BRONXWORLD Luis Chaluisan Salsa Magazine-WEPAwebTV


BRONXWORLD Owen Gartland was born on October 19, 1934 in the Throggs Neck Section of the Bronx into a family of five children. He attended St. Benedict’s Grade School, Cardinal Hayes High School Cathedral College and St. Joseph’s Seminary. Later, he earned Masters Degrees in Pastoral Counseling and Theology from Iona College. Father Owen K. Gartland was ordained a Roman Catholic priest on May 30, 1959. His first assignment for the Archdiocese of New York was at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Staten Island. He was transfered to Saints Philip and James parish in the Bronx. I looked up to him and followed his advice to attend Cardinal Hayes High School. Later he baptized our daughter Chasan in 1981.
I watch the baseball game
With my father
Freddie of The Long Ashes
Mets versus the Atlanta Braves
And the announcer
Mentions this one player’s name
Mackie Sasser
Mackie Sassssser
Maaaackie Saaaasserrrr
This is how Stanish
And the boys
Down in the Valley say it

Mackie SasSirrrr

Down in the Valley
The Bronx Valley
By Coop City
Where Freedom Land
Use to be
Where the wiseguys
Bury bodies
Where once there’s
A garbage dump
You can cruise
For a hump
At Eddie Cinders place

Mackie SasSirrrr

Guys like Antaknee Vara
Joe Tarrrrrsia
Ricky Morales
John Casiano
The original rumpus man
My best friend
We talk
Talk Talk
Taulk Tauulk Taaauuulk

Chomping on a mouthful of
Spitting them back out
Using every corner
Of our mouths
It’s a memory
Of a time
When all
We think sbout
Is the fun we have
With our friends just
The way we do

Mackie SasSirrrr

Yes Sir

Hey, ever hear of Felipe Alou

FelEEPeh AhllllloooOOUUUUUU

Tough guy Irish illegal aliens, entrenched Italian Mafia crews under Matty “The Horse” Ianello plus street gangs like “The Black Spades” and “Intacrime” (christened by the crazy Pratt twins from the Edenwald Housing Project because, “we’re into Crime!”) dominate our North Bronx neighborhood. Mongo and his son Johnny Monks run an Italian social club on 214th Street where they control the local numbers, loan sharking and service rackets. Johnny also peddles nicks and dimes of “la babania” (marijuana). Crack does them in the eighties when the boys develop a taste for it.

The Black Spades gang are a problem. They’re led out of Evander Child’s High School by their prez Ham. The Spades call for a “Get Whitey Day” throughout the city a couple of years in a row and get everyone shook up. Even the newspapers picks up on it. That really bugs me because depending on the situation with a group of Black Americans my skin becomes my sin. In an attack there’s no time to break down the Brown in my inner town. Nothing ever pops off in the neighbrhood though because, hell, if you come to the square be ready to kick some ass. Everyone mixes their running buddies in Our world and you really don’t now who you’re screwing with if you hit someone. So take that noise somewhere else. The Spades eventually branch out into boxing (Mitch “Blood” Green who, in my opinon, gives Mike Tyson a run for the money in their first fight) and Hip Hop’s Rainbow Division of rappers and wild stylers (Africa Bambata’ s Zulu Nation).

In our neighborhood life is coherent and I can get anything I need from a nuclear warhead to penny candy. That’s our little sandbox. We can fight, we can love and we can be free to do whatever we want along the lazy sidestreets that stretch from 211th Street to 233rd bounded by White Plains Road and Laconia Avenue. A perfect square. If the night is right I’ll take a long walk along 212th Street and circle around through Paulding Avenue back through 215th Street. But its got to be a right night — a Bronx winter night with the temperature around 43 degrees. It’s a ritual to energize myself with the right amount of cold attitude.

I circle the square
A full moon
Lights the neighborhood
From a cloudless
and windless sky
Walking the streets
Shrouded in a blue aura
Little diamond snow beads
The frozen tears
of weeping angels

Illuminate my path
As I tip my hat
To old and departed spirits
There’s someone
In every home
In the neighborhood
People who have no qualms
About saying what’s
On their mind

Frankie and his family live up on 215th street. Damn, it’s a big Irish clan. There must be 12 or 14 of them.
His father looks as tired as mine after a long day of work and sits in this easy chair with a glass of
Rheingold beer watching this pack of kids tear through the house waiting for that right moment when he

Frank teaches me how to skateboard the steep hills of Paulding Avenue, soup up electrical slot car racers and build go carts out of two by fours with baby carriage wheels.

