Spring Break!

Today: March for Semillas; hang out with mom
Friday: pick up the Q; do the Critical Mass ride
Saturday: meet with Harry Gamboa Jr.; Aterciopelados show
Sunday: April Fool's Day; DEEP
Monday: pick up my pay check

open for suggestions: Vegas, Puerto Nuevo, TJ, what do you recommend?



Was this made by: a) Muslim child, b) Christian child, c) Isreali child?


Asked by 'Ask a Mexican'

Gustavo Arrellano from the "Ask A Mexican" column currently read locally in the OC and LA Weekly is a cool guy when he isn't picking on the opposite side of an issue that I hold dear.

I first wrote him in response to his column about Chicano/a studies that read like he was hating on ChS. He wrote back within days and we dialogued. Cool. I questioned his downplaying of Chicano studies when he is a product of ChS. He claims Mexican, but is born and raised in the OC. This contradiction in itself is total Chicano. Him being able to spew about Mexicans, wabs, and Guatemalans is because of the discourse ChS has opened up. He backed his points up well. Being at CSUN I have a lot of advantages (not that we are perfect), in his experience he got to see some of the downsides of our discipline. We didn't come to total agreement but that was never the goal. It was to share ideas and see if either of us really could support our own views in friendly debate. It was all good.

He has since written columns I love and some that leave me scratching my head thinking "What is this OC homie thinking?"

Other people I have spoken to about him all say the same thing. Sometimes he is right on, other times he isn't, either way if you contact him, he writes you back. Maybe after his book comes out he won't be able to do that anymore, so try him out now.

This week his column is about reader feedback on his logo. Ironically his logo isn't even on the web nor print edition due to all the adverts. Nonetheless, his logo is of the stereotypical gap toothed, fat, sombrero wearing, Meskin of the frito bandido lineage. He asked readers to comment on his logo. Is it racist? Is it played out? He believes that he was disempowering the image by showing it and claiming it was a pic of his dad.

Go here for the OC Weekly web version. (their typos, not mine)

But this is what I wrote (and I edited por vous) and got published. Thanks 'Tavo.


Fag, nigger and wetback have been used in rap and comedy for nearly 20 years. Yet still today, when Ann Coulter uses fag, when Isaiah Washington uses fag, when Michael Richards uses nigger—despite the repetition of these terms, they still sting and are used primarily as insults. What makes us think that using an old stereotype of the drunk, gap-toothed Mexican is going to erase its history and usage as a negative? It is not going to happen. These racist terms and images were made for racists to use as racial slurs. To think we have the power to change one word’s or image’s meaning by using it is unrealistic. WE need to come up with new terms and images that will destroy the old racist ones. For example: “wetback” or “illegal alien” should now be “nuevo pioneers.” As Audre Lorde said, “We cannot dismantle the master’s house using their tools.” Lets start making some new tools, words and images, ¿simón ese?
Gerard Meraz,
Professor of Chicano Studies, Cal State University, Northridge


La Nueva California

My students are reading and writing about the last chapter in Dr. David Hayes Bautista's book La Nueva California.The chapter's title is "Best & Worst Case Scenarios California 2040." In it he provides two very different California's of the future if today we were to start investing in Latino education and strengths. It is scary reading because presently we are two steps into the doorway of the worst case scenario.

In the worst case the new Latino majority of 2040 is uneducated, unhealthy and criminalized to the point of not even being able to be in public areas (like parks, parking lots, buses, or shopping malls) without federally issued ID cards.

As we discuss the issues in class I see the fear in my students that this horrible future awaits them. BTW we also saw "An Inconvinient Truth" in class.

It is scary to think about these futures where there is little hope for economic, social or even physical survival.

My hope is that in my students a new idea will come out that will save us. That they read and see how it is up to them, to us, to now do something that will change these futures.

The future is not written in stone, it is not guaranteed, but it is being elaborated on in books, the news, film and ideas of the end like 2012, Raptures, etc.

