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1. The Fifth Children's Poetry Festival in El Salvador

From the Macondo Newsletter

Edited by Reyna Grande


Macondista Rene Colato Lainez recently visited his native country, El Salvador, as a featured author. Read about his visit!

The Fifth Children's Poetry Festival in El Salvador

by Rene Colato Lainez

As a child in El Salvador, I loved to visit the old National Library and read books. I would wonder about the authors whose books I would read. Where they nearby or did they live far away? Were they young or old? How could they have written all those wonderful words that I so enjoyed reading? 

Then one day, when I was living in Los Angeles, I saw on TV and read in the newspaper that an earthquake had destroyed the National Library. I was a sad to know that I was enjoying the public library in Los Angeles while the children in El Salvador no longer had a library, the place that I had loved to visit. 

Years later, the library in El Salvador was rebuilt in a place that used to be a bank and was named after the Salvadoran writer Francisco Gavidia.I wondered if one day, I would be able to visit this new library.

I never dreamed that one day I would, in fact, visit this library, and not as a patron, but as a featured author! I am so privileged that now as an author, I can go back every year to my native country and read my books at the annual Children's Poetry Festival in San Salvador which is hosted by this library.The festival is organized by Salvadoran children's book author Jorge Argueta and his wife Holly Ayala in San Francisco and author Manlio Argueta and the National Library in San Salvador. 

At the festival, the children were very excited to meet authors and poets. Some were local authors, such as Silvia Elena Regalado, Alberto Pocasangre, Jorgelina Cerritos, Ricardo Lindo and Manlio Argueta.Other authors came from abroad, such as Jorge Argueta, Mara Price, Margarita Robleda and myself.

Since some of my books are about Salvadoran children (Waiting for PapáRené Has Two Last Names, My Shoes and I and I am René, the Boy) I was able to connect with the children at the festival through my books. The children there could see themselves, their culture and their country in my books. I told them that dreams do come true. When I was a kid in El Salvador, I had two dreams: to become a teacher and to be an author. Now my dreams are a reality because I believed in myself, did my best and did  not give up. Children looked at me with sparkles of hope in their eyes. They told me that they will also reach for their dreams, and they were so proud to meet me. 

As the children were listening to my books, I could see my own reflection in their eyes. I could see the young boy who had loved visiting the library, enjoyed reading books and wondered about authors. 

The spirit of Macondo is to give back to our communities. I am so happy that I am giving "mi granito de arena" to the children of El Salvador. Many of these children are from rural areas where their parents work hard to provide for them and often there is not enough money to buy books or school supplies. 

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At the end the festival, each child received a festival tote bag with school supplies and gifts, and they also enjoyed a delicious lunch. I am so happy to instill in them the love of books!

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2. South El Monte Stories.

Michael Sedano

Everyone has a story and everyone’s story deserves telling. Alex Luu conducts workshops with young adults that guide their planning, structuring, and telling their stories to an audience in an evening of theatrical expression.

Stories emerge raw and in the vernacular the students live daily. It's a no-holds-barred world and the writers let loose.

A girl stands in the dark, glamour images projected behind her show a pretty, fit beauty. She screams words she hears when she dresses like the pictures, “Whore!” “Can it be any lower?”

Another girl projects birthday portraits remembering each year’s gifts and parties. Absent always was her one perfect gift, the presence of her father. Other children’s autobiographies express the same single-parented pain.

One boy wants to be a musician but hears his mother’s angry voice that he’s wasting his. Another boy listen to his soccer ball's consejos and taunts in a funny, imaginative piece.

A lot students speak of abandonment, loneliness, powerlessness, helplessness, and others of their dreams, plans, visions of a happier future.

Teenagers have the worst and best of two worlds, childhood and adulthood. The impacts of their parenting simmer and accumulate until the children reach their teens and young adulthood. Now the consequences of those experiences, and their influence upon decisions, will reverberate far into their adult future. It’s the divergence of two roads and there’s no going back.

There is in creative non-fiction. Luu coaches his performers to fantasize. Several presentations engage  scenes where the kid;s persona works up the gumption to tell off an overbearing adult. Spirits soaring, the speaker turns to the audience and admits “I didn’t really say that but I wish I had.” And presto, they have. It’s a South El Monte story and this is why you tell them.

Bringing mostly bad experiences, and how the person feels about them, to life can bring a person to a skidding halt, a good thing if matters are running on intertia, or have taken a bumpy path.

Writing about a situation becomes a way of handling and making sense of one's daily storms. For numerous exigencies, expression offers the sole means of gaining control over a problem.

After the performance--they ran three nights--the standing room only audience keeps their seats for a Q&A. Most questions wonder how the students worked up the confidence to share such intimacy with strangers, publicly. A couple answer they started out withdrawn but opened up and forged community with their workshop peers. Being of the group loosened them up in private and it was easy progression to public expression.

A questioner says she's with drama students from another high school. These students have learned from South El Monte and leave encouraged to tell their own stories. The South El Monte Storytellers brim enchanted that their voice has found listeners outside the confines of their South El Monte universe. This is, after all, why one speaks.

Alex Luu

Audience packs the house

Yesenia Velasquez

Anamaria Flores

Anthony Morales

Audrey Youshimatz

Isaac Caudillo

Steven Reyes

Jenna Flores

Linda Catano

Rosario Morales

Taking a Bow

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3. Desde Guadalajara, Jalisco la poesía de Luis Armenta Malpica y más

Por Xánath Caraza


La Poesía de Luis Armenta Malpica
Luis Armenta Malpica



The fish will be an absence when it is no longer named,

so long as the spiders can't see it

they won't even give it up for dead

in some nest.


The fish will be the astonishment

that is feigned at the zoo

when it is gazed upon in the historical section


above a label:




Then will it be missed.


More than one will say that they knew it:

it possessed a pair of powerful pectoral fins,

was covered with metal scales

and at the tip of its body,

in the control helm,

a curtain of smoke


its advance.


And another will say: no,

the fish was an ancient skyscraper,

a kind of glass and mortar pyramid

where boys hid the money

they stole from their parents.


And one glorious old lady

(which indicates her lineage and her gender)

will open the ruffles of her blouse

to bare her torso

and show in the areola

the unmistakable body of the fish

in her ribs.


And she will not say the name that once was

the water's inheritance,

will not say that jellyfish was an invention of the ancients

and that no other animal but man exists...


She will remain


as much a fish

now as she was

so very

long ago,

lying in wait

for a new blow

of years

that lead her back

to the water.


The woman

in the middle of the bubble of air

that sprang from her aureole

will drink in one gulp what she once gave

her son,

forever caught

on her fishhook of motherhood,

and will die in peace,

her lips crossed by a kiss,

her eyes a crepuscular white

and her heart

split into three parts

by a drop of water.


And strangers would say to one another...

                                                                        "She was the anointed one."



in the agony of the fish,


will deny it with her eyes.

All that was a lie.


There is only one thing that will be said about her

without man being suspicious:

                                                the woman was

                                                            the fish.

                                    She always has been.


But the men wait

because from some part of man

must come

                        the tarantula.





El pez será una ausencia cuando ya no lo nombren

mientras no puedan verlo las arañas

ni se le dé por muerto

en algún nido.


El pez será el asombro que se finja

cuando al ir al zoológico

en la sección de historia se le mire


encima de una ficha:




Entonces se le echará de menos.


Más de alguno dirá que él sí lo conocía:

era dueño de un par de poderosos alerones

cubierto con escamas de metal

y en la punta del cuerpo

en el timón de mando

una cortina de humo


su avance.


Y otro dirá que no

que el pez era un antiguo rascacielos

especie de pirámide de vidrio y argamasa

en donde los muchachos escondían las monedas

robadas a sus padres.

Y una anciana gloriosa

(lo que denotará su estirpe y sexo)

abrirá los olanes de su blusa

desarmará su torso

y enseñará en la aréola

el cuerpo inconfundible del pez

en sus costillas.


Y ella no dirá el nombre que una vez fue

la herencia del agua

no dirá que malagua fue un invento de ancianos

y que no existe otro animal que el hombre...


Se quedará


tan pez

como hace ya



al acecho

de un nuevo golpe

de años

que la conduzca

al agua.


La mujer

en medio de la burbuja de aire

surgida de su aureola

beberá de una vez lo que una vez dio

a su hijo

se enganchará por siempre

en su anzuelo de madre

y morirá tranquila

atravesados los labios por un beso

los ojos de un crepúsculo blanco

y el corazón

partido en tres

por una gota de agua.


Y los desconocidos se dirán entre sí...

                                                          «Era la ungida».



en la agonía del pez


negará con los ojos.

Todo eso fue mentira.


Solo hay algo que de ella va a decirse

sin que el hombre recele:

                                                la mujer era

                                                            el pez.

                        Siempre lo ha sido.


Mas los hombres esperan

porque habrá de llegar de algún sitio

del hombre

la migala.

Light’s Volition/Voluntad de la luz by Luis Armenta Malpica, translated by Lawrence Schimel (Mantis Editores, 2012)


There, far away –Là-bas– was a sunken stone

where the air seemed to stop.

A piece of basalt –a vestige of when the volcanoes

            were the dictators of the mineral kingdom    and the plants

            (all unknown) battled the smoke

            for the earth–

seemed miraculous among the burning lava.

A stone larger than the dust     a diamond of the intact

drenched with moss; it burned

in the air.

With its green footprints it slid a path

of ash and fire:

scripture of calcium      rupestrian and cuneiform

on the bones of the air

the voice (of primeval workmanship)

became solid.


And what was said –Là-bas

that there, far away

in the fictitious world of the Tyranasourouses

the tarantulas tried to seize her

with their teeth.


How did the new coelacanths translate her

if there, far away –Là-bas

in the depths,

no megalodon saw the sign

of the basalt?

It said nothing that could explain

the world to itself:

man had not yet been born

from the spine of the fish,

from the egg,

from the stone.


It was just the air,

foreseeing the wings that would come to plough through it,

who searched for it in the depths of the basalt.

It was a wind –Là-bas

that blew so slowly: unmoving,

but stuck to the dust that the smoke acquired

on turning into


And it was not stone

because then (and even more if it were basalt)

it contained the ash –fish     volcanic oil–

of what would become


Thus every tectonic plate that shook the earth

was baptized in fire

in the name of the air.


We had to wait for God to create water

to believe in fish.


Allá lejos Là-bas hubo una piedra hundida

donde el aire pareció detenerse.

Un trozo de basalto vestigio de cuando los volcanes

eran los dictadores del reino mineral     y las plantas

(todas desconocidas) peleaban con el humo

por la tierra

parecía milagroso entre la lava ardiendo.

Piedra mayor que el polvo     diamante de lo intacto

se mojaba de musgo; al aire


Con sus huellas verdosas resbalaba un camino

de ceniza y de fuego:

escritura de calcio     rupestre y cuneiforme

en los huesos del aire

la voz de primigenia hechura

se solidificaba.


Y qué decía Là-bas

que allá lejos

en el mundo ficticio de los tiranosaurios

las migalas intentaron asirla

con sus dientes.


Cómo la tradujeron los nuevos celacantos

si allá lejos Là-bas

en las profundidades

ningún megalodonte vio el signo

del basalto.

No decía nada que pudiera explicarse

sobre el mundo:

el hombre no había nacido aún

de la espina del pez

del huevo

de la piedra.


Era el aire tan solo

presagiando las alas que vendrían a surcarle

quien lo buscaba al fondo del basalto.

Era un aire Là-bas

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4. A Festive Sharing - old holiday tradition revived

Yesterday my wife and I hosted our annual Festive Sharing, usually held a couple of weeks before Christmas. Here's how the invitation read:

"In the spirit of less stuff, bring a gift to share, not to give away, something you or someone else created--non-manufactured.

"Come experience all the shares, like: A story, poem, song, play, dance or artwork, written, spoken, sung, performed or simply exhibited. Drawn, painted, sewn, photoed, carved or crafted. Baked, steamed, brewed, homemade, self-portraited, recently read, or--your choice. 10-15 min to present your Share.

"Food, hot mexicanococoa, primo margaritas, beer, sangria and other liquids. Bring a favorite dish or drink to richen the communal meal. Dress code, tribal-informal. Wear your fave, faded, baggy, flabby whatevers. Drinks & eats followed by the Sharing. First-come, first to share."

Our event is a mix of family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and others, although our home barely accommodates the couple of dozen guests. It looks like a holiday party. Until the Sharing starts

And a teenaged boy performs his dance. Or a young lady sings.
A guitarist does an original composition.
A writer, her prose.
A man reading his favorite poet.
A self-produced documentary on remote-control airplanes.
A pot of jambalaya, and the story behind it.
A handmade fishing rod.
A fire-dancer out on the lawn.

You can't imagine the variety because there's no limit to what interests people or what they're capable of creating.

For our few hours, there's no worry about buying gifts or getting to the sale or wrapping presents. No one expects you to give any thing, No exchange of purchased presents. You give of yourself, and everyone receives that.

I enjoy the Sharing for its non-consumerist, non-materialistic, non-commercial qualities. It reminds me that once upon a time, our much happier ancestors gathered in forests, around campfires, on grassy plains or in caves, and had fun sharing what they'd made with natural materials and their own hands. Or shared a rock crystal or a bird's colorful egg they'd discovered. Maybe we were more like children then. Open to discovering, exploring, enjoying and definitely sharing that, with little or no stress.

Today we are social animals who've lost our tribe, our largest, safe grouping. We may still have our other circles--our close support group of 5, 15 sympathetic friends, 50 close friends. But the approximate 150 who once constituted our tribe hardly exist anymore. Social media friends in the thousands doesn't fill the void. And we suffer the loneliness, the vulnerability, sense of helplessness and lack of power, things we didn't so much have when we were part of a tribe.

That why there's cholo gangs, community and cultural groups where people regularly meet and engage with large groups. That why there's Ferguson marches. They're attempts not only to protest, but also to reacquire the power of our tribe. When we gather together in one place, we approximate a tribe; attending a rally makes us feel more powerful, less helpless.

Our neighborhood barrios, ghettoes and communities were once our modern-day tribes. Real estate development, eminent domain, gentrification and segregationist dispersal of working class people have eaten away at our communities. Now, in many cases, we don't know our neighbors and wouldn't want to. We can't imagine their being a part of our circle, our tribe.

I believe all the dystopias facing us and our descendants will again provide an enclosed environment where tribes will naturally arise out of dire necessity. As society--the economy, joblessness, debt, climate, deteriorating public services, and institutional violence--gets worse, our social genetics will induce us to gather with those who live nearby, like tribal villages of old, to protect ourselves and survive. And to prosper, for that matter.

I don't expect to report next year that I'm now a member of a thriving tribe. I'm simply doing what I can. What my genetic make-up and mind tell me is true and required. Our Sharing event is a piece of that. Try one for yourself. You don't need published authors, gifted artists, politicians or rich patrons to make yours worthwhile. You simply need to invite whoever comes to mind. And realize that in times past, they were integral to how we survived blizzards and saber-toothed tigers and enemy attacks.

It use to take a village to raise a child. You were one of those children and may need to be again.

Having a great sharing season,
RudyG, a.k.a. Rudy Ch. Garcia, Sharing host and author of fabulist mextasy tales

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5. Random Thoughts About Detective Fiction

In 2001, Hopscotch magazine published my essay entitled The Postman and the Mex, which was my attempt to summarize the then current state of the literary genre known as crime fiction (detective, mystery, suspense, noir, hard-boiled, etc.) and the role of several Mexican American writers in that genre. I sub-titled the piece From Hard-boiled to Huevos Rancheros in Detective Fiction. I recalled the earliest appearances of Mexicans in North American crime fiction, from the 1940s “detectivo particular” Mariano Mercado in the Dime Detective stories of D.L. Champion to Michael Nava’s gay lawyer/detective Henry Rios. My conclusion was basic: What Chicana and Chicano crime writers have done should be regarded as an evolutionary leap for the mystery genre.

