Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Real Art. Bad News, Good News. Mid-April On-line Floricanto

Las Four Readers at The Last Bookstore Save the Day

Michael Sedano

The Facebook announcement popped up on the screen causing immediate rising expectation of a great day of art.  A late afternoon reading by a quartet of women writers, and tickets to the theatre; everything meshed with possibilities. The reading, at Los Angeles' most exciting book den, The Last Bookstore, announced Consuelo Flores, Linda Gamboa, Liz Gonzalez, and Frankie Hernandez. I'd photographed two of them, and looked forward to Gamboa and Flores.

First, the timing was almost right. Too darned many readings start late and schedule beyond my bedtime. Maybe I've been hanging around my hens too long. All of us rise before the sun, and when the sun goes down, we're ready to retire.

The problem Sunday was a pair of seats in the Mark Taper Forum for the traveling roadshow, "Tribes." The  matinee began at one, the reading at 5:30, with dinner interim.
Linda Gamboa delighted the audience with
light-hearted banter and humorous prose.
Going second on a program often disadvantages
the reader. Gamboa stole the show and was a tough act to follow.
The Last Bookstore's ample space wasn't large enough for the
 SRO crowd. Arriving late--I missed Consuelo Flores' presentation.
I found seating on the floor and my wife sat behind the stage.
Liz Gonzalez reads from her novel-in-progress. Liz' mother
helped select the excerpt Liz read, extracting a promise
the author point out her mother is nothing like the
racy mother of the novel. The excerpt focused on teenage girls,
leaving me wanting to hear more about mom and her adventures at the party.
Frankie Hernandez selected bitingly witty poems
for single moms twice over, falling in love, again, then out.
Las four. Hernandez, Consuelo Flores, Liz Gonzalez,
Linda Gamboa made a great line-up that deserves
several repeat performances. Maybe they'll take it on the road.
The reading offered a clear-voiced, articulate counterpoint to the thing at the Mark Taper Forum. As usual, artistic director Michael Ritchie eschews local actors to bring outside talent to the main stage.

"Tribes" offers an involving script revolving around deafness and going-deaf communication, a family of writers filled with anomie whose poor communication defines their lifestyle. A disabled son who hears voices adds complexity to the script's exploration of effective interpersonal communication.

Ritchie's preference of out-of-town talent backfires badly. The British accents are inarticulate to my ears and I could not understand more than half of the speeches. The deaf actors' characteristic diction posed no problem, and the supertitles translated the finger spelling and signing. Slow down, actors, it's not a race. Facing the audience when you speak is always great praxis.

The thing is adequately staged, with occasionally odd lighting effects, and an aggressive sound design that wasn't helped when the listening devices many of the audience used went into feedback loops and emitted high pitched whishing noise. And when the script did the same, at high volume, I lamented the overkill of a too-heavy hand on the "if you could hear what I hear" empathy.

The production ruined an important script that has its own problems of continuity and cohesiveness. For example, as the plot winds to an end, the characters well up in powerful emotional crisis, and then the thing just ends with a minor character signing "I love you." I heard voices around me asking, "that's it?"

Instead of wasting time at the Taper, I should have requested a copy of the script--as deaf folks do--and attended the Bluebird Reading at Avenue 50 Studio I passed up to sit in the Taper.

There was a lot more art on the platform of The Last Bookstore than I could see on the Taper's Main Stage. It's time for Michael Ritchie to move on to someplace he can be successful.

Here's an idea: walk the five blocks from Bunker Hill down to Spring Street and 5th. A few years ago, Gordon Davidson and Luis Alfaro drew together a handful of local women writers, Alma Elene Cervantes, Sandra C. Muñoz and Marisela Norte, to stage the memorable "Black Butterfly, Jaguar Girl, Pinata Woman and Other Superhero Girls, Like Me."

I reckon Las 4 mujeres at The Last Bookstore have in them a similar hit. It's time Michael Ritchie hit the big time with local talent, and it's right under his nose.

"Tribes" at the Mark Taper Forum concluded its run April 14. Much of the roadshow cast has been performing the piece for a year and the fatigue showed in this next-to-last performance.

Bad News
Sal Castro, QEPD

From Crystal City TX to Lincoln Heights CA in the 1960s, high school students staged dramatic actions to ensure their own and the community’s future would be different from one described by José Angel Gutíerrez in 22 Miles, “the stoop labor with high school rings on their fingers.”

The papers called the actions “the blow-outs”. What it is is el movimiento.

In Lincoln Heights, just northeast of downtown Los Angeles, a high school teacher stepped forth to defend the rights of students to walk out, to protest the dismal schooling LAUSD had chosen to dump on them.

