Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why Diabetes Is Not Like Any Other Disease . . . And What You Can Do About It!

by Amelia M.L. Montes (

Diabetes:  When the pancreas cannot produce healthy shaped cells  that can absorb glucose in the bloodstream, glucose remains in the blood vessels, damaging vessels and also damaging organs throughout the body. 

Diabetes is different from other diseases.  Once you have it, you have it for life.  There is no remission.  Your pancreas will remain either completely non-working (type 1) or forever debilitated (type II).  With Diabetes, if you want to live a long life with a balanced glucose level, it is up to you to completely change your eating and exercise habits (even with medication). Unlike cancer which most often concerns medical doctors locating and excising a tumor, followed by chemotherapy and/or other medications, the burden on controlling blood sugars rests upon the individual, not in excising the pancreas, getting a new one or anything like that.  An individual with Diabetes could be taking medication like metformin, a well-known drug that has been on the market a long time and has had a good record in assisting the body to control sugar or glucose levels, but that is not enough.  Notice that I wrote “assisting” because, again, the burden falls upon the individual.  You can take all the drugs you want, but without a diet you create yourself which fits your chemical makeup, and without a good exercise regimen—complications from Diabetes will appear (retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy). 

This is a helpful book (click here) that helps people who wish to curb a high sugar diet.  Great tips in here to create your own individualized diet that can work for you.  There is also good scientific explanations
about food and glucose.
And that is why doctors become so very frustrated with patients.  “I tell them until I’m blue in the face,” a doctor once told me.  “I tell them that it’s up to them.  They have to control their glucose levels.  A pill is not the answer.  Most people are not willing to make any changes until it’s too late—until they can’t walk, they go blind, they go on dialysis.”

I’ve thought about what this doctor and others have similarly said.  And in reading so much about this Disease, I’ve also understood another aspect to the patient’s inabilities to change. 

First:  It’s very hard to come home after a diagnosis and be told to completely change your diet.  To what?  How does one know?  Insurance companies often will not include “Diabetes Education” for patients until they are actually diagnosed with the disease.  For those who are diagnosed as “PRE-Diabetic” (meaning that there is evidence of high glucose levels but not quite high enough for the Diabetes diagnosis), there is no education.  This should be the exact time when much of the education should take place.  Or, if it is apparent that the disease is a genetic factor in an individual’s family history, that individual should have the opportunity to enroll in Diabetes education even if she/he may never manifest the disease—at least they are more equipped to understand and help other family members or friends who have it. 

Second:  Michael Montoya’s book, Making the Mexican Diabetic is a must-read for all of us because he points out how Chicano and Chicana/Latina and Latino communities can so easily become areas with high rates of Diabetes.  For familias with a tight income, it’s hard to think about buying expensive organic food and taking the time to cook it when McDonalds offers a sausage burrito for $1.00 and when you’re tired from working two jobs—who wants to cook?  And if you’re tired from work, the last thing you want to think about is exercise.  Or if the doctor tells you to at least walk your neighborhood for a half hour every day, you may live in a neighborhood where that would not be a safe thing to do.  I agree with Dr. Montoya that as long as we have the fast food companies setting up shop everywhere, as long as towns and cities do not offer safe public areas (parks!) with activities to join (swimming, running clubs, yoga, kick ball, sports for youngsters and adults), it’s going to be very difficult to lower the rate of Diabetes in our population. 

Dr. Bernstein's _Diabetes Solution_ is another book that can be helpful in
understanding what is meant by "normal blood sugars" 

Third:  A key component to understanding your body is to test your blood and if you are on a very tight budget, this can be difficult.  The glucose test monitor is often available for “free” (once you’re diagnosed).  But the problem here concerns the test strips which are expensive.  Just yesterday, I bought (with my prescription) my supply of test strips.  There are 100 in two vials.  With insurance:  $62.  Without insurance:  $124.
If you do not have diabetes (but you know it runs in your family and you’d like to start monitoring your blood so you will prevent the disease) or if you have been told you have “pre-diabetes”—you will have to shell out the $124. Something needs to happen so that the cost of test strips can be more affordable making it possible for people to purchase. I'm not sure what the answer is yet.  
Why testing is so important:  Without testing, you have no idea what your body is doing.  You could feel just fine and your body may be riding on high levels of glucose and the longer you have such high levels running throughout your bloodstream, the quicker you will damage various organs in the body.  It will only take a few months before the damage manifests itself in a variety of ways (neuropathy, retinopathy, nephropathy).   

Mintz's Sweetness and Power is a very accessible, slim paperback that will give you vital information about the history of sugar and why our contemporary diet has such an overabundance of sugar
which is one of the main causes for this epidemic.  
Fourth:  Trying meditation or learning strategies to cope in stressful situations is also key but difficult.  Studies show that testing one’s blood regularly and keeping it balanced plus learning coping strategies is important in lowering glucose levels.  Why?  Keeping a normal blood pressure level prevents inflammation and inflammation will then also cause high glucose levels in your body which then also damages organs. And that is another aspect to this disease:  it's not only about the food you eat, it's also about how much stress there is in your life.  Something as small as a simple cold can cause glucose levels to rise.  Illness, trauma, stress, major disappointments in life:  all cause glucose levels to rise.

The U.S. can boast about all of us being hard-working people who produce more in a year than neighboring countries around the world.  And we do.  However, a study showed that even though we produce more, we also make more mistakes (because we are overworked) and therefore spend millions having to correct those mistakes.  We also spend millions on emergency hospital visits and doctor’s visits.  The first year of my diagnosis, I ended up in the emergency room three times and even with insurance, my out-of-pocket expenditure to medical issues topped at $6,000. 

What to do?