Ah, those were the days.  Those of us who wrote these kinds of stories overflowed with optimism about how far we could go in constructing a new voice in detective fiction. Even so, we were troubled by the lack of critical acceptance of our plots and characters by the heavies in the world of traditional crime fiction publishing, as well as from Latino critics and writers. For example, Lucha Corpi has written about how (when she was starting out) a friend told her that Latina writers did not write detective/crime fiction because “Chicanas did not read [mysteries.] No les han tomado le gusta. They haven’t developed a taste for it.” Confessions of a Book Burner, page 57.

In any event, there are more Latina/o crime fiction writers today than when I wrote my essay, just as there are considerably more Latina/o writers in general than existed at the turn of the century. But I have to say that despite all of our best intentions, and although we may have changed crime fiction to a certain degree, we did not create a wonderful world of Chicano detective fiction warmly embraced by the average mystery reader. It still is difficult for a Chicana/o writer to get published if the manuscript carries the tag of “Chicano novel.”  For sure, difficult but not impossible – but it’s not like the publishers are beating the bushes for the next Latina/o superstar to take the place of Walter Mosley or P.D. James.

That may not matter since I don’t think that was our overall intention. Speaking for me only, I was motivated by several different concerns, not the least of which simply was to tell a good story that would hold readers beyond the first chapter.

However, several academic works have noted the critical importance of Rolando Hinojosa, Lucha Corpi, Michael Nava, Rudolfo Anaya and me to the mystery genre. For more about the critical analysis and recognition, I recommend the following:

Chicano Renaissance: Contemporary Cultural Trends, David R. Maciel, Isidro D. Ortiz, María Herrera-Sobek, University of Arizona Press, 2000:
 “Raza writers have shaped and reshaped the detective/mystery genre for specific, cultural, political, and social purposes to comment on issues of class, gender, race, and sexual orientation or preference. These writers are producing new literary models that may be viewed as forms of social criticism and cultural representation. Moreover, these writers are modifying the genre by transforming the detective protagonist from white and middle- or upper-class, as in the classical tradition introduced by Edgar Allen Poe and honed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to Raza working-class personas.”

Chicano Popular Culture:  Que Hable el Pueblo, Charles M. Tatum, University of Arizona Press, 2001:
“The Chicano mystery novel is a new genre that has emerged during the past decade.” The author then summarizes the mystery novels of Rudolfo Anaya, Rolando Hinojosa, Lucha Corpi, Michael Nava, and Manuel Ramos

Brown Gumshoes: Detective Fiction and the Search for Chicana/o Identity, Ralph E. Rodriguez, University of Texas Press, 2005:
Brown Gumshoes is an excellent resource.  The book is comprehensive and its critical observations are knowledgeable, fair, and well-founded. Rodriguez argues that “the Chicana/o detective novel registers the changing identity formations of Chicana/os over the last two decades. Its coincident emergence with and flourishing during the post-nationalist movement makes it a timely and unique means of identifying and chronicling the key changes since the nationalist moment of the 1960s and 1970s.  … [T]he generic features of the detective novel – an alienated way of seeing, a foregrounded and overlapping emphasis on ways of knowing and ways of being, and a signal focus on identity – … make it a rich and unique genre for systematically exploring identity formations.”

Chicano Detective Fiction: A Critical Study of Five Novelists, Susan Baker Sotelo, McFarland & Company, Inc., 2005:
Another great resource. “Detective fiction is the first Chicano genre to come on the scene since the corrido that has the potential to reach a broad group of Mexican Americans.”

This week on La Bloga, Em Sedano raised a few questions about detective fiction related to the role of such fiction and the possible “glorification” of brutal police. Set against recent events involving police killing unarmed black men, such questions are bound to generate controversy.  The questions are needed, of course, and I think it is a good sign that people are willing to talk about such topics, and about Latino crime fiction in general, especially against the background of numerous incidents of police brutality and violence.

Some books glorify brutal police or those acting in the place of the police, such as a private detective.  Other books demonize the police.  Still others have three-dimensional characters, police included, who are not all good or all bad. From my perspective it comes down to the usual – if you, the reader, are not looking for the visceral thrill of a reckless, blood-spattered action thriller that has no character development and little plot, you should hunt out well-written books that avoid tiresome tropes and stereotypical clichés. Your hunt may reveal good cops as well as bad cops, good Chicanos as well as bad Chicanos.  Good and bad.

Sedano asks, “Is it harmful to a reader to be rooting for the good detective to win when every day news abounds with one dead reason after another to distrust cops?”  I can’t conceive how a well-written plot that causes the reader to empathize with the main character could be harmful, but maybe I don’t understand the question. Surely, fictional characters cannot, and should not, supplant the reality we encounter on the streets. Keep it real, raza.


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6. Chicanonautica: Dispatches From Black and Brown Planets

When I first heard about Black and Brown Planets: The Politics of Race in Science Fictionedited by Isaih Lavender III, I was interested. Then I found out that one of the essays was about my novel High Aztech, I figured I hadto read it. Then I saw that it cost sixty bucks . . .

I figured it could wait.

Then, Matthew Goodwin, editor of the forthcoming Latino/a Risinganthology offered to scan and send me not only the essay about my book, but another that he wrote himself. And they say that the social media is waste of time!

In his essay, “Virtual Reality at the Border of Migration, Race, and Labor” Goodwin proves that he knows what's going on in the wide-ranging, multimedia field of Latino/a speculative ficion in a discussion of three works: “Reaching the Shore” (1994) a short story by Guillermo Lavin, El Naftazteca: Pirate Cyber-TV for A.D. 2000 (1994) a satellite television event by Guillermo Gómez-Peña (outtakes of it can be seen online), and Sleep Dealer(2008), the powerful film by Alex Rivera. Goodwin points out that The dystopian problems depicted in these narratives are not future fantasies but present-day realities and: The beauty of these artworks is that they imagine highly creative protagonists who use virtual reality for their own purposes and find some way to change reality.

Those things could also be said about my works.

In her “Mestizaje and Heterotopia in Ernest Hogan's High Aztech” Lysa M. Rivera not only discusses my work, but getsit:

Reminiscent of Oscar Zeta Acosta's Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo(1972) as well as Stephenson's Snow Crash,High Aztech is pure Chicano cyberpunk.

But what is Chicano cyberpunk?

At once an aesthetic and a survival mechanism, rasquachecomes closest to describing Chicano/a cyberpunk production, which also transforms a found object (in this case, classic cyberpunk) by repurposing it to speak for a cultural underdog . . .

Creative protagonists again, changing reality!

High Aztechcan be read as a science fictionalization of Vasconcelos's theories of mestizaje.

Yeah, I'm a proud mestizo, believer in mongrel power, and consider impurity a good thing. I consider myself to be a member of La Raza Cosmica, the race that encompasses all other races. I tried to express this in High Aztech.

As a Chicanafuturist text, then, High Aztechnot only explores the effects of technology on people of color but also imagines alternatives to those impacts.

Protesting isn't enough. And I don't see – as some of my peers in decades past did – technology as the tool of the oppressors. Grab the tools, use them to build your world.

Hogan's text functions as a Chicanafuturist narrative not simiply because it is SF written by a Chicano but more specifically because it adopts a critical stance similar to an Afrofuturist.

I was doing postcyberpunk back when cyberpunk was just beginning. Afrofuturists have told me that High Aztechinfluenced them.

For Hogan and others like him, the motifs and metaphors of SF are best suited to counterdiscource, not escapist literature.

Escapsim is not enough. Contemporary, corporate-generated sci-fi tends to create escapist modules for oppressed consumers to retreat into. In books like High Aztech I hope to give people ideas as to how they can change their assigned realities.

Learning to survive in heterotopia requires a new way of being in the world, and what better genre is there than SF to make this happen?

Heterotopiameans the modern, urban multi/recombocultural environment, NOT a utopia based on the philosophy of Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy Magazine . . . you really do need to exist in new ways there. And like I've said, Chicano is a science fiction state of being.

And a friend has offered to buy a copy of Black and Brown Planets for me. I will review it here.

The world may once again be in turmoil, but I'm feeling great, ready to take it on!

Ernest Hogan's High Aztech will be re-released new, improved, ebook and softcover Strange Particle Press editions from Digital Parchment Services in 2015. Meanwhile, buy their new Cortez on Jupiter. And buy and give La Bloga authors for the holidays.

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7. Santiago Stays

Review by Ariadna Sánchez

Santiago Stays is the latest book of award-winning author and illustrator Angela Dominguez. Dominguez’s story is charming, delicate, and easy to read. Her narrative is about a young boy who tries to play with his French bulldog Santiago. The boy offers Santiago diverse colorful options like playing with a toy, going for a walk, and even eating a hamburger to captivate his attention. What the boy didn’t know is that Santiago had a very important job to do that’s why he could not play with him. When the boy lost control and became loud, her little sister woke up with a cry. As soon as she saw Santiago, she smiled. The boy now realized why nothing made Santiago looses his post. “Good Boy, Santiago” the boy exclaimed.

With engaging and simple text, young readers and listeners enthrall in the artwork illustrations created in pencil, ink, marker, and tissue paper.

Santiago Stays is a highly recommended book especially for pet lovers and families who enjoy great stories. Reading gives you wings! Visit your local library to emerge in the fascinating world of books.

To read more about Angela Dominguez please check the following links:

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8. Is detective fiction killing us? Gluten-free treats from a good Mexican girl. On-line Floricanto: ¡43 Presente!

Michael Sedano

On November 24 La Bloga-Tuesday published an advance review of “Skin In The Game” without acknowledging the previous day’s announcement in Ferguson, despite jarringly ugly disconnects between reality and fiction.

Sabrina Vourvoulias remarks in her blog, Following the lede, how she feared a pro-cop sci-fi story she wrote might do harm since it would be published a day after the cop who murdered Michael Brown exited stage right, unindicted.

“Skin In The Game” features chicana detective Jimena Villagran, who strides into the heart of Philadelphia’s most dangerous neighborhoods where something is killing people, ripping them open and eating their organs. “Skin’s” dystopic Philadelphia uncomfortably mirrors the city's neighborhoods. Vourvoulias' journalistic eye further enhances the verisimilitude, the kind that gives good sci-fi its unnerving metaphors.

Both author Vourvoulias and publisher Tor worried that glorifying a monster-fightiing cop hero could damage people already tortured by the failure of process. “Skin In The Game” was to be published on December 2, a week following the November 24th announcement in Ferguson.

Vourvoulias believes words take on a life of their own, that people invest stories with meaning beyond the writer’s influence. She didn’t want her story of a good cop fearlessly fighting for Order and the Good to give a punch in the face to a reader working to make sense of systemic perversions of Justice.

“Skin In The Game” published on schedule, December 2, 2014, because, the editor reasoned, there might never be a week free from news of “hideous injustice”. Was that prescience, or experience?

The day following Tor.com’s publication of "Skin In The Game", New York found no reason to indict the cop in the choke hold murder of Eric Garner. But then, that’s a standard Unitedstatesian value: one hundred fifty years ago, Congress declared the November 29 Sand Creek Massacre an atrocity but allowed the commander to walk away unindicted.

Vourvoulias and her publisher resolved their concerns and published despite the clear contradictions between the fiction and the world as we have it. Similarly, La Bloga’s critical response to this work of art limited itself to the self-contained universe of the fiction.

The open issue screams out loud. Cops are not heroes, why does literature glorify them? Is it harmful to a reader to be rooting for the “good” detective to win when every day news abounds with one dead reason after another to distrust cops?

Persuasion research shows that people are drawn toward favorability of dissonant messages when an admired person advocates for the other side. The latitudes of attitude move away from favorability to the source, but toward favoring the issue. That’s in ordinary persuasion, like politics. Fiction can be perniciously influential. Could it be detective fiction is poisoning the common sense and survivability of a person confronted by a trembling cop with a Glock?

Leave a Comment to share your views. You’ll find the Comments link at the bottom of today’s column.

The Gluten-free Chicano
What’s a Good Mexican Girl To Do?

The Gluten-free Chicano has a sweet tooth. Cookies, pies, birthday cakes, conchas, helotes, marranos, polvorones, are all off-limits to Celiacs and others afflicted by gluten intolerance.

Analogs look like edible food but only in one's imagination they're good. Now, poet reina alejandra prado has found what appears to be a productive way to indulge a  Celiac's sweet tooth. Prado is the Good Mexican Girl in the eponymous bakery.

Click the link to visit the Good Mexican Girl, an artisanal bakery specializing in unique flavor profiles, says the website.

GMG's website observes, "The cornerstone of our business is a cookie - the one I call 'throw me a wedding shower' cookie, most popularly known as the Mexican wedding cookie or Russian teacake. It's buttery, nutty and just scrumptious with a hint of lemon and sweetness from the powder sugar. We made the original Gluten Free Mexican Wedding Cookie."

Here's the origins of the GMG's commitment to the Gluten-free community:

Several years ago, I learned about a gluten-free diet first from my friend Maya. She had to change her diet after under going a series of tests. After I underwent a food cleanse where I could not eat any foods prepared with enriched flour or wheat bread, I became more conscious of what is gluten-free. My awareness of the need for gluten-free products became more pronounced with my business. Clients would ask if I had gluten-free options. In November, with the pan de muerto (Day of Dead Bread), I baked our first gluten-free product.

We continued to produce gluten-free treats with the traditional Mexican sweet bread La Rosca de Reyes and with Mexican Wedding Cookies.

It’s been a joy to meet virtually and in person other Latinas who haven’t been able to eat their favorite sweet breads and now can happily enjoy them again in gluten-free form."

The Gluten-free Chicano isn't uncritical about GMG products, especially the claim "We can make any baked good with gluten-free flour. We make our flour blend that includes Rice Flour or Brown Rice Flour, (whichever one is available), Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour, and Xanthum Gum."

"Any" certainly is possible. But as noted, analogs suck, so the Gluten-free Chicano is not ever again buying "bread" or "cake" or "pie crust" made to be gluten-free. The cookies, now that's a different matter.

Full disclosure: The Gluten-free Chicano enjoys Prado's poetry but has yet to taste her cooking. When he finally has the opportunity to scarf down some GF galletas, La Bloga will report the Good Mexican Girl's success. If it's sweet and dunkable, I'm sure I'll like it. I hope I like it. Oh please.

Faltamos 43! On-line Floricanto
Frank Acosta, Ivonne Gordon Carrera, Tara Evonne, Victor Avila, Xico González

“Warrior Poets Rise (Sovereignty, Justice, Peace)” by Frank Acosta
“AYOTZINAPA” Por Ivonne Gordon Carrera
“Mezcla,” by Tara Evonne
"El Pañuelo Negro" por Victor Avila
"Semillas de Ayotzinapa" by Xico González

Warrior Poets Rise (Sovereignty, Justice, Peace)
by Frank Acosta

The stories are blood flowing thru you
Our people’s truth, worthy to be told
In solidarity, set us free to awaken
The strumming of dormant heart-chords
Searching for sacred songs of purpose
Your words are those of the ancestor’s
Spirit voice returning in wisdom
Your offerings of soulful flor y canto
The silenced stanza of a departed child’s poem
Verses of the lost, to violence, ignorance, greed
Tyrannical avarice would still humanity for gold
Shackled deep inside the belly of the beast
Songs, poems, & prayers of the warrior poet
A confluence of hearts, minds, and souls
Flesh & spirit, present & past, one great circle
Let word and deeds flow in transformative love
Sentinels of sovereignty and sanctity of all creation

Frank de Jesus Acosta is principal of Acosta & Associates, a California-based consulting group that specializes in professional support services to public and private social change ventures in the areas of children, youth and family services, violence prevention, community development, and cultural fluency. In 2007, he authored, The History of Barrios Unidos, Cultura Es Cura, Healing Community Violence, published by Arte Publico Press, University of Houston. Acosta is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His professional experience includes serving in executive leadership positions with The California Wellness Foundation, the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Downtown Immigrant Advocates (DIA), the Center for Community Change, and the UCLA Community Programs Office. He is presently focused on completing the writing and publishing a two book series for Arte Publico Press focused on best practices to improve the well-being of Latino young men and boys. Acosta most recently co-authored a published “Brown Paper” with Jerry Tello of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute (NLFFI) entitled, “Lifting Latinos Up by Their Rootstraps: Moving Beyond Trauma Through a Healing-Informed Framework for Latino Boys and Men.” Acosta provides writing and strategic professional support in research, planning, and development to foundations and community-focused institutions on select initiatives focused on advancing social justice, equity, and pluralism. He is also finalizing writing and editing a book of inter-cultural poetry and spiritual reflections.

