Coincidence, part two

Barcelona, 2001.

Just moments before this photo was taken, my friend and I remarked that there was so much graffiti on the walls of Barcelona that we might even spot a Chaka tag. Coincidently, a few blocks later and causing a great deal of astonishment, such a tag appeared.

“Coincidence on the other hand, is total freedom, our natural destiny. Coincidence obeys no laws and if it does we don’t know what they are. Coincidence, if you permit me the simile, is like the manifestation of God at every moment on our planet. A senseless God making senseless gestures at his senseless creatures. In that hurricane, in that osseous implosion, we find communion. The communion of coincidence and effect and the communion of effect with us.”

2666 by Roberto Bolaño

Yaqui Deer Dance

As mentioned in a previous post, a few weeks ago someone asked me if I was Native American and I answered as I often do,  most people of Mexican heritage have some indigenous heritage. I think they meant Indian from north of the US border but like lots of indigenous folks, I don’t recognize these borders when it comes to culture. I was told my maternal great-grandmother was Yaqui Indian and my mother says she remembers hearing Yaqui words as a child. So in honor of my indigenous heritage, I present this video.

Yaqui Deer Dancer Yes, that is a deer head on his.

The clip is of an important ritual tradition called the Deer Dance. The festival where this dance took place was intended to bring Yaqui tribes from both sides of the borders together to celebrate their culture. There is some debate as to whether it was appropriate to film the ceremony and post the clip on Youtube. As the dance was a demonstration and not a ceremony, it seems approriate as a method to educate others in Yaqui culture.

Yaqui: Danza del Venado en Sonora, Mexico

Yaqui prefer to call themselves “Yoeme” and their homeland is “Hiakim.” It is their homeland name that most likely gave rise to the term Yaqui.

Grandmother of the Year

My great-grandmother in the red cape. Boyle Heights, 1975

Of all my family photos, this is definitely one of my favorites. It is of my great-grandmother Guadalupe Martinez (originally from Pastor Ortiz, Michoacan) at a presentation in her honor. She won out over the other women (presumably, her court) to be crowned “Grandmother of the Year.” According to family stories, the other ladies weren’t too happy about losing. It’s kinda apparent, no?
The dance took place at the CSO Center on Brooklyn Ave (Cesar Chavez) across the street from San Antonio de Padua church. I imagine my great-grandmother’s revered role as the founder of the Guadalupana’s club at the church and provider of the feria tamales and bunuelos contributed to her anointment. Strangely, her involvement with this church would benefit me even after her death and in the most unlikely of ways.

I love the band. You can just make out their name, The Fairlang, artfully done in the infamous Mexican Blackletter.

Veteran’s Day

My grandfather, Atanasio “Tony” Garcia with the locals. Note the lederhosen on the young boys.

The war stories from my grandfather only came during rare moments. He never bragged about his service nor volunteered information about his experiences in World War Two. According to my uncles and mother, my Grandpa Tony did his best to not remember what happened during the war. I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.

Grandpa Tony before the war. He sure loved his cars!

The stories about his service were eventually passed on to me. Being a Mexican in the US Army was a struggle in itself. He was treated as inferior and given riskier assignments and positions. However, he accepted them without protest and persevered. The document below explains how he received the Silver Star. Thanks to Hollywood films, I can imagine visually how the battle went down. More vivid to me is the story told to me by my uncle. For many years after my grandfather returned home from the war, my grandmother would sit him at the kitchen table in the morning and gingerly pick out pieces of shrapnel that were lodged in his skin. As part of the troop front-line, he caught the worst of a land mine. I wish I would have been old enough to ask my grandfather about these things but he probably wouldn’t have wanted to share them with me – too much shrapnel in his memories.

Citation-Award of the Silver Star Medal, 83rd Division

Thankfully, my father’s time in Vietnam was a little less traumatizing. As kids, my brother and I heard all his stories and would tease him a bit when he told the same ones again and again. We would often joke “Here comes Vietnam story number 103!” after he took us to see the latest Hollywood Vietnam era film. He might not like me to speak of it but I was pleased to know he questioned his command for their racist practices. Unfortunately, this got him in substantial trouble but he says he has no regrets. I’m proud to know I come from a family of folks who are not afraid to speak their minds and stand up for their rights.

My father looking very young and handsome!

Rainbow Brite 2

Rainbow Brite 2

A photo I took for my 10th grade photography class at Fairfax High School Arts Magnet. Perhaps it need not be said but I had many adventures with these girls, lots of intense experiences for our age.
At school we were sometimes called The Rainbow Brites after the popular kids cartoon. In the punk/hardcore scene we were called The Hollywood Girls, usually by the suburban, OC punk girls who hated us. Yeah, good times.

top row (l to r): Izzy, Alice, Nicole
bottom row (l to r): Silja, Lee, Callie, Lisa, Claudia

SoCal Snow Day

El Sereno, circa 1949

These past few weeks I’ve spent most of my free time sorting, scanning and editing old family photos. I’ve been trying to get copies to various family members, while at the same time researching the stories behind the pictures.
The photo above was taken in El Sereno and is of my great aunt Doris (who recently passed away) and her daughter Suzie. Suzie says this picture made it into the newspaper and I can see why. Snow in El Sereno?
I hope kids in Baldwin Park were able to get pictures of themselves playing in the ice/snow that unexpectedly covered their neighborhood today.

Rainbow Brite

Fairfax High School, 1980s

I’ve been scanning in old photos and decided to post the more amusing ones here.
This one’s a picture of my punk friends and I in high school. We tried our hardest to be anti-social and chose this remote spot of the school to sit at during lunch. We wanted far away from the crowds of students and from the other, mostly male punks that were misogynist enough to get on our nerves. We were an ethnically diverse bunch: Portuguese, Jewish, Cuban, Colombian-Irish, Finnish-Jewish, Chicano and Mexican.

The People’s Palace, Glasgow


From the random photos series, an ode to the potato! I took this photo (apologies for the quality) at The People’s Palace in Glasgow. It’s an awesome museum dedicated to documenting the lives of average Glaswegians. Highly recommended if you ever find yourself in Scotland! Beware of the Branston pickles.

On another note, I’ve been playing with the theme of this blog as the previous one wasn’t compatible with all browsers, so please excuse my mess. 🙂