Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Landmarks In Time

Michael Sedano

the consciousness of a well-spent life and a memory rich in good deeds afford supreme happiness.
--de Senectute, Cicero 

August is my birthmonth and wedding anniversary month. They’re the same day. So as we turn the calendar into this significant-for-me month, age and milestones preoccupy me as I'm reminded tempus fugits faster for some of us, making memory precious and dwindling.

I imagine everyone has their own age milestones. I don’t remember the ages for First Communion, or Confirmation. Nor how old before admission to the show wasn’t a dime. Some life events don’t come with age restrictions while several events have statutory limits that build-in excitement about turning N.

I looked forward to turning 15 ½ so I could get my learner’s permit and take Driver’s Ed in Summer School.

I turned 18 in 1963, drove myself to Berdoo where I registered for the Draft. I could buy tobacco but couldn’t vote.
Move-out day 1964. 2 weeks later, Sedano, R,
will be working at Kaiser Steel.

Turned 21 in Isla Vista and voted, but could not beat Nixon. I could buy liquor, and go into bars, but booze wasn’t my thing.

I remember that I got the learner’s permit but have zero recall of going to the DMV and filling out the paperwork. I do remember vaguely walking into the Selective Service office in San Bernardino to register. It was next door to a building housing an encyclopedia sales outfit where I applied for a summer job.

I was an underage drinker so turning 21 was not a memorable introduction to forbidden fruit. I didn’t enjoy bars and couldn’t hold my liquor. When my roommate Durfee turned 21, Mori and I drove him to a Goleta pool hall where we got kicked out and Durf didn’t get to buy his first legal drink. I wish I had a recording of Mori shouting, “Morrie’s an asshole” as we exited Morrie’s Galley.

Men and boys were eligible to be drafted into the Army after their 18th birthday. High school graduates got drafted out of high school at 18. I got drafted out of grad school at 23 and turned 24 sitting in a Quonset hut on the highest antiaircraft missile site in the world. It was also my first wedding anniversary. I ate C-rations.

This month, August 2018, brings one of those significant landmarks not everyone gets.
Mae Bong dominates the landscape
My first wife and I celebrate our Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary at the end of the month.

I’ll wake that day and remember that morning on Mae Bong in 1969, when in an “I’ll be darned” moment I realized it's my First wedding anniversary and 24th birthday.

Things being what they are, I may have to remind her what day it is. We'll squeeze some supreme happiness out of the moment.

18,250 days blend into one another, one day as good as it gets, better than the day before, not as good as tomorrow. That’s the theory. Love honor cherish in sickness in health all the days of our lives. That’s the promise. So far, so good on the theory. Unquestionably on the other, no matter what.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Get your tickets now for Tía Chucha's Gala 2018!

The mission of Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural is to transform community in the Northeast San Fernando Valley and beyond through ancestral knowledge, the arts, literacy, and creative engagement.

Tía Chucha’s began as a café, bookstore and cultural space owned and run by former Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodríguez, his wife Trini Rodríguez, and their brother-in-law Enrique Sánchez. Tía Chucha’s provides year-round on-site and off-site free or low-cost arts and literacy bilingual intergenerational programming in mural painting, music, dance, writing, visual arts, healing arts sessions (such as reiki healing) and healing/talking circles. Workshops and activities also include Mexica ("Aztec") dance, indigenous cosmology/philosophy, and open mic nights. Tía Chucha’s hosts author readings, film screenings, and art exhibits, and is the home of a press that has published award-winning volumes of poetry and other works of literature. Check out this calendar of events to learn more.

Each year, Tía Chucha's hosts a gala that not only allows the community to come together and celebrate our collective achievements, but also allows a celebratory space to honor those who have given to our community. Additionally, it provides a chance to help raise the much-needed resources to continue Tía Chucha's mission.

This year, the Gala honorees are Cherrie Moraga, Yreina D. Cervantez, and Trini Rodríguez. Early bird tickets are available until September 30! So, please buy your tickets now by going here. And we look forward to seeing you for an evening of food, drink, music, dancing, and cultura!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

El Pueblo de Tucson: Chicano Leadership in Bilingual Education Part II By Antonio SolisGomez

Maria Legarra Urquides, wearing a saintly smile
Maria L. Urquides was an extraordinary educator at a time when few Hispanic women had the opportunity to exhibit their unique gifts. She was born in Tucson in1908 and obtained a teaching certificate in 1928 from ASU. She first taught in elementary schools and then went to teach at Pueblo High School when it opened in 1956. By then she had gained national recognition, having been appointed by President Truman to the White House Conference on Children and Youth in 1950.

