Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fourth Sunday of the Month Poetry Reading. Grrr....

Michael Sedano

Luis Rodriguez & Friends Read at La Palabra

Fourth Sunday of a month, Avenue 50 Studio and Gallery Director Kathy Mas-Gallegos opens its doors and ears to poetry. The recent event featured memoirist poet Luis Rodriguez and a lively Open Mic session in a worthwhile afternoon.

People arrive early to chat with friends, others to find parking on near-by streets. Hint: Free parking. Take the drive between the light rail line and the Avenue 50 Studio building to find ample parking.

Here artist Joe Bravo chats with open mic performer Henry Chavez.

Don Newton and Laura Longoria co-host the event, sharing various announcements to launch the day's performances, and introducing each writer as she or he steps to the lectern area to share one or two pieces.

Here, Longoria makes sure all open mic'ers are on the list. Photographers will note the hard backlighting coming through white curtains. Since flash can be a distraction to readers and audience, I open the lens two stops to challenge the setting. Mostly the images work well.

Luis Rodriguez reminds gente that his work and other writers comes from his Tia Chucha Press. In addition, Homeboy Industries publishes an arts magazine. Today's reading will take two parts. Before Open Mic time, Luis reads from work published in Homeboy Review.

Open Mic Readers Wow the House

Akira Yamamoto gives a rousing performance featuring a rhythmic, hard beat chanting style that I find arresting and delightful. Back some years, this would have been called "rap" or "rapping". Maybe young poets still use that term. It feels too inadequate, three letters only to encompass such power and attention-holding verse.

The lineup follows with quiet, serious, passionate readings. Some highly personal, others movimiento tinged but definitely contemporary. La Palabra is an exclusively aural delight, the artists do not sell or provide printed copies for gente like me who enjoy reading and listening. Maybe next month, a ver.

Maria Ruiz

Ron Baca.

Rafael Alvarado.

Antonio Sorcini.

Henry Chavez elects an interesting--and I think ill-advised--medium, a blackberry. The public performer wants to hold eye contact to produce a sense of immediacy and personalize the presentation. Henry struggles to read the tiny screen giving little attention to listeners struggling to give his work an unencumbered hearing.

Henry Lozano.

Don Newton.

Two highlights of the Open Mic session, for me, included "rapper" Yolanda Androzzo, whose Emmett Till "rap" included a call and response section, a technique guaranteed to please audiences because it frees them from merely listening and allows them to become personally involved in the performance.

Another highlight came from, Mary Francis Spencer, who said something in her narrative that gave three listeners, Heriberto Luna, Rafael Alvarado, and Enrique Serrato, something to focus on. I caught the movement in my peripheral vision and swiveled to snap them so fully engaged in Mary Francis' speech.

When Open Mic concluded, Luis took the floor again, for a reading of "old stuff."

Rodriguez kept his audience engaged, such as Angela Penaredondo and Suzanne Lummis. Most Open Mic performers rewarded their audience with strong presentations, though some struggled to achieve a satisfying interaction. A clear difference between Rodriguez and some of the Open Mic readers is Rodriguez' planning, comfort with his own stuff, and experience doing readings.

The wrap-up to the reading were announcements and input from the house. Here David Diaz adds to the discussion.

Kathy Mas-Gallegos, acknowledges her guests, many of whom are regular attenders of La Palabra.

Don Newton and Laura Longoria conduct a wonderful afternoon of poetry and performance. A scattering of empty seats indicate there's space for you the fourth Sunday in August. Here Longoria finally relaxes as the audience adjourns to the refreshment table featuring cold water, fruit, cheese, crackers.

Since there is no charge to attend La Palabra, nor a fee for participating in Open Mic, the luscious spread proves the old adage wrong, there is such a thing as a free lunch. Yours for the gnoshing, snacking, scarfing, devouring, tragando. Check Avenue 50's website for details of La Palabra and the outstanding art exhibits Gallegos sponsors. As Rodriguez noted in his opening remarks, Avenue 50 Studio is a hidden gem that the LA Times ignores with regularity. Tell your friends, make the visit to all the shows.

