Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Last Tuesday of 2017's Only February

Michael Sedano

It's been a quiet week in Lake Quelafregada, where all the vatos can afford tickets to Zoot Suit and all las mujeres bailan swing, and gente look for low-cost high-quality live entertainment. LATC has the answer in Los Angeles. Details from the Los Angeles Theater Center at the bottom of the page.

The center of the page features news of a stellar exhibition and sale sponsored by Margaret Garcia.  Garcia and her colorist cohort work with skill that astounds and is destined to be widely collected.

First, however, marking the final Tuesday in February, the Moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070 nominate five poems to wrap the month.

February Farewell On-line Floricanto 
Isabella Casstevens, Caitlin Dennis, Matt Sedillo, Donny Jackson, Anita Endrezze

“A Girls Life” By Isabella Casstevens
“An Uber Ride: This Close” By Caitlin Dennis
“Faking It” By Matt Sedillo
“leave” By Donny Jackson
“The Wall” By Anita Endrezze

Isabella Casstevens (Bella) is seven years old and a French Immersion 2nd grade student in San Diego, CA. She is the daughter of a Belgo-Croatian immigrant mother and an American father. She is fluent in French and English and wants to start learning Spanish. Her favorite sport is soccer. She loves the arts, dances ballet, take theatre classes, paints, and writes poetry. Her favorite poet and inspiration for “A Girl’s Life” is Dr. Maya Angelou. Bella also wrote poetry that she donated to the American Cancer Society in hope to bring some joy to the cancer patients. She is very passionate about gender and racial equality and often writes on the subjects. Bella dreams of being a scientist (to find a cure for cancer and other diseases) as well as being an author.

An Uber Ride: This Close  
By Caitlin Dennis

You could have stopped to get gas, or not.
I could have watched one more episode, or maybe one less.
You could have taken your time to enjoy the lights
of the city against the black of the road.
I could have taken my time to transform my hair
into golden rings or straight sheets of flax.
But you didn’t. And I didn’t.
You could have seen my destination and decided No,
let someone else, to focus on profitable riders instead.
I could have changed my mind on wanting to explore the night alone,
choosing to extend my self-imposed sentence another night.
You could have decided that my short ride wasn’t worth it.
I could have decided that my short escape wasn’t worth it.
But you didn’t. And I didn’t.
You could have ignored me as I sat in your back seat,
to pay attention to the road or develop your recent poem.
I could have ignored you as I sat in your backseat,
to watch the sky scrapers and date-nights rush by your window.
You could have kept with small words and topics.
I could have kept with pleasantries and silence, as I typically do.
But you didn’t. And I didn’t.
You could have stayed quiet about your Great Love,
(then I never would have known
you want to write how Hitchens and Neruda write).
I could have stayed quiet about my anxiety of crowds,
(then you would have never recommended
a longer trip to a quieter place).
You could have not shared yourself with me,
(then I wouldn’t have known
That you were at a crossroads).
I could have not shared myself with you,
(Then you wouldn’t have known that I was trying to find myself too).
But you didn’t. And I didn’t.
We did not take time, or speed through time,
We collided into each other’s lives
In a microcosm of Serendipity.
We did not sit in shared solitude -
even in the first moments
our words discussed books
and education and language and life.
We did not waste time or thought or opportunity.
We fell deeply, quickly, though not with our physical bodies-
We couldn’t see the other’s face
Yet the windows became opaque from our
humid breath and laughter
as you cut through the black and light.
You could have dropped me
at my destination, then
you would have finished working
and gone home to bed alone.
I could have paid and said
Thank You, then
I would have drunk my drinks
and gone home to bed alone.
But you didn’t. And I didn’t.
You did not pass your chance, but asked
If I wanted to continue being in your company.
I did not waste this moment, and I said
That would be wonderful.
We came this close to never meeting.
But we did.

Faking It
By Matt Sedillo

Fake winner
Of a fake election
Shouts fake news
Standing before fake files
King of debt
Empire of bankruptcy
Real estate mogul
Fake democracy
In action
In real time

Matt Sedillo is a revolutionary poet who speaks at campuses across the country. For more please visit mattsedillo.com

By Donny Jackson

The Wall
By Anita Endrezze (Yaqui)

Build a wall of saguaros,
butterflies, and bones
of those who perished
in the desert. A wall of worn shoes,
dry water bottles, poinsettias.
Construct it of gilded or crazy house
mirrors so some can see their true faces.
Build a wall of revolving doors
or revolutionary abuelas.
Make it as high as the sun, strong as tequila.
Boulders of sugar skulls. Adobe or ghosts.
A Lego wall or bubble wrap. A wall of hands
holding hands, hair braided from one woman
to another, one country to another.
A wall made of Berlin. A wall made for tunneling.
A beautiful wall of taco trucks.
A wall of silent stars and migratory songs.
This wall of solar panels and holy light,
panels of compressed cheetos,
topped not by barbed wire but sprouting
avocado seeds, those Aztec testicles.
A wall to keep Us in and Them out.
It will have faces and heartbeats.
Dreams will be terrorists. The Wall will divide
towns, homes, mountains,
the sky that airplanes fly through
with their potential illegals.
Our wallets will be on life support
to pay for it. Let it be built
of guacamole so we can have a bigly block party.
Mortar it with xocoatl, chocolate. Build it from coyote howls
and wild horses drumming across the plains of Texas,
from the memories
of hummingbird warriors and healers.
Stack it thick as blood, which has mingled
for centuries, la vida. Dig the foundation deep.
Create a 2,000 mile altar, lit with votive candles
for those who have crossed over
defending freedom under spangled stars
and drape it with rebozos,
and sweet grass.
Make it from two way windows:
the wind will interrogate us,
the rivers will judge us, for they know how to separate
and divide to become whole.
Pink Floyd will inaugurate it.
Ex-Presidente Fox will give it the middle finger salute.
Wiley Coyote will run headlong into it,
and survive long after history forgets us.
Bees will find sand-scoured holes and fill it
with honey. Heroin will cover it in blood.
But it will be a beautiful wall. A huge wall.
Remember to put a rose-strewn doorway in Nogales
where my grandmother crossed over,
pistols on her hips. Make it a gallery of graffiti art,
a refuge for tumbleweeds,
a border of stories we already know by heart.

