You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2010.

Shun Feng restaurant fortune cookie, 9-22-10:

“You have a charming way with words. Write a letter this week.”

Meet me in SF, eh?

On World Ball Notebook: “It’s a kind of urban neo-Mayan sacred ball game of language, scenes, episodes, lives—all in flux at the whim of the reader, that is the World Ball itself. As with all games, it involves danger, that is crossing boundaries, borders and risking our notions of who we are, where we are, and what life really is—in short, the whirl itself, the phasing in and out of stillness. Displacement, disjuncture, slippage, yet synthesis, harmony, centering. Foster takes the poem out of the poem and delivers the Aleph, the eye of the duende, the inscrutable thing Borges once gazed at for a second or two underneath the stairs of an old busted apartment building in Buenos Aires. An incredible achievement.”

—-Juan Felipe Herrera

With Lisa Tse and Christin Ban at the American Book Awards

In San Francisco today: Sherwin Bitsui read his poems in Navajo and in English.

Ishmael Reed read from Victor Lavalle’s novel, BIG MACHINE.

Stephen Gutieerez read a story about a homeboy from Fresno.

Jerome Rothenberg read some lines from Walt Whitman.

Dave Eggers spoke about projects accomplished through books.

I read a poem for AZ and one about Tede Matthews.

Barbara Jane Reyes read Al Robles poem, “10,000 Carabaos Rappin’ in the Dark.”

Alejandro Murguia played a cassette tape of Al Robles reading “Agbayani Village.”

Jack Hirschman read a poem he wrote in Tagalog about Al Robles.

Jessica Hagedorn read a piece from GANGSTER OF LOVE about Al Robles.

Janice Mirikitani read a poem she wrote about Al Robles.

I told Alejandro Murguia I appreciated the work he did in the old days, from publishing TIME TO GREEZ with Mirikitani, Hagedorn, and others in it, to publishing back to back books with Roberto Vargas and others, to his own early chapbook, FAREWELL TO THE COAST.

*   *   *

The Before Columbus Foundation announces the Winners of the Thirty-First Annual AMERICAN BOOK AWARDS. The 2010 American Book Award winners will be formally recognized on Sunday, September 19th from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin Street (at Grove), San Francisco, CA. A reception will take place following the ceremony. This event is open to the public. For more information, call (510) 642-7321.

The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under- recognized authors and first works. There are no quotas for diversity, the winners list simply reflects it as a natural process. The Before Columbus Foundation views American culture as inclusive and has always considered the term “multicultural” to be not a description of various categories, groups, or “special interests,” but rather as the definition of all of American literature. The Awards are not bestowed by an industry organization, but rather are a writers’ award given by other writers.

The 2010 American Book Award Winners are:

Amiri Baraka, Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music (University of California Press)

Sherwin Bitsui, Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press)

Nancy Carnevale, A New Language, A New World: Italian Immigrants in the United States, 1890-1945 (University of Illinois Press)

Dave Eggers, Zeitoun (McSweeney’s/Vintage)

Sesshu Foster, World Ball Notebook (City Lights)

Stephen D. Gutierrez, Live from Fresno y Los (Bear Star Press)

Victor Lavalle, The Big Machine (Spiegel & Grau)

François Mandeville, This Is What They Say, translated from the Chipewyan by Ron Scollon (University of Washington Press)

Bich Minh Nguyen, Short Girls (Viking)

Franklin Rosemont and Robin D.G. Kelley, editors, Black, Brown & Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora (University of Texas)

Jerome Rothenberg and Jeffrey C. Robinson, editors, Poems for the Millennium: Volume Three: The University of California Book of Romantic & Postromantic Poetry (University of California Press)

Kathryn Waddell Takara, Pacific Raven: Hawai`i Poems (Pacific Raven Press)

Pamela Uschuk, Crazy Love: New Poems (Wings Press)

Lifetime Achievement:

Quincy Troupe

Katha Pollitt

http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=1002587701

http://www.theintersection.org/programs/index.php?program=4

Al Robles Literary Tribute

Sunday, September 19, 2010, 6:00 P.M., Intersection 5M. 925 Mission St. (at 5th St.) in the historic San Francisco Chronicle Building, San Francisco

Intersection For The Arts & City Lights Booksellers present

A Thousand Manong Heartbeats Rappin in the Light :
A Literary Tribute to Al Robles

