Good Food, Good Music, and Good Times in the Land of 1000 Dances

Food, theater, music ... Aztlan on a Saturday night. If Huell Howser had been Chicano, he couldn't have done it any better!

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: February 25, 2013

Good Food, Good Music, and Good Times in the Land of 1000 Dances

?ŪOrale, Mi Gente!

I feel kinda bad that there are a lot of Gente that don't look for, and enjoy, the rich culture & art of our people and community‘«™but I feel as lucky as a fat guy on a mota buzz having his first Manuel's Special burrito at El Tepeyac in East L.A. that I'm not one of them!

To me, and A LOT of good Gente I know in Aztlan, Chicano culture is NOT just about saying " Yea‘«™my ancestors came from Mexico, I like mariachi music & home made chili del molcajete, I was in a car club back in the day, my old lady is still looking fine, and I know Rudy Salas & Gilbert Esquivel personally‘«™"

(and I've met A LOT of those!)

‘«™but rather, it's about being aware of the changes of the times, but NOT our people, ever since "CHICANO" stopped being a dirty word after the Chicano Movimiento, Civil Rights movements, and the Viet Nam war of the 1960's & early 1970's...and living life outside your front door without being self conscious of who's looking.

One example of change I remember is when Mexican food was beneath consideration in the early 1960's outside of the RAZA‘«™until white guys made millions with fast food restaurants like Pup & Taco, Taco Bell, Del Taco, and junk foods like Fritos & Doritos‘«™then, it became OK‘«™.now, you can even get generic tacos at Jack in the Box and it's not embarrassing to ask!

(and youngsters under 40 aren't even aware of the ridicule Brown people endured before then).

And now, we have a wealth of CHICANO artists, musicians, singers, comedians, writers, poets, painters, actors & actresses, sculptors, architects, doctors, lawyers, intellectuals, and other "respectables" in the entertainment and professional world that belie the stereotype of gangsters, druggies, drunks, and welfare mommas that Hollywood & the insecure Gabacho world outside of Aztlan depicts Chicanos as‘«™ but the difference & subject matter just isn't brought to everybody's attention in the spirit of being "politically correct"‘«™so being labeled as "Hispanic" has become an acceptable compromise .

Well...SCREW THAT! (for lack of a better term, in respects to El Editor‘«™)

Editor's Note: Thanks, Frankie!

I'm Chicano to the bone, ain't ashamed to say it, and I try to present our cultura not in simple bohemian terms, but in colorful terms that are not expensive and hard to relate to, even for most dedicated self loathing Hispanic dudes & dudettes.

I'm not materialistically and monetarily rich (would be nice‘«™) but I'm rich in the people I know & love, the art & music that defines me and people like me, the attitude that comes with it, and the freedom & liberty I have to enjoy them along with the simple pleasures of life in the Brown world‘«™and I don't mean that with ANY hints or allusions of racism.


Friday was cool in that I was finished with my 40 hour work week, had all my bills paid, and I wasn't broke. Friends invited me to many different music & entertainment events in and around L.A‘«™and there's NO BETTER music & dancing than that in the Land of 1000 Dances‘«™but I simply stayed home, chatted with friends on the phone that I haven't in a while, caught up on news and rest, and cuddled warmly with my Lady in front of the TV on a cold night.

‘«™that is priceless, when I think of the 60+ hour workweeks my father & mother use to put in when I was a young kid, and the times when the lights & phone were turned off till the following Monday‘«™how many of you remember those days ?

Saturday was all about getting out of the house,on the road and heading for the streets & avenues of Aztlan.

Starting off the night, my Lady & I were joined by DJ Sugarbear & his Lady, and together we make up the East L.A. Revue Radio/LatinoLA road crew known as "The Fearsome Foursome". We try to hit the road every weekend and enjoy the "Chicano experience" in & around L.A. & Southern California, just cruising around (como Huell Howser) and enjoying the local spots for food, fun, and entertainment that won't break the average budget, and report the fun so as to (hopefully) inspire the Gente over 45 and as young as 70, to do the same, and keep them from prematurely retiring to a life on the porch munching nachos, getting too chubby, playing with their cell phones, & just watching other people live.