She was appointed by five presidents (Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon) to serve on national panels and conferences concerning children and education. In 1965, the League of Mexican American Women, organized by Francesca Flores and Ramona Morín in Los Angeles, California, recognized Maria Urquides for her outstanding achievements

Beto Guerrero told me that she was a passionate advocate of bilingual education but forbade her students to speak Spanish at school, having a staunch belief that Students needed to be proficient in English in order to succeed. On the surface that might seem to some like a contradiction but I met Latinx students graduating from High School whose command of English was very poor because their peer group spoke only Spanish and consequently they had little practice of their second language.

Starting in the early 1960’s, Tucson because of its leadership in Bilingual Education and because Maria Urquides was the regional representative of NEA, held a series of conferences and symposiums focused on improving pedagogy in Bilingualism. From their success grew summer institutes in Guadalajara Mexico. In 1965 Maria was asked to form a committee to look for superior programs in bilingual Education in the Southwest of the United States. On this committee were Rosita Cota, Martin Garcia, Paul Allen, Hank Oyama and Beto Guerrero. They visited schools throughout the Southwest and found the very best one in Laredo Texas in an elementary school classroom taught by Dolores Victor Cruz.

The information gathered by that committee led to the publication of the seminal report The Invisible Minority. Below is the summary in ERIC


Beto was no longer at Pueblo High School, having departed for the University of Arizona but he and Maria continued their strong collaboration. Beto admired Maria for her selflessness in pushing him and others into roles of leadership. Thus when the Invisible Minority Report was to be released with press coverage in Washington D.C. in June, 1966, she asked Beto to go in her stead. Again in the summer of 1967, Maria asked Beto to attend a Senate committee and an essential part of Beto’s presentation is that he spoke to the committee in Spanish, showing them by example, the frustration that a Spanish speaking child endures in an all English classroom.

Below I quote from Gloria Stewner Manzanares’ "The Bilingual Act 20 Years Later".

In 1967, Senator Ralph Yarborough of Texas introduced a bill which proposed to provide assistance to school districts in establishing educational programs specifically for LESA students. Among the recommendations of this bill were the teaching of Spanish as a native language, the teaching of English as a second language, and programs designed to give Spanish-speaking students an appreciation of ancestral language and culture. Although this bill was limited to Spanish-speaking students, it led to the introduction of 37 other bills which were merged into a single measure known as Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or the Bilingual Education Act, which was enacted in 1968. Title VII was the first federal recognition that LESA students have special educational needs and that in the interest of equal educational opportunity, bilingual programs that address those needs should be federally funded.

A recent photo of Diego Navarrette in a voluteer role with the nonprofit, Southwest Medical Aid
We now turn to the founding of Pima Community College involving some of the same people that have been previously mentioned. In 1969 a committee was formed to establish the guiding principles for the college. Among those on the committee were Henry Hank Oyama, Diego Navarrette, Adalberto Beto Guerrero, Rudy Melone, Fern Ramirez and Maria L Urquides. It was this group of individuals that decided that the college was to be responsive to the community. This meant establishing an open door policy that would accept all students regardless of their educational background. It meant establishing a Bilingual Department where a Spanish Speaking student could take classes in Spanish. They used as a model the classroom of Fred Sanchez, a teacher at Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles, who had been teaching students math and science in their native language, along with intensive classes in English.

Additionally the college was not only to prepare students to enroll in a four year college but to offer vocational programs that would lead to employment. The college opened for students on 1969. Maria Urquides was asked to serve on the governing boar of the college. Hank Oyama became the head of the Bilingual Department and Diego Navarrette became the head of the bookstore but eventually ascended to the presidency of the college.

