Saturday, December 26, 2009

Flowers of Fire: Poesía de Lucha y Amor

It is poetry from the Bay to Santiago de Chile, from the hilltops of Lincoln Heights to jarocho hollows and D.F. escapes, the flowers of the floricanto and the fires fed by restless revolutionary spirits. Please join us as we hand the symbolic torch to the Boyle Heights bards. I will spend more time with words, with the magazine and the blogs from here henceforth. I welcome Estrella and Leticia especially because they instigated my return to Chilangolandia and the poetry lulls between el rock pesado at el Chopo in the shadows of the Tlatelolco '68 masacre two years ago. I giggle at the sudden flock to Guadalajara by those who have finally equated the 80s Chicano punk explosion with the rockero counterpart and try to verbalize it all in catalogues and academic papers. It's a long way from eating hongos with Maria Sabina and dancing with concheros at Chalma while sleeping in the cemetary and an even longer way from the bomb explosion aftermath that greeted me at Plaza Universidad seven days after Marcos and the Zapatistas made a stand at San Cristobal. Leticia Luna, publisher and editorial director at la Cuadrilla de la Langosta, an imprint more strident and feminist than any I've seen in a long time, has been a midwife to punk poetry and youth culture in la mera capirucha for some twenty years, her yearling and protege Estrella del Valle was just awarded a prize in Colombia for a book called Vuelo México - Los Angeles Puerta 23, a searing indictment of privilege, even Chicano privilege here on the northern side of the border like a wound that cleaves a people apart. Ms. del Valle hails from Veracruz and lets us know that there is a darker side to life there and here, that happy, fandango music is not the only export the jarocho's can share with a vengeance. And what can I say about Leni? Un camarada de letras and a writer's writer, who writes from a place where narrative structure, memory and the genetic imprint of a dictator's torture delivered directly onto the backs of his own kin are salved with sweetness and justice and redemption. We welcome Angelinos, native and non, to the Corazón del Pueblo, home of a homegrown art and community paper, Brooklyn & Boyle (now a year old)... we're bringing it to you here, bringing it home, aún el hecho de estar en casa en ambos países. No es por nada el nombre de este sitio virtual... destino del los chilanguanacoides xicanos. If you fee up for poetry that moves and rattles, words that have been strewn across continents in beautiful volumes and in the pages of periodical perhaps a wee bit more erudite than you are used to, favor de acompañarnos con una buena vibra este martes a las 8 pm!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coatlaxopeuh AKA La Guadalupe

Reading Gerry's ardent piece about Pedro Pans and how we fall somewhere in the middle of the 9-to-5 vs. the happy-go-lucky roustabout bohemians who purport to be so above it all and live with no concern about tomorrow, I am finally compelled and driven to blog a bit. The Brooklyn & Boyle toil has consumed me, but it's work for and commitment to something I hope will be lasting. It is an idea and a presence that has allowed me to find a place and a sense of community. And it has been the culmination of work that began shortly after my own mother's death. I want to tell Mr. Meraz, a down-ass vato who really does get it and really does give a f#%*, that his mamita his here, in him and in all the small miracles that occur everyday on the block, on the curb, on the sidewalks in those lugares, the places where we dwell. At the A.R.T.E.S. meeting recently, Gerry spoke up and said what I know and feel. He spoke to the Chicano artists who still look down on the truest rasquache evolution and like to imagine an East Side with primrose flower gardens and some sort of 70s, pre-mexicanización idyl. He said he was grateful for the vendors with who make every street a tianguis out of necessity. My mom embraced new immigrants and spoke to them in exceedingly fine Spanish despite the fact that her great-great grandmother was born north of the Rio Grande. My father married a catracha (look it up, raza, or ask someone from centroamerica) but still complains about how the mojados are taking over. He speaks good Spanish but is more willing to put down paisas than he is to recognize the fact that his own children are fueling a retro-acculturation movement. Then you have the indigenazis, mixed blood mestizos who glamorize and romanticize an azteca past that they only know from one or two trips to el D.F., Chicano Studies introduction to our raices pre-colombinos and a movimiento that revolted against the imposition of a Western or European hegemony. Voila, presto. They are suddenly proud to wear the beads and the ayoyotes as an antidote to the racist system that has made being indio somehow inferior. They're the ones who put down Ché because he was an argentino of European descent. In Gerry's thought provoking post, he leaves out the queer and lesbian quotient and talks about Pedro Pans who feel they are beyond relationships with the opposite sex, but I would add that there are also Patrici@ Pans who seek release and an unburdening in a series of souless couplings, unhealthy relationships. I watched Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence again last night and cried because the robot boy wanted so badly to be real and be held by his mother, wanted so much to hear her say that she loved him and wanted, finally, to know simply that he was every bit as human as she was. The Mexica-tihaui brothers all claim to honor the earth and our ancestors but I never see them cooking or cleaning at any ceremony or encuentro or blessing or drum circle. I was there when Maestro Andres Segura, un verdadero jefe de la danza, scolded a group of mostly male Mechistas once at a gathering near the border in South Texas, because they kept raising their fists and shouting "Mexica tiahui!" "No!" he told them, wagging his finger in reprimand. "No solo los mexicas! Todos tiahui!" "All forward." Just because you lead a sweat lodge or can say "Aho, mitakweasin" after beating on a handheld drum does not mean that you have overcome our inherent tendencies to propagate and further an unjust gender-class system that relegates us to certain roles. The day I go to a pow-wow or a danza and see all the men cooking for the women and allowing them to eat first and, by the same token, see all the young people cooking for the elders and letting them eat first, then perhaps I will have a little more hope. Gerry is a gifted writer and a homeboy from the hood. Self-analysis and self critique are important. I just wish more of the compañeros would step up and do the same. It's one thing to invoke the animas and in the palabra apologize if any mistakes or errors were committed in the process, to say aloud and in public that we want to walk and heal in a good way, surrounded by beauty and light and love, but another thing entirely to live that with each other, to beg forgiveness and seek redemption for our human flaws face-to-face within our families and with our past loves, perhaps peel the papas for the papa con huevo tacos and bring flowers for a friend, humbles ourselves and say nothing when the palabra traverses the círculo. It's what I've tried to do with the revista, a space where we can speak and allow others to speak and let arte, al final, provide the truths we seek. It shouldn't have to take the loss of our mothers to help us understand, as men, that we would be nothing if not for a womb that cradled us and brought us to life. Think about it, ese. And give thanks, today and everyday. In being good to yourself, you honor her, and I'm saying this as much to myself, porque la sangre y las lágrimas escurren igual de las llagas ancestrales.