d rather not bore you with. But that’s the beauty of my stomping grounds. I embrace the idea that words can’t always explain certain things in life - love in its purest form is a paramount example. Have you ever tried explaining what the color blue looks like to a blind person? Neither have I.

"It’s not where you’re from, it where you’re at.” - Mos Def
Still, there’s no place else I’d rather be from, there’s no place else I’d rather be at.
Most definitely.

- Lucio

Friday, July 21, 2006

Yo La Tengo...

I crave waking up to the beautiful heat your body radiates

To the image of your enormous eyes eclipsed by the moon with butterfly lashes

The way my soul drifts from an ecstasy pod to a plateau of sheer gratitude speaks of my love for you

I summon the Berber beauty to exploit my willingness to hurt

Love is as prosaic as time itself, but all stands still and feels youthful when I taste you

I emerge from the abyss of life, I breathe you in and I re-submerge

I thank karma for restraining itself and giving me the honor of holding your hand...

Monday, April 17, 2006

La Lucha...

Lately, I’ve been floundering my writing prowess in a way that should never be attempted or perfectly executed as I’ve manage to do so these past weeks, months. The logical & valid yet unacceptable excuse of ‘lack of time’ can easily explain the debacle of my current state of writing – or lack thereof.

Certain events within the last few weeks have left a lasting desire to put some words together in form of a constructed blog piece – where introspection through the reflection on the mirror of Los Angeles, American, Human(e), Chicano life form a nugget of knowledge that’s attainable and real.

All hoopla aside, it’s been an interesting last few weeks. Life continues to roll and as I’ve seen the movie ‘V for Vendetta’ I too dismiss the theory of coincidence. In this moment in time, that being the overwhelming sense that a revolution would be nice right about now, but as such unlikely. A few weeks ago, I was watching the championship game of the first ever World Baseball Classic, which for all intent & purpose is the real World Series of baseball. This may not be significant to the average Joe considering the fact that baseball’s reputation is in a continuing state of chaos – not to mention that most Americans can’t fathom sitting through an entire baseball game (it’s a game of strategy folks), but I found it ironic that the U.S. team did not make it to the championship game – yes, the World championship of the national pass time was being played on American soil, San Diego no less, by two foreign countries – Japan & Cuba.

No, I didn’t make that up, yes Japan & Cuba. Just to add insult to irony, the big game involved Fidel’s anti-capitalist communist country versus Japan – Hiroshima anyone? I could go on about this, but the moral of the story here is that when a country can combine some talent and a lot of will, a powerhouse is destined to implode, the ignorance of underestimation and the false belief of superiority will always succumb to the will of one that believes in him or herself more so than the next guy or chica. But as they say, all’s fair in love and baseball. A bit of a stretch? Remember, I don’t believe in coincidence. Side note: Mexico knocked the U.S. out of the tournament… Se pudo mis paisanos.

V for Vandetta… not since the days of Christopher Reeves as Superman did I think to myself, “When I grow up, I want to be that guy!” Many folks that subscribe to my school of thought are very much pacifists and so am I to a lesser extent. My school of thought being; human beings are naturally ‘good’ – Original Sin out the door like yeterday’s L.A. Times. But I’m with ‘V’ – a little violence can go a long way in the struggle for human rights… Gandhi was dope, but Che made him look like a fucken democrat in the House of Representatives… no balls. If you haven’t seen V for Vendetta… stop reading now, get in your car, drive to the nearest theater (Laemmle’s preferably), buy a ticket, a cup of coffee, some gummy bears, and make like a sponge for the next two hours. Your conscious will thank you and in turn, you’ll thank me tomorrow.

The immigrant issue – really, since when is racism okay? Oh yea, whenever the economy is in shambles and/or Septemeber 11 – good ol’ 9/11. There’s absolutely nothing I can say about this issue that hasn’t already been said. Commenting further will not only upset me, but make me feel like the 6th grader trying to prove to the 1st grader that Santa doesn’t exist – no need for to replay an exercise in futility. But still – my people have risen. I forgot who knocked the U.S. out of the World Baseball Classic?

Se pudo…

- Lucito

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Mi Califas...

I love when silence is broken by the movement of trees. By the sound of life in the distance – crowds buzzing, cars dashing, kids playing . I love the sound of summer in the winter time – the kind that only California, in her infinite array of beauty can host. I think of my childhood and of how much I miss baseball, bike rides, scraped knees & elbows, Saturday morning cartoons, innocence, grass stains… did I mention baseball?

Today is that day…

I wish it were mid-June and I had the day off with the woman I love. I wish I was at a Dodger game in the left field pavilions next to a bald guy "named" El Shorty, behind an old man nicknamed little Lasorda, in front of a fervent ten-year old Gagne fan named Alejandrita… comfortably numb between the sky and my Los Angeles playground.

