Saturday, November 30, 2013

Wal-Mart y nosotros. Flash fiction contest. Cars, cards n carbines.

Wal-Mart on Santa's naughtiest list and on the Toltecs'

W-M protesting Santa worker arrested
Wal-Mart started Xmas before Pavo Day this year on Wheel of Fortune. So I was reminded earlier than usual of the place I most hate shopping at. I almost never do. Maybe five times in as many years. Por qué?

I feel it is unconscionable for me to help make the 10th-of-1% even richer, just so I can save a little money, while Wal-Mart workers suffer. There's more than a U.S. latino connection; there's also a Mexican-Toltec connection explained below.

On their website, Wal-Mart brags: "Our U.S. workforce is about 1.3 million associates. 37% of our associates in the U.S. are minority, including more than 169,000 Hispanic associates." What they don't brag about, are facts like these:

Wal-Mart workers associating
"Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private sector employer, is also the biggest consumer of taxpayer supported aid, along with McDonald's. In many states, Wal-Mart employees are the largest group of Medicaid recipients.

"They are also the single biggest group of food stamp recipients. Wal-Mart’s associates are paid so little that they receive $1,000 on average in public assistance."

You can Google Wal-Mart employees & welfarefood stampslosing Americans jobscutting workers' health insuranceundermining public education, and funding right-wing agendas. Or read about workers marching yesterday in front of the store, chanting in English and Spanish and carrying signs with messages like “Livable Wages Over Greed.”

The information and evidence seems endless. Goes on for pages and pages of reasons for Hispanics, Chicanos, mexicanos and others to drive twice as far to another store, rather than contribute to this company's cash flow. Read the entire NYTimes piece here.
Now, for some of the money you spend at Wal-Mart that goes for bribes. As was done in Mexico City in the sacrilege that follows.

Teotihuacán & Wal-Mart

In an article a year ago entitled "The Bribery Aisle: How Wal-Mart Got Its Way
in Mexico", The New York Times uncovered that Wal-Mart's more accurate slogan should be: Save Money for bribes; Live Better on welfare. First for the, on Welfare:

"Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited, an examination by The New York Times found.

"Wal-Mart de Mexico arranged to bribe an official to change the map before it was sent to the newspaper, records and interviews show. When the map was published, the zoning was redrawn to allow Wal-Mart’s store.

"The NYTimes traveled to dozens of towns and cities in Mexico, gathered tens of thousands of documents related to Wal-Mart de Mexico permits, and interviewed scores of government officials and Wal-Mart employees, including hours of interviews with lawyers.

"The Times’s examination reveals that Wal-Mart de Mexico was not the reluctant victim of a corrupt culture that insisted on bribes as the cost of doing business. Nor did it pay bribes merely to speed up routine approvals. Rather, Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited. It used bribes to subvert democratic governance — public votes, open debates, transparent procedures. It used bribes to circumvent regulatory safeguards that protect Mexican citizens from unsafe construction. It used bribes to outflank rivals.

"Through confidential Wal-Mart documents, The Times identified 19 store sites across Mexico that were the target of Wal-Mart de Mexico’s bribes. The Times then matched information about specific bribes against permit records for each site. Clear patterns emerged. Over and over, for example, the dates of bribe payments coincided with dates when critical permits were issued.

"Thanks to eight bribe payments totaling $341,000, Wal-Mart built a Sam’s Club in one of Mexico City’s most densely populated neighborhoods, near the Basílica de Guadalupe, without a construction license, or an environmental permit, or an urban impact assessment, or even a traffic permit.

"But there is no better example of Wal-Mart de Mexico’s methods than its conquest of field in view of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Times found that Wal-Mart de Mexico executives approved at least four different bribe payments — more than $200,000 in all — to build just a medium-size supermarket. Without those payoffs, records and interviews show, Wal-Mart almost surely would not have been allowed to build."

La Bloga encourage readers to check out the entire article. It's an incredible investigative piece of what use to be done in this country as journalism. How this company abuses its "Hispanic", and other, workers; how it degrades Mexican heritage; and how it supports causes and beliefs that are opposite those of La Bloga are sufficient reasons for me to remember Wal-Mart this holiday season. And drive right past them, wondering about bribes in the U.S.