Copyright © 2017 by Anita Endrezze

Anita Endrezze's grandparents were Yaqui from Mexico. They fled death and slavery by the Mexican government and settled in the USA over 100 years ago. Her mother's family were also immigrants from Italy, Slovenia, and Romania. They, too, came over in the late 1880/90s. She is the author of 10 books of poetry and fiction, as well as being an artist. She has a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing. She is disabled from MS but still manages to write occasionally.

News 'n Notes

Mail Bag: from Margaret Garcia
Remarkable Arte Sale With Margaret Garcia and Friends


I will be offering a variety of pieces on sale, March 11th & 12th. If you already own a piece of my work and would like to receive a Certificate of Authenticity, please bring your piece(s). Photographer Martha Benedict, will be on hand to photograph your artwork and it will be included in the Margaret Garcia image archive and the image will be embedded in the certificate. For more information regarding this event or to reserve a spot call 323 243 4513. You can also check and see if your work is already part of the archive. There will be no charge for the certificate during this event.



Works by:.

Available work in this sale will be $500. and under

4022 N. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, Ca. 90065
323 243 4513

LATC Season Seats Bringing Business to Thriving DTLA

At $75.00, Los Angeles Theatre Center Season Passes are the town's best entertainment investment. Spring Street comes alive after dark and the LATC sits in the middle of a warren of places to grab a bite and make it a special occasion.

LATC is around the corner from the Pershing Square stop on the Metro. Drivers find parking is adjacent to the theater center.

Use the link below to get your weekend adventure started:


Monday, February 27, 2017

La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism

Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones

Guest essay by Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones

“Where have you been my darling young one?” —Bob Dylan, “A Hard Rain”

U.S. anti-Mexicanism is a race premised set of historical and contemporary ascriptions, convictions and discriminatory practices inflicted on persons of Mexican descent, longstanding and pervasive in the United States. This essay conceptualizes, historicizes, and analyzes anti-Mexicanism, past and present, concurrent with some references to sources. Here, the emphasis is conceptual, not historiographical. Anti-Mexicanism is a form of nativism practiced by colonialists and their inheritors. Mexicans, being natives, became targets of aggressive practices inclusive of the violence directed at Indigenous and African peoples. The words “Mexican” and “Mexico” speak to Indigenous heritages. The origins of the thought and meaning of “Mexican and “Mexico” speak to historical native roots. White supremacist ideologues have understood this. When anti-Mexican rhetoric is used by white supremacists, those who proclaim rights to rulership, the public resonating response — violence and micro-aggressions — indicates the presence of this phenomenon.

This anti-Mexicanism practice is beyond crude prejudice or uncivil, ethnocentric chauvinism. To be sure, for some articulators, anti-Mexican words are such expressions. When anti-Mexicanism is articulated as a publicly broadcasted set of negative evaluations that target Mexicans, recommends actions, and used as a means to a set of political goals, it is an ideology. Through broadcast, this ideology is validated as such by a collectivity of endorsers and enactors. This broadcasting does not parse its targeting — it is inclusive — women and men, gay and straight, disabled and able bodied — all of Mexican origin are encompassed. To be sure, the deep concern in this analysis is about the future, not the past. It aims to free the children of future generations from deeply hurtful practices and a set of imagined, negative denominators impacting their self-consciousness and personal freedom.

The large majority of people during the evolution to what became Mexicans and Mexico were and are Indigenous and of indigenous descent. Antipathy toward Native Americans is incremental upon English-speaking colonialists arrival. Their actions generate the initial steps leading to racists and white supremacy practiced in what came to be the United States. Disrespecting Indians politically is a step toward white supremacism and the eventual subordinating of Mexicans.

The hostility of European, English-speaking whites to Native Americans begins with the European arrival in what is now New England, Groton Connecticut. In 1637, over seven hundred Pequot men, women and children were attacked by white “colonists,” as the Pequot celebrated their annual Green Corn Dance. Those who were not shot were burned alive in their ceremonial space. The next day, the Governor of Massachusetts declared a day of “Thanksgiving.” This real episode is documented in the Holland Documents and the 13th volume of Colonial Documentary History. It’s also found in the private papers of Sir William Johnson, Royal British Agent of the Colony [of New York], circa 1640s. The core of this and other contentions is land possession or territorial dominance.