Thank you Kathy and Don for your help identifying these poets. It's totally comforting to be in a public place where your hosts know your name. Clearly, it's not business but Love that makes La Palabra and Avenue 50 Studio special.

Shame, shame, shame, Obama.
U.S. military veterans have proved we can take a lot of crap and that's a good thing because career politicians, especially non-veteran tipos, dish out crap to veterans in heaping trucksful.

To the public, of course, these tipos pay elegant lip service, Henry Waxman and Barack Obama to name a pair. But they act either with empty gesture, or inimically to the nation's veterans.

Obama, for one, earns high dudgeon because he promised to bring transparency and respect for the nation's military veterans. Instead, he's dashed hopes of veterans who believed his campaign promises but witness instead steadfast support of the Bush status quo

Waxman has been boldly rapacious and dismissive. With Waxman's assistance, the Bush Veterans Administration gave away a prime parcel of veteran land to Waxman's wealthy Brentwood supporters. Waxman was asked by a Marine, a Chicano Vietnam veteran, why the congressman refuses to entertain petitions to rescind this land grab of property deeded "in perpetuity" to veterans. Waxman shrugged with a nonsensical riposte, "where do you draw the line?" He might as well have echoed Tolstoy's story, "All the Land a Man Needs." How much land does an injured veteran need? A hole six feet deep.

Obviously, I am a deranged veteran that I grow this outraged thinking about these two turkeys Obama and Waxman out-Bushing Bush and Cheney in their contempt for veterans. So I'll stop. You may wish to hear what other veterans say on this. Here's an outstanding blog and video on the land grab: http://veteranslandgrab.blogspot.com/

That's the final Tuesday of July, the month of the nation's independence, the Sotomayor hearing, the health care debate, the morass of Iraq and now Afghanistan--bring them home now! Dang, gente, if the VA and elected officials are going to take away land intended to care for the men and women who gave a leg, an arm, or a mind to war, and give that precious land for free to fat cats, then it's time to throw in the towel and stop creating injured veterans. OK, I won't get started again.

Thank you for visiting La Bloga on this Tuesday, a Tuesday like any other Tuesday, except you are here. Walter Cronkite used to say that.


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1 comment:

Veteran Patient Advocate said...

Yes, you probably are deranged for having become a Veteran, for positioning yourself behind the "truckloads" of crap that our so-called "progressive" thinking society and politicians heap upon you and our brother and sister Veterans. So, what are WE going to do about it?
For starters, with regard to the piece, let's give credit where credit is due. That U-Tube piece succintly and graphically describes the "Land-grab" situation that has whittled away a visionary gift to Veteran patients and represents the darkest side of VA Asset Management. This exposure comes after years of whistle-blowing by individuals and groups who, unfortunately, are fragmented and, therefore, easily ignored. Thanks to a combination of guts, tenacity, the Internet and U-Tube, that fact may go away. I say "may" because there is, still, the human element that gives a squat about the largter human element. Veteran advocates vary in personality and political loyalities as much as everything and everyone else.
For me to even suggest that "we must..." do this or that in order to unify our efforts is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Another strategy must be employed because, while we are avoiding our differences, arguing over them or trying to unify them, precious little land that is needed for future Veteran patients is being snatched from underneath the public's eye; it might be due to the thick cover of wool that has been pulled over them by elected leaders like Waxman and Obama. The idea of saving the "HOME" is an island, surrounded by an ocean of ignorance, politics and greed. Throw in some extended issues like how Veterans fought to keep so-called illegal aliens out of this country and why 1st generation children to undocumented workers should not be allowed to stay and you come up with an interesting stew that, all good bloggers know, is impossible to swim in.
Let's stick to saving the "HOME" and we may be able to learn to solve problems together.