Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Summer reading starts here. The Gluten-free Chicano. On-line Floricanto.

Review:  Linda Rodriguez. Every Hidden Fear. NY: Minotaur Books, 2014.
ISBN 978-1250049155

Michael Sedano

Something there is that does not love a Summer Book. The intent grad student with one hundred years of novels to read by September. The television programmer who wants you to sit open-mouthed in the dark watching re-runs. The curmudgeon who wants no one to have any fun and sneers at “genre fiction.”

Those tipos don’t love a Summer Book.

But grad students can use a break. Re-runs, give me a break. Curmudgeons will refuse to have fun, even with the kind of book tolerant gente want to read cover to cover--non-stop si se puede and the phone is Off.

When you pick up a Summer Book you intend to be happily absorbed by cool characters in rip-roaring stories. While you don’t intend to take notes you dog-ear provocative, memorable, artful passages where the author’s having lots of fun, too. In short, you intend to be entertained, and that’s what’s in store from Every Hidden Fear by Linda Rodriguez.

Rodriguez writes like she’s enjoying herself. Lavishing pages to develop a hateful asshole character who deserves to be dead, introducing detective Skeet Bannion and various residents of a small Missouri town threatened by real estate moguls from nearby Kansas City, killing him takes a while. Then the author kills the jerk with gruesome excess. Justice requires Skeet Bannion to step up in the face of inept local policing.

Bannion comes with a history of hair-raising times in cases sketchily alluded in passing detail. In fact, Every Hidden Fear will motivate readers to seek out Linda Rodriguez’ two earlier Skeet Bannion novels, Every Last Secret and Every Broken Trust. The Cherokee connection adds a unique resource to the character’s potential.

The detective’s a real-looking character, not some hot chick but plain old her. But there’s something about Skeet that has the local cop and a big muscular vato sniffing around. Skeet says it’s not important, keeps her nose to the grindstone as compense for no sex “in a while.”

Everyone else is hooking up. The little town has lots of good-looking women, old and young, who fell for the young heartthrob who left town and a knocked-up beauty behind. When the appropriately named Ash returns as front man for the mall developer, he threatens to name names. He claims fatherhood of the son in a public cuckolding of teenager’s father. He lives up to his name, ash-hole.

Skeet's teenager finds himself in a love triangle between the railroaded suspect, a teen heart throb girl, and himself. The girl lives with an evil stepmother, the one who gleefully describes Skeet’s beauty faults. The evil stepmother is hooking up with Ash’s rich, evil employer, himself a rapist.

What a suspect list. "Joe, you've got a strong suspect in Peter…Bea was most likely sexually involved with Ash when he was a kid…Walker was furious with Ash for causing all this trouble".

No spoilers here. Summer reads are supposed to be fun and Linda Rodriguez has enough formula to keep the pages flying by. There’s romance, intrigue, back-biting, crummy people you can’t do anything about. And there are serious issues like senior abuse versus senior love, steamroller economic development, growing up.

Rodriguez weaves a lament for hometowns throughout the book, in frequent references to passing trains, and walking. Trains become particularly potent. Every chapter carries at least one instance where Skeet hears a train rumbling through town. The motif becomes eccentric, noticed. It’s a set-up.

 “You noticed?” the author seems to say, having fun, when she has the failing cop, Joe, make her point about disappearing hometown economies. “Wish they hadn’t destroyed the trains. America’s railroads were the envy of the world, but we gutted them, and now can’t get to most places in this country by train. Damn shame!” I dog-eared that page.

With summer’s slower pace and vacation time, a Summer Book fills the leisure time need for fun, entertainment, and every now and again, something to make you sit up and take notice. Turn off teevee. Take a break. There’s a lot to “genre” writing that deserves attention. A good start in 2014’s Summer Book list is Linda Rodriguez’ Skeet Bannion novel, Every Hidden Fear.

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Gluten-free Breakfast Crepe

Crunchy peanut butter and maple syrup wait on the table for the morning’s sweet beginning. You can prepare bacon, weenies, or ham in advance. These delectable delights cook in about five minutes, and you can turn out a batch of these in a short time.

This recipe makes a thin batter that spreads to fill a cooking surface. Two eggs create a creamy texture. Enhanced with sour cream and equal portions flour and milk, the batter cooks into a thin, flexible pancake you can use as a dinner entrée, a breakfast treat, or a quick merienda when the occasion fits.

Breakfast Crepe
Serves two or more, half hour refrigerator to table.

Two eggs
¼ cup King Arthur gluten-free flour
Pinch baking soda
Pinch baking powder
Vanilla or other flavoring to taste
¼ cup milk
1 tbs sour cream
greased non-stick frying pan, hot

Hold the Vanilla when you plan a savory filling like garlic butter. Look for The Gluten-free Chicano's Garlic Crepe in a future La Bloga.

