Posts Tagged With: arizona

My Fightin’ Cardinal Classmates from Glendale High School!

Recently, I met with two former classmates from high school for an evening of dinner since one from out of state would be in the area to visit. I had invited one individual, one who I had ran into the comic shop, but I felt it was going to be a real odd situation since we hadn’t seen each other in years. Truthfully, it was refreshing. I didn’t make much friends in high school, but they were good, no I take that back, they were great friends at the time, and now with Facebook, I’ve talked with some, and some I never talked too again, attitudes have changed. Back then, we were all trying to figure things out in high school. We were not kids, and we were not adults at the time. We did not know if we were old or young. We all made mistakes, lots of them, at least I did. I went to Glendale High School in Glendale Arizona. Glendale high is the longest active high school in Arizona, and the Cardinals is the mascot.

I have about 15 friends on Facebook from high school that I have chosen to connect with on Facebook, and though we probably didn’t talk much then, it is good to know they are open now. So anyways, what are my memories of these people? Hopefully I won’t embarrass any of them.

Adolph B: I can’t remember where I bumped in to Adolph several years ago, but we just started talking about Comic Books and since I often spend time at a place known as Drawn To Comics in Glendale, I told him to stop by. We see each other often and talk. He has a daughter now, but what do I remember about Adolph in high school? I think when I met him in high school I asked him if he had any relation to a Henry who I had caused mischief with the previous summer. Anyways, I know he played on the Football team, and he was better his Jr. year than his Sr. year.

Andi S: Oh I had a lot of fun talking with her in high school. It wasn’t till our Sophomore year, maybe Junior year in which we shared a class together. It was English class with Mr. Leo Sears. (He now runs a FILM Festival in Hawaii) Her and I talked baseball a lot. She loved the Atlanta Braves, I was a Florida Marlins-Seattle Mariners fan. Florida beat Atlanta that year for the NLCS and won the World Series, and she would be like “FLORIDA bought their RING!” I agreed, they did, but they had one. I remember one time just arguing with her, and I challenged her and I was like “” She replied “What are you gonna do?,” I was like,Don’t worry what I am gonna do, but when I do it, you will know..That memory still has me laughing in my head. She lived about two blocks from my home so I’d see her in my hood from time to time. Anyways, she still keeps her ties to the area even though she is always competes in the World Series of Poker Tournaments.

Fernando S: Wow, Fernando, man, I was a freshman, he was a sophomore, we had Intro-tech class together. I watched him do a radio cassette tape and I was super impressed because he was good at it. He also introduced me to “Lighter Shade of Brown” I ran in to Fernando again in college and often got together from time to time.

Jazmin V: My mom worked for the school district, and my mom knew Jazmin, and Jazmin knew me and who my mom was. She talked in Spanish, which at the time was not my strong point, pero when I was around her, also in a class with Leo Sears, I think Communications, and she’d say some bad words in Spanish I laughed because no one understood her but I did, so I’d chuckle.

Jennifer K: Another one I met in Leo Sears class. Communications class I think, maybe English. Wow. We also had a summer school class together, and since we were the only ones from the same high school in that class we’d chat, but yeah, the jokes we’d crack in Leo Sears.

Josh A: So he had a knack for getting on my nerves by calling me “Gilbert Grape” when I had no idea what or who “Gilbert Grape” was. Later I found out it was a movie, but I have yet to see it to this day. He was in two of my classes my freshman year, P.E. and Intro-tech (Fernando was also in that class) His current Facebook posts often make me laugh often making odd requests, but I’m happy to hear he likes Gambit (my favorite X-men character) as much or even more then I do.

Manuel A.: We had a P.E. Class together and we didn’t talk much. Several years ago, he hit me up on facebook and every once in a while I run in to him or we chat about what’s going on in life. He’s very stand up and very direct, if he has something on his mind he’ll tell you.

Marie V: She had the same last name as I, so I would always call her “Prima” which means “Cousin” ! I really have no idea if we are related or not, maybe we are we just don’t know, but she’d sit in back of me in English class. I knew she liked boxing. I still call her Prima to this day! 

Michael B: Oh man, I met him my freshman year, and I called him “Screech” He hated it. I always said he looked like “Screech Powers” from Saved by The Bell. Let me tell you something, if I give someone a nickname, I figure they are pretty cool, because it took me a bit to think of something to remind me of them, so I won’t forget them, but yeah, Michael, sorry for making your life hard by calling you “Screech” 🙂 He also hooked me up with “Doom” on my computer !

Morgan S.: I’ve known Morgan since I was in 1st grade, as he was in my class, even though he was in 2nd grade. See, that class was for super smart accelerated kids and they combined a class together. Eventually we found out that we were both LDS. We went all through grade school together, even if we were not in the same grade or class and I knew his Mom. I run in to his mom from time to time and it is good to talk with her.

Ray S.: I met Ray my freshman year. We would eat lunch together and he was a wrestler. I’d go crazy watching him eat. In truth, I’d go crazy actually watching him, not eat. He was trying to always maintain a certain weight for wrestling. He later went in to the Marines, came back and started fighting MMA. What I tripped out was when he fought UFC Fighter Nick Diaz on a two week notice. Yes, Nick Diaz won, but Ray took it to him. I know his brother Steve (who I met my sophomore year) later started fighting and made it to the UFC briefly. I thought I briefly saw Ray one day at Circle K but I really could not tell if it was him or not, but I know he keeps much of his life private with his family.

Ricardo V: There was a band, more like a group of “Hispanic-Latino-Raza” kids always hanging out and having a good time causing mischief. I hung out with most of them my sophomore year of high school. Ricardo was among the group. I ran in to him in college and we hung out there as well. He’s a big soccer fan.