@
Intersection 5M
925 Mission Street, in the historic San Francisco Chronicle Building
San Francisco, California, 94103

donation requested $5.00 (sliding scale, no one turned away due to lack of funds)

Featuring:

Jessica Hagedorn with Sean San Jose

Jack Hirschman

Janice Mirikatani

Alejandro Murguia

Ishmael Reed

Barbara Jane Reyes

Alyson Tintiangco Cubales with Pin@y Educational Partnerships (PEP) Henry Francisco, Marygrace Burns, Aristel delaCruz, Jocyl Sacramento,Aileen Pagtakan, Alvin Gubatina, Romilynne Acosta

Paul Yamazaki

Welcome by Kevin B. Chen (Intersection for the Arts)

Hosted by D. Scott Miller (City Lights Booksellers

Intersection for the Arts and City Lights Booksellers are pleased to bring together members of the Bay Area literary community in a literary tribute casting light upon the life and work of an extraordinary figure. Poets, writers, editors, and booksellers, all offer a unique view, via poetry, prose, conversation, and recollection, in an evening of storytelling in honor of a great storyteller.


Poet, educator, community activist, and advocate for the poor and senior citizens, Al Robles walked in many worlds. Born a Filipino American in the Fillmore district of San Francisco, his life was informed and nourished by the rich cultural fabric all around him. He lived at the intersection of African American, Japanese, and Pilipino cultures. Jazz was a much a part of his upbringing as zen. His forays into edges of North Beach, via Manilatown, brought him into contact with the poetry and personality of the Beats as well. His empathy with the marginalized peoples around him brought him into the frontline of the struggle to preserve the civil rights and the heritage of Manilatown culture. He was a tireless fighter against the demolition of the I-Hotel on Kearny Street. He worked closely with the Pilipino elders to preserve their stories and heritage. He worked with Pilipino youth to engender within them a deep connection to their culture. Al Robles’ art and poetry were inextricably linked to his activism and his concern for people. He lived his life as a gentle warrior, always in the service of the community.

12-7-01

i. the hunters & gatherers walk out into the living, beckoning world
singing together as they move en la bola,
singing out, shouting out to the mountains of their land
and the clouds, and millions of singing ghosts in the air
enter their lungs and fill their singing with memories,
and the honey-bird sings right above them, they call
up to the bird and she answers them, they follow her,
she calling and they keeping on answering until in
one tree she stops silent. she just stands and waits.
they light the fire & bring a burning branch up into
the green tree, finding the honey-comb right there,
and the first of the honey is hers, they wait for her
to eat her fill and then, singing a new song they
eat the honey and start out walking around, looking
for other kinds of food, following their animal friends
& asking for help from all the living things, asking
all of the rocks which once had names like you & me for
hints, for inside information, wandering out into
the plentiful world with ears wide open to the
songs of the living earth. listening.

ii. there again in the bright light of the Nevada casino,
he twirls & they follow him, snapping his lithe fingers
& mumbling incantations to the dice, emptying out
his mind with liquor & weed, leaving us all
behind again, his boys in prison for wandering
just like him, snapping their fingers & following
their homies single-file into that hell, one
tile, one facet, one digit of this immensity,
only the great panorama of Dante’s 7th circle of
hell can evoke this civilization’s millions of
soldiers up to their lips in a river of blood & shit,
while the suicided forest of trees looks on
all silent next to the lightning plains where
torturers & deal-makers, briefcases swinging,
race in nervous terror, trying to avoid those
strokes of lightning slamming them down into
the hard clay of this dirty delta, and we –

all of us – hands holding hands, ears stopped up &
eyes down, hunkered down we go, out across the
daily swamp, not singing in dark morning,
trying not to hear this chattering, trying not to follow the
fluttering of these angry flags, not listening to wind-bringer birds or the
lizards who watch by night, ignoring
those crumpled pigeons’ bodies in our path or even turning away from
the bloody forms of dogs all mixed up with the garbage
there along the freeway median.

