by Rudy Ch. Garcia
As I describe in yesterday's first report, I spent a week on the road to promote my fantasy novel The Closet of Discarded Dreams in another state, Califas, and a strange region, L.A., as a relatively unknown author and culture-shocked tourist, not knowing how Californios would receive a Chicano author peddling a fantasy book that, as one vata put it, "our gente won't read."
Every time I needed to head to another venue, to this Denverite it was comparable to driving to another city, another city sometimes two hours away. But apparently that's life here.
Latinopia y Jesus Treviño
When Bloguero Michael Sedano told me people were coming over to Casa Sedano for a Mental Cocido (the local version of intimate Salon gatherings), I welcomed not having to climb into the rental again. As the guest artists and writers began showing up, a short trim guëro brought in camera equipment, set it up and introduced himself as Jesús Treviño.
Not until later did I realize this was the Treviño who Sedano featured in a La Bloga post, the one whose television credits include Law and Order - Criminal Intent, The Unit, Criminal Minds and Resurrection Blvd. Apparently, that too is life here, periodic encounters with raza who have broken into higher levels of cultural work than what I'm accustomed to in Denver.
Treviño filmed part of my reading of my novel The Closet of Discarded Dreams and informed me he'll be posting it on his website Latinopia sometime soon.
Later I spent time exploring Latinopia. Calling it a website is an understatement. Yes, it's like other sites with videos, others that feature cultural events or interviews. But the breadth of it is more than ambitious. It struck me--and will you when you check it--as a monumental work. I quickly realized Treviño and company are documenting our history for future generations and others in distant places.
Read Sedano's piece on Latinopia; set aside some time to navigate the wealth of documentary available there; then enjoy it and learn. College students needing research material, fans of lit and music, baby boomers wanting to relive the times and hear the words of those who have, are and will pass through Aztlán, making their marks, leaving their cultural imprints--many of those are here. Later, gente will come to realize the great legacy Treviño has and is making.
I'd been invited to participate in this festival on Oct. 13 at California State University, in Dominguez Hills, and was eager to read and share my novel with everyone in earshot. The Festival linked up with another event aimed more at the community than just writers and lovers of lit. Tens of thousands of people, primarily latino families came through that day.
The building housing the rooms designated for many events had such a convoluted layout and room numbering system, I thought I was The Chicano in my novel--disoriented, lost, wandering into dead ends and generally not certain anyone would find us, even though we authors were determined not to be no-shows.
At my first panel, the audience consisted of two people.
At another panel, three showed and the moderator never appeared.
At my one reading, the two people there very much enjoyed what I read.
I sold a handful of books, probably more due to my lack of fame than anything else.
The event was great for children's books authors Mara Price, René Colato Laínez and others, given the latino family makeup of Festival attendees. Well-known latino authors also did well.
My Festival highlights consisted of meeting authors, celebrities and notables, and getting my pic taken with them, like some cow-town tourist's first time in the Big City.
Of my two readings at Tia Chucha's Cultural Center & Bookstore in Sylmar, getting a chance at the open mic proved to be the best experience. Founders Maria Trinidad Rodriguez, Enrique Sanchez and Luis J. Rodriguez have a gem in this bookstore/cultural center. The Friday Open Mic had the feel of gente greatly knowledgeable about our government's mad dash to the bottom and the 99%'s equally great efforts to keep not only past culture, but also ongoing love of learning. I would read again there any day.
The small attendance at my offical reading and signing was less well-attended, again probably due to me being the out-of-town wannabe searching for fame. But my hosts and the staff made me feel not only welcome, but even a little distinguished.
The Siqueiros mural
For more information you can go here to read Sedano's post about the great Mexican revolutionary artist David Siqueiros mural, America Tropical.
I've been to Mexico, enjoyed not enough time in front of the wondrous Mexican muralists' work, Dr. Atl, Siqueiros, Orozco and Rivera. Every Chicano's bucket list should include travel there to experience something that still inspires the way hearing the national anthem did when we were young, before we knew better.
|B&W estimation of the original America Tropical|
Standing in front of Siqueiros partially salvaged monumental work on an L.A. wall engenders entangled feelings and sensations:
Immediate anger. Over Anglo American ignorance that desecrated a historical treasure, appropriately, with whitewash.
Disgust. For small-minded commercialism that deprived even Anglos of the evocative creativity of one of the world's masters as vaunted as Michelangelo or Degas.
Relief. That modern day efforts restored something of the grandeur that brown children should experience each day before they pick up a crayon.
Pride. That what opens up before you was created by a mind and heart you are distantly linked to, with other links that stretch back into the times of Bonampak.
Emptiness. That can never be satisfied by seeing the original masterpiece. At least not until the next Siqueiros arises with a rebellious brush and revolutionary heart.
|Author Garcia, Ed Olmos, Lalo Alcarez|
Sedano's S.O. Barbara made my stay as Casa Sedano much like finding that perfect resort on a vacation. My other hosts during my stay included René's charming parents, Salvadoreños whose accents reminded me of boriqua's speech of which I usually catch only about every third word. It made me realize how complex latino Spanish is, something not cured in a matter of a few days. With more time, I would have loved talking and listening to fill my coffer of how varied our lives are, how different our experiences, how crazy our heritage. Maybe on another, extended stay I can work past that.
I headed back to Denver, off to another conference, and then Tejas. I retuned with many copies of my books, not much lighter than when I arrived. Other things were also much more weighty. The contacts I'd made, the enjoyment from people I'd spent time with, my perspective on some aspects of life in L.A. And my fuller belly from the cuisine at Casa Sedano. Hasta luego.
Es todo, hoy,
RudyG, aka Rudy Ch. Garcia, author of The Closet of Discarded Dreams
Oct. 24-31, Garcia will be in HOUSTON at the River Oaks Bookstore; in SAN ANTONIO at the SW Workers Union Underground Library, The Twig Book Shop and at Palo Alto College. Click here for details.
Garcia's author interviews can be heard on Tue. Oct 23, 7:30pm CST on Tony Diaz's Nuestra Palabra - Latino Writers Having Their Say, KPFT 90.1fm in Houston and seen on the Great Day San Antonio daytime program, KENS5 TV in San Anto, Sun. Oct. 28 at noon.