Under European, Spanish-speaking colonialism — primarily of indigenous origin, with African, and European intersections  — a hybrid demographic becoming a “Spanish speaking” group in Mesoamerica was an evolution toward Mexicanos, the social, and Mexicanidad, the identity. Let it be understood, this social evolution is complicated with contradictions aplenty, initially related to its multiple ethnic decendencies and its diverse social-economic circumstances. Even as a partial contestatory response to the colonial experience, the social evolution entails the germs and evidences, the pathologies of the colonial — including racisms, authoritarianisms, and elitisms.

In the anglophone sphere, among the literate, perception of Natives is affected by the so-called colonialistic “Black Legend,” whereby Spanish colonialism is decried and English colonialism, by contrast, is upheld. This “legend” is a prejudiced and concocted propaganda. This dialogue deteriorates into an “Anglo-Hispanic” exchange of negatives — Protestantism versus Catholicism; Shakespeare versus Shakespeare. The “legend” could be judged a colonialist distraction promoted by elite serving intellectuals of both England and Spain who, watchful of another’s colonialist methods, ignores the racist and supremacist consequences of their own colonialism over Natives and Africans and their treatment of the descendants of both groups. Thus, racism is reduced as a mere by­product of inevitable colonial technologies, when in fact the racialization of Native Americans is a central premise of European colonialism and one corollary to the subordination of Africans.

More specifically, the deep historical record of anti-Mexicanism at its basis is a result of the domination of Indians and enslavement of Blacks. This includes the North American invasion by English whites in their perennial quest for wealth, status and power at the expense of others. A multi-faceted white supremacism arises as the rationalization to secure these wants. One can start with whites arriving in Massachusetts and Blacks in Virginia, and early persecutions of Native Americans anywhere. Overtime, Indio, Africans, Afro-Mestizos and Indio-Mestizo Spanish-speakers joined the ranks of those subordinated by English colonialists. Indians and Africans are the human resources for the empowerment of white colonialists, according to 17th and 19th century conditions and terms, empowering the colonialists’ maintenance of power over territories and localities.

The historical record of U.S.-Mexico relations is a narrative of subordination justified on racist and supremacist bases. To be sure, these are multifaceted and changing and not necessarily representationally inclusive of all whites. However, in fact, the record indicates U.S. citizens as the aggressors in the relation, not Mexicans. U.S. citizens are the perpetrators of negative views, invidious-distinctions and the domineering actions, according with these views. In contrast to U.S. negativity, Mexico — as a state and economy — has been useful to U.S. ambitions, where Mexican people have been serviceable to U.S. needs. Rather than respect, there are argued explicit reasons by U.S. whites from early and later negative characterizations of Indio-Mulatto-Mestizos related to whites’ quest for wealth, status, and power within the aegis of their culture and values. In sum, specifically, they take from Mexico’s land, resources and labor by whatever means are viable. The social views and territorial ambitions of President Thomas Jefferson, a Southern slaver, are early expressions of these wants which for long were related to benefits first derived from slaves and later racialized disempowered laborers summed in the observation: “the desire for possession is a disease with them.” There is a historical and ideological context to this quest.

In many studies, “race” applies when ethnicity is judged unchangeable and so is the assigning of place in the hierarchical order of a general society co-inhabited by supra-ordinates and subordinates. These judgments or claims are academic myths. Racism is more complex, more fluid and perennial. For Mexicans in the United States, their mixed heritages of Native American concurrent with those heritages from Africa or Asia and some occasional European descendancy, intertwine the ethnic and racial. Among and between these of formative importance are Native American and Mexican American relations. These all encounter the age-old racial perceptions of Euro-Americans and their racialized practices. For Mexicans, thus, the social science truism applies — race is not real, but racism is — and the pressing concern is white supremacism.

Hierarchy and even ethnicity are indeed subject to change. A happenstance is that some, or many, of the oppressor and oppressed hold (and held) “racialist” notions of themselves, as well as the “other,” whether near or across the globe. Their worldviews are racialized and this should change sometime in the future, hopefully through concerted actions. White supremacism is a further question. Supremacism can be changed through counter empowerment actions as the micro and macro elements of the paradigm of white supremacism pinpoint. Yet, supremacism remains.

The practice of a particular social consciousness can be quite mobile and practical in the pursuits of chosen ends. Analysis of white supremacy requires interpretive elasticity and decisively diverse counter measures to encourage progressive change. One hindrance to this end, a major obstacle, is that whites have been saturated with false history(ies) of themselves; a history which supposedly has been made possible through the practices of white supremacism. Moreover, it’s the fact that this false history and avowed utilitarianist, white supremacism are but two heads of a multi-head monster — a living, breathing real Hydra, an overarching hegemonic, and structured system that requires integral changes.

The U.S. Mexican “ethnic” is visualized as being socially within a historical collectivity descended from a common set of mainly native ancestors. Consciousness of these living legacies is formatively important, as one source of inner strength to counter anti-Mexicanism. True, the perception of outsiders bearing on this is important, but the struggle is also formidably internal. Particularly important is the extent that these influence the self-consciousness of young and adolescent Mexicans. Indeed, the consciousness of Mexicans needs change. In any case, Mexicans evolve socially, as does their consciousness.

