Tuesday, April 22, 2008

If people won’t read, give them books on CD. Bits & pieces.

Michael Sedano

Back in October 2005, I reported on a valuable parenting resource, How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children and its Spanish-language translation, Como Criar Niños Emocialmente Sanos. In 1999, the company where I was working, gave a copy to every employee in the company’s 15 US and 4 Canadian cities, and to hundreds of trade show attenders. The NY Times’ November 19, 1999 business section carried a story about corporate support for family health, quoting me about my employer’s support for “family values.” As Human Resources Director, I made it a point to give a copy to new employees as I conducted their new hire orientation.

Recently, I had lunch with the author, Gerald Newmark, and his wife Deborah. They were excited about a documentary film in process, and the growing use of the book—now in its second edition--in social service, health, and educational agencies and schools. I asked Jerry what kind of feedback he’s getting from people once they’ve read the book. And ahí está el detalle, as Mario Moreno might quip. Newmark’s agency, The Children’s Project, was selling the book at a deep discount to the adopting agencies, but few people were taking the book home and actually reading it.

What a pity. The book is packed with valuable ideas and solutions to issues and problems revolving around child-rearing, family communication, and parental time-management. I asked the Newmarks if they’d considered offering the book in recorded form. It seems people in our cultures, neither the English-speaking nor Spanish-speaking U.S. cultures, can, do, or enjoy reading. Yet, given that many cars nowadays have CD players, kitchens and bedrooms have clock radio-CD players, CD technology might be a workable alternative to the labor and work of reading printed words.

The Newmarks were intrigued by the notion but lacked any concept of how to create a book on CD. That’s where I stepped in. I'm a long-time multimedia producer, dating back to the days of multiple carousel projectors synchronized by pulse-tones on audiotape soundtracks. Now technology makes quick work of what used to require six months or more. Hence, for the past three weeks, I have been working with three talented voice actors, Carolyn Zeller, Christopher Youngblood, and Reynaldo A. Pacheco, to create the aural version of Newmark’s book, in English and Español. We used an Azden wireless microphone received into a Macintosh PowerBook G4, recorded and edited using Bias, Inc.’s Peak Pro 5.2 software. This is fantastic technology. Back in the mid 70s, large studio equipment was the sine qua non of this type project. Audio editing required blank tape, a tape recorder, white china markers, razor blades, splicing tape, and infinite patience, not to mention long, uninterrupted hours of scrubbing marking cutting splice-taping trimming. Today, I follow along in the book. When the actor makes a flub, I mark the text, the actor retakes from the previous comma or period. Later, I open the file in the Peak Pro software, follow the wavy lines until the flub. I insert electronic place markers at the beginning of the flub and the beginning of the retake. Two keystrokes later, instant edit! Still a time-burner, but nowhere near the exhaustion of making hundreds of physical splices.

And the payoff! I visualize gente driving here and there listening to the good sense advice and sound analysis written by Dr. Newmark, read beautifully by the talented speakers, learning to, as Newmark writes in his Preface, use their abilities to help raise children who feel respected, important, accepted, included and secure, "who knows, we might just change the world."

U.S. Postage Stamp Honors Journalist Ruben Salazar Tuesday, April 22, the US Postal Service issues a 41 cent postage stamp honoring Salazar. Against a brown field and the outline of a water jug the designer has assembled like a ransom note torn from a newspaper pages the words, "during Chicano protest rally in East Los Angeles".

It was a police riot. And he was killed miles from the park rally.

It was August 29, 1970. The Chicano Moratorium had assembled massive numbers to march along Whittier Boulevard to a neighborhood park, where they would be entertained by poets, musicians, and speakers. But as the march reached its destination and gente had begun the rally, the cops, on a pretext (can you say agent provocateur?), went crazy, attacking people mindlessly, chasing mothers with babies in arms into private homes. By day's end, law enfarcement would notch three dead Chicanos: Lyn Ward, a 14-year old boy; Angel Diaz; Ruben Salazar.

Several Chicano novels cite the police riot in East Los Angeles. The earliest is Guy Garcia’s Skin Deep, where the riot marked a turning point in the character's life. Lucha Corpi’s Death of a Brown Angel, opens with her character fleeing the crazed cops. She turns into an alley where she discovers a murdered infant, whose dreadfully abused corpse will lead the woman to solve the mystery. More recently, Stella Pope Duarte's Vietnam war/movimiento novel, Let Their Spirits Dance, recalls the event as a focal point illuminating the contradictions of Chicano activism on one hand, military dedication on another. And I wish I remember the poet who wrote a heart-rending poem about a baby's shoe in the gutter littered with the detritus left in the wake of the panicked crowd fleeing the gas and batons of Laguna Park.

The deaths of those three Chicanos on August 29 was the third time law enforcement killed war protestors in 1970. Three anglo kids were shot by national guardsmen on the Kent State University campus. Ten days later, two black kids were shot by police at Jackson State University. Then came August 29. At Kent State, an iconic image of an anguished girl kneeling over the body of a fallen protestor, hit the cover of Newsweek magazine. The black kids were shot at night in or near their dorm rooms, with no “live” media, so their deaths largely went unmemorialized. The East LA event memorialized the Silver Dollar bar. The Coroner’s Inquest was broadcast live, for all the good that did. (See this satirical piece depicting Nixon’s Tape 231 discussing the Salazar, Diaz, and Ward killings). No police officer or Sheriff’s Deputy was ever brought to account in the shootings of Lyn Ward, a 14-year old Chicano, Angel Diaz, nor La Opinion and LA Times journalist Ruben Salazar. Salazar's murder included a mysterious phone call alerting Sheriff's to a "man with a gun" inside the Silver Dollar. The Deputy fired blind, through a curtain, decapitating Salazar, who was enjoying una chelada miles from the heat of the riot at Laguna Park.

None of this, of course, is in that stamp. Only the ongoing coverup, "during a Chicano protest rally".

There's something more, yet less, in the stamp story. It's "good" only for the next twenty days. The USPS issued the stamp at the current first class standard, 41 cents. On May 12, you’ll have to add a one cent mark-up if you want to honor Salazar with his stamp, since the first class rate goes up to 42 cents.

For a 300 dpi image of the Salazar stamp, click the image above. From the USPS site: Note: When reproducing the Salazar image, please include the following: Ruben Salazar, from the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive (Collection 1429), Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA

Author Alicia Gaspar de Alba fighting women’s cancers

La Bloga is happy to pass along word that the author of Sor Juana’s Second Dream, Desert Blood, and Calligraphy of the Witch, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, has set a goal of raising $2000 in the 5 kilometer event Revlon RunWalk for Women. The event raises money to fight women’s cancers. If you’d like to contribute a few dollars for an important cause, click here. If the link is broken, just go to Revlon’s find participant site and search for firstname Alicia lastname Gaspar de Alba. The resulting page will guide your commitment.

Here’s another way to lend a hand to combating breast cancer and other worthwhile projects. Make it a daily habit to click at the free mammograms website. In addition, you can click to support children’s health, combat hunger, give free books for kids, save rainforest land, and help animals in shelters.

I do not know how much help the above provide, but I suspect it’s as productive, if not more, than giving six grains of rice for every word you get correct, in that vocabulary game that fascinates a number of people. Maybe readers of Denise Chavez’ Loving Pedro Infante will click, remembering Tere’s hope that her annual check to help a Latin American child isn't a foolish act of kindness.

There we have it, the penultimate April Tuesday. La Bloga welcomes your comments on anything you read here. If you have something of your own to present as a guest columnist, La Bloga welcomes guests. Just click here, or leave a comment indicating your interest in being our guest.


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