Sunday, June 7, 2009


At Dr. John Escobedo's request, I am posting this for him.

I'm no poet,creative writer, or artist. But I play with words. Considering my current circumstance, this is the only venue I have to express myself from afar.  

So please excuse my self-indulgence as I reminisce . . . .

My first encounter with Daniel was strange, but fitting considering the kingship our friendship is built upon. For some reason, which I can’t recall, Vega challenged Chuy Miranda, Jimmy Duarte, and myself to a wrestling match after our freshmen football practice by the high school plaza vending machines. Remember, we never met or talked to this undersized pretty boy—I guess our gladiator football armor did not impress him. In a matter a fact way, he proceeded to tell us how he could pin anyone of us in 15 seconds! Needless to say, Jimmy stepped up to the task and, yes, Daniel took out my good friend in under 15 seconds. We stood there contemplating whether we should “jump” this cocky kid, but Jimmy stood up and shook his hand. I must admit, Daniel would have been a hand full considering what he had just done, but his cousin Big Fern was also present—big dude for a Mexican back in the day. We figured these two cats would make better friends than enemies. And so this narrative began . . . . 

Next stop: The Ranch. Way back when “The Ranch” was part of the Vega Trilogy Hill. Daniel, Pilon, and Fern’s parents owned the lower half of Startrek Lane. On Juanita’s property there was a nursery with plenty of ample space for us to roam and plot mischief. None of us owned a vehicle to get around at the time, so we christened the nursery “The Ranch” and our designated playground on weekends. Plenty of nights were filled with laughter, bonfires, and debauchery. Shoot, we have been known to assault discarded refrigerators and old broken down buses, pull classic “Stand by Me’s,” and faced the dear consequences of crudas: El Huevo!!! (ask the Boyz for definitions and explanations) Vows of camaraderie were taken on this natal ground and a sense of acceptance, loyalty, and identity was cultivated. Roll Dogz ever since—como mugre y uña as mom would say. Ironic, isn’t it, that our communal friendship has roots in a nursery.

Acceptance, loyalty, and a common cause/identity are attributes every young, first generation Chicano needs to somehow find in a country that has historically marginalized our culture, language, and history as a people. As young teenage rebels, we understood our subjugated existence within a school system intent on policing racial identities, limiting academic resources (assigned autoshop for math credit!), funneling brown bodies into Ivy (continuation school for at risk students), and exercising expulsion as the final remedy for “unruly” students. We understood this environment and retaliated the only way we knew how: questioned the established order at every turn. Teachers, counselors, principals, school boards—never had chance. Of course, some of us were funneled to Ivy, expelled, and bounced around to different school districts. But we managed. Survivors of a school system that produced one of the highest drop out rates in the county in 1993—second only to Oceanside High.  Dark times to say the least, but no excuses. We never needed pity and never swam in a pool of apathy. Battle scars that’s all. These wounds, however, came with future accolades. This lowly circle of unruly, at risk youth has since produced 4 Bachelor degrees, four Master Degrees, one PhD, company administrative heads, and business contractors and owners. Not bad cabrones, not bad at all.        

As you can see, we’re equipped to travel these hard roads, to take the long route to success. So Doc’s, please, don’t give me stats and percentages—don’t want to hear it. Just patch my Boy up and he will smooth out the edges and wrinkles. Vega does not accept failure and acquiesce is not in his nature, never has never will. We fight . . . he will rise, dust himself off, gives us his signature clap, and say “WHAT!”

So you take your time brother. Navigate these uncharted dark waters and find your way. Because, as a great Nuyorican poet once said, “The Sun Always Shines for the Cool.”

Walk Tall, Talk Big, and Live Strong. 

Your Perro,



  1. Escobedo,

    I can totally picture Daniel challenging you guys and showing No Fear! With his eyes wide open, big grin and probably rubbing his hands together with excitement. Oh do we all know that look! And of course, Big Fern standing by his side with a grin himself, and nodding his head agreeing with Daniel. I enjoyed reading your story. I hope to hear more from you, Chuy and all of Daniels Camaradas.