In order for us to reach La Nueva California we need more dreamers on the other side of this. We need writers, thinkers, filmakers and activists that are creating a viable, sustainable future. That describe in detail what we will be doing in this positive, loving future. We need some hopeful sci fi.

I once read: If you can imagine it, it will happen.

WE really need to start imagining a loving, peaceful, sustainable, egalitarian, hopeful future, otherwise we have no other options than to become extinct.



The other morning I woke up feeling like mierda because of the worst nightmare I have ever had. It carried into my waking life like no other nightmare has.

I was sitting in a big old house, like the one I grew up in, watching TV sitting in a brown leather Lazy Boy. All around me sitting on chairs, sofas, the floor, drinking beers, playing cards & craps, smoking joints, were the hardest looking vatos I have ever seen. Muscles filling muscle shirts, Tattoos, slicked back hair, a few pelones -all of them were hard vato locos. I saw a few that I actually know, but that is because I know so few real vato locos of this variety. I was calm. I was not scared. I knew people. I had a good chair and the remote in my hand.

All of a sudden this 6ft 3inches tall, brown buffalo of a man, wearing brown Dickies and a muscle shirt, was walking at me from my left side with no sense of slowing down. I just looked up at him and popped three bullets into his chest and one in the forehead. He hit the ground hard. I sat there blankly staring at the TV that was now off. I could hear everyone in the room pull out their guns, feet shuffling, 'oh shits,' 'what the fucks,' and then I just turned the TV back on. The noise settled. I got up and moved to another room, that is when I began to feel like mierda.

A heaviness on my soul. A profound sadness. A darkness came all around me and I could barely breathe. I am trying to put this feeling into words and I can't. Guilt. Pesado. Sadness.

One vato came up to me and whispered in my ear, "Its going to be okay, we'll take care of it. No one will blame you."

My life was meaningless. My existence on hold. I knew I would never be able to shake off this darkness, this bleak feeling of 'death' being a re-viewable, re-livable noun attached to my being that I would carry forever.

I stared out a window and saw white light. I looked back into the house and some vatos were carrying the body, now in a bag, into another room. Another group was walking in a young kid around 14 or 16 yrs old into the room where I had just shot a man dead. I heard whispers and talking, then a "Asi va ser."

The same vato came out of the room and whispered into my ear, "It is done. He will go in for you. It's cool. He'll do very little time."

DANM. SHIT. FUCK. Not only did I just kill a man, a brother, a friend to someone, a lover to another, a possible father, and I was going to get away with it because that kid was going to take the blame and do the time for me! I wanted to go to prison to be killed, to pay for the life I took!

That is when I jumped out of sleep and felt like mierda.

The feeling from my dream was more than when you wake up with your heart pounding from running or being chased in a dream. This was purely emotional. No physical sensation that would subside. This was burned into me. It came with me to the bathroom, kitchen and living room. So sad. So much regret. The thought of it is weirding me out. This was truly a

When I drive I think the worst thing I could do is hit a pedestrian. I had a friend who while driving his van a kid that was running into the street, bumped into the side of the van, fell back and busted his head open on the street. DEAD. My friend was not at fault, just at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was still scarred. Here this dream of me shooting someone for no reason freaked me out.

I can't make sense of it yet... I feel I went through something.
I just hope I don't ever have to feel that way again.


Happy/Feliz MEXICA New Year!!!

One of these days, when the sun is at it highest point in the sky, reach over to the nearest (adult) person, grab their crotch, or give them the Xicano handshake, kiss them, lick them, or do whatever you do when you want to say "I love you humanity," and scream out "Happy Mexica New Year!!!"

One day all our astronamos van ah find out exactamente que dia the actual Mexica Nueve Year begins. SO for ahorita, we get to throw un chingo de parties, letting the mundo know, WE 'member, we 'member, you know, you 'member too. We recordamos that que there is our time. Our calendarios, Nuestro Tonalpohualli. Nuestro calendar ceremonial de la divinidad.

