Friday, March 24, 2023

Historical Remains

Today's guest contributor offers his thoughts and opinions about history and why we should be aware of the importance of understanding and preserving history, warts and all. 

After all, what is truth? Jack Kerouac said something like "the only truth is music." There you go.

Dr. Frank Davila is a retired public-school teacher and administrator, university instructor and a published author. He is a co-founder of CALMA (Colorado Alliance of Latino Mentors and Authors) and a strong advocate for mentoring public school leaders and aspiring Latino writers.


Historical Remains                                                                
Frank S. Davila, Ph.D.


That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.                                                                                             Aldous Huxley

History is always in the making given the churning reservoir of dynamic human and natural sources. When the day is done and we wake up to a new sunrise, all the activities and events around us and beyond, from the day before, are now recent history. How often do we pause and review those episodes with an eye toward the future and their potential impact?

It is essential to remind ourselves that history is the written description of how we currently view the past based on evidence such as diaries, photos, letters, stories, and archeological remains that are readily available for us to review and codify so they can be shared. Many aspects of the history of our country are frequently and fondly remembered while other occurrences are ignored, belittled and swept away. Concrete historical events cannot be changed; they remain with us for eternity.

Historical Perceptions 

In the last few years, our high regard for the preservation and sharing of intimate historical events and episodes has come under intense scrutiny. In some quarters, that scrutiny has morphed into a direct denial of our nation’s historical background when attempts are made to display some books and historical accounts in public settings. There are those who argue that some of the historical descriptions paint an unfavorable, negative and racist caricature of the white population. This characterization is seen as laying the blame for all of the nation’s social ills on the doorsteps of a group of citizens.

And then there are books whose topics appear to be inappropriate for some school age children and for many parents who are not yet ready to accept new social codes and lifestyles.

In contrast, others feel that negating the factual and chronicled events of our past is to deny and erase the painful memories that some citizens suffered. They emphasize the importance of sharing all our historical ups and downs with every generation. They also point out that proper and objective channels should be made available to review materials rather than the issuance of a blanket rejection of materials that some in powerful leadership positions argue for to impose their values and in some instances to score political points.

Historical Pieces from the Past

This apprehension of different public displays of lifestyles and provocative materials is not a new phenomenon. The Roaring 20’s, post WWII with its new views, the music revolution of the 60’s and the advent of social media have created visible discomfort in some population groups.

We should note that when different groups of individuals come together and add a new historical imprint, they bring with them their respective values, customs, language and cultural attributes that contribute to the overall mix. This transformational period of becoming comfortable with each other takes longer especially when those who have been the dominant human force begin to resent the intrusion of others who are different and whom they perceive as growing in number and impacting the currently accepted social norms. The new immigrants who want to become an integral part of the whole of the country disrupt the status quo with their burning desire to hold on to their heritage.

It is natural, to some degree, to feel different and estranged when we are placed in a situation where most of the folks around us are speaking a language we do not understand or display a behavior that is different from our traditional views. This is accentuated when it is interpreted as a sign of disrespect and a refusal to be a part of the mainstream. Our history is continuously in a state of flux particularly when new citizens add their flavor and footprint. 

Historical Antagonism and Social Justice

The labels and derogatory remarks we use to describe people whom we disdain, create further schism among the various groups. Unfortunately, this often leads to acts of reprisal, finger pointing and worse, outright discrimination and segregation among some groups. Unfortunately, “hate” crime has manifested itself dramatically in the last several years primarily against those US citizens whose background and heritage are perceived as the culprits for some of the problems we are experiencing. It appears that a general permission has been proclaimed so that individuals can now feel it is acceptable to use physical and deadly force to emphasize their personal views against those customs that do not reflect theirs, or to simply respond with unbridled anger.

We are at a stage in our country where social justice has become a contentious battle as each group wants to be recognized and respected. When the rhetoric is not one that invites common ground and a healthy dialogue, then we use other punitive means to get our message heard. Marches, demonstrations, pillage, killings, destruction of properties along with negative stereotypical writings and legal mandates are some tools that are used to force changes to fit a prescribed moral standard.

Yes, we have many beautiful moments where we sense the pride of being an American. These include major accomplishments in medicine (smallpox, measles, polio, COVID, space (constellations, planets, stars), science and medicine (cancer research, robotics), sports, and other fields. And then we have violent disruptions leading to death, destruction of property, school shootings, bullying, and more.  The amazing accomplishments and the antagonistic responses both become part of our history.