A Merry Little Apex Christmas Flash Fiction Contest

An Apex Publications announcement about their contest:

"All entries must have to do with Christmas, but have a distinctly Apex slant – dark science fiction, fantasy, or horror.
Submit between now until December 16th.  250 word limit. Email entries to: with the title and author name in the subject line. Story should be in the body of the email.

"Winning story being published on the Apex blog on Dec. 23rd. Besides getting their flash fiction published on the Apex blog, the winner also receives the following fantastic prize pack: a short story (up to 5,000 words long) critiqued by Apex owner/publisher Jason Sizemore, payment of 5 cents a word, and a one year subscription to Apex Magazine.

To make sure that everyone has a merry Christmas, all entrants will receive a free issue of Apex Magazine. Just let us know in your submission email which issue you would like and we will send it. Search our back issues to see which one you’d like."

Cars, Cards & Carbines anthology

La Bloga amigo, Mario Acevedo, just announced a KickStarter campaign for: A high-octane anthology of short fiction from top, genre authors.

"The goal of this campaign is to publish an anthology of new short stories by some of the best writers [including Mario] in speculative fiction. The anthology will be released as an E-book, a trade paperback, and a limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors.

"Cars, Cards & Carbines grew from a desire to see more of the kind of stories that set my little writer brain on fire as a kid, merged with adult sensibilities, complex themes, and sheer literary awesomeness. We think you'll agree that the author roster is capable of pulling that off.

"This anthology was originally conceived as Mad Max meets Maverick and The Wild, Wild West, by way of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, but the concepts now go much farther than that. Each story will do something unique to incorporate those three themes, without restrictions on genre. The award-winning/bestselling authors have very different writing styles and work in numerous genres.

"One cool thing about putting together this kind of anthology is the way the three elements of the theme can be stretched. Cars can mean hot rods, getaway cars, train cars, mine cars, horse-drawn carriages. While originating from a Poker theme, Cards can be expanded into things like credit cards, tarot cards, programming cards, green cards, and more. And of course Carbine literally means a short-barreled rifle used generally by cavalry, but could easily reach into all sorts of firearms across almost any milieu.

"Put these three together, throw in these authors, simmer, and the possibility for action and adventure is limitless. Stories will be all over the genre map, from noir to weird western, steampunk to cyberpunk, science fiction to straight-up horror.
And let's not forget the cover artist, World Fantasy Award winner Alan M. Clark, who's set to paint a full wrap-around cover.

"The more money we raise, the more stories we can publish and the more we can pay our authors. Every dime beyond the initial goal goes into more stories and higher pay for the authors.

"We have a long list of rewards and crunchy goodies: signed books by our authors and editors, Tuckerizations (writing your name into a story), story and novel critiques for writers, and even launch parties with your favorite author/editor as the host. There's definitely more to come, with some surprises along the way. So buckle up, throttle up, and get ready for a thrill ride."

There will be no open submissions; by invitation only.
Dec. 15, 2013 – Campaign ends.
Nov. 15, 2014 - Ebooks sent to contributors.
As of today, the campaign had reached $1,835 of the $13,500. Go here for more info.

Es todo, hoy,

Friday, November 29, 2013

Remembering Raul Ramirez

Raul Ramirez was one of those rare individuals who decided he could make a difference in people's lives for the better and then he went out and did it. Although I knew him only for a short time -- I met him through my wife Flo -- I was grateful that I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with him. Flo and Raul worked together on many projects in the cause of excellent journalism, of using media and technology on behalf of people who might otherwise not have such access, and always against a backdrop of striving for justice. Que en paz descanse.

I'm sharing two articles from the KQED website: an obituary and a transcript of the final words he wanted to pass on to his colleagues. Please note the opportunity to honor Raul by supporting the Raul Ramirez Diversity in Journalism Fund at San Francisco State University.

Raul Ramirez: 1946 - 2013

By David Weir and Patricia Yollin

Raul Ramirez, executive director of news and public affairs at KQED Public Radio and a remarkable journalist, teacher and mentor known throughout the Bay Area journalism community and beyond, has died.

