Saturday, April 23, 2005

Word... by Cesar E. Chavez

my own...
If a boy will listen... and apply these words,
He will grow up to be a MAN!
A Man of Real Worth...
of Real Meaning, with True Convictions...with Real Pride in Life!
(yet some continue to remain boys all their life)
- R j

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I'll Miss You Mr. G.

Lalo Guererro

This man would make you bust up with his own crazy lyrics in song! I was just listening to one of his Christmas melodies and then theres "Tacos for Two". He had a colorful way of getting his words out. He passed away not to long ago and when i heard that i thought now heres a man who will be missed not only by me! Thanks for the laughs and for your humor Lalo.

Monday, April 18, 2005

You gotta have ART...

LABOE that is!

Back in 1955, when every radio station in L.A. was playing Frank Sinatra, Doris Day and Dean Martin, Art Laboe introduced racey music to Angelenos. Yes, Art was the first DJ on the West Coast to play rock & roll!

But it wouldn’t be Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis who would garner Art Laboe a legion of listeners (including every Cholo and his dedications). It was the "angels," as in "Earth Angel" by the Penguins and "Angel Baby" by Rosie and the Originals, the "oldies but goodies." Art Laboe is now celebrating his 45th anniversary of Oldies but Goodies with a concert featuring 11 artists, including the Penguins ("Memories of El Monte"), The Platters ("Only You"), Gene Chandler ("Duke of Earl"), Barbara Lynn ("You’ll Lose a Good Thing") and Big Jay McNeely.

Special appearance by comedian Paul Rodriguez before Sunday’s show. Where’s the Kodak Theater, you say? — across the street from Art Laboe’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

Friday, April 15, 2005

G - Dog... aka Father Greg Boyle

At first they thought the priest riding his bike through the night and chatting it up with the homeboys was crazy. They figured he'd go away, like most who tried to stop gang violence in the neighborhood.

But the Rev. Greg Boyle stayed. He visited the gang members in jail and vouched for them to judges. He dodged bullets to break up fights and once tried to wrestle a semiautomatic rifle from the hands of a gang leader. He helped thousands of young men remove tattoos, get jobs and restart their lives.

Since he arrived in Boyle Heights 20 years ago, the Jesuit priest has hosted dignitaries from Senegal to Australia, fended off numerous requests to franchise his programs and seen his life story twice optioned by Hollywood.

Now Father Boyle, 50, is branching out from the neglected East Los Angeles community to a downtown location that reflects his desire to bring together the region's diverse youth. He plans to build a bakery, cafe and office in a swath of parking lots and abandoned fields between two of the city's most visible ethnic landmarks, Chinatown and the historic Mexican Olvera plaza.

The new center will give Boyle a more prominent platform from which to spread his message that "nothing stops a bullet like a job."

"It becomes a symbol for the nation, for 'what if you invested here, in these folks who want to turn around their life?' " Boyle said. "This is true in every city in the nation."

The move comes as Boyle is rebounding from a year of setbacks.

His frenetic pace slowed after a diagnosis with leukemia, now in remission. Two of his employees were killed on the job — a first for Homeboy Industries, Boyle's job training program.

He refuses to dwell on the challenges.

Though his flannel shirts, Mexican belts, tall frame and trim white beard give the look of an affable lumberjack, his tough love and Spanglish street slang earned Boyle the moniker "G-Dog."

"The day won't ever come when . . . my life presents difficulties or obstacles the likes of which these folks haven't encountered," Boyle said as he glanced toward an office ramp that enables former gang members, victims of driveby shootings, to maneuver their wheelchairs.

Photos and artwork from the homeboys and a portrait of labor leader Cesar Chavez decorate his office. On his desk stands a statue of Jesus — Boyle's "ultimate Homeboy" — making a jumpshot.

Boyle grew up a world away on Los Angeles' affluent Westside and arrived in Boyle Heights, a struggling Mexican immigrant community, as a divinity student during the Olympic summer of 1984.

He began by working with the eight neighborhood gangs. Today, his group works with more than 360 gangs across Los Angeles County.

Homeboy Industries already owns about a quarter of the lot where it expects to expand next year, while probably retaining its current site.

Plans are to reopen the Homeboy Bakery, which burned down in 1999, as well as a Homegirl Cafe, part of its expanding economic redevelopment efforts and a reminder that the group serves young women as well.

The organization has raised roughly $4 million for construction of buildings, which would include a job counseling center and tattoo removal program, according to Mike Hennigan, president of Homeboy Industries' board of directors and an Archdiocese of Los Angeles attorney. It still needs an additional $6 million.

When the organization moves, Boyle will leave both success and sorrow.

He remembers how one of the two men gunned down this summer came into his office the morning before going out on a graffiti removal job. The young man, struggling to pull his life together, was having a good day.

"I'm proud of myself," Boyle recalls him saying.

Hours later, he was dead.

The crimes were not connected to Homeboy Industries, but Boyle suspended the graffiti project, whose trucks had been a defiant ad for peace in the neighborhood.

"It was the most difficult two-week period of my life," he said.

He weaves stories like this, and happier ones, into his sermons, mixing the sacred with the ordinary.

At a recent Sunday Mass at a county juvenile detention camp, Boyle moved seamlessly between the "grace of God" and a homily about enemy gang members bonding over a Viagra joke.

"I like how he speaks real," said 16-year-old Griffin, one of 60 teens who attended the Mass. Griffin, who is not Catholic, said he was drawn by Boyle's reputation.

Boyle Heights, a community named for its 19th century founder, gave the priest a rough time at first. Gang members stole his bike. Some used the money they earned working for him to buy drugs, recalled Angel Mudo, 35, a former homeboy and now a DJ on a hip-hop radio station.

But bit by bit, Boyle won them over.

"He wanted me to work, but I wouldn't at the time, because I was dealing and that was the best job," Mudo said. "He just stayed on me."

At the height of the gang wars in the 1980s, Boyle gathered rival gang members for peace walks.

Gabriela Ortiz, 30, said Boyle chewed her out when she tried to pick fights with girls from a local gang.

"He said things other priests just didn't say," laughed Ortiz, who now works for a city councilman.

Boyle still sees a steady stream of youths each day in his office and ministers to juvenile offenders each weekend.

"He'll never close the door on someone willing to start again," said Miguel Ramos, 22, a former gang member who served seven years for a carjacking before working for Homeboy Industries' silkscreening business.

Boyle still frequently "takes the temperature" of the office, cooling tempers between former rivals.

"Hey Hugo, let my workers work!" he bellowed at a recent visitor.

Boyle attributes his success in part to the police, who early on warned youths to stay away from him because they believed he was protecting gangbangers.

"Nothing could have helped me more in terms of my own street cred," he recalled.

Now that "street cred" gives Boyle clout with police.

"One of the things he is able to do so well is that he has attempted to maintain his neutrality," said Police Chief William Bratton.

Bratton said he is also impressed by Boyle's philosophy: "He appreciates that he's going to have more failures than successes, but each success is a life — more than one life — saved."

When asked about his work, Boyle likes to tell a Christmas tale. Last year, a homeboy estranged from his family invited former rival gang members over to cook a turkey. The group spent the evening huddled in the tiny apartment, watching the oven.

That, Boyle says, is the perfect example of "the sacred embedded in the ordinary."