Sam B.: Wow. I met Sam my Sr. year of high school in automotives class. This class was filled with knuckleheads, or at least we all acted like knuckleheads. The teacher was Randy Espinoza. He would let his students be late to class without marking you tardy if you brought him a “coke” Anyways, Sam, He is Native and he sat next to me. One day I said, I’m not going to say a word to anyone and just flap my arms like I am flying and breathing fire. So in Autos, I started flapping my arms like I was flying, and he was like, “Stop it, this isn’t Angels in the outfield, stop flapping your arms” Needless to say I continued. Oh Sam. Anyways I later learned he was LDS and served a two year mission. I came to know his mother and father. I always loved talking with his parents; his mother would often encourage me to keep up with being involved in local politics as I grew a disinterest in them for a while. She would be like, “we need more brown people in office.”

Tracy S. I know she was in some of my classes as a freshman, but she was always hyper! Not much has changed. She always sat on the opposite side of me in class, and I’m not sure if she was looking at me or something else but I made a funny face towards her and she did one back. Lol. So anyways, we became holmies. Some of the things she says have me rolling, like calling some people in traffic “Butterbags” or “Hippos” for not moving in traffic when they can. She lives in Washington State now. Oh, she loves watching UFC also. She gave me a UFC Shirt from Seattle about a year ago, when I was planning on going to a fight and not being able to make it! Oh, She is A MF’ing SORCEROR!

So those are friends on Facebook from High School and the memories I have about them. I hope when they read what I wrote about them they aren’t mad or embarrassed, but I hope they appreciate that even if it was just for a moment, someone not so close to them had a thought, had a memory about them..

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Being a 12 in “Cardinal Country”

So many people often ask me how can I be a Seahawks fan, also known as 12s or 12th man and also live in Arizona. They ask how come I am not an Arizona Cardinals Fan, whose fans are known as “The Bird Gang.”

Seahawks, Seattle, Retro, Vintage, Frisbee

Mom and Dad gave me a frisbee similar to this on Christmas as a child, except mine had the words “Seattle” above, and “Seahawks” on the bottom.

To get that answer, one must rewind back in time. One of my earliest recollections of the Christmas holiday was when I was about a little kid about 6 or 7. That year I had so desperately wanted a Gobots or Voltron toy for Christmas. I wanted to be coolest kid on the block by having one of those. Instead, I was given a white pearly Frisbee with a silver Seattle Seahawks logo in the center of it.   The logo was a bird made of blue and green. The Frisbee wasn’t a cool Voltron robot that I so badly wanted, maybe my parents couldn’t give me much at the time, but it was probably at that time  that I became a Seahawks fan. I was a semi-fan of the Miami Dolphins, probably because my own father was a fan of Dan Marino and I always wanted to make Papa proud! As I went on to grade school, my school classmates, well they were Cowboys, Raiders, and 49ers fans. Phoenix did not have a team yet.  So I rooted semi for both the Hawks and Dolphins.

So my memories at the Seahawks at that time? I had plenty! Kenny Easley was the 1st player I remember from the Seahawks. He was a safety and was #45. Oh does Brian Bosworth name ring a bell? He signed a 10-year $11 million rookie contract. I clearly remember that. Anyways, some guy named Bo Jackson on Monday Night Football embarrassed him on a 90+ yard touchdown run, as Bo ran in to the locker room tunnel. I didn’t mind because Bo Jackson also played Major League Baseball and he embarrassed everyone in both sports, but I especially Bosworth, because “The Boz” as he was known, kept saying how much he was going to contain Bo Jackson. Oh, the fans nicknamed them the Seattle Sea-scabs because of a player strike shorten season.

Other players bring me memories who bring some memories back were Cortez Kennedy, Rick Mierer, David Krieg, Joey Gallowway,  I remember the Seahawks drafting Mark McGuire’s tall 6 foot 8 inch tall brother, Dan McGuire. My friends and I still get a chuckle every so often when we mention that him.

The 1992 team? Oh, that was brutal. Only 2 wins! They played a Monday Night Football game that year in Seattle and won in overtime. 14 losses that year! Oh yeah, the Seahawks beat the Phoenix Cardinals that year in Tempe as well. The Seahawks wouldn’t be back on Monday Night Football till 1999, and Monday Night Football would not return to Seattle till 10 years later in 2002. Tough times because everyone at school tuned in to Monday Night Football no matter who your team was, but sometimes I felt alone knowing my team was not being shown on tv. When the Seahawks won their first Super Bowl I thought a lot about that 1992 team. I remember being taunted and made fun of at school. In school, people still liked all those other teams, the 49ers, the Raiders, The Cowboys. If you didn’t have a starter jacket with one of those teams, you weren’t cool.

This was the typical fan base every week at Tempe Sun Devil Stadium when they were the Phoenix Cardinals.. It has taken time for Arizona to grow its fan base, maybe because "many" fans weren't even born in the late 80s. Regardless, I stay true to the Seahawks.

This was the typical fan base every week at Tempe Sun Devil Stadium when they were the Phoenix Cardinals.. It has taken time for Arizona to grow its fan base, maybe because “many” fans weren’t even born in the late 80s. Regardless, I stay true to the Seahawks.

Somewhere in those years, Phoenix got a team going through an identity crisis.They were named the Phoenix Cardinals, played in the NFC East, and played in Tempe Arizona. I remember going to one game in a half empty stadium. I only went to that game because an AFC team was playing an NFC. My dad wanted to see Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins. I stopped watching professional football around then, I had fallen in love with baseball. Actually baseball had always been my first love, but I still remembered my Seahawks from Seattle from time to time and watched them play whenever they came out on TV. Later the Phoenix Cardinals would become the Arizona Cardinals and move to Glendale. I told you they went through and identity crisis. Glendale already had a Cardinals team though, The Glendale High School Cardinals, the high school I went too.

