Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dénouement to Negative Pedo. On-Line Floricanto Penultimate Tuesday

Next Steps As Movimiento Photogs Recover Negatives

Michael Sedano

After forty years, it all boils down to a massive misunderstanding. 

“Ask me next month” one photographer replies when I ask if he’s satisfied, now that the negatives and other materials reside in Joe Razo’s office, seventeen cartons of three-ring binders. 

Negative strips in binder sleeves.
The suddenness of events has caught everyone by surprise, the full impact is still sinking in. There’s a ton of work ahead and an immediate critical decision.

Last week, La Bloga reported on the sequestration of photo archives of movimiento newspaper La Raza Newspaper and Magazine. The issue had burned quietly over the forty years since the magazine folded, leaving the archive in possession of the final editor, Raúl Ruiz.

Over time, photographers sought access to their negatives but Ruiz denied access. Once, the photographers were twenty-somethings, the editors in their thirties. Today, those photographers are retired and taking store of a life’s work. In all this time none have seen their youthful images except in memories.

Ruiz' best expression of regret and apology for the years of discord over the negatives is seen in his swift delivery of all the materials. He was wrong, Ruiz acknowledges that. Ruiz includes his own negative files, including those he took during the police riot of August 29, 1970. 

I asked one photographer who had inspected his negatives, if there were images he remembered, that he looked forward to seeing again. “Oh yeah.” The two words burned with the warmth of never-forgotten moments of perfection, like remembering an old novia. “Oh yeah,” he says again.

When Luis C. Garza wrote the Open Letter on the subject and LatinoLA published it Saturday November 10, Ruiz realized his error and quickly recanted.

On Tuesday morning November 13, Ruiz delivered seventeen cartons to former editor Joe Razo’s chante. Garza and Razo estimate they will have 30,000 images once they recover the complete archive. The negatives are sleeved in individual strips and kept in binders. Many of the pages include proof sheets. This means there's an excellent chance the negs have not deteriorated.

Through the years and various relocations, Ruiz kept the archive—which includes editorial material--largely intact. Ruiz promises he’ll find some missing elements, for example, most of editor-photographer Razo’s files are not in the notebooks. 

Properly processed and stored negatives have a long shelf life, especially when professionally organized like the 17 boxes of notebooks. Sadly, indexing was not a disciplined occupation of the newspaper. There’s a ton of work to be done now, identifying the photographer, the date and location of 30,000 frames.

Razo and Garza identify key issues the photographers will decide collectively. The most critical decision, and the one the photographers will address first, is keeping the collection together. What if individual photographers want theirs back? It’s likely they all share a commitment to finding an institution to receive the archive and make the images publically accessible. Photographer and USC professor Felix Gutíerrez can make the conecta with USC’s Digital Library.

UCLA, UCSB, Cal State Northridge, the University of Southern California would make suitable repositories. I recommended the collective favorably consider USC’s Digital Library. I donated my own negatives of the 1973 Festival de Flor y Canto to USC, and know the gente well.

With USC’s extensive collection of Southern California historical images, La Raza Newspaper and Magazine archive makes a good fit. For example, the library is digitizing the files of the LA Herald-Examiner. 

Felix Gutíerrez shares last foto of Ruben Salazar
 with Boekmann Center librarian Barbara Robinson.
The library’s Boekmann Center Collection features an expanding catalog of historic Chicanada materials. 

In addition to the digitized videos from 1973’s Festival de Flor y Canto that launched the floricanto movement, the Boekmann Center Collection is the repository for Ruben Salazar’s personal papers, including the last known foto of Salazar alive, an FBI surveillance shot of the journalist trailing the marchers along Whittier Blvd.

The photographers met last week to launch discussions on the collection’s fate. Scholars who have a pressing need to see the archive can contact Joe Razo. Razo describes his caretaker role of the negatives “completely transparent,” indicating Razo’s commitment to returning these images to history, as well as the photographers.

Massive work and key decision lies ahead.

Technology allows photographers to have their negatives and share them too. I had a hundred or so frames that I digitized myself. I keep possession of my negatives while USC displays the images themselves on its Digital Library. In theory, any library in the world wanting “original” copies of photographic images need only acquire the scanned file and store it on local servers. If someone wants to own a museum quality print of an image, or use a frame in a textbook or documentary, there’s a link to create that opportunity. The photographer doesn’t lose control of one’s own work.

