Monthly Archives: July 2008

Summer highlight #1: Stevie Wonder

Prior to Monday night, I’d seen Stevie Wonder live once. My mom, sister and I were having lunch at Roscoe’s after visiting LACMA when my sister noticed him sitting on the other side of the restaurant. I didn’t get a good luck until he walked out with his entourage. My mouth dropped, I could feel his greatness (or maybe it was the waffles?) as he walked a foot away from my table. As soon as I got the chance, I gushed about my brush with Stevie to all my friends who love his music. They were jealous.

That sense of amazement I felt five years ago made a comeback when Stevie Wonder came out on the Hollywood Bowl stage escorted by his daughter, Aisha and two sons. He proceeded to perform an incredible show. I can’t write a review. If I tried, it would

If I tried to write a review for Stevie Wonder’s show at the Hollywood Bowl on Monday, it would go something like this:

OMG!!! It was so awesome!!! OMG!!! I can die now! In fact, I almost died of sheer euphoria during “Sir Duke”!!! OMG!!! Stevieeeeeeee!!!

I’ll spare you the gushing and swooning in favor of pictures and video after the jump. For an actual review, check the LA Times.

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The Ravine

Golden tickets!

Since April, I’d been avoiding Chavez Ravine. I wasn’t dealing with guilt over the history of the area. I saw Culture Clash’s play five years ago and dealt with it all then. Plus, I grew up without the knowledge of the history. All I knew were the names of my favorite players and all those guys who won Rookie of the Year in the ’90s (Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, Hideo Nomo and Todd Hollandsworth).

My avoidance wasn’t even about the hassle of getting to/in/and out of the place. The happiness I feel in the stadium cancels out the frustration of getting in.

No, I was staying away because I didn’t like owner Frank McCourt’s business model of increasing admission and parking prices as well as creating more luxury seating. Last year, I only went when someone else was trying to pass off some tickets. Yeah, I can be coda…

But my boycott was half-assed, like a lot of other things I do. If a friend offered to buy tickets or needed to pass off some tickets, I’d gladly take them.

I was offered tickets last week for fantastic seats for the first game of the Freeway Series against the Anaheim Angels (eff that LA Angels of Anaheim crap).

Photos after the jump.

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On being nice

Sean: so what did you tell him?
Me: well, I told him, “I don’t want you to get the wrong idea and think I still like you. ‘Cause I don’t.”
Sean: ouch!
Me: what?
Sean: that’s mean!
Me: but it’s true.
Sean: still, no one wants to hear that, even if he doesn’t like you anymore either.
Me: oh, I didn’t realize that.
Sean: you need to be nicer.
Me: I guess.

***

Sean: so how was Texas?
Me: quite fun! I visited family in Dallas, went to a conference and spent time with friends in Austin and then visited more family in Houston. I went to a rodeo!
Sean: fun.
Me: yeah, I wish I could’ve spent more time in Austin. But you know what I noticed?
Sean: what?
Me: there weren’t too many attractive guys there. At least guys I found attractive. I told that to my friend, John, while we were in a club.
Sean: you said that to him?
Me: yeah, and he pretended to be all hurt.
Sean: Cindy, have you ever heard the phrase, “present company excluded”?
Me: yeah.
Sean: that’s when you use it!
Me: I know, I was gonna say that, but I just forgot.
Sean: you need to be nicer.
Me: okay.

***

Later that evening we watched The Big Bang Theory a show about physics graduate students. The more sociable of the two roommates scolds the other on being nice and not bluntly telling their cute neighbor that she can’t sing.

Sean turns to me and says, “Cindy, that’s you. And I’m the roommate trying to teach him how to behave.”

“Ouch.”

***

Happy 31st birthday, Sean!

La Mariposa

Through high school, my family’s Sunday morning was rather routine:

6:00-7:45: scramble to get six people ready (with one shower!), out the door and into the car. If my dad or Danny had to be early for choir or altar boy responsibilities they would leave earlier.

