Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ruben Salazar Mementos. Water&Power. Sci-fi Latinos. Anaya Conference

The Papers That He Kept

Michael Sedano

Wednesday morning select television viewers will wake with knowledge and rekindled interest in Ruben Salazar’s role in U.S. history. That’s the morning after tonight’s PBS showcase of “Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle—A Voces Special Presentation.”

PBS promises the film “removes Salazar from the glare of myth and martyrdom and offers a clear-eyed look at the man and his times. The film, produced and directed by Phillip Rodriguez, includes interviews with Salazar’s friends, colleagues and family members, and Salazar’s own words culled from personal writings” that included a private journal."

USC’s Boeckmann Center for Iberian & Latin American Studies holds Salazar’s personal papers. Doheny Memorial Library catalogs the trove as Correspondence,
Photographs, Realia.

Researchers can cull through the literary and printed ephemera that a man like Ruben Salazar chooses to accumulate, stuff important for a reason--that moment, a smile, a reverie.

The papers tell their own Salazar documentary. There’s the newspaperman’s string book; of hundreds of bylines he keeps a select few, by himself, by other writers.

He keeps his parents’ passports, his high school diploma, a warm letter from Otis Chandler. The family includes something Ruben Salazar never saw, a surveillance frame of the target walking along Whittier Blvd. on August 29, 1970 toward the Silver Dollar Cafe.

Salazar was one of three chicanos killed during a day of police rioting (Lyn Ward and Angel Diaz died in separate incidents). Until that day, Ruben Salazar served as a one-man information resource about chicanos in the sixties. He informed a cross-section of Angelenos while empowering his subject matter.

Salazar introduced chicanos to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, authoring  Stranger in One’s Land.

As a Los Angeles Times reporter, Salazar's beat revolved around the region’s growing raza presence.

When Salazar took over the television news operation for KMEX, Salazar brought informed journalism to the region’s millions of Spanish-speakers.

Some think encouraging the movimiento through fair reporting, and riling up the Mexicans with unbiased news, made Ruben Salazar dangerous. And that got him killed.

Aztlán and Viet Nam:
Chicano and Chicana Experiences of the War. 

Ed. George Mariscal  pp199-200
That "US" in front of the serial number means Draftee. Here 23-year old Ruben Salazar demonstrates superior proficiency in military correspondence over a 35 hour course he completed on December 21, 1951. Pre-information age, every form was typed by hand. The Army churned out so many Military Correspondence students the Certificate is torn from a perforated roll just large enough to contain the words.

The typist—likely Salazar himself—makes a typo, Supeiior, that he overstrikes with an “r.” He's a bit sloppy with his shift key causing some capital letters to jump up off the baseline. Good enough for government work.

Barbara Robinson, who manages the Boeckmann collections, leafs through a binder. The Salazar collection isn’t large, a few lineal feet of shelf space in the vast archives of USC’s Doheny Memorial Library. For me, there’s sweet coincidence—not an irony—Doheny library lies only a few miles south of the places where Salazar spent much of his work life, the Times and KMEX. 

A handful of cardboard boxes, some clear plastic bins, a Samsonite briefcase. This is not the stuff generally found in the public records of Salazar’s accomplishments and memorials. These are Ruben Salazar’s personal papers, the mementoes he kept for himself, his private persona. Here’s his stringbook, his birth certificate, his Army MOS qualification. His parents’ Mexican passports. His high school diploma from El Paso High, jumbled together, each document tells its own story.

El Paso High School diploma, January 1946. His birth registry places that event in Juarez. He enrolls in El Paso public schools. He keeps an elementary school achievement, and his diplomas.

Felix Gutíerrez and Barbara Robinson inspect the Mexican passorts in Salazar's parents names. Gutíerrez, a professor at USC, worked with Los Salazar to bring the papers to the Boeckmann Center.

Doheny Library's ever-growing Chicana Chicano and Latin American Literature collection offers formidable resources for scholarly researchers. Robinson's stewardship of the Boeckmann collection ensures solid holdings of Chicana Chicano titles, as well as a rich store of Spanish language resources.  

Samsonite attaché cases were a useful fashion rage in the late 1960s. Hard shell case and roomy insides protected files, loose change, flat materials. Salazar's was empty.

Salazar's career was reaching apogee in 1970, as this Newsweek magazine article, "Chicano Columnist," indicates. The caption below the foto reads Shake the Establishment, a reputation Salazar earned not as a campaigner but as a working journalist who reported what he saw. 

Everyday ephemera includes notes, postcards, business cards, manila envelopes with folded anonymous papers the journalist and private man kept with him. 

One file folder holds a b&w glossy with Salazar, Otis Chandler, and Marilyn Brant, along with a letter from Otis. There's also a snapshot portrait of Salazar at his typewriter.

In his holiday letter, publisher Otis Chandler congratulates employee Salazar on a string of successes, including returning from Saigon. 

