Bringing It Back for a Worthy Cause
Sore feet, good feelings at the Salesian Rock & Roll Show
During most of my lifetime, I've been blessed with family and friends who have extolled the virtues of education. As a second generation Chicano, I am proud to boast that I come from a family of 7 siblings, all of whom are College educated, productive adults.
Published on LatinoLA: September 28, 2005
So many times during my youth, and during the youth of my two children, the argument of "What will an education really get me?" has come up and been the subject of debate between young & old, when time spent studying and doing homework would rather be spent having fun or watching TV.
Like my father did, I was able to drive home the point one day by taking my kids for a short ride to downtown L.A.'s infamous "skid row", to allow my teenage geniuses to gawk at all the young homeless street people begging for money, eating out of trash cans, or sleeping on the ground, the epitome of human despair.
"These people were just as cool as you are now. Many of them didn't want to waste time studying or going to school either," I would tell them. "Save me a couple of years of supporting & feeding you...where can I drop you off?" The wide eyes of disbelief would only stare in amazement as I would pull over and repeat the question...
...I am proud to say that both my children are college educated, productive adults, and have been exposed to the Chicano culture and music that is their legacy.
This being a humorous extreme (I didn't tell my kids till they were 18 that I never really planned to drop them off), the concept of setting the example and encouraging consistently, while warning of pitfalls, does indeed have it's benefits.
The tradition of handing down valuable lessons and advice on surviving on this planet has been a tribal concept among different peoples around the World for more generations than can be counted.
The old teaching the young what works, and what doesn't - you don't get to be old being a fool! It's called education. It's called training. It's called sharing experience for the benefit of others.
Whatever you call it, (aside from a few lucky ones who inherit), many people have benefitted and succeeded in life by suscribing to this concept and applying lessons learned. Now it's my people's turn.
As a Chicano Veterano just hittin' the half century mark, I have seen the benefits reaped by my people as a result of education. No easy task when you consider that as recently as 40 years ago, there were places my parents couldn't walk into, or jobs they couldn't get, or neighborhoods they couldn't buy a home in, simply because of the color of their skin. Because of their limited education and options, they were almost mandated to be lifelong, subserviant low wage laborers, not expected to rise above an unofficial caste system. They, along with others of their generation, made efforts to change that, to which I will be forever grateful..
To make a long story short, SOMEBODY started thinking "Enough shit! We're just as good!" and started pushing their kids to get an education whereas they may have been deprived otherwise had a push not been made.
Today, I see successful Latino businessmen & women, Latino Law Enforcement and Fire Department personnel, Latino Judges and Attorneys, Latino Celebrities (who no longer have to publicly hide their heritage to be "accepted"), Latino politicians , high ranking Latino Military personnel, Latino educators, Latino writers, Latino publishers, Latino professionals of all walks of life, where from my earlier perspective, none existed before in such significant and influential numbers before.
That, Mi Gente, is the power of education! Somebody oughtta throw a party in celebration of this! Somebody needs to let everybody know that education works!
Don't get me wrong, Gente! This isn't a racist call for gabachos to start making return trip reservations on the Mayflower or anything like that. It's just that for over 400 years, my people have witnessed others come to prominence and riches in our land with the benefits of education, technology, and political power ("manifest destiny" and all that,etc), that I feel it appropriate that it's now OUR turn to return the accomplishments in kind for all to see...
...and I know they're watching!
But we're doing it differently. We're doing it intelligently. We're doing it legitimately, through the power of education, the Arts, and culture, with a sense of pride that makes me feel proud and strong to be a Brown man!
So it was recently, that I was privvy to be among the cream of East L.A. Chicano society at The Pasadena Civic Auditorium for the 7th Annual Salesian High School Alumni Rock and Roll Show, to bask in the glow of my people, help raise needed funds, and dance the night away.
With well over 1500 people in attendance, and EVERYBODY lookin' good, the majority of the attendees were alumni and family of Salesian High School, one of the oldest Catholic Boy's High School in Los Angeles, with a high pecentage of students being Chicano.
Rock and Roll was the theme, as one well known fact throughout East Los Angeles has been for years that Salesian High School has promoted music as an art in it's curriculum almost from the start, and many East L.A. Rock & Roll veteran musicians, singers, & pioneers of the early "East Side Sound" of the 1960's cut their first musical tooth at Salesian. Their influence has since traversed the World.
I was ever so proud to meet so many successful, educated Chicanos, who were giving back some of their earned success to the school that helped make them who they are, so that future generations could benefit as they have. And they had one hell of a party to prove it!
Starting off the show was Master of Ceremonies Dr. Daniel "Sancho" Castro, one of Aztlan's most well known and beloved Chicano Radio DJ's for over 20 years, a Harvard educated Chicano who has never forgotten his roots. Making a dramatic statement of the well overdue notice of the power of education earned by Chicanos, and the contributions to society educated Chicanos have made, he put out the word: "NO SCHOOL, NO CLASS!".
Next, Down with 3, a talented group of Chicanos opened up the music and dancing with their hard hitting Latin rhythym sounds. Down with 3 were recently awarded recognition for their contribution to the morale, welfare and recreation of our troops overseas by performing for the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq. Bob Hope would have been proud of this!
Next, CHICO, one of L.A.'s premier Chicano music groups, featuring vocalist Bertha Oropeza, brought it out and up for a perpetually filled dance floor.
To the delight of the mostly older crowd (don't read this wrong, Mi Gente! People were gettin' their boogie on big time!), Salesian Alumni and East L.A. Chicano Music Pioneer Lil' Ray Jimenez made his long overdue East L.A. stage return with his new group Starfire. Ray came out and brought out that good old "cruising Brown style" feeling with a powerful mix of Motown, Soul and Oldies that didn't leave many empty seats in the house once he got going.
Closing out the night with a bang were one of East L.A.'s "garage band" powerhouses ACE, who proved once again what a fountain of youth Chicano music is by putting on a dazzling display of music, stage presence, and talent that had the crowd dancing and even smooching on the dance floor. (Was that abuelita out there, gettin' her "grind" on?). I also ran into an Army buddy and another old friend I haven't seen in years.
Besides Sancho, I ran into Internet TV star Richard "Thee Mr." Duran and his wife Pat, and Music producer Steven Chavez and his wife Janie, all "getting down" on the dance floor and having a ball. Interestingly, Steven gave me some brief history on the Salesian Rock & Roll Show, reminding me that Author Ruben Molina mentions this and many of Chicano music pioneers that are alumni in his book "The Old Barrio Guide to Low-Ridier Music 1954-1975" (Mictlan Publishers), and told me that he had attended some of the first & original shows which used to be held in the Salesian High School Auditorium back in 1964 and 1965.
As the night ended, my Lady and I both had sore feet, a good feeling, and a mild regret that the show had ended. Like all good songs and rides, this one too, had to come to an end.
But like the future, and the promise of what it will bring, there's always next year!
...and LatinoLA will be there!
Congratulations, Salesian High School, and thanks for a great party! See you next year! Si se puede...and keep it going!
Note: for more info on the Salesian Rock & Roll Show, go to www.salesianalumni.com
...and tell 'em you heard it from Frankie Firme and LatinoLA.com!
Frankie Firme spins the finest Chicano Oldies but Goodies and Latin Soul music on the world wide web on www.kclafm.com and www.chicanoexpress.com