Sunday, November 30, 2014

Literary Triggers

Olga García Echeverría


This past October, Wendy Oleson, Pat Alderete, Cheryl Klein, Bronwyn Mauldin, and I gathered in the lobby of the North Hollywood Laemmle's. It was a Wednesday night, and we had come to participate in the NoHo Lit Crawl. From the onset, the allocated space for our reading seemed awkward. A narrow strip of carpeted hallway had been reserved and bordered off by retractable belt barriers. Yet despite feeling a bit corralled, we (both the readers and our audience) managed to successfully squeeze in and do what we had come to do—participate in a literary event, The LA Word: Exploded Guns.
No real guns exploded that night in the lobby of the movie theater, but around the world bullets were blasting, thundering, ricocheting through time and space.
Guns are not the source of all evil, we know. There are other evils. Greed. Racism. Misogyny. Classism. Homophobia. The quest for domination and power. But the gun (fueled by these other evils) has been and continues to be a tool used for some of the most heinous crimes committed against humanity. The legacy of gun violence in the Americas can be traced directly back to colonization. When the Europeans first conquered and “settled” the Americas, they brought with them the mighty gunpowder. The West was “won” with the help of guns. What would Manifest Destiny be without guns? Entire peoples and nations have been subjugated and enslaved at gun point.
Despite the common misconception that the passage of time = progress, gun-culture today is alive and thriving, interweaved into every aspect of American society, transcending race and class (one has only to examine the numerous suburban school shootings perpetrated by White males to realize this). We are a culture that glories guns on TV, in movies, in music, in video games, in toy manufacturing, in our weapon industries, and, of course in our legislation. The sale of high-powered weapons to other countries, even when illegal, goes mostly unnoticed and unchallenged. And despite the growing number of people who support gun control, the powers-that-be in this country, seem to remind us all: Don't mess with “our” Right to Bear Arms or we'll shoot you!
In the midst of all the gunpowder, The LA Word: Exploded Guns was merely a moment to pause and reflect. These short excerpts from our reading in October are literary snapshots of the casualties of the American gun culture. We share them with you today.

The first selection is from a ghazal poem written by Bronwyn Mauldin. Every title included in her poem is a gun model taken from an actual gun catalog. The names of these guns speak volumes: 
Rodeo cowboy action, colt mustang, wild bunch,
Saddle shorty, Indian bureau rifle.

Lady derringer, ladysmith, Baronesse Stutzen,
Brittany side-by-side, lightweight stalking rifle.

Multipurpose weapon, executive carry,
Professional success, business rifle.

Predator, super X pump marine defender,
Versa max zombie, counter-terrorist rifle.

