Today, it has been a decade, a dime, ten years, time dissolved, melted, some kind of marker, a point for reflection.
It was one of the most traumatic and life-changing moments of my life, both for the worse and the better.
He was a man. And I still call him, think of him as, my older brother, even though now I am seven years older than he ever was. A street warrior who fist-fought and actioned the most daring ridiculous feats, he hit his last angel dust maton today, ten years ago. Now he snores with the angels forever. He did not make sense, yet his teachings have gifted me more wisdom and balls than any formal education or pinche political theory. His cause was the streets, the grit and glory of vida loca.
No matter whether he won or lost his battles, he always showed his face.
Death is the only proof you are an O.G.
He showed me the way, and now I am here. He’d be pissed at me for a lot of the shit I’ve wrecked, but he’d be more happy and thrilled about the way I’ve tried to transform vida loca into mas vida loca, which is amor for our gente. I have done what I have done in my life in his honor.
James “N Jeff” Jeffrey Bac Sierra
November 10, 1968 to June 16, 2008
This poem and video are dedicated to him and all those Mission and San Fran souls that lead the way into the beyond.
“They Can Take Away Our Lives, but They Can’t Take Away Our Music”
Inspired by War’s firme rola and Roberto Vargas’s “They Blamed it on Reds”
Four O’clock in the dark dawn
A duster drives drunk
Four O’clock in the bitter bright
An abuelita hobbles hauling bags
Full of unpeeled elote and
Free canned cranberry and queso
At all times
There is action
Cool colored creativity
Adorned urban alleys
Mountains of majesty
A sanctuary for locos and ladies
The womb of genius
A mad dog stare
To tar and cement
Spirit and soul
The fumes of yesca and
Lowrider exhaust are
Healthy for homeboys and homegirls
Strutted down these sidewalks and streets
Jeff Bac Sierra
The list is long and
Always in all ways
I am a witness
You are witnesses
To their smiles and songs
That will never be erased
“Though they take my brother’s life,
And deny his given rights
Yes, the message will be heard,
As the four winds spread the word
And our spirit, they can’t break,
Cause we got power to communicate.
No, they can’t, no, they can’t, no, they can’t,
Take away our music.”
Foto of me and Jeff back in ‘88, the day before he left to San Quentin State Penitentiary.