one of the disappeared

a simple story tells it all,
they took her off the plane in
shackles, she was trying to explain
what happened to her but they didn’t care,
the situation had already gone so far beyond the
point of no return they wouldn’t even look at her by then,
the forced landing interrupting all their important business,
her colorful gypsy-style of dress as well as her incomprehensible
story that there among the change in her little red coin-purse
was one of the smallest planets ever discovered, which
had floated down into her ear, she pulled it
out on her way to the airport to catch
the five o’clock jet to New York
on a Monday afternoon:
her tale kept on & on
as she lost hope.

the newspapers all made
sure to mention she peed in the
aisle, held down as she was by people
sitting on top of her, not letting her go to
the rest room, where she’d been headed after
expressing her doubts about the captain of the plane,
it’s a free country as she said, and the search of her belongings
had upset her, so she gestured dramatically, the way she always
did, particularly if excited or confused: if the authorities
had found anything in her bag it would have been
mentioned in the news reports, but they never
mentioned the planet, it was so small it
looked like a tiny ball-bearing
— greenish-blue & shimmering,
swirling there among
the coins.

she was on her way
to visit her family in the Bronx,
just a few weeks after her unfortunate
niece was drowned in a glass of water, which
would make anybody suspicious, maybe even paranoid,
considering the kinds of stories dominating the news, her head
was actually buzzing with new insight into the way this society
segregates those who are brave enough to speak out about what’s
exactly wrong with our authoritarian state, but a totally popular
motion struck her down to the ground, she was
forced to fight against her fellow passengers
at the door to the toilet: and she kept on
trying to speak about the planet she
was carrying but their fingers
clawed at her lips, garbling
her message.

now we’ll never know if her
amazing discovery was real, a floating
ball of what they said was feathers impregnated
Coatlicue somewhere in the Mexican fields when
Huitzilopochtli was conceived, his brave shout from
within the womb prompting all of the cuatrocientos huitznaya to
reach for their knives & clubs in shame and disgust at her predicament.
so he came out ready to make war, which explains our rush of emotion at
the spilling of blood, but how would anyone know how many times
the goddesses of earth had been seduced by these bright
apparitions, causing so many virgins to give birth
facing the wrath of the popular forces all riled
up by virtuous impulses grounded in total
respect for the goddess & afraid
of any deviation from the
same old story.

Workshot/ for Vincent Ferrini

i. I remember standing in the
parking–lot, American Bridge,
& the plant was finally closed down,
this time for good, it was
holding us instead of us holding
our breath, it was flattening
all those years of glorious labor,
making it into the next few
weeks – what shall we do? the
next few months – how can we
survive? until in a few years,
it was an empty field with a few
cows grazing there, and we knew
for sure that we’d waited too long
to remember it was our work made it
happen & all we had to do was
go back to work, again.

ii. Even before it was gone
there were ghosts & visions, sometimes
we’d be out in some bay working the
last few machines, half the corrugated
walls torn down & only girders & the
rails of rusted cranes against the deep
blue night sky, looking up at the
moon as it sailed across the giant room
above us as we worked, calling out to
each other in the dark, letting the answers
hang there, getting paid to stand there
running a machine in the middle of
all this beauty…

iii. We knew that out in the
relentless desert, baking in terrific heat
our towers & bridges stood defending
whatever it meant to be civilized,
helping to carry heavy electrical
cables or truck traffic across thousands
of rivers, keeping connections strong,
helping us to believe what we thought
progress was.

iv. & now we’re in another
era, all that gone, we sit in meditation
wondering if any real connection
could be made between these noises of
high whining jets & freeway traffic
far across the valley, these & this
immovable internal silence, even the
ringing in my ears falling away, but no –
that’s just a lie: perhaps it can bring
back the spinning whine of shining
finish cuts, those marvelous long
glinting stainless cuts…

the dancing

far away from here, in the rodeo tents with

sawdust floors, loud singing of the

pow-wow dancers all night long,

the men say they have the right to say no

when the women enter into the front row

sitting down at the sacred drum,

the men dancing behind,

they say they can just say no

to the women taking up the beat

in strong determination.

but they don’t say no, as they

keep in step to the steady drumming,

just that they have the right to say no.