Dissipator, downsizer, decocker,
Persuader, enforcer, traveler takedown rifle.
The following selection is from a prose piece written by Pat Alderete.
          Ronnie lay on the ground, blood pouring from the gunshot wound in his 15 year old forehead. The blood was pooling around his head with big red clots mixed in. He moved slightly, as though his body was very heavy, and started vomiting. His eyes opened weakly but he didn’t say anything.
The paramedics got there at the same time that Ronnie’s mother, Rita, arrived. She inched her way carefully through the crowd, growing more nervous as people dropped their eyes as she came into sight. Spotting her son laying on the dirty pavement, she threw back her head and wailed, kneeling by his feet. The paramedics grabbed their cases and started wrapping gauze around Ronnie’s head but I could see the utter hopelessness on their faces. You didn’t have to be a doctor to know Ronnie was bad off.
          Princess, who was 8 years old and had a crush on Ronnie, was sobbing uncontrollably, snot running into her mouth, her tears washing clean spots on her face.
“Some car drove by,” Princess cried, “and when I heard the bang I looked up and saw the blood spurting outta his head!”
          The paramedics lifted Ronnie onto a gurney and put him in the ambulance, Rita climbing in with him. Princess pounded on the door but they pulled away. We stared as the ambulance turned up the street, its tires and siren screeching. Dumbly I turned towards the sound of water and realized that the man in whose yard this had happened had a water hose and was washing the blood and vomit off his lawn. I watched it drain into the sewer like so much trash and I felt my stomach get tight and my head get light. I wanted to cry but I bit my lip and forced myself not to, even though it would of been okay since I was only a girl.
The next piece is an excerpt from, “Hey, Little Man,” written by Cheryl Klein.
          There are five of them in the car, four heavy black weapons, a few dozen tattoos. Jordan feels like a weapon. There is a spring coiled in his chest. There are devil horns tattooed on his shaved head, and a word like a brand across the back of his skull.
          “Move, you crowding me,” grouches Tiny Ninja, who has the middle seat. He is the newest and youngest. Last summer, Jordan had the middle seat. He’d felt like a kid stuffed into a parent’s car on the way to the movies, and he’d secretly been fine with that. Now he is bigger. When he doesn’t feel like dealing with the streets, he stays in his room eating chicharrones. He has a belly pressing against the waistband of his boxers.
          “You move,” Jordan says. “Stop trying to touch me where my bathing suit covers.”
The other guys in the car laugh. “Fuck you,” Tiny Ninja says.
          They turn onto the street where their enemies hang off porches and take girls down alleys. It looks like their own street. Government brick and metal window frames from the 1950s, sidewalks veined with weeds, tsking grandmas pinching clothes onto clotheslines, smug in their own quiet violence. It looks the same, but it feels different. A parallel universe where everything is just a little lopsided, or brighter, where alleys hang left instead of right.
          Who will make himself a target first? Who will step away from his kid or his mama or his six homies? Jordan holds his gun just below the rolled-down window. On the street, people look without looking. Everyone knows why they’re here.
          A guy Jordan knows as Painter offers himself to them. He’s on Jordan’s side of the car, between the pistol’s bloodhound nose and an open garage.
          Painter is his. He is glad. And also, he is sinking. It’s not as if anyone really gets away with it. You go to jail or your enemies find you. He doesn’t mean to pause before squeezing his index finger, but his homies are yelling and grumbling. They’re following a script, but maybe they’re glad, too. For the pause. Because prison is one thing and murder is another.
          The bullet skims that line. Past one parked car, through the windshield of another, so close behind Painter’s head that it would make ripples in his hair if he had any.
          Jordan is as surprised as anyone. In the gap of time between the rise of his arm and the embedding of the bullet in old Señora Castillo’s flower box, his devil horns sprout. They push against his skull and then his skin, emerging sharp and bloody. There is no turning back. There is a box he will have to check on job applications for the rest of his life, and no nice girl will ever love him again, but technically, no one dies.
This is an excerpt from my prose-poem, “Flores for Brisenia”
The morning radio speaks of wars, “over there,” far away. And here? The roosters started crowing at the break of dawn. I’m in the kitchen imagining the falling of a bomb. Ceiling blasted into smithereens. Sparrows murdered in their trees. It’s the radio making me imagine the silencing of songs, the crumpling of walls. There are the walls of people’s homes being knocked down. And the walls of nation-empires being built. Everywhere. Apartheid walls. Border walls. Prison walls. Memorial walls. Which remind me of how we like to make monuments of things we kill. Soldiers. Children running down the streets with angry stones, fighting tanks. Who’s there behind the gunner, behind the missile, behind the barrel, behind the bullet?

This morning I can’t stop thinking of Brisenia Flores, that little girl murdered in Arizona. Minutemen vigilantes broke into her family’s home. A woman and two men plagued by hate, stealing, shooting, killing because they could. In America people love their guns. The weight, the steel, the metal extracted from the earth. The lever of power. The trigger. The trigger happy. He shot her in the face. The little girl who pleaded, "please don’t…"
And although Subcomandante Marcos was not physically present at our poetry reading in October, he was there in spirit. I leave you with these words that I am sure will resonate with all of you out there, who like us, are grappling with the current horrific violence in the world. Violence that, although complex and full of intricate layers, transcends geographical borders and nationalities, asking all of us to take a stand, break silence, and fight for a more just and peaceful world.
I have a dead brother. Is there someone here who doesn’t have a dead brother? I have a dead brother. He was killed by a bullet to his head...Way before dawn the bullet that was shot. Way before dawn the death that kissed the forehead of my brother. My brother used to laugh a lot but now he doesn't laugh any more. I couldn't keep my brother in my pocket, but I kept the bullet that killed him. On another day before dawn I asked the bullet where it came from. It said: From the rifle of a soldier of the government of a powerful person who serves another powerful person who serves another powerful person who serves another in the whole world. The bullet that killed my brother has no nationality. The fight that must be fought to keep our brothers with us, rather than the bullets that have killed them, has no nationality either. For this purpose we Zapatistas have many big pockets in our uniforms. Not for keeping bullets. For keeping brothers.




Saturday, November 29, 2014

Turkey week leftovers – Ferguson Mon., T-day Thurs., Black Slave Fri. & Sand Creek Sat.

1952 advertisement for Ferguson assures buyers they
are FHA Financed or Approved (for whites only).
The Ferguson community, then the ghetto, then this week

Last night, Black Friday, my wife and I toured a Littleton, Colo., traditional holiday event, the 31st Candlelight Walk. I couldn't help comparing what I saw to what has gone on in Ferguson, Mo., this fall, and still continues.

