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August Additional Conversation With: The Music of Jimmy Ojotriste

The Music of Jimmy Ojotriste
by Arturo Hernandez Sametier
  • Publisher: Lunita Hispanic Press, LLC
  • ISBN-13: 978-0996559409
Arturo Hernandez-Sametier’s third book moves away from gang life for a beautiful story of fate and first love among a young group of Mexican street musicians. Jimmy Ojotriste is a disabled guitarist with a glass eye created by an aging Tijuana artist. The eye is beautiful, sad and sometimes powerful. His trio makes a living on the streets of the East Los Angeles, easily the best on the street and eyeing the larger city. They thought they had come to terms with the cancer and disability that would eventually end their trio. But this summer three magical women enter their lives. Three young couples immerse themselves in music and dance, love and brujeria to stave off the approaching betrayal.
My father bought the oldest laundromat in L.A., and I learned to fix machines while he held me upside down in the tight space behind the washers. Our “lavamatica” operated in a milieu of gang shootings, street vendors, musicians, social activists and a growing Chicano art movement. By 16 I had become a working musician, and singing at tables paid for college. I was immersed in the LA music scene when my brother landed the lead in a Hollywood stage musical, and the director hired me to write the score. George C. Wolfe would later go on to win Tony awards as a playwright and director:
But working for George I learned what an unbridled, unstoppable commitment looks like. I believe that helped me say yes when two south central activists, Sister Natalia Duran and boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, helped me found an experimental school for the Clanton and Primera Flat’s gangs, an event that changed my life and theirs. I have been blessed with remarkable people in my life, and have lived a wonderful tension between a desire to tell stories and the opportunity to create them.
ArturoHernandez - resized400pixPeace in the Streets: Breaking the Cycle of Gang Violence was my first book, and a revision is due in November, adding stories from my work with Apache and Pima Indian gang youth. For The Music of JimmyOjotriste, I took off two years, bought an ice truck and worked it with my twin, 9-year-old daughters – as beautiful an experience as a Papa could wish for. The truck gave me the time to write a story percolating for twenty years—finally capturing for myself the taste and resonance of music as life, the magic in my culture, the memories of an eastside youth and its dreams.

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