Thoughts on the retirement of Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez. I am extremely grateful for his contribution to our community in Humboldt Park, to the Puerto Rican community as a whole, for the leadership in the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera. Luis has fought for the rights of us Puerto Ricans as well as the rights of those with no rights whatsoever.
I am extremely grateful for his contributions to the well being of Puerto Rico after the hurricane. I am grateful for his sacrifice during the Vieques period.
The last year I have had an identity crisis. I have lived in Chicago since 1989 except for a year that I tried to live in Puerto Rico but had to come back since I could not find a job. I have four children two from my first marriage which regularly visit Puerto Rico and I have two from my second marriage and one is a one year old toddler. So for the last two months we have been on a binge of all things Puertorican in our family and last week I went to Puerto Rico myself and when the plane landed I cried. I realized I can not in anyway shape of form divorce me from who I am. I feel more Puertorican now than ever and in my mind I am scheming a way that I can do a business that can more frequently allow me to visit Puerto Rico and Colombia.
With all of that being said, I thought of this, last night we went to the monthly “Bombazo” dance recital at the Placita de Don Pedro in Division Street in Chicago and as I walked in from the street my heart raced, and I felt a rush in my body that let me know that our culture is not dying and that there are people worldwide that are doing everything it takes to keep a tradition, a culture, a way of life, a heritage and distinct culture expression alive.
In the following images we see a Bomba dancer dance a rhythm that when properly executed is more soul than technique, originally it was a dance of black slaves probably performed as the only outlet to express the pain of living in the white european man’s bondage.
Bomba and Plena represent what I call the Puertorican uniqueness which I see in Chicago as a growing movement. Let’s keep it alive.
Yesterday Lorena and my family celebrated our 8 year wedding anniversary at Nellie’s Restaurant on Division Street in Humboldt Park. I could not feel prouder than celebrating my wife the love of my life at Nellie’s. Chef Victor’s shared the experience of his life with me and I realize that I have a lot in common with this man who owns a house in the Villa Palmera’s neighborhood of Santurce, Puerto Rico where I grew up. This made it so much more special. I feel extremely blessed to be married to a Latin American family an proud that Nellie’s restaurant upholds the Puerto Rican culture to its highest level in Humboldt Park.
By the way Victor makes the best omelets!
Since I have taken the cause of protesting Riot Fest, photography has take a back seat, however as things go along I will dedicate more time to capture the memories of what has become an epic battle. Here in this image Gloria Burgos gets confronted by 2 Riot Fest supporters. She was unabashed, in singleminded in her response.
I have promised myself that I was not going to get involved. I was not going to get involved because in my mind the damage to the park was only supposed to be temporary and Riot Fest is supposed to be a good thing and it has so many good advocates in Every Block that because of their passionate comments they know what is better for Humboldt Park.
I was not going to get involved because I am really busy and I don’t have time. I also did not want to get involved because on Every Block people called me “Selfish” and “Focused on my needs” and a “Whiner”, I also was told to rent a hotel room out of the area so that I would not be disturbed during Riot Fest.
Well that all changed when I went to the park this week and saw how bad it looks, even though a lot the damage in this image was caused by the cruel winters effect which aggravated the damage to the grounds that occurred during Riot Fest. I reminded myself that my wife uses the park on daily basis with our 2 children.
I have the following thoughts:
1. I want to know how did the Riot Fest as stated by their organizer “Significantly Improve Humboldt Park” Does he really care that the park looks like this? What did they really do besides pay for landscaping? Why make that bold claim.
2. Was there any conscious thought about how the neighbors that don’t support Riot Fest will feel and be affected? Many people cant and wont express their feelings on Every Block which because of the preponderance of opinions have used Every Block as a platform to insult and disrespect longstanding community residents that are not members of gangs or are not “Low income”. Some of the users there use the moniker “Cleaning Up Humboldt Park” – I feel that I try really hard myself to make the community better, I am actively involved in Church, I volunteer my time in several organizations I network my connections to bring business to the Humboldt Park. I dont have $600,000 to pay for a newly built house next to where I live now.
3. I think the park was damaged, not beyond repair but the attitude of “We will replace the sod afterwords” infuriates me. The Puertorican festival activities get cancelled when there is rain, why could Riot Fest not be cancelled the night of the storm? I know why, this is a for profit concert and somebody is making a lot of money. The contributions that you are said to be making to the community are only token contributions just to say you did. They don’t make an ounce of difference.
4. This festival that does damage to the park is too big. My opinion is that it should be limited to the south side of the park where it was before where the footprint is not that large. If the organizers of the fest really care about Humboldt Park, make it free, yes make it free! Don’t charge, make it by donation only like the Puertorican festival only then we can see that this is not really to benefit the community rather than themselves.
5. I think that the north side areas that include the lagoon, the small estuary that have herons are frequented by birdwatchers should remain freely accessible to the community at all times.
6. It is my plan to create a petition and get a meeting with the park district to discuss the concerns of citizens that otherwise disagree with Riot Fest.