Armando Marquez



Hi there!!! My name is Armando Marquez I'm from Santa Clara, CA. For those of you who don't know that's in the South San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California. In my spare time I enjoy writing stories and poems on my Mexican culture. I am also working on restoring my truck; a 1972 Chevy Stepside Pick-up C/10 on my weekends you can catch me cruising in the city of San Jose down Santa Clara St., and Story & King. Every once in a while I like to take off and go for a long mountain bike ride through the mountains around here. I love to take off to the beach and just kick back and watch the sun go down or see the moon rise over the water (I'm a romantic at heart), when I am not talking to my friends on AOL, I'm talking on the phone with them. I have a ton of CD's, I am in
college majoring into Business Management and minoring into Radio Broadcasting. This way I cannot only DJ on a radio station but run or manage it as well. As far as what type of music I like or have? Well mostly a lot of older music OLDIES, Old School Rap, Disco, Funk, Jazz, Soul, R&B, of course you've gotta throw in those Old School Slow Jams. Oh yeah myself I'm 19/M\Mexican from Northern California city of Santa Clara, as far as what I look like well I'm 5'7", 154lbs, with dark brown eyes, and short black hair.

Send your comments to: Chango646@aol.com.

What Got Me Started Writing The Way That I Do?

What event in my life got me started writing the way that I do? Well, its a little personal, but I will do my best to tell you. During the summers between school I would spend time down in the Los Angeles area with my family. I have got family that lives all throughout the Los Angeles area. At the time that this tragic event happened I was with a
cousin of mine, we driving down the street.

My cousin at that time was around my age now, 19 or 20 years old. He owned a very nice & completely restored pearl blue 1963 Chevy Impala. He and I were very close, actually my whole family is very close. Anyways, let's get back to the topic. I was with my cousin at the time that this tragic event happened. We were in his car heading home, it was right around dusk(sunset), and we had stopped at a street light, waiting for it to change. On our side, the road had a total of  three lanes; we were in the dead center lane. When we were at the light, two vans rolled up next to us, one on each side.

All of the sudden the van doors busted open and two guys came out, one from each van. They pulled out guns and held them to our heads and telling us to get out of the car. What would you do with a gun to your head, of course I got out? Something was wrong though; my cousin did not want to get out. He tried to be brave, but ended up getting shot in the head.

The two guys took off in my cousins Impala. They left my cousin, dead in my arms, stuck in the middle of the street. Having that tragic event happen to my cousin and I completely changed my life. It made me realize that some people just don't care about their own race. What was even worse was that the two guys that held us up and killed my cousin were Mexican also like my cousin and I.

That event that happened in my life made me think real hard. How can one race kill its own people? It's sad when you think about it, at least thats the way that I feel. By this event happening in my life it really changed me. It made me think, what's going on? Why are we acting this way? Why does it always seem that the Raza is always trying to kill itself? Why is it that most Mexicanos live in the ghettos, the projects, or bad neighborhoods? Why are we stuck with the screwed up jobs? Why is it (not to put any other race down) that the Koreans and Japanese own most of the shopping malls and mini-marts? We get mad because they own everything. But, who are we to say that they're no good?

We should be learning something from them! One of the reasons they live in luxery homes and are not in jail is because they work together and don't go off and start killing their own race. They stay in school and learn how to make it in this world.

You're probably thinking this Mexican must be a nerd that gets good grades, and doesn't have any friends, etc. Let me tell you this Mexican gets good grades because he tries! I used to go gang banging with the homies, I don't kick back with them anymore though, it just didn't feel right what I was doing. I started to gang banging because my friends got into it, but I saw that it wasn't right so I left the gang and my friends too. Let me tell you, I'm only 19, so
its not too late for you to change at this age!

I started thinking about my future, and what's to be of my Raza and me. You'll probably be at a family reunion 20 years from now. What are you going to tell your family? Oh, I just got out of jail. Or, who knows, you could be in jail or worse, dead. So please Raza, start thinking that's all I ask of you!

Let me tell you something. If you started to cry or were sincerely touched while you read this letter, you've understood and have gotten the message! You know that this is true. You can relate to this if you're a proud Mexican and don't want to see our Raza go to waste! Remember that we can set our own standards and achieve them as well.