Beat the eggs frothy with the dry ingredients and vanilla. Then add the flour and incorporate it into the eggs.

Whip in a tablespoon of sour cream. Be vigorous but don't mind a smattering of white spots where you didn't get all the sour cream into the mixture. You could substitute melted butter.

A non-stick surface is essential. Ladle a small amount into a hot pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Hot means the flame touches the bottom of the pan and nearly smokes. Let the crepe bubble before turning.

If you're good, flip the pan. I use a spatula, tilt the pan and delicately flip over. Don't worry about liquid; lift the crepe and let the liquid slide under then flip the crepe atop that.

The dappled surface indicates a hot surface. This thin batter cooks quickly once turned, half a minute or less.

The eggy batter is rich and flexible. The pockets formed on this side capture fillings if served this side up, or rolled with the outer side the first pour.

On-line Floricanto
Frank de Jesus Acosta, Xico González, John Martinez, Fernando Rodriguez, Francisco X. Alarcón

Maya's Gift (Honoring Maya Angelou) 
by Frank de Jesus Acosta

Today a poet became her poems
Soulful songs of the caged bird
Child of Africa, cradle of humankind
Legacy of slavery, an American anathema
Inheritance of hope, spiritual defiance
Heart of conviction, defying abhorrent hate
Unbroken by bigotry, sexism, or poverty
Claiming the inalienable ways of love
Walking a life of advocacy, sovereignty
Inspiring women to rise in inherent divinity
Admonishing men to live in fullness of equality
Spirit pen of justice, revealing painful truth
Lies of history, dogma of tyranny, canons of greed
Envisioning a world with prose of possibility
Verses of healing for wounded generations
Women, mother, sister, friend, warrior shaman
Today you ascend, our guardian lyricist ancestor
Leaving us a literary legacy of eternal living words
Seeds of love; that the poem within us all may rise 

Poem by: Frank de Jesus Acosta

Original Dreamers
by Xico González

In the immigrants’ rights movement
often times we hear of the Dreamers
with their graduation gowns
fists in the air
and beautiful butterflies

Marchas, rallies and sit-ins
that lead to deportations
Sacrificios de sueños soñados

In senators’ offices
self-sacrificing dreamers
get arrested and deported
to prove a point:
the US immigration system is broken

For the dreamers,
la escuela o los guachos
Dos caminos
that end in papeles and green cards

Let me ask you a question,
what about the original dreamers?
Who speaks for them nowadays?

They have sueños too

Have we forgotten about the
padres, madres
hermanos y hermanas
that came to the US too old 
to go to school
or join the armed forces

They have sueños too

Pero le tubieron que chingar
In low paying jobs
como los files, la construcción, los hoteles,
rich people’s homes, and restaurants

You know the ones bumping
cumbias, norteñas, banda y racheras
in kitchens across the United States

The ones that yell,
“Apurate güey,”
“ya esta listo güey,”
“No mames güey,”

They have sueños too,

They dream that their children
will have a better life in this country
instead of discrimination and exploitation

They have sueños too

Migra raids at workplaces
that lead to deportations
Sacrificios de sueños soñados

For the original dreamers,
el trabajo y la explotación
Dos caminos
that end in fear and shadows

They have sueños too

El jóven que trabaja en la construcción en la Bahía
has dreams too

La señora que cuida güeritos en Hollywood Hills
has dreams too

El señor que trabaja en los files del Valle de San Joaquín
has dreams too

So let us help the original dreamers
dream their dreams of a better future
without the fear of being deported,
Exploited and used

Next time you hear of the Dreamers
think of their parents and siblings
because they share the same dream

They have sueños too.

© Xico González 
I wrote this poem for the event "Filed Away: The Undocumented Experience,"  a conversation and exhibit sponsored by UCD SPEAK and the UCD Cross Culture Center.  The poem was inspired by two posters that I created for the 1ro de mayo: Dia del Trabajador Rally and Marcha in Sacramento.

I Love You Forever Olivia
by John Martinez

For my mother

It is not a dream, but a loop,
A replay of her breast falling
From my sleeping face

The dawn, the sycamore
In the window, her hand
Hushing my lips
When I cried out,
Squeezed between
Her soft folds

And time doesn't fade,
But lingers in the crevices,
Between sweat and laughter,
How she combed my hair,
With hands of pain and joy

No, the sky won’t bring
Her back, bundled
In wings, as promised,
No golden chalice
Pointing her path to me

She lives right here,
In the journey of my blood,
She will always be-

So when the wind smiles
Into my window,
With the fruit of her breath,
I will always say:

"I love you forever, Olivia"

© John Martinez
All Rights Reserved

by Fernando Rodriguez

A single human being
can take many jobs
can make many shifts
Vacations there's not 
Courageous, brave, strong 
Delicate to the touch 
Yet hard to the bone

A restless being
Night without sleep
Sacrifice all and all that she has
Kisses and love struggles and more
The hardest profession
The worst valued one
There's billions of women 
but mother just one 
A day in a year for sure it’s not fair
To thank all the efforts
And all that she cares
Thank You mother
Today in your day

por Francisco X. Alarcón                 by Francisco X. Alarcón

Via James Downs:

From a new book of bilingual eco-poems by Francisco X. Alarcón, Borderless Butterflies: Earth Haikus And Other Poems / Mariposas sin fronteras: Haikús terrenales y ottos poemas that will be published by Poetic Matrix Press in 2014.

