One of the hardest working Chicano writers, Luis J. Rodriguez has surpassed that of a nationally acclaimed, award winning author and poet. Today, he is that, plus a dedicated activist, organizer, healer and lecturer to many.
Rodriguez is commonly known for his memoir, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., a book that earned him a Chicago Sun-Times Book Award and, at the same time, was among the top 100 banned books in the nation for its graphic and unadulterated honesty about youth and street life.
Nonetheless, his biographical history (gang affiliation, drug abuse, alcoholism, and redemption) and his literary work reflecting it is respectfully heeded and discussed in classrooms throughout the U.S. It has also become the topic of his many lectures among gang affiliated youth, which brings him to San Diego this Wednesday, Feb 21.
“After 20 years of this (lifestyle), I began a recovery process around thirteen and a half years ago,” Rodriguez writes on his recent weblog www.luisjrodriguez.com. “I’m still a revolutionary, only now I’m clean and sober. Now my energies are focused on family. I have a beautiful, healthy, and wonderful family, my writing, my political/community activism, my ongoing study, and Tia Chucha’s Café and Centro Cultural.”
Tia Chucha’s is a one of a kind cultural venue and bookstore in the highly Chicano populated San Fernando Valley. Rodriguez was just recently given notice to shut down by the owners of the strip mall where the shop’s housed.
“Every neighborhood should have venues like ours, where books, ideas, dialogues, music, art, writing, dance, indigenous traditions and thought are alive and thriving for everyone,” he says.
Always traveling to lecture or read from his various literary works (Republic of East L.A., Music of the Mill), his presentations play out like a meditation on literature and its reconciliatory factors.
Invited by San Diego’s County of Education Juvenile Court and Community Schools, Luis J. Rodriguez will be visiting campuses, then, lecturing on Wednesday, Feb 21, at the James S. Copley Auditorium (1450 El Prado) in Balboa Park at 7 p.m. For more info or to RSVP, email Marnie Klein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join a bi-national People’s Hearing on Immigration and Border Policy. Talk with people on both sides of the border about their first-hand experiences of family separation, intimidation, and injustice. This Saturday, Feb 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Border Field State Park, located 15 miles south of San Diego via I-5, Dairy Mart and Monument Roads. Then find out how you can help! For more info, call 619-269-7865.
El Puente, the website calendar of Latino events in San Diego and Tijuana, will have two events to celebrate nine years of community service in Tijuana Friday, Feb 16. The second event will be held in Chula Vista the next Friday, Feb 23. The theme of this anniversary is “We Are All Bridges / Somos Todos Puentes.” The events will start at 6 p.m. at the offices of L.A. Cetto in downtown Ti-juana (Ave. Cañón Johnson No. 2108 Col. Hidalgo) and at Caffe Tazza Coffeehouse in Chula Vista.
The Otay Mesa Nestor Branch Library (3003 Cor-onado Avenue) proudly presents the Ghana/West African dance troupe Ho-Asogli for African American History Month. This is an authentic combination of traditional musical practices of various groups of Ghana. This is a free presentation scheduled for Wednesday, Feb 21, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. For more info, call 619-424-0474 or visit online at www.sandiegolibrary.org .
The World Beat Center is presenting A Tribute to Bob Marley in Tijuana. The concerts will be held Friday, Feb 17, at the El Foro in the downtown area (8th & Revolución Ave), featuring Gregory Isaacs, Cultura Profética, Elijah Emanuel, Esencia and Cáñamo. Begins at 8:30 p.m. with a $15 ticket price and limited $30 VIP price. For more info, call 619-230-1190.
Find out how to confront racial injustice against migrant workers every Wednesday at 7 p.m. with activist group, The Friends of Day Laborers. Meetings are held at Activist Center (4246 Wightman Street). For info, call 619-528-8383.
Spoken word every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Chicana Perk Café (129 25th St), hosted by dub music/spoken word artist Ras Pablo Aztlán. For more info, call 619-746-2559.
A mover las caderas at the Mambo Lounge, Mission Valley Resort (875 Hotel Circle South). Every Thursday and Friday starting at 8 p.m. Cover $7, students $5 with ID. (858) 735-4159 or for more info. See you on the dance floor!
The monthly Chicano Park Steering Committee meeting is next Sunday, Feb 25, at 3 p.m. at the kiosko in Chicano Park, where Cesar Chavez Pkwy meets Logan Avenue. This 36 year old committee is a grassroots organization comprised of volunteers who work towards the development and expansion of Chicano Park and the Annual Chicano Park Day Celebration. If you’re down for this historic piece of nuestra tierra, come see how you can play a role in its survival. Meetings are every last Sunday of the month.
(Planning a noteworthy junta, event, or show that the San Diego Chicano/Chicana community should know about? Send it to La Prensa at raymond.beltran @covad.net. Deadlines are every Tuesday if you plan to host on the following Friday.)