Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Goodby artist magu. 45 artists on the walls. On-Line Floricanto.

East Los Says Goodbye to a Great Friend. Magu, ave atque te wacho.

Michael Sedano

Gente my age joke about getting old but sabes que, when a friend dies the death signals the start of an inevitable slide to a Dorothy moment, the last to go will see the first ones go before her. Him. That fate underlay the morose undertone of the festivities memorializing Gilbert Lujan, the artist Magu. It’s an awareness Ruben Guevara, Funkahuatl, alludes to in his “Some haiku for magú” that appeared in La Bloga,

So, what’s new Magú?
Getting ready to join you
Just a few more years

Laugh in the face of death, dying, and grief. The morning dawned with a chill that led to a brilliant and temperate afternoon, especially for the gente in the shade. Out on the island, Emcee Richard Montoya suffered the radiation with loud equanimity. There was plenty of sadness and laughter as speakers and performers held the stage in music, dance, ritual, thanks for the life of our friend who is dead.

Ese, magu, here’s some of what it took to send you off right. Your familia did it up just right. The beautiful arbol de vida grew out of your first altar. Naiche and your carnal Mark drove the Family Car right up to the front door like they owned the place and carried your ashes down to the stage. Right behind your carrito comes Mario Trillo in his delivery van looking bad. Then Mario Guerrero in his white trokita. Then a whole bunch of vatos and their rides. A fine line up and shiny send-off.

Speeches, and Ave Maria, all the verses, in Latin (you woulda dug it, brother), danzantes working to a hard pounding drum. Speeches from your friends. Richard emceed--introduced Mountain to the gente—and kept the ball rolling for all the tributes, paeans, and a bit of chisme but with love. Don’t hang your head, magu, you deserve every word.

You did not deserve the deliberate triple pass by that LA Sheriff helicopter with the muffler turned off. Hey, do you think it was a tribute? The way the craft approached wide of the bowl, circled around like the widening gyre except tightening until the spiral took it directly over your primo’s head was no accident. Rrrrraaaaaaaa the beast flew low and slow above your altar so no one could hear your primo’s chistes. Ni modo. The ducks swam and fussed unperturbed. That was cool.

Mardy was the perfect familia matriarch. The kids made this happen. Obviously your legacy is taking care of itself. The kids are shouldering the responsibility of dealing with your estate. They’ll do fine, magu, they are good people.

It was good hearing you speak at your own memorial, definitely via Memorex. I thought you were going to get the last word in, but then Wayne Healy kicked my ass with his “final letter to magu.” If you can, get your hands on Brooklyn & Boyle. Able put the whole issue in your name, Wayne’s letter and Funkahuatl’s haiku are in there, an interview with Mario plus other good stuff. And check out LA Eastside, great detail fotos of the shrine your familia all put together. Ya stuvo, brother.

Te wacho, magu. Qepd.

Visit Read! Raza for a high resolution foto show with commentary on each frame. Click on a photo for an enlarged view in a new window.

Visit magulandia.com for updates on the estate and magu's archive.

Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery Hosts Major Chicano Mexican American Painting Exhibition

Add a new venue to the eastside’s host of significant art exhibition spaces. Continuing through January 1, Glendale California’s Forest Lawn Cemetery hosts forty-five artists in a sweeping survey of painting and drawing by raza since 1960, Adelante! Mexican American Artists: 1960’s and Beyond.

The museum literally tops the cemetery’s collection of noted sculptural reproductions. The drive up to the museum from San Fernando road meanders past a magnificent David sparking in monumental whiteness. It’s kitsch, but it’s glorious.

At the top of the hill, an ornate church and the museum. Parts of the plaza look west, across the valley as far as the smog allows. Visitora stand on the edge of the quiescent San Rafael fault, the upthrust cliff supporting the rear patio defining the eastern edge of the San Fernando Valley. The breathtaking view rivals what’s hanging inside.

News of the show springs out of nowhere. Forest Lawn’s regular art-based pitch beckons with its reproduction of The Last Supper for casual tourism, and grief counseling for others. Bringing art brings in people, bringing in big time art brings in crowds. Bringing in “Mexican American” art brings in the area's growing demographic.

