This piece of Russian propaganda-journalism from Moscow caught my eye, “Foe the Win: U.S. adopts Al-Qaida tactics in drone strikes.” It focuses on how the U.S. is using an Al Qaida tactic, which is illegal according to the Rules of War that nations supposedly follow. Namely, the tactic is to attack a site that was previously attacked or bombed to kill those who go there to rescue the wounded or to pick up the bodies of the fallen. Al Qaida booby-troops a bombing site with a secondary IED timed or set off remotely to explode when people arrive at the site. The U.S. is now sending in its drones back to the site of a previous attack to lay waste any who return to attend to the wounded or recover bodies. The reporter brings in a policy expert, an American, to discuss the issue.
Interestingly he uses “Dexter” the cable television anti-hero to elucidate his discussion.
Footage from actual drone attack
Dexter for those who don’t know, is a fictional serial killer who by day lives as a decent citizen. By night he kills other serial killers who kill innocents. He’s judge, jury and executioner. Dexter is what a real Dark Knight would be, not Christopher Nolan’s titillating doesn’t-want-to-kill-bad-guys Batman.
Christopher Nolan’s Batman
The U.S. in its ongoing war against international terrorism has been playing the role of a good guy, killing the bad guys to protect the neighborhood but ostensibly following the rules. Now, according to this report the U.S. is like Dexter, following no rules in its quest to wipe out murderous terrorists. The U.S. is judge, jury and executioner. Never mind, devout readers, the moralistic platitudes about the evil of all warfare, and American corporate imperialism blah, blah, blah. There are wheels of power and then there are powers behind and within those wheels. Empires can put on the face of poverty if it suits them. Or they can openly use high tech. Empire is empire. Violence and war is just the way of our world.
It’s the Dexter anti-hero thing that I want to talk about here–and of course, my soon-to-be published dystopian novel, LOM.
Written in a hybrid style, LOM is all about an anti-hero going after bad guys for the greater good. And all for entertainment that one day will be a video game. I identify as Xicano but I have written LOM for a crossover readership as much as for anybody else. I do extrapolate from contemporary national political trends and the basis of American history, including Chicano history if you will. For the purpose of provocative entertainment I wrote LOM for a readership that can grok a dystopian scenario.
No one in their right mind would want that dystopia for their world, nation or people. But want to know something dear friends? There’s a huge horde of true believers out there in American Conspiracy Land that want to take us there and they want you to believe that demonic socialists are taking us to that broken shell of America I write about. You could call LOM at one of its many levels–a cautionary fable. Real life extremism always leads to a real dark, miserable place.
Since I wrote original article, a 60s luminary I wrote about, writer and cultural trail blazer Jose Arguelles has passed on. The other Latino writer and trail blazer I wrote about was Carlos Castaneda.
Teachings of Don Juan – A Yaqui Way of Knowledge–Carlos Castaneda
Politicized Nahautlacos on this side of the border shun both Castaneda and Arguelles, electing to identify them with New Age ideology. I don’t believe that Castaneda and Arguelles are similarly perceived throughout Mexico and Latin America. I grew up in an America when anything having to do with “Indians” was all feathers, tomahawks and tepees. It’s a different meme now. I believe Castaneda and Arguelles played seminal roles in changing the perception of ancient America and in the renaissance of Mayan and Nahuatl knowledge we are witnessing all over the world. One day, an enterprising Ph.D candidate somewhere will document this history.
The Mayan Factor–Jose Arguelles
Too Late to Turn Back
(continued from Part Four of the original article) Within days, I was cruising up Pacific Coast Highway. I listened to the Beatles and the Headhunters and everybody else on the way up and I saw the beautiful California coastline for the first time.
In my youthful naiveté, a nice way of saying, pendejismo, I thought the “action” I had heard about was an ongoing happening.
The hitchhikers I picked up in Big Sur told me that everything had ended, but it was too late for me to turn back. I remember one of them, a real fine hippie ruca inviting me to join her and her friends up in Los Padres National Forest. They had their own summer of love happening up there in the coastal redwoods. I’m glad now that I didn’t accept her offer. I found out later that travelers were being waylaid at that camp.
Oh, did I mention that throughout these years I did not know that the big happening I drove up to find that summer was . . . THEE Summer of Love?
My fate was to find my way back into el Movimiento and to participate in our own Chicano renaissance — our own political, cultural and spiritual reawakening — and the rebirth of our historical consciousness. It was happening all over the country. Throughout the late sixties and early seventies, African Americans, Native Americans, women, Pacific Islanders, minorities everywhere experienced the rebirth of interest in their history. The revision of American history with a diverse perspective began in the 60s.