Littleton is one of Denver's outer-ring suburbs (defined below) that's 92% white, with a median family income of $65,000; 6% of the population is below the poverty line. Ferguson is 67% black, with a median, family income of $43,000; 18% of the population is below the poverty line. [from latest Census]

We passed hundreds of the thousands of people who attended. I checked them out. Fewer than ten families looked Chicano or mexicano. One girl might have been half-black; another, possibly an exchange student. I saw no black woman, but I did see one black man.

The mood was festive, peaceful, family-friendly, secure and financially thriving. Compared to what I know about Ferguson, it was another world. And it is. And there's reasons (explained below).

I didn't see any police presence--not one cop--other than flashing lights at the ends of the streets, blocking off traffic from the festivities. I assume they were somewhere here. And there must've been more black people than I spotted. But I was overwhelmed by how white Littleton appeared to be. How happy. How un-Ferguson-like. It felt so unfair. Not that white people get to live like this, but that Fergusonites, and other minorities in America's barrios and ghettos, don't apparently deserve to live the same. There's reasons, explained below. And they're not all about white flight.

We left as the Candlelight Walk began and before the Tree Lighting ceremony. I had lost whatever holiday spirit I entered with. But, maybe it was just me....

Lurking behind everything you've heard about American injustice, racism, bigotry, brutality and, frankly, sadism, is the history of how the people and community of Ferguson (and many U.S. cities) were ghettoized. And how that inevitably led to Monday's "pardon" of Michael Brown's killer.

If you're a student of U.S. history, especially of black, Chicano, or the oppressed's history, this new report will become required reading, a classic. You can substitute Chicano, Puertoriqueño or Dominicano, for black. Substitute barrio, for ghetto. Then you will have a more complete picture of how to segregate, impoverish and ghettoize a nation's people of color. You can read a lite version here, or the scholarly, but lengthy original here. Below are highlights:

Cleared land on St. Louis’s riverfront, once a
 mostly black community, leveled for redevelopment.
"21st century segregation is in transition – to whiter central cities with adjoining black suburbs, while farther out, white suburbs encircle the black ones. Every policy and practice segregating St. Louis over the last century was duplicated in almost every metropolis nationwide.

"A powerful cause of metropolitan segregation in St. Louis and nationwide has been the explicit intents of federal, state, and local governments to create racially segregated metropolises. This story of racial isolation and disadvantage, enforced by federal, state, and local policies is central to an appreciation of what occurred in Ferguson when African American protests turned violent after police shot and killed an unarmed black 18-year-old. Policies that are no longer in effect and seemingly have been reformed still cast a long shadow. In the case of St. Louis, these intents were expressed in mutually reinforcing federal, state, and local policies that included:
St. Louis public housing towers demolished
in 1972. Some black ex-residents settled
in Ferguson and other inner-ring suburbs.
·  Boundary, annexation, spot zoning, and municipal incorporation policies designed to remove African Americans from residence near white neighborhoods, or to prevent them from establishing residence near white neighborhoods;
·  Urban renewal and redevelopment programs to shift ghetto locations, in the guise of cleaning up those slums;
·  Government regulators’ tacit and sometimes open support for real estate and financial sector policies and practices that explicitly promoted residential segregation.

"The federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that “segregated housing in the St. Louis metropolitan area was in large measure the result of deliberate racial discrimination in the housing market by the real estate industry and by agencies of the federal, state, and local governments.” Similar observations accurately describe EVERY other large metropolitan area."

It's our deliberately segregated, barrio-ghetto America. And it's time to change our cities. Gentrification will "develop" more Fergusons.

[All these photos from Economic Policy Institute article.]

Thanksgiving Day –  Why we need a new Turkey Day

My Mexican-Chicano family celebrate T-day, adding our own tradition of frijoles and green chile, and with other non-Pilgrim foods. There are at least three forms of this day.
1. A Pilgrimish T-day, if you're in the East and white or middle class or whatever.
2. A non-Pilgrimish T-day that most Americans celebrate. The food, pumpkins, autumn leaves on the table, maybe a prayer before the table orgy.
3. NDOM T-day, how Native Americans and others mark the day. [see details below]

If you're like me, you might be stuck between 2 and 3. You know the history has been Dizzyland-distorted, but your family elders practice a #2 traditional T-day. To go along with that and ignore #3 seems wrong. What to do?

