Ojo: The "Cholo Word Of The Day" is simply for fun. This is not an academic exercise, therefore I do not spend much time checking for espelling or grammatical errors. Most of the words are not only used by "cholos," but by many people in S. Texas - and their usage can vary. c/s

Monday, August 30, 2004

Cholo Word Of The Day - Morra

Usually used by men and can be offensive to some women.


Meaning According To DT:
woman, girl, chick

Used in a sentence:
"La morra del Chopo lo saco del bote."

"Si hombre, he's in love and the morra always bails him out."

Translation according to DT:
"Chopo's better half got him out of jail."

"Yea man, he's in love and his lady caller always bails him out."

this is an audio post - click to play

Soy Chicana Y No Estes Chingando

Well, I added to the title, but you get the point. Wow, I just read this great piece, "I am Chicana, Not Hispanic!" from injust-spring. Es temprano, and even with my lagañas and medio dormido, I started to think about my days of encountering my Chicanismo.

Growing up in the magic valle of South Texas I always knew I was a Mexican-American, Mexicano, lo que sea. Los primos from Mexico called me a pocho or gringo and the others just called me a payaso, but I digress. UT - Austin, was a great place to be, in 1995. I realized I was really a Mexican. I also say I never realized I was poor until I went to UT. Oh, and I also didn't know what tortilla soup or Chalupas (I called them tostadas) were, until I moved to Austin.

Anyway, long story short - I began reading, talking, listening, and I realized I was a Chicano. I graduated then moved to Laredo and started working as a reporter. I was still pretty hard core, but then realized most working class people there were more concerned with making a living than what I referred to myself - plus, they couldn't really relate to the word chicano. Then, of course, using the word Chicano to describe Raza on t.v. was a no-no, so I started using Hispanic every now and then (I usually tried to steer towards Mexican-American), If I knew for a fact they were.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I somewhat sold out on the term (and maybe even the political consciousness), which I was so proud of in college. I'm not sure why. Now, I don't call myself a Hispanic, but it doesn't really bother me much when someone calls me that. Maybe, I've just been too lazy to make it a point to tell them that I don't like that. I'm a Chicano and I used to be a Xicano. I'm a Mexican American, I'm an American, a pocho, to some a gringo, and definitely a Texican. Oh yea, and I got my dual citizenship, so I reckon tambien a Mexicano.

I love to hear people write and talk about Chicanismo, because it makes me want to get back to the reading and the learning, the parties and the rally's, the writing and the talking, that goes along with being a Chicano.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Cholo Word Of The Day - Tiralo Al Leon

I've realized that most of these words I'm using I don't even know how to spell. I make it up on the fly, because I've never spelled these words or phrases, even though I've used them plenty of times. I bet most of the people that use these words haven't really written them down either. "Sepa La Mo" - that's another phrase we used, I don't know why.

Here's another phrase - Tiralo Al Leon - which litterally means, throw it to the lion.

Tiralo Al Leon

Meaning According To DT:
forget about it, don't worry about it, ignore it

Used in a sentence:

"Sabes que Chelelo, tirame esquina porque le voy a partir la madre a el Tony cuando lo vea."

"Ah, Chon, tiralo al leon. Esta loco ese guey."

Translation according to DT:
"You know what Chelelo, get my back because I'm going to pummel Anthony when I see him."

"Chon, forget about it. That gentlemen is just crazy."

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Cholo Word Of The Day - Aguitado

Again, I've heard this used by many people, not only cholos, but it's a pretty cool word and I'd like to use it.


Meaning According To DT:
down, embarrassed, depressed

Used in a sentence:

"No te aguites Chon, te puedes encontrar otra, bien rapido."

"No es eso Chago, es que a la Candy, si la queria."

Translation according to DT:
"Do get down on yourself Chon, you can find another one, real fast."

"That's no it Santiago, it's that I really did like Dulcelina."

