Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: Red. Banned Books Update. On-Line Floricanto.

Taper Gets One Right: Red Fills Seats 

Michael Sedano

A few months after I got home from the Army (42 years ago last week), my wife bought a season of Thursday opening nights at the Mark Taper Forum. I've been a season seat holder ever since, albeit now a Saturday matinee tipo. One of the productions that first dazzling year for me stands out, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine. I was one of the audience members selected to sit as a juror in this world premiere performance of Daniel Berrigan's play, Directed by the Taper's Gordon Davidson.

A few years later, I'd see the Taper's dynamic New Theatre For Now series' opening night Zoot Suit, with Daniel Valdez as el pachuco, firing up a joint to spark the opening monologue.

It's experiences like those that keep me buying seats at the Taper, even after they remodeled the place and moved me from an aisle to center of a long row. It's definitely not the output from impresario Michael Ritchie that keeps me buying seats, because Ritchie starves L.A. audiences for quality fare.

A Mark Taper Forum season used to assure ticket holders would have immediate, important, home-grown productions, with road shows of highest quality to spice up a season, like Siobhan McKenna's Irish ladies. Nowadays, the free program offers up bios of east coast and out-of-town actors, directors, and tech people.

Sometimes Ritchie's preference for immigrant art hits the Mark, and saves a season. That's Red. The play's an exhausting fabulous ninety minute no-intermission hyper Socratic dialog between painter Mark Rothko and his assistant. The combination of actors Alfred Molina as Rothko and John Logan as the factotum works with drilling intensity. Theatre sleepers like me stayed alert for every moment of dialog. Silence works, too, like a frenzied scene when the pair drench themselves and a canvas in a red.

Red comes to Music Center Hill via Broadway. Not the Million Dollar on LA's Broadway down the hill, but New York City where the production, Molina, and playwright John Logan, won big awards and grand reviews. Rightfully so. Logan writes some of the best dialog to treat your ears, ever. He stands out as an artist whose work should win him other prizes and enormous satisfaction.

A visit to the Center Theatre Group's promo site for the play is useful. Here Logan offers this précis of what Molina does to the written Mark Rothko. "Fred" the playwright calls the star, embodies "titanic anger, pomposity, seriousness, and rage, yet incredible sensitivity."

Logan's interview at the Music Center's website merits a couple of views for the writer's insights and the snippets of the characters measuring one another's understanding of things that come in red. There's another names-for-red scene that's even better. Wittgenstein would dig it.

It will be interesting to see where Logan takes his art from here. A big artist as subject, lofty romantic questions like "what is art?"make for high drama, deep tragedy. I'd like to see Logan make me laugh.

Red won't force tears so you'll exit the auditorium smiling that you've lived as part of an all-time great performance of a superb play. Red runs at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum through September 9, directed by Michael Grandage.

Banned Books Update: One Month Until...

Countdown to Special Master Report: One month until September 21, 2012.

Status Quo:  The People of the State of Arizona, complicity with Tucson Unified School District, persist in exercising the State's and Board's Constitutional power to ban books.

In northern Los Angeles environs, Tia Chucha's Bookstore and Centro Cultural have become Librotraficantes. The centro hosts a fund raiser and book drive in conjunction with the release of the Special Master Report.

Here's how Tia Chucha's Facebook page describes the 9/21 event:

Tia Chucha's, now a Los Angeles LibroTraficante, invites you to join us as we host a discussion of the anti-migrant hysteria gripping Arizona and celebrate culture and palabra!

This will also be a fundraiser for the Raza Defense Fund and a banned book drive! Your book donations will be used to set up community libraries in the local area and beyond!
for a list of banned books go here: http://librotraficante.com/images/BannedListAnnotatedBibliography.pdf

Visit Tia Chucha's website for details and scheduling. Events include a discussion featuring banned authors Rudy Acuna and Luis Rodriguez, and an Open Mic.

Mexican Cultural Institute Gallery Show of Movimiento History

Tourists strolling El Lay's Olvera Street looking for Pancho Lopez--if they know Lalo Guerrero's old song--will count themselves informed and fortunate to find the increasingly popular gallery of the Mexican Cultural Institute. Here's how the MCI describes its current effort:

Organized by the Chicano Resource Center of Los Angeles, this mixed media exhibit features more than 100 photographs, videos, paintings and archival documents relation of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. 

Includes a special tribute to "Women of the Movement Then and Now".

Exhibit open Thursdays through Sundays, 1 to 6 pm. 
Through September 9.

Galería MCI is located in the basement of the Biscailuz Building at El Pueblo/Olvera Street.

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto • Penultimate Tuesday of August 2012

Frank de Jesus Acosta, Francisco X Alarcón, Seeyouma Nahash'Chid, John Martinez, Nancy Aidé González

"Warrior Poets Rise" by Frank de Jesus Acosta
"Poetas Puentes" / "Bridge Poets" by Francisco X Alarcón
"Dzil Yijin/Black Mountain" by Seeyouma Nahash'Chid
"Our silence is that we don't know their names" by John Martinez
"Coatl" by Nancy Aidé González

Warrior Poets Rise!
by Frank De Jesus Acosta

The stories flowing thru you are worthy to be told
Set them free to strum a dormant heart-chord searching for its song
Your words are an ancestor’s spirit voice returning in wisdom
Your verse is soulful flor y canto ascending in sacred smoke
The unfinished stanza of a departed relative’s poem
The stories, requiems, & prayers of the warrior poet
Are a confluence of hearts, minds, & souls
Weaving the distal corners of creation, history, & prophesy
Forming one great hoop of nations and relatives upon earth
Flesh & spirit, 7 generations merging past, present, & future
Let your words rise and flow in transformative love
Lifting up the highest virtues of our collective humanity
Rise Warrior Poets; Rise!