Digitizing is costly. Hardware is cheap; it’s the labor to feed the machine that costs. Non-stop scanning, 35,000 images at a minute per six-frame strip will require almost 500 hours. At $10.00 an hour for one work-study student, that’s $5000 the library must come up with, just to start thinking about acquiring the donation of the archive.

Every frame requires coding. Not just a dewey decimal number or other catalog locator, but libraries keep, inside the files, hundreds of characters of data about every item. That data needs to be verified then keyboarded. Some of this work requires an information professional’s skill. Add another ten grand to the budget and now we’re up to $15,000.

Library administrators don’t budget for such fall-in-your-lap windfalls like 35,000 important historical photographic negatives. Where does a Dean find a source of fifteen thousand dollars to spend on safeguarding the value of La Raza newspaper and magazine’s archive?

This photographic collection is the only one in existence of some of the most important events of recent U.S. history. The images can flesh out, or be the subject, of dozens of dissertations. For a University, such treasures help attract leading scholars, and donors.

USC has a President’s Office and a leader with a long list of friends and a vision for the University. La Bloga calls on President Max Nikias to prioritize USC’s acquisition of this precious resource. Can a president turn a magical money tap and produce fifteen grand just like that?

Problems like that are why universities have presidents. Solutions go with the job.

But first things first. The photographers will decide what to do with the collection. Keep it whole, or break it apart. That’s unlikely, but a possibility. 

In the meantime, the process of making a database of those seventeen cases of negative strips occupies the available energies of the collective, but mostly Joe Razo. Razo's offered access to any academic with a professional interest in the archive. Who knows if academia will beat a path to Joe Razo's door? 

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto, Penultimate Tuesday of November 2012
Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Avotcja, Ana Chig, Alma Luz Villanueva

"Motherland", by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"Calling Forth the Seeds of Winter", by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Are We Even Listening?", by Avotcja
"INSANIA", por Ana Chig
"Happy", by Alma Luz Villanueva


Odilia Galván Rodríguez

far from artificial borders that birthed us
our long toothed roots remain tethered here
to earth red with ancient ancestor's blood
that bloomed future, their generations spread across
these great nations, which was always motherland
long before strangers came, named us foreign
we remain forever citizens of Turtle Island

Calling Forth the Seeds of Winter
Elena Díaz Bjorkquist

Dedicated to my Comadres of Sowing the
Seeds who endured the cold outside on
the porch at our last meeting!

In cold truth, Summer ends,
Seeds prepare to rest.
Something about that cold.
Things come out of it,
Settle in our writer’s heart.

Sun vanishes, temperature drops,
We endure head-clearing cold,
Recall, recognize, honor
The seeds of our wisdom’s harvest.

Winter winds like sacred voices
Call forth abundance,
A time to resurrect
Our natural creativity,
A joy for all.

Time to remember the gifts
From loved ones who’ve gone on.
Time to select seeds of wise actions
To plant for future harvest.

Cold and heat,
Summer and winter,
Seed time and harvest time,
Suggest a definite time of harvest.

But there's no fixed time for harvest,
We can call it forth at will.
The harvest is clear—memories
Reveal the lessons of what's passed.

We become aware,
Accept the creative power of now,
Conceptualize, visualize, energize
A world of beauty, good relationships.

The heart of awareness,
Is the dance of arising worlds,
Soul seeds planted in winter.

Are We Even Listening?

Mother Nature is crying
And as I drink her tears
I ask myself
What can I do to make her smile?

por Ana Chig

Un compás de nieblas nocturnas detenidas en el verde oscuro
Migas de astenia repartidas a los pájaros en la escisión inaprensible de las almas
La ventosa urbana, el cementerio de nubes grises y silenciosas

Todos reunidos ésta noche a contratiempo
Con la médula de cartón humedecida
Orgánica la palabra, luciérnaga el deseo, articulados los sueños,
y un vacío tintineando inquieto en los bolsillos.

