Friday, May 20, 2022

New Books for Summer

I'm writing this post on May 19, 2022.  The temperature in Denver reached the high 80s today. Although it was only Thursday, it was a day for long hikes, picnics, gardening, cold beer and fried chicken. Tomorrow we will experience a huge drop in temperature and cold winds.  A winter storm warning has been issued and we expect three to five inches of snow in the city.  We are having an early summer and a late winter -- at the same time.  But don't dwell on the weather or the consequences of climate change.  That's no fun.  Here are a few upcoming books that may help get you through the rest of spring or summer or winter -- whatever this is.

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Daniel Guebel, translated by
Jessica Sequeira
Seven Stories Press - May 17

[from the publisher]

Called a "masterpiece" and the author a "genius," this English-language debut of one of Argentina’s best writers is the story of a family of artists, scientists, and politicians who are responsible for the great cultural and political advancements of modernity, yet remain mysteriously unknown.

This monumental novel tells the story of the Deliuskin family’s secret interventions in music, mysticism and revolutionary thought over the course of three centuries, spanning six generations. Each figure engages in obsessive and absurd acts, which—depending on who controls the narrative— could be genius or madness, so often indistinguishable. Countless minor characters also appear, intersecting with these stories in a suggestion of infinite parallel narratives.

The title predestines this philosophical, political, historical, literary, sentimental, erotic, religious, scientific and artistic book to evocative incompleteness. To attempt perfection is a joyful act of throwing oneself into the world, the task at hand is not to capture life but create, in and through words. Poised on the edge of something between reality and its negation, Daniel Guebel's The Absolute is an undeniable masterpiece even as it questions if the novel is a failed project.

Winner of Premio Municipal de la Novela, 2021
Winner of Premio Nacional de Literatura Argentina, 2018
Winner of Premio Literario de la Academia Argentina de Letras, 2017
Winner of Best Novel Award by La Nación, 2016

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Kali Fajardo-Anstine
One World - June 7

[from the publisher]
Luz “Little Light” Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress, is left to fend for herself after her older brother, Diego, a snake charmer and factory worker, is run out of town by a violent white mob. As Luz navigates 1930s Denver, she begins to have visions that transport her to her Indigenous homeland in the nearby Lost Territory. Luz recollects her ancestors’ origins, how her family flourished, and how they were threatened. She bears witness to the sinister forces that have devastated her people and their homelands for generations. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family stories from disappearing into oblivion.

Written in Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s singular voice, the wildly entertaining and complex lives of the Lopez family fill the pages of this multigenerational western saga. Woman of Light is a transfixing novel about survival, family secrets, and love—filled with an unforgettable cast of characters, all of whom are just as special, memorable, and complicated as our beloved heroine, Luz.

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Tom Segura
Grand Central Publishing - June 14

[from the publisher]
From Tom Segura, the massively successful stand-up comedian and co-host of chart-topping podcasts 2 Bears 1 Cave and Your Mom’s House, hilarious real-life stories of parenting, celebrity encounters, youthful mistakes, misanthropy, and so much more.

Tom Segura is known for his twisted takes and irreverent comedic voice. But after a few years of crazy tours and churning out podcasts weekly, all while parenting two young children, he desperately needs a second to himself. It’s not that he hates his friends and family — he’s not a monster — he’s just beat, which is why his son’s (ruthless) first full sentence, “I’d like to play alone, please,” has since become his mantra.

In this collection of stories, Tom combines his signature curmudgeonly humor with a revealing look at some of the ridiculous situations that shaped him and the ludicrous characters who always seem to seek him out. The stories feature hilarious anecdotes about Tom's time on the road, including some surreal encounters with celebrities at airports;, his unfiltered South American family; the trials and tribulations of parenting young children with bizarrely morbid interests; and, perhaps most memorably, experiences with his dad who, like any good Baby Boomer father, loves to talk about his bowel movements and share graphic Vietnam stories at inappropriate moments. All of this is enough to make anyone want some peace and quiet.

