Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Su Frida Calo. Wetback the Film. Desert in Bloom.

Michael Sedano

La Bloga-Tuesday of late has extolled the wonders of the revival of Luis Valdez and Lalo Guerrero’s musical extravaganza, Zoot Suit. A feminist critique of the play recently reached me via Facebook and La Bloga’s Olga García, who calls out the play’s “hyper masculinity.”

Others agreed and extended García’s critique. One person alluded to charges that Luis Valdez is a misogynist. Another wrote about men grabbing their groins and making homophobic jokes. A different person noted the play’s importance for a male audience, though its erasure of women loses the writer’s interest, saying “of course the play doesn't do it for most of us. It wasn't meant for us and that is ok”.

Zoot Suit is a hot ticket, its vato-centric plot notwithstanding. Casa 0101’s Chicanas, Cholas, y Chisme’s Su Frida Calo is the perfect theatrical counterpart and without the sexism.

Su Frida Calo offers a rich evening of entertaining performances and engaging scripts. The product of Casa 0101’s workshop series, the play consists in multiple one-acts strung together like an episodic novel. The pun in the title plays out in the 21 one-acts.

The writers, directors, and producers all are women. Themes range from the artist life through relationships, polyamatory sex, being raza. These Chicana actos come laced with humor. The comedy one-acts scintillate and shine and are high points of the evening.

Every one of these one-acts is a highlight. Frida and Diego are characters in most, while other playwrights set their plots in contemporary settings. One set in Dallas has the audience in titters at the sweet Texas accents of the high society Mexican-American characters. Margaret Garcia’s play exhibits the artist’s wicked wit in her debut as a playwright.

The actors turn in polished performances, made all the more impressive by the rigors of taking roles in seven different one-acts before intermission, and seven before the second intermission. The night wraps with a third set of seven five minute one-act plays.

Casa0101 provides free parking in the lot behind Boyle Heights City Hall. That parking feature is a compelling reason to buy tickets. The $9.00 to park at the Music Center and LATC can go to snacks or some tacos at King Taco a couple blocks east of the theatre.

Chicanas, Cholas, y Chisme’s Su Frida Calo runs weekends through April 16.

Chicanas, Cholas, y Chisme. March 17-April 16, 2017
CASA 0101 Theater
2102 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Phone: (323) 263-7684



Chicano Photography
Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers

Spring Break sent Melinda Palacio to French Polynesia, Manuel Ramos vacationed in Cuba, and I took a couple days in Palm Springs and the Anza-Borrego Desert.

With one of the wettest years in recent history soaking the earth and waking dormant wildflower seed, the blooming season now approaching its peak will be a photographer's playground. Most of these photographs were exposed at the Anza-Borrego State Park garden.

A four hour drive from LA, I like to spend the night in Palm Springs and make an hour dash into the Borrego valley and the park.

The road from Palm Springs skirts the edge of the Salton Sea. This is among the most endangered bodies of water in the state. Denied river water, agricultural run-off pollutes the sea with salts and chemicals that kill fish and birds and make the beaches health hazards.

The Borrego valley floor is green with vegetation while the ordinarily sere hills normally show only rocks and minerals where today grasses and wildlowers grow.

The wildflower field above is in urban Palm Springs, where empty undeveloped land still belongs to the Mojave.

The desert outside the Anza-Borrego State Park visitor center is covered with this beautiful Dune Evening Primrose. Oddly, I saw no specimens in the visitor center's abundant diversity.

Bitterbrush appears to be the most commonly-seen flower as its bright yellow flowers cover the plant. Above, the Chuparosa plant creates a scarlet background to the flowers.

The Mesquite tree produces curled seedpods that have a thick sweet interior.

Sand Verbena calls attention to itself with its brilliant purple floral clusters. The tiny cluster plants in the sand will open white flowers at about the same time. The ground will be a carpet of soft white.

For me, the highlight of the trip was seeing water coursing along Tahquitz Creek in residential Palm Springs. Years ago, before flood control and urbanizing, the roads would be washed out in the rains, necessitating detours. Otherwise you couldn't get there from here.

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