Yes, it was too late to turn back.
Although I missed the Summer of Love, the counterculture’s fallout did not miss me. The counterculture was exploding everywhere in the 60s and 70s, at all levels. It was happening on university campuses and in the minds of intellectuals and artists as well as workers and musicians.
Latino rockers and R&B artists were there, creating their own renaissance at the same time they were riding the wave of the larger counterculture. With the new consciousness, the East L.A. Group the V.I.Ps morphed into El Chicano and went on to become a national and international success. Los Lobos independently released their first album, their statement on behalf el Movimiento, taking a title borrowed from a United Farm Workers slogan, Si Se Puede.
Outside the Eastside Sound orbit, Joan Baez was well into the forefront of her genre. Carlos Santana fused rock with R&B and Latin sounds, taking off into new musical territory. Other artists like Coco Montoya and Linda Ronstadt were in training for careers that would blossom in the later 70s.
Carlos Castaneda makes cover of Time Magazine, March, 1973
In another cultural arena, there was another Carlos, a Latino counterpart to Timothy Leary. Carlos Castaneda challenged fundamental perceptions of reality with the Toltec path with heart he had learned from the Yaqui sorcerer, Don Juan.
Then there was Jose Arguelles who participated in the founding of Earth Day in 1970. Initiating the Harmonic Convergence, he laid a foundation that helped to extend the New Age into the eighties and to the present and has continued since as career activist for peace and the planetary transformation of consciousness.
There are always consequences. Not all the gurus, cultural revolutionaries and musical trailblazers – and certainly not all foot soldiers made it beyond the 70s or the 80s. They fell to corruption, infighting, drugs, alcoholism and politics. Some just finally aged and passed on. Well, I survived it all. I earned my B.A. and went on to get a graduate degree. I got a job and a career like everybody else. I lived the 60s and the 70s and survived the counterculture and now as an Elder, I can tell you and my daughters all about those crazy days before and after the Summer of Love of 1967. There are many tales to tell.
Timothy Leary at the Summer of Love, 1967
My sources for my references to Chicano Music History were Benjamin F. Hernandez, Mark Guerrero and artists’ websites.
I mentioned that while I was a freshman at San Fernando Valley State College (which became California State University, Northridge) I attended the first Crusade for Justice Youth conference in Denver, Colorado. I should add that while at that conference I witnessed a true Chicano peace warrior, Corky Gonzales with the poet Alurista at his side read out the El Plan de Aztlan, proclaiming that only through self-determination would our communities know justice. It was also my honor to hear Corky recite his poem, Yo Soy Joaquin. These were epic experiences for a nineteen-year old that had lived most of his entire life under pre-Civil Rights 1964 Act and pre-Voting Rights Act 1965 American apartheid.
I had already been attending San Fernando Valley State College for a year. Students of color were almost non-existent in apartheid-era American higher education. White people, whether faculty or students were not very welcoming. Hence the importance of the summer program I mentioned in the original article (mentioned at the end of Part Four).
It was an intense experience with sixty barrio pre-freshmen thrown in with sixty ghetto pre-freshmen for nine weeks in a dorm building, with the African Americans having a well-known Organization US operative and militant as their dorm counselor. That’s another story I might write about before ancientness completely short circuits my youthful memories, but I’ll mention here that summer program enrolled several young Chicanos who were either notable then or went on to make a name for themselves. There was John Ortiz who had been a student leader in the ELA walkouts. There was Margaret Garcia, now an important Latina artist in the L.A. arts scene and of course Harry Gamboa well known for his photography and conceptual art. By the way, Margaret Garcia painted the original portrait of mois that I’ve been using as my profile picture. That’s another blog!
Harry Gambo’s “vampire” portrait of Dr. Rudy Acuna
Rocking Chicano Trailblazers and Counterculture Icons
(Continued from Part Three of original article) In the spring following the Summer of Love, a year before the Denver youth conference, the Brown Berets and East L.A. high school students surged onto the streets in the protests that became known as the East L.A. Walkouts. These were youth-driven, near spontaneous mass demonstrations against inadequate education. The walkouts reverberated throughout California and the Southwest. Brown Beret chapters in Riverside mounted successful boycotts against racist retailers and supermarket chains. El Movimiento was just picking up speed then, not too far behind the larger swell of the American counterculture.
While Chicano and Latino connections to a counterculture event like the Summer of Love and the counterculture in general may not seem evident at first, they are there, if you look for them. Take Chris Montez, a Chicano rocker of the early sixties who followed in Ritche Valens’ footsteps, and who was a trailblazer for other young Chicano musicians and performers. Chris Montez is not always identified with the American counterculture scene and the British Rock n’ Roll Invasion and the counterculture icons that led it, the Beatles — but he was there.
