Showing posts with label Latino Books y Más. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Latino Books y Más. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

News, Notes, NAMI

Michael Sedano

Felicidades to "Author of the Year" Lisa Alvarado

If La Bloga had watercoolers we'd stand around them and toast the commendation of Lisa Alvarado as an Illinois Author of the Year. Lisa was named by Illinois' Secretary of State for her "ability to empower, educate, inspire, challenge and entertain readers."

Lisa, our comadre and retired La Bloga bloguera, was named along with Frank González-Crussí, Cristina Henríquez, Luis Alberto Urrea, Wilfredo Cruz, Cristina Benitez and Robert Renteria. Our hats off to Lisa on her recognition. A local news story carries biographical details of each of the awardees.

Congratulations, Lisa, on this recognition of your writing and art.

Latino Book & Family Festival Approaches

This weekend brings the 12th Annual Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival at Cal State Los Angeles. It is Saturday and Sunday October 10 and 11. Admission to festival events is free but know that Cal State charges parking. A freeway flyer bus stop has an elevator and short walk to Salazar Hall, and beyond that to the plaza where the stages await the crowd.

The schedule is sure to lead to conflicting emotions when you are forced to choose between multiple events. As a painful example, the first hour on Saturday features five attractive events. Rigoberto Gonzales hosts a panel discussion on history in Latino novels. María Meléndez and Marisela Norte address Latino Poetry in the K-12 Classroom. In Spanish at that hour, Alfonso Silva leads a session on Self-Help and Cómo alcanzar el éxito. On the kids stage in Salazar Hall, Michael Heralda leads kids to Aztec Stories.

Those start at 10:30, leaving some time to view the 10:00 a.m. start of the Folklorico Challenge. The competition continues both days as dance troups vye to win $350 or $100 in three age categories..

Including competitive folkloric dance in the festival adds a note of convergence among the arts with the current publication of novelist Reyna Grande's Dancing With Butterflies. Grande is one of the principal organizers of the El Sereno campus event. Her novel revolves around four women whose lives connect around their folklorico troupe. Grande's exploration of the souls filling those colorful costumes will have you looking on folkloric dance performances with fresh eyes.

Click here to download a PDF document schedule of the Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. events.

On the March With NAMI Gente

The crowd strings out for several blocks. The head of the line is out of sight already. My group is glad for the temperate Santa Monica morning. We walk silently, George’s cane strikes in rhythm to his footfalls. It will be an easy walk. George has brought along a big old protest sign. I think of the song, "El picket sign".

The NAMI walk doesn’t attract loudly boisterous tipos so today’s three mile walk will be easily accomplished. Near the halfway point the organizers set up an appreciation station. "Thank you for walking!" they call, taking turns or in unison. Nice touch, I admire the theory: catch workers doing something right, acknowledge them as their reward.

Several thousands friends of The National Alliance on Mental Illness assemble to listen to the welcoming rituals. A county politician with a practiced eloquence orates for allotted time. He's credited with being a supporter of mental health issues. His words sound like he’s preparing a run for congress, maybe governor. But he's not too enthusiastic, so maybe he sees this crowd for who we are, the huddled masses with loved ones stricken with serious mental illness.

Newspaper columnist Steve Lopez takes the podium to observe his well-known involvement with Nathanial Anthony Ayres, a musician Lopez is helping find solid ground. Lopez offers the possibility of a special guest later in the program.

Ayres arrives. He makes a brief introduction of well articulated words. Then he picks up the instrument and touches the bow to the strings. Ayres practices excellent technique, the bow holds steady contact with the string. His tonality would be called rich if not for the tremolo that infiltrates the playing. His nervousness translates to shaking the violin as he pulls and pushes the bow. Eventually, Ayres finds a suitable comfort zone and begins playing a piece I do not recognize. The piece goes on and on into strung together snippets of melody but no structure, no central musicality to the sound. The Emcee eventually if somewhat tardily steps to the front and begins to applaud maestro’s work. Ayres takes the hint and disappears.

The P.A. system comes on loud and hard. A personal fitness trainer starts chanting the marchers onward. "Take your water!" My feet stride comfortably in my two-tone leather shoes. I wind up carrying the picket sign half the time. "NAMI SGV Brain Trust" I proclaim.

That's the first Tuesday in October, 2009. A Tuesday like any other Tuesday, except You Are Here. Thank you for visiting La Bloga.

Free Books! Book Giveaway!

Hachette Book Group celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 through October 15, by giving away five outstanding Latina Latino titles.

