Rubén Funkahuatl Guevara — Radical Chicano Doo Wop Singer by Gerry Fialka

Rubén Funkahuatl Guevara — Radical Chicano Doo Wop Singer by Gerry Fialka

from the March 2022 issue of The Venice BeachHead: https://thevenicebeachhead.com/

and https://twitter.com/venicebeachhead?lang=en and http://www.freevenice.org/

Rubén Guevara is a “bad ass” says Alice Bag in his engaging KCET Artbound documentary “Con Safos.” Watch it free on Youtube. Having been inspired by his music for many years, I often call him the “Chicano James Brown.” He has played with Bo Diddley, Frank Zappa, Tine Turner and Cheech & Chong. Rubén is definitely a whole lot more. Guevara is an important poet, teacher, and cultural activist. I highly encourage you to read his 2018 ucpress.edu book CONFESSIONS OF A RADICAL CHICANO DOO-WOP SINGER An Autobiography, and visit Ruben’s website: tantrikfunk.net

Please listen to my interview with Rubén — the Youtube Link= https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2_TzJ1eDxc — or just enter the words “Innerviews #33 Rubén Funkahuatl Guevara.”

His history in Venice is intriguing. He wrote to me: “I saw the Chambers Brothers at the Cheetah either ’67 or ’68. My mother and her cousins would go dancing there when it was the Aragon Ballroom in the late ’30s. I first heard Tutti Fruitti by Little Richard blaring out of a bar on the boardwalk in 1957. Blew my mind.” He has shared the stage performing with John Densmore (The Doors drummer). They both spent their early youth in Santa Monica. Specifically, Guevara was in a Mexican barrio, “La Veinte” at 20th & Olympic. He reads his poetry at Beyond Baroque and SPARC.

Rubén opens his book with a Charles Bukowski quote: “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” The entire tao of this neo Aztek deity embraces both ends of the spectrum from water to fire evoking the spirit of Venice. “Guervara is a rainmaker, one of L.A.’s greatest musical heroes, who has never stopped believing in the redemption and deliverance that thrive in the city’s underground networks of community, culture and change.” — The Fire and Flames of Funkahuatl, Josh Kun & George Lipsitz, the introduction to Rubén’s book.

Rubén enlightens us. His favorite form of information is “the smile.” He articulates, “I consider myself a cultural servant, sharing the human experience through my work, songs, and stories.” Rubén talked about Carlos Castañeda and Eckhart Tolle’s looking deeper into the ineffable reality of being. He quoted Gabrielle Bernstein, who says “The universe has your back, so stay on track,” and Albert Einstein, who said, “I want to know the mind of God, the rest is details.” When I asked him, “How do you advise someone to deal with an enemy?” Rubén said, “When somebody attacks you think of yourself as a cloud. It goes through you. If you come from an ego state, you’ll block that from going through you. That’s when there is going to be problems. I’m not saying to be passive. . . . Let anger pass through you.” I responded by quoting poet Richard Brautigan,

“We all have our roles in history. Mine is clouds.” This recalls Nikola Tesla, who said “If you want to find the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

On October 12, 1986, Rubén spoke at the Santa Monica venue “At My Place” on a panel discussing on censorship with Frank Zappa and Jello Biafra. His deep knowledge for history revealed much about the roots of the song Louie, Louie. He has always both entertained and educated the people.

Then, I hosted an event at Sponto Gallery. Guevara’s live poetry rocked the house. Here’s the program notes: WED, Sept 20, 2006. “THE RING” (1952, 79 minutes) Domenic Priore & Gene Aguilera, authors of the forthcoming book “The Golden Age of Chicano Rock ’n’ Roll: An East L.A. Visual History” host a very rare screening of this evocative tale set in downtown L.A.’s Bunker Hill district of a young Mexican-American boxer who learns the dirty truth about the fight game. With Art Aragon, a local boxing idol who was the only game in town (pre-Dodgers, Lakers), Rita Moreno and more. Chicano teenagers in the film wear just-post-Pachuco fashions, lookin’ very proto-Rock ’n’ Roll. Also: rare clips of legendary East LA groups, such as Ritchie Valens (“La Bamba”), Thee Midniters (“Whittier Blvd.”) and Cannibal & the Headhunters (“Land of 1000 Dances) at the height of their success, and 20 minute preview of Jon Wilkman’s documentary “Chicano Rock!” 7pm pre-show features short films on Korla Pandit and Lord Buckley, a poetry reading by Rubén Guevara (Ruben & the Jets), plus a Q&A and CD signing with Little Willie G. and Jimmy Espinoza of Thee Midniters.