Chris Montez with the Beatles and Tommy Roe
His early 60s hit, Let’s Dance was huge in England. In one of his tours in England, the early Beatles were his opening act. By the time of the Summer of Love in ’67, Chris Montez had left behind a legacy for other young Chicano rock and R&B artists. Thus, the tradition of the Eastside Sound was planted and creative musical talent blossomed and branched out. Chicano rock and R&B groups were all over the charts. By 1967, one of these groups, Cannibal and the Headhunters was already touring with the Beatles.
Cannibal and the Headhunters
I did not mention that right before I had embarked on my trip up to San Francisco that summer of ‘69, I had just finished a job as a dorm coordinator. I recall walking away with extra money and time after the program ended, happy I was out of that cramped and smelly dorm room. (to be continued in Part Five of original article)
Friends, we’re in the summer of 2012, almost half a century since that famous event took place in San Francisco Park in 1967. We’re now in an America facing voter suppression, attacks against women’s rights, open racist attacks against the first African American president surreptitiously and not so surreptitiously sanctioned by a cynical opposition party, attacks against gay rights and immigrants and more. This is an America where a Libertarian who is hostile toward Federal protection of minority civil rights enjoys considerable support from young Americans, including many Latinos. We live in an America where the code phrase, Take America Back, really means moving the clock back to the time before the Summer of Love, 1967.
A Chicano’s Point of View on the Summer of Love, 1967
(Continued from Part One) The Civil Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination in voting, public accommodations, and employment was passed by Congress in July of 1964. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 became law in August of that year. This legislation provided federal protection for federal, state and local elections. Both Acts were legislated after a long and grueling Civil Rights struggle, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and supported by many Americans, including our own great civil rights and labor leader, Cesar Chavez.
Latino political power as we know it today in California did not exist. Edward Roybal, the first Latino elected to Congress from California since 1879, had just been elected to Congress in ’62. For years, Edgar Hoover’s goons in suits followed him around like a suspected criminal. There wasn’t even one Latino on the L.A. city council.
Segregation was alive and thriving. The concept of diversity in America as we know it today did not exist at that time. Instead, lip service was given to something called the melting pot. Racism and white supremacy was out in the open. The social system in place was an American form of apartheid reinforced by brutal, racist cops, gerrymandering of voting districts and governmental/business practices like redlining. I recall as a teenager knowing clearly the racial line of demarcation. If you were a white-skinned Mexican, you might cross. If you were dark-skinned or mestizo, most of the time it was FORGET IT AND STAY AWAY.
Almost a year after the enactment of Voting Rights Act, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. That was America before the Summer of Love.
Some us who would later became activists, artists, leaders and foot soldiers in El Movimiento were still in high school and middle even elementary school around that time. Some were still in gangs or just cruising or partying in the neighborhood. It was a time of prelude and gestation.
In fact, it was at the beginning of the Summer of Love in June of ’67 that Reis Lopez Tijerina led the infamous Tierra Amarilla Courthouse Raid, a violent act of insurrection in the land grant struggle for the return of lands stolen in New Mexico after Mexican War of 1846-1848. That political act of rebellion, labeled criminal by the Establishment, helped inspire Chicano leaders to become more militant in their civil rights activism and to frame their politics in the context of the greater historical issue. (Continued in Part Three)
So here we are friends, almost half a century later, summer of 2012. There are hordes of Latinos of all stripes living in the good old USA now, many prospering and benefiting from the struggles of those who preceded them. Yes, I said prospering and benefiting–and I will posit here that many if not most don’t have a clue about how it is that now they are enjoying so many “derechos y beneficios” in business, education and government. Not their fault. That history is just not that accessible and now it is even being suppressed in places like Arizona.
I will postulate something here–if Romney wins the Presidency, we are going to experience a wave of racism that will be akin to the racist norm that was in force before the Summer of Love, 1967. The waves of racism that were experienced after Brewer signed off on SB1070 should give us an idea about how racists act in public when they feel law and government is on their side.
A Chicano’s Point of View on the Summer of Love, 1967 (continued)
Warriors for Peace
Tijerina may have awed and galvanized us with his fiery rhetoric and confrontational tactics but we had other leaders, leaders who were taking on broader, national issues. They were leaders who in their own right were also warriors, but whose philosophies and methods were more in the tradition of nonviolence. Right alongside Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta was Denver-based Chicano civil rights leader, Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzales who criticized the Viet Nam war with eloquence in 1966, a couple of years before Dr. King spoke against the war.
Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzales
Two years after the Summer of Love, Corky’s organization, the Crusade for Justice hosted the national Chicano youth conference I already cited. It was an event of historical importance. Activist Latino youth, including Brown Berets and Young Lords, from all over the country attended. For many youth including this writer, it was a heady initiation into real militant activism.
I recall participating in a demonstration against racism and the Vietnam War during the conference. The march went through downtown Denver and the city civic center. My homeboys spotted a flagpole flying the American flag. Without any deliberation, they ran past the Crusade for Justice security, and before anybody could do anything, they were tearing down the flag. The media was there and took pictures that were published in newspapers and aired nationwide. The taking down of that flag was an act of raw, youthful anger and defiance, the stuff of counterculture – but it was Chicano and so it was colored as treasonous disrespect for the national emblem. (continued in part four)
Friends, internet QVO-Radio/QVO-Magazine published this article late summer 2005 with a bucket of historical pics. So many that my name and some of the narrative got lost in that plethora of Chicano imagery. It’s still online at http://www.qvoradio.com/Frank_Lechuga.html . But if you just want to get to the meat of the narrative and savor my story, here it is . . .
A Chicano’s Perspective on the Summer of Love, 1967
Reflections of an Elder and Survivor of the Counterculture
When I was in Monterey, California last year, attending my second daughter’s wedding reception I had the opportunity to look back to when I first drove my lowered ‘59 Chevy Impala from L.A. to San Francisco up the Pacific Coast Highway, through El Gran Sur, giving rides to hitchhiking hippies. I had just completed my freshman year at what was then San Fernando Valley State College and already had some activist experience under my belt through the campus chapter of U.M.A.S., (United Mexican American Students-the predecessor to M.E.Ch.A.) mostly picketing on behalf la Huelga.
Big Sur, California
It was the summer of 1968 and my destination was Haight-Ashbury and San Francisco. I did not know it then that the Summer of Love had already come and gone, and that the Haight-Ashbury scene was dead. I did not know that I was being drawn to an unprecedented wave of cultural and social change. I was being drawn to the counterculture. Some would call it a renaissance. Conservatives thought communists and pinkos had America under siege. The culture wars had started.
In the spring of 1969, I took a trip to Denver, Colorado with some homeboys from San Fernando, California. We went to attend the First National Chicano Liberation Youth Conference.
What is the connection between these two journeys other than that they were undertaken by the same young vato seeking meaning, purpose and adventure? Well, to see the connection you need to see the big picture of what America was like for Chicanos . . . Latinos if you will . . . before the 1967 Summer of Love. (Continued in Part Two).
My science fiction will entertain you with provocation not escapism. I write in LOM about an American dystopia that has very real historical roots . . . an American dystopia that given the current political trending may indeed become our future reality.
I recently re-posted article on Facebook, Suppressed History: When Wall Street Tried to Bring the Holocaust to America—written by Alan Wolfe for the Executive Intelligence Review (the media organ of the Lyndan H. la Rouche Jr. organization) and published in the Veterans Today, Military Veterans and Foreign Affairs Journal.
Originally published in 1994, it was re-published because as the editors stated, “It almost happened in the 1930s as it could still happen in America today.”
It is an astonishing story about how a Wall Street cabal that helped finance Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini mobilized an American fascist movement as part of a plot to stage a coup d’ etat against President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
I’m posting the illuminating and equally astonishing commentary I received on this posting and if you read on will see how one of my Facebook friends protested quite vehemently about my dredging up “the Holocaust.” I’ve read what he said more than once and now I see he wasn’t objecting to my misusing the term but that I even posted that article. He exhorted me to focus on the present and of finding solutions to the problems we are facing today.
Well…yes, but I’m no activist and I’m not interested in becoming another Latino or even Chicano pundit. There is already a whole gaggle of those. Whether he knew or not, said friend was reminding all of us that if you want to participate in the “National Conversation” there are certain topics, historical facts and terms that are unmentionable and that for whatever reason only certain groups have the license to use those terms.
So be it. There is another Conversation going on and in this Conversation the terms, Genocide, Annihilation, Apartheid and Slavery—should always be capitalized and will not only be never unmentionable or forgotten but essential . . .
GC I’ve read this before and find it credible. I also find it credible that the oligarchy has factions, and FDR belonged to a different faction. I guess I am saying that the is more than one group of plutocrats vieing for global domination and that this is true today as well.
CXC this sort of reminds me of the whole IBM eugenics thing i was reading about. Thats one of the reasons why i oppose Planned Parenthood even though now theyre doing some good thing for women in lower socio economic conditions.