Note: Dulcelina, is usually Dulce, but since we love changing names, here we call her "la Candy."

this is an audio post - click to play

La Cyndi Telling It Like It Is

Cyndi Rodriguez writes "Mission: get out the Latina vote" in her column. Si puede La Cyndi. I got this from our friend the Latino Pundit.

The Audio Blog Hates Me

It's still not working for me for some reason.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Presidential Quiz

Thanks to Harry's Place for helping me find this Presidential Quiz. It's pretty good. Check it out if you get a chance.

Cholo Word Of The Day - Tirame Esquina

Bueno, these aren't necessarily "cholo" words, or "spanglish" words, or mexican words, or chicano words. Chingado, if I told my mom parents that when they use a phrase or a word, they were using a "cholo" word, me pondrian una buena chinga. Or, if I told a cholo "Well, in fact, your use of the word Simon, dates back to the Mexican people of (fill in the blank)," I think I'd no longer be able to type out my blog w/ two hands.

So with that said here we go again. This, tambien, is a phrase very common in South Texas. Let me know if you all have heard it anywhere else. All comments are appreciated, it gives me something to write about.

This word means one thing, but when used in a phrase in a certain context, it means something different. The word "esquina" is litterally, "corner."

Esquina, Tirame Esquina, Me Tiras Esquina, Te Tiro Esquina

Meaning According To DT:
corner, get my back, i've got your back, i'm no your side, your covered

Used in a sentence:

"Elias, tirame esquina after school if I get jumped."

"Ok, Freddy, pero nomas si me tiras esquina en el Peter Piper Pizza, cause i'm low on cash."

Translation according to DT:
"Elias, get my back after school if I get jumped."

"OK, Alfred, but only if you cover me at Peter Piper Pizza, because I'm low on cash."

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, August 23, 2004

Cholo Word Of The Day - Se Saco La Daga

Again, this is more of a phrase than a word. I was reminded of this phrase this weekend, because my little brother and brother-in-law were talking. They used the phrase and I thought it would be perfect.

Se Saco La Daga, Te Sacaste La Daga

Meaning According To DT:
great job, excellent work, done well

Used in a sentence:

"El Chino se saco la daga en el baseball game, when he hit a home run."

"Simon, Meme, era el hero for the day."

Translation according to DT:
"El Chino (curly hair) did awesome at the baseball game, when he hit a home run."

"Yup, Manuel, he was the hero of the day."

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Will Ferrell On President Bush

I was reading a NYT's article on comedians making fun of presidents and they talked about a hillarious commercial which you can find here.

I'm not sure how long it's been out, but it's extremely funny.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Going To Iraq - Not Me

My one-time fellow h.s. drumline member, college roommate, and now Marine Sgt. Ricardo Gonzalez, is off to Iraq. He called me very early this morning, because that's when they're up.

He sounded positive, and when I asked if he was ready, he said "Fuck Yea." We talked for a good while. Towards the end of our conversation, I asked him if he needed anything, and he just said "your support." He's always had that. He told me he knows I don't agree with the war. I told him that I support him and the guys I've met through him. I asked him about the pack he carries on his back and how much it weighed. He laughed when I told him I don't walk to work because my laptop is too heavy.

Rick told me his battalion is mostly made up of dudes from South Texas - the 1st Battalion 23rd Marines - he joked that they've changed the name of their "Charlie" company to "Carlos" company.

It's kind of sad to learn that your friend or family member is going to war and because I don't have either the time or the energy this morning to write more, I'm going to cut and paste a message I wrote early this month on Friendzy. My h.s. is organizing the reunion and our classmates decided to discuss the war. Here it goes:

For lack of better words and use of an unfortunate cliche, I guess we can "agree to disagree." I was Rick's best man at his wedding. I watched as he and his fellow Marines stood with pride as they wore their uniform, knowing that in a couple of months, they would be sent to Iraq. I gave a speech asking him and his friends to take care of each other. I watched as they clutched on to their girlfriends and wives as I spoke of the danger they might face and I watched their young faces full of courage and pride as they put on their uniforms. A couple of these guys didn't even speak English very well - they, like many of our classmates had led a life of struggle, worked hard to cross the border to attend school, so that they could later serve their country.