We were joined this weekend by Eliseo "DJ Looney" Montoya and his lady Sonia, and we dined in Chicano street class at Jim's Burgers on 1st street in East L.A. ‘«™don't laugh yet!...the place is clean, it's patronized by the RAZA, local LAPD officers, and lots of professional staff from White Memorial Medical Center, it's safe & well lit, the cooks are bi-lingual, and the food is quite good & affordable. Besides the usual GOOD burger stand food they also have a pretty good home~style Mexican food menu. I mean, where else can you get a monster burger or pastrami (the kind you REALLY need 2 hands for), a ton of chili cheese fries, home style tacos & salsa, and drinks for 2 for about $15.00 ?...

‘«™ha ha ha! And since you pick up your own food when it's ready, and afterwards your own trash, NO TIP! ( NO disrespect to all you hard working waitresses & waiters at Denny's, LOL !)

‘«™talk about Chicano culture & experience! (and smart purchasing power) Good food that REALLY fills you up & didn't cost a half nalga, good company, being in a relatively safe area (it's L.A., remember?) with our Ladies, lot's of laughs about just everything in our World, what else do you need?...ENTERTAINMENT !

So‘«™we trip on down the street to the CASA 0101 Theater on 1st Street to catch Luis Valdez's play "I Don't Need to Show You No Stinkin' Badges", directed by Hector Rodriguez. Now, again don't laugh. (and CHICANO laughter is always the best, no ay pedo). If the last play you attended was your kid's Christmas play at school last December, YOU DO NOT GET IT !

We are so used to movies, cable TV videos, and cell phones, we forget the Art of live acting in the spirit of Theatro de la Raza. CASA 0101 Theater is clean, modern, tastefully decorated with art from some of the finest artists in Aztlan, has comfortable seating , and a good floor stage that presents some of the best contemporary live stage plays in L.A. by talented CHICANO actors & actresses at very affordable prices.

Tonight felt like being on Broadway, as "I Don't Need to Show You No Stinkin' Badges" was done exceptionally and tastefully well, and these were no rookie actors by any means. The play centers on a Chicano family and stereotypes in L.A. circa 1985. With a surprise ending, my only regret is that the play's run ends March 3rd. For more info on this and other fine Theatro de la Raza Xicana, check out www.CASA0101.org. Hit the theater, it's a great experience Support the Arts !

OK‘«™.we are still full, now totally entertained and feeling really BROWN after this exhilarating experience‘«™(DJ Looney almost bought a painting)‘«™so now we need some MUSIC & DANCING to complete this celebration of life!

Just a 20 minute ride from downtown East L.A. ( yes‘«™I'm joking!..) we land at the EL Monte Moose Lodge Family Center where George Salazar's 2nd TIME AROUND BAND is on stage and packing the dance floor. What great talent de Aztlan, including veteran singers LAVA GONZALEZ, GILBERT STOKES, and CHARLIE " BEATLE" VASQUEZ. Oooh!

We are joined by DJ Looney's sister Deserie, and now our group has become the "Sexy 7"‘«™and a better looking group of 48 to 60 year olds you never saw! We meet up with some great folks from the Alhambra American Legion Post and it was on! Dancing, drinking, laughing & carrying on till 2am. What a ball!...who says you gotta get old?

Another great Chicano tradition: having a great party with great company celebrating life simply because we can ‘«™and we ain't going broke doing it either! You don't stop playing because you get old‘«™you get old because you stop playing!

Elsewhere, a great benefit concert was held for the late Gilbert "Peanut" Rodriguez, one of East L.A.'s best loved roadies, at Nick's Taste of Texas Restaurant in Covina on the other side of town.

Featuring many of Aztlan's well known names in music & entertainment like Gilbert Esquivel, Rudy Moreno, Lou Pizarro, The LRS Exposure Band, Rocky Padilla & Flip Side, The Latin Vibe Band, The Jumpin' Jack Benny Blues Band, The Midnite Cruzzers, Jimmy "Sincerely" Duran, Brenton Wood , and others, hosted by radio personality Thee Angel Baby & cable TV star Richard "Thee Mr." Duran‘«™here was one of the finest examples of our "Dia de los Muertos" cultural tradition, in that a passing Brother was honored with food, drink, laughter, music & dancing‘«™at a party with a big crowd he would have LOVED to have attended‘«™because after all, the Gente wasn't mourning a death, they were celebrating a life in a manner in which it was lived‘«™happy and with the Gente all around, having a memorable good time.

‘«™I knew Gilbert personally‘«™and that's the way he would have wanted it !

CHICANOS never die...we just go somewhere better!

So that was just a small example of life in Aztlan on a Saturday night‘«™.how was yours ?

About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is a regular contributor to this fine web magazine when he isn't working or dancing, or walking his 2 dogs, or enjoying some fine music
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