Requiem for a Homeboy

The silent passing of a camarada

By unknown writer

My music reflects a lifestyle of not so long ago

"True lowriding"

A time when vatos grew hair to comb, and knew how to comb it. When we didn't talk like wannabe black New Yorkers. We didn't want to be in anybody's face unless the message was personal. We had our own code of street honor, a suave sense of cool, and the ability to exchange chingasos was more respected than the ability of some young, tweaked-out cherry pulling a trigger from a moving vehicle.

We danced to our own music, and danced with style, we did. We had an enviable sense of street class, and an acceptance of inevitable hard times inherited upon our people.

Because we couldn't afford new cars, we fixed up and maintained old cars, in a manner and style that eventually spawned a culture that survives today, misunderstood as it is.

And we cruised in those fixed up old cars like proud warrior tribes on parade, much to the chagrin of others. We were the vanguard of generational rebellion to come, (“later to be credited to undeserving others”), and provided the standard from which all Chicanos were measured, either pro or con.

Everbody knew who the Pachucos, Cholos, Cruisers, and Lowriders were in the neighborhood. They were the stylish fighters and dancers others hoped to emulate, or avoided out of fear. There was always hopes and dreams of good and better times to come, with the Oldies keeping those hopes and dreams alive through musical mentoring and inspiration, if not examples of talent to be followed.

Getting out of the n'hood was a goal, with survival and the lessons learned from the 'hood making some of us stronger, wiser and more competitive in the real world if we were lucky enough to escape the curses of crime, alcohol, drugs and the revolving door of incarceration.

Not forgetting where you came from became a badge of honor, if only recognized by a certain few. Veteranos served as the "village elders" of sorts, when respect mattered amongst homies, and lessons were passed down from generation to generation in a tribal manner. These Veteranos seemed to annoy their same aged peers with contempt for their unwillingness to "grow up", give up the lifestyle, and denounce the 'hood.

Where these Veteranos ultimately ended up is anybody's guess. The lessons taught, however, benefitted many. Sadly, there is no commercial or historical value in the lifestyle, hence, there ar e few monuments outside of the 'hood to their commemorate valuable contributions to young men's lives, even if only in street terms which many will never understand.

Let this story be but one of many I hope to see, as I am one of those few that benefitted from a Veterano's existence.

My homeboy Mongo recently passed.

Nobody really important or significant. Just a homie from the 'hood whom I remember growing up with during the Civil Rights, Chicano Movimiento and Viet Nam War era of the 60s and 70s. A chingon and ass whupper in his own right, Mongo taught me and some others some valuable street lessons.

I first came into contact with him when he was 15, showing the "benefits" of good nutrition and weight lifting after a brief stint in Juvenile Probation Camp, which put him on an equal footing with more affluent white guys on the football team who had bullied him earlier in life.

I saw Mongo knock the shit out of seven kids and of the local white junior-varsity jock quarterback, who had a habit of bullying and calling young Chicano kids "beaners", "taco benders" and "spics", before using his athletic abilities to beat up younger kids. When the white guy's father came to his defense, Mongo promptly kicked the shit out of him too, forcing a reluctant apology from both of them.

As a 12-year-old kid, I learned that good nutrition and athletic training would belie my previous belief that white guys were superior and better ass whuppers. As I grew older, I followed my older brothers and friends and joined the local gang BASSETT GRANDE in its defense during the "surfer and biker wars" of the San Gabriel Valley in the 1960's, when it was still heavily Caucasian and discriminatory towards Latinos and Blacks.

Police brutality and racial prejudice were alive and well back in those days, and being a gang member was the only defense from the melancholy resulting from the involuntary disenfranchisement from society . I was involved in many "rumbles" on the streets with Mongo and other homies, and together we developed a reputation for brutality and never backing down.
***Mongo and the older guys also dealt out deserved ass whuppings when some young homie was learning how to get high (and inevitably acted foolish), disrespected somebody's family, or brought shame to the gang through cowardly behavior.***

On at least three occasions, I remember boxing our way out of dangerous situations in rival gang territory while being outnumbered by three to one, Mongo leading the charge. Being a close friend of my older brothers, Mongo protectively kept me from trying heroin at a young age. Mongo showed us the value of keeping yourself in fighting shape while maintaining a clean lowrider and a good "rep" en las calles by marrying the prettiest girl in the 'hood.