Sal continued to support the community and earned the lifelong respect of an entire community. His activism also earned him a heaping load of scorn from entrenched authorities whose hubris Sal and the movimiento challenged.

Sal, and the movement won that battle. Present-day LAUSD represents quasi-progressive ideals that validate the risks, tears, and joy Sal Castro fought to bring to the entrenched bureaucrats and the community.

Monday, April 15, 2013, news reached his admirers that Sal Castro died. Age and illness may have sapped his body but never his spirit.

Sal Castro?


Good News
PIQE Paves the Path to Better Schools

Student walkouts like those Sal Castro supported offered the only effective way to communicate with my-way-or-the-highway school administrators, in the 1960s. The onus had to be on the kids because the parents were uninformed and powerless, and school leadership knew they could get away with anything.

In many schools, administrators like it that way, and based on the dismal performance of numerous school districts, 2013 public schooling is dèja vu 1966.

But not if PIQE is serving a community.

PIQE – Parent Institute for Quality Education—closes the information gap and provides training to parents, principally in troubled schools, to help parents take a leadership role in their children’s schools.

The organization's mission starts with elementary schools and supports programs through high school, to help schools build a college-going culture.

In a series of nine meetings, PIQE brings parents together to meet with the Principal and other school leaders. The community of parents working with administrators helps the school understand and accept accountability for itself.

Meetings are conducted--translated if necessary--in the parents’ languages. The school explains the A to G requirements--the standard coursework that is the only route to college admission in California—plus what a counselor does, how to read a grade report, how to talk to a Principal or teacher, where to get financial aid to take ACT or SAT exams, to whom and how to complain when there’s a problem.

A good school welcomes PIQE training. A bad school resents the Hell out of PIQE metiches, which is why every struggling school needs PIQE or an equivalent program.

When a school is not doing its job, it doesn’t take a blow-out to bring corrective action. What’s needed is a determined parent, informed of the law and their child’s rights, to call a meeting with teachers and leadership, and force accountability on paycheck collectors passing for educators.

Aristotle said that, all things being equal, good will overcome bad. But you gotta be able to talk and use the available means of persuasion. Enter PIQE.

For schools sincerely desperate for answers to seemingly intractable problems, accountability is one effective change agent. Visit PIQE’s website for inspiring testimonial videos and to learn more about this highly effective program.

On-line Floricanto After Taxday
Andrea Mauk, Mario Angel Escobar, Tara Evonne Trudell, Fernando Rodríguez, Rose Sanchez

"You Need an Intervention", by Andrea Mauk
"La Marcha", by Mario Angel Escobar
"the belly of the beast", by Tara Evonne Trudell
"Somos América", by Fernando Rodríguez
"Sí Se Puede!", by Rose Sanchez

You Need an Intervention
by Andrea Mauk

I can no longer trust you,
you with your cinnamon coated apples
baking sweetness into stale air,
with your Chevy Stepside pickup trucks
that I've always lusted after,
with your peanuts and cracker jacks and
7th inning stretches.
You, yes you, have betrayed me.

I no longer believe that mom and pops
own a farm in a sleepy town
where grass waves as far as the eye can see,
where the addresses are all P.O. Boxes,
and they store wholesome grains in the
rusty red silo,
and milk happy cows.
The goose who laid the golden egg
must have been fed grain
engineered by mad scientists
with enough power
to make your FDA lie to me
through smiling teeth.

I don't pick up a magazine anymore
and get pulled into the gloss and glamour,
stick-thin and better than perfect.
No Madison Avenue Mad Men
can sell me a borrowed identity
that was never meant for me
unless I go downtown and buy a
knock off. I woke up
from the media dream that had been
loaded into my head, and now
all I can do is watch the billboard peel,
the illusion

You can't fool me with your
big bank theories and business plans.
How can so many homes stand vacant
and boarded and padlocked
while ghost families,
ex-patriots of the mainstream,
plug their TVs into
the city grid
in their under the overpass
sleeping bag abodes?
How can you ask me to
pay 426 thousand dollars for a home
that is worth half that, maybe,
knowing that you haven't given me
a Cost of Living Allowance since
George W. Bush enacted
No Child Left Behind, 2002,
knowing that my mortgage
is a predator, waiting to eat me?

I can no longer trust you,
yes you, with your pretty lies,
with your acrid coastlines,
your ribbons of pot-holed highways.
I was proud to be a part of you,
to believe in you and your
myths and your muscle,
your red, white and blue,
but now I realize
that no matter whose face you show me,
you don't represent me.
No matter my talent,
you don't want to know me.
I no longer vote 'for'
but 'against.'

