Happy Anniversary

I got to my apartment in Northridge after a day of learning.
The news was all about the verdict. I felt it in my bones, made my self a sandwich. By the time I was done Reginald Denny was being beat in the streets.

Called home and mom said the cops were all flying down Main St. they could see smoke down south. "Don't worry, it's far away. When I went through the Watts Riots, they were closer."

Called the homies who were going to CSUN. Some had already left back home to L.A.
Got a call from M.E.Ch.A. We were having a meeting with the BSU about what was happening.

Professors and students were mostly calling for peace and patience. One of my boys stood up and yelled "This is what we've been waiting for!!! Let's go take it back!!! Who is with me??" A few other heads stood up and began walking away.

At the dorms we were getting calls that peeps were coming back with lots of beer and booze. The party would start soon. At Club D, my homeboys apartment we got a new TV, couch and more booze and beer.

Some came back saying my neighbor nearly shot them. He was driving around in his black Camero pointing his gun at people on the streets. He thought it was a time to shoot Blacks and Mexicans again. We cheered as the cop car was flipped upside down.

We called around and learned about the borders. You can't get near USC, there is a perimeter with National Guard protecting it. You can't go West of Western. We learned who is protected and served.

When I drove home, I took the 5 south and got off in Boyle Hts. I wanted to see if La Raza had snapped and burned their neighborhood down. I smiled when all was at peace and in one place along Brooklyn and First St.

My folks were bar-b-queing with the neighbors, something they rarely did. All were cool. They had their guns nearby, just in case someone from outside came up and started snapping. We had a good time.

Nothing changed other than having more corporate owned retail and less independent retail. Some think that is progress.

It's going to be hotter this summer. Cops are being acquitted across the nation. More people are out of jobs, losing homes, paying out the nose at the pumps, and fear is a natural state of being since 9/11. Everything seems lined up.

I hope Olmos has his broom ready.
For another view of the anniversary visit Militant Angeleno


Chicano Hero

"A Chicano is Mexican-American with a non-Anglo image of himself."

"This idea of white is best needs to end."

- Ruben Salazar

Rosado-rito Bike Ride

The 29th annual Rosarito to Ensenda Bike Ride was everything we had hoped for.
We left Friday morning around 11:30 to avoid the morning traffic. It was perfect weather and no traffic. The only thing that sucked was that the night before my homeboy 'The Noodle" got one of his CDs stuck in my player so we had to listen to the radio, after we both made CDs just for this trip.

We crossed the border without any problems and made it to our rented house in Brisas Del Mar, 5 min north of Rosarito around 3ish. The place was very nice and clean, with an awesome top floor open patio with a bar-b-que. We unloaded and hopped back in the G-Enterprise and went for lobster at Puerto Nuevo.

After a great meal we walked around a lil bit and headed back.
We stopped at a Calimax market to load up on supplies. Havana Club Rum, Mexican Coke, limones (for Cuba Libres), some wine coolers, ice, salsa, tortillas, charcoal (I brought some carne asada and chicken from home that was marinating), and other necessities. We settled in, watched the "Good Shepard," and went to sleep early.

Got up at 7am and started getting the bikes ready. Checking tire pressures, putting the appropriate stickers on bikes and helmets. Put on sunscreen and headed out. We needed to meet up with her friend and boyfriend near the start of the race, but we also needed to find parking and find breakfast.

We found a parking spot two blocks from the starting point in front of a bank. Being that it was Saturday, no one could complain about taking the bank's parking spots all day. Right next to the bank was restaurant with great scents of fresh food wafting into the street. After a hearty breakfast of gorditas, chile verde, chile rojo with rice and beans, great coffee and homemade tortillas we unloaded the bikes and poof there was her friend with her boyfriend. All was falling into place, effortlessly.

The ride started right at 10 am. Immediately the girls fell behind. We had agreed to gather up at all the checkpoints if we separated. The weather was cool and overcast. This first half of the ride stayed along the coast. We rode to the 'Half-Way House' which really isn't the half way point. We all met up there. I had a beer and R had a margarita. They really helped.

The rest of the ride was beautiful and hard at times going up long hills. It was definately fun and inspiring to see all types of people riding. The views were beautiful. We would split up and ride together, finding each other at the various water stations. We finished in almost 4 hours.