Por Ivonne Gordon Carrera

Ayotzinapa, hace poco no podía pronunciar tu nombre.
Ahora no sólo lo pronuncio, no sólo lo repito,
sino que es una herida abierta en la tierra.
Es una violación de la tierra, 43 hijos
de vientres heridos claman, Ayotzinapa
ya no es una palabra, ya no es un lugar.
Ayotzinapa es un monumento a la violencia,
es un campamento de jardines descompuestos.
Es un grito, un aullido, es cicatriz
y carne viva. Ya basta.
Ya nos cansamos
de tanto ataúd y vitrina.

© Ivonne Gordon Carrera (2014)

by Ivonne Gordon Carrera

Ayotzinapa, not long ago I could not pronounce your name.
Now I pronounce it, now I repeat it,
now it is an open wound of the earth.
The ground has been raped, 43 sons
of wounded wombs cry out. Ayotzinapa,
it is no longer a word, it is no longer a place.
Ayotzinapa is a monument of violence,
It is a camp of decomposed gardens.
It is a yell, a howl, it is a scar
of live flesh. Enough, we have become tired
of caskets and showcases.

© Ivonne Gordon Carrera (2014)

by Tara Evonne

I became
the mix
of all those
before me
las abuelitas
enduring me
de méjico
y españa
my mix
of dark
and light
all I’ve ever
to be true
my red heart
beating brown
never did I
this corazón
when distraught
a daughter
trusting life
somewhere else
when flying
I became torn
my parts
the effects
of long term
generational genocide
buried under
the rubble
of mankind
all my relations
praying alongside
to protect
women and children
I became
the written
across maps
of great divides
hate created
by mankind
I became
the shooting star
tearing across
early dawn sky
a woman kind
of star dusting
for others
to follow
the collective
of survival.

Tara Evonne Trudell is a recent graduate with her BFA in Media Arts from New Mexico Highlands University.  While in school she developed a passion in combining the many forms of multi media with poetry to address social issues. In this process she discovered her own purpose and commitment to using these medias to create art and movement. It has become her goal to offer work that instills and emotional impact in the viewer. Her work can be viewed at www.taraevonnetrudell.com

"El Pañuelo Negro"
por Victor Avila

para mg

Porque yo no tenía
el poder de un gobierno corrupto detrás de mí,
O la farsa de un medio cobarde
que no pudo hablar la verdad en mi nombre.
Porque me habían amenazado
a punta de pistola pensando
que sería suficiente
para garanitzar mi silencio - O porque muchos habían desaparecido ya
que iba a tener demasiado miedo a levantar la voz.
Pero hoy me di cuenta" ¿Qué otra cosa pueden hacer me a mí
que aún no lo han hecho?"
Las madres de Juárez claman por sus
Hijas asesinados
Y los fantasmas de los hombres olvidados
persigan el puente donde les colgaron.
¿Qué más pueden hacer me? Se llevaron todo de mí
y eso fue su mayor error
porque también tomaron mi miedo.
Y ahora que ya no estoy asustado…
Si yo no hable hasta ahora
sólo tengo yo la culpa
cuando la policía venga llamar a mi puerta.
¿Son esos sus mismos camiones que se aproximan? Y este simple pedazo de tela
alguna vez insignificante y que ahora significa algo más.
Saludo con la mano en la cara de esos cobardes que tomaron los 43
Enojado levanto en mi puño agitándolo, agitándolo.
Ya no voy a utilizarlo para enjugar mis lágrimas
o los de mis hermanos y hermanas.
Es mi bandera para enfrente a enormes obstáculos.
Si me voy del mundo sepan que no estoy derrotado,
que México no esta derrotado,
y que nos traerá los 43 a casa.

Victor Avila is an award-winning poet. Recent work has been included in the anthology Overthrowing Capitalism and Revolutionary Poets Brigade-Los Angeles. Victor is also the writer and illustrator of the series Hollywood Ghost Comix.  Volume Two will be available on Ghoula Press in February of 2015.  He has taught in California public schools for twenty five years.  This is his eighteenth appearance in La Bloga and would like to thank the moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070 for that honor.

"Semillas de Ayotzinapa"
by Xico González

"Nos querían enterrar
pero no sabían que éramos semillas."

Sol, tierra, agua,
cuerpo- semilla rebelde
que enterraron
para luego brotar como rabia y rebeldía

Casas campesinas están tristes
Lágrimas corren por las milpas
porque los elotes salados
de tristeza y dolor
fueron cortados verdes
con machetes amellados
en manos bruscas y ladronas
que no perdonará Dios

Ese maíz nunca llegará a ser nixtamal,
masa o tortillas
Ni nutrirá las mentes y las almas
de jóvenes guerrerenses

Mujeres del color de la tierra
no tocarán a ese maíz
con sus delicadas manos
ni lo purificarán en el metate

Las milpas extrañarán a esas mazorcas
por el resto de sus días
Oh, frutos de vida
decansen en la madre tierra
hasta volver a brotar
y calmar el hambre de justicia de nuestro pueblo.

Educator, artist, poet, and a political/cultural activista based in Sacramento, California.

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9. Three questions for Robert Paul Moreira about the newly revived literary journal, riverSedge

Robert Paul Moreira

Robert Paul Moreira is the editor of Arriba Baseball!: A Collection of Latino/a Baseball Fiction (VAO Publishing, 2013). His short story collection, Scores, is forthcoming from Broken River Books. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination (2012), the Wendy Barker Creative Writing Award (2011), and two graduate fiction awards from the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers (2009, 2010). He teaches writing, literature and courses in Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas Pan American. Robert agreed to chat with La Blogaabout his role as the Managing Editor for the newly revived literary journal, riverSedge: A Journal of Art and Literature.

DANIEL OLIVAS: I was so happy to see that riverSedge was revived because my very first short story appeared in the 1998 issue of the journal. What or who motivated its revival?

ROBERT PAUL MOREIRA: Jan Seale, the 2012 Texas Poet Laureate, first asked me about riverSedge during the annual TACWT Conference at UT-Pan American in 2012. As one of the founders of the journal in 1977, Jan had not seen a copy of riverSedge in quite some time and was curious as to the journal's progress. Though I had heard of riverSedge, I had no answer for Jan at the time, but I promised to look into the matter. After several discussions with the current director of UTPA's Creative Writing Program, Dr. Philip Zwerling, we began making inquiries across campus, and ultimately found riverSedge under the auspices of UTPA's Graduate Office and Editor Tony Reyna. Phil and I detailed the advantages of relocating riverSedgeunder the English Department and Creative Writing MFA, and Tony graciously agreed to the change. Phil and I are excited to be at the helm of riverSedgeand eager to continue the journal's tradition of publishing only the very best prose, poetry and art.

DO: What has been the most difficult part of publishing a literary journal?

RPM: Publishing a literary journal is never an easy venture, but having a strong foundation to build upon has been extremely helpful. The riverSedge editorial board includes members from three different higher-ed institutions—UT-Pan American, UT-Brownsville, and South Texas College—and they have all done an outstanding job collaborating on our latest issue. Honestly, the most difficult part of this endeavor has been living up to the journal's 37-year old track record as a one of the primary literary voices from South Texas. Alurista, Larry McMurtry, Rolando Hinojosa, W.D. Snodgrass, Angela de Hoyos—these are just some of the wonderful writers that riverSedge has published since its inception in 1977. This is a tremendous credit to the hard work of all the past editors of the journal. We are committed to following in those same footsteps.

DO: What can readers expect from volume 27, issue 1 of riverSedge?

RPM: The latest issue begins with amazing cover art by riverSedge Art Editor, Rey Santiago. Inside, readers will be treated to poetry, prose, and color art from a wide range of wonderful authors and artists, including Diana López, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jillian Fleck, Rodney Gomez, and others. Our latest issue also includes a short play by Pulitzer Prize winner Lee Blessing. We are extremely proud of riverSedge 27:1 and hope readers of La Bloga will support us by purchasing a copy of our latest issue. Authors and artists: make sure to submit for our 2015 issue!


My interview with Juan Felipe Herrera regarding his new book for young people, Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes, appearedlast week in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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10. What We Read, What We Eat: The Library, Our Food, and Books

Dear Gente,

First--The library in Ferguson, Missouri has become a place of refuge (click here for their website). The librarians there have kept the library open despite the Ferguson school district closing its schools during the protests.  The librarians have welcomed people to get water, check their e-mails, study, read, come together for education sessions—it’s become famous on twitter and Facebook.  As a result, the Ferguson library has now been receiving donations of books and money from all over the country.  I wanted to give a shout out to the Ferguson, Missouri librarians for keeping their doors open to the people!  Here are two articles about the library:  click here and click here!  And if you want to donate to the Ferguson Public Library, their address is:  35 N Florissant Rd., Ferguson, MO  63135

Second-- My posts sometimes cover issues regarding food and Diabetes, which greatly affect our community.  I’ve shared recipes, food ideas, interviews, the latest science regarding Diabetes. Today, I’m showcasing two books that focus on workers in the meat and vegetable industries—specifically our gente who work to bring us what we purchase at the grocery stores. 
Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta
Civil rights activists, labor leaders, and co-founders of The United Farm Workers Association, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, worked tirelessly (and Dolores Huerta is still quite active) in making the workplace safe and humane for the workers.  Yet, a number of books recently published reveal that conditions are alarming for the workers and for the grocery shopping public.  There is still so much work to be done.

The following two books focus on the current state of our immigrant workers and the conditions in which they work.  In The Chain:  Farm, Factory, and the Fate of  Our Food, Ted Genoways interviews hundreds of people working in the meatpacking industry in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and other Midwestern states where the majority of workers are Latina and Latino immigrants.  Then in Florida, Barry Estabrook, reveals the horrific conditions in which workers (mostly Latino immigrants) are mistreated and exploited in his book, TomatoLand: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our MostAlluring Fruit.

How does this affect us?  The conditions in which meat, vegetables, and fruit are manufactured and transported to our grocery shelves affect the workers and our own health and wellbeing, but we don’t know it because we cannot point to a specific pesticide and/or additive the factories or agricultural companies use as a direct result of autoimmune diseases we’ve developed, Diabetes, allergies, skin disorders, etc.  These are two of a growing number of well-researched books critically taking to task our food industry.  I offer you an excerpt from each of these two books: 

"Maria Lopez will never forget that day.
It was 2004, the middle of an ordinary shift on the line at Hormel Foods—a sprawling brick-and-concrete complex, just across the Union Pacific tracks on the southern edge of Fremont, Nebraska.  The worker beside fed pork shoulders one after another into a spinning saw, just as he did every other day of the week, while Lopez gathered and bagged the trimmed fat to go into Spam.  The facility in Fremont was just one of two plants in the world where Hormel made its signature product, so the pace of work had always been steady.  But the speed of the line had jumped recently, from 1,000 hogs per hour to more than 1,100, and Lopez was having trouble keeping up.  As her coworker reached for another shoulder, she rushed to clear the cutting area—and her fingers slipped toward the saw blade. Lopez snatched her hand back, but it was too late.  Her index finger dangled by a flap of skin, the bone cut clean through.  She screamed as blood spurted and covered her workstation. 

Later, a surgeon was able to shorten both ends of the bone and stabilize it with a screw before delicately repairing the tendons and reattaching the nerves and blood vessels.  A month after that, Lopez needed another surgery to insert a second pin to straighten a crook in the bone.  In the end, she lost all feeling in her finger—but missed just two months of work.  It was only after she returned to Hormel that Lopez discovered a stomach-turning truth: that while she sprinted to the nurse’s station and was taken to the Fremont Area Medical Center, while she waited, finger wrapped, in the emergency room for the surgeon to drive in from Omaha, the cut line at Hormel continued to run.  That hour, like virtually every working hour,  without interruption, the plant processed 1,100 hogs—their carcasses butchered into parts and marketed as Cure 81 hams or Black Label bacon, the scraps collected and ground up to make Spam and Little Sizzlers breakfast sausages.  Her coworkers were instructed by floor supervisors to wash the station of her blood, but the line never stopped. 

 Maria remembered all this while she fried papas in the kitchen of her hoe on the outskirts of Fremont, her index finger pointed straight as she gripped the spatula.  She told me that her numb finger made her clumsy at her job at Hormel, and she grew worried that her fumbling might lead to a more serious injury.  In 2006, when the speed increased yet again—this time to more than 1,200 hogs per hour—Maria quit.  Her husband, Fernando, who still worked at the plant, told me that the line was now moving at more than 1,300 head per hour, and the injuries were increasing and becoming worse."

"After months of crisscrossing Florida, speaking with growers, trade association executives, owners of tomato-packing companies, lawyers, federal prosecutors, county sheriffs, university horticulturalists, plant breeders, farmworker advocates, soup kitchen managers, field workers, field crew leaders, fair housing advocates, one U.S. senator, and one Mexican peasant who came here seeking a better life for his family only to be held for two years as a slave, I began to see that the Florida tomato industry constitutes a parallel world unto itself, a place where many of the assumptions I had taken for granted about living in the United States are turned on their heads.

In this world, slavery is tolerated, or at best ignored.  Labor protections for workers predate predate the Great Depression.  Child labor and minimum wage laws are flouted.  Basic antitrust measures do not apply.  The most minimal housing standards are not enforced. Spanish is lingua franca.  It has its own banking system made up of storefront paycheck-cashing outfits that charge outrageous commissions to migrants who never stay in one place long enough to open bank accounts.  Food is supplied by tiendas whose inventory is little different from what you’d find in a dusty village in Chiapas, only much more 

expensive.  An unofficial system of buses and minivans supplies transportation.  Pesticides, so toxic to humans and so bad for the environment that they are banned outright for most crops, are routinely sprayed on virtually every Florida tomato field, and in too many cases, sprayed directly on workers, despite federally mandated periods when fields are supposed to remain empty after chemical application.  All of this is happening in plain view, but out of sight, only a half-hour’s drive from on of the wealthiest areas in the United States with its estate homes, beachfront condominiums, and gated golf communities.  Meanwhile, tomatoes, once one of the most alluring fruits in our culinary repertoire, have become hard green balls that can easily survive a fall onto an interstate highway.  Gassed to an appealing red, they inspire gastronomic fantasies despite all evidence to the contrary.  It’s a world we’ve all made, and one we can fix.  Welcome to Tomatoland." 

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11. Holiday gifts from La Bloga's Latino authors


La Bloga can serve as your last-minute source for anyone left on you Nice List. Whoever your favorite of our dozen Bloguistas are, nearly all of us have books in print that would appeal to almost anyone of any age group. To my knowledge, La Bloga has never asked you our readers for financial support; this website is totally a volunteer effort. However, by selecting books written by our daily contributors, you would indirectly be supporting Latin@ authors in the greatest way. Plus, you get to gift great readings.

These are our websites where you can access books covering genres from poetry to detective novel to sci-fi to children's lit, in English, Spanish and sometimes both. I only listed one book; we have produced too many to list them all. Go to the websites for details about more. I think in most cases we've authored short stories or poems also available in anthologies. Since today's Saturday, I'll of course start with mine.

Rudy Ch. Garcia, The Closet of Discarded Dreams.

Amelia Montes, An Angle of Vision.

Daniel Olivas, Things We Do Not Talk About.
Ernest Hogan, Cortez on Jupiter.
Lydia Gil follows below.