& the men dance, some of the men

dance to the drums, some stand

listening to the singing, remembering

long ago when women danced

behind the men only men sat at the drum.

the ancient times crowd into the songs

like urgent calling telephones ringing

beepers beeping underneath the rhythm,

settling everyone down into his place,

her place, his own place, her own place,

mine and hers. and tearing up

the comfortable texture of the dance,

ripping apart the pieces of the quilt…

& some of the men go off alone,

drawn to the cities, wanting to

work & to forget the dancing.

inside of the sound of the drumming

ancient people are crowding into the songs,

inside of the “No” they are

saying when they won’t dance,

urgent calling underneath the rhythm,

each man settling into his place but it

tears up, this tears up all the

comfortable texture of the dance,

rips apart pieces of the quilt…

& some of the men go off alone to the cities,

wanting to work to forget the dancing,

trying to bury it any way they can but

humming to themselves & drumming on

chromed edges of machines or shopping-carts,

rolling in filth & vomit of alleyways,

calling out in the same language,

playing the same drum but alone.

disappearing into invisible, far inside:

as if there were some far place,

always the same, always ready to

comfort us, a mother never running out of

abrazos, cariños…

that mother is the land, the drum sounds

to the touch of the man… and then,

remembering, everything changes,

everything turns into its opposite:

the women take up the drum

& the men dance behind,

standing out in the night alone,

remembering, ai solito y sin recuerdos pero…

ai solito y sin amparo,

that nobody can ever go out to find him,

to bring him back anymore,

alone in the cold night air of cities and

foreign places: “nobody ever comes back,

nobody ever comes home,” she is

singing the lying song to make

all difficulties be confused.

the land is always the mother in dreams,

always dreams of the land, the mother

at the core of the dream, the

long straight line of the horizon,

flat as it could possibly be,

not a sign of turbulence,

even though we are turning around,

a ball in space, at such great speed…

drums sound to the touch of the man,

the women dance behind the men,

but then, remembering, recovering from

the dream, everything changes back into

its opposite:

ai solito y sin amor.

Video: Don Newton reading “one of the disappeared” at Occidental College, Los Angeles

Don Newton is an artist, writer, community organizer, and former machinist (retired 2005, the City of Los Angeles), who is author of THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD, a retelling of Tongva creation stories he illustrated with his paintings. Along with Laura Longoria, since 2006 he has co-hosted the La Palabra poetry reading series at Avenue 50 Gallery, which offers his books for sale. As part of his efforts to get Elyria Canyon preserved as green space in his community (http://www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=11), Don researched indigenous cultures of the area and produced several tremendous manuscripts about the Tongva, the original inhabitants of the L.A. basin, whose villages spread from the mountains to the ocean. These selected images from his Long Scroll, an approximately 25 foot long manuscript, indicate Don’s brilliant combination of narrative and testimony, ink drawing and block printing:

Vizcaino: "The people go dressed in seal skins, the women especially covering their loins..."

Vizcaino saw people on the Southern Coast painted blue and silvered over with some kind of mineral ore.

"When they hunt deer, they disguise themselves with deer's head and horns."

"Many believe a hunter mustn't eat the meat or fish he has caught, so they hunt or fish in groups."

"Fish are taken in seines made from the tough bark of the tione tree"

"Many of the inland people come down to the coast in the fishing season and remain there until the shoals leave, when they return to the interior."

"everything they needed was found or made, the design was as important as the uses to which the implements were put"

"They traded with people far from their homes. Steatite objects were distributed widely, and their "circulating medium" (money)---small round pieces of white mussel shells---has been found all along the Pacific coast."

"each rancheria had a chief, a hereditary position, assisted by a council of elders."

"the most important myths and legends concerned their great religious leader, Chingichnich"

"By far the most important of all ceremonies was the annual memorial dancing to the year's dead."

"the images were thrown into a great fire. After they were burnt, their names were never supposed to be used again. All of the images were burnt"

for information on La Palabra poetry reading series, see http://www.avenue50studio.com/pages/figure1.shtml

Don Newton

Long Scroll images courtesy Arturo Romo-Santillano

Harry Gamboa Jr., Willie Herron, Gronk, Patssi Valdez & friends— they did great work then—they didn’t go away.

They painted cracks on the sidewalk and the walls broke open; their murals walked out down Whittier Blvd.