Some tips: 
1.     There are foods that do not have such a high residual pesticide load and are very affordable (non-organic).  These are:
a.     broccoli
b.     cabbage
c.     asparagus
d.     cauliflower
e.     avocado
f.      brussel sprouts
g.     garlic
h.     bananas
i.      zucchini

A QUICK RECIPE:  I have found “mashed cauliflower” a most delicious substitute for mashed potatoes.  Potatoes are not good for all individuals with Diabetes.  The high starch content will affect most people (and that includes rice as well—brown or white). 
a.  cut up the cauliflower
b.  steam
c. mash it up (either in a food processor or with a potato masher)
d. add spices if you wish

Mashed cauliflower is easily frozen so you can make a lot of it, freeze it, and then you don’t have to keep taking the time to cook it each time you want some. 

I never pay attention to calories or fat counts anymore.  The carbohydrate counts in this little book are what are most important to those of us with Diabetes.  Our food industry misguides us to think that calories are what we need to watch.  What food companies do is they take the fat (good fat!) out of foods and replace it with more and more carbohydrates.  What makes us gain weight is the carbohydrate, not the fat.  But we've all been
programmed to think it's all about fat.  
3. During that first year of diagnosis, what really helped me was figuring out how many carbohydrates are in foods.  There is a little book which I call the "carb helper."  It's title is:  The CalorieKing: Calorie, Fat, and Carbohydrate Counter 2012.  It is revised every year or so and it's vital for those of us with Diabetes.  You'll be surprised what foods are high in carbohydrates (glucose) and what foods are not.   Those who are unfamiliar with Diabetes may think that it's just about staying away from desserts or sugary drinks.  Onion and carrots have a lot of sugar but I did not know this until I began studying carbohydrate counts.  One carrot is like a spoonful of sugar.  Who knew?  And onions:  why do onions carmelize?  Because they have a high glucose level.  Since finding this out, I now cook with shallots instead of onions and it's just as delicious.  

4.  For exercise:  If you cannot afford a gym or cannot exercise outside, walk around your house (inside), or climb stairs (if stairs are at your work, take time to walk up and down during half your lunch hour) if there are stairs at or near home or at work.  Purchase a new/used bike if you can afford it. 


The most important aspect I have discovered in researching this disease is understanding how each individual (chemically) is so vastly different.  Two people with Diabetes may react very differently when they eat, say, a banana.  I know someone with Type II Diabetes who enjoys eating a banana every day and their glucose levels do not spike.  I cannot eat a banana—not even a bite because then my glucose levels spike.  The one thing to understand about Diabetes is that the journey to balance glucose levels demands a journey into keenly understanding your body.  Our bodies are like fingerprints.  Our chemical and genetic makeup is so fascinatingly individual.  And it takes commitment to want to do this.  But it can be done! 

If you are very interested in history-- History of the Pancreas is a fascinating account of the pancreas!  I suggest getting it from your local library because it's too expensive to buy.  

I am wishing all of you a healthy Octubre!  And I invite you to e-mail me if you have questions!  Abrazos a ti, Querida/Querido Bloga reader!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

San Patricios celebration, Albuquerque

by Rudy Ch. Garcia

The San Patricios Brigade is one of my favorite topics in bars and classrooms. On St. Patrick's Days I've asked bar patrons who were celebrating St. Pat's with beers if they knew about La Brigada; in all of my years of polling, only one red-haired American ever did. The majority of the others didn't look pleased nor thank me for filling out their historical ignorance about an ignored period of their homeland's past.

And each Sept. in my primary classrooms I've introduced the history of the Irish immigrants who fought on the side of Mexico in the War to Steal the SW from Underdeveloped Mexico. It quickly made my students more historically aware than most Anglo American adults. About their own country's history. The children were always greatly affected, by the brutality perpetrated against those white immigrants and by their solidarity with their Mexican ancestors.

It doesn't seem ironic to me that Hispanic Hispanic Heritage Month in this country, officially celebrated from Sept 15-Oct.15. doesn't coincide with Mexico's annual recognition of The San Patricio Brigade earlier in Sept. It seems in keeping with typical American denial of dismal historical crimes.

After my reading/singing of my fantasy novel at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque* will follow a special event. La Bloga has written before about this event that is greatly celebrated in Mexico and Ireland. In this past post two significant books were reviewed, Irish Soldiers of Mexico and Molly Malone and the San Patricios, that describe the events leading to the torture, beatings, brandings and hangings of those Irish-American heroes. You can read additional background info from The Society for Irish Latin American.Studies, among others.

As important to read about and contemplate as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, it's something every American should know, not just those of us of Spanish-speaking heritage or seven-year-old Mexican immigrant children, or those in Ireland or Mexico. Below is the information from NHCC on the Albuquerque commemoration:

El Día de los San Patricios
Saturday, September 29th at 4:00 pm
Wells Fargo Auditorium
National Hispanic Cultural Center
Free Admission

For the third year, the NHCC commemorates the courage of the St. Patrick’s Battalion whose soldiers fought for Mexico, forging strong ties between Ireland and Mexico that continue to this day. During the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-48, more than five hundred immigrant soldiers, mostly Irish, deserted the U.S. Army and joined forces with Mexico. These men became known as the San Patricios. Every year this event is commemorated in Mexico and in Ireland at the highest levels of government.

A lecture by UNM Professor Caleb Richardson, live music by Gerry Muissener and Chuy Martinez and a screening of The San Patricios: the Tragic Story of the St. Patrick’s Battalion, a video documentary by Mark Day will be offered to the public free of charge by the National Hispanic Cultural Center in the Wells Fargo Auditorium on Saturday Sept. 29th at 4 PM.

