Ruben Escalante suffered a heart attack as a freshman in high school. But this is only surprising until Ruben reveals the trauma they endured as a child: the father who went out at least once a week and came home drunk, angry, and violent; the early death of the grandfather who was the only one that could subdue his dad’s temper; the constant and vicious attacks at school by bullies who could not accept a sensitive, poetry-loving brown boy.

In our conversation, Ruben tells how art, music, and movies were always a way to cope with life’s challenges, how they came to San Jose, and how discovering South First Art Walk opened their eyes to the creative scene. Now, as the Programs Director at the Best Buy Teen Tech Center powered by Google at MACLA, Ruben can continue to grow as an artist and mentor while helping others find their voice and police in creativity.

We also discuss Ruben’s new film, “danny boy” which will premiere 6/25 & 6/26 at the Tech @thetechinteractive in partnership with @sjmade

“Reclamation” marks the very first time San José based filmmakers will have their work viewed within the IMAX dome–an iconic landmark in our city.


Film Preview:

Follow Ruben at MACLA

And, on Instagram at and

Ruben is featured in issue 11.4 “Profiles”


This episode’s music is “408” by Jack Pavlina. Read more about Jack in Issue 14.1 Winter 2022 — release date: Dec. 9, 2021:

Follow Jack at @jackpavlinamusic