Alma Luz Villanueva

Flowers in fountains,
scented lilies, roses,
beauty, trees, grasses
fed by springs, greeted

"Hola, la agua es muy
rica," this water
always heals me, the
unguarded smiles, laughter,

until the tourists
arrive, smiles but now
polite, butterflies float
in warm November air,

the scented lilies soothe
me, a black crow
struts, a kitten plays with
her mother, as I

eat chicken
fajitas for
breakfast, cold
cerveza with

limes, a pitcher
of coffee, Spanish
cradling my ears,
I'm happy.


"Motherland", by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"Calling Forth the Seeds of Winter", by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Are We Even Listening?", by Avotcja
"INSANIA", por Ana Chig
"Happy", by Alma Luz Villanueva

Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet/activist, writer and editor, has been involved in social justice organizing and helping people find their creative and spiritual voice for over two decades. Odilia is one of the original members and a moderator, of Poets Responding to SB 1070 on Facebook. She teaches creative writing workshops nationally, currently at Casa Latina, and also co-hosts, "Poetry Express" a weekly
open mike with featured poets, in Berkeley, CA. For more information about workshops see her blog http://xhiuayotl.blogspot.com/ or contact her through Red Earth Productions & Cultural Work 510-343-3693.

Elena Díaz Björkquist, third from right.
“Sowing the Seeds, my woman writers collective has been active in Tucson for 12 years. Each November, we meet at my home to celebrate el Día de los Muertos and for an arts and crafts workshop. This year we decided to invite Doña Rosa from Albuquerque to do a Medicinal Herbs Workshop for us. The workshop was held on my portal. It was a beautiful sunny day that was supposed to warm up, but instead it got colder! I wrote this poem for my freezing Comadres.”

A writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, Elena writes about Morenci, Arizona where she was born. She is the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon. Elena is co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos and Our Spirit, Our Reality; our life experiences in stories and poems, anthologies written by her writers collective Sowing the Seeds.

As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, Elena has performed as Teresa Urrea in a Chautauqua living history presentation and done presentations about Morenci, Arizona for twelve years. She recently received the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing and the 2012 Arizona Humanities Council Dan Schilling Public Humanities Scholar Award in recognition of her work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the role that the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.

Elena is one of the poet moderators for the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB1070” and has written many poems published not only on that page, but also on La Bloga. She was recently nominated for Poet Laureate of Tucson. Her website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.

Avotcja (pronounced Avacha) is a card carrying New York born Music fanatic/sound junkie & popular Bay Area Radio DeeJay & member of the award winning group Avotcja & Modúpue. She’s a lifelong Musician/Writer/Educator/Storyteller & is on a shamelessly Spirit-driven melodic mission to heal herself. Avotcja talks to the Trees & listens to the Wind against the concrete & when they answer it usually winds up in a Poem or Short Story.
Website: www.Avotcja.org
Email: LaVerdadMusical@yahoo.com

Alma Luz Villanueva was raised in the Mission District, San Francisco, by her Yaqui grandmother, Jesus Villanueva- she was a curandera/healer from Sonora, Mexico. Without Jesus no poetry, no stories, no memory...

Author of eight books of poetry, most recently, Soft Chaos (2009). A few poetry anthologies: The Best American Poetry, 1996, Unsettling America, A Century of Women's Poetry, Prayers For A Thousand Years, Inspiration from Leaders & Visionaries Around The World. Three novels: The Ultraviolet Sky, Naked Ladies, Luna's California Poppies, and the short story collection, Weeping Woman, La Llorona and Other Stories. Villanueva's  fourth novel, SCORPION HUNTER, and new book of poetry, GRACIAS, are to be published in 2013. Fiction anthologies include: 500 Great Books by Women, From The Thirteenth Century; Caliente, The Best Erotic Writing From Latin America; Coming of Age in The 21st Century; Sudden Fiction Latino. Her poetry and fiction has been published in textbooks from grammar to university, and is used in the US and abroad as textbooks. Alma Luz Villanueva has taught in the MFA in creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles, for the past fourteen years. She is the mother of four, wonderful, grown human beings.

Alma Luz Villanueva now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the past eight years, traveling the ancient trade routes to return to teach, and visit family and friends, QUE VIVA!! And taking trips throughout Mexico, working on a novel in progress, always the poetry, memory.

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