Manuel Ramos, Desperado: A Mile High Noir.

Melinda Palacio, How Fire Is A Story, Waiting.

Michael Sedano, because.

Olga García Echeverría, Falling Angels: Cuentos y Poemas.

René Colato Laínez, Señor Rancho Had a Pancho.

Xanath Caraza, Lo Que Trae La Marea.

Reyna Grande, The Distance Between Us
For her post yesterday about the great campaign she initiated for her Mexican hometown of Iguala, I doubly suggest Reyna.
(Iguala, Guerrero -- site where the missing 43 students from Ayotzinapa were abducted and probably murdered.)

Lydia Gil, Letters from Heaven/Cartas al Cielo

Next Saturday, December 13 at 2 pm atthe National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. A free public event. La Bloga contributor Dr. Lydia Gil will read from her tender story of family and friendship, Letters from Heaven/Cartas al Cielo. The book celebrates Latino traditions, particularly those of the Spanish Caribbean.

Synopsis: Celeste is heartbroken when her grandmother dies, and nothing can make her feel better. But everything changes when a letter mysteriously comes in the mail-from Grandma! "I know you miss me as much as I miss you. Don't be sad. Where there is love, there is no sadness." As letters continue to arrive from the beyond, each with the recipe for a favorite food she used to prepare, Celeste follows her grandmother's advice and consoles herself by learning how to cook the dishes.

With Grandma gone, so is her Social Security check. Celeste's mom needs to get a second job to make ends meet, and Celeste has to quit her favorite activity, dance lessons. At school, Amanda the bully gloats over the fact that Celeste won't participate in the upcoming recital. And her friends think that she's gone crazy; dead people can't send letters!

When a final letter arrives, Celeste realizes that all the recipes combine to make an entire meal: café con leche, guava and cheese croissants, congrí, plantain chips, ropa vieja and flan. Can she really make a Cuban feast to celebrate her cherished grandmother's life?
This entertaining bilingual novel is written in ten brief chapters for children ages 8-12 and includes six traditional Cuban recipes with easy-to-follow instructions. Paying tribute to family, it deals with contemporary issues such as trouble with friends and the death of a grandparent.

Please help welcome one of La Bloga's contributors presenting her latest book, at NHCC, 1701 4th St. SW, Albuquerque, NM, (505) 246-2261. Lydia will also do a Reading and Book Signing on January 10, 2015 at 2:00 pm in Denver at Tattered Cover Bookstore (Colfax).

Es todo, hoy,
RudyG, who has his hands up and can still breathe. [Others no longer can.]

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12. Iguala's Own, Author Reyna Grande, Brings Some Christmas Cheer to a Town Missing 43

Guest Post by Reyna Grande

Iguala, Birthplace of the Mexican Flag

On September 26th, my hometown of Iguala, Guerrero was the site of one of the most horrific crimes in recent Mexican history. Forty-three students from a rural teachers college in Ayotzinapa were abducted by Iguala police and handed over to the local drug gang, Guerreros Unidos. No one has seen the students since, and they are feared killed in a mass incineration. It was later discovered that the Iguala mayor and his wife were involved, and it is believed that the police was acting on the mayor’s orders. The failures of the Mexican government, and the incompetent way it has handled the situation has led the Mexico people to say they’ve had enough; they are tired of corruption, impunity, and the continued violation of human rights. National protests have been held for the past two months across the country as the Mexican people fight for reform, justice, and change.

Before the tragic events that took place in Iguala on September 26th, hardly anyone in the U.S. had even heard of my hometown. Iguala is a mid-size city surrounded by mountains located between Mexico City and Acapulco. Seventy percent of the people in Guerrero live in poverty. I experienced that poverty first-hand when I lived there. That poverty, and the lack of opportunities, was what drove my father, and later my mother, to leave Iguala and head to the U.S. Then one day I also left Iguala, and at nine years old I found myself running across the U.S.-Mexico border in search of a better life.  I made it across the border on my third attempt, and I vowed that I would never forget where I had come from.
A little girl who will benefit from Reyna's efforts.

This summer, I returned to Iguala to visit my family. I hadn’t been there in four years, and I was shocked to see that my old neighborhood had gone from bad to worse. More and more people are living in extreme poverty. Shacks have sprouted where there weren’t shacks before. As I watched the children playing in the dirt, I decided I was going to do something special for them. I decided that I would come back in December and make their Christmas unforgettable.

On September 6th, I launched a fundraiser campaign for a Christmas Toy Giveaway. In sixty days I raised over $5,000 dollars with the support of friends and strangers who believed in my project. On December 17th, I will go to Iguala with my son and host a Posada in my old neighborhood, where, in addition to a goody bag, all children will receive toys and every family will receive a special Christmas dinner.
The Grande Familia in Iguala, December 12, 1979.

I know this isn’t enough, and in the future I would like to do much more for the people in Iguala. But for now, I think that what I am doing is more important than ever. After what happened in Iguala in September—the disappearance of the students, the numerous mass graves found in the area, the fear and horror that the community has endured—I think that my Christmas Toy Giveaway will provide a little joy to what otherwise has been a bleak and sad time in the city, and in the country as a whole.   
I urge you to stand in solidarity with the Mexican people as they fight for a better Mexico. Together, we can all make a difference. 

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times interviewed Reyna Grande for a story on how the missing 43 has affected L.A. immigrants. Read the article here.

Reyna Grande's Upcoming Toy Giveaway in Iguala, Guerrero

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13. The Story of a Book Trailer

How long can it take to film one and a half minutes?  Not too much longer than one and a half minutes, right?

I was convinced that to make a short, yet evocative, trailer for my book I'd just need an iPhone, a willing kid, and about five minutes to spare. I'd shoot a short sequence, polish it a bit on iMovie, upload it to YouTube, and presto! Instant Book Trailer. 

My book trailer project was doomed from the start. I couldn't zoom in with my old phone, the neighbor was mowing the lawn, and my daughter had no interest in being part of a "phone film" no matter how elegantly I tried to put it...  Still, I gave it a ghost run and ended up with some random footage of a mailbox waiting to be opened and the mighty sound of a distant lawnmower.  My book trailer was indeed short, but evocative only of a yawn.

Since I had no money to hire someone to help me fix this bore, I had no other choice but to beg. I asked a friend who had worked as a producer of documentary films for some quick advice. She diagnosed my problem right away.

"You need a story," she said.  "And you need a script."

What? A script for one and a half minutes?  Who has time for that?!? 

She explained that it would require careful planning to accomplish so much in so little time: to present the main issue (¡La Cuestión!) visually, introduce the main character, and give the viewer a taste of the story.  Not to mention the actual filming, recording the audio, and editing... To make it look easy would be the hardest thing.

Fortunately, my friend took my little project as an opportunity to dust off her equipment and get behind a camera (not an iPhone!) That was almost two months ago.

To make the story of the trailer short, let's just say that it took two afternoons of filming; about an hour of recording; one smoke alarm going off; who knows how much time clipping, editing, making sure both the English and the Spanish audio tracks fit... and my deep gratitude, for there's no way I could've paid for the time it took to do all this. 

The Actor, the Director, and the Mic

I did pick up a few tips about book trailer making along the way...
  • do not try to summarize your plot--you only have a couple of minutes
  • think more poem than narrative--less is definitely more
  • engage the senses
  • if music doesn't add anything, leave it out
  • silence is meaningful
  • it's just a taste, keep it short
  • and let it go!
Book Trailer for
Letters from Heaven: English
Cartas del cielo: Español

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14. Books by Roberto Gómez Bolaños

Last Friday, November 28, our querido Chespirito said good-bye to planet Earth and flew to Eternity Land. We will always remember his work as El Chavo del Ocho, El Chapulin Colorado, El Chompiras, El Doctor Chapatin, Chaparrón Bonaparte and El Chanfle. 

Now La Bloga is remembering and honoring his literary work. He was also an amazing author!

Reconocido en todo el mundo de habla hispana como actor, guionista, comediante y creador de personajes inolvidables, Roberto Gómez Bolaños ha escrito teatro, television, cine... y también poemas. Con este libro, el autor descubre otra de sus facetas y nos ofrece poesía cálida, amorosa, a veces reflexiva, a veces humorística y siempre cercana, íntima, disfrutable. Escribe "a la antigua", en versos con rima, ritmo y métrica, con profundo respeto al quehacer poético, y en formas que se consideran clásicas: décima, romance y soneto.

Sin querer queriendo is a passionate testimony of the life of a man who, for over 35 years has delighted over 350 million viewers worldwide. Countless anecdotes, some odd and incredible, some tragic and amusing, relate his childhood pranks and juvenile inclinations, his arrival to radio and television with el Chapulin Colorado, el Chavo del Ocho, and many others.

Con tan sólo mencionar al Chavo del Ocho puede ponerse a la gente de buen humor. La gracia de este personaje ha hecho reír al mundo durante 35 años, pero también se hace reflexionar; en la vecindad en que vive también han cabido el sarcasmo, la ingenuidad, la denuncia, la nostalgia, el ingenio, la ironía. Y es por eso que no hay este libro un solo párrafo que no contenga algo interesante; así, por ejemplo: "Los animales que comen carne se llaman carnívoros; los animales que comen frutas se llaman frutívoros; los animales que comen de todo se llaman ricos", "El profesor dijo que los primeros que usaron a los caballos fueron los chinos, pero la chilindrina dice que no, que antes los usaron las yeguas", etcétera. Además, ilustran esta edición dibujos del propio Roberto Gómez Bolaños.

The life of Roberto Gómez Bolaños, better known as the beloved Chespirito, in a beautiful coffee-table style book! When he was a boy he dreamt of becoming a professional soccer player, as a teenager he decided to pursue engineering, but at the end, Roberto Gómez Bolaños became one of the best screenwriters and comedians of our time. Did you know Chespirito practiced boxing to overcome his feelings of inadequacy for being short and scrawny? Or that the character he relates to most is El Chapulín Colorado because he is constantly fighting his fears? This special edition touches upon the most human and lesser known side of the legend that is Roberto Gómez Bolaños, and is illustrated with 120 never-before- seen photographs... some from the family s personal collection! For the millions of fans who grew up laughing and crying with his many characters, this is a must-have edition to have and share!

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15. Oaxaca al Gusto

Review by Ariadna Sánchez

December is here! A special and sweet way to share time with the beloved ones is through cooking. Oaxaca al Gustois by renowned British author Diana Kennedy. Kennedy takes audacious readers to an amazing and delectable journey into one of the most colorful and one-of-a-kind cuisines in the world.

The southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is a complex and diverse region with a huge variety of flavors and gourmet dishes. The secret behind each recipe is reveal by Oaxacan natives. Kennedy travel from north to south and from east to west of Oaxaca to capture in words and by photograph the essence behind the three hundred recipes most of them from home cooks.

Oaxaca al Gusto is organized by regions for an easy search. Along with each recipe, readers can check some cooking techniques, learn from the community, and admire the stunning and appetitive images. In addition, Oaxaca al Gusto contains a special chapter that focuses on the three main components of the Oaxacan cuisine: corn, chocolate and chiles. Follow by a complete glossary, an extended biography of author Diana Kennedy and last by not least a note to the cook.  Oaxaca al Gusto is definitely a mouthwatering experience!

Have a safe and great Thanksgiving celebration and remember that reading is delicious. Visit your local library to merge into the fascinating world of books.

To read more of Diana Kennedy’s experiences please follow the next link:

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16. Interior Gongs Puro Fun. News 'n Notes. On-line Floricanto

This Is For Puro Fun - Throwback Tuesday

Michael Sedano

It’s after midnight when the phone rings. Time for a study break, she commands. I head out for a neighbor’s apartment building, gratified for the distraction from the term paper.

My knuckles tap shave-and-a-haircut on the front door then I listen for someone inside to stomp the floor twice, or call out in two-bits rhythm “come in!” Nothing.

They laugh a lot behind the green door. I hear excited shouts of “Wow!” and "Uu, groovy." People talked like that in 1966. The door's unlocked.

I push open the door to see five people bent at the waist, fingers in their ears, dancing weirdly and laughing wildly. They are swinging wire coat hangars that dangle from their necks, gyrating side to side in a manic dance, striking the wire against furniture and shouting in pleasure.

Interior Gongs

That was my introduction to Interior Gongs.

Undergraduate study breaks went like that sometimes. Wild and out of left field. There was the night we levitated the drama starlet who later ran off with a professor. And the night the swamp creature freaked us out. But those are transitory events, like the night Greco taught Bob Dylan to do the dog. You had to be there.

Nowadays, gente just push buttons on their $500 telephone and replay a movie of everything. Interior Gongs are "old tech" bordering on quintessential rasquasche. In fact, eschewing luxury you'll find few cheaper and easier ways to pass time come that brief December day when weather locks you inside--or during Dead Week and Finals study breaks--than Interior Gongs.

Fashioning Interior Gongs as a group activity gets everyone involved from the git-go, no gloomy gus sitting around watching. Once everyone is swinging their Interior Gongs, even the most curmudgeonly will jump in and do the dance.

1 ea wire coathangar.
1 ea sewing thread.

Untwist the hook end of the wire coat hangar and pull apart the ends to form a wire U.
Hangars with cardboard tubes are ready-to-tie by removing the tube. Plus, they have half-loop ends.
Measure an arm’s length of thread and cut to length.
Tie the string to the open ends of the wire. Bend over the wire to ensure the string doesn’t slip off.

Using Your Interior Gongs
Wear the string over your head and across your ears.
Position string across a thumb or finger tip and gently press and hold the string in the ear hole.
Bend slightly at the waist to allow the Interior Gongs to hang freely.
Move your shoulders slowly side-to-side until the wire strikes a solid object.

To observers, the action is silent. Your ears are filled with mighty reverberating peals.

Interior Gongs makes a great holiday gift! Make six of them and give as a matched set.

Artist Sale at Ma Art Space

Yolanda Gonzalez' studio resides in a quiet industrial park. It's worth the easy drive from anywhere in Southern California. Heck, the quality of art and jewelry at the annual event makes a drive from Arizona or Texas worthwhile.

Gonzalez' paintings command major league prices because they are major league works. She also has smaller pieces and ceramics that have Yolanda Gonzalez style without the MOMA prices.

Luring me to Gonzalez' space is the rare opportunity to see Sergio Flores' silver and gold wearable sculpture. Flores brings three cases filled with pins, aretes, necklaces, bracelets, rings. He work features gems like amethyst, ruby, tourmaline, coral, onyx, fire opals of incredible brilliance. Sergio will design custom pieces. I ask him to convert pierced earrings to clips for my wife's ears.

Gonzalez' niece has a tabletop where she sells watercolors and ceramics. I am going to pick up at least one of her black ceramic skulls for my calaveras collection.

Located at 800 South Palm Ave #1 Alhambra CA 91803, Alhambra, California (626) 975-4799, Ma Art Space is just south of a large Costco so if you've driven from Texas you can gas up at Costco.

San Antonio
Aztlán Libre Celebrates Two New Collections

Los Angeles
La Palabra Lines Up Poet Laureate & Friends

La Bloga friend Karineh Mahdessian writes:

We are completing my first year of becoming the hostess with the mostest. What better way than to celebrate but to welcome black man of happiness, Peter J. Harris, poet laureate of Los Angeles Luis Javier Rodriguez and singer of Las Cafeteras Hector Flores.

Our circle will be round. Our open mic will be open. I will smile, hug and laugh.

Please bring money to purchase the new poetry Bless the Ashes publishes by Tia Chucha Press.

On-line Floricanto: ¡Faltamos 43! 
Alma Luz Villanueva, Paul Aponte, Francisco X. Alarcón, Felix García, Graciela Vega

December opens with five poets joining voices with last month's 13 for Ayotzinapa On-line Floricanto. As with last month, the poems are nominated by Moderators of the Facebook group, Poets Responding to SB1070 Poetry of Resistance.