Fortunately, Ellen Bloom documented these details on her blog with personal memories: “WOW! What a great night it was! We met on Ocean Front Walk at the Fig Tree Cafe at 6-ish and had a lovely panini and salad dinner. I hadn’t been down on the Boardwalk in ages. It’s quite a show of real L.A. people hangin’ at the beach. It was slightly chilly, but very nice watching the red sun sink into the Pacific Ocean.” — https://ellenbloom.blogspot.com/2006/09/eastsiders-on-westside.html

Ellen’s comment resonates. When I asked Rubén “what is the best thing for a human being?”, he declared “To be honest, authentic.” Guevara’s emphasis on authenticity evokes our collective memories of these marvelous magical moments at Sponto Gallery.

For more radical righteous resonance,

here’s Rubén’s lyrics to his original song “Rock’n’Roll with the Punches”

You gotta rock’n’roll with the punches, let life keep the beat

Slip and slide with your hunches, don’t ever think about retreat

I was born to boogie woogie, I was born to jump and shout

I was born to make dreams come true

Yeah, that’s what it’s all about

I’ll never have a million dollars

I’ll never have a PhD

Just wanted to sing that sweet soul music

’Cause it’s the only thing that matters to me

Here is another poem entitled “Out Take of SSB”:

Say, America,

I wanna thank you for giving me

Chevy cars

Rhythm & Blues

Thank you for giving me

Ritchie Valens

Little Julian Herrera

And I wanna thank you for giving me

The Penguins

The Flamingoes

The Jaguars

Thank you for giving me

Drive-in movies

James Dean

Marlon Brando

Thank you for giving me King Kong

But most of all America,

I wanna thank you for giving me my voice.

Yeah, you’re my home sweet home,

Yeah.

++++

Con Safos is a Chicano/Mexican American activist street term with various meanings including a form of self-affirmation, self-determination and exempt from danger. Here are Rubén Guevara’s lyrics to C/S Con Safos. So groove heavy to this intensely funky song on youtube, link= https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45gUrJOZrNg

C/S

L.A.

Founded in 1781 by Felipe de Neve and settled by Mexicans, Africans, Mulattos, Mestizos and the original Native American inhabitants the Tongva, later forcibly renamed, Gabrielino. The indigenous name of L.A. was Yaangna, the Spanish christened it,

El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles de Porcíuncula.

L.A. — — my city of the angels.

We came to work your fields of plenty. We made you rich. You paid us pennies. We laid your railroad over trails that once were ours. We taught you how to mine your gold, rope your cattle, and irrigate your land. Wait a minute. Your land? Con safos! What’s that strange writing on the walls of LA?

March, 1942. It was Taps for the “Japs.” You put them all in concentration camps. Who was left to scrape your goat? The Mexican’s, why not? We were your favorite joke.

Three thousand years of civilization: Olmec, Toltec, Maya, Aztec. Three thousand years of civilization to wind up in LA, a people in damnation!

Con safos! What’s that strange writing on the walls?

June, 1943, a month of infamy. The almighty Hearst Press discovered a “Menace” to L.A. You’d found your sacrificial “Lamb Special of the Day.”

Thirsty for blood and hungry for sales your headlines screamed: “Mexican Zoot-Suitors planning to attack servicemen be downtown between six and ten.”