I remember several days after my 18th birthday, in December 1998, watching on tv a fake TD by Vinny Testaverde and getting robbed of a playoff spot by The Jets. This brought back the instant replay because of this incident. Oh, can’t forget the logo being updated in 2002, then to be updated again 10 years later.

I had a lot of fun ragging on my brother in law team, the Cowboys, when Tomy Romo botched that extra point snap giving us the win in the playoffs in 2006

I remember losing Super Bowl XL against the Steelers, and the Refs. In fact, NFL has named that calls of that game being #8 of the Top 10 controversial calls ever, by refs.  Four years later, the referee Bill Leavy admitted and apologized to Seattle for messing up several calls during that game. Thanks Leavy, it was only the biggest game yet to Seattle. I think the biggest controversial call though was in 2012 when replacement refs were being used, Seattle was playing Green Bay in Seattle and Russell Wilson threw what many now refer to as called a “Fail Mary” ! Both Green Bay’s Jennings and Golden Tate from the Seahawks caught the ball in the air, was it a touchdown or interception? The call went towards Seattle and the refs rushed out of the stadium. Ha, the refs owed The Seahawks one and it seems to give them that one. I think though, had the game been in Green Bay the call would have gone the other way. No way were the refs getting out of Seattle alive if they didn’t side with The Seahawks on that call.

Later that year, The Seahawks played the Cardinals in what was supposed to be a bird fight. The Seahawks won 58-0 which was the biggest margin of victory in Seahawks franchise history, and it was also the biggest margin of defeat in Cardinals franchise history. Guess what? I was there in person, as the game was played in Seattle. It was the 3rd largest margin victory in the modern NFL.

The Seahawks beat the Cardinals 58-0 which was the biggest margin of victory in Seahawks franchise history, and it was also the biggest margin of defeat in Cardinals franchise history. I was there.

The Seahawks beat the Cardinals 58-0 which was the biggest margin of victory in Seahawks franchise history, and it was also the biggest margin of defeat in Cardinals franchise history. I was there at that game in Seattle.

Many fans have joined the Arizona Bandwagon or converted to the #BirdGang since this photo was taken in 1989. Regardless, I stay true to the Seahawks. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Many fans have joined the Arizona Bandwagon or converted to the #BirdGang since this photo was taken in 1989. Regardless, I stay true to the Seahawks.
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

People now a days call me a Seattle bandwagon fan, many not knowing I have a long time relationship with the Seahawks team as I consider myself 12th man. There fans who keep it classy with me, like my cousin Hector Sandoval who is a season ticket holder for the Cardinals since the 1980s who always wishes me and my team well, he knows how long I’ve been a fan. Occasionally, when I’m in Seattle, I’ll wear a red Cardinals hoodie, but the Arizona Cardinals are not my team. I did go to Glendale High School in the city of Glendale Arizona, home of the Glendale Cardinals. I do recall a lot of Cowboys, Raiders, and 49ers fans jump up on that Arizona bandwagon in the 2000s. I don’t hate you or your team, maybe you weren’t old enough to decide for yourself what team to root for, and just because they are not my team don’t mean I won’t cheer for them. In 2008 I rooted for the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl against the Steelers. Yet, becoming an Arizona Cardinals fan now would make me a bandwagon fan.

The Seahawks winning the Super Bowl in 2014 was the pinnacle point for the football team I cheer for. Today, the Seahawks return to the Super Bowl, in my hometown of Glendale Arizona, after hosting an extremely exciting comeback win in overtime against the Green Bay Packers. My friends know how much I hate having facial hair, but I  haven’t shaved since the Seahawks last lost over 9 weeks ago. People say the Seahawks fans are obnoxious, when it comes to our team, and people fail to realize that it’s been years full of pent up frustrations, many of us have been behind a team who has had a bunch of downs and now that we are winning we are all making noise in many ways. We can’t get loud when our team is not performing, but it is beautiful to know the pieces have been coming together as of late. I’ve been a Seahawks fan for a long time, there have been many sad seasons for me, lots of downs and very few ups. I am also critical of my Seahawks, if they lose, no excuses, they just didn’t perform or execute. As they always say “Any given Sunday!”

To think that a Christmas gift when I received that Seahawks Frisbee would start a chain reaction of memories that I still have with me today. Thank you Mom and Dad.

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The MAN known as “Johnny 2 Guns Salcido”

In the spring 2006 I bought myself a digital SLR Nikon camera.  I was in my mid-20s and I had recently discovered the Phoenix nightlife scene. So trying to work at my craft of making photography, meeting people and having a good time, I often went to a venue known as “Coach & Willies” and hung out with The Ritmo Latino Entertainment crew. Individuals from the group always went out of their way to give me a phone call to invite me to their events. It was at one of these events that I met Johnny “2 Guns” Salcido.

 He had a neatly trimmed beard, wearing dark slacks, a brown striped shirt, with a dark brown Boston Red Sox hat a big “B” on it. My camera called attention everywhere I went, and I had caught his eye, and he recognized me and called to me, asking, “You are Cruzzer right? The political activist?”

I said “Yes,” as he turned to his entourage of friends around him and said “Yo, Everyone, my man right here is going to be Governor one day.”

Frankly I was surprised. Very few people in the nightlife scene knew I was politically active, and I really didn’t want to mix what was known about me in the scenes I fraternized with.

This is the night I met Johnny '2 Guns' Salcido. He is on the right with the cap. Next to him is AL3 (center) and A. Bomb on the far left. The Boondocks consisted of him and A. Bomb.

This is the night I met Johnny ‘2 Guns’ Salcido. He is on the right with the cap.
Next to him is AL3 (center) and A. Bomb on the far left. The Boondocks consisted of Salcido and A. Bomb.