It's no use to light a candle
and pray about it
because religion has become
a weapon of mass destruction
within our borders,
our breeder of hatred,
our divider, our shame.
I don't know where to turn
because I still want to love you
and your overblown dream.
I can't trust you anymore,
munching bowls of power
like Wheaties at breakfast time.

I let you seduce me
but you no longer feel good
All you do is lie
to cover up your problem.
You need an intervention,
America the Beautiful,
in order to become the
land of opportunity,
the great country
you masqueraded to be.

Copyright 2013 Andrea Mauk
All rights reserved

La Marcha
by Mario Angel Escobar

Unhappy and without shelter
the wind blows in its vastness
but the infamous Judas in his lair
does not hear
the flames of a solstice dream
the soul at the tip of the tongue
that dazzles the senses
and tenses the heart.

In the white Cathedral of Olympus,
the infamous Judas with its pen
painfully represses their grief
and curses their fate.

In every corner of the city a wave of souls plea for justice
while the divine and watchful eye
takes note of the wind peacefully blowing against
the infamous Judas’ door.

Copyright 2013 Mario Angel Escobar
All rights reserved

the belly of the beast
by Tara Evonne Trudell

the belly
of the beast
living fat
and full
greasy politicians
greed thriving
Arizona killing
fake brown
tans gleam
reflecting hate
using sun
to dry up
raisin hearts
SB 1070
pushing paperwork
performing reform
over and over
figuring ways
to keep oppression
pushing papers
hatred oozing
Brewer cozy
sold out
Pachuco flying
first class
being polite
while living
inhuman lies
bad behavior
nazi style
securing borders
target practice
taking books
jailing humanity
Arpaio grinning
getting away
with lawless
murder in night
wailing of spirit
home land
being sent
back across
fake lines
in sand.

Copyright 2013 Tara Evonne Trudell
All rights reserved

Somos América
by Fernando Rodríguez

Somos América
Somos el pasto a través del país,
Que alimenta y mantiene a tus vacas
Somos las nubes del país,
Que cubren y mojan la tierra
Somos 11 millones
Somos americanos
El contitnente es América no solo un país
Somos el futuro, pasado y presente
Somos América
El desayuno del güero
El descanso de los flojos
El ticket del policía
El consumidor de la Wal-mart
El que paga la renta, luz y agua
El que mantiene tu economía
El que pelea tus batallas
Somos América
Somos muchos
Y dime tú ¿quién eres?

Copyright 2013 Fernando Rodríguez
All rights reserved

Sí Se Puede!
by Rose Sanchez

The sun blazed,bright and hot,
even though it was only 10:00 a.m.
on a spring day.
April 10th, 2006.
Arizona sky only slightly overcast,
a hazy cover of light clouds.
A gift offered to us from Creator,
even though we,
Children Of The Sun were created,
strong, able to overcome, blazing heat.
A very slight breeze blowing by when necessary,
cooling the sweat dripping off of our bodies.
On this day, This Raza, was not bent over in the fields for hours,
picking vegetables for meager pay and no respect.
No, on this day, three of my own children, my grandson and myself,
were waiting to march
amongst a throng of at least one hundred thousand
Most were “Mexicanos”
but there were also many others present
we were all Children Of The Sun that day.


That familiar, motivational grito, rang loud and clear
throughout the crowd amassed
on this historical date.
As far as the eye could see,
Mi gente stood, every shade of skin,
from creamy vanilla, to dark canella brown.
The ages of the crowd varied just as much,
from bebe's only a few months old,
to viejitos with faces crisscrossed
in deeply etched lines.
A road map to battle grounds they had trampled across,
during their lifetime.


Hands clapping,
feet stomping,
There was a visual ripple of determination & excitement,
pride and hope shone brightly in dark eyes.
I have always known,
the blood that pulsates through my veins,
is strong, rich with the warrior spirit
of my indigenous ancestors.
But on that day, standing united
with brothers and sisters, who I had never met before,
I could clearly see, we were all Children Of The Sun.


That day, a spirit moved me.
I swear to you on all that is Holy to me,
I heard Creator’s voice,
Gentle, yet full of strength, urging us,
Children Of The Sun to march on!
“Be strong mijita, SI SE PUEDE!”
Finally, i took up the grito myself:


One foot, in front of the other
I began to follow the steps of my forefathers.
I began the most meaningful walk of my lifetime,
with tears of determination pouring from my eyes.