Chandler probably enclosed a check, given the publisher's bonhomie and allusion to Salazar's importance to the paper. The postscript alludes to something Salazar published that drew some judge's ire. Just reporting what's there to report, the p.s. affirms, "Hell, all you did was cut him up beautifully!"

Included in the documents Salazar kept are a receipt for registry of his birth in Juarez, his Army MOS certificate, a draft of one of his final bylined columns, a 1939 elementary school certification for reading 20 books, a portrait of teenager Ruben Salazar.

The published version of this draft ran in the Times on July 17, 1970. A month later, Salazar will become a hero malgre lui.

Gutíerrez touches Salazar's figure. In the police surveillance photo, Salazar walks from Laguna Park to the Silver Dollar Cafe.

Water&Power Opens May 2

The fourth chicanarte film of 2014 debuts in selected AMC theaters May 2, Richard Montoya's screen adaptation of his taut stage drama Water&Power.

Water&Power comes in the wake of three razacentric offerings, Cesar Chavez, Cesar's Last Fast, and the Ruben Salazar documentary PBS aired last night.

Montoya's project comes with high hopes of setting attendance records for an indie project. Based on the theatrical trailer below, Montoya's noir drama comes with highly stylized cinematography and directorial vision that should be a visual and narrative delight.

La Bloga looks forward to hearing your views, and those of your friends, on Water&Power. Why not Organize a big group of friends to celebrate Cinco de Mayo weekend by taking in dinner and a movie?

Mail bag
UC Riverside Hosts Latinos in Sci-Fi Wednesday April 30.

Science fiction and speculative fiction writers and readers will convene in room INTS 1113 on the UCRiverside campus for a 10 a.m. panel featuring trailblazing writers of speculative and science fiction.

Following lunch and informal discussion, a short film screening and panel titled “Latinos in Hollywood and Beyond” will take place, featuring Jesús Treviño, writer and director of “Star Trek: Voyager,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “SeaQuest DSV,” and “Babylon 5”; Michael Sedano, La Bloga Latino literature blogger; and UCR Ph.D. candidates Danny Valencia, Rubén Mendoza and Paris Brown, who will address the topics of Latino science fiction, SF as pedagogy in Latino communities, and Mexican dystopias and religion, respectively.

The all day event enjoys sponsorship from Department of English CHASS Tomás Rivera Chair Eaton Collection, UCR Libraries Department of Comparative Literature Department of Media and Cultural Studies Mellon Science Fiction Group, Center for Ideas and Society.

The event is open to the public and is free, other than campus parking fees, and meals.

The Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies (SFTS) program at UC Riverside began in 2007 when College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Studies Dean Stephen Cullenberg decided that the college should have an academic unit to complement the strength of the Eaton Science Fiction Collection in the UCR Libraries, Vint said.

Drawing on faculty from across the college, the SFTS program enables students to develop a critical understanding of the cultures of science and their dialectical exchanges with contemporary popular culture. The program currently offers a designated emphasis at the Ph.D. level and soon will offer an undergraduate minor. The curriculum encompasses courses in the social study of science and medicine, the history of technology, creative expression addressing relevant themes, cultural analysis of print and media texts dealing with science and technology, and the cultural differences in technology, including non-western scientific practices.

Mail bag
Cal State LA Hosts Anaya Conference Friday and Saturday May 2 and 3

On Friday and Saturday, May 2-3, Cal State L.A. will host a free scholarly and literary forum focusing on well-known Chicano writer Rudolfo Anaya and his literary work, which spans more than 40 years. Anaya belongs to the first generation of Chicano writers who pioneered and charted one of the most vigorous and theoretically-grounded ethnic literatures in the United States.

Featuring scholars representing Asia, Germany, Mexico and the United States, the 2014 Conference on Rudolfo Anaya: Tradition, Modernity, and the Literatures of the U.S. Southwest includes two plenary sessions  on topics ranging from Anaya's novels to Mesoamerica and the U.S. Southwest.

"This conference proposes a re-examination of Anaya's work according to the several phases of his writing, from the early New Mexico trilogy that began with Bless Me, Ultima (1972), to his most recent novels, such as Randy López Goes Home (2011), and The Old Man's Love Story (2013)," explained Professor Roberto Cantú, who is the conference organizer.

The conference opens on Friday, May 2, at 8:30 a.m. with hospitality coffee and pastry, followed by a powerful day of lecture and discussion by a cast of international scholars. Saturday's events likewise commence at 8:30.

Rudolfo Anaya donates two cases to the Librotraficantes who smuggled the books
into Arizona, where Bless Me, Ultima was banned and removed from classrooms

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good post, Sedano. All six Chicano spec authors hope to link up with los californios, writers and readers alike. It could be muy curioso, pero suave.
Rudy Ch. Garcia