As I tried to make sense of what the “B” on his cap stood for, I quickly came to learn that Johnny 2 Guns, also referred to as J2Guns, was part of a local hip hop rap group known as The Boondocks, and he was going to perform that night at Coach and Willies. J2Guns, was also celebrating his birthday that night.

“This is how it’s going to work, I’m going to give you $50 tonight, you take pictures of my friends and I, and next time I’ll give you more, just make sure you have a good time as well.”

I was in complete shock. Here was a man who was willing to give me some money to do what I loved to do, and have a good time.

So I started snapping photos of him and his entourage of friends. He pulled me aside for a brief moment that night and said to me, “Gabe, keep doing what you are doing, keep your head straight and one day you are going to be Governor Cruz,”

I laughed, but the thing I was not telling anyone, yet, was I had already made plans to run for a position on my “City Council” that summer. Johnny had read me well.

I took many photos of him and his friends that night, and we struck a friendship. He often invited me to his house as he would sit on the couch watching “The Young and The Restless” like a hawk. “This is my show, this is the soap opera I never miss,” he said to me. His phone would buzz or ring but he didn’t answer it, glued to the TV he was. Only after the show was over, would he take the time to reply or answer to everyone.

2 Guns would often hire me to make photography of his family parties or events he was involved in promoting. I told him I was willing to photograph his events for free, since I deemed the work I was doing only as practice, but he was insistent on paying me. He paid me very well, for my knowledge or lack thereof in the skills I was trying to acquire.

One day when I visited him at his home, he gave me an invitation to a Quinceñera he was going to have for his mother. It caught me as strange, but he told me that it was something his mother wanted but never had, so he was going to have one for her. This is to me defined the essence of the heart and person Johnny Salcido was.

In the summer of 2009 I was with friends from out of town who I didn’t quite know well at the time. We were in Scottsdale Arizona walking through old town when we decided to go to Saddle Ranch. I had no idea Johnny was going to be there, nor did I have any idea I would end up at Saddle Ranch with these individuals, but running in to Johnny, he put them all at ease saying, “Trust him, he’s going places..” I didn’t know about this until later in the night someone from the group said this to me.

Johnny 2 Guns Salcido with Samantha Black. This photo was taken in the summer of 2009 when I ran in to him at Saddle Ranch Scottsdale.

Johnny 2 Guns Salcido with Samantha Black. This photo was taken in the summer of 2009 when I ran in to him at Saddle Ranch Scottsdale.

I always looked forward to reading his Facebook Posts. I had my phone set up so when he posted, it would go straight to my phone. One of my favorite posts that I saved was when he talked about how empty The Cardinals Stadium looked. “I seen a lot of empty seats at the [Arizona] Cardinals game today. This was a perfect time to stick some unprivileged kids in those seats. The kids are your future fan base. And you NEED to expand. Cardinals organization.” That was one of my favorite posts of his that he did in September 2012. How can the world not love an individual who had constant posts of positive insight? He was very business minded. He would crack jokes about having an alter-ego who was a luchador wrestler named “El Senor Dos Pistolas” and telling me he was a big fan of the luchador “Porkey” He even co-promoted an event in Arizona that brought an array of wrestlers from not only around the country, but Mexico as well.

In October of 2012, he told he was going to have surgery. He also told me other news which caused me to be somewhat sad, but he was so positive and said he would beat it with no problem. He had a courage to confront cancer that words can’t describe. One text he sent me said “If you are having to battle something in life. Do it with VIGOR!” It was truly inspiring to know that he was not going throwing in the towel easily.

From there on, I specifically remembered Salcido in my prayers everytime. I’d shoot him a text often to let him know that he was in my thoughts, and he’d always respond with humor, trying to make me laugh in some way.

On the morning of March 1, 2013, I awoke from a text from a friend who was a fan of The Boondocks music, saying Johnny had passed away. The cancer had beat him. Not much else to say, but he fully welcomed me from the moment I met him. He was a true gentleman. The memories and opportunities he gave me though, gives me extreme comfort that he took the time to make me feel important. I know many people will, and continue to miss him, and yet I feel honored and blessed to know that he shared with me a piece of his journey in life with me.

Thank you Johnny 2 Guns Salcido.

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Wing Hing, Great Food at a Great Price

Since 2006, I have been walking through the doors of 7420 West Cactus Road in Peoria Arizona.

It sits on the corner of a strip mall plaza next to a Church’s Chicken, but you will really have to be looking for it in order to find it. Even looking at the exterior, you might be fooled of what is waiting inside. For those who stroll in for the first time, the theme music of “Twilight Zone” is going off in your head wondering what you are doing here. You may notice that the interior is old, and does not look like much, in fact, you get the “hole in the wall” feel, yet the inside of this place is amazingly clean.

This Place is not much to look at, but then again, that’s not why I am here, I am here to eat and stuff my face full of Chinese food. This is a restaurant I love to call a “gem” because many people are unaware of it, never do I have to fight for a parking space, which often leaves me confused.

As I walk in, I am greeted by Tam, an older Asian woman, “Hi… Long time no see…”

Tam, the gracious host of Wing Hing Restaurant in Peoria Arizona

Tam, the gracious host of Wing Hing Restaurant in Peoria Arizona

I was just here two month ago, but I’m such a regular here, there was a period of over six months that I’d often visit and stop in once a week to eat here.

“Hello Tam” I reply. I sit down, and right away she places a small cold glass of water on the table.

“Would you like something to drink?” she asks. Not mocking her, but I can hear her voice in my head and say what she said exactly in the accent and tone in which she says it. She’s the sweetest and very upmost polite host I know in the restaurant business.