Your Personal Stories 

Have you ever wondered about the origins of history? Obviously, you and I as individuals are a primary source. And then we have our beloved and somewhat kooky and fun family, in addition to our intimate and casual friends who contribute to the historical drama. The human occurrences on the national and world stage can also be prominent ones that capture our interest from an historical perspective.

We all have stories we can share about our family and related cultural experiences. We can proudly display military photos, share personal and professional triumphs, devastating or epic moments, discrimination, and friendships through poems, memoirs, and other intimate revelations. The preservation of these memorable events adds to our overall knowledge of who we are and how we charted our personal course amid the ongoing social, political, pandemic, and other challenges of our own era. This contextual viewpoint helps all future generations understand the resiliency and changes that occurred and perhaps, more importantly, why some of these new initiatives (civil rights, voting rights, bilingual education, and others) were pursued.

When we consider the historical topics that are highlighted, there are several that seem to be frequently headlined. These include political, religious, cultural, and social inclinations that often are hot buttons given the wide gap of how we interpret and condemn and affirm certain elements within those topics. Additionally, prayer in the schools, responses to the US flag, personal lifestyles, critical race theory, voting rights, stolen elections and others add to the historical panoramic view.

Historical Legacy

The uplifting moments mingled with heartbreaking and painfully poignant atrocities are part of our history. The ugly ones and the marvelous ones give us a glimpse of how we continue to grapple with our growth as a nation that is comprised of individuals with different visions and dreams and personal pursuits.

Unfortunately, some of those ancestral and historical events that are at the heart of some of our current struggles are lost and no longer available. They have been discarded, stifled, or ignored. We are then left to interpret and surmise a particular historical episode based on bits and pieces of what we can uncover or redesign to fit our thinking. Others simply want to totally forget the past proclaiming that we should solely focus on the present.

It seems that the expectation, based on the old adage that we should learn from the past to help us improve and build a more enlightened and collaborative view of who we are and want to become, is no longer highly valued.

We are fortunate to have among us a wide range of “historical guardians” who boldly create and display a piece of history through their works and talents. I am referring to our published authors, poets, musicians, singers, storytellers, historians, and others.

Lessons from History

And where can we go to access recent and dated historical information to help us have a more complete understanding of us as a nation? Our numerous libraries and bookstores along with daily social media outlets and podcasts provide us with a stream of information that at times seems burdensome. We each make an attempt to filter out the most impressionable ones; the ones that resonate with our mindset and personal interests. Our selective viewing and listening will see us turn to a particular television or radio talk show or to a favorite newspaper to hear stories that one day will be a prominent part of our historical fabric. Fortunately, we have well prepared documentaries and museums that provide hard and visual evidence of our historical background, if we choose to explore those sources.

So, what holds us back from seeking a pathway that honors the past and the present in a way that past actions can be interpreted with our present understanding of our society and thus creating unity rather than divisiveness? Who is pulling our strings and writing a narrative that one set of actions and beliefs is pro American and pro Christian while other beliefs are considered un-Christian or un-American?

Centuries ago, the Greek philosophers coined the word Epistemology. This focused on the theory of knowledge distinguishing among knowledge, belief, and opinion. They set the standard that knowledge is an event that can withstand the test of challenges from the public; that it is a truth. 

They stated that beliefs and opinions are emotionally charged and often based on fears of new and different cultural expressions. This tends to impact our thinking and how we respond to the voices of others around us. This is further manifested in how we begin to follow our beliefs and opinions rather that the truth of what is around us.

Similarly, the study of metaphysics examines the nature of existence and reality or the abstract and the concrete. An extension of that is how we view logic that is based on valid and sound reasoning. Additionally, we can focus on our understanding of ethics that describes how we can choose among right or wrong moral choices and actions. Ethics is derived from the Greek “ethos” meaning character and asking, “Who am I?”

The impressionable word, morals, is derived from the Latin word moris or mores (pl.) meaning customs and etiquette; our actions and duties.

These lessons are still relevant today. A key to deciphering our outlook and bias related to how we view and accept our nation’s history, is to find and ask the right question to bring forth the best answer.

Historical Remains

In keeping with the title “Historical Remains,” it is fitting to look back at the 4th Century Christianity movement that declared Christianity as the official religion by the Edict of Milan (313 CE). That led to the destruction of statues, burning of literature and the prohibition of other religions and cultures from existing. This is reminiscent of the 3rd Reich (Nazis) and the bonfires and the burning of books.  In May of 1933, books considered “un-German“ were burned by students to further solidly the power of Hitler and to censor and control opinions and the presence of non-Germans.