I never take this for granted… I never have to remind myself of the luck I drew in so many aspects of my life – so many. In this case, my city – where angels fly, devils play and the rest of us soak in the goodness of an Aztlan paradise. The cool devil winds as the pre-colonized natives would say, originate in the Orange County barrio of Santa Ana courtesy of the Pacific waters. I remember these same winds smacking me in the face while diving for a fly ball in the outfield of dirt cut diamonds in the valley of San Gabriel.

This is where Mexican, white and black kids alike found friendship and trust in each other by attempting to master the movements of a sweaty leather glove, a tight knitted baseball, and aluminum bats. Where boys became little men and faced mite and bite sized fears that fellow mini-Reggie Jacksons perpetuated. Where a walk was as good as a hit and hearts were broken on Saturday afternoons by shouts of, “strike three, you’re out!”

The summer wind is still a few months away, yet I can’t help to stop and reflect on my current and frequent paradise on earth. I hear New York City is a great place to live also. I wonder if New Yorkers are currently basking in rays illuminated by the shared star we call sol?

It’s a bit embarassing, yet I’m somewhat proud that I’ve never touched snow.

- Lucio

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Melancholy

I find it important to introduce this piece in the simplest of ways. By no means is it absolute as nothing in life is. It's but a mere interpretation of a life I can only understand in movies and not through my experience - perhaps one day (that's a BIG perhaps). This piece doesn't even take into account institutional marriage through the gay/bi/5th other eye... again, it's not a part of my experience. Enjoy.

Do you remember being a kid and coming to the realization that one day, you too, would potentially marry someone? Well me neither, but there must have been some point in my life when I realized I would eventually get married to someone, somewhere, sometime… at least I thought. I mean, isn’t that what grown folks are supposed to do?

I bring this up because at the age of 27, I still in no way shape or form desire a life that requires validation through a relationship that in itself requires validation through a signature on a piece of paper… it all seems a bit 15th century-like to me. Shouldn’t love be allowed to flourish in its bare sensibility minus “proper documentation?” If one subscribes to such madness, then surely one subscribes to the notion of borders, walls and hierarchies… patriarchy no less. All just my opinion.

It seems that the older you get, the less socially acceptable one appears to be if the box next to single continues to get happily check marked… like single twenty/thirty-somethings pose a threat to the norm of family Americana. “Why don’t these bastards fall in line?!? Honey, I think we should invite Lucio and his girlfriend to church on Sunday. They’re trying to pull some twenty first century hippie type bullshit and I don’t like it one bit” Salmon eventually reproduce don’t they… I mean they swim upstream and manage to co-exist with the rest of aquatic life. Ah, but if only we could mimic the animal kingdom – would make for some interesting reality television no? Really though, I keep tabs on my health insurance – as if my company’s going to cancel it because I continue to pay the bare minimum – single status.

Marriage is one of those things that I’ve failed to accomplish post high school, yet I feel damn proud and accomplished because of it… strange I suppose, but I couldn’t be happier…, at least by my theoretical standards – monogamy is way over-rated! I lie, I love my girlfriend kids. Not to shit on those with un-tanned fingers, marriage certificates in drawers beneath boxers and socks, tax dependants exceeding the singular sensation of one. I don’t think it’s the grass that looks greener on the other side, it’s the folks standing on it… with envy.

So where do we… er, I go from here? As folks previous to me and previous to those I once knew… and previous to those they once heard about and so on and so on and so… I continue to live by the idea that I am capable of loving another, even bearing children with another without “walking down the aisle” as they say… similar to what Tookie must have heard previous to execution Terminator style. “Dead, man, walking!” I believe in love above all else, above a signature, above a tax exemption, above divorce (for without marriage this term would be as useful as democracy), I believe in a society where one can say to another, “Hey mi amor, how’s about we order a pizza and drink some of this fine wine… damn girl, you never heard of Charles Shaw?” ...and not feel uncomfortably obligated to the person on the other end of the 2 buck chuck.

- Lucio

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

El Sabor Mas Rico...

Paul Rodriguez once said, “Racism is stupid, nobody chooses what color they’re going to be… some of us just get lucky.” While I can’t completely agree with this statement – by default, my race is human first – I must say that color brings a blank canvas to life… see Monet. Do you recall ever using the white crayon? Didn’t think so. I’m not sure if Paul was talking about simply being Mexican or Mexican on the northern side of the Rio Grande. Truth be told, Califas is my home, therefore my cultural doctrine is of a northern blend… firme.