Most U.S. Mexicans understand social change intuitively and counter instructively. Mexicans are likely to have some awareness of family social changes in relation to family culture and descendancy, more so than Euro-Americans who resist change — even though, as stated in any case — they also undergo changes. A revised, enriched, shared, Mexican political critical awareness can be an asset in thinking and actions to bring about positive changes. The positive and the negative need to and can be sorted out. Consciousness is an important step to counter oppression. However much complicated, the literature, concepts, and application of the terms race, racism and racialism, the cutting blade is that these are empowered through and by white supremacism beliefs and practices.

Mexican Americans are a bottom ethnic group and unless there are changes, Mexicans will remain so, even in a multi-ethnic and pluralist society, including below white Latinas/os. This may be the case even if the United States becomes a significantly demographically non-white society. This is a consequence, in part, to the diffusion of anti-Mexicanism to all sectors of U.S. society. It is not only taught to whites. Tragically, Mexicans also consume anti-Mexican propaganda and, in turn, produce and diffuse it consciously or unconsciously.

Thus, anti-Mexicanism must be challenged for the sake of the future, not the past. It must be challenged for a society in which children will be safe from past crimes.


Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones is a professor of history at UCLA, specializing in the fields of political, labor, intellectual, and cultural history. As a prolific scholar, key figure in the Chicana/o movement and mentor to countless academics, he has a long trajectory in higher education, civic / political engagement, the arts, poetry, and related activities. Born in Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico, he was raised in Boyle Heights (East Los Angeles).

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Imaniman: Sparked From the Communal Soul

Olga García Echeverría

This past December, three decades after the original publishing of the iconic Borderlands / La Frontera, Aunt Lute Books paid homage to Gloria Anzaldúa's legacy with the publication of Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands.

In this 205 page anthology, Aunt Lute Books notes that “award-winning poet ire'ne lara silva and Dan Vera have assembled the work of 54 writers who reflect on the complex terrain—the deeply felt psychic, social, and geopolitical borderlands—that Anzaldúa inhabited, theorized, explored, and invented.”

So, what do you get when 54 writers gather on the page to celebrate in verse and prose the visionary work of Gloria Anzaldúa? Imaniman, which means "their soul" in Nahualt, gives us "work that is sparked from the soul: the individual soul, the communal soul. These poets interrogate, complicate, and personalize the borderlands in transgressive and transformative ways, opening new paths and revisioning old ones for the next generation of spiritual, political, and cultural border crossers" (quoted from Aunt Lute Books).

US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera opens up Imaniman with an introduction that sings, “Anzaldúa lives on...”

She definitely does, not only in the poems, essays, and books she left behind, but also in the countless writers/artists who continue to be nourished and inspired by Anzaldúa's creative musings. Herrera writes about the anthology's voices and what they invoke: “I am moved by these inner and outer voyages...This collection is a signpost on the continuous journey of initial investigations into a borderless Cultura & new power-source, an inner one, in particular one drawn from the deep vision-work of Anzaldúa.”

Chicana Lesbian Visionary Emerging from The Sea
La Gloria Lives On! 

Back in 2015, when Imaniman existed only as visionary seedling, I interviewed editors ire'ne lara silva and Dan Vera about the inspiration behind the project and the type of submissions they were seeking. It was clear from that interview that they were not interested in academic articles or didactic discussions of Anzaldúa's texts. They sought instead works that were "accessible" and layered with "nuances of poetry." ire'ne lara silva stated, "We want the leaps of intuition and the wisdom garnered from the pursuit of art.” In other words, they wanted soul, literary pieces that danced and conversed and broke bread with Anzaldúa in communal and creative ways.

Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands has now been manifested and released. The pieces in the collection delve into the body, language/la lengua, hybridity, color/race, ancestral inheritance, the ever-bleeding and blooming borderlands, crossing-over manifestos, cultura as medicine, fluidity, sexuality, resistance, resilience, regeneración, and transformation. Despite it's non-academic approach, or perhaps precisely because of it, this is a great teaching source for Chicanx Latinx Studies, Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies, and English departments (if they can in their own and desperately needed ways be transformative and shed Eurocentric skins and reading lists). Imaniman can be purchased at Aunt Lute Books and on Amazon.

In the last couple of days, I caught up with the editors again and asked them about their post-publication thoughts.

Dan Vera

“I've been delighted at the response to the anthology, not only form contributors but also the way in which people have gravitated to this contemporary voices engaging with Anzaldúa's legacy of transformative work. We had no way of realizing that just a few short months after its release the ever increasing climate of hate would cast the anthology in such a vital light. It feels in many ways that the anthology allows us to reconnect to this ancestral river of wisdom right when we all need to dig deep for the continuing struggles ahead. I hope Imaniman results in other such projects where contemporary writers can engage with the antepasados who guide us by word and example.”

ire'ne lara silva 

“In these times, Imaniman feels like a gift we made to ourselves without knowing how much we'd need it. A place where we could unabashedly speak our truth as border-dwellers, where we could speak to our realities without constraint, where we could fearlessly be all of what we are with our identities, our histories, our languages, our art, and our souls.”

Currently, readings from the anthology are being scheduled in various cities across the country. A book release reading was held in Austin on February 18th and featured contributors Carmen Calatayud, jo reyes-boitel, Jennine DOC Wright, John Fry, Victor Payan, and ire'ne lara silva.