They’re doing it still. Nothing stopped ’em. This is live!

http://www.harrygamboajr.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Urban-Exile-Collected-Writings-Gamboa/dp/0816630526/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245387439&sr=8-4

There’s a tribute to Asco coming to UCLA’s Fowler gallery in 2011, check it out. They could get more real serious reckoning & review.

http://www.amazon.com/No-Movie-Journey-Through-Archives/dp/B000VZSZPG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1284228051&sr=8-2

http://www.amazon.com/Gronk-Ver-Max-Benavidez/dp/0895511010/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284228051&sr=8-1

http://www.patssivaldez.com/

I wrote an introduction to Willie Herron’s exhibit at Galeria Tropico de Nopal a couple years ago. Maybe I can find it and post it here. Willie’s work especially meant a lot to me when we were in high school. We went to Wilson High in El Sereno, and he was already an artist. I saw pieces of one his murals leaning against the wall in Mrs. Gaitzsch, the German art teacher’s room—I recognized it from the neighborhood—we both grew up in City Terrace. Check out his “Wall That Cracked Open” behind Plaza Market in City Terrace Drive; it’s maybe the best mural in the city, or in the state. He demonstrated that you could be an artist in the community. You might be able to survive, actually live positively and contribute positively to the community through art. Against the war in Vietnam, and the wars at home in the neighborhood, you might survive (that in itself came as a surprise) and make an actual contribution to helping people live. Willie, Gronk, Harry, Patssi and the other artists who came and went through Asco have been doing that their whole lives.

There’s more discussion of this older work going on lately, with some momentum given by 2008’s L.A. County Art Museum exhibit “Phantom Sightings: Art After to the Chicano Movement,” re-examining some crucial sources and essential concepts, of which Asco turns out to be a seminal spark.

I first saw their work, Willie’s and Gronk’s, on buildings around East L.A., at Farmacia Hildalgo, maybe getting a 15 cents soda in Eva’s Liquor’s and going round back in the alley and checking out Willie’s mural, wowed by that visual prayer for his brother Johnny, who was in my classes at City Terrace Elementary. Their collaboration on the Chicano Moratorium: the Black and White Mural produced the visual equivalent of Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner” played during the Vietnam War. It’s weathered now, but has lost none of it’s bitter relevance. Life during wartime.

Go there some cool evening, Estrada Courts housing project, 3221 East Olympic Blvd., East L.A., with the parents of a girl screaming at some older guy to get away from her or they’ll kill him at the fenceline—it’ll be a trip.

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&expIds=17259,23756,24472,24692,24878,24879,25901,26095,26440,26446,26515,26563&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=chicano%20moratorium%20mural&cp=25&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=nl

Here’s the intro to the Willie Herron show at Tropico de Nopal:

Visionary Original: Willie Herron

Our childhood was punctuated by assassinations. When president JFK was assassinated, the school played the announcement on the public address system and my teacher cried. When Malcolm X was assassinated, newspapers implied he got what was coming. When Martin Luther King was assassinated, there were riots in cities across America. When Robert F. Kennedy (who had marched with Cesar Chavez) was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire, some Chicanos felt it like yet another body blow of death in the same Catholic family. The Vietnam War went on and on and they announced the tallies of young American dead (not the Vietnamese) on TV every week. Students were killed in campus protests and protestors at the Chicano Moratorium Against the war, as well as Ruben Salazar, reporting for the L.A. Times.. In 1970 my father was shot at work in Watts by a black kid who used a high-powered rifle to shoot at everyone on the street. My dad spent a year in a body cast from his ankles to his chest, and he spent another year convalescing and learning to walk again, but the rest of us did not expect necessarily to survive. It seemed to many of us that it we would not live long if we stood for anything important, anything that mattered, and especially not if we tried to make any difference.

The violence that continually welled up out of the heart of America was without end. Maybe this was the real America—the America that native peoples, informed by genocide, had known all long. AM radio played Dion’s pop tune crooned with sappy melancholy that went,

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby? 
Can you tell me where he’s gone? 
I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill…
 with Abraham, Martin, and John

But that didn’t help. We did not see ourselves strolling over a sunny hill holding hands with MLK, RFK and JFK while Disney cartoon birds chirped overhead, and Porky Pig got ready to stammer, “Th-tha-tha-that’s all folks!”

Life Magazine displayed full color spreads of piles of bodies, 500 unarmed men, women and children machine-gunned on the paths and ditches of My Lai, and television went on reporting the slaughter without comment, as if it was that which was to be expected, and not a single soldier would ever go to prison for murdering a Vietnamese and it was what we expected.