Ramirez had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer in late July and died this morning (November 15) at age 67 at his home in Berkeley. He was born in 1946 in Havana. In April 1962, more than three years after the Cuban revolution overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, Ramirez’s parents — disillusioned by what they perceived as Fidel Castro’s failed promises — sent him and his sister to live with relatives in South Florida. He first started to explore journalism as a student at the University of Florida in Gainesville; he once told a colleague that he had studied it to improve his English. In the process, he discovered his calling.

Ramirez’s newspaper days began in the tumultuous 1960s and ’70s, when he reported for the Miami Herald, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Oakland Tribune and the San Francisco Examiner. He gained a reputation for immersing himself in the subjects that he covered, always seeking to gain in-depth understanding before publishing. In 1970, he wrote a prize-winning series for the Wall Street Journal about farmworkers in Michigan after working in the fields alongside them. At the Miami Herald, he accompanied undercover agents on raids of suspected heroin dealers. And for a San Francisco Examiner article on jail conditions, he worked several days as a deputy sheriff.

In May 1976, after months of investigation, Ramirez and freelance journalist Lowell Bergman broke a story for the Examiner about a Chinatown gang murder case titled “How Lies Sent Youth to Prison for Murder.” The article detailed how an assistant district attorney and two police inspectors had pressured witnesses into lying, resulting in the conviction of Richard Lee. The three law enforcement officers sued the Examiner, Bergman and Ramirez for libel, seeking $30 million in damages.

When the Examiner, then owned by the Hearst Corp., refused to provide counsel for the freelancer Bergman, leaving him without representation, Ramirez as a matter of principle and conscience refused to be represented by the Examiner’s lawyer and joined with Bergman to seek outside counsel. A group of journalists and lawyers rallied around the two reporters and raised enough money to hire a lawyer and fight the case. Though they initially lost in Superior Court and were ordered to pay $4.56 million in damages, Bergman and Ramirez spent the next decade fighting the verdict. Ultimately, the libel ruling was overturned by the California Supreme Court in 1986. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of that decision, ending the matter once and for all.
Ramirez in his office at KQED.
Ramirez in his office at KQED. (Ian Hill/KQED)

Ramirez has long been a central figure in many Bay Area journalism institutions. For many years he served as president of the board of directors of the Center for Investigative Reporting during a difficult period in the 1990s, when the organization had to rebuild after losing staff and funding. He was also a fellow at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, as well as at the University of Hawaii’s School of Pacific and Asian Studies.
He taught for many years at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley, where he inspired students with his classes in introductory journalism and investigative reporting. Many have gone on to successful reporting careers at KQED, NPR and other media outlets.  He also led investigative reporting and civic journalism training workshops in the Netherlands as well as training workshops in several Ukrainian locations.
Ramirez ventured into broadcast journalism for the first time in 1991 when he was hired as news director for KQED Public Radio. He was later promoted to executive director of news and public affairs. In his 22 years at KQED, he was instrumental in building it into a top-rated public radio station and leading its award-winning state and regional news service. Today, KQED’s broadcast and online coverage includes KQED News,, “Forum” and “The California Report.” Its statewide service operates news bureaus in Sacramento, Fresno and Los Angeles.

He also was executive producer of “Pacific Time,” a program that explored the ideas, trends and cultural patterns flowing between Asia and North America. “Pacific Time” aired for seven years before ending in 2007.

During his career, Ramirez received many honors and recognitions, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California chapter, and most recently from the same organization the 2013 Distinguished Service to Journalism Award. He was deeply committed to preserving the high standards of journalistic integrity, public service and investigative reporting, and diversity in journalism. Recently, dozens of KQED colleagues sent Ramirez a tribute honoring his great breadth of ideas, his commitment to journalism ethics and his kindness as a colleague, supervisor and friend.

Raul Ramirez is survived by his husband, Tony Wu; the couple married on Oct.18, 2013, in San Leandro. He is also survived by his sister, Miriam Gargiulo of West Palm Beach, Fla.; two brothers, Michael Greenhill of Wellington, Fla., and Eduardo Ramirez of Reddick, Fla.; three nephews and three nieces.