Plans are also underway for releases in the Rio Grande Valley (TX), San Antonio (TX), and San Francisco (CA) in the next few months. Other cities with possible future readings include: Washington (Northwest), Pueblo (CO), Brooklyn (NY), and Chicago (IL).

There is, of course, also a Los Angeles reading just around the corner.

Los Angeles Imaniman Reading
Friday, March 10, 2017
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Other Books / Otros Libros
2006 East Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033 

Featured Readers/Performers:

 Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is the author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (Sundress Publications 2016), a 2016-2017 Steinbeck Fellow, former Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange winner and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grantee. She’s received residencies from Hedgebrook and Ragdale Foundation and is a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop. Her work is published in Acentos Review, CALYX, crazyhorse, and The James Franco Review among others. A short dramatization of her poem "Our Lady of the Water Gallons," directed by Jesús Salvador Treviño, can be viewed at latinopia.com. She is a cofounder of Women Who Submit and the curator of HITCHED.

Iris De Anda is a Guanaca Tapatia who hosts The Writers Underground Open Mic at the Eastside Cafe every third Thursday of the month. Author of CODESWITCH: Fires From Mi Corazón. Radio host of 100 Segundos de Soledad on La Banda Elastica Radio. She forms part of the postpunk group bexox, as well as all female rock band The Bloody Gypsys. www.irisdeanda.com

Minal Hajratwala
(www.minalhajratwala.com) is a writing coach who believes you can Write Like a Unicorn. Her books include Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents (winner of four nonfiction awards), Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment (poetry), and Out! Stories from the New Queer India (anthology). She is a co-founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective and a former Fulbright Senior Scholar.

Monica Palacios is the creator of solo shows, plays, screenplays, short stories, stand-up comedy, poems, essays, blogs featuring the Latinx LGBTQ experience. National and international scholars have critically engaged her work in academic journals, books, dissertations and conference panels. A highly anthologized writer with three new publications: Jota Anthology by Korima Press 2017; Practicing Transgressions by Third Woman Press 2017; and IMANIMAN: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands, Aunt Lute Press 2016. Monica has received numerous awards for her positive contributions to the Latinx LGBTQ population, most recently the Latinas in Pride Award 2016 from the City of Los Angeles. Palacios was honored by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for 3 decades of groundbreaking Chicana lesbian performance. Monica has taught at California State University Long Beach, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, Loyola Marymount University, Claremont College, Pomona College, California State University Los Angeles and American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Currently her play Say Their Names is traveling throughout the U.S. and the United Kingdom with After Orlando, an international theatre action in response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting. She is touring with her solo shows, San Francisco Mi Amor!, Queer Latina Love & Revolution, and is developing her new play, I Kissed Chavela Vargas. www.monicapalacios.com

T Sarmina was raised in the Central Valley. A queer, xicanx child of migrant field workers, T writes with these identities intersecting at the page. They are a VONA SoCal alumna and earned their bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Mills College in Oakland. Their work appears in Coiled Serpent (Tia Chucha), ITWOW (Yellow Chair Press) and IMANIMAN (Aunt Lute). They currently live in Los Angeles and work at 826LA as the Writers’ Room Coordinator.

Victor Payan: http://www.victorpayan.com/

Olga García Echeverría is the author of Falling Angels: Cuentos y Poemas. Her work has been published in Lavandería: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Words, U.S. Latino Literature Today, Telling Tongues: A Latin@ Anthology on Language, The Sun Magazine, Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzalduan Borderlands and is forthcoming in Jota by Kórima Press. She lives, writes, teaches, and shape shifts in Los Angeles.

This is event is FREE and open to the public. 

Anthology copies for sale at the event.

There will be free refreshments. 

Hope to see you there!

Friday, February 24, 2017

NOLA Thieves Steal Honda Element from Wonder Woman During Mardi Gras 2017

Melinda Palacio
All Wonder Women Walking Krewe
Melinda Palacio, right, holds up banner

Carnival season started off with a bang or two. I marched with the All Wonder Woman Walking Krewe in the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbachhus parade. It was my first time in a Mardi Gras parade. We were 120 Wonder Woman strong. The entire experience from making my own throws to throwing together a costume with a lighted lasso to match was enough fun to last until next year. I should back up for those not in the know of New Orleans Mardi Gras or Carnival season lingo.
The Wonder Women Stop for a Dance Break along Parade Route.

            Mardi Gras ends on Fat Tuesday or mardi gras day. The carnival season begins with the arrival of the Three Kings. This year, the festivities started Friday January 6, 12th Night with the Joan of Arc and the Phunny Phorty Phellows parades, followed by a short lull and then the Krewe de Vieux parade, February 11th in the French Quarter, which kicks off the carnival crescendo to Mardi Gras with parades and more parades.
King Cake or Pan de Rosca New Orleans Style colored in Mardi Gras colors, Purple, Green, and Gold.