IC This is only a partial ray of truth that you cannot hide the Sun with your thump. Ever since we opened our eyes to this world this has been the prevailing policy of the power elite and those who are conscious of it this is of no surprise.A much deeper truth lurks underneath its dark surface. But much more deeper, whats on our side, is the Deep Light.
DRB Frank, once you start posting shit like this, I start disconnecting. It’s not constructive to keep going down this road. Keep the criticism focused on the now, and stop dredging up the holocaust.
XC our people here ,survived a Holcaust and GENOCIDe put together!! Over 500 year’s ago!
RC the time is now for today future day that begins today through unity, sympathy, brotherly love, compassion coaperation and stepping forwards into making the changes that we want to see for our kids and every ones kid,. lets forget the damage done lest plant a new education system that will help our kids to no become one of those that let evil prevail within them….
DRB I use the term “Holocaust” to denote the deliberate state directed murder of 10-12 million people in Europe during WWII. I’m Polish, my people were in those gas chambers and shooting pits all over my ancestral homeland. The deliberate and/o…r unintentional killing of natives of North, Central and South America is a “shandas” and a tragedy, but doesn’t get the same monniker because it happened across several hundred years, it was spread throughout two continents by different European regimes, struck different New World civilizations at different times (including the viral destruction of developed civilizations of millions in the Plains who few historians or outsiders ever witnessed), and with different motives directing them.
RC comprendo amigo! very sad all of that my birth land waS also struck by killing and the nearly extermination of our natives ancestros; war is no more than conspiracies to get few human being out of the picture for the sake to keep control of… the world populations around the globe, that is the result of our ancestros redering their freedom for the sake of governments oft the people to the people because things long time ago were getting out of hand , before people lived life just trusting the creators will guide and protection, then people started getting greedy and dishonest, so a causel was put together and the people asked for a sort of government to handle the situation to keep peace with the people and this government was to help the people but there tooooo things are out of hand big time, all of this that i am saying here is in the bible…we are under a lot of secrecy and a lot of conspiracies that if we only knew it is very sad, we are slaves we are not free, slavery has never been abolished , it is in the bible if people only undertoods what they read.. sad my friend we just have to continue trying our best is all that we can do…..
FSL I understand the meaning of Holocaust and its historical context. That article that I posted was about real American Nazis wanting to bring the Third Reich to America. Had their plan succeeded there would have been an American Holocaust. … In regard to other groups usurping the term…or trivializing it, I agree. For what happened in the Americas, we should call it the Genocide and the Annihilation. Our scholars, writers, poets, rappers should use these terms always capitalizing the terms.
It was recently noted by the Hollywood Reporter that Sony’s Battle: Los Angeles commanded the foreign theatrical circuit by generating $28.7 million in the second week it was out. Latino actors played heroic leading roles in this movie and they’re being seen all over the world.
Scene from Battle: Los Angeles
We have Latinos now, talented writers, producers, actors, directors—all breaching the tear in the veil of mundane reality and diving right into the wilds of science fiction. Shawna Baca’s movie project, Ascended Masters, described as a collision between science fiction and martial arts, is definitely something to look for.
Concept image for film - ASCENDED MASTERS
We’re eons past the time of the last of the Other Battles of L.A. that I’m going to elaborate on in the last part of this blog series—the August 29th 1970 National Chicano Moratorium riot. Some called it a police riot. I participated in the (30,000) mass anti-Vietnam war rally at Laguna Park (now, Salazar Park) when the whole thing blew up. I’m not so sure about who or what started the violence. I was with my girlfriend and I concentrated on getting her to safety, which meant getting out of East Los Angeles.
There were four deaths, including Ruben Salazar a reporter for the Los Angeles Times who was also the News Director at KMEX TV. To this day people believe he was assassinated at the Silver Dollar through the agency of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. You ask me—it really seems too coincidental that the most articulate Voice that has ever spoken about and advocated for the cause of Mexican American civil rights on a national and international level died that day and in that way. Edgar G. Hoover’s FBI had just orchestrated the assassination of Black Panther leader, Fred Hampton the previous year. You tell me. Those were the harsh times of Apartheid America.
Scene from original Star Trek series
The original TV series Star Trek telecast–aired September of 1966, through June of 1969 and rerun continuously thereafter–was a major hit with minorities, the young and liberal minded people because its storylines and diverse cast offered an escape from the reality of what America was at the time. Diverse cast that is, without Latinos. There was some squawking about this because the series was a hit with Chicanos. Hey, we did not want to be left out of the adventure of humanity’s future.
Latinos’ needs and wants were most certainly not the reason the Hollywood gods gave Ricardo Montalban the starring role in the June of 1981 movie, Star Trek II Wrath of Khan. This pic was fun to watch but Montalban just did not resonate with my blue collar Chicano roots.