These are the guys that stand when a lady enters the room and the same guys who called me sir, simply because of my relationship with Rick.

And the entire time, they knew I didn't agree with what is going on overseas, but they knew I respected them for doing something I would never do. I don't agree with the war, I don't agree with the President, and I don't agree that our young men and woman have to come back to this country, and still sometimes be looked at as second class citizens because they don't speak english well, or because they don't have the same education some of us were able to achieve. I don't agree that some of our classmates who serve our country may come back and have a hard time finding a job, because they are "not qualified," even though they do something I can't and won't do.

Marissa, in my eyes you can say anything you want to say, you've earned it. You put in your time. The beauty of this country though is that everyone else can also say what they like.

Everyone knows that we are behind the people serving. I don't think that's ever been a question. As to the politics of the conflict - that's a different story.

In the valley, there's always been a strong feeling of patriotism. You don't have to look very far, look at our high school's namesake. I don't think it's a coincidence that Mexican-Americans earned the most purple hearts during WWII.

It is encouraging to see that we have differing opinions. I am glad to see that we can articulate our feelings.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Audio Posts

Since many people have had questions on how to pronounce the "Cholo Word Of The Day," I will start doing an audio post along with the word. I'm going to try to catch up on all of them, so calmados.

Cholo Word Of The Day - Trucha

Trucha is commonly used among younger and older people.


Meaning According To DT: watch out, be careful, lookout, be aware

Used in a sentence:
"Nato, ponte trucha cuando te traigan la computer, porque sometimes they don't bring you the right thing."

"Claro que si, Jimmy, siempre pongo mucho ojo a esas cosas, because it costs a lot."

Translation according to DT:
"Reynato, be aware when they bring you the computer, because sometimes they don't bring you the right thing."

"Of course, Jimmy, I have have a watchful eye, because it is very expensive.."

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Their "Get-Ups"

Bob Costas is one of my favorite sports commentators. The guy is brilliant, but last Friday, during the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, he made a couple of comments which I found disturbing. As the athletes marched in wearing their traditional outfits, Costas and his partner commented on their wonderful "Get Ups" and "costumes".

Now personally, I thought those comments were ridiculous. Did those athletes really think their clothes were "get ups" and "costumes?" Maybe they did? I'm not sure. I just found it a bit odd.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Cholo Word Of The Day - Q-vo

I started using different variations of this word a lot more in high school and college: Q-vo, Q-vole.


Meaning According To DT: hey, what's up, hello, how are you, greetings

Used in a sentence:
"Q-vo Pepe, porque no traiste los papers for school."

"Ah Nacho, es que se los comio mi dog."

Note: notice the word "traiste" instead of "trajiste"

Translation according to DT:
"Hey Pepe, why didn't you bring the papers for school."

"Oh, Ignacio, because my dog ate them."

Monday, August 16, 2004

Cholo Word Of The Day - Cantón

Going home we always said we were going to the "cantón." It never seemed odd, that's just the way it was.


Meaning According To DT: house, home, residence

Used in a sentence:
"Trini, antes de que nos vayamos a la beach, traime el sunblock lotion del cantón."

"Ok Memo, pero we have to do it really fast, cause we're already late."

Translation according to DT:
"Trinidad, before we go to the beach, bring me the sunblock lotion from the house."

"Ok William, but we have to do very quick, because we are already running late."

Two Flags - One Fighter

During lunch I watched Mexican-American Boxer Vicente Escobedo completely destroy his opponent. Escobedo is on the U.S. Olympic Team, and the 22-year old son of Mexican immigrant farm workers.

Telemundo did a piece on him and his journey to the Olympics, in which they interviewed "Chente's" older brother, Jose. In the interview, the reporter pointed out that Jose was carrying both a Mexican and an American flag. He said, even though officially, he was there representing the United States, his brother, was representing Mexicans as well.