Next week in Part III the story of Dr. John Garcia, professor of Political Science at the University of Arizona, during this monumental era, concludes this series.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Bird Forgiveness Book Launch, Louisiana Style

Melinda Palacio

At Octavia Books in New Orleans
The crowd at Octavia Books

With so many choices for fun or relaxing activities during a hot weekday, where the weather in New Orleans threatens to reach a hundred degrees, it's best to do a little homework if you want to guarantee an audience of more than the friends you can count on one hand. Octavia Books, a beautiful, local independent bookstore did their homework, and so did I. Octavia sent weekly announcements to their readers in advance of the book launch and I made sure to give me publisher contacts for local newspaper and radio media for possible publicity before the reading. I was lucky to get a color announcement and write up in the Times-Picayune Nuestro Pueblo column and I had two radio interviews with local station, WWNO and WRBH, the radio for the blind. The result was a standing room only crowd with lots of my different groups coming together Bird Forgiveness book launch. There were Wonder Woman, Poets, Yoga folks, WNBA (Women's National Book Association) members, and lovers of the word, books, and Octavia Books. Bookstore owners Tom Lowenburg and Judith Lafitte have created a gorgeous haven of a bookstore and their events are always filled with plenty of comfortable chairs and wine. During Mardi Gras, I participated in the All Wonder Woman Walking Krewe. I've met some fabulous women in the group including friend, Marti, who is also in the WNBA, and Kay who works for the Baton Rouge newspaper, The Advocate. It's fun how some of my friends belong to overlapping organizations. Thank you to everyone who helped make the New Orleans launch a success. Thanks, again, to Octavia Books. 

My yoga teacher at Wild Lotus brought some fellow students and a friend whom she knew would enjoy my book. It turns out the friend is a regular book browser at Octavia Books; New Orleans is a small town in a big city. At the Wild Lotus Yoga studio, it happens to be Poetry Month. On Wednesday, I was a little late getting to class and I waited until the opening mediation was finished and I was pleasantly surprised to hear my yoga teacher read my poem, The Praying Tree. If I had been on time, she would have asked me to read it, as she did a few weeks ago, but it was really nice hearing her read my poem and interpret it and offer it as a mediation for the day. 
Partial View of Trinity's Organ Pipe.
I was thrilled to have a full house, even world renowned musician and organist at Trinity Episcopal church, Albinas Prizgintas came. One of my favorite activities in New Orleans is listening to the organ pipe concert and walking the labyrinth set up on the altar of the church. If you appreciate music, there's nothing more thrilling than hearing Bach or the Rolling Stones vibrate from the organ pipe throughout the massive church and through one's own body. Albinas plays an eclectic mix of classical, rock, and spiritual songs. Sometimes, I walk the labyrinth, but most of the time, I enjoy a quiet seated meditation. My yoga teacher plays a lot of rock n roll during her class. I've come to appreciate rock n roll as a spiritual practice. Next Tuesday, I will add my poetry to the music of the labyrinth at Trinity Episcopal Church. I don't know how it will all come together, but when Albinas asked if I might read a few poems interspersed between the organ for the labyrinth, I said, 'Yes'. 
Labyrinth at Trinity Episcopal
On Tuesday, there will be an additional stop to the Bird Forgiveness Tour at Trinity Artist Series,
Trinity Episcopal Church at 6pm, 1329 Jackson Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130.

Next week, the Bird Forgiveness Tour takes me to Cajun-Creole Country, where Louisiana Poet Laureate Emeritus, Darrell Bourque will introduce me (I'm honored to say the least). If you're anywhere near Lafayette next Friday, please come to the Teche Center for the Arts, 210 E. Bridge Street, Breaux Bridge, August 3, 6pm. 

At the end of August, I have the pleasure of returning to the La Palabra poetry series at Avenue 50 Studio, August 26 at 2pm, 131 N. Avenue 50, Highland Park, CA. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Immigrant gentrification: Where Even Nopales Grow

          Daniel Cano                                                                
Rocky and Phoebe patiently waiting

It was shortly after I retired. I walked Phoebe and Rocky through various neighborhood parks, and I realized I was, paradoxically, seeing familiar sights for the first time. I mean really seeing, like Castaneda’s old Indian Don Juan Matus. 

I’d observe ants crawl on trees. I’d study the designs of the bark, the shapes of the branches, and the colors of leaves. Now I see why Emerson and Thoreau saw the divine in nature.