I'd Like to Play Alone, Please will have readers laughing out loud and nodding in agreement with Segura's message: in a world where everyone is increasingly insane, sometimes you just need to be alone.

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Erika L. Sánchez
Viking - July 12

[from the publisher]
Growing up as the daughter of Mexican immigrants in Chicago in the nineties, Erika Sánchez was a self-described pariah, misfit, and disappointment—a foul-mouthed, melancholic rabble-rouser who painted her nails black but also loved comedy, often laughing so hard with her friends that she had to leave her school classroom. Twenty-five years later, she’s now an award-winning novelist, poet, and essayist, but she’s still got an irrepressible laugh, an acerbic wit, and singular powers of perception about the world around her.

In these essays, Sánchez writes about everything from sex to white feminism to debilitating depression, revealing an interior life rich with ideas, self-awareness, and perception. Raunchy, insightful, unapologetic, and brutally honest, Crying in the Bathroom is Sánchez at her best—a book that will make you feel that post-confessional high that comes from talking for hours with your best friend.

J. Reeder Archuleta
Izzard Ink Publishing - July 27

[from the publisher]
The Best Good Horse is a collection of stories that celebrate both the rugged individual and the grace that comes when two people join forces. These are characters who are playing the cards that life has dealt them, ordinary people who would not stand out in a crowd; and although they are from different walks of life, they have one thing in common: they all live and die in a work-a-day world. From the dry farm fields of Texas to the damp streets of San Francisco, from the rodeo circuit to Mexico’s Sierra Madre, these characters meet life head on and offer no apologies. Some names and faces are familiar from Archuleta’s other collections, but there is also a host of new characters who are every bit as unyielding, gritty, and engaging.

In the title story, an old cowboy befriends the young daughter of a ranch cook and becomes her protector as she grows up. In A Prayer to St. Michael, a World War II spy tries to adjust to living with human depravity in a small Texas town. Imperfections tells the story of an indigenous prostitute in Mexico who is beaten by her pimp. She summons incredible strength and cunning to come out on top.

Every story in this collection stuns and satisfies with its mix of sweet innocence and awful experience. The scope of problems confronted is breathtaking, and the volume is wrought with brilliant talent by Archuleta.

Later.

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Manuel Ramos lives in Denver on the Northside. His latest novel is Angels in the Wind: A Mile High Noir.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Chicanonautica: Zooming for El Porvenir, ¡Ya!

by Ernest Hogan 

Of course, I took part in the book launch for El Porvenir, ¡Ya!: Citlalzazanilli Mexicatl.


It was different, taking place at the Medicine for Nightmares bookstore in San Francisco. Some of the writers were there in person, while others, me included, participated via Zoom. It was also a celebration for the 50th anniversary of Somos en escrito founder Armado B. Rendón’s Chicano Manifesto.


 As happens with something new, there were technical difficulties, or situations beyond our control, as they would say on television in my youth. They came in the form of a problem that let comments from the audience intrude on the readings. 


Martin Hill Ortiz’s reading was interrupted by a distorted voice like a demonic presence from a horror movie. It was announced that it was fixed, but the same thing happened during my reading.


The voice sounded like a young man who hadn’t ever really accomplished anything and wasn’t happy with his life. I’ve heard many like it over the decades. His confidence was no doubt amped up with hormones and other chemicals. 

He took offense to my hair. No matter how I wear it, there are always those who don’t like it. I stopped caring way back in my teens. 


He also thought that a line from my story, “Incident in the Global Barrio” was—and I quote—“some racist shit.” This was dialogue from a racist character. 


Some members of the politically correct generation react to anything that seems racist by screaming bloody murder and trying to shut down the conversation—exactly what we don’t need.


It’s happened to me before. One reviewer warned of racism in High Aztech, even though he admitted that the racism was coming from the bad guys.


I often write about racism. It is an important subject. I will continue doing it. It’s my way of fighting the fight and revealing the truth. If you don’t like it, don’t read anything with my byline.

 

Fortunately, the technical problem was solved after my reading.


A peculiar bit of irony is, the fellow who heckled me is exactly the sort of person who should be reading El Porviner, ¡Ya! 