This censorship is further manifested in the Middle East of today where the human rights of women and free religious beliefs are denied. Lately, Texas and Florida have begun to negate and statutorily deny the rights of certain historical events. These repressive and castigating actions remind us of vicious atrocities by other so called “civilizations” such as the Huns, Goths, and Visigoths, as they all pushed their vision of what is right and just onto the masses.

Once again, we are pressured into disregarding historical manuscripts and certain topics by our great poets and writers, particularly on those that reflect the stories, traditions, customs, successes, tribulations and the daily lived experiences of our forefathers.

Are we now relegated to only writing on topics that have not been prohibited and is a next step one of going underground to avoid persecution when we choose to write about our history that depicts “the good, the bad, and the ugly?”

Historical Mandate

Our response to these multitude of historical events will be viewed and analyzed by the next generations.  They will note how these pivotal decisions shaped the course of history. And if they closely examine our nation’s history, they will deduce, as we do so now, that some specific historical events seem to matter more to certain individuals and to our nation in general. The feelings, interpretations, and experiences of an historical event touches the soul of each of us in a different manner and that invokes a distinct and personal response that either elevates or diminishes the importance of any historical moment.

If we hear or read about an historical event, our emotional and sensory level may not feel the anguish to the same degree as an individual or group who actually lived through that specific event. Experiences such as getting lost, being bullied, violated, discriminated or spat upon, pushed, or neglected often produce deep and sensitive feelings that lead to a long-term emotional scar. The individual’s or group’s painful experiences produce a higher level of significance to a historical event. It is unfortunate that some of us are unwilling to accept and face the dark and painful historical chills experienced by our brothers and sisters.

The mandate is for our writers, poets, artists, musicians, and citizens to consciously sustain their collective contribution of keeping our history alive to help us build a better today and a more creative and vibrant future.

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.            George Santayana



Thursday, March 23, 2023

Chicanonautica: Donald Trump, John Wayne, Mexican Food, and the Impending Election Year

by Ernest Hogan

My wife and I were playing hooky. We both had the day off, and we used it to drive out to our usual stamping grounds to investigate the place where she had a job interview. It was a sunny day after a week of atmospheric river-driven gloom. Took a hike, then decided to drive to Wickenburg for lunch.

We headed for the town’s best Mexican restaurant, and the first thing in the door was a shrine to Trump, Kari Lake, and other local politicians of similar leanings. A bit early for 2024, but . . .

It reminded me of the pictures of John Wayne in businesses on the Indian reservations. San Juan de Hollywood assuring the tourists that they were in a safe place.

This would cause some people to turn and run, but we were hungry, and it was a chance to observe these folks on their own turf without the defenses they have up when they stumble into what they see as hostile territory. How would they react to a six-foot tall Aztec leprechaun with a bandido mustache and his blonde wife coming in for some tacos, beans, and rice?

We got professional customer service smiles from the young white women who worked there. The customers were also white—mine was the only “of color” face in the joint—and they were an awful lot of them for a Wednesday afternoon. Wickenburg is a historic cowboy town, not much of a Chicano heritage.

I didn’t hear a word of Spanish while we were there.

Everybody was in a good mood, and they were, for the most part, in Wild West regalia. They looked like retirees from Back East and the Midwest, adapting to their new environment, going “native” in cowboy hats and boots. It was like a big party with so much talking I couldn’t sort out any particular conversation.

They didn’t seem to have gotten the news about how the election deniers were doing in the courts, but with the rift between Trump and Fox, they probably hadn’t been watching much news lately.

They didn’t seem to notice us, which may have been a good thing.

And the food, as usual, was excellent. Their hot salsa had my inner ears tingling immediately.

When I told our server that I never received the iced tea I ordered, she apologized and brought me one in a to-go cup.

As we were paying, a little brown woman wearing a T-shirt with the restaurant’s logo wandered out of the oddly quiet kitchen. 

Ah-ha! As it is with most restaurants in Arizona, they had Mexicans doing the cooking. Funny how folks who want to build the border wall and ship the illegals back to where they came from love their Mexican food.

I haven’t mentioned the name of this place on purpose. I don’t want anybody reading this and going there to start trouble. The world needs all the Mexican restaurants it can get. Our food has a way of bringing people together. 

It may be our best hope.

Besides, for all I know, the owner is what used to be called “of Mexican descent” as well as a life-long Republican, and pays the employees well, maybe even mentors them so they can start their own restaurants.

Also, this was their turf. And it was Arizona, where out in public somebody usually has a gun . . 

UPDATE: After I wrote the above, Trump announced that be would arrested "Tuesday" and encouraged his followers to protest. Tuesday came, there was no arrest, and more counter-protesters than protestors materialized. However, some AI deepfake photos of what the arrest would have looked like went viral, and he raised a lot of money--that would have been better spent on Mexican food--for his campaign. The weirdness has only begun, gente.