This event in my life really brought me down. When I feel or felt down as low as I did at that point I started to write my feelings down. They funny thing is though, when I write I am not the same person, I am a totally different person, it sounds funny, but it is true. When I write I am at a totally different level of intelligence and maturity. After that even almost every summer day after that event I would look for the most remote spot, a table where I could sit and read or maybe write a poem or tell a story, like I am doing now. The sun warmth and the breeze always calmed me. Sometimes after a few thoughts were jotted down on my not pad or the echo of a poem or a story coursed through my mind like a gentle stream, I would silently meditate, savoring the surrounding sounds of singing birds or rustling leaves. Writing; I love writing on my culture.
 

Los Manos De Mi Abuelo
The Hands Of My Grandfather
By Armando Marquez
In Memory Of Luciano Zamora

  The hands of my grandfather, to me, they were wondrous things. A lifetime of stories lay in their palms and countless skills were held in his fingertips. The years of hard work his hands had done were visible in every crease and wrinkle. Years of exposure to the sun had left his hands tanned the darkest shade of brown imaginable. His palms were rough from being snagged on machinery or rubbing up against tools on a daily basis. They seemed almost too swollen or callused to even close completely.

 Yet he could pull a tiny sliver from the tip of your finger and you wouldn't even feel a thing. He could hold the back of your bike so gently that you would pedal alone and never realize when he had let go. A tiny fishhook would disappear between his oversize fingers, only to come back perfectly baited. It seemed that there was nothing that those hands couldn't make or repair.

 They could transform a simple piece of paper into a plane or bird in flight and help soar into the sky. They could make a pirate's hat and help sail the seven seas. They could be clasped tightly together to form a makeshift flute and, as he blows through them, playing the tunes of his childhood memory.

Stories that his father had told him long ago would come to life as he outlined the Aztec sun that shone on the ancient village of his ancestors. When his hands came together to form shadows on the wall, an eagle would magically appear to illustrate the story of how the flag of Mexico came to be.

As a child, I often held my hand up against his to see the vast difference in size and color. They seemed to exude strength and wisdom. And as I'd trace the lines in his palm, I could almost see his life's history in every crease and callous. It's as if they were a measure of all he has accomplished in life. Los Manos De Mi Abuelo. To me, they are beautiful.


A Return To Aztlan

 "Oye! Senor hablas Espanol?" an elderly woman asked. Politely, I responded, "No, pero comprendo y hablo poco." She appeared angry or disappointed and said that I was a "disgrace to my culture" and young people should never forget where they came from. I was young, and very self-conscious, yet now that memory fits well my later life. I
understand and speak more Spanish, and I know where I came from. Still, many people consider me a "coconut."

My definition of a coconut is someone besieged by two cultures clashing within oneself. Although I descend from Mexican blood, I was raised in an Anglo world. I have good parents who focused on family values, keeping alive a traditional marriage they never saw in their parents. I was raised around children of all colors and was too young to
know or care about the difference between the Raza around me and the cartoons on TV: I was "materialized" in American world.

One day, I saw a reflection-a Chicano in the mirror. He said to me "A coconut is a seed to produce new life. Once planted, a seed sprouts roots to gain a strong foundation from earth. With the power of the sun, growth continues as life expands towards the sky." The Chicano continued, "Coconut, you are a seed. Find your roots, they you will find
new growth. Use your mind to express to the world who you are. You are Chicano."

I said, "Ok, yo soy Chicano." "Oye! Menso, where are you going?" the reflection asked. "To the library to find my roots," I replied. "You are heading in the wrong direction,'' he said. "Look within yourself and your family. Understand how you became you. Where did your parents come from, and what were their struggles? Where did your grandparents and great-grandparents live, and how did they suffer? How did they come to America, and why?"

And there was more: "To know is not to wonder. To reach back in time is to understand the progress and journey of oneself, family, heritage and culture. Only you can carry that heritage and culture as a tradition."

"Ok," I said, "Since you look like me and talk like me, how did you get into my mirror?"

 "I am you," he said. "Unlock the door and bring us together. See the Aztlan world, an adventure for those willing to return.''

Confused, I asked, "Return in time?"

"No," he said. "Return the Chicanismo to La Raza. Share your knowledge with your people and the rest of the world. Carve and continue to clear the paths our father set down for us and others to follow."

 I looked back into the mirror and saw myself and said, "yo soy Chicano." Then, I went outside to see Aztlan. I saw a bunch of tourists who decided that our Aztlan is a nice place to live.