 Really.


The reason that the bigtime publishers aren’t publishing Chicano writers (How many are on the best seller lists right now?) is that they don’t think we have an audience, or it’s just so small it could never make the big bucks they require. Which creates the Catch-22 of us not selling enough to be profitable.


We have to reach out ourselves, connect with our audience, which is big and diverse and includes frustrated kids who think they know everything but are in desperate need of getting their minds blown. And that is what science fiction and being Chicano is all about.


Ernest Hogan’s story “Incident in the Global Barrio” can be read in El Porvenir, ¡Ya!: Citlalzazanilli Mexicatl. Chicano Science Fiction: Buy it, Read it, Live it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Visitas inesperadas




Por Ariadna Sánchez Hernández

 

Ariadna Sánchez Hernández nació en la tierra “donde abunda el ejote”, Ejutla de Crespo, Oaxaca. Los versos empapados de emociones encuentran un hogar en las páginas de Visitas inesperadas.  

 

 

Visitas inesperadas, es un poemario con fotografías que une los aromas y colores de una tierra mágica con los ecos de la memoria. La poeta florece en cada estrofa, bañada de sol y esperanza, pintando poesía más allá de la frontera. Sus poemas han sido publicados en prestigiosos medios impresos y electrónicos tales como la revista infantil Iguana, La Raíz Magazine, Oaxaca Profundo, La Bloga y Los Bloguitos. También contribuyó en el libro El Sistema: Music for Social Change por Christine Witkowski, ha sido promotora de la lectura en Oaxaca y en Los Ángeles a través del proyecto Líderes En Acción (LEA) y publicó su primer libro bilingüe H is for HOLA. An ABC Odyssey en coordinación con la organización no-lucrativa Heart Of Los Angeles (HOLA). Visitas inesperadas es su primer libro de poesía en español engalanado con fotografías inéditas.  



Para más información visita https://alegria-life.myshopify.com

 

Preordena

Las primeras 20 ordenes recibirán un regalo especial hecho a mano de Oaxaca.


Pre-Order 

First 20 orders will receive a very special handmade gift from Oaxaca.




 

 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

I'm confessing that I lived, and loved, and made music.

Review:  Rubén Funkahuatl Guevara. Confessions of a Radical Chicano Doo-Wop Singer. Berkeley: UCPress, 2018.

Michael Sedano

It’s 1974, a Mexican American musician whose Chicano Studies classes have imbued him with an Edenic vision of his Mexicano and Amerindian raices, travels to Guadalajara thinking he’ll be embraced by his gente. A random street corner encounter shakes him to those raices: a Mexicano laughs that Chicanos have no culture.


Here is the pivotal moment in Ruben Funkahuatl Guevara’s life story. That random Mexican is right. Chicano literary production consisted in the novels Chicano and Bless Me, Ultima, and everyone in C/S classes reads Rudy Acuña’s canonical textbook, Occupied America.

 

In a dramatic scene—part memoir, part magical realism—the 32-year old unemployed (again) and broke (again) musician climbs a pyramid, throws out his arms, and proclaims his affirmation of all things Chicano. The namesake of the recently defunct band, Ruben and the Jets, decides he will be a Chicano culture sculptor to help fashion what had not yet emerged. 

 

Dramatic as the scene plays, it’s one of numerous career and relationship zeniths and restarts Readers come to expect from Confessions of a Radical Chicano Doo-Wop Singer (link). Success and optimism become catchphrases, “I was on my way again,” “I was twenty-eight, and on my way again.”

 

Funkahuatl is the artist’s way of decolonizing his name. He likes his name, Rubén, and doesn’t want to change it like his early monikers. Funk stands for his Unitedstatesian identity blended into something Mexicano, -huatl.

 

Guevara calls his aesthetic “radical” for his adventurous presentations and liberation attitude. 