As one of his final acts, Ramirez established the Raul Ramirez Diversity in Journalism Fund at San Francisco State University. The fund will be administered by the Journalism Department, where Ramirez taught for 30 years. Ramirez told department leaders that he wanted the money to be used to honor a journalism student whose work demonstrated the importance of promoting diversity in journalism.

In lieu of flowers or other tributes, Ramirez hoped that those who wish to honor his memory will contribute to the fund. (Select “Other” from the drop-down menu of “I Would Like to Support” and type into the text box. Enter Designation: “The Raul Ramirez Diversity in Journalism Fund.”) Plans for a memorial service are underway and will be announced at a later date.

Final Words From Raul Ramirez: ‘Journalism Has Always Been About the Power of Voices’

Raul Ramirez in his office at KQED. (Courtesy Peter Borg)

Tonight (November 19), Raul Ramirez, the executive director of news and public affairs at KQED Public Radio, is being posthumously awarded the 2013 Distinguished Service to Journalism Award by the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter, in San Francisco. Last week, Ramirez prepared the following remarks in anticipation of tonight’s ceremony. His speech will be read tonight by San Francisco State University Professor Jon Funabiki.

Raul Ramirez passed away last Friday at his home in Berkeley, at the age of 67.

Dear Colleagues:

In my four decades as a journalist, the power of people’s voices has shaped my work. To me, journalism has always been about the power of voices.

My earliest adolescent writings were inspired in part by a graphic sticker I plastered on buses and doorways as a young teenager in another country and in another time. Above a drawing of a firing squad executing a man, it proclaimed: “Ideas are to be debated, not assassinated.”

My first true lesson on the power of voices came when I signed up for a journalism course at a South Florida high school. As a native Spanish speaker, I was hoping to learn enough English to end the streak of failing grades that had littered my short scholastic path in the United States.

For this class I interviewed a fiercely taciturn school crossing guard then approaching retirement, and wrote a story about him. The day the interview was published, an amazing transformation occurred in the crabby guard, who had long terrorized students who defied his mandates. Students gathered around him. They asked him about anecdotes in the story. He smiled and smiled. At one point, he bowed in response to the students’ good-natured ribbing. He seemed pleased, and happy. At the end of the school day, he pointed at me, raised his hand to stop traffic and, with a grandiose and comical sweep of his arm, invited me to cross as he might have done for royalty.

For a neophyte reporter with linguistic challenges, this was a lesson to learn: Give a man his voice and wonderful things can happen. The crossing guard finally had his voice. And I had found mine. I was hooked on this power of journalism to give someone a voice.

It would be a while before I reflected on another aspect of that power: The power to deny a voice to  those whom journalists ignored.

In my early newspaper years, covering poverty, immigrant communities and the criminal justice system, I was very aware of the power of human stories to change the perceptions of readers and, sometimes, to influence the powerful. I thought of my role as that of a storyteller, without whom people and even entire communities would remain in obscurity, marginalized and ignored.

I came to see that I did not give voice to others, but that my role was to amplify authoritative voices that lacked only access to the means to spread their messages.
But as the years passed and my journalistic experience grew, I gradually realized that the power of words was not something that I, the journalist, bestowed on the people and communities I covered.

The power, I came to understand, was in the stories that people chose to share. I was merely a conduit for the dissemination of those stories. I began to see how journalists could frame the story, to give it context and depth, but that we could not own the story. I came to see that I did not give voice to others, but that my role was to amplify authoritative voices that lacked only access to the means to spread their messages.

This became a master narrative about my work. And I came to feel that journalists must also be generous, thoughtful, civic-minded and caring. Even now, with an Internet explosion that gives every voice more power than it ever had and raises new and vexing questions about the true role of a journalist, it is these values I hope to encourage with the creation of the Raul Ramirez Fund for Diversity in Journalism at San Francisco State University. I have endowed this fund to promote the journalistic values — diversity and excellence  — that have been at the core of my entire professional career, and to do so long after l am no longer able to personally advocate for them.
Journalism is sometimes described as a mirror that society holds up to itself. When the public looks in that mirror, it is important that it see faces that reflect the diversity of the community. But it must see more, much more. lt must see that the stories we tell, the experiences we illuminate, the public policies we explore, the communities we describe — the entire body of the very work we do — reflect those same diverse realities.