Dr. Caleb Richardson is an expert on Irish, British, and European history and will give his perspective on the reasons for the formation of the St. Patrick’s Battalion during the U.S.-Mexican War. Gerry Muissener of the Irish American Society will perform live music as will Chuy Martinez of Los Trinos.

Commenting on the Mark Day film, historian Howard Zinn said, “Absolutely enthralling. Dynamite material. It is a perfect example of historical amnesia in America that this story is virtually unknown to every American. A superb job.” Howard Zinn author of A People’s History of the United States. For more information, call Greta Pullen at 505-724-4752 or Laura Bonar at 505-352-1236.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

* LaBloga-ero Rudy Ch. Garcia will do a reading & signing of his Chicano fantasy novel tomorrow Sat. Sept. 29th at 2:00pm in the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th St. SW, in Albuquerque. Please inform anyone in that area that you think might be interested. The Closet of Discarded Dreams on sale for $16. (NHCC contact Greta Pullen 505-724-4752)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Librotraficante in New York Guest Post. La Bloga Represents in Brooklyn.

Rich Villar adjust the mic for Librotraficante and banned book author, Martín Espada 

The Decisive Act: On Orwell, Arizona, and 50 For Freedom
by Rich Villar, special to La Bola

They didn't show up, and I shouldn't be surprised.  A press release was generated, an email address and phone number was distributed, the messages went to the right people, and my phone didn't ring, and no messages hit my inbox.  None of them showed up, and I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, because there are always more important things to be discussed, like Mitt Romney's ignorance about the physics of airplane cabin pressure, or striking football referees, or the technical specs behind the iPhone 5.

There will be no articles written, no reporting, no witness from the press (except for what we do on our own, clearly).  They've got to report on the Presidential election, and the issues surrounding our economy, and health care, and illegal immigration.  No time for a bunch of rabble rousers talking about banned books, books you can still buy on Amazon.  Because if you can still buy things on Amazon, then all is well.

Did you know that Amazon once banned George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm?  Of all the books to ban.  Supposedly it was a dispute over rights, but it led to a massive outcry—similar, it could be said, to the outcry over Tucson's book ban.  But it's okay, Amazon said at the time, because it offered refunds to the buyers.  Point being, the technology to control what you read exists.  Point being, if Arizona had known this sooner, perhaps they wouldn't have to physically remove any books from the classroom.

Let's be clear.  The issues in Arizona are only peripherally about books.  Though it should be said, the first thing you do—if your aim to disappear a nation—is to throw their literature in the trash.  Burn it, ban it, box it, just don't read it.  And so they did just that, Arizona: they banned the books, and they boxed the books, and they made the Mexican-American Studies program in Tucson disappear, along with their teachers, along with any mention of it in the schools.  Ah, but they told us, they reassured us, that the books are not banned.  They just can't be used to teach Mexican-Americans about being Mexican-American.  And they told the rest of their teachers, that any attempt to teach any of the banned literature, all 80 titles on the list (it should scare you, to death, that there's a banned books list, and that it used to be a curriculum), could result in their termination, should any complaint about their rabble-rousing content be raised by a concerned parent.  Or, anyone, really.

This is where the story ended, even after Tony Diaz and the group Librotraficante had the audacity to quote the law in public, show its unconstitutional application toward one group of people, report to us the students' discontent, and organize a series of panels and lectures around the years-long battle between Arizona and the teachers, which is still ongoing in the courts.  They told us about the school district suing the former teachers for damages.  They told us about the threats to other people's jobs, to keep them in line, to silence them.  And they (meaning Luis Urrea) told us about the Orwellian implications of banning books, unbanning Shakespeare, and rewriting history, and covering themselves in doublethink and Newspeak.

Aurora Anaya-Cerda, owner of La Casa Azul Bookstore welcomes the SRO crowd, along with Rich Villar
We gathered, though the press did not, last Friday at the 50 For Freedom of Speech reading, because this is not simply about banning books.  Banned author Martín Espada knows that; which is why, when I asked him to do the reading, he brought himself from Amherst, Masschusetts, on his own dime, to be with us, the very night before another reading in Boston.  And banned author Luis Urrea knows that; that's why he drove straight to La Casa Azul from the airport when Tony Diaz made the call.  (And Tony flew up from Houston himself.)  It's about freedom, the fundamental right to know that down is down, and up is up, and that 2 + 2 = 4. 
Sergio Troncoso, Tony Díaz, Martín Espada, Melinda Palacio, Luis Alberto Urrea

What do you think it means when a government entity does not want you to read a book called 500 Years of Chicano History?  Do you honestly believe it has anything to do with the ideology of the authors?  Has anyone in the state of Arizona actually met these authors on the banned list?  They are not concerned with how well the students do in school.  They've admitted that much: despite the success of the program in sending children to college, the program was cancelled anyway.  The state of Arizona is concerned with what, and how, children learn in school.  But it is not the facts they're concerned about, specifically.  It's the narrative they're worried about.  The story.  They are concerned, as Big Brother was concerned, with controlling the past; as Orwell points out to us, whoever controls the past controls the future.

The United States has a past that it would like to forget.  The United States has, in its past, summarily executed brown people, Hispanics and Latinos from every walk of life.  The trouble for Arizona, and everywhere else, is that there are history scholars, activists, students, thinking people, some with U.S. college educations, who had the audacity to write textbooks, and to think to themselves the following: Hispanics and Latinos did not drop from the clear blue sky, or from some mystical war-drawn border.  In Arizona, we're actually learning the same story again, about whitewashed history, and changed facts, and misleading narrative.  We're learning about context, the same kind of context that created activists like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Pedro Albizu Campos, Lolita Lebron, and James Baldwin, who was also banned in Arizona.  Today, it's Mexican-Americans.  Take you pick as to who's next.  Who's due, as it were.  Where the fire will be next time.