Wolfen came out in July of 1981 and lo and behold there was the Pachuko aka Edward James Olmos playing the role of a kind of modern Native American prankster in this urban science fiction legend about super wolves stalking the streets of (then) contemporary NYC. Something was stirring.
A year later, in June of 1982, the Pachuko—came back in Blade Runner playing a multi-racial cop speaking a multi-lingual argot in a Los Angeles set in 2019, the far off future then. Enter the Fusion Man. Enter a Chicano from East Los participating in the adventure of humanity’s future. And it didn’t matter that it was a dystopian future.
Edward James Olmos in Blade Runner
The setting of Blade Runner described in the L.A. Times Hero Complex section was “a post-ethnic, hyper-commercialized, Hong Kong-like urban hell.” That dark vision combined with the presence of Olmos provided me the visual anchor for the science fiction I had always wanted to write. And from that point on I became infused with the thought of creating a Xicano story for the world that I knew Blade Runner was portending.
Philip F. Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the novel that inspired Blade Runner was published in 1968, three years after the eruption of that other battle of L.A.—the Watts Rebellion of 1965. Almost a quarter of a century later the Los Angeles Rebellion of 1992 exploded, the last of the Other Battles of L.A.
Comments in response to the Facebook post of the Los Angeles Rebellion of 1992 and the Coming of LOM
I remember that particular day so well…
Two images from them are with me forever. The many, but, oh so many, smoke columns rising from all over the city viewed from the top of Eagle Rock Pass and Edward J Olmos sweeping the streets of So. Central with 500+ volunteers he had attracted during the day and them featured live on all the evening network news shows. I credit him as being the turn point, I know for a fact, that latinos started quieting that same day.
To A——-: give credit where credit is due… there was an agency called Community Youth Gang Services who made it possible for Mr. Olmos to give the impression that he had a lot to do with helping rebuild or clean-up after the L.A. Riot…s… He is an actor and people fell for acting not his community activism… it took a lot mediating with local residents and the gang members to end the violence… he wasn’t apart of it… Mr. Opportunist Olmos came in on this after he was told he would be safe to do so….. Sorry A——- it’s just piece untold story about the aftermath of the L.A. Riots!
I agree w/ you, A——-, Edward James Olmos, certainly did have a calming effect on everyone concerned, IMHO – as did, Rodney Glen King, himself, when he asked the rhetorical question, “Can’t we all just get along?” I was living in Bakersfield @ the time, but I had an upcoming surgery scheduled in L.A., that I was going to have to forgo, if the riots didn’t subside when they did.
According to, Rodney King’s, own statements, he refused to pull the car over because he had been drinking earlier that day and a DUI would violate his parole for a previous robbery conviction, & he had just received word earlier in the day that the company he had formerly worked for, was going to be kicking-off another job real soon and a violation of his probation would put a stop to that opportunity. So he tried to elude the police, but he certainly didn’t deserve the beating that those thuggish cops laid on him.
In all fairness to Edward James Olmos…the image worked at the time. Seeing him on those streets with the volunteers was heartening at the time. The message was good. The politics behind the scenes of any historical event are never all milk and honey.
as far as Olmos is concerned ,if his appearance is what qualmed the crowds then he deserves the credit for this too.
M—–, mi pachuco. First a disclaimer, I now consider Eddie a friend and hope he considers me one of his too. Then, I did not knew him, but for his public persona. Now, I have NO doubt that Eddie wasn’t doing it just as an opportunist, and …will clarify below why.
First, He had been on many, many Spanish TV and Radio Stations the two previous days asking for Latinos to refrain joining the melee.
Second, reports are that he started sweeping alone accompanied only with a personal photographer, few neighbors came out to help, a local CBS news van stooped by and went live, AND THEN the Community Youth Gang Services came in with their army of volunteers, but it was Eddie who initiated the, why not say it, stunt, and he was its main news coverage magnet. Eddie knew that he would attract attention, making sure his message got through (again, he had been doing it for more than two days already) and being the intelligent shrewd performer (yes, actor) and outstanding communicator he is, he choose the most iconic way; sweeping after the destruction; practically communicating that it was time to stop the insanity. I remember him saying “It is madness, we are destroying our own neighborhoods!”.
Third, the most one why I firmly believe that Eddie wasn’t doing it because of a selfish interest. Do you remember the Coca-Cola Ad Eddie did some time ago? The Colgate one? The Ralph’s one? The Viagra of lately? If you remember each or any one of them you are self-deluded. EDDIE HAD NOT MADE A SINGLE COMMERCIAL ENDORSEMENT until a couple of years ago that he finally gave in (well deserved) and started the Farmer’s Insurance campaign. Still, his only commercial endorsement. Edie has left on the table countless millions in endorsements just to make sure that his word stayed impeachable, just to be effective on times like when LA needed him, or Vieques, or NOSTROS, or the UFW, or MALDEF, or LULAC, or The Gulf, or… you get my drift.