            For the past two weeks the city of New Orleans has been parading, partying, and generally getting carried away with the carnival spirit. Unfortunately, New Orleans and Mardi Gras festivities have not been immune to the embolden outrages caused by certain deplorable individuals.
            Yesterday morning, February 23, The Jewish Community Center on St. Charles Avenue was evacuated following a bomb threat. New Orleans Mayor, Mitch Landrieu, tweeted, "Be clear, anti-semitism will not be tolerated in NOLA." Although the threat was deemed non-credible, the cowardly act was disturbing, to say the least.
             On a more personal note, the day after I marched with the Wonder Woman Krewe, my car was stolen from my driveway. This is a car that my husband bought in 2007, that we drive back and forth across the country, that we've burned through 320, 000 miles on the trusty car. The speed with which the thieves stole the car was mind blowing. We even have an eye-witness to the crime. A neighbor and her pointer dog saw the whole thing go down. She was walking her dog, when the dog stopped and pointed to a stranger standing in the middle of the street. There was a black SUV parked with a man inside who seemed to be checking for a clear coast. The man standing in the middle of the street ran to our car and sped away. Our neighbor didn't think to call the police because the man bolted away with the car so quickly, she thought he had a key and had assumed he was a friend of ours and that there was some kind of emergency.
My green Honda Element, with CA plates NOLA, stolen on Sunday. 

            Gone in less than 60 seconds, our green Honda Element with CA license plate NOLA was stolen by professionals. And while auto theft is a serious crime, I don't expect NOPD to recover our car in the next few days before Mardi Gras. In fact, I have little hope the vehicle will be returned to us at all. Honda stopped making the Element and our insurance agent prepared us for the worse, that our car will be chopped and sold for parts. However, yesterday afternoon, through the magic of Facebook, a friend of a facebook friend spotted our car on the highway, getting off the Crowder exit in New Orleans East. In a wild goose chase and an attempt at recovering the car, Steve and hopped into our rental and set out to find our stolen car. Unfortunately, we did not find it, but at least we know the car is still running, operable, and in one piece. There is hope, yet, that we may still have a vehicle to drive to California in. Let's all pray to St. Anthony, whether you are religious or not, gracias. In the meantime, yesterday was a good day for a parade and I caught two beautiful shoes at the Muses parade. I still love New Orleans and will not let anyone rain on my parades. Laissez les bons temps roulez.

Thank you to Muses Dorothy and Joi for the beautiful shoes. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

2017 Tomás Rivera Book Award Winners

Texas State University College of Education developed The Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award to honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican American experience. The award was established in 1995 and was named in honor of Dr. Tomás Rivera, a distinguished alumnus of Texas State University. For more information visit http://riverabookaward.org

Works For Younger Readers -
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood 
by Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, Illustrated by Rafael López
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood is the triumph of a community against the darker forces of social decay. What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine!

Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. 

Works For Older Readers -
The Memory of Light 
by Francisco X. Stork 

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

In The Memory of Light, Stork tells the story of 16-year-old Vicky Cruz and her experiences and recovery after an attempted suicide. When Vicky wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn't be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she's never had. But Vicky's newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength.

Inspired in part by the author's own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one - about living when life doesn't seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Review: Zoot Suit. Sapo and Culture Clash. Guest Column: David Bowles

The Devil and Luis Valdez 

Review, Zoot Suit. Mark Taper Form,  Los Angeles. Now through March 26.
Michael Sedano

Center Theatre Group publicity fotos

Any comparison between the history-making 1978 production of Zoot Suit with its 2017 retelling would be unfair to the latter. It’s not the same Zoot Suit  We are older but the audience is younger. The times have changed and the crap hasn’t. We are still here. Frail memories of that 1978 experience and surrounding hype elevate expectations that will not be satisfied. I saw the 2017 production in preview and last Saturday the 18th. Both times were satisfying theatrical experiences of themselves, and definitely a cut above the Taper’s regular programming.

The devil came to Los Angeles wearing a black silk zoot suit carrying a paper-still-wrinkly script by Luis Valdez and backed by the big band sounds of Lalo Guerrero with inspired choreography by Maria Torres. In a contest for Henry Reyna’s soul, the devil beguiles the teenager with lots of huisas, frenetic dancing, infectious swing rhythms, but leads Henry through a set of crises that will force Hank to choose between pachuquismo or whatever is out there.

The idea of Zoot Suit as a morality play pales in the face of the infectious music and smile-inducing throng of jitterbuggers filling the stage in constant movement with slick vocal arrangements and show-stopper solos. But that’s the devil at work, to keep you from doing anything but sit back in your expensive upholstered seat and let Zoot Suit work its magic.

El Pachuco is puro myth, from the switchblade he uses to part the curtains to his wonderful admission that the play reflects “the secret fantasy of every vato, living in or out of la pachucada, to put on a zoot suit and play the myth, mas chucote que la chingada. Pues orale!” But his is a persuasive myth that holds young Reyna in its grip and Reyna does everything possible to meet pachuco demands.

Henry Reyna is young and virile, a rooster loose in the chicken yard. El Pachuco is Reyna’s alternate self, an alter ego who swaggers and snarls across the stage, is quick with fist and filero, philosophizing to Henry about being a man, having a place in society, offering Henry a role model by embodying defiance and competence, recklessness and explosive spontaneity, and a quick ironic wit.

Being pachuco exacts a heavy penalty on Henry, as when Henry and Della are jumped. Henry’s first thought after having his ass kicked at Sleepy Lagoon is to go get some pachucos to raid the Downey Boys and get even. It’s the event that the court farce converts into life in San Quentin. In prison, Henry confronts the cost of playing into the myth. In a profoundly anguished speech, Henry tells el Pachuco to disappear, allowing Reyna to manage his life on his own. At first, el Pachuco doesn't speak, then he breaks the silence and discomfort by quipping , “relax, ese, it’s just a pinche play.”