"Forty-three Lost Sons, Each One" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"No estamos lejos de mi México" por Paul Aponte
"Ayotzinapa Haikus & Tankas" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"El corrido de los 43 estudiantes" por Felix García
"Itzpapalotl: Prayer for the Dead" by Graciela Vega

Forty-three Lost Sons, Each One
by Alma Luz Villanueva

La Llorona y Coatlique,
weeping mother,
skull mother,
dangerous, alive mothers,

magical mothers,
furious mothers,
tender mothers,
raging mothers,

mothers of life
and death
and birth
and rebirth,

give birth to our lost
43 sons, you know
their names,
each one,

sing their
each one,

their names,
each one,
remember their

each one,
our 43 lost
sons who wait
at your womb

gate, give
them light,
give them

each one.

**To the 43 so young men teachers
in training, massacred in their
Mexico lindo y querido--we will
remember each one.

Alma Luz Villanueva was raised in the Mission District, San Francisco, by her Yaqui grandmother, Jesus Villanueva- she was a curandera/healer from Sonora, Mexico. Without Jesus no poetry, no stories, no memory...
Author of eight books of poetry, most recently, 'Soft Chaos' (2009)- and a new collection, 'Gracias,' to be published in 2015. A few poetry anthologies: 'The Best American Poetry, 1996,' 'Unsettling America,' 'A Century of Women's Poetry,' 'Prayers For A Thousand Years, Inspiration from Leaders & Visionaries Around The World.' Four novels: 'The Ultraviolet Sky,' 'Naked Ladies,' 'Luna's California Poppies,' and the most recent, 'Song of the Golden Scorpion.' The short story collection, 'Weeping Woman, La Llorona and Other Stories.' Some fiction anthologies: '500 Great Books by Women, From The Thirteenth Century,' 'Caliente, The Best Erotic Writing From Latin America,' 'Coming of Age in The 21st Century,' 'Sudden Fiction Latino, and 'Prayers for a Thousand Years.' The poetry and fiction has been published in textbooks from grammar to university, and is used in the US and abroad as textbooks. Has taught in the MFA in creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles, for the past sixteen years.
     Alma Luz Villanueva now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the past nine years, traveling the ancient trade routes to return to teach, and visit family and friends, QUE VIVA!! And taking trips throughout Mexico, working on stories and memoir, always the poetry, memory.

"No estamos lejos de mi México"
por Paul Aponte

Hoy quitan las vendas de sus ojos,
desvisten los susurros, sueltan su gran voz,
y su son quiebra el cristal transparente de sus gobernantes.

¡Poder a mi México!

La música de mí México es bellísima:
Amistades por doquier, fiestas por cualesquier,
vecindades entretejidas en sarapes coloridos.
Valentía de sobras, y familias de obras.
Trabajadores de gran ética,
y pueblos de gran estética.
Posibilidades económicas para cantar,
y todos listos para subir a su albar.

La música de mi México es bellísima
y el tiempo de acción es hoy!

Traigan su música a los pasillos gubernamentales,
y con su música limpien esas sillas, paredes, escalones y pisos
y sáquenle brillo – un hoy y futuro nuevo.
La revolución de renovación.
El águila devorándose a la serpiente.

Erradiquen las palabras altisonantes,
las frases elocuentes que dicen nada,
y las explicaciones exculpatorias
para que la frase de arriba desaparezca.

Si nomás “tomás” -
te vas al “arrás”!

El nuevo lema.

Los que sí quieren justicia,
los que sí quieren la paz para todo mexicano,
los que sí practican lo de Don Benito Juárez,
los que sí escuchan a los Emilianos Zapatas,
los que sí toman acciones para un mejor México,
los que sí están listos para librar la música de México,
son los que deben
dar liderazgo a México.

México grita por justicia.
México somos todos.
México somos 43.
México mide 43x43.
México llueve 43,
un número primo,

Paul Aponte is a Chicano poet from Sacramento, California USA. Paul, was a member of the performance poetry group "Poetas Of The Obsidian Tongue" in the 90's, and now is a member of "Escritores del Nuevo Sol". He is the author of the book of poetry "Expression Obsession" published in 1999, and has been published in "La Bloga" and in the book "Un Canto De Amor A Gabriel Garcia Márquez"

facebook website:

"Ayotzinapa Haikus & Tankas"
by Francisco X. Alarcón

o burning fire
o flower of words –

“Ayotlinapa” —
great Pregnant Turtle
weeps for her sons

* * * * * * * * * *

oh fuego vivo
oh flor de palabras —

“Ayotlinapa” —
gran Tortuga Preñada
llora por sus hijos

"El corrido de los 43 estudiantes"
por Felix García

Cuarenta y tres estudiantes,
De noche se los llevaron
Policias municipales
Al narco los entregaron
En presencia de soldados
Se hicieron que no miraron.

Amí no me queda duda
Es terrorismo de estado
Tres niveles de gobierno
Estaban involucrados
Con sus narcos militares
Y el crimen organizado.

Masacre de Ayotzinapa
No eres un caso aislado
En Acapulco copreros
Cayeron asesinados
Por pistolero a sueldo
Pagados por el estado.

Narco estado mexicano
Represivo y criminal
De Ayotzinapa, Aguas Blancas
Sin olvidarnos de Acteal
Son genocidios de estado
De lesa humanidad.

Nos han cerrado la lucha
Pacífico, electoral
Sólo nos queda un camino
Que es la guerra popular
La autodefensa del pueblo
De la bota militar.

De insensato, irrresponsable
Vas a llamar mi corrido
Si no tomamos a las armas
Nos van a quemar los niños
En Hermosillo, Sonora
La justicia nunca vino.

Guerra sucia no ha parado
En este estado costero
Desde los años 70s
No encuentran los guerrilleros
1200 camaradas
Del estado de Guerrero.

La normal de Ayotzinapa
Tiene principios muy finos
Lucio y Genaro salieron
A defender campesinos
Genaro Vázquez y Carmelo
Te vigilan el camino.

43 estudiantes
Son hijos del mundo entero
Con un diluvio de amor
Te esperamos con anhelo
Con cantos de libertad
Desde tu pueblo sincero.

Vuela, vuela palomita
Palomita de la paz
Si vivos se los llevaron
Vivos deben regresar
Tlateloco los espera
Pa’ que vengan marchar.

"Itzpapalotl: Prayer for the Dead"
by Graciela Vega

A poem for our 43 young sons
whose dreams were cut before the harvest

Tzinaka call into the night
prayers for the dead
Tzinaka call into the night
prayers for the dead
Search for our babies
until we have them again

Tzinaka flex your muscles
sparrow wing soar
Tzinaka flex your muscles
sparrow wing soar
Safe in our homes
to laugh and play

Tzinaka find our disappeared
with your night voice
Tzinaka find our disappeared
with your night voice
locate their injured bodies
to give us peace.

© Graciela Vega

Graciela Vega Cendejas born in Michoacán, Mexico and raised in the Central Coast. She earned a BA both in Film and Video Production and Gender and Feminist Studies. An artist, organizer, educator and cultural promoter Graciela Vega is raising her two children, promoting the arts with Hijos Del Sol Arts, arts non-profit and teaching in a dual-immersion program at Alianza Charter School in Watsonville, CA.
Following the example of the National Writing Project philosophy, Graciela Vega models writing in her classroom alongside her middle school students.

On-line Floricanto Bonus

On Friday last week, Manuel Ramos marked the completion of our tenth year. Xánath Caraza, who shares los Monday with Daniel Olivas, contributed a poem that has since become a You Tube hit. Click the link here to read along with the poet as she reads Aterrizando en St. Louis, Missouri 
por Xánath Caraza.

Today is the first Tuesday of La Bloga's Eleventh Year. A day like any other day, except you are here. Thank you for reading La Bloga.

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17. Blind Spot de Gerardo Cárdenas y más

Por Xánath Caraza

¡Felicidades a Gerardo Cárdenas!

Gerardo Cárdenas
Este año la compañía teatral independiente Aguijón Theater Company, el Instituto Cervantes de Chicago, y la revista cultural Contratiempo, convocaron al primer Concurso de Dramaturgia Hispana de Chicago 2014.

La obra ganadora del certamen fue el libreto Blind Spot del mexicoamericano Gerardo Cárdenas. También recibió mención honorífica Sabrosa sopa de mancos, del dominicano Richarson Díaz.
Se presentaron 26 obras de hispanos de diferentes nacionalidades, residentes en los siguientes países: Alemania (1), Argentina (1), Colombia (1), España (11), México (2), República Dominicana (1), USA (6), Venezuela (3).

El jurado estuvo compuesto por cinco miembros: Dino Armas (dramaturgo y maestro uruguayo, residente en Montevideo, Uruguay), Giannina Braschi (escritora puertorriqueña, residente en Nueva York, USA), Pedro Monge Rafuls (dramaturgo y director teatral cubano, residente en Nueva York, USA), Iraida Tapias (dramaturga y directora venezolana, residente en Caracas, Venezuela), y Rosario Vargas (directora y actriz colombiana, residente en Chicago, USA).

Las identidades de los dramaturgos participantes fueron reveladas a los miembros del jurado solo después de la votación final.

Además de un premio en metálico, Blind Spot será objeto de una lectura dramatizada el 27 de marzo de 2015, en el Instituto Cervantes de Chicago. La obra también será publicada en 2015 dentro de la colección (dis) locados de Literal Publishers.

Sobre la obra:

“Blind Spot surge de mi lectura de Las sombras errantes, del francés Pascal Quignard. El libro me generó una serie de reflexiones sobre la luz y la sombra, lo visto y lo oculto, lo dicho y lo que se queda sin decir.

La anécdota central de la obra es la de un inmigrante indocumentado en Chicago quien se enlista con los Marines para conseguir la nacionalidad. El joven es enviado a Irak, donde es capturado por fuerzas rebeldes, torturado y finalmente liberado, para luego ser acusado de traición por el gobierno de Estados Unidos. Nunca sabemos si traicionó o no como resultado de la tortura, el punto es explorar precisamente, a través del drama de la población indocumentada, las dimensiones de luz y sombra en la experiencia humana.

La obra no está escrita de forma lineal: cuenta con un prólogo y tres actos, y cada escena corresponde a una época distinta de forma salteada. Este arreglo también es intencional, para subrayar la imposibilidad de entender el tiempo de forma lineal.” (Gerardo Cárdernas)

Gerardo Cárdenas
Gerardo Cárdenas es escritor y periodista cultural mexicoamericano. Ha vivido en Madrid, Bruselas, Miami, Washington, D.C., y Chicago desde que salió de México en 1989. Es actualmente director editorial de la revista cultural Contratiempo. Sus artículos, cuentos y poemas han sido publicados en medios impresos y electrónicos de México, Estados Unidos, España, Venezuela, y República Dominicana. Como narrador, ganó el premio John Barry de Ficción en Español desde Chicago en 2004 y 2007, y el segundo lugar del concurso  de literatura erótica Los Cuerpos del Deseo de NeoClubPress, Miami, 2012. En 2011 publicó la colección de relatos A veces llovía en Chicago (Libros Magenta/Ediciones Vocesueltas), que se hizo acreedor al Premio Interamericano Carlos Montemayor de Literatura a Mejor Libro de Relatos en 2013. Su libreto dramático Blind Spot ganó el Concurso de Dramaturgia Hispana de Chicago 2014 y se publicará en 2015 en la colección (dis)locados de Literal Publishing. Relatos suyos han sido antologados en Trasfondos: Antología de narrativa en español del medio oeste norteamericano (ars comunis editorial, 2014); El libro de los monstruos  (Escuela de Fantasía, Bubok, Madrid, 2012), Los cuerpos del deseo: cuentos eróticos(NeoClubPress, Miami, 2012) y Bajo los adoquines está la calle (Taller de Escritura Creativa Enrique Páez, Madrid, 1998). Además de sus actividades literarias y editoriales, publica el blog En la Ciudad de los Vientos.


Next, here are a few images from Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon & Open Mic from November 23 in Brooklyn, New York.

New York City in the fall

Gracias Poets & Writers, Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon, Juliet P. Howard, Martine Bisagni, Brooklyn Workshop Gallery, Golda Solomon and all the participants in the poetry workshop and open mic.  Enjoy!

Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon & Open Mic

El taller

La comida
La comida

Martine Bisagni and her Brooklyn Workshop Gallery

Durante el taller

Poets Juliet P. Howard and Xanath Caraza

Ginkgo Leaves

Then Seattle is forthcoming with Los Norteños Writers, Seattle University, Hugo House and El Centro de la Raza. 


Los Norteños Writers

It is thrilling for me to have my upcoming Seattle, WA visit later this month.  Thank you for organizing this visit Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs and Catalina Cantú.  Also as part of my Seattle visit, I am excited to share the stage with Raúl Sánchez, Marina Isabel Sánchez, José Carrillo and Catalina Cantú. 


Wickoff Auditorium in Seattle University on December 11 from 4 – 6 p.m. will be the stage for Raúl Sánchez, Marina Isabel Sánchez and me.  This presentation is sponsored by the Department of Gender and Women Studies, the Department of Modern Languages and Culture, Seattle University and Los Norteños Writers.


On the morning of December 12, I will be giving two poetry workshops at El Centro de la Raza for young audiences.  Later the same day, Catalina Cantú, José Carrillo and I will be sharing the stage at Hugo House at 6:30 p.m. Finally on Saturday, December 13, I’ll be giving a Writers Workshop, Prose Carved on The Skin: Writing with the Senses, at El Centro de la Raza.  I hope you can join me.  This should be a fine visit in beautiful Seattle, spending quality time with Los Norteños Writers y más.  

Catalina Cantú
José Carrillo

Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs

Marina Isabel Sánchez
Raúl Sánchez


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18. Literary Triggers

Olga García Echeverría


This past October, Wendy Oleson, Pat Alderete, Cheryl Klein, Bronwyn Mauldin, and I gathered in the lobby of the North Hollywood Laemmle's. It was a Wednesday night, and we had come to participate in the NoHo Lit Crawl. From the onset, the allocated space for our reading seemed awkward. A narrow strip of carpeted hallway had been reserved and bordered off by retractable belt barriers. Yet despite feeling a bit corralled, we (both the readers and our audience) managed to successfully squeeze in and do what we had come to do—participate in a literary event, The LA Word: Exploded Guns.
No real guns exploded that night in the lobby of the movie theater, but around the world bullets were blasting, thundering, ricocheting through time and space.
Guns are not the source of all evil, we know. There are other evils. Greed. Racism. Misogyny. Classism. Homophobia. The quest for domination and power. But the gun (fueled by these other evils) has been and continues to be a tool used for some of the most heinous crimes committed against humanity. The legacy of gun violence in the Americas can be traced directly back to colonization. When the Europeans first conquered and “settled” the Americas, they brought with them the mighty gunpowder. The West was “won” with the help of guns. What would Manifest Destiny be without guns? Entire peoples and nations have been subjugated and enslaved at gun point.
Despite the common misconception that the passage of time = progress, gun-culture today is alive and thriving, interweaved into every aspect of American society, transcending race and class (one has only to examine the numerous suburban school shootings perpetrated by White males to realize this). We are a culture that glories guns on TV, in movies, in music, in video games, in toy manufacturing, in our weapon industries, and, of course in our legislation. The sale of high-powered weapons to other countries, even when illegal, goes mostly unnoticed and unchallenged. And despite the growing number of people who support gun control, the powers-that-be in this country, seem to remind us all: Don't mess with “our” Right to Bear Arms or we'll shoot you!
In the midst of all the gunpowder, The LA Word: Exploded Guns was merely a moment to pause and reflect. These short excerpts from our reading in October are literary snapshots of the casualties of the American gun culture. We share them with you today.

The first selection is from a ghazal poem written by Bronwyn Mauldin. Every title included in her poem is a gun model taken from an actual gun catalog. The names of these guns speak volumes: 
Rodeo cowboy action, colt mustang, wild bunch,
Saddle shorty, Indian bureau rifle.