I listened as creatures chirped, tweeted, or made strange sounds, communicating, in one way or another, maybe even talking. They'd chase each other through branches. Squirrels teased Rocky and Phoebe, as if the rodents knew my dogs were on leashes.

I didn’t need to buy a $500 ticket to watch the Lakers. Some of the basketball regulars, guys of nearly every ethnicity, running up and down the asphalt courts play with the same intensity and skill as college ball players, as good as some pros. The Oaxaquenos pass the ball as if inside a pinball machine, pushing the ball up court, without a single dribble, right into the hoop. Phoebe, Rocky, and I sat and watched, mesmerized.

One man stopped to ask, “They’re damn good, aren’t they?”

“Yeah,” I responded. “And it’s free.” We both laughed.

Phoebe and Rocky make excellent cruising companions. They are ready to jump in the car the minute they see me pick up the car keys from the wicker basket near the front door. Yesterday, even in the morning heat, they sat waiting patiently, asking, “Where’re we going today?”

“Mar Vista Gardens,” I answered.

Phoebe’s a bit pudgy and doesn’t do well in the heat. I should have named her Chori, short for chorizo, her body type. Still, she’s game. Rocky is up for anything, anytime.

“Mar Vista Gardens?” Rocky looks at me, questioningly.
Mar Vista Garden Housing Projects
If you are raised on L.A.’s west side, you know whoever lives closest to the Santa Monica Mountains, or anywhere north of Wilshire Boulevard, is considered golden. It wasn’t always so. A friend of my dad’s Alfonso Holquin was raised in Brentwood. He told me that in the 1930s even poor people lived in Brentwood, many Mexicans, working the farms, ranches, and estates of the rich.

He said, “We knew a man who lived up the hill from us, a movie director, but he was a nice guy, talked to everybody.” Alfonso's father worked on the Doheny estate, a good job in those days, enough so the Holquin family could buy two properties north of Wilshire, around Darlington, not far from San Vicente, up there where the Villasenors also lived.

The farther south you live from Brentwood, or Sunset Boulevard, the lower you are on the social ladder, which isn’t completely accurate. There are nice places all over the Westside. Yet, as a kid, my scope of the world was tiny.

I lived off Santa Monica Boulevard and Bundy Drive. I rarely travelled outside a ten-block radius. In fact, we joked that anybody living east of Overland might as well have been living on the Eastside. East of Robertson was like Arizona.

The projects are way south of Brentwood, more like the southernmost edge of Mar Vista, out near La Ballona creek, which isn’t a creek but a cement canal. Like all projects, they were government funded, made to house low-income families. We had friends who lived in the projects back in the 50s, like the Sanchez family. Hey, rent was cheap.

In the 60s, the projects, to us, meant trouble, mostly Chicanos, African-Americans, and low-income whites lived there. But that isn't accurate either. Many families lived there, hardworking families who just needed a helping hand. Like other neighborhoods, the projects had its gang, a mix of ethnicity, since they grew up together inside the gated community.

All of L.A. neighborhood parks had sports teams. Our park, Stoner Park, middle-class, mostly white, with a sprinkle of Japanese and Mexican families, maybe one or two black families, was scheduled to play a basketball game against Mar Vista Gardens, inside the gated projects.

Now, the concept of gated-community, as used today, and the projects, as a gated community, are two completely different ideas. The projects are still gated, and entry and exit closely monitored.

I remember as our team walked into the projects, we gawked at the military-like installation, numbered blocks and all. It was something like we’d never seen. Then we looked closer. These kids had an indoor gym, something unheard of in the early 60s, a softball diamond, and workout facilities. The grass was green and mowed, everything landscaped. When we left, we had an entirely different opinion of the projects. On top of all that, they whipped us by more baskets than we wanted to admit.
Slauson Avenue drought tolerant garden
The neighborhood around the projects, like Slauson Avenue and Braddock, was filled with apartments and WWII, tract, stucco homes, and older wood frame homes. A lot of drugs flowed in and out of the area. Unemployment was high, but there were also many middle-class Chicano and white families in the area. Still, if you didn't know anyone from Slauson Avenue, you didn't go there at night. Though it is technically L.A., a lot of guys who lived in the projects and on Slauson saw themselves as Culver City, La Chiva, their moniker.

