Monday, January 14, 2008


Ray Elizondo was born in 1937 in Brownsville, Texas to a Mexican-American family. His father died when he was 4 years old. At 15, he was sent to reform school after a violent altercation at a football game. There he suffered an injury which would further complicate his life and produce the basis for his memoir, The Last Pachuco (Autumn Leaf Press, 2007). Elizondo served in the United States Army from 1954 to 1958. After a tragic experience with his son, he fathered five lovely daughters. Most of his higher education was earned in several Universities in Southern California. His writings skills were developed in recent years.

Elizondo will be reading from The Last Pachuco on Saturday, January 19, 2008, at 2 p.m., at Tía Chucha’s, 10258 Foothill Blvd., Lake View Terrace, CA 91342; (818) 896-1479;

The following is an excerpt from The Last Pachuco:

This hole was a little different than the one at the county jail. This one was outside, next to the infirmary. It was cold in the winter and hot in the summer. I was given a large set of overalls to wear and nothing else. There was a thin mattress on the floor. Some daylight slipped through the cracks, but not enough to read by, even if I had a book. Aside from that, holes have a standard design. At that point, my plan didn’t seem to be working very well.

Breakfast came early. The local rooster hadn’t finished the song of the day. Breakfast was an edited preview of what the rest of the kids were having. The metal tray carried a metal bowl. A small amount of milk soaked a dash of the morning cereal covered by an almost-buttered piece of toast. I could drink all the water I wanted from the washbasin. Several hours later, lunch arrived. The metal tray was standard. This time there was no bowl, only a medium-size potato and a slice of bread. Dinner tray was the same as lunch. The county jail had been a little more generous with the food.

I recognized their program. Their intentions were obvious. They were going to break my will through my stomach. They wanted me to get so hungry that I would beg to go back to that lousy assignment and never ask for another break. I was furious. All night I dreamed of Rutledge cheeseburgers, my favorite burgers. That’s the burger stand we used to frequent on Fridays before going to the post office to watch the girls go by. Hunger was attacking me by morning. I was so hungry I could have eaten a raw mouse. Nonetheless, my determination was set. I was prepared to butt heads with the establishment.

The rooster was in the middle of his fifth serenade when the tray slid under the trapdoor at the bottom of the threshold, and for the first time, I shoved it back out as hard as I could.

Through the steel door I heard the guard say, “I’m going to put you on report, you son of a bitch.”

◙ Public radio station KPFK (90.7 FM in Los Angeles/98.7 FM in Santa Barbara and live streaming online at, introduces a new book show today, Bibliocracy. Bibliocracy will broadcast each Monday at noon. Hosted by Andrew Tonkovich (editor of the Santa Monica Review), the debut show will feature the poetry of multi-talented Al Young (novelist, memoirist, poet, and essayist).

If you're too far to pick it up on the radio, you'll be able to listen live online; once archived, you will be able to visit the shows you've missed.

Andrew is eager to receive suggestions, advice, ideas for guests and books. And if you like the show, drop a comment via KPFK's comment form.

Note that Bibliocracy will focus largely on literary fiction and nonfiction though, as you can see from Al Young's booking, poets are welcome.

Upcoming programs:

Judith Freeman, author of The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved.

Editor and contributors to Latinos in Lotusland: Daniel Olivas (Devil Talk), Reyna Grande (Across a Hundred Mountains) and Michael Jaime-Becerra (Every Night is Ladies Night).

Terese Svoboda, author of the Graywolf Prize-winning Black Glasses Like Clark Kent: A GI’s Secret from Postwar Japan.

Toni Mirosevich, author of Pink Harvest: Tales of Happenstance, a collection of personal and political essays which won the "First Series: Creative Nonfiction” Prize from Mid-List Press.

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