To do that, we cannot be mere stenographers to the powerful. Journalists must be agents of the truth in all its forms, wherever it resides, and we must work harder and more consciously to seek out the stories that don’t come to us because they lack the resources to bring them to our attention.

I am very grateful to the Society of Professional Journalists for honoring me with this award. There is something special about recognition from one’s peers. To have the respect of so many whom I admire is humbling. Thank you.
— Raul Ramirez

To contribute to the Raul Ramirez Fund for Diversity in Journalism Fund, follow this link and select “Other” from the drop-down menu of “I Would Like to Support” and type into the text box. Enter Designation: “The Raul Ramirez Diversity in Journalism Fund.”


Thursday, November 28, 2013


I am grateful for many things but especially for the wonderful people in my life 
both personally and professionally, 
family and friends. 
They all add spice to the pot luck of my life.

I am thankful for the wonderful education my parents gave me, 
great books by wonderful Latin@ writers, 
and last but not least, my family.

I'm grateful for my newborn nephew, Marley; and I'm grateful to be a bloguera since 2010.

I'm thankful for La Bloga and todos sus escritores ¡y que viva la poesía 
y la literatura chican@/Latin@!

I thank:
the planet for tolerating us this long and having the wisdom to learn from its mistakes and next time picking something better to put on top of its food chain.
los dioses that I was born chicano; and that Dick Cheney wasn't--we've already got enough vergüenza.
my kids for not picking someone else to be their dad.
my wife, for her patience.
my mom. Period

 I am thankful for my familia, my kindergarten students, my two books that were published in 2013 and the two new picture book manuscripts that I sold this year. 
I am agradecido for La bloga, 
los blogueros and all our readers.

 I am thankful for mi familia, mi mama (90 years young!), mi papa (96 years young), my dear sister, & nephew. So thankful for my daughter and all the gifts she brings to my life. 
I am thankful for the most amazing, generous, loving friends en mi vida. 
And thankful for La Bloguera familia and all its readers!

familia sedano is especially thankful to see our daughter's familia building their dream 
home on their gorgeous land, 
and that they've moved in with gramma and grampa during the building year. 
We get to be gramma and grampa every day.
And I'm thankful for 9 years of La Bloga. 
¡Adelante toward a decade!

 I am thankful for my kid and my husband, who put up with me; 
for my beautiful grandhedgehog Lía;
for my Güelita en el cielo, who taught me how to make Cuban stuffing;
for my friend Emilia, who baked 7 pies for our dinner for 7;
for my students, who teach me so much;
for bilingual publishers, for believing;
for the folks at Rosa Linda's in north Denver, who for 29 years have been feeding the needy,
for reminding us what Thanksgiving is about:
"¡Toca puerta, ten una conversación, adopta a una familia!
La persona mayor que está sola, el veterano, el inmigrante recién llegado,
no te necesita solamente hoy..."

Por La Bloga que nos permite compartir con otros soñadores.
A todos ustedes:
¡Feliz día de San Güibin!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Children's Books for Thanksgiving

This Thursday let's thanks for all the wonderful things we have. Say "Thank you" and "Gracias" and remember to smile.

Check these wonderful books in your local public library.

Celebrate Thanksgiving Day with Beto and Gaby by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda.

Beto and Gaby anxiously wait for their relatives to arrive for Thanksgiving dinner. One by one, they each call to inform the family that they will not be able to attend because of a great snowstorm. Suddenly, their grandmother appears with a group of elder friends who have nowhere to have dinner, and the celebration becomes really special. Contains an informative section on Thanksgiving Day.

Gracias, the Thanksgiving turkey by Joy Cowley. Illustrated by Joe Cepeda.

Trouble ensues when Papa gets Miguel a turkey to fatten up for Thanksgiving and Miguel develops an attachment to it.

¿Pavo para la Cena de Gracias? ¡No, gracias! por Alma Flor Ada. Ilustrado por Vivi Escriva.

When the turkey overhears a conversation about how fat and tasty he will be on Thanksgiving, he loses his own appetite. He meets a young spider who sets out to find a way to save the turkey.

Molly y los peregrinos por Barbara Cohen. Illustrado por Michael J. Deraney. Traducido por María A. Fiol.