But Guevara’s old, so old he was there at the origins, the roots, of the LA music scene. Before he was Funkahuatl—his “pre-Chicano period”—Guevara played as J.P. Moby on the television dance program, Shindig. He’s 22 years old and he’s making music with Bo Diddley on teevee. He puts a move on Tina Turner when Ike’s not on set. He’s clubbing in Hollywood and there’s a group on stage whose singer is like an intense James Dean. It’s the Doors before they were kicking down doors. Then there was some group whose guitarist plays with his teeth--Jimi Hendrix still getting experienced.

 

Music fans will enjoy a raft of anecdotes about pop music industry luminaries and down-and-dirty heartache of the business of music and record-making. Confessions won’t inform someone’s lust for glittery slices of fantasy, nor ample details of Guevara's rich sex life, nor details of his three, or is it four, marriages? 


While there are serious personal details, these are confessions of a doo-wop singer, not a social worker. But the very best anecdote in the book comes out of left field at readers with a social work twist.

 

“Don’t give up your day job,” comrades will taunt performers. It’s a reminder that musicians rarely make a living from music. “I was living in my van again,” Guevara writes repeatedly. He works factotum jobs. Working in vinyl distribution, he finds it ironic to be shipping out his records to people who make money off them. He doesn’t. At one point, Guevara settles down from a national tour making music and bringing down the house. Back in LA, out of work, and he takes a job delivering Chicken Delight.

 

A friend points the poet toward teaching institutionalized boys. Thinking he’ll put in the 8 month contract, he works 16 years. In 1999, he takes a full-time job teaching 8-10 year olds. It’s the hardest work he’s ever done, he says. He changed some kids’ lives, like a sculptor que no?, adding to, or taking away, the shape of a kid's future.

 

The poet was doing cultural sculpture with those damaged kids. For instance, his wonderful anecdote of reading a Neruda love poem in Spanish to students. The reader, a beautiful woman, interprets effectively and the class expresses their feelings. Some had never heard a poem read in their own language. 


 

“I got to a young man who I knew couldn’t speak very well and rarely tried. I had known him for several years and was impressed with the images he would draw during class. I hadn’t intended to ask for his response, but something inside said to ask anyway. He put his pencil down and slowly said in Spanish, “Love is bittersweet. Love heals and scars. Love is life.” The nurses were astounded. He had never spoken that coherently before. That was one of the greatest poems I’ve ever heard.”

 

Readers don’t come to biography with literary expectations, but that’s a radical difference in Confessions: it’s a hybrid with poetry ending some chapters. For example, a student dies in a drive-by and the teacher writes a poem to read before the funeral. The chapter details the story. Having that poem after that narrative offers satisfying closure, no better illustration of "see what I mean?" than how a literary insertion affects each reader. 


The book observes a chronological sequence (first line: “I came into the world on fire”), but with editing and organizing, each chapter holds together on its own. There are no plot threads forcing a sequential reading. A reader will enjoy cherry-picking the work. If the Punk era is of interest, start reading there. If the Shindig years bring happy tears, read there. Read the chapters with women's names. There’s an Index for topical or research-driven readers of this 300 page memoir.

 

One of the totally un-radical features of the radical singer’s book is the old-fashioned ultra-traditional proscription against Spanish linguistic equality. Every Spanish expression gets italicized, and almost always with appositional translation into English. For criminy sakes, UC Press, we are Chicanos. It’s simply gratuitous that you translate stuff we’re supposed to know. 


Appositional translation gets insulting at times, for example “watching her make gorditas, fat little tortillas, and the way her hands would go slap, pat, slap, pat, slap to the masa cornmeal to shape them.” 

 

Italics and translating are not only old-fashioned, it’s a publisher’s way of saying to readers, “you’re not Chicano enough to make it through elementary Español, Spanish, in our text, pendejo, so here’s a translation”

 

Damn, Rubén, que gacho. Otherwise, this is a damn fine autobiography, and thanks for the music, ese. 


Monday, May 16, 2022

Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore’s 17th Annual Celebrating Words Festival!

 


All are invited to Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore’s 17th annual Celebrating Words Festival on May 21. The Festival provides an accessible, brave, and dynamic space that encourages creativity and supports intellectual growth and healing, in the vital and unique way that arts and literacy can. This event is family-friendly and for all ages. All programming and parking details are available on Tía Chucha’s Website.