Time and the encrusting layers of civilization bury historical memory. This is why I love science fiction. More than any genre (with the exception of mythic fantasy) it whets my appetite for lost knowledge.
The blockbuster sci fic pic, Battle: Los Angeles awakened within me a desire to delve with renewed energy into the history of the Mexican American war in California and Los Angeles, which does play in LOM’s storyline and characterization . . .
Michelle Rodriguez in Battle: Los Angeles
Six hundred strong by land and by ship U.S. forces returned in early January of 1847 to recapture Ciudad Los Angeles.
At the Battle of Rio San Gabriel near today’s Bluff Road near the border of Whittier and Montebello, two L.A. suburbs today, a much smaller Mexican Californio force attempted to halt the contingent of U.S. Marines and sailors. Using their superior numbers the Americans overtook the Californio’s position, destroying their two light cannons. Casualties according to some sources were two dead and eight wounded on each side.
The following day the American forces’ pursuit of the Californio militia led to a ravine near the city of Vernon, located five miles from downtown Los Angeles. Vernon, an industrial armpit of corruption that Laura Molina, L.A. County Supervisor once kindly called “an undemocratic empire.”
Thus before the blessings of modern American urbanization befell that virgin piece of land, five hundred and sixty American infantry and Marines, mostly on foot, but armed with rifles—fought the outnumbered Californio militia. This was the real Battle: Los Angeles for although it is called the Battle of Mesa it is also known as the Battle of Los Angeles.
Monument in Vernon commerating the Battle of Los Angeles
The Californios were considered by some to be the best horsemen in the world at the time. They had been using their equestrian skills to their advantage throughout the conflict. In this fateful battle they used their superior horsemanship to outflank the Americans and charge with their lances. Pure courage fueled this incredible martial action. But after suffering 15 dead and 25 wounded, the Lancers were forced to retreat and camp in Pasadena thus ceding Los Angeles to the American advance. This battle was the last of the Californios’ decisive armed resistance.
Today four bronze plaques on three boulders in front of the Vernon City Hall commemorate the Battle of Los Angeles that came to be known as the Battle of La Mesa. Well, whatever may be said about their otherwise dubious sense of civic duty and integrity, Vernon’s civic fathers at least had some sense of historical consciousness.
The Chinese Massacre of 1871
In 1871 there is a gun battle in what in Los Angeles is now called Olvera Street between two Chinese factions. It results in the accidental killing of a white rancher caught in the crossfire. This sets off a mob of five hundred mostly white men rampaging through “Nigger Alley,” what Los Angeles Street was called because it was frequented by the darker skinned denizens of the model urban oasis of the time L.A. had become. Property was stolen, defaced and destroyed. Between 20 and 23 Chinese were massacred. Many were injured.
In the twentieth century the pattern of white men rioting in a Los Angeles minority community continued. Hey, I’m not attacking white manhood here. Just stating the facts, maam. And of course whites were building civilization throughout California, building schools and hospitals (albeit segregated) not just rioting in minority communities. But we’re talking about the other real battles of Los Angeles here, not do gooding. L.A.’s infamous Zoot Suit Riots of 1943 were described by the L.A. Times as “open street warfare,” and it was street warfare brought to East Los Angeles courtesy of drunken white servicemen, mostly Navy, street warfare abetted by a racist LAPD.
Sailors attacking zoot suiters
A remnant of the memory of the Zoot Suit Riots persisted into the sixties in an almost closeted way until Luis Valdez resurrected the bloody historical event as a bona fide play on the Big Stage. That is how, like most Chicanos, I first became aware of Edward James Olmos when in 1978 he played the lead role of El Pachuco on the Mark Taper Forum stage. Like for many Chicanos at the time, it was inspiring to see some aspect of our experience validated on a real stage through the medium of calo, Spanglish and English language.
The next battle in Los Angeles was actually more of a revolt—the so-called Watts Riot of 1965. You have to realize that the Civil and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 had been just been enacted. American white supremacy and apartheid still had people of color and especially African Americans in a vise grip of political and economic repression. In Los Angele’s inner city things finally imploded into an inchoate revolt of black folks who just couldn’t take any more of LAPD’s brutality and racism. Thirty-four people were killed with 1,032 injured, 3,438 arrested.