Frankly, I don't know. If it's held at my house, I'll need to help create some 4th type of T-day that's has something of #3 [plus the green chile] but doesn't demoralize everyone by giving details like those below. I'd welcome other people's ideas of how to "celebrate" T-day next year. In some way that would meet my responsibilities to what's owed the Native American people. Remember--the Spaniards, Catholic church, and Mexican gov't sometimes acted as barbarically as the Pilgrims and the 7th Cavalry. Here's info about #3, NDOM:

It didn't happen like this.
The first official "Day of Thanksgiving" was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. It was to celebrate the safe return of white men who had gone to Mystic, Conn. to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children, and men. A Pilgrim's account of their first year on Indian land tells of the opening of ancestral graves, stealing Indian wheat and bean supplies, and selling them as slaves for 220 shillings each.

It happened like this.
In 1970, United American Indians of New England declared US Thanksgiving Day a National Day of Mourning--NDOM. Why? Across from the Plymouth Monument, near a statue of Massasoit (one of the “friendly, helpful” Native Americans), is a plaque commemoratingNDOM. Given by the town of Plymouth on behalf of the United American Indians of New England, it states:
"Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture."

"After the Pilgrims' arrival, Native Americans grew increasingly frustrated with the English settlers' abuse and treachery. Metacomet (King Philip), a son of Massasoit, called upon Native people to unite to defend their homelands against encroachment. The resulting "King Philip's War" lasted from 1675-1676. Metacomet was murdered in Rhode Island in August 1676, and his body was mutilated. His head was impaled on a pike and was displayed near this site for more than 20 years. One hand was sent to Boston, the other to England. Metacomet's wife and son, along with families of many other Native American combatants, were sold into slavery in the West Indies by the English victors."

"Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered in Plymouth to commemorate NDOM on Thanksgiving. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture. Participants in NDOM honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression that Native Americans continue to experience.

Discounted slaves were the 1st Black Friday bargains.

Black Friday
1. a bargain day, for cheap slaves

According to one site, "Black Friday stemmed from slavery, the day after Thanksgiving when slave traders sold slaves for a discount to assist plantation owners with more helpers for winter." Black slaves for Black Friday. When you shop-crazy on this day, are you helping to keep former traditions alive? Is that really worth a shopping cart-full of bargains?

     2. If you gave thanks yesterday, pay it forward - Boycott WalMart

"For the third year, United Food & Commercial Workers Union and OUR Walmart, a group of employees, are striking and protestlng at 1,600 of the 3,400 Wal-Marts in the U.S., They seek minimum pay of $15 /hr. and full-time work on regular schedules. 825,000 of the company’s 1.4 million U.S. employees make less than $25k/year, making them food bank recipients."

So, if you cross that picket line to save money on supposed bargains, you are simultaneously increasing your taxes that go to SNAP (food stamps). When Wal-Mart agrees to worker demands, the load on your taxes will be lightened. That would be a bargain.

Sand Creek Saturday

Today, 11/29/14, marks the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre. Last week Colorado admitted that the eastern half of the state was built on the coerced cession of Arapaho and Cheyenne homelands. An illegal process that violated U.S. law.
To know the true history, don't go to the History Colorado Center; their attitude and exhibit show they don't understand and accept the truth. However Gov. Hickenlooper's executive order creating the Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration Commission admits the facts of this horrendous wrong: “The controversy surrounding this Civil War Monument has become a symbol of Coloradans’ struggle to understand and take responsibility for our past. On November 29, 1864, Colorado’s First and Third Calvary, commanded by Colonel John Chivington, attacked Chief Black Kettle’s peaceful camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians on the banks of Sand Creek, about 180 miles southeast of here. In the surprise attack, soldiers killed more than 150 [to 200] of the village's 500 inhabitants. Most of the victims were elderly men, women and children."

The Colorado General Assembly's 2014 resolution unanimously recognized the Sand Creek Massacre as an unjust killing of peacefully assembled Arapaho and Cheyenne which reverberates today upon their descendants:
"Be It Resolved by the Senate of the Sixty-ninth General Assembly of the State of Colorado, the House of Representatives concurring herein: That we, the members of the General Assembly, acknowledge the devastation caused by the Sand Creek Massacre and seek to raise public awareness about the tragic event, the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, and events surrounding it."

At Sand Creek, it still says "battle!"
Today when you hear, "T'is a privilege to live in Colorado," it's not about how expensive the cow town has become. The privilege you share is that the eastern half of the state, part of which you might own, was land illegally transferred to you or your ancestors, and none of the money ever went to the native population. They were forcibly removed, if they survived at all.

Have a Happy Sand Creek Saturday.