Chente, in broken Spanish, spoke about getting to this point and thanked his family and friends for their hard work and support. When he entered the ring, chants of USA, USA, and Mexico, Mexico, filled the arena. I imagine other spectators must be confused by this.

People always question Mexican-Americans for their close ties to Mexico - they question our loyalty to this country. Escobedo is there fighting for his country, but also representing Mexicans, his culture, his people, and his parents. As Mexican-Americans, it is hard for us to simply forget about our roots, even though many Mexicans don't consider us Mexican and many Americans don't consider us American. Ni de aqui, ni de alla, like La India Maria used to say. Or should it be "De Aqui, y de Alla."

If Escobedo wins the Gold Medal, there is no doubt in my mind he will stand up at the podium and proudly listen to the Star Spangled Banner. He will be proud to be an American, just like the numerous Mexican-American soldiers who everyday fight on behalf of this country, and stand at attention when they hear the National Anthem. Those soldiers too, do not forget their roots. I'm pretty sure nobody is questioning their loyalty. This is an interesting story, like that of The Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya. Let's see how this plays out.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

La Musica - Porque?

The other day Sensory Overload blogged about Cheesy Spanish Song Lyrics. It got me to thinking about some stupid ass songs that I heard as a kid. I wonder if any of you remember these:

Es que se me sube el colesterol, mi amorcito
Me sube el colesterol.
Es que se me sube el colesterol, mamacita.
Me sube el colesterol.
Es que se me sube el colesterol, mi chapparita.
Me sube el colesterol.
Es que se me sube el colesterol, mi puchungita.
Me sube el colesterol.

Yo tengo una bolita que me sube y me baja, hay, me sube y me baja.

Canchis, Canchis. Todo el dia y todo la noche. Canchis, canchis.

El Pipirau:
Yo no tengo un carro del Año, mucho menos un gran marquis. Muy apenas un volkswagon y lo compre para ti. Si me dicen la guayaba pero el pipiripau, porque me siguen las mujeres pipiripau. Yo soy el hombre que las quiere.

Oh man, there are so many good ones.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Cholo Word Of The Day - Chale

I use the word "chale" more often than you would think. It's pretty mainstream in fact, but many people look at it as "low-class" I guess depending on who it's coming from.


Meaning According To DT: no way, no, negatory

Used in a sentence:
"Sale, pa el arcade Tito, porque they're almost gonna close."

"Chale guey, I'm gonna stay here at the house, and wait for my primos."

Translation according to DT:
"Let's go to the arcade Tito, because they're almost going to close."

"No way, I'm going to stay here at the house, and wait for my cousins."

Bonus Word:

Sale: let's go

Is Gringo Bad?

Don't have much time to post, but I encourage you to join in on the discussion about the word Gringo. Thanks to Oso, for letting me know about this.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Cholo Word Of The Day - Grifo

This is one of the words which I've used since I was a kid. I guess it's unfortunate that as a kid I knew or would see people who were"grifos." While working as a reporter in Laredo, I worked with many locals, who had a very colorful vocabulary and whom enjoyed smoking illegal substances once in a while, so the term was very widely used.


Meaning According To DT: high, stoned

Used in a sentence:
"Memo, viste como se puso Chema en el party? Andaba bien grifo."

"Nombre, Fito, se le fueron las cabras, y no sabia en donde andabe, where he was going, or even where he lived."

Translation according to DT:
"William, did you see Joe's actions at the party? He was using mind altering drugs."

"No way, Fito, he was acting weird, and didn't no where was, where he was going, or even where he lived."

Bonus Word:

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Diary Of A Brown Girl

I'm delighted to welcome my friend, Diary Of A Brown Girl, on board. Can't wait to see the writing.

Border Patrol Deportation Right - No Mames

The Department of Homeland Security wants to give border patrol agents the right to deport "illegal aliens." Uh, huh, that's a great idea.