The event is a rousing success. Funkahuatl was on a groove with The Eastside Luvers, pounding out the oldies. Little Willie G did a special unannounced guest appearance that had the gente around me sighing in sweet memories. Talk about oldies. It is a good crowd that achieves the cemetery’s objective of showcasing itself.

Forest Lawn Glendale Museum joins a trend among local cemeteries to stage chicana chicano events. For instance, this DDLM brings the twelfth annual Hollywood Forever Cemetery fair and the second at Pico Rivera’s Rose Hills. Here, beautiful as its setting, the Glendale site has a small footprint atop the hill. Putting together a major DDLM fest in the space presents logistic nightmares. Pero a ver.

The show, of course, speaks for itself. Still, Forest Lawn p.r. people did not respond to a last-minute query. The event’s website offers useful information, other than crediting the curator’s role. The site proclaims:

“¡Adelante! Mexican American Artists: 1960s and Beyond” is a collection of works by an array of both established and emerging Mexican American artists, and includes paintings, drawings, sculpture, and photography.

Many of the pieces are on loan from the Cheech Marin collection, the website reveals. Marin deserves recognition for sharing his work so generously. Sadly, the event at Forest Lawn Museum is so successful that moving about the exhibit during the opening reception is a wonderful exercise of etiquette, interpersonal communication, and just plain bumping into strangers. I accidently rub Judithe Hernandez’ butt and can offer only a passing nonverbal apology.

Visitors passing through the rear door take in some excellent bronze sculpture in the anteroom to Adelante! The first thing a visitor notices how close everything is. The unnamed curator’s decision to hang such a rich array of visual delights in such tight proximity to rival work is boon and bane. It’s a good way to get one’s head spinning but still one’s head gets to spinning turning from one delight to the next to the next to the… Clearly the choice between show a lot of artists and art or show a lot of wall was made for the former.

This is a fabulous exhibition. Gente in the greater L.A. should get in their cars and make the trek up that long drive to the top of the hill where Glendale becomes L.A. Check out the geography. This show, because the walls are so crowded, is a wonderful feast for the eyes that requires unhurried and multiple visits. The show is free.

When you leave the cemetery, turn left onto San Fernando Road and take it south a couple miles. Turn left on Roseview Avenue. Drive up to the corner and have a big bowl of cocido at King Taco on Roseview and Cypress Ave. Tell them La Bloga sent you.

On-Line Floricanto 2d Tuesday month 9

Featuring: Leticia Diaz Perez, Elena Diaz Bjorkquist, Victor Avila, Avotcja, Sylvia Maltzman

Today’s La Bloga On-Line Floricanto reflects the larger scope of poetry’s response to SB 1070: five voices speaking for human rights, the pursuit of happiness, respecto al derecho ajeno. In other words, quintessentially American values, in the sense of both the United States of America and America the continent.

Today, the moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070 found compelling five poems: A first grader sees things stacked against her. A budding teenager brutalized for doing the right thing. A voter’s abandonment of hope. A second take on invisibility, allusions to a dream denied. Today’s floricanto closes with a painful reminder of our “Americanness”.

"1st Grade Lunch" by Leticia Diaz Perez
"Algebra I" by Elena Diaz Bjorkquist
"The Invisible Man" Victor Avila
"In the Shadow of Carijama" by Avotcja
"Zero" by Sylvia Maltzman

1st Grade Lunch
by Leticia Diaz-Perez

Skinny little white girls
in my 1st grade class
open up the brown bags
and take their lunches out

Wonder Bread
Wonder Bread
peanut butter sandwiches
grape and cherry jam

they don't seem very happy
with the contents of their lunch bags
and look around the table
to see who they can pick on
that's when they spot my entree
that I'm happily devouring
and one skinny little white girl
starts putting on a face
" What is that stuff you're eating,
is that Spanish food again? "

Debbie, Jenny, Cindy, Sue
decide my lunch is over
they poke into my rice
with their peanut butter fingers
yuk- yuk- yuk- yuk- yuk- yuk
bugger fingers in my rice
" Will you leave my rice alone
Debbie, Jenny, Cindy, Sue?
I'm going to tell Miss Peters..."
and they laugh and laugh and laugh

so I stomp into the classroom
to straighten out the matter
Miss Peters is correcting
this morning's spelling tests
I stand right right beside her
and show her my white rice
" What are you trying to tell me? "
she asks so quite annoyed
as she opens up her lunch bag
to take her sandwich out