Es todo, hoy,

RudyG, a.k.a. Rudy Ch.Garcia, author of stories of fabulist mextasy, a new genre

Friday, November 28, 2014

La Bloga: Ten Years And Still Going Strong

November 28, 2004 -- La Bloga's birthday

That first post appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Ten years later and La Bloga is stronger than ever. Born in conversations between Rudy Ch. Garcia and Manuel Ramos in the Aztec Sol, a Denver bar that no longer exists, La Bloga was meant from the beginning to be a place, a home, where all things Chicana/o Latina/o could be discussed, reviewed, analyzed, praised, recommended, criticized, and simply enjoyed. We had a focus on literature, and that focus continues today, but anyone who reads our daily changing posts knows that we are so much more.  From health advice to cooking tips to interviews to cutting edge art to musical videos to folkloric exhibits to poetry that celebrates and energizes the struggles for justice, peace, saving the earth, and equality, to ... whatever we come up with next. To commemorate our tenth anniversary of providing content we hope our readers find informative, provocative, or at least entertaining, here are a few thoughts from the current family of eleven devoted writers.

The lead post for this edition is a powerful new poem from Xánath Caraza that in less than five hundred passionate words wraps up the hopes, fears, and anxieties of today's world, and the place La Bloga has in helping to make sense of it all. Muchísimas gracias to all the bloggers - for all you do.

¡Feliz Cumpleaños!


Aterrizando en St. Louis, Missouri
Por Xánath Caraza

La misma noche que aterricé en St. Louis
se subastó el traje de león
de la película el Mago de Oz
esa misma noche al tocar tierra
la mujer junto a mí me preguntó
si St. Louis era mi último destino
ella no estaba segura de poder
llegar a su casa porque la calles
estaban tomadas
la noche que aterricé en St. Louis
mi vuelo llegó retrasado
la misma noche que aterricé en St. Louis
el aeropuerto estaba lleno de policías
con perros que olfatearon mi maleta
llena de libros, mis armas secretas,
la misma noche que aterricé
pensaba en el río Hudson
en los colores que absorbí
en ese otoño amarillo de hojas en la acera
de árboles de ginkgo en Brooklyn
pensaba en la noche de tormenta
en el cuarto piso donde el viento
aullaba frente al Hudson
y yo en pijamas escuchaba
hipnotizada sus ritmos
la misma noche que aterricé
en St. Louis me urgía llegar a casa
y escribir un poema
esa misma noche, en el aeropuerto
me pregunté si no estaba en Latinoamérica
donde ver pasar policías armados
en las calles es el pan nuestro de cada día
esa misma noche cerca de las 8 y media
Ferguson se llenó de llamaradas
esa misma noche algo dentro
de mí se rompió de golpe
esa misma noche sentí que eran
43 + 1
esa misma noche sentí
la noche que aterricé
en St. Louis, Missouri
me recordó que la vida
no la tenemo comprada
que es frágil, que no es nuestra
que aquí estamos de paso
me recordó que soy afortunada
de escribir estas palabras
de tener el espacio donde
me recordó que tengo una voz
que quiero usar apropiadamente
que tener un espacio como La Bloga
es un santuario en esta selva
esa misma noche pensé que diez
años eran 3,650 días y que en cada uno
de esos días Manuel, Lydia, Daniel,
Em, Melinda, René, Amelia, Rudy,
Ernesto, Olga y Xánath hacen posible
La Bloga, luego pensé, al atterizar en
St. Louis que esos 43 + 1 no estaban
que no estaban, que nunca leerían
mis palabras, que esa noche
que aterricé en St. Louis
hacía frío y que las imágenes
en el televisor de uno de los bares
frente a la sala E22 era de fuego puro
que era lunes 24 de noviembre
también pensé en una noche en
la playa, en una fogata tan grande
que alcanzara la luna
la noche que aterricé en St. Louis, Missouri
pensé en ti, Michael Brown, pensé en ti
pensé en ti, niño perdido, pensé en ti
pensé en ti,  43 + 1, pensé en ti
pensé en ti, en ti, en ti, pensé
en ti, en ti, en ti, ti, pensé
esa noche, al aterrizar

-- Xánath Caraza (alternate Mondays)

Today I spent the afternoon putting the final touches on my Monday blog post which will consist of a short interview with Frederick Luis Aldama concerning his new book on the director, Robert Rodriguez. It got me to thinking about the remarkable opportunities I've had writing for La Bloga these last ten years. I've been able to give coverage to books, authors, artists and others without any fear of censorship. True, we have, at times upset a few...that is to be expected. But we've become one, big, messy familia talking (shouting) across the virtual dinner table about things we hold dear. I am delighted that our numbers have grown so that many more voices are now showcased on La Bloga. And I'm pleased that we have an audience that is engaged and growing. I started with La Bloga when I was 45 years old...I am now 55 and holding. Here's to another decade, at least! -- Daniel Olivas (alternate Mondays)