After choosing my drink, she asks if I’m getting the same thing as always, which happens to be Shrimp Lo Mein, but not this time. I am definitely not a Chinese food professional but this is legit food. I have been trying different items on their menu as of late. My favorite selections though tend to be Shrimp Lo Mein, Sun Devil Chicken, Orange Chicken, Cashew Chicken.

If it is your first time here, I recommend you start off by ordering some crab puffs. Those things are sensational.

Choose your dish, but choose wisely, you will later learn why.

After making your choice, Tam starts you off with the Egg Flower/drop soup with a side of hot Chinese mustard, sweet and sour, and a plate full of wontons. If you are sick in bed at home, call a friend and have them pick you some takeout of this. The soup here at Wing Hing is always fresh. I have been to other Chinese restaurants and those are yellowish color compared to the stuff served here.

When Vanessa Miranda and I ate here, before she passed away, she always commented on how much she loved the soup. We’d be sitting in another restaurant or on the couch watching TV in her apartment and she’d make a comment about Wing Hings Egg Flower soup. My father and younger brother Max are also huge fans. My dad always says, “If you go to Wing Hings, bring me some soup.”

As I am I finishing my soup, Tam is bringing out my food, steaming hot. My table is soon filled with dishes, each full of large portions of wonderful food of whatever I just ordered. I feel like I think I’m about to have a food coma just by looking at my food. What am I going to do with all this food? I’ll sometimes order a side of steamed rice, which is brought out to me in clay pot, because I know I’m going to have leftovers, and I want to add rice to whatever I’m taking home. Remember how I told you to choose wisely? Now you know why.

Throughout the week, my friend Livi Alcaraz will text me or leave me a message, “Let’s go to Wing Hings for lunch,” I know he likes that Wing Hings gives you a big portion of food to eat. We both tend to get stuffed for about $20 but that is not best part. We are always taking boxes of leftovers home. Whatever I don’t eat, Tam will pack the food into a box, and she’ll tape it do so it doesn’t spill open on my way home. Nobody can beat that lunch special with the servings they give you, well maybe someone can, I just haven’t found that place! Best value for your dollar. You get a lunch combo with more food than most dinner combos AND soup w/ wontons and eggroll for UNDER 5$ !  I think Subway charges just as much of a sub-sandwich.

I have never had a bad meal here, in fact, I can’t think of one single thing I don’t like about this place, other than I live half a mile from the delivery zone. So, yeah, it is not the most awesome looking place on the outside, or inside. It does not have the glittering neon sign lights outside promoting it, but you are here to make your stomach happy, so I do recommend you check it out.

I have sent many of my friends to eat here. When I take someone out to eat for the first time, Wing Hings is always my first choice on where to invite them. The place is never crowded, which like I said earlier, it surprises me, because this place should be packed. If you are in the area and in the mood for some Chinese Food,   I hope you check it out and see for yourself.

I’ll be a regular as long as this place exists.

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Something chased me that night..

This blog, this story which I am about to post is a true story. It is not a piece of fantasy or a work of fiction that I thought up on a boring day or night. I have tried to remain open to unexpected twists of fate this experience may have brought or may still yet bring me, but the clear recollection of this event is still etched in my monochrome mind.

It had happened after one of those summer monsoon desert evenings in Glendale Arizona in June of 2004

It had been a steady quiet day for me, I had been feeling moodier than usual without feeling any less optimistic of what was going to happen that night. I was feeling like a stick of dynamite, ready to explode, all that was needed was someone with a match to light the fuse. I was full of anxiety, for what, I do not know. Around about 7 p.m., my older sister and I got in to an argument. To this day I don’t even remember what the argument was about, but what happened afterward is something I will clearly not forget.

Being so angry and knowing the only way I could control my emotional tantrum and not do something iniquitous was to go run the anger out of me. When I was much younger, I had joined the cross country running team in high school because it was the most efficient way for me to clear up my thoughts, since I often have a difficult time expressing my anger, I ran, often for long distances to calm me down. To this day, I still run vast distances to clear my thoughts.

This time, my anger allowed me to extended myself beyond my own current limitations of personal control because I ran and ran, and maybe there was a weird undercurrent which made things a little bit tilted, but it seemed like a good idea that after running so far, that I started to get angry at myself for ending up far from home, and knowing I have to get back to where I started, I would be tired; so I stopped to gather my thoughts of where I was at.

I live near 51st avenue, between Glendale and Northern.  I ended up on 19th Avenue and Thunderbird. The main roads are broken off only a mile apart, so it goes like this:   Northern – Olive – Peoria – Cactus – Thunderbird.  4 and a half miles to the north from home.

[SEE MAP BELOW GET BETTER IDEA of THE GRID]

I had run about four and a half miles to the north of where I lived, than I thought, I’m on 19th avenue, and started doing the math in my head,  51st avenue – 43rd avenue – 35th avenue – 27th avenue – 19th avenue: 4 miles to the east

I realized and said to myself “What the heck !!! I’m almost 9 miles away from home. Why did I even get mad at my sister?

My anger towards her had been mollified. It was gone.

Not to scale. This is a map so you get a better sense of what happened. The Green is my path back home, pink is whereabouts the owl started following me.

Not to scale. This is a map so you get a better sense of what happened. The Green is my path back home, pink is whereabouts the owl started following me.

So I started running/jogging back home. After stopping for water to drink at a Circle K, which is a corner convenient store, I decided to continue on my trek back home. I got close to the West Campus of Arizona State University, better known as ASU-West, located between 43rd and 51st avenue, on Thunderbird, when I decided I was going to take a short cut through the campus. Back in 2004, much of ASU-West was undeveloped and made of desert landscape. So I started jogging, cutting through the desert field.

“I am almost home, 4 to 5 more miles and I’m there,” those were my personal thoughts, but then I heard a hoot and looked up at a Palo Verde tree and saw an owl. I had often seen coyotes and rabbits in the undeveloped desert portions of the University but never an owl.