Send your mailing address and answers to these La Bloga questions. All answers are posted in the current week's set of La Bloga columns:
1. Did Olga Garcia climb all the way to the top of the Statue of Liberty?
2. Title of KATHY CANO-MURILLO's new novel.
3. Her poem, "To Walt Whitman" is one of this poet's most quoted works.
4. Jesse Tijerina's guest column reviewed this poet's early work.
5. This character in Reyna Grande's Dancing With Butterflies steals money to buy cosmetic surgery.

One winner will be drawn from all correctly answered emails received here on October 8. This is not the same contest Liz Vega announced on her Sunday column. You have two opportunities to get the set of five novels.

La Bloga welcomes your comments and observations on today's or any day's columns. Simply click the comments counter below to share your views. When you have a column of your own, a book review, a report on an arts or cultural event, remember La Bloga welcomes guest columnists. Click here to discuss your invitation to be our guest.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oscar Castillo Photography Show. Latino Book Fest.

Michael Sedano

Oscar Castillo is posing for a photographer’s lens. “Look right here into the lens,” the photog calls. Oscar can’t resist. He pulls up his own digital and fires off a frame. It’s the latest in a career of moments in chicano culture Castillo’s captured. And it’s a lesson in photography every photographer should practice: carry your camera everywhere and be liberally decisive with your shutter.

The lesson is highly explanatory for why a hundred heated bodies fill the sultry sotano gallery of the Latino Museum of History, Art & Culture housed at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. They’ve come to witness themselves and honor Oscar Castillo in a major retrospective exhibit, El Movimiento: Chicano Identity and Beyond Through the Lens of Oscar Castillo, curated by Gregorio Luke.

Castillo’s photographic work documents critical moments in United States history and Chicano culture. From Castillo's files, Luke assembles a wide selection. From the 1960s farmworker movimiento continuing into the 1970s as the urban movimiento hit the streets. From the earliest big-time gallery show of Chicano paintings to musician and folk portraits—many in color—illustrating the quiescent post-movimiento era.

Images of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta engender mute respect. These require no comment. “Hey, that’s my prima!” a visitor calls out, pointing to an anti-Vietnam war photo. “I’m right behind that guy with the sign,” exclaims another voice. “Hey, I’m holding the sign!” Well-executed photographs bring thrilling moments of recognition like these, or, moments of serious reflection looking into the eyes of a giant.

When the frame is properly exposed. And there’s another lesson about photography coming forth as a subtext for visitors: as well as exercise a keen eye and decisive finger, know your equipment and be in the right place at the right time. As evidenced by the walls of The Latino Museum, that is Oscar Castillo’s story.

The ritual speeches begin with The Latino Museum officials taking the floor. When Jaime Rodriguez, aide to a California State Senator, takes the floor to make a Sentate Presentation recognizing Oscar's work, Oscar quickly moves to bring his wife, Alice, to share the stage with him. It is a touching moment of well-deserved recognition for Alice Castillo. Being in the right place at the right time also means being away from home a lot, or locked away in the darkroom.

Castillo’s foto of Los Four--Gilbert Magu Lujan, Carlos Almaraz, Frank Romero, Beto de la Rocha-- documents the first Chicano artists to make the walls of the previously all-Westside all-New York Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Tonight, Magu and Beto happily pose in front of the image of their younger selves. Almaraz died long ago. Romero is probably painting in his Frogtown studio. We missed him.

Ni modo. A cross-section of Los Angeles has assembled, including a who’s who of artists. Patssi Valdez. Barbara Carrasco. Mario Trillo. Guillermo Bejarano. Ron Arias. Chuy Treviño. Joe Rodriguez from the old Mechicano Art Center. Armando Baeza. Sergio Hernandez and Diane. Several of these, along with numerous visitors, begin to join the artists for a yesterday-today portrait.

Beto’s son Zack comes in. Then Magu’s son Naiche joins the fun. Oscar makes his way over for one of those one-in-a-lifetime shots of photographer, subjects, and notable foto.

Even Beto's son comes in for foto fun. Zack, a popular musician, enjoys a moment with a happy visitor. I should have practiced my piano more diligently, I think.

I failed to get her name and email, so if anyone recognizes the woman above, please advise her to email me for a souvenir print.

Dozens of people carry cameras, from Chuy Treviño’s professional video camera to point-and-shoot digital devices. Time, place, eye and finger have as much to do with a great image as top notch technology, but there’s a lot to be said for top notch technology. Fortunately, Castillo used a twin-lens reflex 2.25” film camera before switching to the precision optics of a 35mm Nikon. Large, and high quality negatives allow the Latino Museum to create the generous prints hanging the gallery this evening. Extraordinary images require archival reproduction; do that and a print will survive 100 years with proper conservation. Which has me thinking I need to get a copy of Oscar’s shot of me. A century from now my great great grandkidlet will point to a 3-D holograph and say, “that’s a genuine Castillo and that’s my bis- bis-abuelo Michael. Have you ever seen a camera before?”