Just in case you can't read the article, it's right here:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 - Citing concerns about terrorists crossing the nation's borders, the Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday that it planned to give border patrol agents sweeping new powers to deport illegal aliens from the frontiers with Mexico and Canada without providing them the opportunity to make their case before an immigration judge.

The move, which will take effect this month, represents a broad expansion of the authority of the thousands of law enforcement agents who patrol the nation's borders. Until now, border patrol agents typically delivered undocumented immigrants to the custody of the immigration courts, where judges determined whether they should be deported or remain in the United States.

Domestic security officials described the deportation process in immigration courts - which hear asylum claims and other appeals to remain in the country - as sluggish and cumbersome, saying illegal immigrants often wait for more than a year before being deported while straining the capacity of detention centers and draining critical resources. Under the new system, immigrants will typically be deported within eight days of their apprehension, officials said.

The Illegal Immigration and Reform Responsibility Act of 1996 authorized the agency to deport certain groups of illegal immigrants without judicial oversight, but until now it had permitted only officials at airports and seaports to do so.

The new rule will apply to illegal immigrants caught within 100 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders who have spent up to 14 days within the United States. Officials said the border agents would not focus on deporting Mexicans and Canadians, who will still, for the most part, have their cases heard in immigration court. The agents will concentrate instead on immigrants from other countries. In fiscal year 2003, about 37,000 immigrants from countries other than Mexico and Canada - primarily from Central America - were arrested along the Southwest border.

Cholo Word Of The Day - En Chinga

Well, I'm not sure if this is necessarily a "cholo" word, but it's pretty damn close. I have to post "en chinga."

En Chinga

Meaning According To DT: haste, fast, freakin' quick, in a hurry
(might be considered a curse word, depending on who you're talking to)

Used in a sentence:
"Pollo, vamos en chinga al H-E-B porque la jefita quiere queso para las enchiladas."

"Nombre Chinche, they went to get the cheese last week at the escuelin."

Translation according to DT:
"Pollo, let's go really quick to H-E-B because mom wants cheese for the enchiladas."

"No Bedbug, they went to get cheese last week at the school."

Bonus Word:

Escuelin: School

side note: I never did really laugh at those "cheese line" jokes, but I was always the kid in that line, and damn that cheese is good!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

My Weekend - Late

Whew, it's been one of those weeks. It seems I haven't had time to catch up. My uneventful weekend turned out to be half-way eventful, and I'm still trying to catch up on sleep.

The best part was finding a security guard on the phone and my friend passed out in front of his apartment. It was hillarious.

I stayed up way too late every night. Now I'm passing out.

One funny thing. I invited myself to a party on Saturday night and there was a mixed crowd of people. I started telling jokes like I always try to do and I was bombing with all of the white kids. My friend and I had started the "cool group" at the party and now she and I had to move inside because of my bombing. Inside the Mexican kids were loving all of my jokes. I didn't really notice it until she pointed it out (and she's white, but she was laughing). Oh well. I guess my humour only works w/ some folks. She just said that the white kids probably think my jokes are too blunt and some people may see them as rude. Me! Rude!? Noooo. Bueno, that's it.

Cholo Word Wonder

You've no doubt heard of the milli-vanilli applicable phrase "one-hit wonder." I'm "wondering" if I'm a "cholo word wonder." I get emails from readers (dunno how you find me)about my "Cholo Word Of The Day." To my surprise, it has a small following. My other posts now seem more like "fillers" or "fluff." (If you add those to words you could come up w/ "fluffer.") I just found out somebody made me their blog of the day a couple of days ago, because "if only for" my words of the day. Interesting. Anyway, I'll keep trying to come up w/ these. If you know of any good one's or just hear somebody yapping away, let me know. I'll try to figure out what it is.

- Chamos (short for "Wachamos")

Monday, August 09, 2004

Cholo Word Of The Day - Ranfla

Ranfla is a word that is not-so-common in Texas, even though, in the barrio where I grew up, it was used every now and then, by the hard-core cholos. A ranfla is not just any car, it's a smooth ride, usually a lowrider. However, the term can be used to talk about any car.