Thank You to the Sponsors for Supporting the

Vision of the Celebrating Words Festival:

Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs

Los Angeles Educational Partnership

First 5 LA

Valley Presbyterian Hospital

Pacoima Neighborhood Council

Vaughn Next Century Learning Center 

WE RISE

About Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore

The Northeast San Fernando Valley has a population of about 500,000 – the size of the city of Oakland – yet it had no bookstores, art galleries, or full-fledged cultural spaces until Tía Chucha's opened its doors in 2001. Thankfully, various local organizations have for decades provided services to address the many survival needs of a large number of economically insecure families and individuals in this area. Believing that it is also everyone’s right to explore and develop their innate creative gifts, Tía Chucha’s founders set out to correct the historic absence of life-enhancing artistic and literary options for this sector of the population. Melding vision with conviction, Tía Chucha’s was created as a space to embrace the equally important artistic development of our lives as human beings.

Tía Chucha’s began as a café, bookstore and cultural space owned and run by Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez, his wife Trini, and their brother-in-law Enrique Sanchez. In 2003 Luis, along with singer/musicologist Angelica Loa Perez and Xicano Rap artist Victor Mendoza established a next-door sister nonprofit to incorporate a full range of arts workshops. When in 2007 the cultural café and bookstore disbanded as an LLC, it donated its assets, including inventory, shelves, equipment, and more to the nonprofit to carry its mission forward.

Tía Chucha’s cultural center now provides year-round on-site and off-site free or low-cost arts and literacy bilingual intergenerational programming in mural painting, music, dance, writing, visual arts, healing arts sessions (such as reiki healing) and healing/talking circles. Workshops and activities also include Mexica ("Aztec") dance, indigenous cosmology/philosophy, and two weekly open mic nights (one in Spanish, the other in English). It also hosts author readings, film screenings, and art exhibits as well.


Friday, May 13, 2022

Take a Trip to Ventura Next Weekend

Melinda Palacio 

I have the honor of appearing in Margaret García’s show at the Ventura County Museum. When she painted my portrait for my poetry book, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting, I had no idea the portrait would appear in an art show. I’ve written a song, based on the title poem and local poets have written poems, based on Margaret García’s exhibit. The event is limited, contact the museum to reserve your spot. For budding artists, there’s also a chance to study plein air art with the master herself in a day trip to one of the Channel Islands, also a limited museum event. Come and hear the song and poetry inspired by this amazing exhibit May 22, 2022.







Date: 
May 22 
Time: 
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

VENUE 

The Museum of Ventura County
100 E Main Street 
Ventura, CA 93001
+ Google Map

Free



Poesia Para la Gente is an ekphrastic reading by Latinx women poets in honor of Arte Para la Gente: The Collected Works of Margaret Garcia. This special intimate event will be hosted by the prolific Marsha de la O.



Melinda Palacio’s novel, Ocotillo Dreams received the Josephine Miles Award. Her poetry book, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting, a finalist for the Milt Kessler and Paterson Prizes, received First Prize in Poetry at the 2013 ILBA. The cover portrait is included in Arte Para La Gente by artist Margaret Garcia. In 2015, her work was featured at Academy of American Poets,. Bird Forgiveness is her latest poetry book. During the pandemic, she started writing songs.


Crystal AC Salas is a Xicanx poet, essayist, educator, and community organizer. A 2021 California Art Council Individual Artist Grant Recipient, her chapbook Grief Logic is forthcoming in April 2022 from Gunpowder Press.


Emma Trelles is the poet laureate of Santa Barbara and the author of Tropicalia (U. of Notre Dame Press), winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. She is writing a second collection of poems titled Courage and the Clock. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, she has received fellowships from CantoMundo and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. She teaches at Santa Barbara City College and curates the Mission Poetry Series.


Luzmarie Espinosa is the poet laureate of Ventura County and has been an activist for social change through art for decades. In 1979, she became a member of the Royal Chicano Air Force, a Sacramento-based art collective involved in theater and performance poetry, which advanced the cause of the United Farm Workers movement. She also taught and performed with Danza Azteca on the Central Coast and performed in theater productions throughout California, including Teatro Inlakech of Oxnard.