This is why there is TIME and then there is CHICANO/A TIME.
Nos movemos to the beat of all the pinche drums, de tiempos pasados y futuros -BOOM BOOM MAMI MAMI

(to the tune of "Tis the Season...")

Es la season for chapulines (xa xa xa xa xaa xa- xa- xa xaa)
No mires pinche pingo xa xa xa xa xaa xa- xa- xa xaa
Es sagrado este tiempo xa xa xa. xa xa xa. xaa- xaa xaa
Vamos ah party on xa xa xaa- xa- xa- xaa- xa xa xaa

Yeeeeeaaaarrrrrrr of Acatl xa xa xa xa xaa xa- xa- xa xaa
Grow a seeeeed, praise a tree xa xa xa xa xaa xa- xa- xa xaa
Darle gracia ah Ometeotl xa xa xa. xa xa xa. xaa- xaa xaa
Party at Self Help G. xa xa xaa- xa- xa- xaa- xa xa xaa

Not to long ago un chingo de desmadrosos, poleticas, cyber terroristas, piratas, artantes, graphinese, micro radio moscas, y a sprinkling of ghosts and elders, held the first MEXICA NEW at the Old LA CITY JAIL en Lincoln Hts. Creo que danzantes may have honored el nuevo a~o de los Mexicas before this, let me know. Pero from this point on, cada year there has been a Mexica New Year celebration, con danzantes, musican-tantantes, mas poleticas, y siempre el arte, en algun local en Califas Sur Aztlan. This time around en este point of his-toria, we have been lucky to have mas que one party. It is getting bigger y grande, como us, como our conscientizacion (sp? ay caray!), como todo. En Five years, it might be the next Day of the Dead where even gringos will host celebrations. Ay caray!

Espero that yo puede meet some of you at the SHG celebracion, va estar CABRON!!!!! Read below for information y some knowledge from the Self Help Graphics sitio.

Mexica New Year Celebration

In the Mexica-Aztec calendar system, there are 18 periods in a solar year, each period containing 20 days, with 5¼ transition days. It is a Mexica tradition to end each year with reflection and meditation. Each year-name is formed with a number 1 through 13, followed by one of four signs: Tochtli (the rabbit), Acatl (reed), Tecpatl (knife flint), and Calli (house)—in a cycle of 52 years. A "New Fire Ceremony", a 12-day long festival that includes fasting and sacrifice, is held every 52 years to welcome another calendar cycle.

The Mexica calendar system reflects a belief in which nature is respected as mother and the observers harmonize themselves with this mother-nature.

The celebrants of the Mexica New Year experience self-achievement as they focus on the significance of each yearly sign. Tochtli (the rabbit) is a day of self-sacrifice and service to something greater than oneself. Tochtli signifies fertility, energy, accomplishment, sensitivity, versatility, and a belief that everything sacred results in experiences of self-transcendence. Acatl (reed) is the scepter of authority which is, paradoxically, hollow. It is a day when the arrows of fate fall from the sky like lightning bolts. The celebration of Acatl is to seek justice, but by not acting against others. Calli (house) is the time for rest, tranquility and family life. The celebration of Calli is best spent cementing relationships of trust and mutual interests. Tecpatl (knife flint) refers to trials and tribulations; and testing one's character, but not one’s past accomplishments or reputation. Tecpatl is about the mind and the spirit, sharpened like the glass blade, cutting to the marrow of truth.

It is the mission of the Mexica New Year Celebration committee to bring knowledge of these principals to the greater community, through a month long series of new and enlightening cultural events. Workshops of music, art, theatre and related study will be offered as a means of awakening self knowledge and finding harmony with nature. Each year, the month long obervance of the Mexica calendar will end in a family festival open to the entire community. Festival presenters and activities will be based on the principals of the Mexica sign being observed. Through these activities the Mexica New Year Celebration committee looks to create new traditions and ceremonies for the purpose of bridging our community to its past, providing a deeper level of understanding and assisting in the transformation of self-discovery.

