James Baldwin & Me

No matter how often I replace old books with new books, two never get stored away: Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and my original copy of James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On The Mountain. I keep TKAM for an obvious reason: it’s my favorite book. I keep GTIOTM because James Baldwin’s masterpiece guided my …

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Birthday Breakfast at Sambo’s

On my fourth birthday my mom took me and my brother to have breakfast at my favorite place: Sambo’s. There were more locations, but we always frequented the one on McKee Road in our hometown of San Jose. Back to that in a minute. With its beginnings in 1957, the Sambo’s chain expanded to 1,117 restaurants in 47 states. …

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First Customer

Earlier tonight, before visiting my mom, I stopped at this 7-Eleven at the intersection of White Road and Quimby Road in East San Jose to buy a cup of coffee. As some of you know, there’s nothing extraordinary about my visit to a 7-Eleven. In fact, eleven months out of the year, it’s my first stop …

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Pastor Dow Escalante

I’d be lying if I said that I jumped at the opportunity to take a role in my first ever elementary school play. The truth is, I didn’t want a role. But my fourth grade teacher at Cedar Grove Elementary School in San Jose, California, Mr. Paratore, insisted that I play a Russian dancer in …

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Ricky Berry

After his success as a San Jose State Spartan, Ricky Berry, was the 18th player selected in the first round of the 1988 NBA Draft. In 1989, he would be dead. Back to that in a moment. On March 26, 1979 all eyes were on the college basketball championship between Indiana State and Michigan State. …

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Homegrown Chacon

On the eve of a fight in March, 1982, Bobby Chacon became a single dad to three children, ages 11, 8, and 6. Following two devastating losses, Chacon’s wife, Valorie, begged him to quit boxing. Her pleas were ignored. Subsequently, she killed herself with a rifle at the family’s home in the small town of …

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Fonzie and Flatbush

Pictured here are the Lords of Flatbush: Wimpy, Stanley, Butchey, and Chico. Miscreants — who were unaffectionately known in Brooklyn, New York, as the Lords. They stole cars, chased girls, played pool, and were – to borrow a phrase from the late Stuart Scott — as cool as the other side of the pillow. The …

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Good Night, Sweet Princess

My dad and I walked out of Star Wars in 1977. Well, actually, we drove out. We watched the epic space opera at the old Winchester Drive-in in Campbell. (It closed in 1984.) He said something like, “This movie isn’t very good. Do you want to leave?” I sleepily nodded. I always had a great …

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Bye George

Wham! Just like that, 2016 takes another. George Michael is gone. I’m old enough to remember when Ridgeley and Michaels were still identified as Wham! UK. In fact, I recall walking past Musicland on the first floor in the Eastridge Mall in San Jose with my dad and pointing to a display showcasing their hit …

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Still Standing

You may see only a barn. I see divorce. About 40 years ago my parents did what 1 out of 3 couples did during the late ‘70s … they parted ways. Irreconcilable differences. Perhaps this isn’t the best way to begin a story … so back to the barn. When my dad moved out he …

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