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.


Daniel A. Olivas said...

What a fine post, Michael. In particular, a big abrazo to Lisa Alvarado for the award. We at La Bloga always knew she was amazingly talented!

Also, thanks for the reminder regarding the Latino Book & Family Festival. The prime mover this year is novelist Reyna Grande who has put in a huge amount of sweat equity into the event. I note that I will be moderating two panels on Saturday at the Festival: one on my anthology, Latinos in Lotusland (in the morning), and another panel called "Latino LA: The City of Angels through Fiction, Poetry and Journalism." Come on by and enjoy!

Lisa Alvarado said...

Michael! Un abrazo to you and La Bloga...I stand on the shoulders of so many....Hey! I'm still a Blogista, no?


Lisa Alvarado said...

Um.....do we really want the tag "Lisa Alvarado" next to the one "mental illness?" Don't answer that!! ; )

Anonymous said...

Congrats y DOS abrazos de mí a Lisa!
You'll always be a Bloguista, Lis. Already miss you.
Oh, and I like your poesía, too!

Rene Colato Lainez said...

Muchas felicidades bloguera.



Viva Liz Vega! said...

Congratulations to Lisa and hope to see you all at the book festival.

Francisco Aragón said...

Congratulations, Lisa. I'm sorry I couldn't be in Chicago to hear you introduce Juan Felipe Herrera recently.