When I left for Viet Nam, Mongo got drunk and cried at how proud of me he was. When I got back, he repeated this in a manner only tight brothers and close homies can relate to.
Being a master mechanic, everybody went to Mongo when their car broke down and they were short of cash. He was the kind of dude that "hooked you up." He was a crack up and could make fun of anything, making you laugh till you almost peed your pants.

All this would lead you to believe that Mongo should be on top of the world today. Sadly, that is not the case. As much as I respected him, I also am angry at him in a brotherly way. The curse of the streets eventually ate Mongo up, as he would succumb to heroin and alcohol abuse for over 30 years.

Every time I saw him, I would voice my discontent at his condition. He would usually say, "I know homes, I'm gonna get my shit together someday, swear to God, ese". This dope fiend attitude would eventually alienate his wife, kids and most of the homies who all grew to resent him and lose respect for him. Sad way for a chingon to end up, huh?

Two weeks ago, Mongo was found dead in a motel room in the 'hood. He had been dead for almost a week, and nobody had missed him. At his funeral, only my older brother and three of the homies showed up. Even his wife and kids were late for the service, which only drew about 20 people.

I was in the hospital at the time, and only learned about Mongo's demise when my brother came to visit me. We shared a brief moment of pain for our lost camarada, but we both agreed he's in a better place now. We're both angry at him in our grief and loss, but we cannot deny we will miss him.

Orale, Mongo. I'll be playing some of your favorite Oldies this week, homes.
Thanks for the memories, ese.


Sentenza said...

That is a hurtful story right there amigo.
Ill save a prayer for your homeboy.
Loosing a loved one is actually the kind of situation i hate the most in life.
I have been through this situation a few times in my life and it will be the last thing i can ever get used to.
Remembering my best friend who passed away 7 years ago still fills my heart with grieve.

Since the first moment we got to know each other we were a team that could not be separated. We were actually a team of 4 homeboys that went through the fire with each other, even though we were really young at that time.
He was that kind of homie who you could always trust, and he always had a joke on his lips to really cheer you up if you were feeling down.
In retrospect i think he was the most good hearted guy that i have ever met.
If he would have been an actor in a movie he would have been the good guy to the fullest, in a good sense.
He never hesitated to be generous and to be honest hearted with you.
We were 4 homeboys who couldnt be stopped. We did lots of crazy shit young as we were in school and in the evenings. but nothing could separate or stop us.
And we had loots of fun.
Also, i remember, that he always attracted bad luck all the time in his way too short life.
He often was prosecuted by the police for things he had not done, because there was a guy in town with the same name who committed burglaries and stole cars.
If there was dog shit on the streets he was the one that stepped into it.
He had bad luck in almost every aspect of his life. Everybody seemed to pick on him when someone guilty was looked for.
I remember his mother, who was raising him by herself going crazy after he passed. She travelled through the country claiming that she was searching for him.
She didnt even attend his funeral, cause she was mentally "gone" and we had to carry his smaller brother, cause his soul was broken.

The last time in his life when he had bad luck was when he crashed frontal into a Truck on the Highway.
At this time his cousin was with him in the car and i could tell -because i knew him- that he grew 10 years older in one week after that happened.
Now, unfortunately i do not have contact to his family anymore, cause they moved away.

The only reason everything after his death went so crazy was, because he was so deeply loved. Loved by his family and by his friends.
Ill always remember his contagious laughter, his honest-heartedness and his good-natured way of dealing with people.
I will keep that as an example in my mind for all time.
And i promise ill visit you again soon.
Rest in peace "Anthony" aka "Ente".
My best friend.

non descript friend said...

hey carnal,
i feel what you are sayin. my compadre passed last week. he had similar traits as your homie. veterano, old school,strong, spoke his mind, scared of nothin, funny as all get out, sharp, extremely intelligent (due to solitary reading-he read everything), wise(dude was right 99%), with a huge heart. his downfall might have been his weaknesses, women, partying, not taking care of his health etc. he always told me, "im real good at givin advice, just aint no good at following it".as he lay in the hospital bed he told me"aint no way to go". its hard to quit thinking about him. i always find myself thinking, "what would compa do?" then i think, "not what would he do but, what would he SAY to do"
i miss him, an wish he werent gone,
but im a better man, for knowing him
In loving memory of,
Frank J. Forgione
Mucho Respecto,