Monday, December 10, 2007

Brown is the New Green

Coming off of the hand-crafted, artisan-fueled weekend excursion, I find myself thinking of Phillip Rodriguez and the economies of autonomy. Phillip is a filmmaker whose last film, L.A. Now was a poetic rumination on the tide of change and eternal flux that makes this city such a fascinating place to inhabit, discover, study, and forgive. I missed the screening and the discussion around his new film Brown is the New Green: George Lopez and the American Dream held at USC last month, but the crux is that this so-called "Hispanic Market" explosion--that marketers and purveyors of mass consumerism are trying to figure out so they can slam more burgers and trendy gadgets down our already constricted throats--is a curious exercise in cluelessness. He is correct in pointing out that Latinos and U.S. Latinos in particular are not easily categorized, commodified, dissected as a generic demographic. Proudly, I purchased the new novel by Luís Rodríguez, Music of the Mills, a jar of hand-made sea-salt scrub, hand-made earings, boutique Christmas cards and a calendar printed in a small downtown art studio and bathed in the tradition of fine Mexican printmaking. Needless to say, this was all residual glow from the Virgen de Guadalupe: Diosa Inantzin spectacle I ws lucky enough to witness on Friday night. Sal López as Juan Diego was an example of flawless casting if ever there was one. El compa' Francisco Hernández reminded me, after he heard me rave about the musical and theatrical perfomances in the production, that Sal has probably incarnated Juan Diego more than any other single actor. Opera star and East LA native Suzanna Guzmán was luminescent as the Virgen de Guadalupe. Mad respect and props to Evelina Fernández for her libretto and José Luís Valenzuela for fine drecting. The show left me breathless, and I promise to attend again his holiday season if at all possible.

I find it infinitely beautiful that politically progressive Latino community activists in LA have been able to carve out so many accessible spaces where we can put our hard earned money directly into the hands of the people who have created the gifts I will take home to family in Texas. That spaces such as IMIX Bookstore in Eagle Rock, Trópico de Nopal Gallery and even a little gallery in Boyle Heights can exist and perhaps even thrive a little in an era when war is big business and more mass profit for the corporate raiders and financial captains of the global conglomerates is ample testimony of our survival instinct and the creative spirit that drives so many of those among us who resist. And in the spirit of resistance, I ventured out as far as Hollywood to see José Montoya, a original member of the Royal Chicano Airforce, read his poetry. Su hijo Richard Montoya de Culture Clash and Mario Rocha rounded out a slate of Chicano literary muscle. Termine cansado but still managed to make it back to Boyle Heights to congratulate the always pugnacious and plucky playwright/screenwriter Josefina López and the folks who put together BHLIFE (Boyle Heights Latina International Film Extravaganza). Mi admiración por su trabajo noble en el corazón de un barrio netamente angelino. If your free tonight, come to Self Help Graphics for a reading in celebration of Guadalupe-Tonantzín. Voy estrenar mi primer librito en 10 años, a self-published chapbook titled "Hija de Guadalupe."

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