On the night of June 7th, 1943, your Zoot-Suit Riots began LA. A mob of sailors, soldiers and marines marched to the middle of town to hunt those “Dirty Mexican Zoot-Suitors” down.

Con safos!

The LAPD stood by and watched as boys some only twelve and thirteen, were kicked, beaten and stripped to “Keep, our City Clean.”

Con safos! What’s that strange writing on the walls?

Con safos! If you have any balls!

Go ‘head Santo, spray your emblem. Go ‘head White Fence, paint your Coat-of-Arms. Vatos locos? Damn right! Vatos locos! Die or fight!

Go ‘head Dreamer, spray your epitaph. Go ‘head Clover, sign your Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, A treaty that was supposed to guarantee equality.

Go ‘head vatos locos, children of Aztlán. Spray your metallic blood until all the walls come down!

Con safos! Look at me!

Con Safos! Know me! I am somebody! I am!

Con safos!

Yo soy alguien, cabrones!

Con safos!

Won’t you listen to what the walls have to say L.A.?

All they’re saying is:

¡Que viva Yaangna!

¡Que viva Los Ángeles!

¡Que viva mi tierra!

Hey, long live, L.A.!

(Loud finger snap, Pachuco style)

+++ And here is another poem by Rubén Funkahuatl Guevara

Where is the Poem?

Is it in the silent sound of the full moon rising?
In the sudden flutter of frightened wings?
In the musical mist of rain clouds?
In the virgin wind whispering surrender?

Or,
Is it in the heart of a broken heart?
In the desperate moans between the sheets?
In the lying cries of betrayal?
In the dreams of broken souls?

Or,
Is it in the last breath of George Floyd?
In the sickening sorrow stuck in a tear?
In the blood…on the streets on fire?
In the rabid sneer of a racist, Covid nation?

Or,
Is it in the shattered heart of forgiveness?
In the tenacious fierce courage of hope?
In the healing grace of salvation?
In the radical redemption of reciprocal love?

Or,
Is it in the blinding radiance of the sun’s truth?
In the dust of stars?
In the eyes of storms?
In the mysterious wail of a gut-wrenching soul song sung by Creator?

c/s

Rock critic Dave Marsh wrote how Guevara evokes revolutionary musician Fela Kuti. Emerge your self in Rubén Funkahuatl Guevara — Radical Chicano Doo Wop Singer, Poet, Activist. His new poem about Ronnie Spector will be featured in the PXL THIS 32 Film Festival in November. Watch for his upcoming performances. Visit: https://m.facebook.com/Ruben-Funkahuatl-Guevara-Thee-Eastside-Luvers-112192968856448/

MORE:

Gerry Fialka’s March 6, 2022 interview with JOEL THOME (Zappa’s Universe) can be heard here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZxQvI7uaMk

“Fialka’s interview with me was the most extraordinary, the most brilliant, and the most profoundly moving interview experience I have ever had. It was pure Joy and abundant Light. I was deeply honored by the opportunity and deeply grateful to him. He is a genius.” — Joel Thome

Be sure to watch the documentary on Joel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJz2IXJLWbg

and check out his efforts https://www.artists4peace.org/joel-thome

focusing on peace.

Fialka’s March 1 interview with IKE WILLIS (Zappa member from 1978 to 1988)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=138YOk83-ns

Fialka’s new Zappatista Salon One will be posted soon.

With Bartram & Prentis, that is — the amazing TYLER BARTRAM & his new JUMBO tutorial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJHIgjJFrN0

and

the super SIMON PRENTIS https://www.simonprentis.net

and video/book by SIMON and TYLER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKdRlt6YL30&t=0s

Fialka’s new funk song Can’t Fool Computers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szunPrsBHeE

Tune in, Watch out and Drop In to Gerry -Laughtears.com- Fialka’s podcasts on two different channels:

Clinton Ignatov’s channel CONCERNED NETIZEN: https://www.youtube.com/user/clintonthegeek

and Rob Grant’s channel — I’m Probably Wrong About Everything https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqkMpR_ywBZQp1IbDI-0WDw

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store