A cool ranfla:

Word: Ranfla
Meaning According To DT: lowrider, cool car, or just your car.

Used in a sentence:
"Oyes puppet, I'm taking out my morra in my new ranfla tomorrow, so can you give me some feria for gas?"

"Borrado, I already told you I'm broke, ese. No estes mamando."

Translation according to DT:
"Excuse me Puppet, I'm taking out my lady in waiting in my new vehicular tomorrow, so can I please have some money for gas?"

"Hazel Eyes, I already told you I'm broke. Please stop bothering me."

Bonus Words:
Morra: girl
Feria: money

Friday, August 06, 2004

Cholo Word Of The Day - Simon

Some people have asked what a cholo is? I don't really know how to explain it. Just a chicano dude who identifies w/ the barrio. I guess if you're actually a cholo you probably have a different definition and might spit in my face if you saw me - or maybe, because we were neighbors, we'd hang out and laugh about stupid cholo stuff. Another definition.

A stereotypical cholo:

Word: Simon
Meaning according to DT: Right on, yes, of course.

Used in a sentence:
"Oyes Flipper, vas a ir a el football game mañana, Simon que si?"

"Simon Filimon, no me lo perdio."

Translation accroding to DT:
"Hey Phillip, you're going to the football game tomorrow, right?"

"Of course Filimon, I wouldn't miss it."

Thursday, August 05, 2004

First Audio Blog

this is an audio post - click to play

Waiting For Meeting and CNN Homeboy

I'm sitting in the conference room at work waiting for my meeting to start. Time is not very important here.

Anyway, I've been swapping emails with a friend about getting together. He's one of the few Latino correspondents for CNN. He's actually the Dallas Bureau Chief, so you maybe have seen his mug on the tube - Ed Lavandera.

The reason I'm mentioning him is because if you see him on the tube, give him some props. We need more people of color on t.v. Oooops. meetings about to start. I'll be back.

Cholo Word Of The Day - La Jura

I'm thinking I need a better format for my words of the day, because it's always so random. Any suggestions would be appreciated:

Word: La Jura
Meaning According to DT (me): The fuzz, the cops, pigs, maranos, nation's finest.

Used In A Sentence:
"Chente, wachate cuando vayas a la store, si andas drinking, porque te pesca la jura."

"Ya se Flavio. La jura metio mi dad a el bote last week."

Translation according to DT:
"Vincent, watch out when you go to the store, if you're drinking, because the cops will catch you."

"I know Flaves. The cops stuck my dad in the penitentiary last week."

Bonus Word: El Bote
Translation According To DT: The can. (jail)

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

La Guitar

I've been practicing a couple of minutes on the guitar that my friend lent me and my fingers are killing me. Maybe my short stubby fingers aren't really made for the guitar. I don't know.

I'm teaching myself and I don't have a manual so I'm working off of a lesson I found online. It's actually really good.

No tunes yet, but in short time, hopefully.

Cholo Word Of The Day - Que No?

This might be a phrase of the day, rather than a word. I really like this one because you can use it at work, at home, in church, or even while you're hanging out with your camaradas listening to Los Bukis.

"Severino, you want to go the movies tambien, Que No?" "Pues claro Smiley, vamos mañana, y nos quedamos a ver two movies, que no."

Pseudo translation (kinda like the subtitles in the movies): Severino, you want to go to the movies too, don't ya?

"Well, of course Smiley (Ismael), let's go tomorrrow, and we'll stay to watch two movies, right."

You'll notice the "que no" can mean a variety of things. And even though it's literally a question - it can be used in any way shape or form.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Is It Safe?

Oooh, I'm in a rush, but I'd like to welcome my great friend on board. She'll be blogging soon - Mediocrity Is Safe.

My Brother's War Story

My little brother wrote this about a year ago. He writes really well, way better than me.