El Movimiento: Chicano Identity and Beyond Through the Lens of Oscar Castillo, is currently at The Latino Museum of History, Art and Culture 
514 S. Spring Street 
Los Angeles, California 90013


News from the Latino Book Festival at Cal State Los Angeles (Press Release)

Click here for a PDF of the Saturday and Sunday events schedule for this outstanding literary and family festival. Click the link to the organization's website at the bottom of the press release for a message from festival founder and Zoot Suit's El Pachuco Edward James Olmos.

History in the Making: The 12th Annual

Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival will feature 70 Latino Authors

Los Angeles, September 2009—The upcoming Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival, to be held at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) on the weekend of October 10-11, will feature an outstanding lineup of 70 Latino authors, including Victor Villaseñor, Pat Mora, Luis J. Rodríguez, Josefina López, Helena María Viramontes, Reyna Grande, María Amparo Escandón, Graciela Limón, Gustavo Arellano, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Rigoberto González, Daniel Olivas, Ana Nogales, Marisela Norte, Montserrat Fontes, Margo Candela, Patricia Santana, Ligiah Villalobos, Julio Martínez, Héctor Tobar, Rubén Martínez, Eliud Martínez, Eduardo Santiago, Lucha Corpi, Evelina Fernández and Mary Castillo, among many others.

Special events taking place at this year’s festival include 24 sessions, such as Chicas, Chicanas & Latinas, a panel featuring some of the most promising Latina authors in the country, Latino LA: The City of Angels through Fiction, Poetry and Journalism; Barrio Stories; Chicano/Latino Thought & Art; Border Stories, Writing Books For Children, two Mariachi sessions, an editors/agents panel, and a screenwriters panel featuring up-and-coming Latina screenwriters such as Ligiah Villalobos (Under the Same Moon) and Josefina López (Real Women Have Curves). In addition, Helena María Viramontes will do a one hour creative writing workshop on the novel; Victor Villaseñor, Pat Mora, and filmmaker Robert Young will each do individual presentations. There will also be 12 Spanish workshops held throughout the day.

This year the festival will have a children’s area and stage dedicated to renowned Latina author Pat Mora’s literacy initiative “Día de Los Niños/Día de los Libros,” which she founded in 1996 to promote literacy and celebrate books among Spanish-speaking communities. The children’s stage will feature several children’s book authors and celebrities for story-time, including a 20 minute reading by Ms. Mora. In addition, The Los Angeles Theater Academy (LATA), founded by Alejandra Flores, is proud to present a play called "A Turtle Story" created by the Solano Elementary School students based on a legend from the Tongva (Gabrielino) Tribe. LATA students who participated in their after school and weekend program will also perform two songs from Crí-Crí (Francisco Gabilondo Soler). The Main Stage will feature Folklórico dance performances, singers, plays, poetry jams, and much more.

Edward James Olmos, actor and community activist, is the Co-Producer of the Latino Book & Family Festival, a weekend event that promotes literacy, culture and education in a fun environment for the whole family. Launched in 1997 in Los Angeles and organized by the non-profit organization Latino Literacy Now, the LBFF has provided people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the multicultural communities of the United States. “We are proud to be presenting so many wonderful authors at this year’s Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival,” said Olmos. “In our twelve year history of putting on some 45 Festivals around the country, this is the largest gathering of authors we’ve ever had. Truly, something for everyone.”

New in this year’s festival include:

  • More Chicana/Latino authors – five times as many!
  • A stronger partnership with California State University, Los Angeles – more support, more volunteers, more attendees!
  • Support from other organizations such as Raise Literacy Campaign, Latina Leadership Network, RCOE Early Reading First
  • More quality vendors/exhibitors

This year the Festival will be promoted by a strong list of media partners headed up by Telemundo and La Opinión. CVS Pharmacy will once again provide health screenings for all attendees. New sponsor Amway Global will have beauty and nutritional experts on hand for consultations (and to hand out samples).

To exhibit at this year’s festival, sponsor, volunteer or donate raffle prizes or children’s books, visit the festival’s website at For more information call 760-434-4484.

That's the middle Tuesday of the year's ninth month, a September Tuesday like any other September Tuesday, except You Are Here. Thank you for visiting La Bloga.