If Chicanos have a context, and a history, before the advent of white supremacy, before the advent of European conquest or Pax Americana, there might be a reason for them to walk a little straighter, to understand their histories in context, to see themselves in a continuum from Aztlan, to zoot suits, to The House on Mango Street.  500 years ago, Chicanos existed.  Africa existed.  Latinos existed.  They had just different names.  When will we learn these names?

And when will the media learn to write long pieces about the systemic dismantling of civil rights?  When will they show up to poetry readings by authors on the banned list, in community spaces like La Casa Azul bookstore, in other states besides Arizona and Texas?  When will they tell you about Latinos uniting against their own genocide?  When will they tell you about the counterspells being cast by poets and writers, the ones who still believe in language, and history, and meaning, and roots?

Maybe when they find themselves being downsized, or commanded what to say, by their bosses, by their governments, by financial concerns.  Maybe that day is already here.

What's left for us, poets, Latinos, is to wake up and understand what is happening, to understand it in the context of lightning-fast information being passed and passed over.  We have to speak, and we have to speak often, in new ways and old ways, to keep these fights fresh.  And we must always be ready to tell the world our history, never tiring of the truth, never weary when people tell you they don't get it.  Never scared when the media doesn't show up.
Rich Villar at La Casa Azul (Luis Urrea posing for another photo in background)

And we have to remember love:  that's what was present in massive amounts last Friday at the Casa Azul, and in many places around the country, reading banned literature out loud, casting counterspells into the universe to reverse the trends, defy conventional wisdom, and survive the way we always have.  We have to remember love because our children thrive on it, because we thrive on it, because we will not become automatons unless we allow ourselves to be.  We have to remember love, because love banishes indifference, and because love will keep us rooted, our histories intact, our people whole.

Remember love, now and until the day you die, by reading every book that the state of Arizona tells you not to.  Read them, and quote from them, and steep your children in them.  Love every day, and do not give in to indifference.

While you're at it, write some of these things down.

"To mark the paper was the decisive act."

–George Orwell, 1984


Some of Melinda's photos from last weekend's Brooklyn Book Festival

Melinda Palacio works the crowd at the Brooklyn Book Festival

Lucrecia Guerrero, Luis Alberto Urrea, Melinda Palacio, Toni Margarita Plummer, and Reyna Grande at the Brooklyn Book Festival

A trip to Brooklyn would not be complete without a walk across the  Brooklyn Bridge. 

Melinda Palacio and Reyna Grande sightsee.
Toni Margarita Plummer and Melinda Palacio

La Bloga's Melinda Palacio will make a return trip to New York for the Las Comadres y Compadres Writers Conference, Saturday, October 6 in Brooklyn, NY. Don't miss the poetry panel moderated by Rich Villar.

Bloguero Garcia en Albuquerque mañana

LaBloga-ero Rudy Ch. Garcia will do a reading & signing of his Chicano fantasy novel tomorrow Sat. Sept. 29th at 2:00pm in the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th St. SW, in Albuquerque. Please inform anyone you think might be interested. The Closet of Discarded Dreams on sale for $16. (NHCC contact Greta Pullen 505-724-4752)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chicanonautica: A Meeting with Federico Schaffler

Federico Schaffler, former president of the Asociación Mexicana de Ciencia Ficción y Fantasia (1992-1995), and  publisher/editor of Umbrales: literatura fantástica de México (1992-2000), ‘uno de los más importantes exponentes y promotores de la cienceia ficción en México’ who was, in 2011, designated Emeritus Creator of the State of Tamaulipas, Mexico due to his writing and editorial work for over 28 years, was going to be in Tempe, Arizona for an international  conference on Realizing the Economic Strength of Our 21st Century Border. He also wanted be meet me in person.

We have known each other through correspondence, since before email. He reviewed my novel High Aztech in Umbrales, and has a copy of Cortez on Jupiter that I had autographed and sent him in 1994. After we got back in touch through Facebook, I promised that I would collaborate on a story with him.

The problem was that the conference would demand most of his time, leaving a small window for us to do lunch between his plane touching down and my shift wrangling books at the library. I decided to make a full day of it and do it.

The airport was sci-fi and dystopian as usual: “THE ESCALATOR IS ENDING! PLEASE! WATCH YOUR STEP!” But I suppose it has to be.

While driving him to his hotel he told me of a cyberpunkish graffiti story that he’s working on, and we got to brainstorming about a sequel to Cortez on Jupiter. He actually gave me viable idea. People have been asking about another Pablo Cortez book for years, but I kept drawing a blank on it. Now . . . it was a possibility.

Of course, this distracted me enough to get us lost. Luckily, he had a GPS on his phone, and we found his hotel. Technology saved the day for two science fiction writers.

In the hotel’s lobby restaurant, a prominent local Latina politician was having a meeting with a group of well-dressed, Latin Amercian-looking young people as we sat down and started throwing around ideas for the story we’re going to collaborate on.

I suggested the Border as a general theme. He was interested in all these weird political things he’s heard about Arizona. I told him about the Tucson book ban, and the Librotraficantes. We speculated about cybercensorship and computer translation . . . Federico is quite a brainstormer, which is something I like in a collaborator.

Just as I finished my tortilla soup, it was time for me to rush out to the freeway. I made it to the library on time. And ideas about Arizona in the future kept percolating in my head.

I’m going to end up with way too much material than will fit in one story, but I’ve got a feeling that it’ll all come in handy in the encroaching future.