Told to make a doll like a pilgrim for the Thanksgiving display at school, Molly's Jewish mother dresses the doll as she herself dressed before leaving Russia to seek religious freedom--much to Molly's embarrassment.

How many days to America?: a Thanksgiving story by Eve Bunting. Illustrated by Beth Peck.

Refugees from a Caribbean island embark on a dangerous boat trip to America where they have a special reason to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

YA Novel a Miami Vice. Gluten-free Chicano: Green Soup. Aural On-line Floricanto.

Review: Rude Slice of YA Life in Florida Pie

Wyatt Pattinson. SKY in the Key Lime PIE [Kindle Edition].

Michael Sedano

I don't know Wyatt Pattinson but I do know he's a writer with a big imagination, flashes of writerly skill, a lot of faith in his reader, and G-rated sexual liberation.

Wyatt Pattinson’s first novel comes as one of those serendipitous recommendations. Word-of-mouth reached me extolling a new YA novel, one with a pointed difference. The recommendation piqued my notice. I’d recently come to possess a Kindle Fire and the ninety-nine cent book was free one day.

Serendipity. Sky in the Key Lime Pie became the very first book I’ve ever downloaded from Amazon. That’s a pretty cool system for accessing and carrying around books.

There’s a reason YA has to be labelled. Older readers likely would have a low tolerance for some of the shortcuts authors take to keep the pace and interest suitable. Younger readers might find challenge in this novel’s approach to sexual coming-of-age. Teenage readers will appreciate the edge of seat plot and independence of teenage characters. Sideplots involving a disappeared girl and dissolute parents add to that appreciation.

Kaela’s 17, strictly supervised by relatives. She emancipates herself, in the process inveigling the younger Wyles with pie-in-the-sky promises into a dark underworld. Kaela’s fallen into bed with a couple of pimps. Kaela and Wyles run a matchmaking scheme. Millionaires pay a girl for her virginity, share the take with Kaela and Wyles. They make it big.

When Wyles’ moral sensibilities cave in and he attempts to quit the pimp business, thugs kick Wyles’ ass and the boy grows desperately fearful. A girlfriend and a flamboyant gay friend step in to rescue Wyles, one via moral suasion, the other via social media. Matters grow bloody. Pattinson writes the boy into a corner of his own making and he’ll need miracles to get free. Turn the page.

Wyles’ parents are no help. In Wyles’ world, adults are unreliable and dangerous. Kaela’s pimp bosses are cops. This prostitution business that seemed so innocent and pure when Kaela was luring Wyles into bondage now has turned menacing and deadly. That’s one cost of having all that money and independence.

Pattinson makes a subtle point about self-reliance and freedom from parental or other authority. Having Wyles live on his own wildly successfully reinforces a restless kid’s desire to move out, the impossible dream come true. But there’s a grass-is-greener lesson in the price Wyles and his friends pay because at their age, they’re not ready to be out on their own. Maybe a kid reader needs to think about that.

Not that living at home with Wyles’ dysfunctional parental units is key lime pie every day. That’s where the parents relocate for a fresh start, down to the keys to work in their best friend’s bar. Talk about mucked up people. When Wyles starts showering the folks with cash they turn a blind eye to its source. Given the cash and a lie, the parent will count the loot and exclaim what they’re going to spend it on. After mom takes up with the best friend both parents play the boy against the other to assuage their own needs.

These are crummy people who love one another, so what are you gonna do? Grow up. Learn your lessons, lick your wounds, be glad it wasn’t worse, and put in the time. When it’s your turn, don’t muck it up like they did. Pattinson wants to wrap up a happy ending like that.

With all manner, good and bad, of media pounding on kids for their attention and money, Wyatt Pattinson’s dollar entry shows he’s a writer with a big imagination and a book that satisfies his ambition with flashes of writerly skill and a lot of faith in his reader to suspend disbelief. Given the ninety-nine cents and few hours, kids and adults will find Sky in the Key Lime Pie fun to read. Emphasis, fun.

Wyatt Pattinson is a Florida writer, a Cubano writer whose matter-of-fact use of cultural allusions adds a measure of interest for gente ouest of Miami. Pattinson’s G-rated sex won’t get him banned anywhere, but the realization that much of the action takes place in Spanish and code-switching (although the novel is written entirely in standard US English) might get Pattinson banned in Arizona.

