Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Nostalgia and the farce of July

It is sadness and hope at the same time. It is the winded glow that comes from an afternoon climb to the hilltop pond at Debs Park alongside the decent and kind profesor Felipe Castruita, for the stunning views of Highland Park, the downtown LA skyline, Montecito Heights and El Sereno from a place as tall and serene as you will find en esta tierra de mil lomas. This the day after the first Proyecto Jardín Wednesday capoeira workshop I've ever attended. Talk about toe-up! So then June 28th, tres días despues, it was once again essential Los, and it began on Saturday morning with kids who are currently detained at Eastlake Juvenile Hall, where a fifteen year old girl who had just read my dog-eared copy of Bless Me, Ultima, said that it didn't matter if she was locked up or not because her mind and her imagination were free. Wisdom from the mouths of children... Immediately thereafter, I tended bar at a backyard wedding. The groom was a periodista friend and an LA newcomer from Oklahoma who met and fell in love with a beautiful colombiana during his first visit there a little over a year ago. Michael is a child of the bible belt holy rollers and another testament to the transformative power of Los Angeles. Although he struggled with his vows in Spanish, there were few dry eyes there. Best wishes for the happy couple from opposite ends of the universe.

In the face of all the hoopla about a McCain visit to Colombia and the release of prisoners by the guerrilla forces, there's the unspoken undercurrent. While the media talks about some sort of daring rescue, I see no proof. Some have even said that there was a hefty ransom paid and that McCain was the bagman. The released military contractors (read mercenaries ala Blackwater) can now go on CNN and talk about how they were held hostage by terrorists. Let's bring the farce of Iraq closer to home so we can create more unfounded fear and somehow link Hugo Chavez. We can't let him get all the credit for getting prisoners of war released, now can we?

All of which brings us to the Xicano Records & Film Farce of July, which reminds us that all the patriotic hoopla is once again a way to distract the numbed and medicated masses glued to their screens. Should we mindlessly admire celebratory fireworks against the backdrop of a useless war that bankrupts our nation and enriches the war profiteers while everyday folk struggle just to come up with gas money? Anyguey, enough of the ranting. I would have liked to hear the musical and poetic presentations at both Farce of July events held in LA last Friday but missed both. Y en mi opinión humilde, it was good sign that we, as angelinos, could support and provide decent sized audiences for at least two events staged to create that kind of awareness. My nephew, who works at a progressive radio station in Buffalo, New York, took his new bride to Canada for the 4th and rode a ferris wheel. "I went to Canada to celebrate," he told his mother, my sister Joanne.

Many who dropped by the closing night celebration at Antigua Cultural Coffee House, here in El Sereno a week before the chantaje del cuatro de julio will recall that the assembled crowd was so joyful and upbeat, spilling out onto the street for Luis Vega's incendiary public performance art piece that LAPD even dispatched a helicopter to buzz the sky over us and flash the ghetto buster light on the huge contingent of former patrons who had come to say goodbye. Too many people enjoying the jaraner@s or the reggae grooves of Pachamama to handle or what? I should be glad I live in a country that sends the po-po just because we came out in strength and peace to support a neighborhood business that was literally being forced out to make way for a Starbuck$ or a Coffee Bean? NO creo yo, chuy.

Cut to the "Nostalgia" exhibition at Lilia Ramírez' First Street Studios which opened on Saturday, July 5th with a set of unplugged and spine-tingling music from El-Haru Kuroi. If you thought the Herban Mother-lode show was a smash, the selection of paintings, prints and photographs gathered for the current exhibition are irridescent in their ability to evoke sadness over lost lives and loves as well as melancholy over the immutable past while embracing optimism simultaneously. The show includes work by Javier Barboza, Cesar Gonzalez, Rogelio Gutierrez, Jennifer Gutierrez Morgan, Andrea LaHue, Rosalie Lopez, Manuel Lopez, Rick Mendoza, Esmeralda Montes, Stephen Romio, Victor Rosas, Alexander Schaefer, Mariacruz Velasco and Rosalie Villegas. "Nostalgia" runs through July 26th.

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