What did we know? There were alternatives. In City Terrace ELA, even in his teens, Willie Herron was articulating a radical vision, a blast of Mexican muralism, pocho defiance, and agit-prop cultural activism. Probably at the time I must have thought that Willie along Chicano movement leaders and secret agents went to some cadre school by boat to Cuba or in the Bolivian jungle to train in identity strategies and existential self-defense. Crawling from the wreck of a family that had crashed and burnt on arrival in ELA shortly before the Watt’s riots of 1965, I was trying to get through my last years of high school, expecting to die or expecting to be sent to Vietnam to kill or to die, and I was heartened and inspired to see—as if born full-grown from his own forehead—Willie Herron’s studio on City Terrace Drive set up in a storefront across from Eva’s Liquors with a matched set of portraits in the window, a 1940/50s couple in zoot suit and coiffed bouffant hairdo, elegantly stylish and poised, confronting the viewer in front of a mysterious black curtain. That was the stark presentation, and to me it said, “No explanations, no apologies. This is it. This is who we are. Deal.”

I recognized Willie’s murals when I saw them going up around ELA too. My parents had been art students—my dad, Anglo World War 2 vet who’d seen service in North Africa and returned to study painting with Clifford Still, Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn, a Beat generation Buddhist who met my mom, a Nisei who’d been interned during the war at Poston, Arizona—but in the face of our family breakup on one hand and a community and nation in crisis on the other, the drunken Buddhism of years on the road and the abstract expressionism of paintings discarded all the way from Oakhurst to San Francisco to Southern California did not seem to provide either terms for personal survival or family self-defense in the times we were faced with. Maybe those artistic notions had worked in the fifties, before all those bottles of booze. Maybe not any more though, and I could see in every facet and detail of Willie Herron’s work, however, here was an articulated political aesthetic that integrated the issues of community, artist, and culture. The roles of these terms were clearly worked out in the imagery, technique, location and message itself. This is an artist who makes work which exists—and lives—in our world, on its street corners, in alleys, in storefronts, on the avenues. Here was an artist who was working out terms on which we too might yet survive in this place. I was impressed and instructed at once by his work.

Willie’s murals—impressing me even at midnight visiting a girlfriend in Ramona Gardens, crossing White Fence territory to try to see her, strolling through the blockhouse projects to inspect murals on the end of each row where it met the street—Willie’s bravura draughtsmanship was recognizable. Also emblazoned in a trajectory of historic faces across the front of Farmacia Hidalgo on my endless peregrinations and wanderings up and down City Terrace Drive—these were my first intimations of a whole tradition of Siqueiros or Rivera murals in public locations like the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City or the Orozco ‘Man on Fire’ in the orphanage in Guadalajara, which I hadn’t even heard of, let alone seen for myself. Late one afternoon, in one of those last years of high school in one of the art classrooms of a certain Mrs Gaitzsch, the art teacher, I came across, stored on the floor along the wall a mural that had been painted on diagonal, maybe triangular, panels, and in the darkened empty classroom I recognized Willie Herron’s imagery. It was dismantled, out of order, random, but struck by it, I walked back and forth in front of it. It was unmistakably Willie Herron. Instructive, because real.

You could see it in the street, in the alley behind Plaza Market (his legendary “Wall That Cracked Open,” that visionary, almost hallucinatory response to the near fatal stabbing of his brother Johnny, who’d been my classmate at City Terrace Elementary) or the serpentine kitty corner to the public library, or—another legendary piece—a newsreel of a mural (as if directed by Fellini) depicting the outrageous violence of the sheriffs’ attack on the Chicano Moratorium in Cinemascope black and white in Estrada Courts. Years later when friends visited from out of town, these were among the only landmarks I would take them to see. Willie Herron’s art was the clearest, most intelligent response—and a way forward—out of years whose savagery, then, was not yet over.

And we did not know if we would survive.

Some of us will. And, meantime, Willie Herron’s art always did, and does, indicate a way forward.

Sesshu Foster
Los Angeles, 2005

“I just called to tell you that it’s a metaphor for collaboration. I mean, communication. Or collaboration.”

“I said that it was red.”

“I said it was a metaphor. A metaphor. Yeah, you know what that is. Yeah, that’s what I said.”

