Tuesday, September 25, 2018

500-word memoir. News 'n Notes.

500-word memoir
My Boys In the Snow
Michael Sedano

Back in 2011 I ran a 500-word memoir. That one was about snow, too. The 500-word exercise offers fun for the effort. Write, tighten, write, tighten, check word count, tighten tighten, five hundred or under. I'm writing an "as told to" autobiography for a Chicano hero right now, and the write-tighten exercise develops a habitual eye for saying a 1000 word first draft in a submitted 500, without going through the 1000 first.

The man's is an exciting life and I'm writing for YA, raza boys. He's in the Army right now in the narrative, so coming across a foto from Winter 1969 was serendipity or a mystic confluence. He was in uniform when the Korean war broke out, I was in uniform in Korea.

I'm digitizing my boxes of sixties vinyl. In the process I ran across this slide of "my boys," my closest companions except for one--he was up on the mountain this day--gathered for a group hug. I stepped backward to grab this and it's fuzzy. Never be able to go back and fix it, and with film you don't take a lot of exposures.

I met Radowski my first night at the battery. In the snowy photograph, he’s the big guy to the right of the soldiers, left of the foto. Radowski was a cook. Cole, Robledo, Lopez, and Hughes were Alpha firing crew, and Perales was fire control.

Hwaak-ni nestled with stunning isolation in the valley formed by the juncture of two mountains in the Republic of Korea. My mountain, Mae Bong, a legend as “the highest and ruggedest HAWK site in world.” A sign said so, I believed it, and so did the other 70 men assigned here for a year.

Generating electricity burns lots of diesel so the compound doesn’t have a lot of light. The surrounding dark and thick humid air sounds of crickets, the running stream, and raucous laughter.

Right now, I point myself toward the only light in front of me. Behind me, the light above the door to my hootch casts a long shadow that points to the mess hall. The Sergeant’s orientation rings in my ears.

“Sedano, you play your cards right and Korea is the best duty in the world. You report straight here do not go to morning formation. You go up on the mountain two days, down for one like clockwork.” He’s saved the best for last.

“Get yourself a nice yobo. Korean women know how to treat a man. My Daisy sure does. You keep her in soap and cigarettes and she’ll take care of you.”

I wondered, was it a translation? “How did you find a girl way out here named ‘Daisy'?”

The Sergeant had a hearty laugh and demonstrated it. “Sedano, you can name them anything you want.”

The chow hall door is propped open and the laughter easily pours out of the screen door. I step in and six guys stand around a table. Radowski is arm wrestling all comers. Two guys sit down while I watch and Radowski dispatches them easily. Radowski exults, challenging anyone to have a seat.

Not knowing anyone and no one knowing me, I step up to the table. “I can take you left handed.”

Radowski swells to the challenge “Oh yeah?”


Radowski rolls up the teeshirt on his left arm. The ref announces, “the new guy against Radowski! Ready…” he pulls his hand up and says “Go!”

The big white boy is strong. He’s from the San Fernando Valley, played high school football and joined the Army to escape a drug bust. He’s a downer freak and becomes a good friend. Tonight, Radowski strains to no avail and slowly his arm weakens and mine begins to exert leverage.

The battery champion pinches his lips together and in the humidity sweats profusely but Radowski loses. The crowd isn’t happy. Their boy lost to the new guy and no one knows who he is. Radowski’s injured ego demands a right handed match.

In a second, I have the crowd screaming and hollering laughing and giving Radowski a hard time. I tell them I’m left handed.

News ' Notes - Mailbag
Michael Nava Goes Aural 


I've recorded 6 episodes for the January launch and I'm working on the next 6. There will be a total of 17 episodes. I’ll be releasing other trailers leading up to the January launch.

Opera Cultura San Jose Califasilicone Valley
Here is one of the new voices. Listening all the way to the final note rewards you with that final note.

The greatest musical instrument in the world is the human body. This video of Virgina Hesse singing  O Luce Di Quest'animademonstrates that. Here's the link for tickets.

Ron Arias wrote those words in his debut as a kick-ass writer, The Road to Tamazunchale (link). Riverside and Inland Empire readers have the opportunity to meet Ron, along with poet Juan Delgado, at the Culver (link). Wow, Riverside.  Cheech Marin is locating one of the world's best art museums, a Chicano equivalent of the Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena. UCR Tomás Rivera Library has the world's definitive collection of science fiction and speculative fiction, and there's the Culver with this series. Who knew? Now we do.

Before La Bloga - Tuesday signs off, a reminder, G O T V, 6 November 2018. Get Out There And Vote.

1 comment:

Antonio SolisGomez said...

que vaina em!, that was a slick movida pretending you're not a lefty. nice story