Ernest Hogan is struggling to release ebooks of  his novels Smoking Mirror Blues and High Aztech before the end of 2012. He’s also writing a science fiction bullfighting novel. And short stories keep popping up, hijacking his brain. Meanwhile, Cortez on Jupiter is available.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

FUNDRAISER in Support of the 3rd Annual Children's Poetry Festival in El Salvador

Saturday, September 29, 2012
11:00am until 2:00 pm
1818 E. 1st St.,
 Los Angeles, CA 90033
Tel: (323) 269-8680

Menu: Traditional Salvadoran Plate [$15]
Pupusa (Revuelta or Loroco with Cheese)
Sweet White Corn Tamale
Fried Plantain

Live Children's Music with Sara Quintanar, Authors readings & Raffles

The proceeds will provide:
- 800 tote bags for all the children in attendance
- 800 books, pencils, bookmarks to include in tote bag
- 800 lunches and refreshments for the children
- Decorations for the festival: banners, balloons and mascots
- Transportation for children to and from the festival
- Airfare, hotel and meals for participating children's book authors

Raffle/ Rifa

Buy one, two or more tickets. You can get these prizes courtesy of Curacao. By participating in this raffle, you are supporting the next poetry children's festival in El Salvador. One ticket for 3 dollars or two tickets for 5 dollars. The raffle will take place on September 29 at Un Solo Sol Kitchen.

A good way to buy tickets will be to donate at . We will put the tickets in the raffle for you.

 Auction at Piñata Art Gallery

Please join us on Friday, Oct 5th at the Piñata Art Gallery in San Francisco! Beautiful works available for auction - plus wine and ceviche reception.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Final frontier. The final On-Line Floricanto for Sept

Endeavor’s Memorable Fly-by: Outer Space in the Backyard

Michael Sedano

The early morning light lured me outside to take in the view on a sharp wintry day in Redlands. It was one of those early Sunday mornings I was home from school. I looked up at the noisy sky. Our home lay under the flight path of San Bernardino’s Norton Air Force Base. In the 1960s, Norton moved millions of tons of materiel from Berdoo to Vietnam aboard gigantic C-141 jets. First thing in the morning, C-141s painted black as if draped in mourning crepe, lifted off from Norton. Every fifteen minutes their roaring overhead signaled the Military Airlift Command’s efficiency. Their roar sounded an ominous reminder the Draft was looking for me, and thousands of teenagers more. I went back inside.

I was looking up at the sky again this week when the Space Shuttle rode piggy back across my backyard bit of sky, Mt. Wilso n’s radio towers above for background. I heard them before I knew them, as nothing ordinary roars with the power that rumbled my house in a sonic earthquake of harmonic sounds. And then it was gone from sight and I stared through empty space at the mountain.

Space. The final frontier. “What does ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ mean?” my kindergarten granddaughter,  Charlotte, asks. This is the only time this event will happen, and you got to see it, I enthuse. Charlotte understands this event has never happened before, and will never happen again. So do her classmates. All the kindergarteners waved their arms and jumped around and went "ahgghh" when the big airplane and the little ones, too, cruised past, low and slow.

What a grand way for these 5-year olds to enter their space age. Last Spring, Charlotte declared when she grows up she will be a dancer and a scientist. She's going to make marvels. The space shuttle fly-by marks the end of one era, the launch of the next era of space. Her generation will build on what people of my generation, born in the aftermath of WWII, got to see from the raw beginnings.

When I was in kindergarten, space was airplanes out of Norton. I now and again stood in my backyard staring up at the noisy propeller planes cruising to and from the base. Hands cupped to mouth, I'd shout up, “Hey! Is Hairy Ass Truman in that plane?”

My dad worked at Norton. Once in a while he’d take me into the hangar where he did sheet metal. We'd go in the side door, past the time clock. Inside, the hard light filling open hangar doors silhouettes the hulking C-124 in eye-squinting contrast against the open sky. There were no wings. My father explained how the whole thing comes apart. I didn’t think about that. He fixed the holes in the airplane’s skin, and he also replaced the wings. Every time one of those beasts flew overhead in those days, I smiled. That was my dad’s handiwork in that airplane.

The space race took off in junior high, when the Russians got to space first with Sputnik. A U.S. answer, the Vanguard satellite, was built in Redlands, at Grand Central Rocket Company. The first launch was a spectacular disaster. The rocket exploded on the pad hurling the sofball-sized Vanguard onto the beach. The satellite came to rest beeping impotently in the Cape Canaveral surf. A classmate's dad built the Vanguard satellite. The man walked up to the beeping gold ball wanting a gun to put Vanguard out of its misery. Beep beep beep. Five years later, groups of us high school kids would stare up into a nightime summer sky and name communications satellites whizzing by.

Rocket science found a way to make weapons out of satellites. Many of these were launched from Lompoc, California’s Vandenberg AFB, just north of Santa Barbara. College years, the drive up the parkway from Goleta to UCSB, seeing the “pregnant guppy” was common. It was the cargo plane that ferried rocket motors up the coast to Lompoc. On campus, I lived in a decrepit structure overlooking the swamp and airfield. The roar of a pregnant guppy echoed the sounds of Redlands.

The first person to walk on the moon did it on black and white television in the middle of the day. I watched Armstrong from a bar stool in Hwaak-ni, Korea, where I had arrived the afternoon before the moonwalk, my fourth day overseas.

On the ride up to Bravo Battery the day before, the deuce and a half had bounced past a Korean man plowing a rice paddy with an ox, ankle-deep in brown water that looked like wet shit. It was; human caca. The wind blew in our direction. In the thick humidity, the incredible stink clung to my sweaty fatigues and penetrated deep into my nose filling my head with the smell of the third world.