The Year of the Acatl (Reed) - 2007 Mexica New Year Celebration.

This year Self Help Graphic’s Mexica New Year Celebration will take place on March 17, 2007 from noon to 9pm. This will be a celebration with something for the whole family.

This is the year of the Acatl (Reed), which has the themes of water, and beginnings (for example a sprout, the young, and seeds). We would like our little human sprouts to learn to appreciate their city, through inspiring ecological presentations, information, story telling, creative play, art, the history of Los Angeles and other local lands, the history of the Los Angeles River , and general themes of recycling and environment. As part of this year’s Mexica New Year celebration, we will create an impromptu farmers market of neighborhood growers. The South Central Farmers and Caracol Market have committed to providing the local selection of offerings for this year. An independently owned local restaurant will provide delicious lunches and dinners at a nominal fee.

Our main entertainment stage will be located in the parking lot, surrounded by vendor-booths of local artisans, visual artists and crafters. The entertainment program will feature eclectic performances of music, poetry and teatro. Already slated to appear are: Ollin, Jeninche & The Jaguars, Sirculo, Claudia Mercado, Humo Verde, Gabriela Medina, Teatro Chusma, Gerard Meraz, La Resistencia, Toks, Nuai, The Sirens, Culture of Rage, Milagro, Aztlan Nation, El Vuh and a few surprise guests.

The upstairs ballroom will host ecology related information tables, samplings, community resources, recycling opportunities, kids programming, a student artwork exhibit , the food court and family dining area.

A little drizzle of rain is expected---be sure to bring an umbrella!


Sign of the times?

Last night I joined the Midnight Ridazz on their "Warriors" themed 'hide and go seek' bike ride throughout Hollywood. When we were flying through Wilshire Blvd., on our way to the meet up point at Pan Pacific Park, my cell phone fell out of my pocket and split into two pieces.

My social life passed before my eyes!

Who was I suppose to call tonight? Tommorow? During the week!?!?
My pictures?
My phone numbers?

How soon can I get another one?
Who do I got to call to help me fix this?
How can I reach them! Their phone number was in the my broken cell phone!

Ok, get home and start emailing people. No, I will have another phone by tommorow night.
Maybe they can get all my phone numbers out of my broken phone?
Oh crap, what if my numbers were saved to my phone memory and not my SIM card? Are they lost? Forever?
Some people I had in my phone I have not called in ages and that is the only way I know how to get a hold of them.
Some close close friends and family phone numbers are not memorized! I only had them in my cell.

The feelings I had/have are singularly 21st century, digital age.

It is sad that we get so connected to things that keep us connected to others. I felt I lost my friends at some level.
I had to use my home phone!

I remember having a phone stolen.
I remember my friend coming out of the bathroom, after a looong time, carrying her cell phone in a paper towel because it fell in the toilet!
So sad.

What are your cell phone lost, or broken, stories?


Women's Day?

Elena Poinatowska came to CSUN yesterday and I heard one of our professors hit her with a question that essentially said 'That as women become more empowered, men become nothing more than sperm donors.' The most recognized female Mexican author was flabbergasted.

I am flabbergasted as well. I could think of worse thing to be than just a sperm donor.

Yesterday I got that email about the Afghani woman who has been beaten throughout her hell of marriage. I also learned that Oprah is number 600-something in the Forbes list of billionaires. I think she is the only billionaire to build a school for young women on that list, or maybe she just has better PR. Yesterday I read an essay from a student who's mother picked her lover's side in the court hearing my student initiated when her mom's lover tried to get it on with her as well. Another student wrote how she was made to feel ashamed her body and skin color until she read Sandra Cisneros and learned that the virgen also has a 'panocha.' Women have it and had it tough, but there are good things also like Oprah.

