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Some Draft for class

19 July 2009

4337 Randolph Street
Maywood, California

There is a classroom now where my bedroom used to be.
Randolph Street is actually two streets – north and south is the best way to describe it, but it’s not noted on any map. A railroad bisects its east-west length, as it stretches from the LA River, into Maywood, Huntington Park and all points beyond.
My parents moved into 4337 Randolph sometime in the early 80s. The property, owned by my uncle and managed, as were his other properties, by my father, had our house as the only stand-alone apartment. Technically, would it be considered an apartment house?
On both sides of a wide driveway were planters with trees, bushes, shrubs and lawns. It was only after we had our house broken into did my dad install bars on the windows. He made sure to get the kind that opened up from the inside, in case of fire.
Across the house and the driveway stood a two-story apartment building, and on its first floor two garages were used by mom and dad (hers for household items like bulk cases of soda). Dad’s garage was his hub of business operations. Each time you’d open it you smelled the stench of paint, musty rollers and brushes, the distinct odor of rat poison and roach spray (purchased in Alhambra by the deadly liter) the scent of fresh cut lumber and the steady whirl and grating of the key duplicator. Each morning at around seven the workers reported to get their assignments, pick up paint, plaster mix and other supplies. On Mondays, they picked up their paychecks (Dad explained that this was done so that they wouldn’t drink away their money on the weekend).
Throughout the years the house and the adjacent apartments were painted pink, yellow and blue, but their last color was a dark forest green with matching trim. When there were only four of us, the house suited us just fine, with its two bedrooms and one bathroom. With the addition of my sister, we looked for room to grow. The natural choice was the apartment next door. They either moved or were asked to leave, can’t remember which. We first joined the house to their building and only used their living room for an extra bedroom. With the arrival of our second sister, we claimed the whole apartment. Now we had four bedrooms, two bathrooms, which broke down to a room for the girls (to share), an office for my dad and a room each for my brother and myself. (My brother got what was the old kitchen, which he didn’t mind, as it had a door to the outside). Curiously, my dad never removed the kitchen sink and the cabinets. Instead, he placed a large, smooth white countertop over the sink – his thinking was that if we ever moved or had to rent it out, he’d re-convert for a new tenant.
That never happened.
Sometime in 2001 we got word that the local school district wanted to build a school on our block. Soon there was talk of eminent domain and the government taking the property and what that might mean for us all. But then the tenants heard about the relocation checks, and all was well. The deadline to move kept shifting, from winter to summer, from June to August, but we knew the days would soon end and the day would come.
My parents used that money and some of their savings to buy a house – a real, freestanding, clapboard and shingle, chimney and fireplace, good ol’ American house, a few block to the north. My brother had already moved away, and I think in October of that year, I did as well.
I don’t remember looking back or crying or doing that that last walk through where you touch the walls one last time slowly and look out the window and sigh. It was all a rush to pack and not forget anything and make sure that the moving trucks were reserved.
In that frenzy, time washed over like a tidal wave, taking matter and leaving only faded recollections.
If they used a wrecking ball, I never knew. Only drove by once as it was fenced in, the windows boarded up, the lawns now past brown, the tree that we’d all gather around each year to harvest oranges had been cut down. Most likely heavy yellow diesel powered equipment was used, smashing against the green painted walls and scooping up piles of concrete, wood and plaster.
Years of cooking smells and grease that had made themselves part of the walls, galloons of steam that had fogged the restrooms in preparation for hundreds of days of schools, masses on sundays, meetings, interviews, parties; drawings we’d made on the backs of doors and hidden along door frames, blood from the fights with my cousin and brother, the pencil marks on the doorway that nobody bothered to follow up on; the closets where dry cleaning hung, where I hid from my brother, my sisters, my parents, and later, I found out, from myself; the doors that slammed so many times in frustration and opened in welcome of company, visitors, strangers, salesmen – gone. Piled up. Rubble. Stacks and piles of wood and plaster, pipes, wire. Gone, gone.

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Really?! Leave Van Nuys (ban nice) alone!

28 June 2009
it's not all bad

it's not all bad

There are some nice parts of bad towns and bad parts of nice ones. I agree that Van Nuys should be “made better” – and by that making the traffic flow better, improving public transit, inverting some of the miles and miles of either ugly apartment buildings and turning parking lots inside out, to have the buildings come up closer to the street, with wide sidewalks to windowshop and mingle and bump into each other.