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Zuppa al polpette, Lee's Green Soup

As the weather outside grows frightful, gente head inside where it's so delightful, especially when you come inside to a steaming bowl of soup. And when you find yourself under that weather, hot soup for what ails you. For my grandmother's and mother's people, caldo de pollo cures everything and prevents the rest.

When the Gluten-free Chicano makes the panacea, he follows his people's simple procedure, boil a chicken, add rice, serve with lemon and crushed chile piquín. When the occasion calls for fancier fare, The Gluten-free Chicano's thoughts run to Lee's Green Soup, or as his fading memory recalls Lee's name for it, Zuppa al polpette.

Lee Stroud moved next door to casa Sedano when her husband, the Colonel, transferred to Norton AFB. Lee and mom hit it off. They exchanged recipes, Mexican food for a world-traveler's eclectic recipes. One day I disclosed that I'd recently eaten "pizza pie" for the first time at the drive-in theatre. That was when Lee told us she was Italian from Philadelphia, and what I'd eaten wasn't pizza. Lee made us pizza, from scratch.

Real pizza takes a lot of work. And it's expensive. So fill up your guests with soup and the cook gets away with making one slice per eater.

It's a winning strategy when soup comes to the table beautifully garnished with a sprinkle of parmesan, aromatic and dimpled with meatballs.

Lee's Green Soup is wonderfully easy to make. Here's the fundamental process.

Make a rich broth.

Earlier in the week, The Gluten-free Chicano roasted a chicken for dinner. He boiled down the carcass with a bouquet of carrots, onions, garlic, celery, and a bay leaf. Removing the particulates left a rich broth of concentrated flavor. With that, start the broth to boil lightly.

Add water sufficient to your need.

Seasonal suggestion: This year's November turkey carcass is going to become cocono Lee's Green Soup. 

Chop vegetables

Add to the boiling broth. The veggies--celery, onion, bell pepper, carrot, garlic--cook crisply fork tender.

Make meatballs

I use a Cusineart to process the carnes. Chop a few dientes of ajo, a medium onion, some parsley. Mix half and half ground beef with pork. Add an egg, a few pinches of grated dried parmesan cheese, a handful of gluten-free bread crumbs (or a couple Tbs of rice), coarsely ground black pepper, salt.

Wash hands well, leave them wet to make forming the meatballs easier. Hand-form meatballs. I make 2" albondigas that diners cut with their spoon. Lee's cost-sensible strategy featured 1" meatballs that fit a spoon. Plan on two or three meatballs per bowl.

Plop the meat into the water and increase the flame.

Add spinach

Break apart a package of chopped spinach and stir it into the water. Boil. When all the meatballs float to the surface, they're probably done. The soup can simmer a long time if it's the fourth quarter and Plunkett is driving to a winning touchdown.

When the meatballs and you are ready to serve, stir in noodles and get ready to call gente to table. The noodles won't require more than five minutes or so, to become al dente.

Prepare rice noodles

Lee Stroud served narrow egg noodles. The Gluten-free Chicano uses rice noodles from the Asian/Thai section at well-stocked supermarkets.

Rice noodles come in tightly-wrapped coils of hard, long strips of noodle. I find the noodles easier to cook and eat if I open one end of the cellophane package and use scissors to cut the bundled noodles along the fold.

Pull the noodles out of the wrapping above the boiling pot and let them float onto the surface. Stir them into the broth. Continue boiling until all the noodles are in the bottom and have grown elastic and translucently al dente.

Garnish with hot chile flakes

If the noodles absorbed too much broth, stir in some water. This chicken soup has a rich parmesan flavor that you can enhance with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese across the surface and a helping of crushed chile.

For my wheat-eater familia and friends I serve the world's best garlic bread, fashioned after Mom's Italian Village in Santa Barbara in the 1960s. Imagine a heavily parmesan-buttered sliced loaf heaped with tablespoonsful of chopped fresh garlic, dusted with paprika and toasted under the broiler.