Ernest Hogan will be teaching “Papí Sci-Fi’s Ancient Sci-Fi Wisdom” to all the Chicana/o/x writers who enroll for the class at the Palabras del Pueblo Writing Workshop. Sign up, hermana/o/xs. Let’s change the literary world.


Wednesday, March 22, 2023



Written by Elías David

Illustrations by Claudia Delgadillo


ISBN:  978-1-55885-969-2

Publication Date:  May 31, 2023

Format:  Hardcover

Pages:  32

Imprint: Piñata Books

Ages: 4-8


This charming bilingual picture book deals with gender equality.


This sweet bilingual picture book follows a boy and his stay-at-home dad, who takes care of him while his mom goes to work at the port, “where huge cargo ships come and go every day.” She oversees the containers that go around the world!  


The boy recounts his days spending time with his father, from “when the sun starts filling the room with light,” to eating breakfast, brushing his teeth and talking to his grandparents who live in a different country. His favorite time of the day is when he gets to play with his dinosaurs and his friend Tato, a stuffed cat who joins him on all his adventures. When Mom comes home, the whole family goes to the park. After dinner, he goes to bed and thinks about the ships from his mom’s work, his dinosaurs and his grandparents. Soon he falls asleep, hugging his special kitty.  


In this bilingual picture book brightly illustrated by Claudia Delgadillo, young children will relate to the family and its daily routines while immigrants will see themselves as they adjust to life far away from relatives. And children will see that the roles of men and women are fluid; dads can be loving fathers in charge of their kids’ well-being and moms can go to the office every day—or vice versa.

Elías David, a native of Reynosa, Mexico, is the author of Instantes (Alja, 2017) and Una lucidez aturdida (UANL, 2022). He is the associate editor of SED Ediciones and Suburbano, a magazine on culture. He lives with his family in Houston, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing in Spanish at the University of Houston.


Claudia Delgadillo was born in Mexico City and graduated from UNAM with a degree in graphic communication. She is the author and illustrator of Biodiversidad (UNAM, 2011).

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Dreaming Ever After


Dreaming Ever After

Michael Sedano

Who can count the life’s ambitions that find fulfillment only posthumously? Probably most people die without seeing their most important plans come to the best conclusion. I get to be one of those people who see it all come true.

Michael and Barbara Sedano. Scan by Mario Guerrero, August 2021

I was at a trade show in Washington, D.C. when I called home to learn Barbara found a house. She had a caveat. It has a pool, and I’d declared an oath not to have a water-filled hole in my backyard. I bit my tongue and we moved from a small Eagle Rock bungalow in April 1985. When Barbara retired from being an English Teacher, her students wrote glowingly of Barbara their English Teacher, unanimously they praised Mrs. Sedano’s pool parties. Barbara always knew best.

In '85, my employer quoted a lavish salary to the bank and we got the loan. The home, a beautiful 1921 Normandy style has 5 bedrooms and 5 ½ bathrooms, dining room, dinette, sitting room, two fireplaces. Including the pool, the backyard was crowd-ready for gala pachangas that became CasaSedano signature events. The Perle Mesta of Pasadena, Barbara added a bit of Roz Russell flair and the joy of sharing her home with friends.

Barbara and I intended to leave the house to our daughter. It would be the kind of windfall my parents left behind. Our granddaughter’s schooling would be assured. Our daughter’s mortgage would disappear. Luxuries and a solid bank account would remain. That’s what Barbara and I wanted that house to turn into when we were gone.


Every morning I burn sage to the Four Directions. Ancestors are in the smoke, and on February 4th, 2023, Barbara became an Ancestor. She rises in the morning with my mother, my grandmothers. Those Souls who gathered silently at the cavemouth were waiting, I knew that. Then I  got sent back, told to get out of line (link). As Barbara’s hospice sped to a close, I understood. I was sent back not because it was not my turn then. Barbara would need me. She was my Prime Direction and I held to the Prime.


Shortly after Barbara’s Alzheimer’s Dementia diagnosis in 2018, we sat to talk about her future. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, we had dreams. I asked Barbara what she wanted people to remember her for. Without hesitation, Barbara declared “I was Amelia’s mother. I was Charlotte’s grandmother. And I was a Teacher.”

I carry a piece of tierra from Redlands with me. Here, no thing, no artifact, has much value for me. I hold no memory of this place more important than those quiet moments of Barbara’s declaration. I take with me from here Barbara’s fierce determination to be remembered for the essential goodness that defined her Soul.