And there, sitting next to me in the Admin Area bar, wearing his homespun traditional hemp fiber traje, was that farmer. As the ville did not have electricity, the Battery Commander invited the locals to share the event, and he'd taken a day off. If I’d had any money, I would have bought that farmer a twenty-five cent beer. “A small step for a man…” Talk about a “giant leap” for humankind.

Serving on a mountain armed with rocket ships named the “Homing All the Way Killer,” the HAWK anti-aircraft missile, never struck me as outer spacey, except for that farmer. And when the wind blew up the valley. Yet, the space age was everywhere—that missile system is a big lethal computer.

I saw my first zip-lock bag at Bravo—the missile parts arrived in them. I experienced space age adhesives when Robledo, a vato from San Anto, glued my fingers together with the stuff warheads are glued onto the rocket ship with. Instead of cranking a phone, I learned to whistle up a 60 Hz tone. "Wheeoouuuu" click; just like that the mountain is connected to anywhere in the world. It’s definitely space age to be buzzed by a MiG out of nowhere, then be knocked to the ground by a low-sweeping Air Force Phantom. “It if flies, it dies,” is an Air Defense Artillery mottto I remembered as that huge lumbering jet crossed the sky on its way to JPL.

Menso me. I’d decided I have plenty of space age memories and didn't need to photograph the Space Shuttle. The fly-by itself cannot be contained in a prosthesis for memory, and bla bla bla. As the flight comes into view and sweeps painfully briefly across the mountain vista, I jump excitedly and go "ahgghh." My waving arms feel the absence of the lens in my hand. The Shuttle does not return for a second fly-by. That’s what once in a lifetime means.

Banned Books Update in Limbo

Tucson schools has consistently failed to develop an acceptable desegregation program for over 20 years. As a result, the Federal Court maintains supervision over the district. A key element is the Special Master appointed to develop methods to help TUSD meet its obligations under the U.S. Constitution.

The Special Master could order the schools to reinstitute the Mexican American Studies program that was banned along with all those beautiful books. Or, the Special Master could suggest a framework and toss the ball to negotiators from TUSD and the community and let them battle out the details of a lawful "Unitary Status Plan" or USP. Here's the Special Master's job description:

Although the Special Masters Report was, evidently, released on 9/21, the document won't be in public view until at least September 27, 2012, when the document will be released in English and Spanish.

In the background come rumblings of discord entre Chicana Chicano Democrats that could split the local movement apart. Inklings of a krypto coalition between racists and putatively moderate raza politicians point to a festering infection in the movimiento. Signs of the ugly schism include TUSD's decision to re-hire Superintendent Pedicone and pay him a big fat bonus.

La Bloga's Banned Books Update is digging for details and will report on this ugly development when there is concrete information to report.

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Newly Literate Gente

La Bloga's Inbox this week has this from Vanessa Acosta of Cultural Arts Tours & Workshops, forwarding great news for America: more Americans in the United States can read and write now.

Here's the news from The Centro Latino for Literacy:
t's graduation time at Centro Latino!  This Friday, Sept 28th, Manos Amigas will celebrate a record 155 newly literate adults who will receive their completion certificates. They range in age from 19-73 and 69% are women. Their native countries include Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize and Peru. 33% speak an indigenous language, including Quiche, Canjobal, Mam,and  Zapoteco.

There's still time to purchase a ticket or make a contribution. Contributors Reception starts at 5:00 and the graduation is at 6:30 p.m   For more information and to purchase tickets or donate on-line 

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In Manhattan: Casa Azul Bookstore

Sergio Troncoso, Tony Diaz, Martín Espada, Melinda Palacio, Luis Alberto Urrea
Bloguera and Librotraficante Melinda Palacio read at Casa Azul Bookstore last week, along with several La Bloga friends, recognizing efforts by librotraficantes to smuggle banned books into Arizona and wherever democracy has broken down. The event in NYC will not be a rare ritual but one element in an entrepreneurial strategy to keep literacy alive.

The Inbox this week has this from La Bloga friend Sergio Troncoso, news of Casa Azul's ongoing program of readings.

Please come and support a new independent bookstore in Manhattan, La Casa Azul Bookstore, at 143 East 103rd Street, at the corner of Lexington Avenue.  I'll be reading from my two books published in 2011 with the poet Renato Rosaldo:

Reading with Sergio Troncoso and Renato Rosaldo    
Thursday September 27, 6:00 - 8:00pm

Sergio Troncoso debates and challenges us on the mystery of familias, how they determine our identity and how we break free of them, from fatherhood to interfaith marriage to educating our children. From Tucson to the Philippines, from Palo Alto to Manhattan, Renato Rosaldo's readable poems tell of illness and racism, love and death—all in vivid tones. Savor these poems, slowly, what you inbibe will engage and enrich you.

Fall's First On-Line Floricanto
Francisco X. Alarcón, Tara Evonne Trudell, John Martinez, David Romero, Abyss Borboa-Olivera

"New Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2B" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2B" por Francisco X. Alarcón
"De Colores of SB 1070" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"He Had the Smile of a Healer" by John Martinez
"Sweet Pocho Pie" by David Romero
"I Resign Myself" by Abyss Borboa-Olivera
"Renuncio a Mi" por Abyss Borboa-Olivera

New Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2B
by Francisco X. Alarcón

Photo of Andromeda Galaxy by Clifton Reed: “This is the culmination of a lot of work, effort and study. You have my permission to use it any way you wish. BTW--this object is 2.5 million light years away. The time it took the light to travel here is older than human beings.”
a new huge

at the center
of Andromeda
Galaxy some

2.5 million
light years away
from Earth

has been named
today after Arizona
law SB 1070–2B

“this is the largest
blackhole we have
ever found in space

it swallows all matter
and even light can’t
escape its huge pull;

because it is a dark
force that we can only
detect by its gravity

we have named it
SB 1070-2B for being
as ‘dark’ as the new law”