Frank de Jesus Acosta, Xico González, John Martinez, Fernando Rodriguez, Francisco X. Alarcón

Frank de Jesus Acosta is principal of Acosta & Associates, a California-based consulting group that specializes in professional support services to public and private social change ventures in the areas of children, youth and family services, violence prevention, community development, and cultural fluency. In 2007, he authored, The History of Barrios Unidos, Cultura Es Cura, Healing Community Violence, published by Arte Publico Press, University of Houston. Acosta is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His professional experience includes serving in executive leadership positions with The California Wellness Foundation, the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Downtown Immigrant Advocates (DIA), the Center for Community Change, and the UCLA Community Programs Office. He is presently focused on completing the writing and publishing a two book series for Arte Publico Press focused on best practices to improve the well-being of Latino young men and boys. Acosta most recently co-authored a published “Brown Paper” with Jerry Tello of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute (NLFFI) entitled, “Lifting Latinos Up by Their Rootstraps: Moving Beyond Trauma Through a Healing-Informed Framework for Latino Boys and Men.” Acosta provides writing and strategic professional support in research, planning, and development to foundations and community-focused institutions on select initiatives focused on advancing social justice, equity, and pluralism. He is also finalizing writing and editing a book of inter-cultural poetry and spiritual reflections.

Xico González is an educator, artist, poet, and a political and cultural activista based in Sacramento, California. He received a MA in Spanish from Sacramento State, and a MFA in Art Studio from the University of California at Davis.  González currently teaches Spanish and Art Studio at the Met Sacramento High School.
The work of Xico González seeks to empower people uniting in common cause against a common oppressor disguised in different máscaras.  Gonzalez's silkscreen posters address and support numerous political causes, such as the struggle for immigrants' rights, the Palestinian and Zapatista struggles, and the right for Chicana/o self determination.  González is not only an artist, but is also an activist/organizer that puts his artistic skills to the benefit of his community.  Xico's work contributes to the long dialogue of art, activism and the legacy of the Chicano Art Movement.  González has been influenced primarily by his mentors, Chicano artists Ricardo Favela (RIP), and Malaquías Montoya, and by early Chicano art collectives like the Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALA-F), and the Rebel Chicano Art Front also known as the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF).

John Martinez studied Creative Writing at Fresno State University. He has published poetry in El Tecolote, Red Trapeze and The LA Weekly. Recently, he has posted poems on Poets Responding to SB1070 and this will be his fifth poem published in La Bloga. He has performed (as a musician/political activist, poet) with Teatro De La Tierra, Los Perros Del Pueblo and TROKA, a Poetry Ensemble (lead by poet Juan Felipe Herrera) and he has toured with several cumbia bands throughout the Central Valley and Los Angeles. For the last 17 years, he has worked as an Administrator for a Los Angeles Law Firm. He makes home in Upland, California with his beautiful wife, Rosa America y Familia.

My name is fernando Rodriguez and i decided to express myself in this poem as a gift for all the mothers because of what they do all year round. Writing gives me freedom and freedom gives me joy, joy gives me happiness and happiness is what we look for.

Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, was born in Los Angeles, grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, and now lives in Davis, where he teaches at the University of California.  He is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry, including, Ce • Uno • One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010), From the Other Side of Night: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002). He has two books poems coming out this year, Borderless Butterflies / Mariposas sin fronteras will be published by Fall 2014 by Poetic Matrix Press, and Canto hondo / Deep Song will be published by the University of Arizona Press at the end of 2014.
Francisco is also the author of four acclaimed books of bilingual poems from children on the seasons of the year originally published by Children Book Press, now an imprint of Lee & Low Books: Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems (1997), From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems (1998), Angels Ride Bikes and Other Fall Poems (1999), Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems (2001). He has published two other bilingual books for children, Poems to Dream Together (2005) and Animal Poems of the Iguazú (2008). 
He has received numerous literary awards and prizes for his works, like the American Book Award, the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award, the Chicano Literary Prize, the Fred Cody Lifetime Achievement Award, the Jane Adams Honor Book Award, and several Pura Belpré Honor Awards by the American Library Association. He is the creator of the Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070. 

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