Someone will run away with all of my stuff, or my daughter will figure out what to do with all of my stuff.


To build a house in 1948 take a loan for lumber

My Dad hand-built the first family home, in his home town Redlands, next to the orange groves that made the town the navel orange capital of the world. Dad exulted when he’d get home grimy and smelly but he’d picked a hundred boxes. At a nickle a box, Dad had pulled down five dollars that day. 

the house beyond the jaulas in foreground

Like almost every orange-picker with imagination, my Dad wanted to own a grove someday. He never got it. He wanted to live in the hills of Redlands, on a view lot looking down on the miles of groves filling the valley. They did that. Mom and Dad bought land and built a house at the highest elevation in the Redlands city limits. 

From the back yard the vista takes in all the citrus groves Dad picked at a nickle a box all those years ago. Canyons my grandmother herded sheep lay at the foot of our view lot. We planted a few trees, no grove, and we could see as far as the eye could see from up here on Sunset Drive.

McDonald's Urban Farm, the farmhouse and my new digs

I am moving into my Daughter’s and Granddaughter’s home in the foothills of Altadena. It’s a home that owes much of its construction to the house on Sunset Drive.  When I sold that house, my daughter, Amelia, used the money to remodel a mountainside home with a spectacular view of the Channel Islands, the San Gabriel Valley, the Los Angeles coastal plain, and the Angelus National Forest at the backyard fence. On a clear day you can see just over the ridgeline to where the sun sets in Santa Monica Bay.

Dad gets his dream, que no? There’s a citrus grove in the front property. Stone fruit trees and extensive vegetable plots fill part of the rear. Beyond the plants, hens and goats and ducks and turkeys live in cages lions and bears can’t penetrate. No surreys with fringes but McDonald’s Urban Farm has an electric cart.

When escrow closes and that check goes into my name, the sum, Pay to the order of… is not the number it appears. Sabes que? It’s a nickle a box. 


I had to get out of this place. If it’s the last thing I ever do, goes the song. I did, have to get out of this place, but sat immobile in the silence and absence grown of five years full-time caregiving. I’d been defeated.

My daughter works wonders in her world as mother, farmer, lawyer. She worked her wonders in getting me out of here. No sooner had I made myself clear--I’m rolling around in this space, help!—than she gained a good sense of the market, made contacts, and had this place sold within a few days of my saying “sellit”.

Not only do I get a new home, I get an assured schooling for my high school age granddaughter. I get to satisfy my daughter's mortgage. I'll buy a bus or train ticket and travel, take roadtrips, and do a lot of the same old stuff from a new H.Q.

Órale, Barbara, we did it, we brought the familia dream to fruition. Mom and Dad get the grove and the view. You leave an inheritance, and I spend it, in advance of it becoming my inheritance.

There's a check with my name on it out there, waiting for escrow to move the sum into my bank. 

A nickle a box got us started, y mira nomás.

Friday, March 17, 2023

For St. Patrick's Day, an Announcement on Witches and Monstrous Women

 from the mailbag 

Did you know that Tia Chucha's has a Youtube channel and that you can watch live events from your living room? Join Sehba Sarwar, Jaime Asaye Fitzgerald, Olga Garcia and Alicia Vogl Saenz tomorrow, Saturday, March 18, at 5pm in person or host your own watch party on YouTube.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Scorpion and the Professor

 by Daniel Cano


A well-armed adversary

      Exhausted, showered, and finally under the sheets, I was just about to turn off the light when I saw it, a scorpion, looming large and casually strolling across the cabana’s wood floor. Oh no, that’s not what I needed, not now, after trudging all day from one archeological site to another and listening to professors discuss their work, the heat doing its thing, pounding overhead and pressing in from all sides, first rain then sun, and the warm, tropical air too hot to even put on our plastic ponchos. 

     I was deep in the Belizean jungle, a preserve where scientists from different American universities came and brought students to conduct research. Really, I was just along for the ride, accompanying twenty-five students on a study abroad program, to expose them to something different, like what archeologists do We’d already eaten dinner in a cafeteria on the compound, emptied a few bottles of wine, and discussed the day’s events, both good and bad. I overheard two girls say they wished they’d gone on the study abroad trip to Paris, instead.

     After, as we had walked back from the cafeteria to our individual cabanas, across long grassy knolls, we spotted movement, like the earth was slowly undulating. Man, was I that tired that my mind was playing tricks on me. A professor who had invited me on the trip, an anthropologist, stooped down and set his hand on the grass. When he stood, he held out his hand, palm up, a large tarantula on his fingers. “They’re everywhere,” he said.

