Thursday, September 10, 2020

Chicanonautica: Zooming with Us in Flux

 by Ernest Hogan

This has been the summer of Zoom as well as COVID-19. It’s the new frontier, and if you’re a writer or artist, you’re settling there. We’re all like refugees or pioneers (read stuff from the 19th century—the folks we call pioneers were referred to as “emigrants”). It’s a matter of survival in the new world.

I have to thank Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Balitronica Gomez, and José Torres Tama for nudging me into this new medium (environment?). Thanks to them I wasn’t totally flummoxed when the emails started to come in, asking me to take part in panels and be interviewed on Zoom.

I actually seem to be getting the hang of it.


Since the conventions I was going to attend have been cancelled, I was wondering how my career would go during the quarantine. Turns out, it’s alive and well and dragging me into the brave new world. Editors are getting back to me. Projects that were limbo are now charging ahead.

And now and then something different, some new hybrid mutation comes along.

Like my recent gig with ASU’s Center for Science and Imagination, and their Us in Flux project (see the previous Chicanonautica). Not only did I get a chance to write a story about a timely subject—usually, such stories are hard to sell, because tradition markets take at least a couple of years to publish—AND get paid well for it, but also be the subject of a Zoom event.

Seems like every couple of weeks, I end up doing something that I’ve never done before . . .

I was lucky that the got Frederick Luis Aldama, who also goes by the superhero-ish name Professor Latinx, to interview me. We’ve been involved in books together, and know each other on Facebook and Twitter. He’s one of the people spreading the word about me to academia and the younger generation, for which I’m eternally grateful. We had never “actually” met in the low-tech, face-to-face sense. Not only was he the perfect choice for the job, but I was excited to meet him.



All this would mean not just one Zoom meeting, but two.

First would be a preliminary session, where Editor and Program Manager Joey Eshrich,  Communicaton and Public Engagement Strategist Bob Beard, Frederick, and myself had a private meeting to thrash out what to discuss and how the event will be structured. It was obvious that Frederick and I had no trouble coming up with things to talk about. It was hard hold back and not launch into the interview then.

The interview itself was mostly about “Tomorrow is Another Daze.” It was great to get direct feedback. Yeah, my mom told me she like it, and I know that people like my work, but to talk with people and see the appreciation on their faces is something I don’t often get.

Everybody liked that is was optimistic. I’ve always been a weird kind of optimist.

Then it was opened up to questions, and that was fun. Javier Hernandez asked about my cartooning roots, and I flashed my nearby notebook with some doodles. There were requests to see my sketchbooks, but fortunately they were tucked away. And I have to apologize to Josh Rios and Anthony Romero for blanking out on their names—and thank you for putting my art in those exhibitions.

In all, the experience left me feeling like some kind of chingón.

Zoom looks like it’ll get us through this current pendejada, but it the way we’re going to build the Latinoid future.

Ernest Hogan will be judging the 2020 Somos en escrito Extra Fiction Contest and other exciting things that he will be announcing here soon.

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