8:00-9:15: Spanish Mass at St. John Vianney, our home parish. Dad played bass with the choir. Mom was a Eucharistic minister, which means she handed out the host (consecrated bread) during Communion. Danny, Lori and I were all altar servers. Adrian just sat in the pew and pretended to be ill. He was always fine as soon as Mass ended.

9:15-9:30: help dad pack up his bass and music books, greet fellow parishioners, say hi to Grandma, Grandpa and tío Rick before they left (they always sat toward the back of the church while my mom preferred the first pew).

9:30: drive out to West Covina and wait in the Mariposa Inn (sometimes we’d go to another restaurant) parking lot or on the front patio until the doors opened at 10.

10:00-11:30: brunch at Mariposa Inn. Greet the owner, Raudel. Exchange pleasantries with our server — usually Nacho or my mom’s friend Mary. Then stuff ourselves silly on fresh fruit, Mexican breakfast dishes, giant burritos, fruit-filled pastries, chocolate-dipped strawberries. Wash it all down with Shirley Temples (kids) or coffee (adults).

11:30: say ‘bye to the grandparents, go home and take care of the ‘itis with a nice nap.

Sunday brunch hardly happened once Grandma got sick with complications from diabetes. After her recovery, we resumed the usual Sunday morning routine, but this time with the wheelchair in tow. The trips ceased after Grandpa was diagnosed with cancer and passed away a few months later in 1996. The restaurant held too many “tristes recuerdos.” Plus, Sunday brunch for a family of six was too pricey and we were going through some tough times.

Nowadays, our trips to Mariposa occur on special occasions. It’s the go-to restaurant for birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions. The last time I went was for Lori’s birthday in January. The guys turned into gluttons and feasted on giant burritos. My mom had machaca, dad had huevos rancheros, Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni shared a dish. I had chilaquiles.

Once again, Nacho was our waiter. Nacho was the kind of guy who could make you feel better with his infectious cheerfulness. During Sunday brunch, he usually tried to cheer up Lori who was grumpy for some reason or another. This time, he didn’t have to cheer up Lori because she was in a good mood for her birthday. Instead, he plopped a sombrero on her head, placed a piece of flan in front of her and called the rest of the waiters to sing “happy birthday, Panchita.”

Before we left, we made sure to greet the owner, Raudel, always gracious and friendly. My parents met Raudel way back in the ’80s when they first started visiting the restaurant. Our neighbor, Mary (Summer’s mom) was a waitress and bartender there. Raudel had worked his way up the chain and at the time was the assistant manager. By the early ’90s he was the owner. I suppose he and my parents had a connection. They were all Mexican immigrants, and moreover he was a Zacatecano who loved tamborazo like my mom.

Even though the staff got older, just like we did, they never stopped making us feel welcomed even if we stopped visiting for months or years at a time. Some things just don’t change.

Except, they do.

***

Last night, my dad informed me that Raudel Guerrero, 57, passed away early in the morning on Thursday June 26th. He gave a busboy a ride home and fell asleep at the wheel. His van slammed into the rear of an 18-wheel tractor-trailer in Chino (link).

Services were held Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in Rowland Heights. Unfortunately, my parents learned of Raudel’s passing after the services and did not attend.

Raudel Guerrero is survived by his wife Julieta and their four children.

Fotos y recuerdos

The Friday after Jose’s untimely death some friends gathered to create a collage of photos to display during the services.

A half dozen women cropped and trimmed photos and laid them out on a large poster board. The two guys stood back awkwardly. One suggested outlining the black letters of Jose’s name in silver. I might have cracked a Raiders joke. I don’t remember.

The collage making was bittersweet. We laughed a little, nobody cried. Five days after we’d received the news, we had used up all our tears. When the jokes and small talk subsided we were left with silence, our own thoughts, and dozens of photos of our always smiling friend.

Jose Luis Vasquez passed away on July 1, 2007.