Is Henry lonely, or is he playing the field, playacting the ever-irresponsible macho? Something is going on between Alice and Henry, even with a guard peering down at their intimate conversations. When he gets home, he’s estranged from Della, who did a year in juvie for being Henry Reyna’s huisa. El Pachuco isn’t around to offer consejos on women and love. It’s a plot thread that didn’t need to be, especially to make room for more of the elders.

The parents have insignificant roles and cursory scenes. Cultural transition and generational change play important roles in pachuco ethos. When the father complains about the language the kids speak they rebuke him with loving tenderness. When the kids gather to leave for a dance, the father demands the boys kiss his hand to demonstrate their obedience. One obedient son then gets puking drunk at the party leading to a knife fight between Henry and Rafas from Downey. The dissonance between core family values and destructive public behavior offers fertile rows to hoe, but sadly, the play lets it lie fallow, to our loss.

Director Luis Valdez and the casting trio of Rosalinda Morales, Pauline O’Con, and Candido Cornejo assembled a powerful company who are still growing into their roles, given the preview and last weekend’s matinee. It’s a wonder seeing so many dancers and actors of color, purportedly Chicana Chicano artists. How refreshing to see a Taper cast filled with local actors, including the two leads. A number of out-of-towners come from el Teatro Campesino’s hometown of San Juan Bautista. Carrying el papel of el Pachuco is a film and television actor who grew up in Mexico, Demian Bichir. It’s Bichir’s Mark Taper Forum debut. Hank Reyna is Matias Ponce, a local television and stage actor who has appeared for LATC, the city’s major raza theater.

Among supporting cast are Rose Portillo and Daniel Valdez as the mother and father. Portillo portrayed the ingénue lead, Della, in the 1978 run. There’s a special warmth in the fact Valdez portrays his own father. In the first-run production, Daniel Valdez was Hank Reyna. Before that, Valdez was the original el Pachuco in Zoot Suit’s New Theater For Now run.

The el Pachuco role makes strenuous demands of an actor who must go from repartee to fast dancing and prancing then back to narration, without sounding out of breath nor soaked in sweat. Demian Bichir handles the role with grace. Bichir doesn’t need the growling voice, especially as he doesn’t sing with it, and loses it regularly to talk just like a normal actor. If he thinks growling makes him menacing he needs to re-think that, instead use presence to turn on that persona so that people all the way in the back row feel the heat.

Matias Ponce left me wanting more. Hank Reyna is magnetic, draws pachucos pachucas to him where they act with dangerous stupidity just because it’s Hank’s word. Ponce’s Henry Reyna isn’t yet fully alive with commanding charisma. At the climactic moment when the cast shouts out, “Henry Reyna lives!” I don’t feel like standing up and cheering like the line is supposed to work.

Hank hasn't made me feel all that bad when fate sends Hank back to the pinta only to OD later. I’m not as moved as I’d like to be, hearing that alternative Hank got KIA in Korea and his body got the Medal of Honor. I like to think Hank and Della are happily ever after in Frogtown and their kids go to school and learn to read "See Spot, see Spot run." Henry matters. I want to stand teary-eyed and cheer. It’s in the role for Ponce to find it.

I’d buy a ticket just to see if Bichir and Ponce ever get to the top of their roles, but the run appears to be sold out except for a smattering of seats. Not insuperable; you will take seat N18, your date can have the one closer to the action, K55.

¿Pero sabes que? Zoot Suit at the Mark Taper Forum deserves to be the hottest ticket in town. Don’t let your own pachuco devil whisper in your ear that it’s too much trouble, that it’s just a pinche play, don't take it so seriously. Chale, ese. Zoot Suit is a great Unitedstatesian play, the greatest Chicano play. Audiences across the region deserve to get up to the Music Center and treat themselves to a memorably magical afternoon, or evening, of Teatro Campesino and Luis Valdez at the top of their game.

Here's Jesus Treviño's Latinopia review of Zoot Suit. Treviño attended opening night on Sunday, February 12.

Sapo at the Getty Villa

The guys with the worn scripts in their hands are having a blast with the rapid fire repartee and ad libs that sizzle. Even mistakes like being on the wrong page and having no idea get turned into laugh riots. The guys are Culture Clash, in the final workshop performance of Sapo at the Getty Villa in Malibu, and they work with script in hand and lots of friendly energy coming from the packed house.

Sapo is beautiful comedy altogether, with several precious bits, too many to enumerate. There’s a hilarious slow-mo embrace, lots of convoluted speed talking and double entendres, asides directly to the audience, a beautiful voice belts out the sensuous “Sabor a mi” accompanying herself on the guitarrón. At one point, Richard Montoya steps into the audience and runs up the aisle talking to people. There is a beautifully emotional moment of purity when a child recites a hopeful lyric.

Richard Montoya congratulates The Poet
Montoya addresses the house at the end, telling the packed rows today’s has been their best work. There’s no word on where they go from here. Workshop means to ferment and hone ideas. Sunday’s Sapo was all that and more.

