Amoeblog

Police Story, Part 2

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, March 17, 2008 12:21am | Post a Comment
2008-Winter

It is a Friday night and I’m driving with my girlfriend. We are heading to The Spot, which is a Mexican restaurant  called Villa Sombrero in Highland Park. We call it The Spot because it is our spot; it has the perfect margarita and good food, which is a rarity. The L.A. area Mexican restaurants seem to sacrifice one for the other. It’s either you have great drinks and lousy food or visa versa. We have our favorite waiter, Jesus from D.F., who is a character in his own right. I couldn’t even begin to explain him-- he is an experience and probably the best waiter I’ve ever known. Going there signals the start of our very short weekend. After the first sip of my margarita I am reminded that my workweek is over and I have the day off the next day. It doesn’t matter how broke I am or how inconvenient it is going there. The Spot gives us a sense of humanity. That we do not just exist to work and pay bills.

I make a left on to Cypress Ave. I see two police cars on opposite sides of the street, not even a block away from my house with their flashing lights on. I wonder if it was more fallout from an incident that happened on February 22nd, in which undercover police gunned down a twenty two year old. A few days before that, there was a hit on a thirty-six year-old veterano while he was holding his two-year old granddaughter, followed by the police, killing one of the hit men in nearby Glassell Park. All over the city there has been an increase of gang and gun related deaths. The most recent was last Thursday, a drive-by shooting and subsequent death of a twenty year old on Ave. 59 in Highland Park, not too far where we are going to eat. I hadn’t even reached the point where Cypress turns into Eagle Rock when I saw at least several more police cars.

Every person the police has pulled over looks the same. All are Latino, young, male and pelon with custom cars. Most of them don’t look the part of a gang member yet still they are pulled over. It is incredible how many police are out tonight. By the time we hit the restaurant I have seen more than fifteen units under a two-mile stretch. At a light I watch the young pelones bum out. It’s not so fun to go out on a Friday night after being humiliated by some cops.

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Police Story, Part 1

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, March 16, 2008 10:17pm | Post a Comment
1983-Summer

My first run-in with the cops was when I was fourteen. I was in a parking lot across the street from Del Amo Mall in Torrance after football practice, waiting for a ride home. I wasn’t used to taking the bus to the new school I was going to, several miles away from my home in Gardena. I kept boarding the wrong bus so finally I gave up and called my sister to pick me up. As I was waiting, I watched the cops make a u-turn across the street. I remember thinking that they probably got a call for a crime and were heading for it, but I was wrong. They pulled right in front of me, jumped out off the car and had me put my hands in the air. I dropped my backpack full of my sweaty clothes on the ground. The cops asked me why I was standing here as they frisked me. I told them that I was coming back from football practice and I was waiting for my sister to pick me up. I then asked what I was doing wrong, because I was just leaning against a brick wall waiting for my sister. They didn’t answer me. I watched as the passengers in the cars slowly passing me by gave their slow judgment. I was embarrassed and I was scared that that they were going to find something to bust me for, even though I had nothing on me to get busted with. In short, I felt like a criminal. After the frisking and looking through my backpack full of sweaty clothes, they let me go and said, “Stay away from the parking lot-- it looks like you’re checking out the cars,” and they left.
My fourteen-year-old brain was confused, “Checking out the cars?” I guess they thought I was going to break into one.  

When I got home I looked in the mirror and saw for the first time what they saw. I was nearly six feet, wearing a white t-shirt with my head shaved down to a number two guard and, I was dark. As dark as the dirt on the ground, as dark as the cochinto pan dulce that sat on the dinner table, as dark as all the criminals I’d seen on the news. Until then I felt like every other kid. But now I knew better. I knew that from now on I would have to be careful of what I said and what I did. I knew I just couldn't go anywhere. Others could get away with more but because of the way I look I couldn’t. I couldn’t stand on a corner, I couldn’t dress different, I couldn’t even check out cars in a parking lot. On that day the cops let me know how different I was, and I hated them for it. For the first time in my young life, I felt powerless.

SAINT PATRICK'S DAY & THE POGUES

Posted by Billyjam, March 16, 2008 10:01pm | Post a Comment


There is so much great Irish music out there-- from traditional folk Irish music to Irish rock, jazz, electronic, and hip-hop Irish music etc.-- much of it available at Amoeba Music. But for Saint Patrick's Day I always find the more traditional or trad/folk rooted Irish music is the perfect soundtrack to celebrate the day with. Above is one of my all time favorite songs performed by two of the best, the Pogues and their main musical inspiration, the Dubliners, together doing a rendition of the traditional song "The Irish Rover."  Below is a video of the Pogues performing "Dirty Old Town" -- another song previously popularized by the Dubliners.   And if you happen to be in New York City on Saint Patrick's Day, you can catch the third consecutive night of the Pogues performing live at the Roseland Ballroom. Also on the bill are Billy Bragg and William Elliot Whitmore.

March 14, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, March 16, 2008 01:22pm | Post a Comment

STAYING ALIVE AS A CYCLIST

Posted by Billyjam, March 16, 2008 12:12pm | Post a Comment
       

In the Bay Area recently there has been a surge of road accidents involving cyclists and not just the much publicized ones like the recent tragedy in which a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy fell asleep at the wheel of his patrol car and veered across the divide and into a group of cyclists, killing two, on Steven's Canyon Road in Cupertino. Besides this and several other recently publicized fatal bike accidents there have also been a ton of unreported crashes in the Bay Area (which has a high density of bike fanatics) that often send cyclists tumbling from their bikes and to the hospital for stitches, or worse.

Coincidentally, this morning just as I was reading a newspaper article about bike crashes in the Bay, I looked up to witness (on College Avenue in Oakland) a cyclist taking a spill on his bike.  The cause of the accident was perhaps the most common one in urban areas.  He suddenly swerved, losing his balance and knocking himself off his own bike, in an attempt to avoid a car door being carelessly flung open by its driver  Luckily the cyclist was wearing a helmet and (seemed) to be okay. Although I think he was still in a state of shock as he told the small crowd suddenly gathered around him,  "I'm fine, I'm fine," as he remounted his bike and shakily cycled off down College. A lot of times you don't realize you are hurt until later after the adrenalin rush subsides.

Parked cars flinging open their doors, along with cars driving too fast or recklessly near cyclists, seem to be the most common causes of accidents for bikers. And it leads me to believe that for true safety for cyclists the only real solution is to completely separate the routes traveled by autos and by bikes: have exclusively bike-only paths and restrict cars to their own routes.   But in the meantime - as bikes and cars are forced to share roadways -  here are some safety tips for cyclists that, although they should be common sense, need reiterating:

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