More women are graduating high school and college than men, at least in the US. There are more diverse roles for women on TV! This week's George Lopez episode showed the amazingly beautiful, sexy, Constance Marie worrying about her losing her looks. Superficial? Ofcourse! Something we never talk about Most definately! Being a fan of gorgeous women it made me think about that head trip a super hot woman must go through when indeed she has more years behind her than in front and when gravity really kicks in. All their life they had that card: their looks, and now it is fading. This society has done a number on women and their image(s).

I often tell my students to avoid the 'racks of torture.' The magazine racks filled with women's magazines. Everyone of those rags tells women how they are not good enough in bed, how they should dress, what make up they need to 'make up' for their God given flaws, how to serve their men better, how to re-ignite their men's interest (because we all are supposed to not stay interested in anything for too long), and how they absolutely are nothing in this world if they cannot 'catch' a man to care for them, love them, or at the least be a sperm donor.

I am afraid for my daughter. She has already been molested by the Disney channel, Fashion TV and Real Lives of OC Wives, or something like that. She has already worried about how tall she will grow up to be. She is just 10 yrs. old.

I hope to keep introducing her to strong, intelligent, motivated, successful women who are comfortable in their ideas, dreams, desires and bodies. Xicanas.

Happy Women's Day, Week, Year, Life...


some artsy whine

I recently reconnected with an old compan~ero from earlier years in the streets, clubs and raves of LA.

Eventually the conversation, like most conversations with old friends, made its way to places and experiences we had in the past.

Manglor was the first person I knew who moved into the Artist District of L.A. before it was called the Artist District. Manglor at the time was a bike messenger, and with another bike messenger as a roomie, they could easily afford a nice sized loft.

Don't even think bike messengers were paid better then, it was the rent that was cheaper then.

All the area was known for was the very punk rock Al's Bar (r.i.p) and big ass apartment/lofts filled with tripped out peeps who partied all the time.

We would be tripped out, partying at Manglor's on any night of the week and one neighbor or another would always come by and join in, or invite us over to their own party, or their other neighbor's party. Music flowed through the hallways. The few cars were usually rusted 'n dented and/or covered in paint that would wash off for a new color in a few days. Art pieces were cast off into the hallway or street below only to be dragged back in and re-touched a day or two later.

Sometimes you couldn't tell the difference between the people who lived in the building or the ones who lived outside and lived off your tips for keeping an eye on your car. The local food was only at T.V Cafe, (thanks always for that introduction Manglor!) and no one would ever dream of a French-styl-ish over priced cafe anywhere near there. A hop over the river for tacos was not an expedition, but part of natural migratory patterns.

It was an Artist District before it was an artist district.

We both have seen how things have changed.

Today you see nice shiny cars zipping in and out. In some builidngs, I heard/read that, there are formal building groups that monitor your comings and goings and any hint of a party in order to send you a 'tsk tsk, you should know better' email via the building's website that has a resident code of fricking conduct! New artists pushed out the old with their rules and much higher rents.

They want to live in the city, but feel like they are back in suburbia.

They don't want film companies working too early or too late. They want a dog park in an area where the majority of people sleep in tents on the streets. They have laws and non-cops, who dream of being cops, to scare off, harrass and 'clean up' the area of people who have no where else to go . There are now formal galleries, not signs that say "Come In And Buy Some Art So I Can Pay My Rent." They have overpiced French stylo cafes with cloth table covers and napkins. Shit for all I know they got free wireless internet in that little zone that once celebrated life and art not just the business of art and its benefactors, collectors and 'successful' artists.

Gentrification sucks.


manifest exercise...

Today I am going to ride my bike through Elysian park. I will go fast. I will go up hills that look hard to climb. I will breathe in good air and let out toxins in sweat and breath.

I will make it a point to take the stairs.

I will walk to local stores and take chances on product availabilty, not drive to places I know have what I need.

I will get up side down, at least once a day, for at least two minutes.

I will get back to 100 sit ups a day.

I will do at least 15 - 20 minutes of Yoga at home and begin attending classes again.

ok, let's go...