A visit to Malibu Getty takes planning. Admission is free but parking is $15.00. For the workshop performances, tickets are only $7.00. Plan to be there five or six hours to browse in the gardens and galleries. The things you’ll see!

Figure from Cyrpus, 3000 B.C.

Guest Columnist: David Bowles 
Political Resistance in Chupacabra Vengeance

Latino speculative fiction quite often takes a subversive stance of resistance and critical response to longstanding power structures that marginalize and erase the experience of Latinx in the US. In Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias, a near-future America with biometric tattoos, and an underground network of gente protects refugees from government oppression. Ernest Hogan’s High Aztech pits a cabal of American Christians against followers of indigenous religion. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older features young people openly opposing cultural appropriation and gentrification, using magical graffiti as one tool of resistance. 

With the rise of neo-fascism in Trump’s America, this role we Latinx writers of spec-fic play — as creators of alternative or future worlds in which marginalization and erasure can be fought with magical or science-fictional tools —has become even more crucial. And it’s in our modern setting of immigration bans, border walls, public lists, and deportation squads that Broken River Books publishes this month my short story collection Chupacabra Vengeance with what I dare to hope is poignant timeliness.

Chupacabra Vengeance consists of fifteen stories that range from science fiction to fantasy, horror to weird, and various subgenres in between. The pieces are arranged as five interrelated triplets, but the book itself is woven together by Latino culture, characters, and aesthetics. 

But more relevant for this discussion is the social and political resistance that threads through a good number of the stories. In “Aztlan Liberated,” for example, the US Southwest and part of Northern Mexico has been walled off by both governments, the remaining raza inside abandoned to deal as best they can with alien monsters trapped with them. When a US military mission to wipe out the chupacabras fails, a band of cholos decides finish what their oppressors started … but broadcasting their bravery live so it won’t be erased or appropriated.

Border brutality also shows up in the title story. Their father dead, the family goats slain by blood-sucking aliens, a brother and sister from Puebla risk their lives aboard the train known as The Beast in order to reach the US and search for the their mother. But when they arrive at the border, they encounter even greater horror at the hands of men and women who treat refugees with cruel inhumanity.

Small-town politics, even in Mexican-American communities, often requires resistance from la raza. “Barbie versus el Puma Negro” features a scheming right-wing politician who hires a brujo to ensure his electoral victory. When black magic brings a dead luchador back to life, however, a schoolteacher who moonlights as the Río Grande Valley’s spiritual protector will have to face zombies and past trauma to preserve her community. 

One of the great things about science fiction is that it allows a writer to flip present sociopolitical realities on their head, and that’s what I sought to do in “Undocumented.” A few centuries from now, climate change has triggered a new ice age that plunges the US into turmoil. After most of his family succumbs to the environmental devastation, a young Mexican-American sets out on a trek to cross the border into Mexico — facing the dangerous sentinels put in place to keep gringos away — in hopes of securing a better future for himself. 

Another sort of speculation I enjoy for its power of social critique is alternate history. I set “Flower War” in a world where the Nahuas (“Aztecs”) were never conquered. It’s the 1960s, and the scientists of Cemanahuac (“Mexico”) are engaged in a race to the moon with the Soviet Union. The major obstacle is a group of extreme religious terrorists who view the moon as sacred and will do anything they can to keep human boots off her surface. 

I also take aim at Anglo/European patriarchy and oppression in two weird West tales. “Ancient Hunger, Silent Wings” centers on a teenage tlahuelpuchi or Mexican vampire in 19th-century Las Vegas, New Mexico. When her appetite for innocent blood begins leaving a trail, she tracked down by a pair of monster slayers. They try to bring her to heel, but she refuses to compromise her nature: “To hell with you and your threats. I’m done submitting. I will never relent!”

Set a few years later in the same universe, “Iron Horse, Mythic Horn” is narrated by an 18-year-old Chiricahua Apache. She is rescued from an abusive white adoptive father by Shaolin monks who have come to the US with the last ch’i-lin or unicorn, hoping to do something about the deaths and unceremonious burials of so many Chinese immigrants. Toward the end of a harrowing and tragic voyage by train, she deals with the grieving guilt of an Anglo “hero” in a way that brooks no compromise: “I didn’t want to comfort him. In that moment, I figured he just would have to bear the blame, even though he was never involved. His people done the crime, and he was the kind of man what would try to make amends. That, it seemed to me, was justice of a sort.” 

This slippery justice, born of resistance from the shadows and margins, is of primal importance to me as an author and member of the Mexican-American community. Speculative fiction may seem an odd venue for exploring those themes, but sometimes seeing the monstrous injustice we face depicted as actual monsters helps clarify a vision for revolutionary reform. 

David Bowles is a Mexican-American author from deep south Texas, where he teachers at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Recipient of awards from the American Library Association, the Texas Institute of Letters and the Texas Associated Press, he has written several titles, including the Purá Belpré Honor Book The Smoking Mirror and Lords of the Earth.

His work has been featured in Rattle, BorderSenses, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Asymptote, Translation Review, Huizache, The Journal of Children’s Literature, and Voices de la Luna, among others.

March 11 & 12 Art Acquisition Bonanza

Arte by well-established artists, like those listed below, usually have prices starting at a thousand dollars and escalating from there. Here's an arte offer that's tough to refuse, five hundred dollars or less to acquire work by some of the most well-established artists of contemporary Chicanarte.