Mil palabaras: Las luces

Urban Light @ LACMA
Urban Light by Chris Burden at the LA County Museum of Art

Last week, on my way to dinner, I drove past this sculpture/light show for the first time. I’d seen photos of Urban Light on the LA blogs, but hadn’t made my way over to the Miracle Mile. Even driving by, one gets a much more spectacular view than in the photos. I returned to LACMA yesterday for the Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement show. I went through the show rather quick because I only had an hour before closing time (I went after 5 pm when admission is free). I’ll definitely go back to check out some of the pieces I rushed through.

For more on the concept behind the sculpture (and more photos) click the photo above.

Question of the week: Has anyone ever told you…

“Here, read this. It’s what I was talking about at the conference in Austin,” I said as I handed the latest copy of Puro Pedo Magazine to my cousin, Vero.

“Oh, I’ve seen this online, when you send it out on MySpace,” she said and then started flipping through the magazine. I’d caught her in a rare moment when she didn’t have the baby in her hands.

I pointed out some things to her as she read. “I wrote that article. And I’m in that picture, see.”

She nodded.

“Who is this?” Vero asked. She was on the page with Rio’s Valentine’s Day cards. “Is that your dad?”

“No,” I giggled. “That’s César Chávez, the guy who started the farm workers union.”

“Oh. Wow. Your dad looks like him,” she mused.

“Yeah, he gets that a lot,” I said.

La Pregunta: Is there a famous person you’re often told you resemble?

Does South Park have East Los Chicanos on the writing staff?

I’m not a big South Park fan, but once in a while, I’ll watch to catch a glimpse of my favorite character, Towelie. (And no, he’s not my favorite because I share his, um, habits.)

Last night’s episode, “Eek, A Penis!” makes me wonder if South Park has Chicanos from East LA on the writing staff. Half the episode was a parody of Stand and Deliver (1988)…

Read the rest at VivirLatino. If anyone finds a clip of the episode (I already search hulu and youtube), I’ll love you forever, not just on your birthday.

New York: Words and Photos

Monday // Day 1


My gate at Houston International Airport was C31. The numbers kept following me around for the rest of my trip. It’s like Lost, but without the magical island and Others.

I arrived around 11:15 at night. I was so tired that I hit my head getting in to the cab (or it could have just been because I was wearing my straw hat and couldn’t see the roof of the mini-van). It hurt a lot. I arrived and checked in at my hotel, Hotel 31, without any other injuries.
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I’m not a kid, so don’t tell me I look like one

On the flight to Dallas, I took advantage of my free drink tickets and ordered a beer. The flight attendant, a young black woman, asked for my ID.

I had it ready. I’m carded so often, that it’s normal for me to show my ID whenever I order alcohol. She looked for the year. 1980. That puts me well over 21.

“You look like you’re 10 years old,” she exclaimed in a surprised yet fake tone.

I didn’t say anything and took my ID back.

I know I look young. I hear that all the time. However, most times people simply say “you look younger” and leave it at that. That’s fine. However telling me I look like a ten year old — even if you are exaggerating for effect — is simply rude. It’s like telling someone, “wow, you look really tired today.” Even if it’s true, the person on the other end of that comment is gonna think, “wow, I guess I look like shit today.”

Here’s my advice: next time you meet one of us deceptively young looking people, feel free to express that you’re surprised about our actual age. Do not tell us we look like we’ve yet to hit puberty. After all, some of us probably already have a complex about looking young, not being taken seriously at work or having our competence questioned due to our youthful visage.

Funky Monkey


I can’t say I did it because of the two margaritas in me, because I decided even before we arrived at the karaoke bar that I was going to sing. Of course, this was all before the tiny Caffe Brass Monkey filled up and both good and bad singers took their shot at old standards and new pop hits.

I picked out an easy song, Selena’s “Como la flor” from small selection of Spanish-language songs over Linda Ronstadt’s version of “Y Andale.” My friends P and J — there for a mutual friend’s birthday celebration — were surprised I’d sing in front of other people. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I’ve been doing it since I was six years old.

“This is nothing. No one here even knows me, so it doesn’t matter if I make a fool of myself,” I explained to J. “Plus, they’re all drinking.”

He shook his head. “No, it still matters.”
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Cindylu en Blogotitlán

I love blogging so much I’m contributing my words to other blogs as a guest blogger or regular contributor.

If you don’t already have these blogs on your blogroll or RSS feed reader (I recommend Google Reader), you should add them.

  • VivirLatino: my favorite go-to blogs for news on politics, culture and entertainment in the US and throughout Latin America. My first post at VL on undocumented immigrants and death.
  • The Unapologetic Mexican: Nezua, the main author at UAM invited several bloggers to post on the weekends. My first post at UAM is about broaching those sticky discussions on race with people who may not be allies.
  • LA Eastside: I don’t live on LA’s Eastside. I’m squarely on the Westside. If you’re confused, the Militant Angeleno has a great guide on LA’s regions. However, I’m on the Eastside culturally. It’s where my LA roots lie.