Teresa Marquez and the CHICLE listserve brought us together ya hace a decade plus. We were three names on a listerv. Then one day we found ourselves three vatos blogging. And soon we were four, five, six, now we are eleven friends, women and men blogging. La Bloga has seen a few changes, qepd Tatiana de la Tierra. ¡Viva la literatura, viva la cultura! Ten years is not a long time. A decade ago a single person could claim to have read everything ever published as Chicano Literature. Today, that’s impossible, and never again can it be true. A decade from now, hijole! Thank you for reading La Bloga, and to my blogueras blogueros colegas, thank you for writing La Bloga. Happy anniversary.-- Michael Em Sedano (Tuesday)

Ten years ago, my first book was published Waiting for Papá/ Esperando a Papá. I began to receive good feedback from readers. I read a wonderful comment in a new blog called La Bloga. I immediately loved the blog because the bloggers were commenting about latino and chicano literature. My love for La Bloga was so great that I volunteered to be a guest writer. Then I became the Wednesday blogger. It has been 9 great years blogging about children literature in this wonderful blog. La Bloga continue reviewing and commenting about Latino and Chicano Literature in English and Español. Happy 10th years for La Bloga!

Gracias La Bloga por abrirnos una ventana en internet para que descubramos más sobre nuestra literatura. -- René Colato Laínez (Wednesday)

I first joined La Bloga as a guest columnist in 2009, after meeting René Colato Laínez and Michael Sedano at the National Latino Writers Conference in Albuquerque. La Bloga, as they described it, promised to carry on the spirit of camaraderie that we, writers and lovers of literature, had lived so intensely throughout the days of the conference. Over the past few years, I have seen La Bloga blossom into an international community of readers and writers, a real family with its chismes and peleas, and also a profound cariño for one another… a home where many languages are spoken and celebrated, un verdadero refugio. ¡Gracias, mi gente! 
-- Lydia Gil (alternate Thursdays)

La Bloga has made a big difference for Latino lit. It has also made a big difference in my career. Ten years ago I was wondering if I'd ever be published again, now I'm appearing regularly in anthologies, my books are being reprinted, and I'm going to doing a master class on Latino speculative fiction at a university. Thank you, La Bloga! Keep going! --  Ernest Hogan (alternate Thursdays)

Thank you, Manuel, for asking me to join La Bloga six years ago. It's been a wonderful ride. Before joining La Bloga, I had the pleasure of offering many guests posts. I even won a writing contest on La Bloga. I was a regular follower of La Bloga, the main source of news for Chicano Literature. I especially enjoyed reading Daniel's column. He talked about his writing life with such enthusiasm that when he put out a call for contributors to an anthology titled Latinos in Lotusland, I was determined to be part of it. Thanks to Daniel Olivas and La Bloga, I built a career out of that one accepted short story so many years ago. La Bloga is where we build a community of people who care about our culture, politics, arts, and literature. Thanks fellow Blogueros and Blogueras, who live in different cities and states, I learn new things every day and I gain glimpses at lives that represent the diversity of our culture. It's no wonder scholars and academics also consume our writings. I'm proud to blog for La Bloga.  Ten years! And many more! La Bloga continues to be the source for relevant events in our global familia. -- Melinda Palacio (alternate Fridays)

It's been pure joy watching La Bloga grow and prosper for ten years. We owe it all to our loyal readers and, of course, to the wonderful bloggers who have graced our pages. The Magnificent Eleven are great -- elegantly represented here in these few paragraphs in today's edition. There also have been several other contributors over the years that have made this space a success and, in my opinion, a genuine source of pride for the Latina/o cultural community.  I won't attempt to list all the various people who have been a part of La Bloga -- I know I will overlook someone -- but I think you all know how much you are appreciated and that you are a vital part of La Bloga history and, we hope, its future. Long Live La Bloga! -- Manuel Ramos (alternate Fridays)

La Bloga's just un puño on the Internet. But it's been our puño. Through ten years, posting daily about la literatura, la cultura de la mexicanidad y latinidad, for over 36,000 days! It's a treasure of history I've been proud to assist with. Today I wonder how we might enrich and enliven it into the next decade, to even better promote la raza cósmica. We could benefit from more puertoriqueño-, domicano- and cubano-American contributors. Some jovenes would be good, like even a teenager or a twenty-something. How about a Chican@ of apache or Hopi descent? Whatever happens, this puño feels like it will sigue por un tiempo más. Gracias a todos que han leído nuestras palabras e ideas pobres. -- Rudy Ch. Garcia (Saturday)