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2009/06/neighborhood_wants_out_of_van_nuys.php

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We need more like this…

29 March 2009

Interesting story about an oral history project in East L.A. in conjunction with USC.

Eastside high schoolers get a lesson in oral history

A small group from Roosevelt High volunteers in a 10-month program organized by Cal State L.A. to film a documentary about five influential women in the community.

By Esmeralda Bermudez…LINK

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Pocho Saurus Votes!

2 November 2008

I will vote for Sen. Barack Obama.

I will vote not liking the guy, but then again, never having met him nor reading much about him. I will vote for Obama regretting that Sen John McCain, the man who I voted for in 2000 against George W. Bush in the primaries, has long disappeared  into a black hole of Karl Rove attacks and unfocused campaigning. 

I will vote for Obama knowing full well that my vote is for a historical figure who will try to change Washington, but will ultimately make so many compromises that he will let down his most ardent supporters. I wish that I was as enthusiastic about Sen. Obama as I was about Sen. Hillary Clinton. I knew her to be a tough old bitch, and knew that even with all of her baggage, and maybe because of it, she wouldn’t change Washington necessarily, but she would have gotten her agenda passed. Oh well.

I will vote for Obama knowing that we will have 4 years of people whispering about racism. That issue is so enormous I will try to write about it later. But race is an issue that won’t go away, and to not vote for an African American just because they are African American is stupid. Even I never thought of it that way.

I will vote for Obama for all of the African-Americans who have struggled and died to vote, to be even considered equal and human and who will see him as the result of their two-hundred years and longer oppression and struggle. I know that many tears of joy will be shed if/when Obama wins on Tuesday, and I do wish to be a part of it.

Still, I do resent the media’s bias against John McCain, the enormous and outrage-free financial advantage of the Democrats this year, the arrogance and cockiness and sense of inevitability that the Dems have shown since June.

Here’s to the next President!

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An Undecided Voter

20 October 2008

 

My Secret Ballot

My Secret Ballot

 

 

Pocho Saurus here. The election is looming. My ballot is in hand (I am a Permanent Absentee Voter). That’s right – Democracy through the U.S. Mail!

As a supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, I am supposed to suck it up and vote for Sen. Obama. I can’t. 

At least not yet.

I’m very conflicted, with issues of loyalty, race and fairness swirling around my head. The media clearly has a bias towards one candidate and against another. It makes me angry when I see the sneers on CNN – the insta-polls, the millions of dollars, the glib and arrogant tone of *some* of Sen. Obama’s supporters.

 

Still, a little backstory is in order. I actually voted for Sen. John McCain back in 2000, in the Primary against then Governor George Bush. I enjoyed McCain’s no-bullshit style, his then “straight-talk” and his promises to cut down on defense spending. His personal story, while inspiring, didn’t move me to register (briefly) as a Republican. His call to national service did – in those pre-September 11th days, John McCain urged all people, especially young voters, to serve a cause greater than themselves. Back then, it was different, it was new, and it inspired me to drive all the way to the 24 hour Post Office by the airport and register to vote.

So now I am two weeks away from Election Day. I have read the reports and seen the polls. I have watched the debates and gotten into too many arguments about this election. But I want to start over and see if I can, with a clear and objective mind, truly decide who to vote for – without worrying about the racial, gender, or hysterical issues surrounding what is our privilege to vote.

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Olympics Memories

8 August 2008
Very 80s

Very 80s

Pochosaurus remembers watching the 1984 Olympics with his dad. He made pepinos with salt, lemon and paprika. It was hot, after all. Anyway, that Olympics meant more to me than any since – more than Seoul, more than Barcelona, especialy more than Atlanta in 1996.

What other way do we have in our lives do we have to feel part of something so good, so much larger than ourselves? Aside from the broadcast rights and political woes, the Olympics is about the Athletes, their hard work and how proud we all can be not only to be citizens of nations, but to be part of this thing called Earth. There’s something about these spectacular ceremonies that always chokes me up, brings a tear to my eyes and makes me blubber like I was watching Titanic.

Looking at some of the awesome Opening Ceremony pictures from Beijing, Pochosaurus is glad for HD TV!

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John Wayne and Pedro Infante

30 July 2008

If Pocho Saurus ever had an origin story, this would be it. Perfect example of how distinctive and different it is to be a Mexican-American today – with nationalism, assimilation and family pressures coming at us from all sides, Chicanos, Radicals, Pochos and Coconuts can all agree that we are in a unique situation. Edward James Olmos explains:

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