I got a pretty intense feeling of evil from that creature staring at me with those big black bug eyes it had, as it tilted the head on its body back and forth examining me as if it was looking and piercing right in to my soul. I felt dizzy. Never had I strongly felt myself in a trance along with an extreme sense of vertigo. Consuming dread raced through my entire body, the sensation I felt was extremely nauseating.

Then, I noticed that the owl flew to a nearby lamp post. It waited there staring at me.

I regained my composure. I thought it was odd, I was still dizzy so I decided to slow down a bit and just jog as I continued south bound. I was already running/jogging something what I like to call, “running poles” in which I run from one pole to another, and then I jog from that pole to the other, then I run to the other one, then I jog and so forth.

 

poles

 

The owl flew from lamp post to lamp post following me. I stopped, it stopped. Clearly this owl was following me but it was keeping a certain distance, watching me.

When I arrived to 51st avenue and Cactus, there is also a major canal just a stone’s throw away. I honestly got scared, thinking of La Llorana, The Weeping Woman of the River, which is a boogey man like tale that comes from the Mexican culture. I also thought intensely about the owl.

Was this a messenger of evil? Of warning?

As of Mexican descant, in our culture, we are often raised with different traditions of superstitions.

I turned around at the owl and got angry. My attitude shifted a bit and I thought to myself, ‘I am going to fight back whatever the hell this thing is..’

I was not going to idly stand by and let this other reality of something sinister affect me. I picked up some rocks and threw them at the owl, but the owl stood there just gazing at me, acting as if I was not going to win with just of rocks being thrown at it. I felt as if that owl communicated somehow with me that night. It clearly said to me with a strange a voice to my head as if were speaking me via telepathy saying ‘If you are going to beat me, it’s going to require finesse,’

My left leg was shaking and trembling as these words entered my mind. Maybe it was adrenaline?

Runner’s high was starting to seem to kick in to my body.  I threw another rock at it. I was excited and knew I could hit it. The owl tilted its head started at me and I felt as it communicated again saying “I want something you have,”

I thought in my mind, “I have nothing you want you little $hit other than a can of chinga tu madre that I can give you heads up if you want it” as I threw another rock. I clearly was cursing profane words to it in English and in Spanish.

After five or six rocks I stopped. I felt as if this owl was laughing at me and mocking my weak aim. I figured it would stop following me, so I decided to continue to “run-jog poles”

Sure enough, this owl continued to follow me but clearly keeping it’s  safe distance.

Pole to pole it flew, following me.

I kept turning back time to time checking to see if the owl was continuing to follow me. I was getting a heightened sense of fantasy this moment, it was something beyond physical.

Was this really happening?

When I reached, Butler Avenue which is a half mile between Olive and Northern I felt I had reached a critical point and I felt I needed to make something happen, and it had to happen soon. The owl was still following me but keeping its same distance apart as it had been for the last several miles.

I started to become frustrated because I had tried to evade this owl without any success and I thought to myself, “What if this thing follows me all the way home..?” I was still scared but continued “running poles,” and I reached the south corner of 51st Avenue and Northern where there is a Walgreens located on the southwest corner.

I stopped and thought to myself, I am almost home and this thing keeps following me, what am I going to have to do? I am not going to let this thing follow me all the way home! I clearly was still stricken with panic.

I picked up some rocks and again chugged those at this owl, who at this time had flown one circle around the lamppost when I threw the rock at it and then it took a swoop at me.

I am thinking, “Damn, someone trained this little f–cking  flying monkey to attack also” (I have always been fearful of those flying monkeys from Wizard of Oz)

Probably looking like a mad man, I yelled in my loudest harshest voice “GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE! WHATEVER YOU ARE, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO FOLLOW ME! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TRY AND FRIGHTEN ME! GO AWAY I COMMAND YOU”

At this moment when I thought about this, I felt an intense emotional shift. It stopped on a light post there, looking at me. I ran. It didn’t chase me. I wonder why. I started to pray in my mind for forgiveness about being mad at my sister. I prayed that this thing would not follow me home. I prayed for safety and comfort. After a bit, I got home. Everyone was asleep in bed. I didn’t want to wake anyone up, they would probably think I was surely crazy. Throughout the night, as I laid in bed, fully awake with some fear, I wondered what my little encounter was about.

The next morning I wrote about it in one of my journals. This is one of the many experiences, that I can’t explain, that have happened to me throughout my lifetime. I have many of them, many which I do not share.

Maybe I’m disillusioned since my perception and my reality becomes whatever I imagine. I acknowledge that something that was beyond my current mental limitations or perception, followed and chased me that night. I wish I could give some type of explanation of what it really went on, other then it was something evil and it was something very real.

What it was, I do not know.

My name is Gabriel Ramiro Sandoval Cruz, many people refer to me as Cruzzer, and to the best of my knowledge this is a true event that I experienced in my life.

Con Safos Y Sin Fin. . . .

With Safety and Without and End

c/s/s/f

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My most personal US-MEXICO BORDER Experience

I have never shared this experience to any of my friends. Some knew  of it but until this moment, today, I have yet to share it with details of what happened.. I would ask that you read it and if you would like, please share it with the world to also read.

Thank you.

On July 29th, 2004, I had an probably one of the most sacred, most emotional experiences of my life.

For the last several weeks of the 2004 summer, a group of about 60 immigrant rights supporters, made up of mainly students have descended upon Arizona to register voters in a drive that many say is reminiscent of the racial segregation-battling 1964 voter registration drive in Mississippi.

At this time there is a measure on the ballot known as “Protect Arizona Now” which would make it a crime to apply for PUBLIC benefits in Arizona without proof of citizenship. Aside from registering people to vote, many were given the opportunities to first hand witness the atrocities happening in Arizona in regards to immigration.