  2. As a fellow classmate of Daniel's in the earlier years, I can so appreciate thie story of Daniel challenging you in his new surroundings. It makes my heart so proud and happy to hear what a bond he made when he moved. As we lost touch after he left SM, I never stopped wondering if he transitioned OK. Apparantly, he did better than OK. He has so many amazing people around him that care for him and are giving him strength. God Bless You All, Daniel is deserving of all the love & support.
    Jeannie Lowe-Thomas

  3. Victor,

    The tribute was by John Escobedo not Chuy. Or should I say "Dr Escobedo".

    I agree.. that was a great tribute.


  4. Juanito!
    Well written, hombre. Little by little, save these stories. They document chapters in your lives that could someday be chapters in a book. Not a sociological case history, but a rich chronical of some guys in a small corner in the belly of the beast......overcoming
    barriers, knocking down walls, paving the way for future generations.
    No matter where your lives take you, keep the chemistry together.
    Skip the highschool reunions, hold your own reunions! The system hasn't ground you under, rail against the inequities, channel the rage, you guys have the desire and the fire.
    All you guys have 9 lives, and you may have used up a few, especially Chuy and Daniel. Use the rest to keep learning. The social and behavioral sciences are great, but lets get your kids into the natural and physical se puede!
    Medical science will give our boy another chance, he is fighting for that. This experience is life
    altering for all of us.
    The Nuyorican poet had it right. To that I want to add a Nicaraguan call to arms:
    Aqui, no se rinde nadie!

  5. I read this post to my class at the Nations first continuation High School. Garfield High. They could dig it. (87% chicano)I teach them with the expectations that they will be like us.

    El Nando

  6. Beautifully put Sal and Nando. I'll will continue to post some short stories for all to read. Although I don't like to talk about my friend in past tense, thats all I got right now. I need him to give me TODAY, present tense. Around the corner I can feel it.


  7. Beautifully put Sal and Nando. I'll will continue to post some short stories for all to read. Although I don't like to talk about my friend in past tense, thats all I got right now. I need him to give me TODAY, present tense. Around the corner I can feel it.


  8. self indulgence is right. it started off about daniel then it all became about patting yourself on the back for educational acomplishments.nice story juan oh, excuse me i meant john or should i say dr. john.god doesn't care about educational accomplishments.he will save daniel if you believe in him and pray.there has been no mention of god or praying in any may be educated mentioning peltier, arbaens, cienfuegos among others being present; but besides the prayer quilt being mentioned does anybody even pray for daniel "o dar gracias a dios" may not like my comments but hopefully i made you think about what should come first..

  9. You must not know Daniel very well. By the way John's name is John.

    Big Fern

  10. To: Anonymous
    Criticism is always welcome. We grow from critiques, we learn to discard what is erroneous and keep what is valid.
    John was writting in the second person of shared experiences with Daniel and their camaradas. The message was one of coming to terms with reality, questioning authority, chanllenging the status quo.....not letting school interfere with their education, they accomplished educational goal by the road least taken.
    So, if this is self-indulgence, I think you missed the point. Shoot the messenger!
    Peltier, Arbenz, Che and others listed have been the light, struggling against oppression, slavery, colonialism and imperialism. The liberation of people has not always been easy, it leads to prison or death. Daniel and his boys know history!

    Presumptious of you to speak for god. When would a god not care about educational accomplishments? Education leads to critical thinking, challenging authority.... hmmm maybe you are right. Try questioning authority in your church, see how far it gets you. Years ago you'd be burned at the stake or tortured.
    The blog was set up for all to post comments, poems, anecdotes, scriptures, psalms, etc. We're waiting to hear from you.
    If you'd have read all the posts you'd know that there are prayer groups from the bay area down to Bogota Colombia, in Los Angeles, in your homework.
    We know what comes first, our brother's health and welfare. Getting him back with his family and friends.

  11. Very well put Sal. Those of us who truly love Daniel very much enjoy and are entertained by all of these stories.

    Take Care. Irene

  12. The person that posted this is not "part of the vega clan" trust me. Some fuck head cruisin the net decided to try to place a wedge between us. Daniel is down with all people and he has never needed his friends to validate every story with theology..never. So everyone needs to trust that an imposter coward that does not post a name is posing as Daniels friend.This person is cruisin the web and trying to fuck with our game. We remain united.

    El Nando