Felicidades to La Bloga’s 10th year. How very fortunate I am to be a member of this writing familia. I’ve been writing for La Bloga since 2011 (a little over 3 years), thanks to tatiana de la tierra who called me one morning asking if I’d share writing duties with her on Sundays. Little did I know that morning when I said, “yes—anything for you, Querida tatiana,” that I would be receiving so much more than what I give every other week. And she remains with us. To the spirit of tatiana and all the La Bloga familia: You inspire me to bring my best to the “La Bloga” posting table. I absolutely love that we represent various geographic areas of the United States—many great perspectives. I love that we celebrate the vast diversity within the term: Latinidad. The poetry, fiction, book reviews, non-fiction musings, musical reviews, cultural topics, cooking expertise, y mas, reveal our vast heritage. Orale. Felicidades, La Bloga! Que Viva La Bloga por muchos años mas!!
-- Amelia M.L. Montes (alternate Sundays)


-- Olga García Echeverría (alternate Sundays)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Chicanonautica: What Do You Want to Know?

2014 just wants to keep on running me ragged. Things keep happening (besides the riots and the racial strife). Not only is the new Digital Parchment Services/Strange Particle Press ebook of Cortez on Jupiter orderable, but the press release is available, so you can read about the impending soft-cover edition, find out where to write about getting review copies, and read quotes of wild praise for the book.

If that isn’t enough, Digital Parchment has started a new Ernest Hogan blog so they can promote their editions of my books. They also started an Ernest Hogan Tumblr. I’ll be posting stuff on both of them, so check ‘em out!

Which brings me to the main subject of this post . . . the writer Nalo Hopkinson, who teaches at UC Riverside, sent me a direct message on Twitter (most of my sales and gigs these days come through the social media) asking if I would be willing to lead a workshop “on writing Latino-focused SF/F/H,” because “The community has been asking for it.” Ever the professional, I asked if it was a paying job, and it is, so it looks like in February 2015 I’ll be teaching a  master class (hey! I’m an expert in the field!) as part of their Writer’s Week. I will provide more details as I get them.

2015 and February are coming at us fast. I need to think about it, and take some notes . . . I could fill the time with funny stories about my weird career, but since this is a university thing, I should probably ask the community that Nalo was talking about what they want. I’m assuming that a lot of you aspiring Chicanonauts read La Bloga.

So, what would you like to know about writing Latino-focused speculative fiction/fantasy/horror? Are there specific questions you’d like answered? Just what can I do for you?

I’ll be waiting for your comments . . .

Ernest Hogan has accumulated a lot of ancient Chicano Sci-Fi wisdom over the years. He’s willing to share it. Especially for money. Or food. Or cerveza. Oh yeah, feliz Día de Los Guajolotes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ten Wonderful Years As A Published author

From the Macondo Newsletter

Reyna Grande

Macondista Rene Colato Lainez is celebrating his 10th year anniversary as a published author. Congratulations to Rene, and here's to many more years and many more books!

Ten Wonderful Years
By Rene Colato Lainez

At the end of 1999 many people were setting goals to accomplish in the new millennium. I was one of them. At the time, I was already an elementary teacher and had written several books to share with my students. I still remember those "classic books" that my students enjoyed reading such as, "Fabiola, Fabiola", "El número uno", "Un cuento de colores." 

My students enjoyed my books so much that I began to wonder what I had to do in order to publish my work. I wanted to see my name on the cover of a book. I met children's book authors Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy at the teacher's writing workshop "Teachers in the Classroom." They read some of my books and told me that yes, my work was publishable! Then I met the wonderful macondista, Amada Irma Pérez. She shared the submission guidelines of her publisher, Children's Book Press, and told me to give it a try. She told me that some day in the near future we could be signing books together. 

At that time, this was a sueño. After meeting Alma Flor, Isabel, and Amada, I set my own goal, to submit my manuscripts for publication. I started to submit my stories in March 2001. Soon, I received my first rejection letter. It was painful to read it but on the bottom of the letter someone had printed, "Your story has a big heart. We wish you luck." 

I did not give up and 2001 was a year of rejection letters. I joined SCBWI, took some creative writing classes and wrote new stories. In the summer of 2002, I received an email from Arte Público Press, asking me for revise my manuscript with the promise that they might publish it if they liked the revision. I made the changes and by October 2002, I had a contract for Waiting for Papá

I remembered the day, I had a flu and fell sleep holding the contract. When I woke up, I looked at 
my chest wondering if the contract was just a dream. But it was still there. I read it again and shouted "I will have a book! I am an author!". 

