|from the No on 187 march in 2008|
I thought about it and elected not to join the gente marching to commemorate the now-45 years ago Chicano Moratorium march that ended with a bloody police riot, cops dispersing peaceful picnickers while killing three Chicanos, a teenager named Lyn Ward, a man named Angel Díaz, and a journalist named Rubén Salazar.
There would have been a fourth name, an unemployed Veteran named Michael Sedano, had I attended that first marcha on August 29, 1970.
On August 28 I arrived in Temple City to resume civilian life in these United States. Two weeks earlier, I’d returned from thirteen months in Korea and was discharged from the US Army after 19 months service, in Ft. Lewis, Washington. My bride and I Greyhounded down the coast to land in San Francisco where I had a week reconnecting with college friends who’d migrated from Isla Vista to the City.
I have no memory of all the connecting tissue of my return to the United States. My final hours in Korea, Jamie Nock treated me to a farewell lunch in the Ambassador’s Club in Seoul, then told me had no money. I had no money. I remember Jamie hot-footing it down the hill to cross to the main compound,waving farewell. I remember being on the airplane above Korea, straining for a glimpse of Site 7/5 on the land below.
|Site 7/5 upper left skyline, base camp motor pool and water tower.|
Except for the wild ride from Ghirardelli Square to San Francisco airport in Bob's VW microbus, I have no recollection of getting to destinations on the journey. From the bus to Marilee’s, from LA airport to the place in Temple City my wife rented while life went on without me. I was home.
And the news at home said tomorrow there’s to be a Chicano Moratorium anti-war protest. I did not know where “East LA” was, and that may have made all the difference.
Had I been attacked by a billy club-wielding deputy I’m sure my still-intact Army reflexes would have kicked in and I would have shoved that stick up that cop’s ass for him. I thought like that in those days, sabes?
Maybe had I been that fourth name, Lucha Corpi could have seen my boot in the gutter, then the shoe, at the beginning of Eulogy for a Brown Angel. Or maybe Guy Garcia would have watched the crowd stand back as a gaggle of deputies finish off the vato in the bloodied field jacket. Or supposing Stella Pope Duarte had given over a paragraph to the outmatched Veteran’s hopeless last stand.
Those are the only three novels by Chicana and Chicano writers to include the events of August 29, 1970. Guy Garcia, Skin Deep. Lucha Corpi, Eulogy for a Brown Angel. Stella Pope Duarte, Let Their Spirits Dance. That I know. Please leave a Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with other novels that include a scene or an allusion to the marcha whose 45th anniversary I’m missing.
I am old. That’s no excuse not to go traipsing for a few miles in summer heat then join the jamaica at Salazar Park née Laguna Park, site of the police riot. I could take the camera to the park to listen to the poets and the music this afternoon. I know I’ll run into dozens of LA friends and Facebook friends, too. No excuses only reasons. Seventy is good enough; old with broken parts. It is what it is. I miss the fotos. I miss the gente. Yeats was right.
More than a quarter century ago I joined one of the anniversary marchas organized by the August 29th Movement. Could history repeat itself? Not that I expect a police riot ever again. A fierce peewee doing crowd control, maybe.
The kid screamed at me in his most threatening style to stay in line, don’t cut ahead. Photographers never stay in line and all the chamaco could manage was rage. So many young vatos like that, I’m glad he’s helping la causa in his own wey. There may be kids his age helping manage the line this year—sure hope so. A fistfight, never again.
The procession halted at the three-way corner location of The Silver Dollar. Pheasant-feathered danzantes blew a concha, burned copal, and danced honoring the spirits of Ruben Salazar, Lyn Ward, and Angel Díaz.
In the empty lot across the street, two vatos duked it out surrounded by aghast onlookers. Some goaded the brawlers, others cheered one in particular, who was getting the better of his bruised-face opponent who ultimately dropped his fists in retreat. The Maoist skulked away; the Marxist had been the crowd favorite. Worst part is I cannot find those Ektachromes.
This year’s 45th commemoration deserves to be a great event. The organizers sent out daily reminders and have a Facebook page. The LA Times is silent on it, an unexplainable lapse.
But as with most great events lately, I will miss this one.
I suppose seventy, seven zero, 70, is getting old. August 31, 1968 I felt old enough, celebrating my 23d birthday and wedding day. I don’t know if there’s a special flower or gem for a 47th wedding anniversary, but “no sweaty-da” as I was saying a year later, on 8/31/69, from high atop mighty Mae Bong, guarding the skies of the Korean DMZ. Happy paper anniversary meant a fresh supply of two-day old Stars & Stripes.
Here are a few pennies from the old guy:
Best wishes for lots of sales to the raza entrepreneurs who set up booths in the park at 8 a.m. for a noon festival. I hope there's a crowd. Hail the risk-takers who invest in a booth, stock up on inventory, and wait for the buyer's signal, "how much is this?"
Best wishes to the Bernie supporters registering new voters.
Best wishes for all who caught wind of the event, maybe from one of those posts that asks “Do you know what August 29, 1970 means?”
Fair question. It was a highlight of the movimiento, a crucial juncture in what some were calling the Chicana Chicano renaissance. Movimiento is nascence not renascence. That's what happening today, gente. After a period of rest, or gestation, the movimiento is struggling for a renewal. Literature runs in full stride, one day US Literature scholars will call ours the "golden age" of Chicana Chicano Literature.
It's the ballot, not the novel or poem that will give the renaissance body. Bodies at the polls.
With the median age among U.S. Latinos at 27, there’s a montón of gente born decades after the movimiento, after the Chicano Moratorium in the bloodiest year in US antiwar history, with Kent State, Jackson State, East LA the legacy of 1970.
Those people at the park this afternoon (Saturday, August 29) are young, but not so young they can’t vote. That’s the secret ingredient of a recipe for Chicana Chicano Renaissance.
USC Libraries Special Collections marks fiestas patrias month with an exhibition of photographs of the Mexican revolution from collections in Mexico and the US. RSVP at this link, an Eventbrite site. Here's text from USC's invitation to the lecture and opening reception:
Please join us for a discussion about the crucial role photography played in the 1910–1920 Mexican Revolution, followed by the opening reception for an exhibition in Doheny Library, drawn from the Gustavo Casasola Foundation in Mexico and the USC Libraries Boeckmann Center Collection. Photojournalist Gustavo Casasola, UCLA professor Maarten Van Delden, and USC professor Liana Stepanyan will explore the causes of the decade-long upheaval, the local photographers—including many members of the Casasola family—who followed the unfolding events, and how the revolution continues to shape the country’s identity. The exhibition will be on view through December 16, 2015.