Thinking Of Saul - A Friend

The pain of remembering burdens my heart today. I am not remembering the experience of standing in New York City alongside hundreds of thousands; instead, I am sad because I remember that today I sit in front of a computer as a college graduate because so many of my childhood friends do not.

My brother Carlos sent me a forwarded message from an old friend of ours.
The three of us - Carlos, our friend whom we'll call Saul and I - were drummers at Nikki Rowe High School in our hometown of McAllen, Texas.
Carlos was the oldest, followed two years later by Saul and a year later by me.

In the time since we graduated, my brother and I have gone to college and received bachelors' degrees. We are now both considering graduate school.

Saul took a path like so many of our other friends, relatives, and neighbors in South Texas - a community where over 90 percent of the population is Mexican, the unemployment rate seldom falls below double digits and the median income hovers near $12,000. Soon after graduation, Saul entered a Marine Corps recruiting office and has not turned back since.

The e-mail my brother sent was signed "Saul Rodriguez, Sergeant, United States Marine Corps." This is a man who has always taken pride in his work and continues to do so.

This is also a man who wrote, "To me, suffocating a war protestor (with recyclable bags, of course) is in line with my free speech... Protestors are like cockroaches, kill one and fifteen take their place."

In equally vivid prose, he added his contempt for protestors who purportedly knocked a mounted officer from his horse and beat him.

He expressed his dismay with people who disagree with "expert military advisors, who have YEARS of experience. I mean what was I thinking? The average civilian knows how to run the country, why haven't I paid attention to them before?"

And he ended by inviting protestors to drop destructive opposition and support the war or "do what they did back in Vietnam, and spit in my face, or spit on this Uniform when I return, and call me a baby killer. In which case, I will be more than happy to re-adjust your way of thinking by shoving my fist so far up your tie-dyed butt that I'll grab the Peace sign from around your neck and pull it out your draft dodging ass."

I can understand how you might think of Saul as a burly man with few wits, large muscles and a penchant for violence. After all, you did not grow up with him. I did. Still, I have to admit that his words ripped through my heart - not in spite of having grown up with him, but because of it.

As I read Saul's letter, I couldn't stop thinking of the skinny, goofy teenager who carried his drumsticks in his rear pocket, laughed like he was everyone's friend, and always looked like the drum was carrying him rather than him carrying the drum.

I don't know how much of that letter was actually written by Saul. I want to think that much of it wasn't. Still, that Saul--a poorly educated young Latino male--sent it out reflects what happens to our friends, neighbors, cousins, classmates and siblings once they don the uniform of their profession. They become the arms and legs of the repressive organization they serve.

Thinking of Saul's criticisms, I can't begin to argue that all protestors were respectful of the police. Neither can I argue that each individual in that sea of hundreds of thousands embraced nonviolence the way I did.

But I can remember that the man standing near me who had all kinds of ideas about where the police officers should go and what they should do with themselves stood apart from the rest of us. I can remember the beautiful sounds from the crowd when dozens of police in full riot gear grabbed their billy clubs and pushed steel barricades into the throngs that were already standing shoulder to shoulder between Manhattan's mammoth skyscrapers. "The police are not our enemy," we chanted as the officers pressed into us. "The police are not our enemy."

And how can I forget the pleas for help, the screaming, coming from deep within my body and thousands of bodies around me when 20 mounted officers drove their horses straight into the crowd? How can I forget the beautiful horses, muscles gleaning through their coats, which charged within a foot of my friends and me? How can I forget being surrounded by hundreds of police, as helpless as the chickens fenced in at my grandparents' house? How can I forget trying in vain to make a 180-degree turn for at least 30 minutes? I just wanted to know if my friends were OK.

I cannot forget what I saw. I cannot forget what I heard. I cannot forget what I experienced.

Neither can I forget what I know: Saul did not always think of me as a cockroach. He did not always dream of murdering me with a plastic bag.
When we were younger, he did not think of ramming a peace sign through my body.