I pass by Herbie and Kevin Carter’s house on the way home. Leukemia dogs Herbie. Kevin wants to play in the NBA. His dreams crash and so does he in crack hell. Herbie and Kevin are not related to Fat Carter. In fact we have three Carter families in the neighborhood that aren’t related. There’s Fat’s family, Herbie’s and “White” Carter, a tough white boy whose amused he has the same family name as the others,

“Yeah, I’m the White Shadow.”

Michael and Johnny live next door. They’re from a German Irish family. We decide to build a raft out of an old box spring and float the nearby Bronx River. The “yacht” barely makes the bend under the Gun Hill Road overpass. We end up sinking in three feet of water and getting sick. But what a rush. I get to know how Huck Finn feels Bronx style.

Sonny is the Jim in my ‘Rico Finn’ life phase. A big old robust brother about thirty three years old living on 211th Street and Holland. He’s built like a rock – GI Joe muscles carved from years of construction work.

Sonny fishes us out of the Bronx River and saves Little John, Michael’s brother, from going under.

“What the heck you boys doing. Can’t you spend your time better than this. Hell, you didn’t even build the boat right!”

Sonny sails the Bronx river in his own home built rig when he’s fifteen.

In those days they call him Boy. Then Colored. Nigger. As he ages and demands respect just by his presence he’s a Negro. Soul brother. Black man. He teaches us all this. But he’s sly about it.

“What you boys should be doing is getting ready for the talent show.”

Sonny still throws annual talent shows in the lot next door to his building. Neighborhood cultural shows. He’s 70 years old now. I win my first competition at 14 and get five bucks by singing Marvin Gaye’s Heard It Through The Grapevine acapella.

There are other Puerto Ricans in the neighborhood. Eric lives in the projects by the Gun Hill Road Train Station and Pilar who lives across the street from us. Both of their mothers are Puerto Rican but Eric’s father is half black and half white and Pilar’s dad is from Spain.

Pilar and Eric are just buck wild. They experiment with sex, drugs and rock and roll starting at St. Philip and James grammar school. We attend school there because the Capucins at Immaculate Conception in our neighborhood parish want to keep their school all white. No problem. Father Gartland in the neighboring parish St. Philip and James is more than happy to have us.

Father Owen Gartland is the bomb. A first generation Irishman who attends Cardinal Hayes High School in the South Bronx as I eventually will. He gets the call from God at 12 but is forever a man’s man. I never know sexually abusive priests like is commonly reported today. Father Gartland is a righteous consecrated wolf right out of central casting. A Bronx version of Spencer Tracey in Boy’s Town.

Five foot eleven, hams for hands, knows how to use them, drop dead gorgeous and can woo the parish ladies. He also adopts different bad kids in the school who he knows are just going through changes at home. Glenn “Little Man” Bowman is one of his boys. Glenn’s dad is a pistol and gives him holy hell. Father Gartland takes him under his wing and Glenn becomes a standup guy with a career in the military. Funny dude with much love.

Father Gartland can drink and throws down with my father in the rectory and local bars. When I’m an altar boy he drinks from this huge chalice and I fill it with a good shot of wine with just a drop of water. He’s set for the morning after 7 AM Mass and puffs away on 3 packs of Chesterfields a day. He rescues me once from a beating by a neighborhood thug called Milo who jumps me outside school in the eighth grade and redislocates my jaw. My mom first knocks it out of place two years earlier. I head for therectory and within five miutes Father Gartland is out there in his car searching for Milo and his crew. He
sets them straight. Father Gartland does that with other hoods in the neighborhood too. That cat can swing a sermon and left hooks unlike anyone I know until I meet my Uncle Heriberto.

Owen dies from throat cancer but not before he gives away this young woman at her wedding. Many in the parish suspect it’s his daughter. A standup guy to the end. Father Owen is trully God’s man in my eyes. Much love Owen. You do your job well. At least with me. Luis Chaluisan
Presented by WEPAwebTV – New Edge Theater WEPAwebTV Roughrican Productions Rocker Roller Rican vlɒɡ 2014 Recognition Awards Federico Chaluisan L.f. Chaluisan Batlle Maria Hernandez Editors WEPAwebTV – New Edge Theater Paul Iglesia Julio Barreto Jr. . Cardinal Hayes Class of ’75 Cardinal Hayes High School El Extreme Luis Chaluisan


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