Lady derringer, ladysmith, Baronesse Stutzen,
Brittany side-by-side, lightweight stalking rifle.

Multipurpose weapon, executive carry,
Professional success, business rifle.

Predator, super X pump marine defender,
Versa max zombie, counter-terrorist rifle.

Dissipator, downsizer, decocker,
Persuader, enforcer, traveler takedown rifle.
The following selection is from a prose piece written by Pat Alderete.
          Ronnie lay on the ground, blood pouring from the gunshot wound in his 15 year old forehead. The blood was pooling around his head with big red clots mixed in. He moved slightly, as though his body was very heavy, and started vomiting. His eyes opened weakly but he didn’t say anything.
The paramedics got there at the same time that Ronnie’s mother, Rita, arrived. She inched her way carefully through the crowd, growing more nervous as people dropped their eyes as she came into sight. Spotting her son laying on the dirty pavement, she threw back her head and wailed, kneeling by his feet. The paramedics grabbed their cases and started wrapping gauze around Ronnie’s head but I could see the utter hopelessness on their faces. You didn’t have to be a doctor to know Ronnie was bad off.
          Princess, who was 8 years old and had a crush on Ronnie, was sobbing uncontrollably, snot running into her mouth, her tears washing clean spots on her face.
“Some car drove by,” Princess cried, “and when I heard the bang I looked up and saw the blood spurting outta his head!”
          The paramedics lifted Ronnie onto a gurney and put him in the ambulance, Rita climbing in with him. Princess pounded on the door but they pulled away. We stared as the ambulance turned up the street, its tires and siren screeching. Dumbly I turned towards the sound of water and realized that the man in whose yard this had happened had a water hose and was washing the blood and vomit off his lawn. I watched it drain into the sewer like so much trash and I felt my stomach get tight and my head get light. I wanted to cry but I bit my lip and forced myself not to, even though it would of been okay since I was only a girl.
The next piece is an excerpt from, “Hey, Little Man,” written by Cheryl Klein.
          There are five of them in the car, four heavy black weapons, a few dozen tattoos. Jordan feels like a weapon. There is a spring coiled in his chest. There are devil horns tattooed on his shaved head, and a word like a brand across the back of his skull.
          “Move, you crowding me,” grouches Tiny Ninja, who has the middle seat. He is the newest and youngest. Last summer, Jordan had the middle seat. He’d felt like a kid stuffed into a parent’s car on the way to the movies, and he’d secretly been fine with that. Now he is bigger. When he doesn’t feel like dealing with the streets, he stays in his room eating chicharrones. He has a belly pressing against the waistband of his boxers.
          “You move,” Jordan says. “Stop trying to touch me where my bathing suit covers.”
The other guys in the car laugh. “Fuck you,” Tiny Ninja says.
          They turn onto the street where their enemies hang off porches and take girls down alleys. It looks like their own street. Government brick and metal window frames from the 1950s, sidewalks veined with weeds, tsking grandmas pinching clothes onto clotheslines, smug in their own quiet violence. It looks the same, but it feels different. A parallel universe where everything is just a little lopsided, or brighter, where alleys hang left instead of right.
          Who will make himself a target first? Who will step away from his kid or his mama or his six homies? Jordan holds his gun just below the rolled-down window. On the street, people look without looking. Everyone knows why they’re here.
          A guy Jordan knows as Painter offers himself to them. He’s on Jordan’s side of the car, between the pistol’s bloodhound nose and an open garage.
          Painter is his. He is glad. And also, he is sinking. It’s not as if anyone really gets away with it. You go to jail or your enemies find you. He doesn’t mean to pause before squeezing his index finger, but his homies are yelling and grumbling. They’re following a script, but maybe they’re glad, too. For the pause. Because prison is one thing and murder is another.
          The bullet skims that line. Past one parked car, through the windshield of another, so close behind Painter’s head that it would make ripples in his hair if he had any.
          Jordan is as surprised as anyone. In the gap of time between the rise of his arm and the embedding of the bullet in old Señora Castillo’s flower box, his devil horns sprout. They push against his skull and then his skin, emerging sharp and bloody. There is no turning back. There is a box he will have to check on job applications for the rest of his life, and no nice girl will ever love him again, but technically, no one dies.
This is an excerpt from my prose-poem, “Flores for Brisenia”
The morning radio speaks of wars, “over there,” far away. And here? The roosters started crowing at the break of dawn. I’m in the kitchen imagining the falling of a bomb. Ceiling blasted into smithereens. Sparrows murdered in their trees. It’s the radio making me imagine the silencing of songs, the crumpling of walls. There are the walls of people’s homes being knocked down. And the walls of nation-empires being built. Everywhere. Apartheid walls. Border walls. Prison walls. Memorial walls. Which remind me of how we like to make monuments of things we kill. Soldiers. Children running down the streets with angry stones, fighting tanks. Who’s there behind the gunner, behind the missile, behind the barrel, behind the bullet?

This morning I can’t stop thinking of Brisenia Flores, that little girl murdered in Arizona. Minutemen vigilantes broke into her family’s home. A woman and two men plagued by hate, stealing, shooting, killing because they could. In America people love their guns. The weight, the steel, the metal extracted from the earth. The lever of power. The trigger. The trigger happy. He shot her in the face. The little girl who pleaded, "please don’t…"
And although Subcomandante Marcos was not physically present at our poetry reading in October, he was there in spirit. I leave you with these words that I am sure will resonate with all of you out there, who like us, are grappling with the current horrific violence in the world. Violence that, although complex and full of intricate layers, transcends geographical borders and nationalities, asking all of us to take a stand, break silence, and fight for a more just and peaceful world.
I have a dead brother. Is there someone here who doesn’t have a dead brother? I have a dead brother. He was killed by a bullet to his head...Way before dawn the bullet that was shot. Way before dawn the death that kissed the forehead of my brother. My brother used to laugh a lot but now he doesn't laugh any more. I couldn't keep my brother in my pocket, but I kept the bullet that killed him. On another day before dawn I asked the bullet where it came from. It said: From the rifle of a soldier of the government of a powerful person who serves another powerful person who serves another powerful person who serves another in the whole world. The bullet that killed my brother has no nationality. The fight that must be fought to keep our brothers with us, rather than the bullets that have killed them, has no nationality either. For this purpose we Zapatistas have many big pockets in our uniforms. Not for keeping bullets. For keeping brothers.




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19. The Body With Diabetes: Interview with Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and for today’s La Bloga posting, I’m so happy to introduce you to Diabetes Activist, Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez.  Christina is a Chicago native, and is active with the Diabetes Online Community, has her own blog at kikisbetes.com, and is on twitter:  @kikisbetes.  Look her up!

Before we get started, I’m adding a few introductory facts regarding diabetes.
First, definitions:  there are four types of diabetes.  Click on each one for more information:  (1) Type I, (2) Type II, (3) gestationaldiabetes, (4) pre-diabetes.  
Second, technology:  The glucose meter is essential for individuals with any of these four types of diabetes, because it measures blood glucose levels.  With the meter, individuals know exactly what is happening in their body. Guessing glucose levels simply by how one feels can be dangerous, because assuming your glucose number is in no way accurate.  
Testing reveals how much glucose is present in your blood at that moment. The components of the meter are: (1) the meter, (2) glucose strips, (3) lancet.  To test, you take a glucose strip and insert it into the meter.  Then, you pierce one finger with a lancet, placing the drop of blood on the glucose strip. In a few seconds, the glucose number will appear on the meter. There are also continuous glucose monitoring systems and pumps. 
Third, what the meter says:  A normal blood sugar level is considered less that 100 mg/dL when fasting (morning numbers) and less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating your first bite of a meal. Christina was diagnosed with diabetes Type I when she was 7 years old.  During her lifetime, she has been a passionate seeker of knowledge, wanting to understand her body in order to assist what is not working.  I found her on twitter and have been continually inspired by her passion, her commitment to understanding diabetes, and, in turn, assisting others in diabetes education.  She is a truth seeker!  I had the opportunity to speak with Christina recently and want to share with you our conversation: 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  Thank you so much, Christina, for taking the time to talk with me about a chronic disease that greatly affects the Latina/Latino communities.  First, tell me about your tattoo.

Christina's tattoo
Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  It’s a blue circle to represent diabetes.  I took the Chicago flag and instead of two blue lines, I made it into one circle and then added the Chicago stars, the four stars across the middle of that circle.  I feel the empowerment with this tattoo.  People see the tattoo and say, “That’s cool, is that Chicago?”  I say, “Yes, BUT, it’s also representative of diabetes awareness” and then this gives me the opportunity to talk about diabetes with them. 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  And you mentioned that you also wear a pump. 

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  People see the pump and ask me if it’s a pager or ask if I’m a doctor.  And I think of responding with crazy answers, but then I think, where will that get me?  So I explain what it is, and what it means to me. 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  So, in what creative ways do you educate people so they will remember details (because diabetes demands learning so much information)?  For example, how do you educate people about the differences between Type I and Type II Diabetes? 

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  I call Type II a “Disorder,” and Type I a “Disease.”  I call Type II a “Disorder” because your body has a malfunction, whereas with Type I, diabetes is an autoimmune disease.

Amelia M.L. Montes:  You’ve had diabetes (Type I) since childhood. Does the disease limit you in any way? 

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  I don’t want to let chronic illness limit me from doing anything, but there are days when I can’t physically do something due to exhaustion, hyperglycemia, or hypoglycemia, and it can weigh on me as a psychological issue.  There are many studies that connect Type II diabetes to depression, but this doesn’t mean people with Type I don’t have depression. 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  Agreed.  It’s definitely false to think that depression only manifests itself in individuals with Type II.  Also, some people feel that Diabetes Type I and Diabetes Type II are two very different diseases.  In some of your articles, you have said there are similarities.  Where are the connections?

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  The cause—the causes are all different but the reasons they’re all called diabetes are because the symptoms and the ultimate effects are the same.  With Type I, I feel all the symptoms twice as fast as those with Type II.  With Type II, their blood sugars are elevated for so long, that they don’t know how normal feels.  With Type I, my moods and symptoms change multiple times [a day] and are so different every day. 

I remember the first time I was on a twitter chat and we were asked how we feel when we do everything right, and then you check your blood sugar, and it’s still high.  I saw answers like:  “I want to throw it [the glucose meter] out the window,” and “I get angry, and then my blood sugar goes higher.” Just reading that helped me feel I was not alone. 

Checking your blood sugar.  Placing a drop of blood on the glucose strip that has been inserted into the meter.  
Amelia M.L. Montes:  I get that—reading diabetes online community comments and feeling less isolated.  You’ve made sure to reach out, educate yourself, be involved with diabetes communities.  How can readers who have diabetes break through the stigma, the shame connected to this disease, which sometimes makes them hide?  How can we talk to each other? 

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  You have to talk about it, and let them know just what they’re doing to their bodies if they don’t take care of themselves.  I always said that if we taught Latino families together [those with and without diabetes] about the treatment of diabetes, the person that actually developed it would be better off.  It really takes a village to cure individuals.  If you get everyone to understand, make healthier choices, and even change their lifestyle, the entire family (or community) will be better off.

Amelia M.L. Montes: How do we do this with our various communities.  Also--do you belong to other communities and how do you navigate diabetes in all of these communities? 

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  Sometimes I feel I’m in three different communities.  The first community is the general every day.  I go to work, and I mingle with people who are not Latino and don’t have diabetes.  Total market experience.  You don’t care what color anyone is—you are just “being.”  The second community is the Latino community who has less resources.  I am very tied to that culture, from the art I have in my house, to the way that I say my name.  The third community is the Diabetes community.  Not only am I usually the only Latina with diabetes, but I also have Type I which is not as common as Type II among the Latino community.  And then I say, how are we going to get these different communities together?  What are we going to do to upkeep your health?  Diabetes isn’t racist, sexist, gender neutral.  When you have diabetes, you can get comments like, “pero no estas gorda” [“but you’re not fat”].  And there is where diabetes education is most needed. So I try to speak from a general diabetes perspective.  I may not know what medication you’re taking, but I know exactly how you feel.

Amelia M.L. Montes:  Was there a time where you were able to educate “on the street.”

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  I was on the bus, and there was an older woman with a woman who seemed to me to be in her 40s.  I heard them talking, about the older woman’s husband who was going blind and how her eyesight was going as well because of diabetes.  And the younger woman also had diabetes and was talking about her A1C (a test that measures the amount of blood in one’s sugar over the period of three months), and I thought, “Holy cow—there really is someone who understands diabetes.”  The younger woman got off the bus and I was trying to figure out how to start a conversation with the older woman without seeming like I had been eavesdropping on their conversation.  So I ended up taking out my glucose meter on the bus, and she said, “Ahhh—tu tambien!  Pero tan jovencita!” [“Ahhh—you too!  But you’re so young!”] And we started talking.  I asked her about her family, and if they talked to their family about diabetes.  I said, “Talk to your kids about it, they may be able to help you.”  It was the most memorable diabetes experience I’ve had.  I ended up overshooting my bus stop by 20 blocks so I could keep talking to her. 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  That is such an important story that, again, speaks to the need for education.  What kind of diabetes education do you feel should be in place for Latinas/Latinos? 

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  The one thing that we have realized is that fear does not educate anyone.  We’ve seen HIV campaigns in Mexico gone wrong, and now Ebola is another perfect example.  We need to put a positive spin on education.  What I’ve found completely useful is that I learned how the body is supposed to work and then I learned why my body is not working the way it’s supposed to. A health class shouldn’t be about just medication or carbohydrate counting.  It should be about how your body is supposed to function and how to get it back there.  I’ve always been interested in the science portion of diabetes. 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  So what are some ways to talk to the public that may be helpful? 

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  Don’t say:  “If you don’t check your blood sugar, you’re going to lose your leg.”  That doesn’t educate.  In order to manage diabetes, it’s important to not let it take you over.  You have to be the one who is leading diabetes, and that’s where education comes in—not scaring people.  There has to be more positivity and empowerment. 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  Agreed!

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  For example, I was at Northwestern, and a doctor explained that if you check your blood sugar only three or four times a day, that’s like taking a thousand piece puzzle, and only having three pieces of it.  The more you know, the more you own the situation.  It’s in your power to do it. 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  Yes—so important.  And regarding checking one’s blood, I’ve become used to testing more often on days when I’m not feeling well.  So, Christina, where do you feel we are now with diabetes education?

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  I feel like there’s a cure for this issue already.  World wide, diabetes costs over 240 billion dollars a year.  I volunteer with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and sit on the committee for the ADA EXPO that happens every year.  The Chicago ADA chapter is the biggest one in the country.  Everyone who sits on the committee wants to do something to further community education, but it seems that the funding is always for something big:  “The Walk,” or the EXPO that happens once a year draws about 14,000 people.  What I’ve noticed is that the most congested area of the EXPO is the screening section where they will check your feet, your eyes.  It’s a free screening, but without any education. But if you look at it that way, what does it tell you?  You learn that people clearly aren’t getting the attention they need outside of that EXPO.  That means that there needs to be more education, health services, and guidance and that’s just not happening.  There’s nothing in regards to community building.  Community building is about having the time, energy, and efficiency to do it. 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  Are hospital clinics different? 

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  I didn’t have insurance for about a year, and I used this state-funded healthcare situation as a learning experience.  Throughout the experience, I had to ask the right questions and demand proper health care.  I had a nurse once who told me I didn’t have to check myself so often.  Why?  Because the state only gives you enough strips to test once a day.  They will not insure you for more than one strip a day.  How are people supposed to take care of themselves?  So if you can afford it, it comes out of your pocket.  But what happens when you can’t? 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  When you say that you “had to ask the right questions and demand proper health care,” I think about the average patient who will not at all think about asking questions, but instead, simply “following doctors orders” without bringing a healthy dose of skepticism into the doctor’s office.  But that comes with empowerment.  Because you are active with the ADA and are familiar with medical corporations, what do you say to them? 