In those days, the apartment owners, slum lords, collected the rent but never put any money into property upkeep, few plants, trees, or lawns, mostly dirt and concrete, where not even nopales grew. No play area for the kids, who rode their bikes up and down the ally behind the open parking areas, adjacent to the concrete river, roaring and wild during the winter rains.

As Phoebe, Rocky, and I walked up and up and down Slauson Avenue, everyone greeted me, in Spanish, mostly. They knew I was an outsider. Man, so much has changed. There were Latino fruit and vegetable trucks catering to the immigrant residents. I heard a few kids speak English but mostly Spanish rang out through the streets. I did see one African American man walk into a newer, modern apartment.

When my friends lived on Slauson,  there were fewer immigrant families, mostly Chicanos, African Americans, and Whites, down on their luck. Today, even here, signs of gentrification crack the surface. Modern apartments are beginning to replace the old 1950s boxy apartment complexes.
Slauson Avenue makeover
But what got my attention was the greenery everywhere, like an oasis blooming through concrete, as Tupac might say. I don’t think the landlords suddenly started sprucing up the place, or putting more money into the old structures.

Though some like to portray immigrants as lowering community standards, I often see the opposite, Latinos, immigrants, planting flowers, fruit trees, and growing lawns. Where there was once just concrete and dirt, today there is grass and drought tolerant gardens. Nopales grow in front of some of the apartment houses. It's not the old, dusty, dirty neighborhood of the past. Immigrants bring their own gentrification to many areas. The place has a new spirit. There is a Latino supermercado around the corner, Gonzales Market, enormous, with a large deli, and bakery attracting people from miles around.

Down at the end of the block, right up against the canal, is a park, with basketball courts, a softball field, and offices, flyers posted, announcing various programs for the kids who live in the neighborhood.
A source of pride at the end of the road

A man working the grounds tells me the kids respect the park. Rarely is there graffiti on the outdoor walls or in the bathrooms. The kids seem to appreciate what they have. Across the street is a social service office, catering to the neighborhood, as well.

I don’t doubt, trouble still arises now and then; however, one thing is clear. The residents living in the area have turned it into a much more lush and beautiful space than it was back in the 60s and 70s.

In this time, when so much is written about immigrants taking away, my two canine traveling companions and I see a neighborhood, pulsing with life, where immigrants are contributing to something vibrant and fresh, offering an old tired neighborhood a much needed makeover.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems

By David Bowles

  •                 Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  •             Grade Level: 6 - 8
  •             Hardcover: 160 pages
  •             Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press (September 4, 2018)
  •             Language: English
  •             ISBN-10: 1947627066
  •             ISBN-13: 978-1947627062

Twelve-year-old Güero is Mexican American, at home with Spanish or English and on both sides of the river. He's starting 7th grade with a woke English teacher who knows how to make poetry cool. 

In Spanish, "Güero" is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Anglo. But make no mistake: our red-headed, freckled hero is puro mexicano, like Canelo Álvarez, the Mexican boxer. Güero is also a nerd--reader, gamer, musician--who runs with a squad of misfits like him, Los Bobbys. Sure, they get in trouble like anybody else, and like other middle-school boys, they discover girls. Watch out for Joanna! She's tough as nails. 

But trusting in his family's traditions, his accordion and his bookworm squad, he faces seventh grade with book smarts and a big heart. Life is tough for a border kid, but Güero has figured out how to cope. 

He writes poetry.


"Snapchat, texting, woke teachers, K-pop/hip-hop, hybrid cars, and border troubles tie this story to today's times, but the rich characters who fill Güero's family, school, and neighborhood--Uncle Joe, Abuela Mimi, Joanna la Fregona, the three Bobbys, Bisabuela Luisa, and a dozen more--are the beating heart of this masterful novel-in-poems rooted in generations of culture, geography, and story." 

--Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, creators of The Poetry Friday Anthology series

"I love this book!" --Margarita Engle, 2017-2019 National Young People's Poet Laureate

DAVID BOWLES is a native of the South Texas borderlands, where he teaches at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley. He's the author of Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico. His middle-grade fantasy The Smoking Mirror was a 2016 Pura Belpré Honor Book. He is also one of Adam Gidwitz' collaborators on The Unicorn Rescue Society series.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

La Palabra July 2018. Latinarte Houston.