© Francisco X. Alarcón 2012

Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2B
por Francisco X. Alarcón

un nuevo enorme
agujero negro

al centro
de la Galaxia

a 2.5 millones
de años luz
de la Tierra

ha sido nombrado
SB 1070–2B como
la ley de Arizona

“este el mayor
agujero negro jamás
descubierto en el espacio

absorbe toda materia
y no deja que ni la luz
se escape de su imán

porque es una fuerza
oscura que solo podemos
detectar por su gravedad

la hemos nombrado
SB 1070-2B por ser tan
‘oscura’ como la nueva ley”

© Francisco X. Alarcón 2012

De Colores of SB 1070
by Tara Evonne Trudell

the color
of politics
and blue
corrupted news
passing bills
making rules
taking brown
throwing rights
into spirit wind
the fight
proving papers
marking suspects
police questioning
human rights
based on the color
of where
you were born
how brown
your skin
in sun
in shadows
immigration control
wearing green
not addressing
the reality
of humanness
her pink dress
grey nail polish
selling products
in a manicured war
them looking
the other way
promising people
rainbows to follow
their ever changing
of equality
fooling minds
allowing justice
of nazi mentality
to control
the masses
of ancestors cries
red blood
under brown skin
the people must speak
fast and slow
freedom dissipated
and in their control
brown bodies
piling up
on the border
shot for throwing stones
for being brown
killing first
hiding bodies
in news feeds
conditioning generations
to not care
color scheming
between the lines
of genocide
until the colors
blinding white
the light
of politicians
Americans fear.

© Tara Evonne Trudell 2012

He Had the Smile of a Healer
by John Martinez

There was nothing
More to do,
Than to pick up
The picket sign,
White-hot summers
Sand underneath us,
A cloudless baby
Blue sky,
The grape pan,
Into the row.

We stopped picking
Because the chanting
Told us to stop,
We stopped picking,
Because it was time

And my father saw
The shitty money
Empty from his eyes,
The Foreman, with his white
Man’s neck,
His map
Of a desert face;
He was counting
The trays,
But we dropped
Our grape knives
And picked up
The picket signs

Huelga, Huelga, Huelga!

And we marched
That day,
On the tar,
Softened by the sun,
Carrying our Clorox
Bottles filled
With frozen water.

We knew then,
That we were
Not alone,
That what we felt
About this field,
Was felt by others,
We were going to fight,
Because we could
Feel the poison
From the Crop Dusters
In our lungs,
Blurring our eyes,
Tightning our jaws

Because we knew
It was wrong
To work children,
With the sun,
Like a knife
On our backs,
To pay near nothing
For scorched knees
And burned faces

But this man,
He came to save us,
Yes, this man,
Dressed In School
Teachers clothes,
Brown face like ours,
Black hair like ours,
He had the smile
Of a healer.

© John Martinez 2012

Sweet Pocho Pie
by David Romero

I’m as American as sweet pocho pie
Light flaky crust
Identity crisis inside
Like apples to oranges
We are pochos
Children of these lands claimed
Ambassadors of a great American immigration
That often doesn’t want us
Our ancestors were criminalized for speaking Spanish
Yet, we’re expected to speak it without an accent
Expected to fit a stereotypical appearance
While Spanish stations display the opposite
Ask a career professional on a Latino panel
How to succeed in America and they will answer
“Remember: you’re a professional first
Latino second”
As if the two were mutually exclusive
Pochos pronounce their last names wrong
Argue this has become right
My name is Romero becomes ROW-MARROW
Rolling rs seem as silly as caricatures of twirling mustaches
Saying my own name properly makes me feel like Zorro
Pochos can know more about African American history
Than their own
It can politicize them
Relating to the status of outsider
Like Detroit Red becoming Malcolm X
Or like a boy named Sue with something to prove
Pochos can make for the best of activists
Carrying chips on their shoulders
The size of boulders
Emblazoned scrolls upon these read
“Insecurity” “shame” and “guilt”
Enough for long marches and late nights
To connect with the people
They are ambassadors to America
For a great immigration
That often doesn’t want them
Teases them bare and naked
Points out how tenuous their relationship
To being a Latino is
How it so easily crumbles
Like a soft crust
More apple than orange
Sweet pocho pie
“Sold out” here
Finger pointing
They laugh
“Gringo! Gringa! Gringo!” They cry
Some pochos are sliced into a permanent state of denial
Cut themselves white or “other” for charts
Others go on a journey of discovery of their Latin roots
With all of the subtlety and discretion of Christopher Colombus
Leaving division and destruction in their wake
Crushed hopes
Broken dreams
Promises of a piece of the pie with nothing inside
That’s why some in our communities fear us
Who are we?
Ambassadors to a great immigration
In an America that’s constantly changing
The children you wanted to have a better life
Then got mad at for having
The pochos you didn’t want
The pochos you taunt
For trying to be everything to everyone
We laugh, dance, scream, sing, argue and smile
We taste sweet as pocho pie
Smell the air
Look at the crowd
Feast upon their eyes
America loves sweet pocho pie

© David Romero 2012

I Resign Myself
by Abyss Borboa-Olivera

I resign myself
to be blind to the all truth
I resign to false humility
I resign to lists of demands
I resign to good intentions
if there is no action to prevail
if there is no work to understand
if there is no country to take care of.

I resign to call you brother
if you don’t walk next to me
if you don’t fight for your freedom
to stand wholeheartedly beside me.

I resign to the fake liberty we have
or the censorship that censors our minds
I resign to keep dreaming
if tomorrow never comes.