La Bloga welcomes your comments and observations on today's or any day's columns. Simply click the comments counter below to share your views. When you have a column of your own, a book review, a report on an arts or cultural event, remember La Bloga welcomes guest columnists. Click here to discuss your invitation to be our guest.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Books y Más

There's a nice (but short) interview at with Luciano Ramirez and Tonia Bustamante-Ramirez, owners of Latino Books y Más in Palm Springs, CA. Mr. Ramirez explains his motivation for the store, now in its fifth year, as : "I always wanted to work with books, and I've always read books in English by Latin American authors. We wanted to open a bookstore that looks like our house (and) carry books and things that Borders, Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart didn't carry." You can also watch a promotional video for the store at this link.

The store has scheduled Victor Villaseñor for a reading of Crazy, Loco Love (Arte Público, September, 2008) on October 25 at 2:00 PM. More info here.

While visiting Latino Books y Mas, or your favorite indie bookstore, you might look for Day of the Dead Crafts : More Than 24 Projects That Celebrate Día de los Muertos by Kerry Arquette, Andrea Zocchi, and Jerry Vigil (Wiley, 2008). No, it's not too early to start preparing for Día de Los Muertos, and this book offers many clever ideas including step-by-step instructions, ideas, and inspiration for a wide range of projects: calaveras; masks and skulls made from paper maché, gourds, and sugar; artistic ofrendas, or altars, to honor those who have passed; necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and more. Jerry Vigil is a well-known Denver artist who has created some iconic pieces including his Zoot Suit series of muertos, so you can expect exceptional quality in these projects for the classroom, your home, or event.

The September Harper's Magazine carries a new story from Dagoberto Gilb, Willows Village. Gilb appeared in Harper's back in 2001 with Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes: A Pocho Tours Mexico, an article that emerged from Gilb's well-known hassles with Texas Monthly. The new story contains a familiar Gilb character - the down-and-out Chicano trying to make the best of a bad situation, at risk of being his own worst enemy. But the story veers into unexpected territory, and the reader is treated to a fascinating study of human interaction at very basic levels. Desire (sensual and material) clashes with crude, almost mundane kindness, generosity, and jealousy. The story is satisfying without being over-indulgent and, as usual, Gilb's writing is crisp, clean.

I'd recommend getting a copy of Harper's just for Gilb's story. Of course, you will read more in the magazine, which also features a review of A Universal History of the Destruction of Books,by Fernando Báez (Atlas, August, 2008). By the way, Noam Chomsky said Baez's account of the massive and centuries old war against writing is “Impressive. . . The best book written on this subject.”

I hope you saw or get a chance to see the recent documentary, Writ Writer , directed by Susanne Mason, which aired on June 3 on PBS and is now making the art film/independent circuit. Dagoberto Gilb was involved in this project, too. The film tells the story of Fred Cruz, a different kind of hero of the Chicano Movement. Here's a quote from the film's website:

"WRIT WRITER tells the story of a self-taught jailhouse lawyer named Fred Arispe Cruz who challenged the constitutionality of prison conditions in Texas in the 1960s, and launched the state’s prisoners’ rights movement.

The film uses narration adapted from prison diaries, letters, legal pleadings, and courtroom testimony by writer Dagoberto Gilb (The Flowers, The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña, The Magic of Blood, and Gritos) and performed in voice-over by actor Jesse Borrego (24, The New World, Blood In, Blood Out)."

Cruz's story is enlightening and presents a part of American history that was about to be lost. The interviews with the former wardens are amazing - unrepentant racists and brutes. I came away from the movie with an image of Cruz as a tough, intelligent man who managed to rise above his personal demons to actually change the world.

There's a good summary of Cruz's life here. And a trailer for the movie here. Watch it.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW) will present their annual Writer of the Year Panel with authors Jeanne Stein, Mario Acevedo, Carol Berg, and Robin D. Owens at the Tattered Cover LoDo (Downtown) - 1628 16th Street, Denver, CO on September 4, 2008, at 7:30 p.m. The panelists will share their insights on how-to-get published, reveal tips on honing your craft, and illuminate questions that surround the world of publishing. This event is free and open to the public.

The announcement I received about this event said this about one of La Bloga's faves:
"Mario Acevedo is an RMFW 2008 Writer of the Year nominee and the author of the Felix Gomez vampire-detective series published by HarperCollins including: The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, X-Rated Bloodsuckers, and The Undead Kama Sutra. Mario attributes his writing success to the support and advice provided by RMFW. Mario is currently working on translating his books into jive and

Keep on reading.