     He had us look closely at the grass. Under the moon’s dim light, the shadowy creatures, scores of them, moved about the lawn. “They rarely bite, and they’re not poisonous,” the teacher said, as he tried convincing us to pick one up. I passed, but a couple of students knelt, placed their hands on the lawn, and stood up, a hairy spider sitting in their palms. Let me out of here. I want to sleep.

     So, now a scorpion in my room, and as tired as I am.

     Spiders and critters are plentiful out here. This is their home, the jungle. Each night, since I arrived, I heard movement in the thatch roof above me. Also, before I'd doze off to sleep, I'd hear the sounds of a struggle, crunching and crackling coming from the bathroom. In the morning, bits of wings, scales, and blood formed blotches around the shower drain.

     “Yeah,” a staff member had old me when I had asked. “Insects crawl through the plumbing and make their way up to the drain, where they fight it out. The bigger insects eat the smaller ones. It’s like that every night.” So, before I headed out in the mornings, I turned the shower on to wash it all away.

     The scorpion wasn’t moving. It stayed right in the middle of the floor, like he owned the place, which, in a way, he did, indigenous to the land. I was the interloper, coming in to disrupt, and, in some ways, conquer his way of life. Foundations pour millions of dollars into this preserve, so it will never again be the same, even after we all leave, and wide swaths of archeological digs scar the land where ancient Maya once roamed.

     I was so tired, I couldn’t deal with It. Maybe once I turned out the light, I told myself, creature would just go away. I closed my mosquito net around my bed and tried to sleep, still convincing myself the venomous scorpion would find his, or her, way out like she found her way in. I turned a couple of times. I knew it was still there. I could sense it. I tried putting it out of my mind. Then I thought, dang, my mosquito net touches the floor. What if the scorpion, armed by nature with various spears and arrows, finds the netting and climbs up into my bed?

     I turned on the light again. It hadn’t moved. I sat up, swung my legs off the bed, and slipped my feel into my shoes. I looked around the room for a weapon of some sort. The scorpion jammed. He headed for a dark corner. I was getting desperate. No weapon. The broom. I saw a broom somewhere, in the bathroom, in a small closet. Too much commotion for the scorpion.

     I knew I had to move slowly, or it would find a sanctuary where I couldn’t get to it. The broom’s bristles would sweep the creature out, but they would be useless in combat. If I was going to dispatch my prey, I’d have to crush it with the tip of the broom handle, the wood, rounded part. The scorpion got wind of my plan and scampered under a cabinet, a few inches above the floor. It was dark under there. I could see it, more like a shadow.

     I placed my weapon under the cabinet, slowly, trying to avoid detection. There was just enough space under the cabinet, but it was an awkward angle, and I couldn’t get enough force behind the broom. The scorpion moved to a place harder for me to see it. My weapon was useless, the scorpion taking advantage of the field of battle.

     I thought about going back to bed and forgetting about it, but I already tried that. It didn’t work. How could I sleep knowing that valiant adversary, armed to the hilt, was still there, waiting for its chance to strike?

    Okay, I was told, for most people, a scorpion’s sting doesn’t kill. It’s painful and can make a person really sick. Not only that, but they don’t strike unless provoked. Should I just get back into bed and forget it all, and was the trade-off worth it? What? Now I was negotiating with different sides of my brain. No, I had to kill it. This is my cabana. Okay, fine, but it's on the scorpion's land. Again, I searched for a weapon. Nothing. The room was bare except for a desk and a few books. I looked over at my heavy hiking boots, and the solid heel, but no way could I get it under the cabinet. Maybe, if I moved the cabinet…but then, the scorpion would split. It was pretty damn fast. Hell!

     On the desk, next to my own paperbacks, and a journal, another book, one of those large, heavy picture books, the kind they have in hotels. You know the kind, thick, and filled with locations not to miss while on your visit. Slowly, I sauntered to the desk and picked up the book. It was definitely heavy, and the spine hard, wide, and flat. I hated the idea of using a book for this purpose, killing an insect on its home turf, mind over matter, in a sense.

     I went back to the cabinet, down on my knees, and took a peek. The scorpion hadn’t moved. I laid down the heavy book, flat on the smooth wood floor. I took aim. I couldn’t angle the book. It had to be a straight shot. I only had this one chance, but I wasn’t happy about this, any of it. That scorpion had a right to live. Crap, but so did I. So, I heaved the weapon, the spine hitting flat against the baseboard, the scorpion between the two. I thought I heard a crunch, but maybe it was my imagination.