 I am Chicano, yet my struggles and paths are still with me. I call out urging all Chicanos to follow. Let us create a movement of young, mighty, vocal warriors not to take Aztlan back, but to let everyone know that this is the land of our people.

                             Para Mi Raza, Paz.


Chicano History

I am years and a thousand thoughts away from those so-called teachers who never saw it essential to teach me about myself, finding it more important to tell of ALL THOSE TOO MANY WHITE MEN doing this and that, exploring and conquering, never mentioning a Chicano's name. With such an education, one's mind is tempted to subscribe to the notion that the whole world is White and male. They call it history, and I couldn't agree more that it is just that, his-story.

Well there's much that they've missed on purpose, I'm sure. Like many other Chicano's suffering from cultural deprivation, I had to seek out what belongs to me, what was not to be found in the tattered textbooks which were older and more outdated than the teachers who used them and more antiquated than the institutions from which they were issued. I had to let my fingers do the walking through the dead and buried pages of "A Lighter Shade Of Brown," seeking Chicano heroes who never appeared. We were paralyzed by the great White father and his countless conquests, but never a word of how people suffered as a result of this madness called exploration.

The ghosts of the missing chapters began to ooze between the lines. It was here where I shook hands and spoke with my heroes; I spoke with the achievers-the fighters, writers, entertainers and intellectuals, all Brown and Proud. Voices long dead spoke to me, the words relevant and beautiful; and it was me, or looking into a mirror which reflected positive images.

Why they tried to hide my true identity is something beyond me. Call me a racist. How can one raised in this land of red, white and blue not be? It is certainly a learned behavior here in America. One who has suffered pride starvation develops a ravenous appetite for ethnocentrism, and soon a bloated stomach from devouring it all at once.

My children won't have to taste my starvation; they will drink abundantly from the cups of self-knowledge and pride for which I long thirsted. Their eyes will read the very pages for which I long searched, never understanding that they were deliberately misplaced. They'll know from whence they originated and where they're going. They will
understand that Chicano isn't a dirty word, and "wet-back" is the name of the person using it. And their youth will be connected by the missing links and pages that I could never find.
 

                             "Being A Hispanic"

                               Being a Hispanic
                              Is not always that easy
                             As I walk down the street
                              People start to diss me
                                 Some say this
                               And some say that
                             But what they really want
                               Is to start some crap
                            My Jefita always told me
                            Don't listen to that gente
                                'Cause if you do
                           They'll kill you derrepente
                                 She was right
                            They shot my cousin down
                             And they only killed him
                            'Cause his skin was brown
                          Now Frank M. will rest in peace
                       And his friends and family who are left
                            Are praying on their knees.

Peace goes out to all the families who were at some point left in sorrow and pain.

                        Dedicated To Francisco Montes
                         May His Soul Rest In Peace
P.S. Hispanic, some of you may not like that word. But as stated in this
poem Hispanics are not liked. Hispanic is a word given to us by the US
Government to make it easier to group the Latin American Countries, and
races as one.  An easier way for the Americans.

                                 Realization?

                           What is a color to you or me?
                          A color is only something to see.
                          I don't understand why a person
                                  Should die
                         For nothing more than a color seen
                                  By the eye.
                         To me this is violence nothing more
                          To me this seems an everlasting
                                     War.
                          Sometimes each one may cry in
                                  There sleep
                           Feeling the tears roll as they
                                 Silently weep.
                          For why are these tears fallling
                                Down these eyes?
                         It's maybe the sorrow of helpless
                                    Cries.
                           We all live in the same nation.
                         One nation under God with liberty
                               And justice for all?

 I'm not into gangs or anything like that. I watch the news and read the
papers. It makes me sad to think what's going to happen with the next
generation. It really makes us think.

                                   Peace...
 

                            CALL ME CHICANO

                         I am a product of a social system.
                       A mere number, an insignificant entity,
                                 I have a name.
                       Whether that name is Garcia, Gonzales,
                      Ramirez, Rojas, or Rivera. I am a person.
             I am a person with the features of ancient civilization.
                 The Maya, the Toltec, the Aztec, the Mixtec and
                         In the present the Tarahumara.

                   I am a "Mexicano," but to hell with the number,
                  To hell with the degrading names tagged on me by a
                                 Racist Society.
               Names like Wet-back, Spic, Greaser, Taco Vender,
           Beaner, Or Mexican-American with a derogatory inflection.
                             I am a "CHICANO."