"Debbie, Jenny, Cindy,Sue
they poked into my rice
and now I'm very angry
because I have no lunch."
Miss Peters rolls her eyes
and bites into her sandwich
her mouth makes funny noises
she takes a sip of coffee
and clears her throat before
she tells me oh so calmly
"Remind me, will you dear,
to write your mom a note
to fix you simple sandwiches
instead of Spanish food?
It does create a problem
between you and the others
and smells so quite unpleasant
that it becomes a bother.
Now go back to your table
and finish up your lunch
cause' lunchtime's nearly over
but remind me, will you dear,
to write your mom a note?"

Skinny little white girls
in my 1st grade class
Wonder Bread
Wonder Bread
peanut butter sandwiches
grape and cherry jam.

© Leticia Diaz-Perez

Algebra I
by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist

He was a big, blonde, dumb
Star football player,
A lone senior repeating Alegbra I
With a class of freshmen.

I sat in front of him,
A shy, Spanish-speaking Chicana.
He got F’s.
I got A’s.

He tried to cheat
Off my midterm exam.
I hid it from him.
Retaliation swiftly followed.

A powerful blow fell
Full force upon my neck.
My world darkened in pain
That didn’t go away.

I saw Mr. Pfeifer staring
At me through coke bottle
Glasses, but then looking away.
Did he see?

The football player hissed,
“You tell, you get more.”
My stomach churned,
I swallowed bile.

The next day, I asked Pfeifer
To move me closer to the board.
I never told a soul
but never forgot.

I heard the football player died.
Did he ever remember
What he did,
Ever regretted it?

Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2011

The Invisible Man
by Victor Avila

They searched the White House
for the President.
They looked long and hard
but just couldn't find him.
Environmentalists asked,
"But who will protect
the trees, air, and land?" -
Apparently not
the Invisible Man.

Through the tunnels of the Capitol
a more expanded search began.
But the Tea Party beasties were roaming
and afraid to confront them, the President ran.
The working poor asked, "Who will stand with us
against corporate vampires and their greedy demands?"
Certainly not
the Invisible Man.

So where is the person we voted for?
The promise of change never came.
Now the rich buy bigger mansions
and look for ways to destroy the minimum wage.
We are desperate and hungry
and take any menial job we can.
No thanks are given to
the Invisible Man.

Conspicuous by his absence in Wisconsin,
on his watch the Dream Act was shelved.
He let them whittle Health Care Reform to nothing.
But that's just another day in Washington
and the prowess of
the Invisible Man.

So when some bright-eyed kid says,
"I want to be President."
Answer them, "Oh, yes you can!"
But first you have to learn how to hide in a closet...
All hail to the Chief-
The Invisible Man.


for Connie Williams, Jackie Artman, The African Queens,
Malonga Cascalourde, Jacque Barnes, D’Midas,
Carlos Aceituno/Regina Calloway & Fogo Na Ropa,
Sistas-Wit-Style, Mas Makers Massive, Val Serrant,
The Bay Area Blues Society, United Sisters, All-Ah-We,
Diamano Coura, DJ Miller The Killer, & Avotcja

by Avotcja

I was there
Standing in the shadows
Of a revelry denied
I was invisible
Pushed to the side
Like yesterday’s Bacchanal
And the slavery we danced in spite of
I was invisible
Unseen like the pain we sang in the face of
Nobody saw me
Lost in the shambles
Just another invisible nonentity
An embodied phantom
Standing alone
In between the naked homelessness
Of the Ghosts of Carijama
And another trampled on dream
In a now fenced in Park
In a passionless neighborhood
I left unnoticed
Swam all the way home
Wrapped in an ocean of sadness
Swimming in tears
A bitter tasting travesty
A sea of furious, foul tasting tears
By hundreds of years of unstoppable pride
Just waiting for the right time to be reborn
But you better know
Though I may have been invisible
I was never alone
And I was always there

Copyright © Avotcja


in honor of the anniversary of 9/11

by Sylvia Maltzman

Someone shot a hole through me
where words should be.
I stutter and halt,
English verbs struggling to sputter into life,
a stalled airplane crashing into my chest,
thoughts crumbling into ashes.
The paper I should scrawl upon
floats to a rubbled street,
burning as it lands,
pierced by a thousand shards of blasted glass.
The pen bleeds in my hand,
the hand that ought to write the heart,
but the heart
disintegrates within me like grated drywall.
The steel resolution of my spine
turns molten;
I am a vacant skull,
eyes floating in a liquid metal puddle.