Here is what I wrote down in my journal.

 

Thursday July 29th, 2004.

Today I woke up at 3:45AM. I was a little bit upset, more like pretty pissed off that I had to get up so early today, but I am glad that I was going to change the routine from registering voters by taking a trip to Southern Arizona to work for ‘No More Death Camps’ (http://www.nomoredeaths.org)

Alma F (aka Paty), who is a Chicano-Chicano Studies Major Graduate at University of California Los Angeles came along with me. We drove a little white Ford Echo car, which I tend to call these cars “Cockroaches” because of the not only the size of other cars compared to it on the road, also one feels extremely crowded with lack of space inside the car to move around in.

Alma and I stopped in Tucson to pick up a documentary crew, one of them named Heather Courtney, which was going to follow us around. The sun was not even up and I was still having trouble keeping my eyes open. Needless to say, I don’t drink coffee.

We headed towards Arivaca but stopped at Longhorn Grill in Amado so I could drive. The Sun started to peak over the East, so I was grateful I was driving westward as we headed to the “Ariavaca No More Deaths Camp” also known as “The Ark” to many near Sasabe Arizona which is a small town near the border.

Daniel Strauss who is a student from Colorado led the group.  We decided to go out and patrol for migrants crossing the desert and assist them with water and food. I didn’t expect to meet anyone since we had met little amount of people in the desert who needed help yet. It was all green too because of the rains in the past two weeks. Anyhow, we didn’t find anyone at the first location. Daniel, who was a student volunteer from Colorado was leading the group pointed out to several motion sensors that Border Patrol had placed near the main street. Alma, the Documentary crew, Daniel and I walked down a street and in to another wooded wash area. Well about six to eight minutes of walking pass the dry wash we had crossed and yelling out ‘Somos amigos (We are friends), Tenemos agua (We have water), Tenemos comida (We have food)’ we heard a response.

We came upon a group of about 20-25 migrants who had been traveling for two days without water and food. They were waiting for a ride. We talked with the group for a good bit, 45 minutes at the most. Talking this long was dangerous because we did not want to alert Border Patrol. The thing that bothered me the most was the three young teenage girls who were about 13-15 years of age, and the young boy who was around 10-13… We gave them water, canned fruit, granola bars, and other small snacks. We asked if anyone was hurt or sick, but other than the lack of food and water, they seemed to have good morale. For me, it was a crazy eye opener. Two days without food and water? I couldn’t imagine how strong these people’s spirits to be in this upbeat mood. I talked with an old man who was at least in his 70s who was from Puebla who was with the Teenage girls. I connected easily with the old man because my own mother is from Puebla as well and we talked things only people from Puebla would know about. I snapped photos from a distance, and I am excited to get the film developed.

Later, Alma and I walked to a Humane Borders (www.humaneborders.org) water tank which was about less than a Kilometer away from the ‘No More Deaths Camp’ (www.nomoredeaths.org) and talked with the Documentary crew on our feelings and work with New American Freedom Summer.

Well we went back to the Arivaca Arc, and as we were about to leave, when Margo said an individual was hurt, possibly a broken arm and needed to be picked up in Sahuarita This individual needed to be transported to Southside Presbyterian Church. After getting directions, we picked ‘Carlos’ at a church. His arm was not broken, yet twisted, and really sprained as well. He cried and said that he thought he was going to die since he had not had water nor food for five days. He was 24 years of age. I am 24 years of age as well. I had to have a lot of strength not to also cry in the car as he told us his story. He said he killed a Rattlesnake to eat since it had been five days since he had eaten. He proceeded to try to give me the rattle as a payment but I refused it and told him to keep it as a remembrance of his journey, his trek across the unforgiving Arizona desert. We took him to Southside Presbyterian Church where he got to shower, have medical aid from a volunteer nurse, and he got fed. Carlos was on his way to Phoenix before he headed to Chicago. I then called my friend Orlando who lived in Tucson if he could assist ‘Carlos’ with directions or a ride to the bus. ‘Carlos’ had family in here in Phoenix but did not have proper transportation to pick him up. Carlos told me a lot of his reasons for coming here to the U.S. and why he did it.

I gave Carlos my number to my house and told him to reach me when he arrived to Phoenix and when he got to Chicago.

Tonight, as I am writing this, I am back in the Phoenix Area. I am here at the Executive Suites in Tempe Arizona. I am going to go to sleep in a comfortable bed, in an air conditioned room. There is a bathroom with running hot and cold water. I just finished eating a hamburger someone bought me. The last time I ate was in Tucson several hours ago while asking Orlando if he could give Carlos a ride to the bus station. I am extremely blessed but I think of the people who are crossing the desert in such harsh conditions. I wonder about all the people who die, the people who are never found, the women and children who are forced in to human trafficking slavery. It’s an extremely overwhelming thought that my hands and jaw are uncontrollably shaking at this moment.

The events of today have really opened my eyes to the extreme realities of what is going on in the Arizona Summer deserts. My heart hurts, I am emotionally and physically exhausted by today’s events but I now possess a greater heart at wanting to help spread the word about creating Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Today’s events has made all the doors slamming in my face after asking people to register to vote these past four weeks, well worth it,

Friday July 30, 2004

Last night I went to sleep crying, my jaw were trembling and would not stop shaking. It is hard for a young man to admit I cried myself to sleep last night but there is no law in the world that can justify the misery of what people have go through in search of a better a life, a so called American Dream. It will be a while before I share with anyone what I experienced yesterday.