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  I’ve been approached by pharmaceutical companies.  I tell them: “You have to teach people about themselves, and how they can manage this on their own.”  This is why, if I ever won the lottery, I would give donations to clinics – not to foundations.  You can donate and donate to foundations, but you don’t know where that money is going.  If there were more funding for community clinics where the underserved go for medical attention, they would have more resources for education and servicing the people who really need it. 

A visual explanation of diabetes
Amelia M.L. Montes:  Your openness and forthright discussions are vital for the rest of us, Christina.  For example, here’s an excerpt from the “Discuss Diabetes” posting introducing you:  “Growing up with diabetes has given Christina a unique perspective.  ‘Ever since the beginning, I’ve always had this perception that I didn’t do anything to get Diabetes,’ she said.  ‘I didn’t choose to have this condition, and if people don’t like me because of it, it’s not my problem.  It’s theirs.  People often say, they’re sorry when they hear I have diabetes.  But I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t have it.  I likely wouldn’t be such a good multi-tasker or as ambitious.  I want people to know that I believe I can still do everything I want to do.’”  Comments?

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  I’ve grown extremely honest.  When I go to the endocrinologist, there are times when residents who are working with the doctors come in to see me first.  The last time I went, I gave her [the resident] a run for her money.  She asked how I was doing, and I told her I’m tired.  I’m exhausted from having to be my pancreas.  There’s this thing called a burnout, where having diabetes literally gets you down and you’re doing things just to get by.  So I gave her this scenario.  For me, a burnout happens about every six months.  When I told her how I felt, she didn’t know how to deal with it, which is fine.  She was just learning.  But sometimes doctors are also shocked at how open I can be.  I figure, the more they know, the more they can help me.  Being vocal and open and talking about it as much as possible is going to eventually make diabetes less of a stigma and more something that can be managed:  Talking about it and making it a lifestyle change. 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  Are there other challenges for you that are linked to diabetes? 

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez:  I developed vitiligo, which is skin discoloration.  There are no health repercussions.  It starts off as white patches.  This is another autoimmune disease, and when you have one, you can get more.  There are worse things than having your skin color go away—like diabetes. 

Amelia M.L. Montes:  Christina—thank you so much for your passionate and important words.  La Bloga honors November Diabetes Awareness with your interview today. Gracias! 

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20. An interview with Frederick Luis Aldama regarding his new book, “The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez”


Frederick Luis Aldama is Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor of English as well as University Distinguished Scholar at The Ohio State University. He is prolific: Aldama is the author and editor of more than twenty books. Aldama also founded and directs the award-winning LASER—a Latino focused academic mentor system from 9th through college.

His latest book is The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez recently published by the University of Texas Press. Aldama does more than hit his marks: he has created an exhilarating, accessible and much-needed study of one of the most inventive and multifaceted directors to come along during the last thirty years. It is a “must read” for anyone who wishes to become a filmmaker or who simply loves movies.

DANIEL OLIVAS: Can you remember the first Robert Rodriguez film you saw and your reaction to it?

FREDERICK LUIS ALDAMA:I was one of the many who sold out opening shows of El Mariachi in Berkeley. The UC Theatre double-billed it with his short, Bedhead. As an undergraduate at UC, I was finding my way to Latino popular culture. I was a grader for a Latino Cinema course with Dr. Mario Barrera. Both films blew me away. In only a few minutes Bedhead took me places only film could: a recognizable everyday but where things could happen that defied the logic of this everyday reality.

My eyes peeled wide with El Mariachi. I’d seen—and even studied—films like Born in East LA and The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, but never seen a Latino film made in the spirit of a comic book, and yet that took me into the serious—deadly even—underworld of Mexican narcotraficantes. The intercut of a dream-like sequence with the little boy and the turtle stayed with me long after the film’s end.

DO: Rodriguez’s early filmmaking style was driven, in large part, by a lack of funding but a great deal of imagination. And you observe that his “independent” work ethic does not fit well with big studio production culture. Was Rodriguez destined to be an “indie” filmmaker?

FLA: Rodriguez seemed destined for the straight-to-VHS, B-flick Spanish-language market—all those films we used to pick up during our weekends at La Pulga/”Flea Market.” But it’s that same DIY approach (together with a huge amount of skill) that allows him to energize and make real (reel?) a vision that steps to a different beat.

To put it in your terms, then, I’d say he’s indie but with an imagination that fills to the edges super blockbuster screens. He’s a Latino director who pushes the envelope—constantly—both in terms of story and the way he gives cinematic shape to story. But he’s not the guy we go see at an art-house fest to then have polite tête-à-têtes over the Lacanian significance of a turtle crossing the road. His films entertain—and each superbly so with each of their respective audiences in mind: kids with Spy Kids and geeked-out Fangoria crowds with From Dusk Till Dawn, for instance. They make you think but never demean or belittle us as an audience. Mostly, and this from Spy Kids to Planet Terror to Macheteto El Mariachi—they stay with us long after they’re over.

Frederick Luis Aldama

DO: If you were to choose one Rodriguez film for adults and one for children, which would they be and why?

FLA: Rodriguez hit the sweet spot with the Spy Kidsfilms. With the exception of the third installment (Game Over) that’s creatively straightjacketed by the video-game conceit, everything about the films speaks to children, tweens, and young teens: from the gadgets, to the gags, to the concerns and anxieties—and the daydreams and unrestrained imagination.  In a sea of films ostensibly made for kids (Shrek, for instance) but where the humor bites with an adult-directed sarcasm, irony, and innuendo, there’s no outdoing the Spy Kids flicks as films for kids. 

Rodriguez managed to pull off an extraordinary feat with Machete. It’s over the top, and it’s meant to be in that comic book way where anything goes. This elastic container, if you will, allows Rodriguez to bring to light some serious issues: anti-immigration laws, racial profiling, and anti-Latino racist sentiment generally. Masterfully, he makes a film that simultaneously entertains—and sometimes with bellyaching laughter—and that has us churning in our minds a reality filled increasingly with barbarous acts.

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21. Philly Cop Is Monster. News 'n Notes.

Review: Sabrina Vourvoulias, "Skin In The Game," Tor.com

Michael Sedano

The first video of a black devil fish showed the creature flexing its huge jaws, the mouth gaping with needle-like teeth that cage-in a creature attracted by the phosphorescent lure dangling in the deep sea darkness from the black devil fish’s head.

In an idle flash, I thought the fish could be the model for some outer space monster only a science fiction writer could think up. Sure enough, someone has.

I don’t know if Sabrina Vourvoulias saw that marine footage, but the critter she has roaming the zombie ghetto of Philadelphia could be the devil fish’s terrestrial prima:

The taste of her fear-driven flop sweat, her death, washes over my tongue, takes the edge off the hunger that’s always nested inside me. Taste prompts image. I see the girl, face upturned as she waits for her fix, then something striking fast at her chest. Not a knife, but a mouth with scimitar teeth that pop out like double switchblades.

Monsters like that go around emptying out innards and leaving human carcasses in their wake. Blanca is a cop and her job is to identify and cleanse. Of course, things grow complicated and dangerous.

Vourvoulias’ story, “Skin In The Game” will hit the streets in the December 2 issue of Tor.com. It’s not to be missed. “Skin In the Game” holds the reader’s interest with a fast-moving first-person story and a collective of interesting personages. The author’s use of short thematic paragraphs set the pace. Cultural materials inform the story's logic with linguistic, orthographic, nicknaming, and food datos that add richness but without complexity that could confuse exogenous readers.

The story’s notable for its raza characters and setting. Boricuas, Dominicans for instance. The central character is a Mexicana cop-of-sorts from South Philly. The City of Brotherly Love suffers a terminal case of advanced irony. Social services have all gone to hell. Cop uniforms include heavy-soled boots to guard against discarded hypodermic needles that pave the sidewalks of this barrio.

Vourvoulias writes an arresting story with an eye-opening surprise that adds dimensions to the character’s personality while confirming suspicious the author cleverly plants like a sneeze in a greek tragedy. The author passes along matter-of-fact information about cultura. Tamaleras use platano and maíz hojas. Mejor, the Tamágicos have herbal concoctions that help people make good decisions and love one another. That's soul food of the first order.

Without making a big deal of her characters' latinidad, Sabrina Vourvoulious shows how diversity in specific should work. “Skin In the Game” is one of those subversive stories science-fiction is noted for, helping people see with new eyes, to notice diversity but not make a big deal of the natural order of things, even if things are all dystopic.

Mark Vallen Eulogy for Richard Duardo

QEPD Richard Duardo. Artist and serigraphy master, Duardo played a key role in the technology of art.

Mark Vallen's recent eulogy for his contemporary offers a critical appreciation for Duardo and his influence in United States arte. Click here for Vallen's essay.  Don't miss Vallen's essay on the 43 missing from Azotzinapa.

Mail Bag
Before it Goes to Video

No one who's seen Water & Power has walked away from the motion picture disappointed. Disappointment comes from the paucity of gente who bought tickets during its premiere theatrical run.

In the best of all possible cinema worlds, word of mouth would have ignited a frenzy of ticket-buying that snowballed enthusiasm to a point a major exhibition chain would pick up the title and just like that, chicano film would earn a place as a filmic investment vehicle.

Instead, like the Cesar Chávez biopic earlier in the year, the film faded after a short burst of enthusiasm.

The producers are showcasing the film at select theaters, using an internet-based ticketing service, tugg. It's a method of assuring a seat for the audience while reassuring theater owners of a likelihood of selling tickets, popcorn, and candy. But there's much more.

Producer Richard Montoya reminds, via email that this Los Angeles-area showing "will be one of the final opportunities to see W&P the way it was meant to be seen and heard - big screen and projected from the DCP drives - not high-def or blue ray but deeply saturated picture ingested into the projection system - the purest form and great sound."

Montoya invites you to share news of this special program. Find the details and link to the tug event in Monterey Park at this link.

Gifting Season: Books Always Reliably Welcome

Arte Publico Press makes buying holiday presents thirty-five percent easier with an offer every book-lover may want to consider, especially with Christmas a month away. Visit Arte Publico's website for their catalog. The offer via telephone ordering expires on the 19th.

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22. Ten Wonderful Years As A Published author

From the Macondo Newsletter

Reyna Grande

Macondista Rene Colato Lainez is celebrating his 10th year anniversary as a published author. Congratulations to Rene, and here's to many more years and many more books!

Ten Wonderful Years
By Rene Colato Lainez

At the end of 1999 many people were setting goals to accomplish in the new millennium. I was one of them. At the time, I was already an elementary teacher and had written several books to share with my students. I still remember those "classic books" that my students enjoyed reading such as, "Fabiola, Fabiola", "El número uno", "Un cuento de colores." 

My students enjoyed my books so much that I began to wonder what I had to do in order to publish my work. I wanted to see my name on the cover of a book. I met children's book authors Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy at the teacher's writing workshop "Teachers in the Classroom." They read some of my books and told me that yes, my work was publishable! Then I met the wonderful macondista, Amada Irma Pérez. She shared the submission guidelines of her publisher, Children's Book Press, and told me to give it a try. She told me that some day in the near future we could be signing books together. 

At that time, this was a sueño. After meeting Alma Flor, Isabel, and Amada, I set my own goal, to submit my manuscripts for publication. I started to submit my stories in March 2001. Soon, I received my first rejection letter. It was painful to read it but on the bottom of the letter someone had printed, "Your story has a big heart. We wish you luck." 

I did not give up and 2001 was a year of rejection letters. I joined SCBWI, took some creative writing classes and wrote new stories. In the summer of 2002, I received an email from Arte Público Press, asking me for revise my manuscript with the promise that they might publish it if they liked the revision. I made the changes and by October 2002, I had a contract for Waiting for Papá

I remembered the day, I had a flu and fell sleep holding the contract. When I woke up, I looked at 
my chest wondering if the contract was just a dream. But it was still there. I read it again and shouted "I will have a book! I am an author!". 

The book was published on October 31, 2004. Now 10 years later, I have written 9 children's books, a story in an anthology, 6 books for elementary reading programs and many poems and short stories for a children's magazine, Revista Iguana. I love writing children books and I have more coming out soon. 

I organized a celebration party for my anniversary. It was a costume party and many friends came wearing costumes from characters of my books. Of course, I was René, the boy!

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23. Chicanonautica: What Do You Want to Know?

2014 just wants to keep on running me ragged. Things keep happening (besides the riots and the racial strife). Not only is the new Digital Parchment Services/Strange Particle Press ebook of Cortez on Jupiterorderable, but the press release is available, so you can read about the impending soft-cover edition, find out where to write about getting review copies, and read quotes of wild praise for the book.

If that isn’t enough, Digital Parchment has started a new Ernest Hogan blog so they can promote their editions of my books. They also started an Ernest Hogan Tumblr. I’ll be posting stuff on both of them, so check ‘em out!

Which brings me to the main subject of this post . . . the writer Nalo Hopkinson, who teaches at UC Riverside, sent me a direct message on Twitter (most of my sales and gigs these days come through the social media) asking if I would be willing to lead a workshop “on writing Latino-focused SF/F/H,” because “The community has been asking for it.” Ever the professional, I asked if it was a paying job, and it is, so it looks like in February 2015 I’ll be teaching a  master class (hey! I’m an expert in the field!) as part of their Writer’s Week. I will provide more details as I get them.

2015 and February are coming at us fast. I need to think about it, and take some notes . . . I could fill the time with funny stories about my weird career, but since this is a university thing, I should probably ask the communitythat Nalo was talking about what theywant. I’m assuming that a lot of you aspiring Chicanonauts read La Bloga.

So, what would you like to know about writing Latino-focused speculative fiction/fantasy/horror? Are there specific questions you’d like answered? Just what can I do for you?

I’ll be waiting for your comments . . .

Ernest Hogan has accumulated a lot of ancient Chicano Sci-Fi wisdom over the years. He’s willing to share it. Especially for money. Or food. Or cerveza. Oh yeah, feliz Día de Los Guajolotes.

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24. La Bloga: Ten Years And Still Going Strong

November 28, 2004 -- La Bloga's birthday

That first post appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Ten years later and La Bloga is stronger than ever. Born in conversations between Rudy Ch. Garcia and Manuel Ramos in the Aztec Sol, a Denver bar that no longer exists, La Bloga was meant from the beginning to be a place, a home, where all things Chicana/o Latina/o could be discussed, reviewed, analyzed, praised, recommended, criticized, and simply enjoyed. We had a focus on literature, and that focus continues today, but anyone who reads our daily changing posts knows that we are so much more.  From health advice to cooking tips to interviews to cutting edge art to musical videos to folkloric exhibits to poetry that celebrates and energizes the struggles for justice, peace, saving the earth, and equality, to ... whatever we come up with next. To commemorate our tenth anniversary of providing content we hope our readers find informative, provocative, or at least entertaining, here are a few thoughts from the current family of eleven devoted writers.

The lead post for this edition is a powerful new poem from Xánath Caraza that in less than five hundred passionate words wraps up the hopes, fears, and anxieties of today's world, and the place La Bloga has in helping to make sense of it all. Muchísimas gracias to all the bloggers - for all you do.

¡Feliz Cumpleaños!