Corinne Contreras is a performance poet who goes by Crn. Crn is a poet from the San Francisco Bay Area, currently residing on California’s central coast. They began writing poetry in grade school as a means of entertaining friends. Crn’s style still aims at entertainment with the hopes of evoking the reader to think about choices we make when weighing our First World Problems.


Proof of vaccination will be required on arrival for in-person attendees over 12 years of age. Masks will not be required for this event. If you would like a mask, we’re happy to provide one for you.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

The Long-Distance Runner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Mike Rios Escarcega, always ready to run

         I heard my uncle Narciso “Mike,” Rios Escarcega, was a top runner in high school, long distance, not cross-country, more like a mile long distance That branch of my family, the Rios, hailed from Chihuahua, home of the famed Tarahumara runners; though, I don’t believe we’re related in any way, too many light-skinned nortenos in the family, but who knows for sure, right. My grandmother, Santos, and a number of the Rios clan could have passed for Indian, like my dad, even. 
        Back in the day, the word in the West Los Angeles neighborhood was wherever Mike travelled to compete in high school track events throughout L.A., he could keep up with the best of them, if not beat them, until he made it to the L.A. High School City Championships, held at the famed Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, built for the 1932 Olympics, and home to Rams, Raiders, USC and UCLA football, before the Bruins moved on the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, a place the old-money folks like to call the Arroyo Grande.  
        For Mike, representing a little-known barrio on L.A.'s westside, the race was a big deal. All his family and friends would make the hour-long drive to Vermont and Exposition to watch. The top runners from all of Los Angeles schools would be competing, and Mike was one of the favored to win, or at least keep it close, according to barrio lore. But rumors from the same Westside barrios, over the years, said -- that’s not how it turned out, not even close, one of those weird hometown stories you hear, from time to time, and some folks still asking: where was Mike on the final turn? 
        Before my uncle passed on to the great hunting grounds (no joke, Mike was an avid hunter and all- around outdoorsman), I got a chance to talk to him and asked if he competed in the Coliseum, like everybody said, and what really happened that day. He started with a chuckle, and his favorite expression, “Oh, Christ,” then went on to tell the tale, but first, he had to set it up with a little backstory. 
        “I played football at University High School. Then I started to play baseball." He laughed. "But baseball…no, no, no.” He made a face as if playing baseball was like facing a firing squad. “I didn't like the way the ball went by my head when I batted. No, I just didn't like the way it went peee-shhooooo right past my head. I said, no, the hell with that shit. Forget about it.” 
        He leaned back in his Lazy Boy and began recalling the past. "So, I started running track, you know, and I made the B team. I was pretty good. They moved me to the varsity. I was okay.” He was being modest. Word throughout the neighborhood, the way the old-timers told it, he was more than ‘okay’. He was one of the best. 
        “Yeah, I went to the Coliseum for the City Championships, something like 1935 or ‘36, and ran -- the 1320,” about a lap short of a mile. “I guess I was pretty good. I was just a teenager, and I even got into the Aguila Real, the Royal Eagles track club, all Chicanos, older guys, you know." 
        The way he said Chicanos, purely for a collective, ethnic identification, used like other men of his generation, nothing political about it. "The club started, oh, I don't know, in the 1930s, around there, some time. We travelled all over L.A. and San Fernando to race other clubs.” He nodded, happy with himself, like he’d forgotten his accomplishment. 
        “Anyway, I was supposed to be getting ready to race at the Coliseum, and I should have been training, but I missed school for a couple of weeks, so I couldn’t train.” 
        What he didn’t say was these were the Depression years. His family had little money, like many of the families in town, but he did admit, “I missed school because I had to work in the fields, picking beans.” 