               I am a CHICANO because it gives me identity and pride.
                   It gives me pride because I gave myself that name
                 And it gives me identity because it did not result
                                 from WASP origin.

                   It comes from my people, the "MEXICANOS."

               "CHICANO," might sound bad to your conditioned ears.
                  That is what the system has accomplished to do some
                              Of you, but be proud.

 BE PROUD THAT IT IS A PRODUCT OF A FAST GROWING REVOLUTION
   OF IDEAS AND A SINCERE CONVICTION THAT THE CHICANO MUST
     BETTER HIMSELF IN A SOCIETY THAT HAS SYSTEMMATICALLY
                             NEGLECTED HIM.
 


History Shows Why This
Day Should Be A U.S. Holiday
CINCO DE MAYO!

 The 5th of May is not Mexican Independence Day, but it should be. And Cinco De Mayo is not an American holiday, but it should be. Mexico declared its independence from mother Spain on midnight, the 15th of September 1810. And it took 11 years before the last Spanish soldiers were forced to leave Mexico.

So why Cinco De Mayo, and why should Americans savor this day as well? Because 4,000 Mexican soldiers smashed a French and traitor Mexican army
of 8,000 at Pueblo, Mexico, 100 miles east of Mexico City on the morning of May 5, 1862.

The French had landed in Mexico and brought along Spanish and English troops five months earlier on the pretext of collecting Mexican debts from the newly elected government of democratic president, and Indian, Benito Juarez. The English and Spanish quickly made deals and left. The French, however, had different ideas.

Under Emperor Napoleon III, who detested the United States, the French came to stay. They brought a Hapsburg prince with them to rule the New Mexican Empire. His name was Maximilian; his wife was named Carlota. Napoleon's French Army had not been defeated in 50 years, and it invaded Mexico with the finest modern equipment and with a newly reconstituted Foreign Legion. The French were not afraid of anyone, espically since the United States was embroiled in its own Civil War.
 
 The French Army left the port of Vera Cruz to attack Mexico City in the west, as the French assumed that the Mexicans would give up should their capital fall to the enemy, as European countries traditionally did. Armed with English rifles which hadn't been used since the Battle of Waterloo, the Mexicans waited at Pueblo, the last city standing in the way of the French Army and Mexico City.

Under the command of Texas-born General Zaragoza, and the cavalry under the command of Colonel Porfirio Diaz, later soon to be Mexico's president and dictator, the Mexicans waited. Brightly dressed French Dragons let the enemy columns. The Mexican army was less stylish.

General Zaragoza ordered Colonel Diaz to take his cavalry, the best in the world, out to the French flanks. In response, the French did a most stupid thing; they sent their cavalry off to chase Diaz and his men, who proceeded to butcher them. The remaining French infantrymen charged the Mexican defenders through sloppy mud from a thunderstorm and through hundreds of head stomping cattle stirred up by the Indians armed only with machetes.

When the battle was over, one in seven French soldiers were dead or wounded, and their cavalry was being chased by Diaz' superb horsemen miles away. The Mexicans had won a great victory that kept the French out of Mexico City for another year. It also kept Napoleon III from supplying the Confederate rebels for another year, allowing the United States to build the greatest army the world had ever seen. This grand army smashed the Confederates at Gettysburg just 14months after the Battle of Pueblo, essentially ending the Civil War.

Union forces were then rushed to the Texas/Mexican border under General Phil Sheridan, who made sure that the Mexicans got all the weapons and ammunition they needed to expel the French. American soldiers were discharged with their uniforms and rifles if they promised to join the Mexican army to fight the French. They did, and formed the American Legion Of Honor, fighting all over Mexico unitl the final victory in 1867. The American Legion Of Honor marched in the victory parade in Mexico City.

It might be a historical stretch to credit the survival of the United States to those brave 4,000 Mexicans who faced an army twice as large in 1862. But who knows?

In gratitude, thousands of Mexicans crossed the border after Pearl Harbor to join the U.S. armed forces. And, as recently as the Persian Gulf War, Mexicans flooded the American consulates with phone calls, trying to join up and fight another war for America.

Mexicans, you see, never forget who their friends are. And neither do Americans. That's why Cinco De Mayo is such a party, a party that celebrates freedom and liberty. These are two ideas which Mexicans and Americans have fought shoulder-to-shoulder to protect ever since the 5th of May 1862.