     When I removed the book, I saw what looked like blood on the spine. I thought of wiping it clean, but the book had become a weapon of combat. I decided to leave the blood. I placed the book back onto the desk, next to my writing material. 

     What I can’t remember is if I went right to sleep, relieved I had vanquished the enemy, or if the entire episode had bothered me. I think I slept well, no longer fearing prey in my bed. It was the way it all happened that has stayed with me, a book as a weapon against our most primitive nature.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Where Wonder Grows - Donde las maravillas crecen


Written By Xelena González 

Illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia


Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Hardcover: ‎40 pages

ISBN-10: ‎1947627465

ISBN-13: ‎978-1947627468


From the creators of the award-winning picture book All Around Us comes another lyrical intergenerational story exploring our connection to nature, family, and traditions.


When Grandma walks to her special garden, her granddaughters know to follow her there. Grandma invites the girls to explore her collection of treasures--magical rocks, crystals, seashells, and meteorites--to see what wonders they reveal. They are alive with wisdom, Grandma says. As her granddaughters look closely, the treasures spark the girls' imaginations. They find stories in the strength of rocks shaped by volcanoes, the cleansing power of beautiful crystals, the mystery of the sea that houses shells and shapes the environment, and the long journey meteorites took to find their way to Earth. This is the power of Grandma's special garden, where wonder grows and stories blossom.



De las creadoras del galardonado libro ilustrado All Around Us llega otra historia lírica intergeneracional que explora nuestra conexión con la naturaleza, la familia y las tradiciones.


Cuando la abuela va hacia su jardín especial, sus nietas saben que deben seguirla. Abuelita invita a las niñas a explorar su colección de tesoros (rocas mágicas, cristales, conchas marinas y meteoritos) para ver qué maravillas revelan. Son seres vivos y llenos de sabiduría, dice la abuela. Mientras sus nietas observan con atención, los tesoros despiertan la imaginación de las niñas. Encuentran historias en la fuerza de las rocas formadas por los volcanes, el poder limpiador de hermosos cristales, el misterio del mar que albergan las conchas y cómo le dan forma al medio ambiente y el largo viaje que hicieron los meteoritos para encontrar su camino hacia la Tierra. Éste es el poder del jardín especial de la abuela, donde las maravillas crecen y florecen los cuentos.


Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Simply dazzling.


Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Lyrical words by González (a member of the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation) emphasize the intergenerational ties that bind the characters and show Indigenous knowledge in the process of being passed down. Garcia’s portraits center affectionate familial gestures alongside mural-like views of sunset skies and evocative representations of fire, earth, air, and water.



This author-illustrator team offers their readers a thought-provoking, mind-expanding piece of art that shows gratitude to our planet. ―Stephanie Cohen


Latinx In Publishing

A breath-taking exploration into the wonder of the natural world. 



Xelena González is a storyteller, screenwriter, poet, and author of ALL AROUND US, winner of multiple accolades, including the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, an American Indian Youth Literature Honor Award, and an International Latino Book Award. Her storytelling skills were honed as a children’s librarian in San Antonio and in Guangzhou, China. As a visiting author, she has introduced her method of “tai chi storytelling” to more than 60 schools and libraries around the country. In February 2021, Cinco Puntos Press will release WHERE WONDER GROWS, her much-anticipated sophomore collaboration with muralist Adriana M. Garcia.


With grant support from the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, Xelena recently developed a body of work in both children’s literature and visionary fiction, inspired by the iconography of the Mexican Lotería card game. Her resultant book LOTERÍA REMEDIOS led to the creation of a television script centered on the same theme and featuring a modern Mestiza protagonist. She is currently developing the screenplay THE CARD SINGER with support from the Luminaria Artist Foundation. A member of the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation, Xelena is a sought-after speaker on topics such as radical self love, creative early literacy strategies, inhabiting story through music and movement, and reclaiming indigenous identity in Latinx communities.


Adriana M. Garcia, is a home-grown San Antonio visual artist, muralist, and illustrator. Her debut picture book ALL AROUND US (by Xelena Gonzalez) was awarded the prestigious 2018 Pura Belpré Honor for illustration among other honors. One of Garcia's favorite mural creation "Changing the World" is installed at Northwest Vista College (Fall 2019) and centers around access to education. The mural project "De Todos Caminos Somos Todos Uno" completed for the San Antonio River Authority was recognized in the 2019 Public Art Network Year in Review. Adriana has exhibited her artwork both locally and nationally and has been invited to present at conferences, schools and museums. She has enjoyed working as an arts administrator and an art/design instructor for both youth and adult learners. She is a big fan of portraits and loves depicting strong women as a way to honor those who have come before and those who continue to lead by example.


Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Arte Para La Gente Has A Deadline

Michael Sedano

Ninety days--and counting down--to the closing date of Arte Para La Gente. If today's the Ides of March, or later, fewer than 90 days remain to attend this vitally important art exhibition.

Immense visual satisfaction hangs on the walls at Los Angeles' gentefied Olvera Street museum, LAPCA, Los Angeles Plaza de Cultura y Artes (link). Seeing such a wide-ranging collection of Garcia's canvases offers a lifetime experience for anyone who appreciates the best of United States American art; the kind of exhibition the Smithsonian or NY's MOMA needs to hang for East Coast eyes. Most importantly, Margaret Garcia's arte fills a need most viewers don't know they badly need: to see this work.

La Plaza, as folks call it, is an important museum that meets the definition of gentefied. Staff welcome visitors warmly and readily exchange repartée and pushy questions from a guy with a camera. The guy with the camera doesn't deny that Rhett Beavers, the photographer's host for the visit, knows everyone and everyone knows Rhett, and the photog got introduced to everyone who passed by. That aside, LAPCA feels like a museum should feel--open to all, richly informative, affirmational.

Rhett Beavers illustrates the scale of the exhibition's signature piece depicting pink sunset light on Echo Park lake. This canvas is one of the first two reproductions in the museum's collection series. Beavers, Garcia's husband, learns during the visit, the first run of prints is hot off the press and for sale in the tienda.

Garcia's Fire Series lights up the room, especially when the museum displays the work with such drama. The painting at right sits under glass. The unframed painting on the left shines its reflection on the neighboring glass, adding a unique dimension to the glassed painting: the viewer sees the painting under glass, simultaneously, the reflected painting on the glass surface creates dimensionality teasing and engaging a viewer's perceptions, separating the images while holding them as a unity, both at once separately and totally cool. Make that hot.

Luckily, there's a soft cushion seat to let it all burn into your memory.

Like any sensible museum, there's no prohibiton on taking fotos. The show is well-lighted so no one gets home disappointed at the quality of their fotos.

The museum provides English and Spanish information.

LAPCA occupies an historic building across from the kiosko at historic Olvera Street, a magnet drawing thousands of schoolbuses to view the birthplace of Los Angeles. A visit to LAPCA makes an ideal stop on the itinerary.

Margaret Garcia organized The Stamp Project as part of her Creating Cultural Currency initiative. The project aimed to create low-cost reproductions for artists to sell at affordable prices. Arte para la gente, in other words. Michael Sedano's stamp, "Charlotte Enters the Gallery" hangs at the right end of the second row up.

The project linked contemporary artists, a preponderance are raza, to artists in 1931 who raised money to defend nine black youths accused  of raping a white woman, the case of the Scottsboro Boys (pdf in link).

During the visit, Abelardo de la Peña, Jr., the museo's Direector of Marketing & Communications stopped to chat. He was happy to relate the hands-on staff development project recently completed using The Stamp Project to model personal visions.

In the "I wouldn't ask you to do something I wouldn't do" vein of cultural leadership, the staff development project extends the hands-on activity room where visitors create their own stamp. 

Cecelia Gonzalez reflects on her Stamp Project stamp. Cecilia is La Cocina Store Manager.

Any visit to a cultural institution should wrap with a purchase supporting the place. La Plaza de Cultura y Artes has delightful original arte on sale, along with its new series of arte posters.

Concluding our visit to LAPCA, Rhett and I made the short drive to Figueroa Street in Northeast LA where Margaret Garcia works to finish a mural commission. She takes time to greet us, decline a lunch invitation, and receive the first copies of the museum's print run.

Garcia smiles at the view of Figueroa Street, looking south from her studio door. The painting illustrates one "secret" to Garcia's arte, intense color, rich contrast, and the ineffable sense of home, of being of a place and here it is.

The exhibiton's signature image, her first look at the print. A happy artist. 

Light on water shines with a mysterious quality that physicists and psychologists have big words for. Garcia has been working to find the right words to express in print what her paintbrushes so eloquently whisper, shout, sing. Rhett explains he's putting touches--not necessarily final--on a catalog of the exhibition. Margaret is polishing her essay for the publication, which remains a future accomplishment. The catalog will be a requirement as the exhibition moves to new museums.

A Personal Note
Margaret Garcia took one look at the Coast Live Oak growing in front of CasaSedano and saw a painting. Then she created the painting. Then someone, not we, bought it.

Michael Sedano will be leaving that oak tree in a few weeks when he vacates the house his wife Barbara fell in love with in 1985.