by Francisco X. Alarcón

a los participantes de Poetas en el Puente: Manuel Luna, Ana Chig,
           Elizabeth Cazessús, Sonia Gutiérrez, Luis Gastélum,
               Sugar Born, Ricky Zamudio y Ensamble Wamba
                           12 de agosto de 2012 en Galería
                                   Mariposa/ Papillon

Dzil Yijiin – Black Mountain
Seeyouma Nahash'chid

Why has it come to be for Dine’
Why has it come to be for Kiis’aanii
While we argue over this Holy Land
Corporate AmeriKa rapes our Earth Mother of her seeds
They have turned Kiis’aanii against Dine’
Dzil Yijiin extended so high
Visualized high above where it touches Father Sky
This is our existence
The ancestors home
The Clan people of the Dine’ and Kiss’aanii
Our home of our sacred Indigenous tradition
Our sacred Indigenous heritage
This place where our ancestors spirits roam
Dzil Yijiin cannot be separated from its relations
Yet Corporate AmeriKa does not care
They only want to ravage the sacredness of Dzil Yijiin
Committing devastation and great sacrileges
This most sacred of holy places
Binds the Dine’ and Kiis’aanii to this land of their birth
Dzil Yijiin cannot be separated from its relations
The four sacred mountains
They represent the holy ways of Dine' and Kiis'aanii
In our tongue
There is no word for relocation
How can you stop our sacred ceremonies
Our daily obligations
On the top of Dzil Yijiin
We make our appropriate offerings, songs, and prayers
In this sacred way
Our offerings and prayers will keep us strong
How can we leave our sacred place of offerings
We are tied to this Holy Land
With out this Holy Land
Dine’ and Kiis’aanii would not be able to survive
We cannot just walk away from Creator’s gift
We would be disgraced
This Corporate AmeriKa is always devising some evil way
To steal and take what is not theirs
They are willing to tear our Earth Mother's belly apart
They strip our Mother's flesh and kill the air
To nourish their greed
Clan people we must stand together as one
In order to survive as part of our Mother's very heart
Clan people we are connected to this Holy Land
We will not be moved like the sheep we herd
Here we are known by the Holy Spirit beings
In this sacred way we will sing our blessingway song
Clan people stand in unity
This is our country
Our Dine'taa’
Our beauty way

Our Silence Is That We Don't Know Their Names
by John Martinez

She is locked in a hope chest
In the back of a Van
Crunched, in a fetal position,
She listens to her own breathing,
Thinking of her Mother mending
Her Quinceañera dress,
Of her father hammering
On a tin roof

In the desert the cactus hum
A separate melody, One of sun, sky
And small drops of water,
But without water, without air,
She will blend into the dark square,
Her name never comes through

His feet burned into tongues
That lapped the floor of the desert,
Feeling around for his place,
His lips cracked into crushed glass,
His throat, a tunnel of misplaced echoes,
His name never comes through,
But I know them both.

I also know the child with flower petal hands,
Sleeping on his starving Mother
She remembers when
He was born on a winter night,
Steam rose from her vagina,
His life warmed her that day, but today,
He is a small tremor, sandpaper hair,
Eyes, half open like a broken doll,
His name never comes through

We know of these tragedies, all of us,
As we tuck into our fortunate lives,
We know their howling,
When the clouds bunch over
Our perfect dens, they reach for us,
Their tears fall like rain
Onto our stucco houses,
Our silence is that
We don’t know their names

by Nancy Aidé González

By Nancy Aidé González
Healing undulating wisdom
astral metamorphosis
illusions shed scales
spitting strength in desert sand
sibilant forked tongue flicking
reptilian transubstantiation
through blurring abstractions
shed old habits
serpentine escort
guide me
through spiral paths of modification
changing static rivers of time
opaque blue eyes stare
snake medicine, I drink.

"Warrior Poets Rise" by Frank de Jesus Acosta
"Poetas Puentes" / "Bridge Poets" by Francisco X Alarcón
"Dzil Yijin/Black Mountain" by Seeyouma Nahash'Chid
"Our silence is that we don't know their names" by John Martinez
"Coatl" by Nancy Aidé González

A graduate of UCLA, Frank de Jesus Acosta is the principal at Acosta & Associates, a California-based consultant group specializing in professional services targeting philanthropic, non-profit, and government institutions. A&A specializes in public and private social change ventures in the areas of violence prevention, community development, cultural fluency initiatives, and policy development. Recent clients include Walking Shield, Local Initiatives Support Council (LISC), The California Community Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, California Endowment, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), Policy Link, The City Project, Institute for Community Peace, and Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos. Acosta’s professional experience includes leadership tenures with: The California Wellness Foundation; the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA); the Center for Community Change; and the UCLA Community Programs Office. In 2007, Acosta authored, “The History of the Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos Community Peace Movement,” Arte Publico Press, University of Houston.

Nancy Aidé González is a Chicana poet who lives in Lodi, California. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature in 2000. Her work has appeared in Calaveras Station Literary Journal, La Bloga, Everyday Other Things, Mujeres De Maiz Zine, and La Peregrina. She is a participating member of Escritores del Nuevo Sol, a writing group based in Sacramento, California which honors the literary traditions of Chicano, Latino, Indigenous and Spanish-language peoples.

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