At the end we ate everything in sight! Tacos de pescado, asada, a hot dog, empanadas, corn in a cup, churros and fresh orange juice. We hopped on the shuttle and made it to home base by 6pm because we had a flat on the shuttle. That night we just chilled with Cuba Libres and "V" and crashed.

The next morn I got up and began the bar-b-que. Mmmm it was so good.

I highly recommend this ride to anyone of any skill level on a bike. You can do it and being down south by the beach just adds to a great experience.


LACMA's Phantom Sightings pt. 2

As you can read below I was at the April 2nd opening night of Phantom Sightings: Art After The Chicano Movement. I was also at the Saturday April 5th symposium titled Phantom Sites: Rethinking Identity and Place in Contemporary Art. I returned last Friday to check out the show at a casual pace and I have tried to read all the reviews, about the show which have been compiled by Harry Gamboa Jr.

A couple of issues that keep arising are the subtitle: Art after the Chicano Movement, and thus 'What then is Chicano Art?'

Some of the reviews have been gentle, others searing with their words, not about the art per se, but the spirit and thus the curatorial framework which aims to present art by Chicanos who don't necessarily see themselves as Chicano. This leads to a lot of questions as to why then even call it Chicano art?

In discussions at the symposium, about the symposium and in the hallways of the collective mental barrio, other questions or snipes have emerged such as: 'After the Chicano Movement? I didn't know it was over?' or 'What is this talk about post-Chicano, or post-race? Sounds like an Obama campaign tactic on the loose.' (I like that one in particular.)

I asked one of the panelists, after the symposium, out on the lawn, "Why did they think the curators left out any art that referenced the Zapatistas or indigenismo? Surely these two have influenced a lot of art and artists 'after the movement.' "

They claimed, without a pause, that it was not conceptual art and that it was claiming a lineage. (I'm using 'they' to hide their identity. They are well versed in the art world, I respect them, they were on the panel, I know they weren't one of the curators, but their opinion still matters.)

I replied with, "To be born in Boyle Heights, and to never have spent a moment in the Lancandon jungle, but still claim to support and be inspired by the lives of the Zapatistas is totally conceptual. As far as lineage, are you saying that an indigenous lineage, which has its own language, cosmology and theories behind it, isn't a valid lineage for this show? Does art have to follow a German abstract, plastic based, Dadist lineage to be considered?"

They couldn't say anything to that. I still want that answered from someone, por favor.

Overall I believe that this is another example of the institutionalization of Chicanos. Chicana/o Studies Depts. have become fairly institutionalized, concerning themselves too much with tenure, theories, funding and not offending the others. Many departments have sheepishly agreed or initiated changing the name to Latino Studies or falling under the Ethnic Studies umbrella. I know I am at the Chicana/o bubble that is CSUN, but wasn't it the original goal of all these programs and centers to become their own single standing full blown department like we have at CSUN? And not to cave in and become part of the system while settling for less?

We are part of the system at CSUN too, its not liberated Aztlan over there. We recognize there are students and faculty that would like to move into a post-Chicano world, but we ask "Have the issues that forced us to take a stand 30 plus years ago been eliminated? Have we stopped dropping out of sub par schools? Have we stopped being forced into a life and death in a military fighting an unjust war? Are our people who are crossing the border being treated like humans? Just because Raza are the majority in the LAPD, are we being treated any better? Does our brown mayor really work for us, or for the big money in the city?" How can we be post-Chicano or post-Race if the problems and issues are still with us and in some cases stronger and worse today than before?

I think our MFAs, BAs, MAs and PhDs are blinding us and making us think that since me and mine got ours it must be all good in the 'hood. This art show is in a sense a result of the success of Chicana/o Studies. We got a lot of peeps into college and got them degrees, we just didn't think it would look like this.

At the symposium one of the panelists said "This art is for people that go to galleries and get all the references." OK then. So this art is geared to an art educated audience? Fine.

When I told my students they could get extra credit for going to this show I told them that they would see stuff that would make them think "That is considered art?"

I told them (they are all writing students) "When you think that, look for the description. It will be a paragraph somewhere near the piece. Try to read it. I know it may be confusing. It was written for curators and people who study art. That paragraph makes it art. If you can learn to write so only a few educated people will understand you, then you can make a lot of money putting stuff up in galleries that most people will go: 'That is considered art?'"

I'm sorry if that offends anyone.