                          Viva El Cinco De Mayo!!!


DEATH?

It's Sunday night in anytown, U.S.A., but this one is his...

Everyone's out en la calle showing off what they work nine-to-five for at Mickey D's or cualquier jale. I must agree that there are some firme rides in this town, but lately, our boulevard has been terrorized, or perhaps some have seen the way and meaning of a true lowrider. Out of nowhere it appears as if were a Great White Shark seeking its next meal! Cruising in predator mode, rolling hard on 13x7 Dayton's as if they were sharp fins cutting up the street with every hit of the switch, blinding its prey with heavy dipped chrome plating in jaws that hold the street ready engine, its ever-so-light flutter a seeming roar.

To the unsuspecting onlooker, it might seem no more than a car, but not to this individual. A true lowrider since childhood, his labor and love has won him recongnition, respect...and jealousy. For no man with an intrest in lowriding and an appreciation for fine automobiles can escape its treacherously inviting looks, it's a veritable treat to the eyes that even the hardest veteranos would flash a smile of approval over this "g-thang."

Only an artistic few can express themselves as he has with his ride. Appearing quiet and un poquito shy, you might think twice if you saw him on occasional Sunday nights. A parade atmosphere envelops the boulevard-bumper-to-bumper, out of windows, inside trunks, wherever they can find a seat, but not the scenario in this ranfla. Cold, hard, and slick are what you hear pounding out through these speakers, from the driver accompanied by straight-up Raza, whether it is with his club o
con los camarades.

Yet, they might not be justified, those who sit along the calle yelling Que brinke! Or other stupidities. They don't realize all the hours of preparation he has put into it. So many times he has worked and waited for his prize to be just right. It might seem that it has taken some 20 years to finally get what he has always wanted and perhaps deserved.

I know what it was like, because I was there, his shadow, companion and cousin. To the vato in the '63 Chevy Impala, this is for you. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your dream. Keep the faith, and see you in Heaven.

                        Dedicated To Francisco Montes
                                May His Soul
                               Rest In Peace...
 


Inherit the Wind
 The tears rolled off Chalcuchima's cheeks as he sat crouched atop a mountain surrounded by his fallen comrades. Vanquished by the Spaniards, Chalcuchima, the dauntless Aztec warrior, was the only one to survive the massacre. As he sat amidst lifeless heroes scattered like slaughtered sheep, the moon blew mournful clouds over the valley. Huitzilopochti, the divine Aztec deity, wept tears of rain across the lost territory.

Anguish and guilt cloaked Chalcuchima's heart. He believed his heart to be forever blackened; the only way to cleanse it would be to cut it out and offer it to the sacred ones as a source of sanctimonious survival. Restless and ridden with guilt, he pulled his dagger from his bench.

Just as he was about to drive the blade into his chest, the rain ceased and the clouds parted to reveal a brilliant light. Chalcuchima blinked furiously, his hands before his face. From the light, a fierce Aztec warrior appeared and descended gripping a treacherous plumed serpent. Clothed in a ceremonial robe, his eyes were orbs of fire, his feet dazzling crystal, his voice the roar of a waterfall. His face blazed like the sun at noonday. Chalcuchima fell down at his feet as though dead, but the hollowed warrior laid his hand upon him and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the giver of life, the God who has guided the Mexica through catastrophe and prosperity."
   Chalcuchima wept, for he thought he was dead and unworthy to enter the gates of eternity. The graceful entity looked puzzled and said, "Valiant warrior, why do you weep?" The exhausted warrior looked up to the concerned deity. "I am not worthy to be in your presence. I failed to fulfill my destiny."

"You failed nothing, my foolish friend," said Huitzilopochti. "Then why is my heart poisoned with guilt?" asked the confused young soldier.

"You are a foolish young man who has inherited the beliefs and values of your father and his fathers. You did not fail some fatuous destiny. You survived to face your destiny," said the benevolent God.

"But, my destiny was to die with my brothers," replied the warrior. "Chalcuchima, I have the keys to the temple of death!" lashed out the spirit. "Make no mistake, my friend. Your destiny is not set to one path. It's a mystery. It's a path that you must seek out."

 "I have no family, no friends and no home. Is my destiny to fight for the Mexica?" asked Chalcuchima.

