Friday, March 21, 2008

Five Years And Counting


I'm an American boy
raised on promises ...*

The eternal war based on a lie continues. Five years and counting. We round off the carnage to make it somehow more easy to take. Four thousand dead American soldiers. Ninety thousand dead civilians. More than a million Iraqi deaths caused by the American invasion. Every month, according to some estimates, more than twelve billion dollars are wrenched from us to pay for the demolition of the Iraqi country and people. At current rates, the Iraq War adds $120 billion a year to the national debt. Somehow, the War in Afghanistan is forgotten.

To "celebrate" the ongoing war, the President repeats what war mongers have always said about war: "The battle in Iraq is noble, it is necessary, and it is just. And with your courage the battle in Iraq will end in victory." His audience was made up of Pentagon brass, soldiers and diplomats. They applauded the hollow words.

But the war is no longer the politicians' topic of choice. It's the economy, stupid. And, surprise, surprise, race is a hot button when a black man runs for office. Or we are urged to ponder who we want to answer the White House phone at 3:00 a.m. How does one prepare to answer a call that could lead to Armageddon? I don't think speeches and banquets and meetings and focus groups and polls provide the training for such a call, but what do I know.

The Iraq War rumbles in the distance, occasionally making us raise our heads, curse under our breaths, spit in disgust. Our country appears willing to challenge history in the upcoming election, and even long time cynics are buoyed by the significance of this challenge, yet we cannot escape the black hole of shame created by the war President and his henchmen. They refuse to acknowledge their mistakes and they lack the courage to correct their decision, to take a stand for peace and, therefore, any grace from the historic election will slip away on an oily stream of blood. The country reaches out for a shining moment, offered for nothing more than ignoring a candidate's race or gender, for only accepting Jefferson's simple words that we all are created equal. But even that basic, tardy gesture will shrivel in the glare of the truth about this war and the motivation for it. Five years and counting.

*apologies to Tom Petty

Abraham Rodriguez
Akashic Books (April 2008)

Akashic sent La Bloga the following announcement about Rodriguez's much-anticipated new novel:

"When Puerto Rican ladies' man Alex awakes one morning to find a mysterious woman in his bed, he assumes he's suffered another embarrassing blackout. He soon learns, however, that Ava is no one-night stand -- in fact, he's never met her before. As her story unfolds, and her reason for appearing in his bed emerges, it is not just Alex's life that she risks, nor her own, but the entire character of the South Bronx."

Abraham Rodriguez was born and raised in the South Bronx. His first book, Boy Without a Flag (Milkweed, 1993), was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His novel Spidertown (Penguin, 1994) won a 1995 American Book Award and was optioned by Columbia Pictures. The Buddha Book was published in 2001 (Picador). He currently lives in Berlin, Germany. Rodriguez's national book tour to promote Bronx by South Bronx begins April 19 in Olympia, Washington, at the Olympia Timberland Library, and ends May 7 in the Bronx, Longwood Gallery (Bronx Council of the Arts). More info on the website.

Houses on the Moon Theater Company and the National Lawyers Guild present De Novo Part 1: Lil' Silent, a new documentary play that tells the stories of undocumented youth in U.S. immigration custody. April 2, 6:30 p.m. CU Law School, Wittemyer Courtroom, Boulder, Colorado.

In 2002, a fourteen-year-old boy named Edgar Chocoy fled his barrio in Guatemala City, when MS-13, the largest gang in Central America, put a hit on his life. He traveled over 3,000 miles through the desert and across the borders of three countries in search for his mother, who had left him at the age of six months to work in the United States. Detained by the Department of Homeland Security in Alamosa, Colorado, Edgar, whose nickname was Lil' Silent because of his timid demeanor, spoke clearly and loudly about his fear of being deported: "I'm afraid to go back. They'll kill me." A pro bono immigration lawyer helped Edgar argue his asylum case in front of a federal judge in Denver but the judge was not persuaded and ordered Edgar to be returned to his country. He was murdered seventeen days later. In De Novo, Part 1: Lil' Silent, Houses on the Moon Theater Company chronicles the true story of Edgar and other undocumented youth, many thousands of whom make the harrowing journey across the border and through the U.S. system of justice each year. Admission is free. Reserve your seat at

Acentos, the Bronx Poetry Showcase, announced a Fifth Anniversary Celebration, March 25, 7:00 p.m., at the The Bruckner Bar and Grill, One Bruckner Boulevard (corner of Third Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard), Bronx, NY. Here's the rap:

"Acentos' Fifth Anniversary show is happening this coming Tuesday, March 25th. If past history is any indicator, the craziness will ensue very early, and you should get there early too.

"Our featured poet for the evening is none other than the director of NYU's Spanish-language writing program, Lila Zemborain... and she has a fantastic, brandspankingnew book that will be available for sale that night.

"Familia, if you've been a part of this series in the last five years, you know what shenanigans we have in store for Year Six. We are moving ever forward in our mission to shine the spotlight on Latinos and Latinas in American poetry, and as always, there are big plans simmering on all four burners. Come help us
celebrate, reminisce, plan, and throw down the fiesta as only the Acentos crew can! The open mic signup is promptly at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 SHARP, y'all...."


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