By Lourdes Espinoza
A comedy of the 1970 Chicano Moratorium drew a full-house last Saturday as a cast of local artists recalled their memories of that eventful day. The performance took place inside the Lecture Hall at the Vincent Price Art Museum and featured Louie Perez, founding member of legendary rock group Los Lobos; Luis J. Rodriguez, renowned author of the book“Always Running,” and Luis Torres, award-winning broadcast journalist from CBS radio.
“The Three Louies” performance was part of the third and last event planned in conjunction with “After The Gold Rush: Reflections and Postscripts on the National Chicano Moratorium of August 29, 1970.” Audiences were able to enjoy commentary from Perez, Torres and Rodriguez about the harsh life lessons as they were growing up.
All three had the audience erupting in laughter throughout their visit as they spoke of personal accounts of indigenous names some parents give children, the ingredients in ‘chorizo,’ Schwinn bikes they used to own (and the ones that got stolen), the concept of leftovers, the warm smell of beans and the occasional ‘chancla’ beating.
This comedy ensemble was a throwback to the way they were raised which many East L.A.’s residents can still associate with even today. Spectators’ reactions proved they were enlightened as they listened to how much their lives were similar to these men, as the three Louies mentioned that everyone grew up with a “Chalo,” a “Chata,” a “Gordo,” a “Flaco,” or a “Concha” in their families, among other household nicknames.
The topic of beatings came up as Rodriguez mentioned the “boomerang chancla,” which jokingly refers to a sandal his mom used to throw at him in an attempt to teach him a lesson and would reappear in her hand shortly after. Rodriguez described how he lost his bike for the second time and, “Like a good Mexican mom, she beat the heck out of me.”
Sarcasm was a strong theme throughout “The Three Louies” performance, but conclusively they managed to express how all of these life lessons have molded them into who they became. During the discussion, Perez was the first to chronicle his view of what occurred at the Chicano Moratorium.
Perez described the horrifying scene as he fled on his bike as he witnessed cops, smoke, people running and all the screaming that could be heard as he hid unaware that he lay near one of the dead bodies. Torres explained how he was initially angered by the use of tear gas at this demonstration that was supposed to be a peaceful march.
Torres added how he was further angered when he called where he worked at the time and was offered no help in attempting to cover the story even as he described the violence occurring in front of him. He described how he got a shotgun pointed at his head by a cop, got arrested and almost got charged with murders which cops were responsible for.
This was a turning point for the Three Louies and one they unashamedly shared. More personal recollections and information of the Chicano Moratorium are open for viewing inside the Small Gallery at the Vincent Price Art Museum through December 16.
The Vincent Price Art Museum is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m., Thursdays from noon to 7 p.m. and every second Saturday of the month from noon to 4 p.m. It is closed Sundays, Mondays, and on campus holidays.
[Editor’s note: In the printed version of the story, the ‘Three Louises’ performance was incorrectly labeled as comedic parody. The performance is not a parody, but simply a comedy.]