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Subject to Change by Rudy Yniguez: Just say no to Paul Rodriguez Boulevard

May 17, 2002

First there was Richard Yniguez. Then, in 1979, there was "Boulevard Nights." Why not Richard Yniguez Boulevard?

A similar question is being asked about Paul Rodriguez. A handful of people are asking, nee demanding, that Fourth Street in El Centro be named after the comedian, Paul, not Richard, though Richard can be funny at times also.

You see, if it weren't for the Richard Yniguez's of the world, Paul Rodriguez would still be an unknown entity, because it was people like Richard who charted the way through the white Hollywood jungle in the early 1970s so youngsters like Rodriguez could walk through an open door and be successful.

Perhaps you are wondering if you've ever seen this Richard Yniguez guy in anything?

He was on "Hawaii Five-0" twice in 1968, "Night Gallery" in 1972, "The Rookies" in 1972, "Chico and the Man" in 1974, "Police Story" twice in 1973, "The A-Team" twice in 1983, "Dynasty," "Simon & Simon," "Hill Street Blues," "MacGyver," "Father Dowling Mysteries," "Hunter," "Midnight Caller," "The Sentinel," "Nash Bridges," "413 Hope Street," "Babylon 5," "Police Story," "Mama's Kitchen," and "The Lucille Ball Show," among many other television shows.

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Movies he's been in include "Boulevard Nights," "Tribes," World War III," "Fireball Forward," "Judgment Day," "The Deadly Tower," "Raices de Sangre," "Together Brothers," "Shark Kill," and "What's Cooking," among many others.

In fact, Richard auditioned for the Mexican role of "Chico" of "Chico and the Man" fame, but it was given to Puerto Rican Freddie Prinze. Richard wasn't happy with that.

Others who blazed the trail for the Paul Rodriguez's of the world included Richard's two wives and mothers-in-law, two of whom are in the movie "9 to 5."

Although I have not spoken to Richard about the possibility that a major street in a small southeastern desert town could be named after him, I'm sure he would be flattered. I'm also sure he would consider the idea absurd.

So do I, on both counts, and for Richard and Rodriguez. I don't think Fourth Street, or any street, public building or facility should be named after a person. I think it was a good idea when the El Centro City Council named the downtown town square Town Square.

Stealing someone else's idea, perhaps Rodriguez could change his name to Fourth Street.

However, since some people insist there are not enough Hispanic names on public appurtenances in a community where 80 percent of the population is Hispanic, maybe there is room for compromise.

If names must be changed, how about generic names? For example, how about changing Fourth Street to Tlaxcala Boulevard? Following that example, we could have Guadalajara Avenue, Argentina Drive, Cuba Circle and Ecuador Road.

If we did that we would avoid asking what someone who has received such an honor has done for us lately.

If generic names don't work for you, perhaps we can do what we really should do, and that is read the letters section of this newspaper and pull out the names of those who day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year give of themselves to make this small town a better place to live.

It's easy to do good deeds and have your name put on things when you have money. It's a lot harder when all you have to offer is sweat.

Then, or course, there's the little issue of cost. The reality is I'm sure the proponents of the change would be more than willing to pay for any and all costs associated with such a change. I'm sure they will be willing to pay for all of the businesses on Fourth Street to buy new business cards, new stationary and new telephone book ads. In addition they'd be more than willing to pay to have the new name put on each street corner and to change the signs along the freeway. Well, maybe the Democrat-run Legislature would be willing to pay for the freeway signs. After all, the state is flush with money. Right.

Who is Richard Yniguez, anyway? He's my brother.

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