“It was hurting my feelings, making these choices. It all felt wrong somehow. If you have to ask—yeah,—that’s right, you don’t get it.”

“She doesn’t pick up.”

“So, just leave a message.”

“Do you have change? Oh, fuck it.”

“Text her then.”

“America, I’m calling you to tell you that major corporations just ate one of your testicles.”

“America, I’m telling you they’re roasting your testicles on a stick.”

“Come on, answer the damn phone.”

Hello? Hello? Gimme a pissing break. I hate this.”

“This is a metaphor for the divestment and destruction of public infrastructure, public space and protections under law, the pillaging and plunder of the public trust, public unions and the public welfare by private corporations and private profit. It’s called pissing in your own bed, fouling your own nest.”

“The message has been sent.”

“You knew. You can’t say you weren’t told. At some point you knew.”

“You heard me. You knew the whole time it was going on. You chose to do nothing.”

“I texted her.”

“What?”

“With that guy, you gotta get in his face, practically, to make yourself heard. Even then.”

“Even then.”

“Lights are on, nobody’s home.”

“You’ll never get through. That’s what it feels like, anyway. But you just have to keep trying. Isn’t that what you’re saying?”

“Changing up the figures of speech. Radicalizing the language. Something will work.”

“Where is she?”

“She’s busy. She’s always too fucking busy. She keeps herself busy on purpose.”

“That way she won’t have to deal with all his shit.”

“Come on, let’s get something to drink.”

“Maybe he just doesn’t have anything to say. Maybe he’s burnt out on all this shit, that’s why he doesn’t like to answer. Isn’t that why most people don’t write any letters anymore?”

“How could you not have anything to say? We’re alive, good fucking alive!”

“Prove it.”

“She told him to get over it, move on. Move on already.”

“Maybe it’s like survivor’s guilt?”

“Same thing as always.”

“Why discuss this motherfucker? Why don’t we just—you know—adjust the motherfucker?””

“Adjust.”

“Like I said.”

“I love you.”

“Call me when you get a chance.”

NOTES FOR ZEPPELIN ATTACK DIRIGIBLE (SUMMER MOVIE BLOCKBUSTER)

Men with brutal faces skyward. Leaping.

Women with perfect teeth. Much leaping.

Musculature choreographed to appear and disappear behind hair.

Women widening their eyes. Casting a significant glance.

Men flaring nostrils, setting their lips in a line.

Porous skin shining metallic in the glare (filters). Glints of hard late sunlight on flexing bodies.

She has a bright green praying mantis as a sidekick.

He wears leather goggles strung loosely around his neck. He has a loose casual lanky something.

Plans go back to the turn of the last century. Personal hygiene in the upper atmosphere.

Rene Desnos dying in concentration camp. [strike thru]

Capitol Provision Co. deliciosos pollos
CHAPALITA 2927 N. Broadway, L.A. 90031 232 222 4751 Riquisimos! Chapalita pollo rostizado 2 por 11.99 Open Daily 7 AM – 11 PM
It’s a carniceria where you walk in from the terrific glare of the sun to cooler dimness and you can see marinated chicken pollo picante and beef flap meat and other meat trays in the glass case to the left (which they sell mesquite charcoal in $3 per 7 pound sacks) alongside the drink cooler, while on the right side of the place, there’s another glass case and counter where for $4.99 you can get their half-chicken plate and the counterman will ask you if you want frijoles with that of course you do, they are nice watery smooth clean tasting like mountain stream water, even if mountain stream water has clean tasting moss and danger of giardia, these beans do not anyway he is asking you what kind of drink (soda, only soda) coca-cola so be it, served with orange rice and microwave baggie of eight corn tortillas for a total of $5.36 plus tax in styrofoam in a plastic bag, which you carry outside and eat at the metal shelf atop the railing on the concrete porch outside overlooking North Broadway, sitting on a torn barstool with a couple working guys in uniform chowing down in tacos from the little stand alongside the building, meanwhile the cholo in his saggy khaki shorts and white tank top showing off his smudged blueish tats from wrist to skull all over his body, he’s opened up his van to show off his family to his sister-in-law who chats with the sister and kids, and I see that the vato has carefully camouflaged himself as a gangster with shaved head and tats all over his body in order to protect his family, that’s why he dresses in those flat Vans shoes made in China, he’s not a real gangster he just wants to look tough to protect the family which he’s showing off to sister-in-law, the dude even has tats in different colors written over other tats, a sign of pure preparation and thoroughness and attention to detail right there. When the sister walks west on N. Broadway they take off, the workers finish tacos and split, across the street is Auto Parts Machine Shop a mechanic or helper hustles into, Big Saver Foods (kitty corner), Noel’s Hair Studio (empty), Francisco Fuscaldo M.D. office, video store (closed, gone probably), Titop Nails, El Pavo Bakeries, Liquor store. Pour roasted chile salsa on it. Chew that chicken down to the gristle Jack, it’s all good.

