Plant City, Florida
Firme Estilo Car Club was established in 2003 by a group of guys who share a passion for the lowrider movement. Since then they have set aside one weekend a year where they give back to the community. This year the location was the Mike E. Sansone Park in Plant City, Florida, for the car show and hop off, with all the proceeds going to a children’s charity. “There’s still a lot of work to do,” President Jose Alvarez says.

Custom cars from all over Florida arrived for bragging rights–Rollerz Only chapters from Miami and Tampa were in attendance, Low Life and Classic Angels made the trip from Miami, and Uce from Orlando, all arrived in an impressive fashion. The Individuals Car Club represented the city of Orlando, and from Atlanta, Obsession Car Club made the long trip with their stellar Chevys.

Luis Aviles’ ’69 Chevy [cars name=”Impala”] and Eddie Cardenas’ ’84 [cars name=”Buick Regal”] from Deltona, Florida, were among the few taking home top awards. The Best Traditional went out to Edwin Rosado from Kissimmee, Florida, and his ’63 Chevy Impala, which mastered that category. The top award went to Evelio Perez with his ’86 convertible [cars name=”Buick”] [cars name=”Regal”] from Miami.

Outside the car show area, the hopping sticks were set up for the rights to king of the swing. The Miami crew, Classic Angels Car Club, entered three cars with Rolando and his yellow Buick Regal topping the charts at 67 inches. The Firme Estilo group sent out their G-body hoppers for exhibition only with their [cars name=”Cutlass”] “El Mesero” flying to 71 inches. Once the sanctioned hop off was complete, street hopping began and the battles could be seen from the entire park.

“We are very proud that everyone and their families came out to support this charity event and have a good time,” Jose says. He was happy that the lowrider movement in Florida showed up strong in Plant City. The most positive thing about the event was the amount of small children enjoying the show and the culture of lowriding. Being one of the few states that can hold events year round, Florida will be on the map for many years to come because of shows that are put on by the Firme Estilo car show and hop off.

San Diego, California
It’s official: You voted for change. Now What?
A conversation with some high school students about Obama and his platformIs everyone feeling the pressure yet? I know President Barack Obama surely must be. According to CIRCLE (, a non-partisan organization that promotes research on the political engagement of Americans between ages 15 and 25, youth voters may have proven to have been pivotal to his victory. They voted for Obama over McCain 68 percent to 30 percent–in fact the highest percentage of the youth vote by any candidate since exit polls started reporting results by age back in 1976. Sure, he was elected by an overwhelming majority of young people in this country, but why? Was it his own youth compared to McCain? His demeanor or experience? His ethnicity? Not a simple answer, as I found out recently.

I was sitting at my local Starbucks enjoying what will soon be my last, in a long while, of $4 non-recession-proof lattes, when a group of teenagers strolled in and quickly made their presence felt. They sported that young, hip, self-assured urban energy that this generation has. They also happened to be Latino. I was immediately drawn to them as I was thinking about our new president. So I struck up a conversation with them about the state of our country, asking them mainly what they thought about the financial crisis and whether they were feeling the financial struggles firsthand. This quickly evolved into their thoughts on the newly elected president, what his election meant for them, followed by whether they thought they’d live to see a Latino/Hispanic president in their lifetime. They were candid, they were real, and I heard and saw before me the insightful comments of five young people whose futures lie before them. The generation of change for our country.

LRM: How’s it going for you guys?
Stephanie: It’s hard out there.

LRM: In what way?
Stephanie: With the economy and having less money.
Fernando: Everything is so expensive … it sucks.
Stephanie: I lost my part-time job as a food runner at the downtown Marriot. I was laid off right before Christmas.

LRM: Do you live in La Jolla? [La Jolla is an affluent neighborhood in San Diego]
Fernando/Stephanie: No, we live here in Golden Hill [neighborhood near downtown San Diego].

LRM: Are you all originally from San Diego?
Joanna: Yeah, I was born here.
Fernando: Not me, I was born in Mexico.
Stephanie: Me either, I came as a baby from Tijuana.

LRM: But you’ve all been here [San Diego] since you were infants?
All: Yeah.

LRM: There are a lot of things going on in the country with the recent election. What do you expect from the new president?
Joanna: I expect change like he promised [in his platform].
Stephanie: For him to address the immigration issue and fix it.
Brian: I expect him to fix pretty much everything. It can’t be worse than it is.

LRM: Is that realistic?
Fernando: I don’t know. More African Americans voted, so they expect him to do something too.
Brian: I don’t think race mattered during this election. He was the best candidate.
Joanna: Yeah, it depends on the person. I wouldn’t have voted for someone just because he/she was Latino.
Stephanie: But Latinos are stereotyped too.

LRM: Well, speaking of Latinos, do you think you will see a Latino president of the United States in your lifetime?
All: No way!
Brian: I could be president. Why not?
Joanna: Again, it depends on the person. I think a woman is more likely [to be elected president] than a Latino.

LRM: Why is that? Why not a Latino president?
Fernando: Because people in this country stereotype Latinos all the time.
LRM: OK, so what do you think they need to do to break stereotypes and be successful?
Stephanie: They need to have a plan and stay focused.
Joanna: Stay in school.
Stephanie: Friends come and go but education pays off.
Fernando: Don’t give up.

LRM: Are all of you planning on going on to college?
Fernando: Community college.
Stephanie: Yes, community college first because a four-year [college] is expensive.
Roberto: I’m going into the Marines when I graduate [high school] next year.
Brian: Hopefully we’ll be pulling out of Iraq.

LRM: What’s your message to other young people like yourselves?
All: Stay focused, educate yourself, and don’t give up.

Special thanks to Fernando Ramirez, Stephanie Martinez, Joanna Garay, Roberto Durazo, and Brian Garcia for their time and participation.