The Watts Riot/Rebellion was a prelude to the L.A. Rebellion of 1992, which I blogged on recently noting how it provided a historical start off point for the storyline in LOM. A Facebook friend commented on how the image of Edwards James Olmos sweeping the debris off L.A.’s riot-torn streets, aired on national TV had a calming effect, first on L.A. Latinos and then on the rest of the city. Another Facebook friend challenged Eddie Olmos’ motives behind his taking on that role in the aftermath of that other battle of Los Angeles.
In Part Three I will share the answer to that challenge and my final take on Eddie Olmo’s seminal role in the expanding circle of Latino writers, directors, actors, producers breaching that tear in the veil of mundane reality and delving into the wilds of science fiction.
Battle: Los Angeles, the science fiction action thriller, released over the weekend is already on its way to become another block buster. Well, my friends there have been other battles in Los Angeles, fictitious and otherwise….
The title of this blog cites makes reference to the first Xicano actor in a major science fiction movie. I’m referring to famed actor Edward James Olmos and how he played many years ago in my decision to write my soon-to-be published science fiction novel, LOM. Well, before you think Lechuga is playing a Hollywood game here and just name dropping to push his novel, please be assured, there is a connect here, and I shall elucidate on it but before I get to that I will ruminate over the Other Battles of Los Angeles–
Los Angeles proper and what is now called the Greater Los Angeles Area has been the site of a number of significant violent conflicts. If we take into account all the revolts and serious riots, perhaps we can get some insight into the hard truth of L.A.’s violent legacy, a city that for some mysterious reason has come to be known as the Gang Capitol of America. Lala Land the yahoos from Northern California call it. Ignorance creates a false sense of security and comfort sometimes.
Scene from the first Hollywood production of the H.G. Wells classic, War of the Worlds, 1953–alien craft attacking L.A. City Hall
There were the two Battles of the Cahuenga Pass, the first one in 1831, the second one also known as the Battle of Providencia in 1844. Both were in effect revolts on the part of the Californio gente de razon rebelling against their Mexican governors.
Not a few blood thirsty connoisseurs of military history have mocked the description of these engagements as battles but these incidents did involve two opposing groups of armed men, exchanges of gunfire even cannon fire. The first Cahuenga battle involved deadly lance dueling and gunfire. Governor Victoria was lanced in the face and two horsemen from opposing sides were shot to death. The second Cahuenga battle perhaps does have a farcical aspect to it. The only casualties after a symbolic exchange of cannonades were a horse and a mule.
All right, so Los Angeles has not seen battles between large armies or even groups armed with automatic weapons and RPGS, battles resulting in massive slaughter and destruction. The other battles of Los Angeles were smaller scale and the weapons used were not massively lethal and in some of these conflicts, the warrior’s concept of honor viewed in some circles as archaic–played a role.
Yeah, I know–for a generation that has experienced Afghanistan and Iraq and that weaned itself on violent video games like Black Ops these L.A. battles of old may not seem like a big deal. But, if you had been there trudging through the unpolluted dust of that time, you would see it very differently. I am sure that for the warriors participating in these smaller conflicts it was all blood, guts and sweat. Fear and exhultation. Death and life. It was real battle.
Scene from Battle: Los Angeles
The war lovers out there might be a tad more impressed by the higher level of conflict brought to Los Angeles by the Mexican American War, even though initially the American occupation of the city, called the Siege of Los Angeles went unopposed. The peace didn’t last. The brutal and arrogant actions of the American garrison commander set off a revolt, and in September of 1846 a contingent of Californio militia and citizens forced the American occupiers to retreat from the city to a bluff overlooking the Pueblo. This came to be known as Fort Hill because the retreating Americans were forced to fortify their position there with sandbags and cannon.
Ironically, for the longest time the complex of buildings atop Fort Hill, (later renamed Fort Moore) housed the headquarters of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
A Mexican Californio militia action that also took place in September of 1846—the capture and sequestering of American sympathizers came to be known as the Battle of Chino. Between the two sides there were five wounded and one dead. The prisoners were marched to the Californio’s main camp in Boyle Heights and almost executed for killing the one Californio but were later released because most were intermarried with Californio families.
The American attempt to retake Los Angeles met stiff resistance from the Mexican Californio militia led by General Jose Maria Flores in October of 1846 in what is called the Battle of Dominguez Hills Rancho. Fifty Californio Lancers fought two hundred Marines. The Californios did not suffer casualties while the American force suffered fourteen killed and two wounded. This is one of the few times in history U.S. Marines have been defeated in battle.
Depiction of Battle of San Pasqual evokes the Battle of Dominguez Hills Rancho
When the Americans returned in January of 1847 to retake Los Angeles, they were taking no chances. They came back with overwhelming force.