And don’t worry, I’ll still be regularly posting here.

Question of the week: Immigrant parents and sympathy

My mom’s an excellent story teller. She may embellish a bit (sound familiar?), but she has a way of drawing you in, making you laugh and making you beg for more tales of her “little life.”

I thought of one of those stories last week while having $1 beers with Sean. We shared stories of immigrant parents and their peculiar way of dealing with childhood injuries. It just didn’t match up with what the sitcoms depicted.


Ureño Saldivar family, 1968 Luz (my mom, far left in the photo) was 11 or 12 at the time*. The family was living in Lincoln Heights at the time. For the most part, Luz was a good kid, but she was mischievous. She also liked apricots. One afternoon, Luz was walking around the neighborhood with a friend when she noticed ripe apricots hanging from a neighbor’s tree. She asked her friend to keep an eye out for cops while she climbed up the chain link fence to be able to reach the tree. As she was about to grab an apricot, Luz’s friend called out, “hurry up, someone’s coming!” Luz lost her footing and slipped. As she slipped the point part of the fence scratched against her thigh leaving a large, bloody gash. Obviously, she was hurt.

Luz went home and found her older sister, Socorro (quite the fitting name, since it means “help”; standing, second to the left in the photo). She desperately needed Socorro’s help to clean and bandage the cut, and hide it from Mamá Toni. If Mamá Toni found out, she’d be angry that Luz had (a) gone out with a friend when she was supposed to be at home doing chores and (b) tried to steal fruit from a neighbor’s tree. The painful gash on her leg was the least of her worries.

Luckily, Socorro was studying to be a nurse and came through. She cleaned up Luz’s cut and bandaged her up.

Mamá Toni never found out.


Sean and I agreed that in a sitcom, the white middle class kids would never be scared to go to a parent after an injury. Sure, Bobby Brady would learn a lesson, but he didn’t have to fear nalgadas (a spanking). Sean and I wondered if our experiences were similar because we were the children of immigrants.

That got us to this week’s question.

La Pregunta: Are immigrant parent’s less sympathetic (or harsher) than US born parents?

*I’ve heard the story a dozen times, but I’m sure I have some of the core details wrong. Sorry, mom! I know for sure apricots and a fence were involved.

The end of the affair

About three weeks had passed since I’d last spoken to Ojitos.

At this point, I didn’t even want to talk to him. I wouldn’t have called if not for my colorful book full of calacas and other Día de los Muertos imagery. I wanted that book back. I hate when you split up with someone and he keeps your stuff. Ojitos had my book and I had a mix CD he’d left at my apartment a few weeks earlier. A book for a CD. Fair exchange, right?

My message was rather curt. I didn’t ask how he was doing, didn’t say “hope you’re doing well” in a fake voice. I just wanted my book.

I figured once I got my book and gave him his CD, that’d be it. No more Ojitos.

I know what you’re thinking.

No, you didn’t miss anything.
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Queso fresco, volumes 1 and 2

We were on the way to a concert when Ojitos suggested making mixtapes.

“You should make me a rock en español CD and I’ll make you a reggae mix. That way we can both learn more about each genre.”

“One CD? That’ll be tough.”

“Well, just put on the stuff I should know.”

“Like the obvious songs?”

“Yeah, sorta.”

“Still, one CD?”

Okay, this sounds easier than it actually was. I looked at my iTunes library and wondered how I’d pick about 18 for a mix. I needed a theme. Best songs to dance to at a party? My favorites? My favorite artists? Mexican bands only? South American bands only? Songs on a certain topic?

They were all wrong.

There’s a line in High Fidelity where Rob, the book/movie’s protagonist discusses the fine science of making a mixtape for a potential mate. He claims that it’s just like breaking up, hard to do. In the movie, Rob expands:

The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.

He’s right.

I stared at my iTunes library for half an hour trying to make playlists and pick songs. I wasn’t getting anywhere. I packed up my things and decided to head to my parent’s house. On the way there, the idea hit me. If this was supposed to be a guide to rock en español, it should be organized like most guides, alphabetically!

I settled on an A-Z of rock en español theme focusing on bands from all over the Spanish-speaking world. It didn’t matter if they were form Texas or Spain, as long as the song was sung in Spanish (primarily), I’d include it. I started with Los Abandoned and ended with Zurdok. I tried to include at least one band per letter and eventually came up with 40 odd songs for 2 CDs.

I called it Queso Fresco.

I’d offer up the mp3s or make a podcast, but I’m feeling a bit lazy. If you are interested, let me know. Track list after the jump.

Edit (4.2.08): I made a mixtape of the first 12 songs. This is only A-E with a couple songs added that didn’t make the Queso Fresco cut. Those songs are Pantalón by Los Abandoned and De Marcha by Los De Abajo (I counted them as a D band).

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