Friday, April 16, 2010

diary of a husky kid

My boy had his first run in with a school yard bully recently. Which took me back to my days as a “husky” (read: chunky Chicano) kid. Before my first real run in with such a tormentor, I remember my old man showing me how to defend myself. I am not the smartest person, but I can take directions. “Put your fists just in front of your face, Frankie.” Ok? “No, look at me. Hands at temple height with your left leading your right. Get in this stance. Bend your knees and jab. Jab, jab, jab. Fast and hard. Like Ali and Mando Ramos.” So I did and practiced in the garage regularly.

Then the day came at Driffill Elementary when I was in the 4th grade. An even fatter, shorter, and mean (half Mexican-Japanese-American) Jimmy I. started picking on me in the hallway in front of girl classmates. Feebly, I said, “Stop it.” Emboldened by this weak protest, Jimmy I. was getting ready to attack. Without saying another word, I methodically staggered my stance, bent my knees (à la Bruce Lee), and raised my dukes just like dad showed me. Fat Jimmy I. rushed forward. Jab. Jimmy I., stunned, stepped back. Nose reddened and angered, he tried again. Jab. Jab, jab. I struck on target. Jimmy I. retreated looked at me, for a moment, and those around us and ran home crying.

I held my own. But I felt kind of bad since Jimmy I’s. mom was my Little League team mother. Well this is how I remember it.

Con Safos,


Friday, April 9, 2010

Americana Condiment

The family ate at Doc Brown’s Chicken last week at Universal Studios and discovered that El Tapatio sauce is as iconic a condiment as ketchup and mustard. This is yet another sign that facets of Mexican culture (i.e., breakfast burritos, tortillas, pollo that’s loco) is redefining markers of Americana.

The issue of condiments also reminds me of how Eric, a Chicano-MEChista student of mine at Cypress College, once giggled and blushed when I mentioned the word condiments during a lecture.

Con Safos,


Friday, April 2, 2010

Sundown Towns

An oral history interviewee last week indicated that at one time the City of Oxnard was a Sundown Town. To verify this phenomenon I asked another long time Oxnardian of Mexican descent about this and he indicated that he was not aware of such an ordinance. But he did express that by the actions of the Oxnard Police Department that, "we (Mexican Americans and Mexicans) knew that we did not have any business over there (i.e. the White residential area of the city)." When I shared this with my Osher class today at California State University Channel Islands, a student indicated that Burbank was such a city. James Loewen has a book titled Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism. This book is next on my reading list.

Con Safos