12/26/08

WHERE YOU FROM, ESE?

Reflections on a Sunday afternoon

By Jesse Perez



I kind of zoned out during one of the NFL games this past weekend.

One of the beer commercials took me back to my childhood days when I lived by the old EastSide Brewery in Lincoln Heights. Back then there were houses between the brewery and the L.A. River That separated our Varrio East Side Clover, from Dog Town on the other side.

Back then, those names didn’t have a lot of meaning because if someone were to ask me where I was from, I would give them the name of my street.

As long as I can remember people I’ve encountered always ask the age old question: “Where you from, ese?”

By the time I got to Jr. High, it started to get serious. Now unless you were jumped into the gang you really couldn’t say you were from anywhere. But if asked, you could still say you lived in Clover, Dog Town, Alpine or wherever, and then be prepared to fight or run for your life.


You could claim the neighborhood; you just better be able to hold your own. In the mid-tumult-ous 60’s, styles changed drastically. A lot of kids traded in their khakis and Pendletons for plaid shirts and slacks. Within the barrios, social clubs and car clubs sprang up everywhere. Guys were sporting their club jackets and car plaques to identify where they were from.

By this time, we were a lot older and more sophisticated and if someone tried to hit you up, most people just claimed their hometown: Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, El Monte, etc. Hopefully you didn’t get jumped or shot or have to go one-on-one with some crazy dude who was trying to make himself a neighborhood name.

What could you do?

Say I’m from nowhere? A nowhere man is a nobody, too sad. Well, the time clock is ticking and you’re out of school, married, working “whatever“ and some fool asks you, where from, A?

You’re the man and you don’t have time for geography lessons, so you just say East Los y qué!

Still alive?

Other guys find themselves in boot camp and everybody wants to know where everybody’s from. Guys are yelling Michigan, Califas, Tejas, New York, etc. Damn, as kid I started out on a street and here I am today claiming the whole damm state. Well you know it was coming.

I’m overseas in uniform and some local yokel asks me where I’m from. What do I do? I puff out my chest and say U.S.A.!!

Damm I’m bad to the bone and how my barrio has grown.

I didn’t create this mentality although I did help to perpetuate it. But as life would have it you go from that young kid full of spit and vinegar to, if you’re lucky, becoming a wise old grey-headed grandpa.

I walk around in my short pants with my white socks up to my knees and my baggy Raiders t-shirt and dark shades. But does anybody ask? Does anybody care where all us old guys are from?

I suppose if I hung out on the corner with all the young homies and tecatos somebody would probably hit me up. But you know I’ve gone full circle. Go ahead and ask. I’ll smile, shake my head and sigh and say, “I ain’t from anywhere.”

I don’t know when it happened, it just did. All those things that used to be important mean diddly shit these days.

Hells bells one thing hasn’t changed. I’m still in a musical time warp. After all these years I’m still listening to those oldies and talking about those parties, dance and shows at the El Monte Legion Stadium, Old Dixie, Roger Young, H.P. and Montebello Ballroom, American Legion, Kennedy, St. Alphonsous, Lincoln Park and Union Halls.

It seems like it was only yesterday.

Wow was that a flashback or what?

Simon, I was just sitting there drinking a beer listening to some oldies and watching the game with my ace tight boom boom partner, my grandson. He’s just like me. Everytime I talk he just smiles, sighs and shakes his head and wants to know where I get all this stuff from.

But that’s another story.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

im from that big SANGRA GANG...ELS ESE MOSKA

Anonymous said...

im from OTSD13 OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO LOCOS!OTSD13 OTSD13 OTSD13

Anonymous said...

im from OTSD13 OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO LOCOS!OTSD13 OTSD13 OTSD13

Anonymous said...

BIG BAD ASS DOGX3TOWN 13

801 SUR LAKE CHAPTER

FUCK THA HATIXG BITCHES FUCK A BUSTER, THE PERROS BARKIX TILL WE GO 2 HEAVEN, SUR SIDE!!!

LOKES, SAPI, THUMPER, CHIVO, CYCLOXE, MALO, CHAXGO, SPAXKY, FLACO, SPIDER, BOXER, GORDO, TITO, RISKY, GIAXT, CASPER, LIL CASPER, BAXDIT, SLEEPY, SMILEY

DOGX3TOWN SUR LAKE POR VIDA FUCK AX EXEMIGRA

Anonymous said...

Very cool post ... it is ok if you don't really know exactly "where you are from" ... it is most important that you know who you are and remember where you have been. And ... just be happy that you don't have to say "I'm from Paddy Land, you know .. across Chapman." Embarrassing. Sounds like you know where you are from ... me, I am finding my way.

Best to you,

"1/2 Paddy"

eSe Trippy said...

WSSL X3! WESTSIDE SILVERLAKE 213....FUCK THE REST! WESUP FUCK A BITCH, BUT MOST OF ALL, FUCK A BUSTER! 187 ON ANY 1 WHO WANSTA TEST! SUR SIDE TRECE

Anonymous said...

BIG
VARRIO
LINCOLN
HEIGHTS
GANG

KEEPING
IT
TRUE
BLUE
PURO SUR X3

Anonymous said...

Damn,that was some serious stuff!.I was reading it and in my mind's eye it took me back to L.A. and ESD/Spring Valley,and Chiques (lived in all those places)back In The Day ('60s,'70s).I'm in my 50s now,but "De Donde Eres?" was always the question you knew was coming and you took a chance answering it,either step up or step down.This is a GREAT SITE!.