I also know that we are not so far removed from those times. Saul finished high school in 1997 and I graduated in 1998. In that time he has learned to hate, learned to despise, and learned to dream of death.

Yet he is still Saul. He is a man who was once a boy, a soldier who was once a friend.

I cannot read his words and think solely of his uniform. I must remember that beneath his medals he is more than a sergeant; he is a person.

Saul doesn't sleep in his uniform and he doesn't laugh in his uniform.
Nor is he a lost part of society, a colleague of those who rejoice in streams of blood and tears wasted in the name of liberty and justice.

No. Saul, like I could have been and like so many of my childhood friends have become, is a strong and brave young man trained to obey and destroy.

Yes, he is dangerous. But because he is dangerous it is my duty to reach out to him - the part of him beneath the uniform.

It is not enough to wait until Saul is lined up on a battlefield - be that Iraq or Manhattan - in a Marine Corps uniform or NYPD riot gear. By then it is too late. By then he has adopted the role he has so diligently been trained to perform.

If I truly desire peace, justice, humanity - all those ideals for which I am often ridiculed - then I cannot search behind the barricades for Sergeant Rodriguez. I must go to McAllen, to Los Angeles, Queens, and Detroit and reconnect with Saul.

He must see that I am not a cockroach, an infestation, or vermin to be suffocated. And I must see that he is just a man; a man with as many dreams and hopes as me.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Spanglish Word Of The Day - Wacha

Wacha - to watch. Look.
Wachaste - did you see?

This word is often used when looking at something or when someone wants to call attention to a particular thing. For example:

"Luis, wacha! See how that morrita looked at me?"

Or, "Sostenes, si wachaste el t.v. show last night?"

translated to: Sostenes, did you watch the t.v. show last night?

Movies, Kidnappings, and Gay Bars

The Movie
Maria Full Of Grace is the recipient of a Sundance award and the Berlin Film Festival Award. It deserves much more. The story of Maria Alvarez, a 17-year old Columbian girl, trying to find a better life, captivates the audience. There is so much passion in Maria. So much passion in fact, that she chooses to work as a mule, someone who smuggles drugs. The story shows us how Colombian coca leaves become New York cocaine.

The movies focuses on the "mules," mostly young and uneducated women who swallow dozens of plastic-wrapped pellets and then board planes, smuggling the drugs into the United States.

The movie, almost all in Spanish with sub-titles, is a must see. As I was sitting in the posh Angelika Film Center I couldn't help but think of the many immigrants who cross the border illegally ever day. The only contraband most of them smuggle is their bodies. They come in search of a better life. So, did Maria take the easy way out, by smuggling drugs - because the suppliers gave her a passport and money? I don't know. Was smuggling drugs her only option, probably not, but I don't think that's the point of the movie.

A couple of weeks ago I was in El Refugio, Queretaro, about 10 minutes from Arroyo Seco, visiting my Grandmother. The town this part of the year is bustling with people. Most of them have gone home for the yearly Fiesta. Most of them, now live in the United States. And most of them, got here illegally. I was talking to my Aunt about her crossing experience not to long ago. She had my young cousin at the time with her. She said she knew of no other option.

The Kidnapping

This weekend I got a call from my pops. He needed some computer help. Towards the end of our conversation, he tells me that my cousin from Monterrey is going to McAllen. His uncle has been kidnapped. The kidnappers are asking for $300, 000. Sounds like something out of the movies, huh? It's true though. Right now, the family is trying to figure out what they're going to do. More to come...

Gay Bars

Saturday night one of my friends suggested visiting a bar I had never been to. My friends don't know how to give directions, so finding Minc was a challenge. We finally found it after driving for nearly 1 hour. A man, dresses as a woman, greeted us. Inside the dj was spinning some cool tunes, and the guy to girl ratio was 99 to 1 - not by accident. It was a pretty good time. This was my first visit to a gay bar since I lived in Austin. I definitely found this bar much more laid back than most of the bars I've been to lately. We'll probably go back there, but maybe next time we'll take more than 3 girls.