Aterrizando en St. Louis, Missouri
Por Xánath Caraza

La misma noche que aterricé en St. Louis
se subastó el traje de león
de la película el Mago de Oz
esa misma noche al tocar tierra
la mujer junto a mí me preguntó
si St. Louis era mi último destino
ella no estaba segura de poder
llegar a su casa porque la calles
estaban tomadas
la noche que aterricé en St. Louis
mi vuelo llegó retrasado
la misma noche que aterricé en St. Louis
el aeropuerto estaba lleno de policías
con perros que olfatearon mi maleta
llena de libros, mis armas secretas,
la misma noche que aterricé
pensaba en el río Hudson
en los colores que absorbí
en ese otoño amarillo de hojas en la acera
de árboles de ginkgo en Brooklyn
pensaba en la noche de tormenta
en el cuarto piso donde el viento
aullaba frente al Hudson
y yo en pijamas escuchaba
hipnotizada sus ritmos
la misma noche que aterricé
en St. Louis me urgía llegar a casa
y escribir un poema
esa misma noche, en el aeropuerto
me pregunté si no estaba en Latinoamérica
donde ver pasar policías armados
en las calles es el pan nuestro de cada día
esa misma noche cerca de las 8 y media
Ferguson se llenó de llamaradas
esa misma noche algo dentro
de mí se rompió de golpe
esa misma noche sentí que eran
43 + 1
esa misma noche sentí
la noche que aterricé
en St. Louis, Missouri
me recordó que la vida
no la tenemo comprada
que es frágil, que no es nuestra
que aquí estamos de paso
me recordó que soy afortunada
de escribir estas palabras
de tener el espacio donde
me recordó que tengo una voz
que quiero usar apropiadamente
que tener un espacio como La Bloga
es un santuario en esta selva
esa misma noche pensé que diez
años eran 3,650 días y que en cada uno
de esos días Manuel, Lydia, Daniel,
Em, Melinda, René, Amelia, Rudy,
Ernesto, Olga y Xánath hacen posible
La Bloga, luego pensé, al atterizar en
St. Louis que esos 43 + 1 no estaban
que no estaban, que nunca leerían
mis palabras, que esa noche
que aterricé en St. Louis
hacía frío y que las imágenes
en el televisor de uno de los bares
frente a la sala E22 era de fuego puro
que era lunes 24 de noviembre
también pensé en una noche en
la playa, en una fogata tan grande
que alcanzara la luna
la noche que aterricé en St. Louis, Missouri
pensé en ti, Michael Brown, pensé en ti
pensé en ti, niño perdido, pensé en ti
pensé en ti,  43 + 1, pensé en ti
pensé en ti, en ti, en ti, pensé
en ti, en ti, en ti, ti, pensé
esa noche, al aterrizar

-- Xánath Caraza (alternate Mondays)

Today I spent the afternoon putting the final touches on my Monday blog post which will consist of a short interview with Frederick Luis Aldama concerning his new book on the director, Robert Rodriguez. It got me to thinking about the remarkable opportunities I've had writing for La Bloga these last ten years. I've been able to give coverage to books, authors, artists and others without any fear of censorship. True, we have, at times upset a few...that is to be expected. But we've become one, big, messy familia talking (shouting) across the virtual dinner table about things we hold dear. I am delighted that our numbers have grown so that many more voices are now showcased on La Bloga. And I'm pleased that we have an audience that is engaged and growing. I started with La Bloga when I was 45 years old...I am now 55 and holding. Here's to another decade, at least! -- Daniel Olivas (alternate Mondays)

Teresa Marquez and the CHICLE listserve brought us together ya hace a decade plus. We were three names on a listerv. Then one day we found ourselves three vatos blogging. And soon we were four, five, six, now we are eleven friends, women and men blogging. La Bloga has seen a few changes, qepd Tatiana de la Tierra. ¡Viva la literatura, viva la cultura! Ten years is not a long time. A decade ago a single person could claim to have read everything ever published as Chicano Literature. Today, that’s impossible, and never again can it be true. A decade from now, hijole! Thank you for reading La Bloga, and to my blogueras blogueros colegas, thank you for writing La Bloga. Happy anniversary.-- Michael Em Sedano (Tuesday)

Ten years ago, my first book was published Waiting for Papá/ Esperando a Papá. I began to receive good feedback from readers. I read a wonderful comment in a new blog called La Bloga. I immediately loved the blog because the bloggers were commenting about latino and chicano literature. My love for La Bloga was so great that I volunteered to be a guest writer. Then I became the Wednesday blogger. It has been 9 great years blogging about children literature in this wonderful blog. La Bloga continue reviewing and commenting about Latino and Chicano Literature in English and Español. Happy 10th years for La Bloga!

Gracias La Bloga por abrirnos una ventana en internet para que descubramos más sobre nuestra literatura. -- René Colato Laínez (Wednesday)

I first joined La Bloga as a guest columnist in 2009, after meeting René Colato Laínez and Michael Sedano at the National Latino Writers Conference in Albuquerque. La Bloga, as they described it, promised to carry on the spirit of camaraderie that we, writers and lovers of literature, had lived so intensely throughout the days of the conference. Over the past few years, I have seen La Bloga blossom into an international community of readers and writers, a real family with its chismes and peleas, and also a profound cariño for one another… a home where many languages are spoken and celebrated, un verdadero refugio. ¡Gracias, mi gente! 
Lydia Gil (alternate Thursdays)

La Bloga has made a big difference for Latino lit. It has also made a big difference in my career. Ten years ago I was wondering if I'd ever be published again, now I'm appearing regularly in anthologies, my books are being reprinted, and I'm going to doing a master class on Latino speculative fiction at a university. Thank you, La Bloga! Keep going! --  Ernest Hogan (alternate Thursdays)

Thank you, Manuel, for asking me to join La Bloga six years ago. It's been a wonderful ride. Before joining La Bloga, I had the pleasure of offering many guests posts. I even won a writing contest on La Bloga. I was a regular follower of La Bloga, the main source of news for Chicano Literature. I especially enjoyed reading Daniel's column. He talked about his writing life with such enthusiasm that when he put out a call for contributors to an anthology titled Latinos in Lotusland, I was determined to be part of it. Thanks to Daniel Olivas and La Bloga, I built a career out of that one accepted short story so many years ago. La Bloga is where we build a community of people who care about our culture, politics, arts, and literature. Thanks fellow Blogueros and Blogueras, who live in different cities and states, I learn new things every day and I gain glimpses at lives that represent the diversity of our culture. It's no wonder scholars and academics also consume our writings. I'm proud to blog for La Bloga.  Ten years! And many more! La Bloga continues to be the source for relevant events in our global familia. Melinda Palacio (alternate Fridays)

It's been pure joy watching La Bloga grow and prosper for ten years. We owe it all to our loyal readers and, of course, to the wonderful bloggers who have graced our pages. The Magnificent Eleven are great -- elegantly represented here in these few paragraphs in today's edition. There also have been several other contributors over the years that have made this space a success and, in my opinion, a genuine source of pride for the Latina/o cultural community.  I won't attempt to list all the various people who have been a part of La Bloga -- I know I will overlook someone -- but I think you all know how much you are appreciated and that you are a vital part of La Bloga history and, we hope, its future. Long Live La Bloga! -- Manuel Ramos (alternate Fridays)

La Bloga's just un puño on the Internet. But it's been our puño. Through ten years, posting daily about la literatura, la cultura de la mexicanidad y latinidad, for over 36,000 days! It's a treasure of history I've been proud to assist with. Today I wonder how we might enrich and enliven it into the next decade, to even better promote la raza cósmica. We could benefit from more puertoriqueño-, domicano- and cubano-American contributors. Some jovenes would be good, like even a teenager or a twenty-something. How about a Chican@ of apache or Hopi descent? Whatever happens, this puño feels like it will sigue por un tiempo más. Gracias a todos que han leído nuestras palabras e ideas pobres. -- Rudy Ch. Garcia (Saturday)

Felicidades to La Bloga’s 10th year. How very fortunate I am to be a member of this writing familia. I’ve been writing for La Bloga since 2011 (a little over 3 years), thanks to tatiana de la tierra who called me one morning asking if I’d share writing duties with her on Sundays. Little did I know that morning when I said, “yes—anything for you, Querida tatiana,” that I would be receiving so much more than what I give every other week. And she remains with us. To the spirit of tatiana and all the La Bloga familia: You inspire me to bring my best to the “La Bloga” posting table. I absolutely love that we represent various geographic areas of the United States—many great perspectives. I love that we celebrate the vast diversity within the term: Latinidad. The poetry, fiction, book reviews, non-fiction musings, musical reviews, cultural topics, cooking expertise, y mas, reveal our vast heritage. Orale. Felicidades, La Bloga! Que Viva La Bloga por muchos años mas!!
Amelia M.L. Montes (alternate Sundays)


Olga García Echeverría (alternate Sundays)

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25. Turkey week leftovers – Ferguson Mon., T-day Thurs., Black Slave Fri. & Sand Creek Sat.

1952 advertisement for Ferguson assures buyers they
are FHA Financed or Approved (for whites only).
The Ferguson community, then the ghetto, then this week

Lurking behind everything you've heard about American injustice, racism, bigotry, brutality and, frankly, sadism, is the history of how the people and community of Ferguson (and many U.S. cities) were ghettoized. And how that inevitably led to Monday's "pardon" of Michael Brown's killer.

If you're a student of U.S. history, especially of black, Chicano, or the oppressed's history, this new report will become required reading, a classic. You can substitute Chicano, Puertoriqueño or Dominicano, for black. Substitute barrio, for ghetto. Then you will have a more complete picture of how to segregate, impoverish and ghettoize a nation's people of color. You can read a lite version here, or the scholarly, but lengthy original here. Below are highlights:

Cleared land on St. Louis’s riverfront, once a
 mostly black community, leveled for redevelopment.
"21stcentury segregation is in transition – to whiter central cities with adjoining black suburbs, while farther out, white suburbs encircle the black ones. Every policy and practice segregating St. Louis over the last century was duplicated in almost every metropolis nationwide.

"A powerful cause of metropolitan segregation in St. Louis and nationwide has been the explicit intents of federal, state, and local governments to create racially segregated metropolises. This story of racial isolation and disadvantage, enforced by federal, state, and local policies is central to an appreciation of what occurred in Ferguson when African American protests turned violent after police shot and killed an unarmed black 18-year-old. Policies that are no longer in effect and seemingly have been reformed still cast a long shadow. In the case of St. Louis, these intents were expressed in mutually reinforcing federal, state, and local policies that included:
St. Louis public housing towers demolished
in 1972. Some black ex-residents settled
in Ferguson and other inner-ring suburbs.
·  Boundary, annexation, spot zoning, and municipal incorporation policies designed to remove African Americans from residence near white neighborhoods, or to prevent them from establishing residence near white neighborhoods;
·  Urban renewal and redevelopment programs to shift ghetto locations, in the guise of cleaning up those slums;
·  Government regulators’ tacit and sometimes open support for real estate and financial sector policies and practices that explicitly promoted residential segregation.

"The federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that “segregated housing in the St. Louis metropolitan area was in large measure the result of deliberate racial discrimination in the housing market by the real estate industry and by agencies of the federal, state, and local governments.” Similar observations accurately describe EVERY other large metropolitan area."

It's our deliberately segregated, barrio-ghetto America. And it's time to change our cities. Gentrification will "develop" more Fergusons.

[All these photos from Economic Policy Institute article.]

Thanksgiving Day –  Why we need a new Turkey Day

My Mexican-Chicano family celebrate T-day, adding our own tradition of frijoles and green chile, and with other non-Pilgrim foods. There are at least three forms of this day.
1. A Pilgrimish T-day, if you're in the East and white or middle class or whatever.
2. A non-Pilgrimish T-day that most Americans celebrate. The food, pumpkins, autumn leaves on the table, maybe a prayer before the table orgy.
3. NDOM T-day, how Native Americans and others mark the day. [see details below]

If you're like me, you might be stuck between 2 and 3. You know the history has been Dizzyland-distorted, but your family elders practice a #2 traditional T-day. To go along with that and ignore #3 seems wrong. What to do?

Frankly, I don't know. If it's held at my house, I'll need to help create some 4th type of T-day that's has something of #3 [plus the green chile] but doesn't demoralize everyone by giving details like those below. I'd welcome other people's ideas of how to "celebrate" T-day next year. In some way that would meet my responsibilities to what's owed the Native American people. Remember--the Spaniards, Catholic church, and Mexican gov't sometimes acted as barbarically as the Pilgrims and the 7th Cavalry. Here's info about #3, NDOM:

It didn't happen like this.
The first official "Day of Thanksgiving" was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. It was to celebrate the safe return of white men who had gone to Mystic, Conn. to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children, and men. A Pilgrim's account of their first year on Indian land tells of the opening of ancestral graves, stealing Indian wheat and bean supplies, and selling them as slaves for 220 shillings each.

It happened like this.
In 1970, United American Indians of New England declared US Thanksgiving Day a National Day of Mourning--NDOM. Why? Across from the Plymouth Monument, near a statue of Massasoit (one of the “friendly, helpful” Native Americans), is a plaque commemoratingNDOM. Given by the town of Plymouth on behalf of the United American Indians of New England, it states:
"Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture."

"After the Pilgrims' arrival, Native Americans grew increasingly frustrated with the English settlers' abuse and treachery. Metacomet (King Philip), a son of Massasoit, called upon Native people to unite to defend their homelands against encroachment. The resulting "King Philip's War" lasted from 1675-1676. Metacomet was murdered in Rhode Island in August 1676, and his body was mutilated. His head was impaled on a pike and was displayed near this site for more than 20 years. One hand was sent to Boston, the other to England. Metacomet's wife and son, along with families of many other Native American combatants, were sold into slavery in the West Indies by the English victors."

"Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered in Plymouth to commemorate NDOM on Thanksgiving. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture. Participants in NDOM honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression that Native Americans continue to experience.

Discounted slaves were the 1st Black Friday bargains.

Black Friday
1. a bargain day, for cheap slaves

According to one site, "Black Friday stemmed from slavery, the day after Thanksgiving when slave traders sold slaves for a discount to assistplantation owners with more helpers for winter." Black slaves for Black Friday. When you shop-crazy on this day, are you helping to keep former traditions alive? Is that really worth a shopping cart-full of bargains?

     2. If you gave thanks yesterday, pay it forward - Boycott WalMart

"For the third year, United Food & Commercial Workers Union and OUR Walmart, a group of employees, are striking and protestlng at 1,600 of the 3,400 Wal-Marts in the U.S., They seek minimum pay of $15 /hr. and full-time work on regular schedules. 825,000 of the company’s 1.4 million U.S. employees make less than $25k/year, making them food bank recipients."

So, if you cross that picket line to save money on supposed bargains, you are simultaneously increasing your taxes that go to SNAP (food stamps). When Wal-Mart agrees to worker demands, the load on your taxes will be lightened. That would be a bargain.

Sand Creek Saturday

Today, 11/29/14, marks the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre. Last week Colorado admitted that the eastern half of the state was built on the coerced cession of Arapaho and Cheyenne homelands. An illegal process that violated U.S. law.
To know the true history, don't go to the History Colorado Center; their attitude and exhibit show they don't understand and accept the truth. However Gov. Hickenlooper's executive order creating the Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration Commission admits the facts of this horrendous wrong: “The controversy surrounding this Civil War Monument has become a symbol of Coloradans’ struggle to understand and take responsibility for our past. On November 29, 1864, Colorado’s First and Third Calvary, commanded by Colonel John Chivington, attacked Chief Black Kettle’s peaceful camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians on the banks of Sand Creek, about 180 miles southeast of here. In the surprise attack, soldiers killed more than 150 [to 200] of the village's 500 inhabitants. Most of the victims were elderly men, women and children."

The Colorado General Assembly's 2014 resolution unanimously recognized the Sand Creek Massacre as an unjust killing of peacefully assembled Arapaho and Cheyenne which reverberates today upon their descendants:
"Be It Resolved by the Senate of the Sixty-ninth General Assembly of the State of Colorado, the House of Representatives concurring herein: That we, the members of the General Assembly, acknowledge the devastation caused by the Sand Creek Massacre and seek to raise public awareness about the tragic event, the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, and events surrounding it."

At Sand Creek, it still says "battle!"
Today when you hear, "T'is a privilege to live in Colorado," it's not about how expensive the cow town has become. The privilege you share is that the eastern half of the state, part of which you might own, was land illegally transferred to you or your ancestors, and none of the money ever went to the native population. They were forcibly removed, if they survived at all.

Have a Happy Sand Creek Saturday.

Es todo, hoy,

RudyG, a.k.a. Rudy Ch.Garcia, author of stories of fabulist mextasy, a new genre

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