Aural On-line Floricanto • "Aquellos Vatos"

The image of the vato loco occupies significant space in el movimiento's literary landscape. Of three classics, "El Louie," "To a Dead Lowrider," and "Aquellos Vatos," I've long favored the latter, owing in part to my serendipitous discovery of the poem during a hallway sales pitch from a poetry-selling stranger. For details, see my review of So Spoke Penelope, including a tribute to Montoya and a link to his reading "El Louie."

Click to play this reading, by James Acevedo, recorded in association with Teatro a la Brava Reader's Theatre project circa 1979-80. The reading is part of a 1980s-era multimedia introduction to poetry of the chicano movement. The project, Chicano Messages of Liberation, blended narrative from the book, 450 Years of Chicano History in Pictures edited by Elizabeth Martinez, poetry from a variety of published resources, and photographic slides of the murals of Boyle Heights, El Sereno, and East Los. I'm reassembling that production using today's technology.

Aquellos Vatos. Performed by James Acevedo

Aquellos Vatos
by Tino Villanueva

we knew him as la Zorra – uncouth but
squared away;
messed around unpaved streets. No different
from el Caballo de Littlefield, or from
La Chiva de McAllen who never let himself down;
always had a movida chueca somewhere up town.
Then there was la Polla de San Anto – lived
across the creek, y tenía un ranfle sentao
pa’tras, ¿me entiendes?
And el Pato de Nuquis, el que se la madereaba;
and la Rata was already growing a mouse-tache at
early ten.
El Conejo estaba todo locote, y era más largo
que no sé qué; had rucas all over the place, man:
not even Don Juan carried a rabbit’s foot.
El Bear se salía del cuadro; he was forever
polishing his Cat’s Paw double-sole derechonas,
and heterosexual la Perra used to snicker and
warn in Spanish – “You keep bending down like that
Bear, and you’ll wind up in Dallas.”

I don’t recall el Tiger . . . they tell me he was
a chavalón que se curaba con las gabas.
I do remember el Gorrión, un carnal a todo dar –
never said much, but his tattoos were sure a
conversation piece.
¿A la Burra?, ¡qué gacho le filorearon la madre
en el chancleo!, and el Canario went to the pinta
for it. Not to Sing Sing but the State Farm is
just as bad. La palomilla hasn’t been the same since.

They’re probably married by now,
those cats,
and their kids try to comprehend culture and
identity by reading “See Spot. See Spot run”,
and by going to the zoo on a Greyhound bus with
Miss Foxx

La Bloga friend and literature entrepreneur Jim Sullivan advises of this discount timeline. Here's the link promised in Jim's graphic.

Monday, November 25, 2013

William A. Nericcio holds court at UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center to rapt crowd

William A. Nericcio is a professor of English and comparative literature at San Diego State University, where he also serves on the faculties of the Latin American studies and Chicana/o studies departments, and as director of MALAS (Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences), a cultural studies graduate program. He is the author of Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of“Mexicans” in America (2007), and editor of The Hurt Business: Oliver Mayer's Early Works Plus [+] (2008) and Homer from Salinas: John Steinbeck’s Enduring Voice for California (2009). Nericcio blogs at and

On November 19, he held court to a rapt crowd at UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center with a lively (and often hilarious) lecture titled, “From Tex[t]-Mex to Mextasy to Eyegiene: Televisually Supercharged Hallucinations of ‘Mexicans’ in our Digital Humanities-laced, Technosexually Voyeuristic Tomorrow(s).”

I will not attempt to summarize or analyze Nericcio’s provocative presentation…I strongly suggest that you visit his blog and Tumbr pages (linked above) and read his engaging book, Tex[t]-Mex, which was reviewed by La Bloga’s very own gluten-free intellectual, Michael Sedano, here. The great news is that Nericcio is working on a new book.

Here are some photos of the event. You will recognize several of the faces. And if you’re interested in attending events at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, visit here for a complete schedule.

Professor Alicia Gaspar de Alba giving introductory remarks. 

Manuel Ramos and wife, Flo, paying attention.

William A. Nericcio lecturing with visual aids.

More visual aids.

…y más…

Elegance in motion.

Professor Otto Santa Ana listens to a question as William Nericcio enjoys the moment.

A slide of the poster for this event.