CARMEN
Sep28

CARMEN

BY JACQUELINE GONZALEZ REYES The summer of 2009 I spent in Houston working with janitors as they fought to renew a union contract. That July 4th, local pastors held a press conference supporting the janitors. Several union janitors were asked to attend. That’s when I met Carmen Sanchez. I picked her up and drove her to the event. Carmen was our shortest member, in her sixties, direct, well groomed. She was from Chihuahua, Mexico. She...

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SONG FOR THE LIVING
Sep28

SONG FOR THE LIVING

BY DIEGO RENTERIA* As a teenager, I was part of a mariachi group with high school friends. We performed at birthday parties, masses, quinceañeras, and weddings around Southern California, each time becoming part of someone’s special occasion. We always hesitated about taking gigs after December 15th because members traveled with their families for the holidays. In 2006, however, almost all our members stayed in our town of South Gate...

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ONE OF A MILLION: A cockfighting story
Aug11

ONE OF A MILLION: A cockfighting story

By Armando Ibarra* In the early 1980s, I attended St. Anthony’s Catholic School in San Bernardino. My father, Eleuterio Ibarra, would drive me and my brother and sisters to school cause my mother, Maria, did not know how to drive. After school my father would be there to pick us up on the drive home. He would tell each one of us our chores at our ranch in the community of Muscoy. In them years at our ranch, we had two hundred...

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CARDBOARD BOX DREAMS: A Bracero’s Story
Jul23

CARDBOARD BOX DREAMS: A Bracero’s Story

By Celia Viramontes* The train screeched to a halt in Empalme, Sonora. Don Luis adjusted his wide-brimmed sombrero over his head and clutched his small bag tightly to his chest. It carried the barest essentials: one change of clothes, including a thin shirt and a pair of pants for the journey that lay ahead. He dipped his hand into a pocket and retrieved the identity documents he’d need to be contracted as a bracero. The men filed out...

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ONE DAY IN COMPTON
Jul22

ONE DAY IN COMPTON

By Johnathan Quevedo* I’m 28 and grew up in the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest — in different states. My mother suffers from severe bipolar disorder. I came out to Los Angeles to get away from her. You can Google her and understand perfectly why I left. She was a mess and made the news in every state we lived in. Somehow she wrote a book and it’s on Amazon now. She was a medical doctor for 34 years, originally from...

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AN ACT OF GOD IN BASEBALL
Jul01

AN ACT OF GOD IN BASEBALL

By Milovan Pompa* The game had no meaning. We were playing Santa Clara University. But we’d already lost two of a crucial three-game series to them. Had we won those games, we’d have gone to the playoffs by being co-champs in one-half of the season. We still had to play the third game, but we were done. I got the start that Friday against Santa Clara University and on the drive to our field I was thinking of something to tell the team...

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WANNA BURRITO? A prison tale
Jun10

WANNA BURRITO? A prison tale

By Richard Gatica* One day I went to my vent and called my buddy, Manny, who lived on the tier above me. “Hey Manny! Are you hungry?” I shouted. “What you got?” he yelled back. “I can make some bean and cheese burritos with Tapatio sauce and side of hot-cheese crunchies,” I told him. “Shoot it,” he replied. We stepped away from the air vent. My defense team put money on my trust account every week. I would buy food from the...

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HOW I KNOW
Mar14

HOW I KNOW

By Rachel Kimbrough* Just after I’d turned 18, Crazy Ma pulled another fun-filled fuck-with-your-kid stunt. I got home from work one night to find her sitting on the couch with this weird bemused look on her face. She instructed me to sit on the couch next to her, and then told me that she’d just woken up from a wet dream about me and her only to find a demon on top of her with its mouth over hers. She said she rebuked it in the name...

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BILLY JOE, WHERE ARE YOU?
Feb27

BILLY JOE, WHERE ARE YOU?

By David Chittenden* I want to tell you today about my friend BJ.  His name was really Billy Joe, but we called him BJ, or just Beegee.  Now BJ was a fat little boy, but this was at a time when it was OK to be fat, and it could be argued that if the Lord God had decided that you were to be fat, then who were you to argue with the decision of the Lord? Then there is the spinning Earth argument.  Here you are – a fat person on one side...

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BEAUTY AND THE LONELY FEAST
Feb27

BEAUTY AND THE LONELY FEAST

By Monah Li* The night before I leave New Delhi, I stare at the dress-samples hung up for my inspection. They suck. I force myself to smile. Those women, some not even 12 yet, have worked around the clock to bring life to my lackluster designs, all without a fan in India’s brutal heat. I don’t want to seem ungrateful! While I pack my suitcase at the Taj Mahal hotel, I order room service from their 5-star menu. The cart arrives with...

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