I resign to be awake early
if I’m a wealthy gentleman
even when I read the newspaper
knowing that my government
has killed an innocent man.

I resign to be invited to your table
wishing for all the women to be alive
I resign to discuss prices
if you don’t know the price of life.

I resign to be a patriot
if I don’t raise my voice with yours
asking for tolerance for our women
that have no freedom or another choice.

I resign to be a poet
if I don’t stand for what I believe
I believe that a cause has get started
and you have been in complicity
because you don’t want to fight
in what we have called reality.

I resign myself
If I have the words to fight for thee
I resign myself
If you haven’t noticed our autonomy.

Our and our women’s freedom
depends upon a dream
showing to the world we can fight together
raising our voices to reality;
we fight together
and together we should be
to show that our hope starts
when people start to believe.

© Abyss Borboa-Olivera 2012


Renuncio a Mi
por Abyss Borboa-Olivera

Renuncio a mí mismo
a ser ciego ante toda verdad
reuncio a la falsa humildad
renuncio a los pliegos petitorios
renuncio a las buenas intenciones
si no hay acción que prevalezca
si no hay trabajo que se entienda
si no hay un país que cuidar.

Reuncio a llamarte mi hermano
si tú no caminas a mi lado
si tú no luchas por tu libertad
de seguir completamente conmigo.

Renuncio a la falsa libertad que tenemos
a la censura que amaña nuestra mente
renuncio a seguir soñando
si el mañana no es para siempre.

Reuncio a despertar temprano
si soy un hombre acaudalado
aún cuando lea las noticias
sabiendo que el gobierno
a un hombre inocente ha encarcelado.

Renuncio ser invitado a tu mesa
deseando que todas las muejeres no estén muertas
renuncio a discutir los precios
si no conoces el precio de la libertad

Renuncio a ser un patriota
si no levanto mi voz con la tuya
exigiendo tolerancia para nuestras mujeres
que no tienen libertad ni esperanza.

Renuncio a ser poeta
si no tengo las palabras para luchar por ellas
renuncio a mí mismo
si aún no te das cuenta de nuestra autonomía.

La libertad nuestra y de nuestras mujeres
depende de un sueño inalcanzable
para mostrarle al mundo que luchamos juntos
alzando nuestras voices a las realidades
juntos luchamos
y juntos debemos estar
para mostrar que nuestra esperenza comienza
cuando la gente comience a pensar.

© Abyss Borboa-Olivera 2012


"New Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2B" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2B" por Francisco X. Alarcón
"De Colores of SB 1070" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"He Had the Smile of a Healer" by John Martinez
"Sweet Pocho Pie" by David Romero
"I Resign Myself" by Abyss Borboa-Olivera
"Renuncio a Mi" por Abyss Borboa-Olivera

Francisco X. Alarcón (was born in Los Angeles, in 1954) is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002). His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poemas para el Nuevo Sol/Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His most recent book of bilingual poetry for children is Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008). He has been a finalist nominated for Poet Laureate of California in two occasions. He teaches at the University of California, Davis. He recently created a new Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 that is getting lots of poetry submissions and comments.

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 12th 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 wife, Rosa America y Familia.

David A. Romero is an artist, activist and male model.

Romero is the author of Diamond Bars: The Street Version and Fuzhou, two collections of poems released by Dimlights Publishing. His work has been praised by writers and poets such as the Tony Award winner Poetri, the author of Up the Street Around the Corner Besskepp, and the West Coast Editor of Rock & Rap Confidential Lee Ballinger.

Romero has opened for Latin Grammy winning artists Ozomatli and Latin Grammy nominated artists La Santa Cecilia. He has featured alongside Taalam Acey as well as with a number of HBO Def Poets, including: Beau Sia, Paul Mabon and Thea Monyee.

Romero is the host of Between the Bars Open Mic at the dba256 Gallery Wine Bar in Pomona, CA.

Romero teaches writing and performance workshops on spoken word poetry. His many themes and prompts include: Poetry - The Language of Protest and Mementos & Metaphors - Poems of Family and Identity. Romero has led workshops for the Say What? Teen Poetry program of the Los Angeles Public Library, high school activists at the Santa Monica Mountains Peace Camp and students at the Juvenile Detention and Assessment Centers in San Bernardino, CA.

In April 2012, Romero collaborated with the Nogales High School Poetry Club to produce their first book, F-5. Later that year, he collaborated with the Say What? Teen Poetry program of the Los Angeles Public Library to produce a book of poems written by Angeleno middle and high school students.

Romero is an artist affiliate of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) and a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade (RPB).

"I enjoy performing funny poems, but I hope that after the laughs, people can stay and listen to the messages that I am spreading with my poetry against racism, against prejudice, against imperialism, against labor exploitation and against economic injustice. I believe in a world free from hunger or any other kind of scarcity."

Romero is a graduate of the University of Southern California, a double major in Film and Philosophy.

Check out his blog, "The Mexi-Asian Perspective: A Mexican's Guide to All Things Latin, Asian, or Both," on . Visit his website, for more.

Abyss Borboa Olivera, Poet, writer, actor and director for ENTRETELONES Theater Group, was born in February 1977 in Tijuana, Mexico. He studied Lengua y Literatura de Hispanoamérica at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California. He is a Professor at Universidad Tecnológica de Tijuana, and teaches literature at Preparatoria Federal Lázaro Cárdenas.

ACABALLOMÓNTAME by Proyecto Existir 2004.
MUERTES ESCRITAS by Lulu Editorial. 2012.
Short Story
POST-MORTEM by Lulu Editorial. 2011
BENIGNA; DETRÁS DE TI by Lulu Editorial. 2012

Most of his work is based on Women and Gender as an ideological paradigm.