        On L.A. westside, in the 1930s, there were still many ranches and farms throughout the towns, and the growers always needed workers. Often, high school kids met the call, if they weren’t caddying for golfers at the Riviera Country Club or up at the Cheviot Hills Golf Course. When there was no work and no money, the parents would send the kids to line up in the alley outside a neighborhood theater, the Tivoli, where the government agency, the WPA, handed out bags of vegetables, so Mike was lucky to find work, even for a couple of weeks. 
        “In the Coliseum, I knew it would be in front of the whole city, a few thousand people. When I finally made it to school to workout, one day, my muscles tightened up. I could hardly run. My coach said what the hell’s wrong. I didn’t want to tell him I was in the fields working. Man, he balled the hell out of me…Coach Betts. I think he just died, not too long ago. Ask your dad about Coach Betts. All the guys knew him -- tough. The coach told me, 'See what you did! You shouldn’t miss school. You needed to be out there training,’ and on and on, and all that….” 
        In those days, a lot of kids, high school age, left school to work at whatever they could find. Leaving school by the eleventh or twelfth grade wasn’t uncommon. Some were lucky enough to have stayed in school that long. When the war came in 1940, quite a few joined, thinking it was a good way to earn money to send home to the family. If they volunteered for airborne, they’d get an extra $55.00 a month, quite a sum in 1940. So, a bunch of Chicanos became paratroopers. 
        "Comes Saturday and we're at the Coliseum to race,” he said, sitting back in his chair, like he was right back in the Coliseum. “I don't know, I was all right, feeling good, warming up, taking practice laps, all that. When the race started, I kept up. I ran hard, stayed in the pack for most of it, but then we came down to the home stretch, nearly the end, and I kick, but…forget about it," he let out a chuckle, and said, "Oh, man, my legs tightened up, and the runners passed me, one guy after the other. And then the last guy ran past me, left me in the dust.” 
        I interrupted, “But they said nobody knew what happened to you. You weren’t in the group.” 
        He laughed, “Yeah, well, you know where you enter the Coliseum, right, the tunnel?” 
        Of course, I knew. The world’s finest athletes had come through that grand entrance. The great runner, J.C. Owens, UCLA’s football star Jackie Robinson, the Ram’s Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hersh, Norm Van Brocklin, Bob Waterfield, Rosie Grier, UCLA’s All-American tailback Primo Villanueva, USC’s All-American linemen, the McKeever brothers, the Raider Lyle Alzado, and so many more. The tunnel was legendary. Even as fans, when you look at the tunnel, huge, dark, before any event, it’s like expecting the Roman legions to come marching out. 
        “Well, hell,” he said, remembering, like the image had never left him, “I knew I couldn’t catch them. My legs were cramping, so I just ran in there, into the tunnel, and I stayed there where, I thought, nobody could see me.” 
        “So, it was true. You didn’t finish the race?” 
        “Everybody from Sawtelle and Santa Monica came to see me race that day, my mom, your grandma, Santos, my Aunt Saturnina, my brothers, Peanuts and Roy, my sisters Vera and Elia, your dad, Dario Sanchez, Freddie Santana, all our friends, hell, everybody came to watch me race.” 
        He looked sad for a second, like he was really back there inside the tunnel, hiding out. Then he broke out into a laugh, like it wasn’t anything he needed to worry about anymore, like it really was an old joke. “Oh Christ, they were all looking for me, you know, to come down the stretch, to catch up, and win. When they didn’t see me anywhere, they were, like, wondering what happened to me. I wasn’t with the pack when they crossed the finish line. Nobody knew where I was. Man, I was in the tunnel, hiding."
        He shook his head. “I couldn't even walk. My legs cramped up on me. You know how you get cramps? Christ, one little shorty-guy, he must a been…hell, I don't know, maybe four-feet tall, when he goes by smiles and waves, like telling me to come out and finish. I was, man, forget about it. I couldn’t even walk. "
        He shook his head. "Afterwards my aunt asked me, 'Pues donde estabas hijo?' 
        “Oh, man. I was so embarrassed, but I told them, 'Pues estaba metido alli, tia,' and I pointed to the tunnel.” 

Daniel Cano’s 2010 novel, Death and the American Dream, won first place, best historical fiction at the International Latino Book Awards.