Up until about the age of twelve, I never thought about race. I never imagined a spot on the globe without Mexicanos on it… I used to watch Univision with my parents and ask, “Is Cuba in Mexico?” I thought all latinos were Mexican – just different shades from different regions… the dark ones from Oaxaca, the light ones from Guadalajara, and so on. In some form or another, we’re all from the same place – comparable barrios in Harlem and East of downtown L.A. are proof to that. I never thought a city could be completely white or black, actually completely one thing. I imagined every American city having a sweet concoction of pinto and black beans – with a side of rice, baklava for dessert and Bob Marley jambalaya representing the rest of my peoples – one love gumbo…

“I’m coming straight out Monte! Crazy mother fucker named Lucio, from the gang called…”

I moved to El Monte at the age of 13, while at the gates of adolescence and with a mentality jaded by a devastating divorce. What-me-worry? Negro please… Zapata blood ain’t nuttin’ to fuck with. Mind you, my grandfather’s uncle fought with Pancho Villa in northern Mexico during the early 1920’s – protecting campesinos, raiding haciendas, killing gabachos and such…you know, the good ol’ days. While in grade school and living in the semi-burban city of Baldwin Park I used to visit El Monte almost every weekend – a large percentage of my family had migrated here - I never liked it though. I used to think, I’d hate to live here, everybody curses like a mug and has a bit of a gangster wit about them. Tupac was right, “…cuz everybody in L.A. got a little bit of thug in em.” I had enough sense to feel ill about shit like that – at the time my reality consisted of weekend baseball games, secret crushes, long bike rides on my BMX, wrestling moves on my little sisters and Nintendo. Life changes and this discomfort soon became my reality… all for the better – I can take that notion to the grave.

I mention the five mile transition because it was significant in the scope of establishing my identity as a Mexican baby/toddler/mocoso/teen/so-called adult/hecho mendigo living on the northern side of an imaginary border that millions cross in the hopes of a humane life for themselves and their offspring, only to end up in homeless shelters, battered tents in strawberry fields, prisons, and barrios amongst other places. El Monte’s as much of a centerpiece to the Mexican immigrant struggle as is East Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and Norcal agricultural towns… that’s why I feel lucky to be from such a place, to lay my head on a pillow in the 91732 zip code. Of course, there are the exceptions we call tio tacos and coconuts (you know white on the inside, brown on the outside), that tread to other worlds known as Orange County, Brentwood, the Godforsaken Valley… anywhere North of the 210, West of the 5 freeway and South of the 91…but like I said they’re the exception. Que gacho.

One must think, but why have this perspective? We’re capitalists’ damnit, we’re supposed to progress. It’s simple… In Vanilla Sky like fashion, “Without the bitter, the sweet ain’t that sweet.” The social infrastructure of this state and country for that matter is not supported by the governmental/corporate ideology and is even more damaging through policy… those in power are the scariest, since dogs are only dangerous on your side of the fence. It’s not easy to accept the reality in which we live in when folks of color are marginalized, oppressed and neglected. Katrina anyone? Hence, “making it” is even harder when the odds are stacked against one since birth. Don’t believe me? Ask the son of a slave, ask Native American kin... Seriously, wouldn’t YOU like a head start at the beginning of every race? Colonization and capitalism have caused consciousness to regress from a human perspective… all European traits. “We didn’t land on Plymouth rock…,” and so on.

But still…

I wouldn’t trade the struggle of my peoples for a comfortable home in Suburbia USA, I wouldn’t trade the city view from Boyle Heights for a swimming pool, King Taco for Outback Steakhouse (white folks actually love this shit!), Don Francisco for Johnny Carson, Legg Lake for a golf course, I wouldn’t trade the cultural richness of my Humbert Avenue apartment for the wealth of a shareholder, tamales for meatloaf (good grief, meatloaf), tequila for scotch, Chicanas named Fabiola for white girls named Kelly (oh my gosh!), brown skin for (insert anything here), rancheras for country, J-Lo for Madonna… oh wait, um, I take that last one back.

If I had the conscious choice to shop around pre-birth at the mall-o-cultures, I’d do it over again… I’d drop in the same store and ask for the same suit, like a Batman re-run. Porque no ay nada mas rico y bello que ser Mexicano y de Califas; ser yo.

If you could only taste it...

I live in a world where cholos are the new age bandits of the Mexican Revolution, where Frida Kahlos hide in stucco homes near freeway off-ramps, donde Saturday morning serenatas are those of a cumbia hymn, where laughter, love and a cold beer facilitate a well deserved pachanga, where love escapes our breath by way of Chente songs, where children find happiness within the walls of a pinata. Where a Chicano strolls though the streets of his barrio and becomes overwhelmed in the deepest of appreciation by the beauty of his people, his culture, his reality… where inspiration takes flight through mental notes and a blog named after my stomping grounds.

- Lucio