"The Mexica will fall, Chalcuchima. That is their destiny. But the spirit of the Aztec people will live on, my friend. Find yourself, your home, and begin a family. Go down the mountain and inherit the wind."

"What does that mean, my God?" questioned the warrior.  "Your destiny is like the wind. It can go in any direction. Inherit the wind, Chalcuchima. Inherit the wind."
 With that, the glorious spirit ascended into the clouds and disappeared with a bright light that became the sun. Chalcuchima, the great Aztec warrior seeking his destiny, began the long journey down the mountain, following the path of the northern wind.

 



 
Low Riding?
By Armando Marquez

 "Low and slow, mean and clean," is the low rider aesthetic as stated from inside the culture. You are probably asking yourself, "low riding, what is it?" Just in case you are ignorant or do not understand what low riding is, here is the answer to your question. The term "low riders" refers to automobiles that have been lowered to within a few inches of the road in the expressive style of la onda bajita, "the low wave," or "the low trend." It also refers to the people who craft them and to those who own, drive or ride in them. On both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and throughout the nation, low riders and their elaborately crafted carritos, carruchas, or ranflas-other names for their vehicles contribute their particular style to the rich discourse of regional Mexican-American identities. Paradoxically expressed in automotive design, low riders' sense of regional cultural continuity contributes a distinctive social sensibility to the emergent multicultural mosaic of the late 20th-century North America.   When Chicanos started cruisin' the calles in their cut-down cars, celebrating pachucismo on wheels with the end of the World War II, none have guessed that their style would ever earn an international audience. The beauties on the boulevard and admiring glances from the rodders and
customizers were enough to inspire what we now call lowriders. (Lowrider Magazine p72 paragraph 1) Low rider cars have been a part of the American Southwestern cultural scene for several decades now. They are late model (or just postwar) automobiles that have been specially lowered, usually with hydraulic lifts at each wheel so that any corner of the car may be raised and lowered at will. They are then given customized paint jobs and frequently redecorated in their interiors to achieve a high degree of luxury. Metal flake paint, murals and etched windows, swivel seats, deep pile upholstery and tiny steering wheels made of chrome chain links are all common features of low riders.

 A synthesis of creative imagination and technical mastery pushed to their limits, cars with state-of-the-art hydraulic technology perform stunt hopping, but raise their "ride" for driving clearance. Skid plates shower sparks into the night when dipped to drag over the pavement, while neon art illuminates windows, trunk and underchassis. Cultural and religious icons decorate body and interior in bold murals and etched glass, as low rider caravans move slowly across a complex social
landscape.

Although low riders are most commonly associated with Chicanos, members of other cultures own, design and build low riders. Low rider owners often form clubs for mutual assistance and encouragement, and for social activities. These clubs quite often try to raise the status of low riding in the public eye by engaging in community-oriented charitable activities.

1968 was the time of upheaval across the world, and the barrios of Aztlan were no exception. The Civil Rights Movement was in full swing; Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and other great leaders doing their best to bring hope to a disillusioned nation. The Brown Berets were on the march, and Chicanismo had awakened something in young Mexican-Americans, on campus and in the streets. La Chicanada who wanted to get an education could finally get their foot in the door, through affirmative action and work-study programs. (Lowrider Magazine p.72 3rd paragraph) Low riding first drew widespread attention in the late 1970s, sensationalized in "cruising" films like Boulevard Nights, burlesqued in Cheech and Chong's classic, Up In Smoke, and framed as cultural curiosity. In a more serious vein, Low Rider magazine, together with bands like "War," and the Luis Valdez film, Zoot Suit, evoked images of social and material realities of barrio life in shaping and broadcasting the bajito identity and style.

The style apparently arose in northern California in the late 1930's, but it evolved in Los Angeles, where its innovators responded to Hollywood's aesthetic and commercial demands. Yet low riders also assume a critical stance. They distinguish "low-and-slow" style by asking, "Whose cars are high?" They censure hot rodders, "who raise their cars, making all kinds of noise and pollution, racing down the streets killing themselves, if not others." By contrast, low riding expresses pride in hand craftsmanship learned through community apprenticeship and mechanical work in the military, auto detail shops, and garages, and pride in economy; the practical need to maintain one's own vehicle inexpensively.