 

Aftermath:

Carlos said he had left other family members in Altar Mexico who were also going to cross. Carlos wanted to communicate to the family in Altar to not take the risk and cross, which really worked out because other Volunteers from our New American Freedom Summer were gonna go to Altar Mexico in the next several days. We as a group were able to find that family and give them Carlos’ message about dangers of the crossing the desert.

 

I waited for Carlos to give me a call when he got to Phoenix and when he got to Chicago liked I asked but I never got the call. To this day, I hope he is safe.

 

On July 9, 2005, two No More Deaths volunteers, one who was Daniel  was arrested by a Border Patrol agent while transporting three immigrants from the Arivaca “Ark” to Tucson for medical attention. The migrants were allegedly suffering from severe thirst and hunger due to vomiting as well as blisters that prevented them from walking.  Daniel  was  charged with transporting migrants and conspiring to transport migrants. In September 2006, all charges against Daniel were dismissed by a judge

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Alfredo, A leader for THE PEOPLE

Alfredo Gutierrez and I

Alfredo Gutierrez, an Arizona Civil Rights leader and myself in 2002. Alfredo ran unsuccessful for Governor in 2002. 

“We shall arm ourselves, and in America, the only weapon that counts is the vote. Be prepared to defeat those who humiliate us and defend those who stand with us.” – Alfredo Gutierrez

When I started college in March of 2001, I never intended ever to become politically active. In high school I had been involved in M.E.Ch.A (Movimento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán) organization, a Hispanic student group dedicated to promoting high education among Hispanics. The group offers opportunities to young Hispanics for leadership development, community service, political activism, cultural awareness and educational enrichment. I also realized that MEChA was also in college, so wanting to make a few friends I started hanging out with the group.

In September of 2001, something happened that changed my life. To me, it was something more sentimental then the 9-11 New York tragedy.

I became devastated by the murder of 21 month-old Liana Sandoval. Liana was the daughter of my cousin, Tony.  Liana’s mother confessed to police the toddler had been beaten to death, and she and her boyfriend had weighted the girl’s body with a rock and dumped it into a canal.

The pair was arrested on multiple charges which included first degree murder, child abuse, and the mother also was charged with failure to protect her child.

As I wrote a commentary for the The Voice, The Glendale Community College campus newspaper, “Before this news and event unfolded, there were warning signs. Months before, Liana’s father Anthony Sandoval and his family were noticing signs of abuse on his two daughters Isabella and Liana. Neighbors also claimed that Liana and her older sister, Isabella, were often left alone. This information was reported to Child Protective Services; yet, CPS was unable to come up with any hard substantial evidence of neglect or abuse.”

There was something wrong with the system and I began to question Child Protection Services agency and the people supposed to protect this young child.

In October of 2001, Alfredo Gutierrez, or just simply Alfredo as everyone knows him by, decided to visit MEChA organizations throughout Phoenix announcing he would run for Governor and was looking for individuals and volunteers wanting to get involved in the political system.  I had known about Alfredo from reading about the history of MEChA in Arizona.

Alfredo was from a small mining community called Miami. As a teenager he often attended union meetings and learned how to union organize which made it effective when he was started organizing students in college. In 1968, Alfredo organized MASO (Mexican American Student Organization) at Arizona State University.  MASO would then later unite under the MEChA banner.

In November of 1968, Alfredo Gutierrez organized a march on the President of ASU to protest what they felt was an unethical alliance with a company who was hiring Mexican workers at below minimum wage and without benefits. His organization collected over 5,000 signatures in support of their cause, then led 300 students in a march to the administration building to meet with President Durham. That march turned in to a two day sit in. Alfredo was such an effective leader of student protest that the administration created a ‘bizarre student code of conduct/rules’ to mainly target him and get him kicked out, which did happen. Many years later, they would end up awarding him with a DOCTORATE. In 1972, Alfredo ran to become a State Senator and won. In 1974, he became the nation’s youngest state legislative majority leader. He went on to serve in the State Senate till 1986 as both the Minority and Majority leader.

I decided that this was my shot at getting involved in politics. I kept in touch with Alfredo as he gave me his cell number and many times answering when I called. In March of 2002, a friend and I set up a gubernatorial debate on my campus in which we invited the candidates for Governor to have a forum in which to reach out to the students and also hopefully get them involved as well. It was here when I decided I was going to fully help Alfredo in his campaign for Governor as a fulltime student volunteer. All spring, I visited other campuses across the state of Arizona telling other students about Alfredo. Then in the summer, I would spend a majority of my day at the Alfredo for Governor Campaign office in Phoenix doing various errands. It was during this time Alfredo taught me how to network. He opened many doors for me introducing me to various community, business and organization leaders. Then one day he invited me to meet Bill Clinton, who would stop by Phoenix to assist and help raise funds for the Democratic Party. At the end of the summer, Alfredo didn’t end up winning the primary but I did end up learning a lot on how the political participation works, how it affects those who are involved and those who don’t raise a voice to their own concerns. The most important, I ended up learning a lot about myself and what was really important to me.

The Aftermath:

To this day, Alfredo still often comes over and greets me with a big smile and an “abrazo” as I still continue to cross paths these days at rallies, marches or community events. He still fights for the poor and disposed, mainly the immigrant community.

On October 15, 2011, he was arrested along with 45 other individuals at the “Occupy Phoenix” rally.

He was acting as a liaison between the members of the movement and the city. In an interview with Ed Montini of the Arizona Republic he said “I thought the city and the city manager acted in bad faith,” he said. “I decided that the protesters had been duped, and I felt like in trying to serve as a bridge between them and the city, I had played a part. So I went to jail with them. What you had out there, for the most part, were a lot of idealistic kids who weren’t threatening violence or doing anything of the sort.”

 

To reach Alfredo Gutierrez through twitter: https://twitter.com/AlfredoPhxAZ 

Alfredo Gutierrez on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alfredo.gutierrez.526438

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