This movie allows for European styling touches in every scene. Art Deco, Danish, Bauhaus, Vienna School, etc.

Clock faces, gauges, instruments in the dashboard or control panel. Technical. Convenient. Priced for any budget.

Men with brutal faces, leaping skyward. Rising into the sky.

Women tossing hair. Looking over their shoulder, hip cocked.

Legs and arms akimbo. Tattered fabric flapping in stiff wind like flags.

Women with perfect teeth. Arched eyebrows, squints. Crinkly skin of desire.

Skinnish.

Heaving breast. Clapping.  [strike thru]

Curtains rising or— [strike thru]

“Take this pistol. No, I want you to have it.”

“To think it could’ve turned out different—”

“Yes,” I said, “Isn’t it pretty to think so.”

People watching from balconies—

Parachutes descending thru clouds. Clouds whipping through guywires.

Wide landing fields like veritable open plains. Like steppes.

Women with strong shoulders, rising into the sky. Pert square or boyish shoulders.

Love interest gets a severe haircut? Occasioning a disturbance, setting off a gun battle? An aerial duel between air ships?

Stiff wind on the wardrobe. Coffee whipped out of the cup by wind, when you look down it’s empty [strike thru]

Love scene, misty moonlit wind blows out candles— [strike thru]

Love scene, roaring river far below vast as an inland sea, accidental fire— [strike thru]

“Only one parachute, you know what this means.” “No, you take it.” “No, you.” “No, you.” “Goodbye my dear.” (Jumps.) She straps on the parachute and leaps overboard to try to save him, plunging through the atmosphere. Will she reach him in time to pull the cord?

How come he didn’t think of that first? [strike thru]

Shadows of attacking ships emerging from cloudbank appear on the dirigibles below.

Crew choice when the ship goes down in flames: burn with the ship or leap to deaths. That’s the sad choice of duty (you knew what you were signing up for) and laying down your life for your fellow man in a world that is forever at war.

The running gag is the character always getting new tattoos. One day she’s covered in Japanese flowers, the next month it’s robots. She explains how to make new tattoos out of old by ingeniously redesigning and overwriting every one on a continuous basis.

Somebody save the praying mantis.

VICTORY —————————————–} silver fishes
USELESS HOPES HAVE THEIR USES {———- hours
soup of kisses ——————————–} HAIR OF SOUP
MICYCLE RIDE {—————————– SWET
bolt ———————————————–} BICYCLE EYE
“MOM! DAD!” {——————————— in the trees
“Help! It’s biting me!” ————————} OW!
FOLDING {————————————– lightning
blue ———————————————-} SLOPES
SWOLLEN NUMBERS {——————— earth humming…
pimple party over there ———————-} OVER THE HILLS ———
———-Dad

when i arrive at the empty house or apartment it’s like a kick in the head that doesn’t actually knock me to the ground but just reminds me that nothing lasts forever, not the bum foot and the 6 months trying to walk again after the broken ankle was repaired with surgery, not the immense throbbing pain after surgery, not crawling up the eroded embankment on hands and knees with one ankle broken, not the pain that made me feel faint when i tried to stand on it and calling out for dolores who hiked out to get a ranger, not the breeze, not the sunshine, not building a life and having it, not having our kids with us on the trail, between hot berry bushes and bear shit on the trail in summer sun, going on into this bright new day, sun on the rocks and in the trees

“OPEN YOUR EYES”

BABYFACE WAS BORN

EGGYOLK WASNT HERE

CONservative governMENt

Rambo Ponyboy
Xavier George

Penelope (heart)

HELLO BR**KLYN (hearts)

September 2010
M T W T F S S
« Aug   Oct »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930