Lowriding is a declaration of cultural pride, a historically resonant expression of contemporary Mexican-American identity. It is rooted in working class experience; low riders' handcrafted improvisations upon industrial style are a self-affirming response to the homogenizing forces of mass production and Anglo cultural ideals.  Low rider cars have been a part of the American Southwestern cultural scene for several decades now. For it must be recognized that low riding in general has received a bad press from the mainstream culture. Whether this is caused by the inconvenience and frustration experienced by motorists when stuck behind a low rider cruising one of the main streets at five miles an hour, or whether it stems from a generalized distrust and fear of Chicano youth, or from other roots altogether, I do no know. The fact remains that local newspapers throughout time have been known to equate "low rider" with "youth gang," and that in some communities in California the cars are illegal (supposedly because of safety reasons). A good case can be made for low riders, and especially low riders as displayed in a car show, are assembled and organized according to the same set of aesthetic principles as the great baroque churches of the 18th Century Mexico. Even the often-complained-about teenage custom of "cruising" has its very-old fashioned parallel in the plazas of Mexico on a Saturday evening, where young men and women, dressed in their best, promenade slowly in opposite directions, establishing eye contact but not speaking to each other.

Low riders are not about speed or muscle. They are about style and beauty, and are a cultural expression that comes out of a shared experience of a community. I hope people will learn that low riders are not bad. If only there was a way that we can change the misconception that low riders are not about gangs and street violence, by showing that these vehicles are works of art that take many hours of dedication and commitment to produce, but people just do not look, or do not care to look.

While low riding is a uniquely Mexican-American cultural expression, interest in low riders is widening within the United States and beyond to Europe and Japan. Now I ask you, what is low riding?


OPEN A BOOK!

I'm writing to let you know that there are a lot of Chicano's who are unaware of their culture right now in Aztlan. Many of our brothers and sisters are in prison instead of universities. We Chicano people should learn who Corky Gonzales of Colorado was, Reies Tijerina of New Mexico, Jose Guiterrez of Texas, Ruben Salazar of Califas and other Raza who spread the importance of politics, education and identity into our schools it should be mandatory not an elective. Latino cultural education is the solution to our gang, drug, and education problems today in the United States of America. For example, why doesn't the white Anglo Saxons kill each other? Or drop out of school? Because they have their history, language and there so-called "American" identity. The educational system denies out identity plus other ethnic races in this nation. We Raza need to unite and educate out children that we are beautiful people and that we are not ashamed of who we are, whether we call ourselves Chicano's, Mexican's, Latino's or Hispanic's. We are a beautiful mestizo nation of Native American and European Spanish blood that flows throughout our beautiful brown-blood veins.  Let's learn to open up those Chicano and Aztec books to our Raza.
Thank you, Peace and Love.


Love Hurts

I stood behind my '72 Chevy step side, bent over, throwing up all the beer I had just drank. Cars were passing by on the highway where we had pulled over. My novia put her arm on my shoulder and asked "Are you okay, baby?"

I yelled at her and told her to get away from me, not realizing the love and comfort she was showing me. She took me home from the party we had just left; I passed out before we even arrived. When I woke the next morning, I could barely remember what happened the night before. I felt a little bad, but blew it off knowing she would be there for me just as she had beeN the dozens of times before. After all, wasn't that the "Mexicano" way?

My grandfather did it, my father did it and I was following in their footsteps. We drink the night away knowing that when we wake up, our jefitas will be there for us no matter what happened the night before.

The Mexican ways are deep with heritage, pride, and respect.Something we should all be proud of. The mujer is there for her jefe, to do what is necessary to keep him happy. It's always been that way, so what was wrong with what I was doing? I am young, but very old-fashioned to "our ways." I was so hung up on the way of my forefathers, that I was blind to the needs of my muchacha. She was always there for me, accepting my style of life. We were happy, or so I thought.

She lived her live so much to please me that later she felt she lost touch of who she really was. I had found someone that I truly loved and appreciated, but didn't always show it, and I lost her.

I was stubborn in what I thought was tradition that I lost the true meaning of that tradition. Mexicanos are a proud race that have traditions passed on for many generations. Our juventud can't fix the mistakes that I did. Right now I am alone with my thoughts, reflecting on my past mistakes.
 
Vatos, if you've never been there, loneliness is one of the most terrible feelings that I've ever known. Be brown and proud; do what is right. Do what I did and you'll find out the hard way, how much love hurts.

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