Writers Reading their Stuff Aloud; a Photographer's Notebook
La Palabra In Low Light

Sunday brought the leading edge of a punishing SoCal heat wave. Inside Avenue 50 Studio, July's La Palabra Reading Series Curator Angelina Sáenz closed the door to the outside oven. The rear gallery remained tolerable for a crowd, with a pair of fans to move the air about. Sáenz didn't burn the hot spotlights, burning only a string of feeble bulbs. Ni modo. The poets sparkled against the anything-but-gloomy dark.

The photographer suffered because his camera was blind in the ambiente. Ironically, iPhone cameras captured great frames, that you can see at La Palabra Reading Series' Facebook page.

 Cynthia Alessandra Briano, Jessica Wilson Cardenas, Angelina Sáenz, Jubi Arriola-Headley

The group portrait has the benefit of an open door. There's a cooling breeze and wonderful light. Portraits of poets reading their own stuff in extremely low light challenged the heck out of the Canon T2i camera. Challenged the heck out of me, too, but it's the poor worker who blames the tools, and with the right tools you can do anything.

My goal as a photographer is to capture the perfect portrait of a writer reading her own stuff, reading his own stuff. The dynamism of a comfortable performer who regularly produces those satisfying moments, or the inspired moment of a passionate debut reader, will jump off the page into your thoughts.

Portraits of speakers have eye contact, looking toward the lens or into the audience. That's a challenge for page-bound writers. Comfortable readers play to the camera now and again. Directness influences ethos, the perceived character of the reader.

The full body conveys attitude, which a reason to avoid hiding behind a lectern. The reader uses the technology of the body  fully to commit to the message. In the foto, the mouth should be open, forming meaning. Hands, arms, feet, head, posture, using the presentation space, these elements define every speaker. Sometimes all the elements come together in a sublime blend of word, speech, body. The photographer who captures that moment, not before not after, has a rarity, a foto approaching perfection. May it be one of many, but dang, fiat lux.

Featured Poets:  Cynthia Alessandra Briano, Jessica Wilson Cardenas, Jubi Arriola-Headley

Curator Sáenz remarked on meeting Wilson Cardenas at the Open Mic the featured reader today hosts at Tia Chucha's. The emcee noted the busy Open Mic Briano directs in Santa Monica, the Rapp Reading Saloon. It's illuminating, seeing Open Mics networking, spreading the word about their neighborhood poetry community. From the westside to the northeast San Fernando Valley, to Northeast LA, you're never more than a week between open mics, to listen or get 3 minutes.

One's eye and brain have no difficulty seeing in the dark. Mechanical devices like cameras don't have synapses but settings. I set the device to maximum sensitivity, ISO6400. I manually set the shutter to 1/80 second to get an f/5.6 aperture.

The speed is enough to capture gestures and expressions. The aperture allows depth of focus. At a distance, a foto can have both a leading gesture and the speaker's eyes in focus. There can be focus all the way to the back wall. In a close-up, the mic the nose the eyes are in focus, the art behind a blur.

Add caption
Here was an insurmountable problem. The Canon brain couldn't handle the light. The camera refused to focus. I set the lens to manual focus.

My eyes are going bad and I didn't have my glasses, so I had to guess at the focus. Autofocus is great. The focus moves with the speaker. Autofocus depends on bright and dark surfaces, contrast, to delineate focal points. In the flat light of the dark room, the lens sees a grey mass.

Manual focus is equally great, and it's how I used to do live football. But absent light to illuminate the rangefinder, what the photographer sees in the camera isn't bright enough to drop readily into focus with a moving subject. The answer is find a zone and focus. I wait for the speaker to lean into focus, and in the moment, be dynamic.

The generosity of digital photography allows multiple exposures with no issues about reaching the end of the roll. On any day a majority of fotos will be unacceptable, the low light increased the proportion. 

Jessica Wilson Cardenas
Peering into the dark rangefinder and racking the lens, I seek the microphone's sharp lines. I don't want the art prints on the wall to appear sharp so I twist the lens to sharpen the lectern. To be sure, I focus on the lectern then slowly focus on the mic. When the speaker remains in the space where the lens focuses, the image will be satisfactory.