Someone shot a hole in us
where words should be,
where monuments of light or stone or steel
should rise.
Fall’s harvest yields no fruit palatable to the eyes or soul,
September’s blue pinstripe suit unsuitable for mourning.
How bury the dead when they cannot be found?
Memorialize the souls when they are but vapor?
Epitaphs—can they be written on monuments to the missing
when talking heads deliberate minutiae?
Two millennia and a day from now, will there be sufficient dust
To send these ragged souls to their Elysium?
Perhaps then the words of ghosts could write themselves
on monoliths of peace.


"1st Grade Lunch" by Leticia Diaz Perez
"Algebra I" by Elena Diaz Bjorkquist
"The Invisible Man" Victor Avila
"In the Shadow of Carijama" by Avotcja
"Zero" by Sylvia Maltzman

Leticia Diaz-Perez was born in Virginia and raised in Michigan.She attended the University of Michigan, where she graduated with a BA/English and American Literature and an MA/Spanish and Latin American Literature. While at the University of Michigan she co-hosted "Radio Caliente" at WCBN FM , one of the first Latino radio shows in the Ann Arbor area. It was at WCBN that she interviewed Latino writers Pedro Pietri, Tato Laviera, Trinidad Sanchez,Sandra Cisneros and Piri Thomas-inspiring her to start writing and telling her story.Leticia has taught Spanish at the University of Michigan and in the Michigan public school system. She also taught in the New York City public school system, (4th grade bilingual teacher) where she had the opportunity to work with a group of beautiful children who had recently arrived from the Dominican Republic.Leticia is currently working on her first book of poems, "Sugar from the Sky".

Elena Díaz Björkquist, a writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, writes about Morenci, Arizona where she was born. She is the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon. Elena has been on the Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Speakers Bureau for ten years performing as Teresa Urrea in a Chautauqua living history presentation, and doing presentations about Morenci, Arizona and also the 1880’s Schoolhouse in Tubac.

Elena is co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos, an anthology written by her writers group. The project was funded by AHC. She is nearing completion of another collection of Morenci stories entitled Albóndiga Soup and is co-editing a new anthology entitled Our Spirit, Our Reality; our life experiences in stories and poems by the Comadres of Sowing the Seeds.

A SIROW Scholar at the University of Arizona, Elena conducted an oral history project funded by AHC; “In the Shadow of the Smokestack.” A website she created contains the oral history interviews and photographs of Chicano elders living in Morenci during the Depression and World War II. Another project funded by AHC and the Stocker Foundation is “Tubac 1880’s Schoolhouse Living History Program.” Her website is www.elenadiazbjorkquist.net/.

Elena is one of the poet moderators for the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB1070.

Victor Avila is a California educator. He has been teaching in public schools for over 22 years. Victor is a widely published poet and a winner of the Chicano Literary Prize. He also writes and illustrates ghost stories for GHOULA Comix. Three of those stories will be published in GHOULA Comix # 2 in October.

photo by Howard Dy
AVOTCJA (prounounced Avacha)-Musica, Poeta y Loca is a card carrying Music fanatic/sound junkie & popular Bay Area Radio DeeJay. She’s a lifelong Musician/Writer/Educator & is on a shamelessly Spirit driven melodic mission to heal herself. Wanna go???

Peruvian Poet Camincha says:
“AVACHA's poetry is music and Avacha's music is poetry. Both are as hot as fire and as soothing as snow flakes. And in both she brings the best of her talent in Spanish and English. Listen to her. Read her . Enjoy her. Celebrate her.”

Sylvia Maltzman is a poet who has spent most of her life in Miami, Florida among the various flora, fauna & amazingly varied human beings who have sought out this place for sanctuary. She is co-hosting one of the Miami events for 100 Thousand Poets for Change in September. Her poem "Zero" will be one of the poems she will read for this event.

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