The book was published on October 31, 2004. Now 10 years later, I have written 9 children's books, a story in an anthology, 6 books for elementary reading programs and many poems and short stories for a children's magazine, Revista Iguana. I love writing children books and I have more coming out soon. 

I organized a celebration party for my anniversary. It was a costume party and many friends came wearing costumes from characters of my books. Of course, I was René, the boy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Philly Cop Is Monster. News 'n Notes.

Review: Sabrina Vourvoulias, "Skin In The Game,"

Michael Sedano

The first video of a black devil fish showed the creature flexing its huge jaws, the mouth gaping with needle-like teeth that cage-in a creature attracted by the phosphorescent lure dangling in the deep sea darkness from the black devil fish’s head.

In an idle flash, I thought the fish could be the model for some outer space monster only a science fiction writer could think up. Sure enough, someone has.

I don’t know if Sabrina Vourvoulias saw that marine footage, but the critter she has roaming the zombie ghetto of Philadelphia could be the devil fish’s terrestrial prima:

The taste of her fear-driven flop sweat, her death, washes over my tongue, takes the edge off the hunger that’s always nested inside me. Taste prompts image. I see the girl, face upturned as she waits for her fix, then something striking fast at her chest. Not a knife, but a mouth with scimitar teeth that pop out like double switchblades.

Monsters like that go around emptying out innards and leaving human carcasses in their wake. Blanca is a cop and her job is to identify and cleanse. Of course, things grow complicated and dangerous.

Vourvoulias’ story, “Skin In The Game” will hit the streets in the December 2 issue of It’s not to be missed. “Skin In the Game” holds the reader’s interest with a fast-moving first-person story and a collective of interesting personages. The author’s use of short thematic paragraphs sets the pace. Cultural materials inform the story's logic with linguistic, orthographic, nicknaming, and food datos that add richness but without complexity that could confuse exogenous readers.

The story’s notable for its raza characters and setting. Boricuas, Dominicans for instance. The central character is a Mexicana cop-of-sorts from South Philly. The City of Brotherly Love suffers a terminal case of advanced irony. Social services have all gone to hell. Cop uniforms include heavy-soled boots to guard against discarded hypodermic needles that pave the sidewalks of this barrio.

Vourvoulias writes an arresting story with an eye-opening surprise that adds dimensions to the character’s personality while confirming suspicions the author cleverly plants like a sneeze in a greek tragedy. The author passes along matter-of-fact information about cultura. Tamaleras use platano and maíz hojas. Mejor, the Tamágicos have herbal concoctions that help people make good decisions and love one another. That's soul food of the first order.

Without making a big deal of her characters' latinidad, Sabrina Vourvoulias shows how diversity in SpecFic should work. “Skin In the Game” is one of those subversive stories science-fiction is noted for, helping people see with new eyes, to notice diversity but not make a big deal of the natural order of things, even if things are all dystopic.

Mark Vallen Eulogy for Richard Duardo

QEPD Richard Duardo. Artist and serigraphy master, Duardo played a key role in the technology of art.

Mark Vallen's recent eulogy for his contemporary offers a critical appreciation for Duardo and his influence in United States arte. Click here for Vallen's essay.  Don't miss Vallen's essay on the 43 missing from Ayotzinapa.

Mail Bag
Before it Goes to Video
No one who's seen Water & Power has walked away from the motion picture disappointed. Disappointment comes from the paucity of gente who bought tickets during its premiere theatrical run.

In the best of all possible cinema worlds, word of mouth would have ignited a frenzy of ticket-buying that snowballed enthusiasm to a point a major exhibition chain would pick up the title and just like that, chicano film would earn a place as a filmic investment vehicle.

Instead, like the Cesar Chávez biopic earlier in the year, the film faded after a short burst of enthusiasm.

The producers are showcasing the film at select theaters, using an internet-based ticketing service, tugg. It's a method of assuring a seat for the audience while reassuring theater owners of a likelihood of selling tickets, popcorn, and candy. But there's much more.

Producer Richard Montoya reminds, via email that this Los Angeles-area showing "will be one of the final opportunities to see W&P the way it was meant to be seen and heard - big screen and projected from the DCP drives - not high-def or blue ray but deeply saturated picture ingested into the projection system - the purest form and great sound."

Montoya invites you to share news of this special program. Find the details and link to the tugg event in Monterey Park at this link.

Gifting Season: Books Always Reliably Welcome

Arte Publico Press makes buying holiday presents thirty-five percent easier with an offer every book-lover may want to consider, especially with Christmas a month away. Visit Arte Publico's website for their catalog. The offer via telephone ordering expires on the 19th.