Images taken at wider angle have excellent depth of focus. At closer perspective the mic the nose the eyes are focused while the background remains a pleasant blur.

Jubi Arriola-Headley
The brother was going to pose a sensitivity issue. Dark skinned people disappear into the background, so I needed more light. I slowed down the shutter to 1/50 and kept f/5.6. Turns out this 1/50 provided sufficient stopping action and woulda been great for the  two earlier feature poets. The Open Mic speakers planted themselves in one spot, making focusing a bit easier. Their limited use of eye contact adds the challenge of capturing one good moment.

Open Mic: 3 Minutes

La Bloga fotos appear in reduced size inside the column. To view a foto at a larger size, click the image. Use the left and right arrows to scroll the gallery. You may see a strange texture on the images. ISO6400 on this camera creates electronic noise when it struggles to see in the dark, equivalent to grain on silver gelatin emulsions. Newer cameras have more sensitive ISOs; I wonder how the photographer challenges the grain?

Artivism Aviso: Notorious Book Smugglers Looking for Houston Arts Cash

Back in 2012, La Bloga's Michael Sedano and Latinopia's Jesus Treviño road-tripped from LA and met up with the Librotraficante caravan in El Paso. Contrabando in the belly of the bus traveled up to Alburquerque to meet with Don Rudy Anaya before hitting Tucson in broad daylight with banned books to give away. https://labloga.blogspot.com/2012/03/on-road-for-banned-books-this-is-why.html

The court smacked down Arizona hate laws and literature and cultura are again more-or-less welcome in public school classes and libraries. The war is not won, but gente see goals within reach, or what's a court order for? So now the portavoz of the book smugglers, Tony Diaz, turns his focus to chicanarte, per a recent email.

Houston City Council elected Robert Gallego puts his office behind an effort from Librotraficante Tony Diaz, and a cohort of artivists and collectors, to seek equity in municipal arts spending and comminity demographics. Diaz notes, in an email,

The Houston population is over 40% Latino and almost 50%. Yet the Latino community does not receive that much funding for our art or artists. That's about to change. It's time to put Houston Latino Art on the map.

The first meeting for this initiative is Wednesday, August 29, 2018, 6pm - 7:30 pm at Houston's City Hall Legacy Room, 901 Bagby, Houston, Texas.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Book Review of 'Metztli' by Juan Mireles

Book Review of Metztli by Juan Mireles

Xánath Caraza is an author who discovers the stories in places. In every one of her short stories, she invites us into her home, the home of her memories, of her travels; the food and traditions of a Mexico visited regularly by her stories to experience that which she never forgets: the scents and flavors that bring back to her the images, dialogues, stories, the love, that signify home.

In Metztli, we never forget that distance is only a brief pause, that this separation serves to reaffirm the author’s roots: a reason to always return, there is no other option, because the land beckons.

Kansas City is another home for Caraza, inhabited by other people, other names, other shadows that need to be heard, revealing their difficulties through stories: being outsiders in that country, that other America, as we see in the story “Citizenship.”

Metztli is also a diary in which several cities of the world are traveled (as in “Ascalapha Odorata”) to discover passion and the man, the lover, her lover, the one who is sought through experience, through writing. Love takes on a certain weightiness in several of the stories that make up this collection. This is love that never ends up being established but is, nevertheless, eternalized through the words, the poems, the texts written by the narrator.

Art and books gather significance in this collection; they are part of a moment, of an action. They serve to contextualize certain things, which is often welcome—art is always appreciated; it sustains us.

Music, poetry, theater, literature in general, they are all present in these stories, so much so that, in the story “Murmuring,” we are able to witness a particular interaction within the novel Pedro Páramo.

This bilingual edition, translated by Sandra Kingery and Kaitlyn Hipple, is the first book that Xánath Caraza (who has numerous books published in the United States and other parts of the world) is publishing in Mexico, thus achieving a connection with the Mexican reader who will, certainly, feel a closeness, not only with the people in Mexico, but also with the compatriots (Xánath herself) who are from the other side of the border, deciphering Mexico and its people, from a different perspective.