Copyright 2013 Rose Sanchez
All rights reserved

You Need an Intervention, by Andrea Mauk
La Marcha, by Mario Angel Escobar
the belly of the beast, by Tara Evonne Trudell
Somos América, by Fernando Rodríguez
Sí Se Puede!, by Rose Sanchez

Andrea García Mauk grew up in Arizona, where both the immense beauty and harsh realities of living in the desert shaped her artistic soul. She calls Los Angeles home, but has also lived in Chicago, New York and Boston. She has worked in the music industry, and on various film and television productions. She writes short fiction, poetry, original screenplays and adaptations, and is currently finishing two novels. Her writing and artwork has been published and viewed in a variety of places such as on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder; The Journal of School Psychologists and Victorian Homes Magazine. Both her poetry and artwork have won
awards. Several of her poems and a memoir are included in the 2011 anthology, Our Spirit, Our Reality, and her poetry is featured in the 2012 Mujeres de Maiz “‘Zine.” She is a regular contributor to Poets responding to SB 1070. Her poems have been chosen for publication on La Bloga’s Tuesday Floricanto numerous times. She is also a moderator of Diving Deeper, an online workshop for writers, and has written extensively about music, especially jazz, while working in the entertainment industry. Her production company, Dancing Horse Media Group, is currently in pre-production of her independent film, “Beautiful Dreamer,” based on her original screenplay and manuscript, and along with her partners, is producing a unique cookbook that blends healthful recipes with poetry and prose from the community.

Mario A. Escobar (January 19, 1978-) is a US-Salvadoran writer and poet born in 1978. Although he considers himself first and foremost a poet, he is known as the founder and editor of Izote Press, the first Central American publisher in the United States. Escobar was born in La Union (El Salvador) on January 19, 1978. Escobar has stated that his exposure to “poetic sounds” began during his childhood and that his foundation in poetry stemmed from what he witness during the Salvadoran Civil War. Escobar began his writing career by the age of 13 as a poet. He cites Roque Dalton, Tato Laviera and Jaime Sabines as some of his early poetic influences. Escobar’s work has been feature in UCLA’s publication Underground Undergrads which recognizes the poet as an activist for the undocumented Student Movement. In 2004, Escobar was placed under arrest and was scheduled to be deported. In 2006, Escobar won his case for political asylum making him one of the last Salvadorans to win a political case fourteen years after the Salvadoran Peace Accords were signed in 1992. Escobar currently lives in Alhambra. Escobar has been featured in documentaries like Mimoun en Mario, studenten met een missie and in The healing Club. Some of Escobar’s works include Al corre de la horas (Editorial Patria Perdida, 1999) Gritos Interiores (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), La Nueva Tendencia (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), Paciente 1980 (Orbis Press, 2012).

Tara Trudell is in her final year of college working on her BFA
in Media Arts with an emphasis in Film and Audio. It is through
this artistic endeavor, combined with her passion for poetry that
she is able to express fearlessness of spirit on behalf of her
family, people, community, commitment to social justice
awareness, and most importantly her love of earth.
Incorporating the visuals with the power of words, it is Tara’s
goal to create work with a poetic sense of thought and action to
produce art that leaves an emotional impact, encourages
dialogue and strengthens community

Rose Valencia Sanchez was born to Santos and Claudia Valencia in East Los Angele's California.  Rose developed a love for words and reading at a young age, due to playing word games, and reading together with her family. She also enjoyed listening to the many stories of her fathers childhood in New Mexico. He painted such a vivid picture with his words, that Rose aspired to do the same.

Rose currently resides Arizona, and is fighting against  racial intolerance and injustice aimed at the people she was always taught to be so proud of. The first thing you see when  you walk up to Rose's front door is a sign on her front window that states "NO SB1070." She carries this statement inside her heart, and it fills up her every waking moment. She is fighting this war her words, her weapons is drawn, she is ready to battle.


Lois Chavez Valencia said...

These are some very well done pieces of work...stories, poems...love it.Roseis my real life sister. she has always had a very vivd imagination and is very good with words. she weaves pictures in one's minds eye and you can almost see what she describes. Very good piece Rose and I am very proud of my little sister and her work.

Lois Chavez Valencia said...

These are some very well done pieces of work...stories, poems...love it.Rose is my real life sister. She has always had a very vivd imagination and is very good with words. She weaves pictures in one's minds eye,and you can almost see what she describes. Very good piece Rose and I am very proud of my little sister and her work.

rose sanchez said...

Well thank you sister I appreciate your kindness. I got my love of poetry and writing from you, mom, dad and Becky!! You all gave me this gift. I love you.