In my first Chicano Studies class at CSUN I had Dr. Rudy Acu~a as my first teacher, my first day of school. He said that first day, "We are here to learn. We are here to learn to love to learn. We are here to learn not only what they want us to learn, but as Chicanos we have to learn about ourselves and our history. Once we learn everything we can, we need to be able to go back to our grandmother, who crossed the border to have your mom or dad be born here, and be able to explain to her what you learned and why it is important. If you can't explain what you know to your grandma, or your community, and have her or them understand its importance, then you really didn't learn anything important." I take that to the heart.

On Sunday May 4th Chicano artist Harry Gamboa Jr. and Sandra de la Loza will have a conversation about this much discussed show at LACMA's Brown auditorium. I can't wait to hear what he has to say about this show which features him so prominently. I know he won't let us down. He won't let us keep trying to make phantoms of ourselves.

Post Script:

Just got this email about this event featuring 2 of the curators of the show. This should be an informative evening that settles a lot of questions.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 7:00 pm
Please join us for a special LECTURE at the Hammer
Curating Race: A Conversation on Curating Ethnically Specific Exhibitions

Moderated by Chon Noriega, Director of the CSRC, Professor, UCLA Dept.
of Film, Television, and Digital Media; and Adjunct Curator at the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on the occasion of One Way or
Another: Asian American Art Now at the Japanese American National Museum
(JANM) and Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement (LACMA).

With Malik Gaines, Independent writer and performer; adjunct curator at
LA ART; Rita Gonzalez, assistant curator, Special Exhibitions, LACMA;
and Karin Higa, adjunct senior curator at Art, JANM.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 7:00 pm

Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

(Located at the northeast corner of Westwood and Wilshire Blvds. in
Westwood Village, 3 blks. east of the 405 freewayĆ¢€™s Wilshire Blvd. exit.
Parking available for $3 under the museum for the first 3 hours).

This lecture is free and open to the public.

For more information: www.hammer.ucla.edu
or (310) 443-7000


Guest Bloggin'

I have been asked by my cyber homeboy El Chavo to contribute to a new collective blog called L.A. Eastside.

The purpose of this blog is to 'be a place for Eastside voices, Latino or not...'

I like that!

I posted my first one called 'L.A. Rights,' it is based on a conversation I had with a homeboy about who has the right to claim L.A.

(My usual opinionated self)


A night at LACMA's Phantom Sightings

I have seen so much press and talk about this show at LACMA.
This art show plays on many levels: it shows Chicano/a art after the 'movimiento;' Chicano/a art that isn't necessarily concerned with calling itself Chicana/o art; and art by Chicana/os which has been absent from LACMA for 20 plus years. Many are also calling this the Post ASCO Chicano/a art show. ASCO being the bad ass art collective mentioned in this blog here.

I was very excited to go and celebrate the recognition of ASCO, my mentor Harry Gamboa Jr., and to see some of today's Chicano/a art stars stick a new pie in the face of LACMA for ignoring us for so long.

R and I got there and immediately saw Gamboa, with his pal and collaborator Humberto Sandoval.
We chatted with or at least spotted, Leo Limon, Barbara Carrasco, Reina Prado, Fernando Galvez, Todd of Ollin, Luis Vega, Raul Baltazar, Rueben Mendoza, Sandra de la Loza, Yreina Cervantes, Rueben Martinez, Adrian Rivas, Elias Serna, John Valadez and so many whose names unfortunately I can't remember now. It was a night full of the of La Chicanidada universe. At every turn there were old friends introducing me to people I have read or heard about. It was Chicano/a heaven.
The first picture you will see when you first walk in is Gamboa's 'Pie in de Face,' pic where he shot Patsi Valdez standing on the bridge of LACMA where Gamboa, Herron and Gronk had spray painted their names after LACMA told Gamboa that Chicanos don't make art, they make graffitti. It says so much that nearly 30 years ago LACMA didn't know what Chicanos were capable of and thus became part of Chicano art's most famous image, thanks to ASCO. From there you are treated to more of Gamboa's pics of ASCO in action. After that introduction you are taken on a trip into the contemporary landscape of art by Chicanos today. The pieces were all amazing. I can't begin to say enough of how each of them spoke on so many levels.

Go see this show. Go alone. Take all your family. Take your time. Meditate. Breathe it in. This is like fine tequila, you need to savor the subtleties. Some will make you laugh right out, others will have you scratching your head, many will take you places known, and to some places not visited, yet.

After this show, we will no longer be seen as phantoms in our own lands.