Saturday, January 31, 2009

Maira Kalman - "And the Pursuit of Happiness"

From what I've gathered, this is Kalman's first post to her new blog project which will focus on American democracy.

I've loved Maira's work since I first happened upon her illustrated children's book "Stay Up Late", which is based on a David Byrne/Talking Heads song off of the LITTLE CREATURES album (1985). Right away, I imagined that she and I had the same quirky sense of humor and an appreciation of the absurd. (If you ever catch me in the children's section of bookstores or libraries, it's probably because I'm scouting for additional interesting illustrative/graphic design work being done for kids' books.)

Last year, one of the things that could reliably perk me up or send me to numbered clouds (9, for instance) was Maira's blog "The Principles of Uncertainty." It was zen meets jon stewart meets dali meets dalai. I loved it. These blogposts have been compiled for her new book "The Principles of Uncertainty", about which an reviewer says: "[It]...defies easy classification. Is it philosophy? Art? Memoir? Travel? Sociology? The answer is All of the Above (and more). This charming collection of text, paintings, and photography presents a "profusely illustrated" year in a life, with illustrated musings that range from a young Nabokov "sitting innocently and elegantly in a red chair" to two stuffed rabbits in the window at Paris's Deyrolles taxidermy to Kitty Carlisle Hart at home in her "pearly pink palace." Delightful, inspiring, and often very moving, this little charmer is a book you might find nestled on Wes Anderson's coffee table."

I bet that top-tier sculptor Richard Serra would probably love to be appointed as the first U.S. Minister of Culture, but personally I'd like to see Maira Kalman's name on the short list of considered appointees for this dream job. Like in my dreams...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kendall, my friend, went to DC and all he sent me was a youtube link!

[Seriously, my good longtime poet-friend Kendall McCook traveled to Pennsylvania to meet his two sons and, together with them, road the rails down to DC for the inauguration. He lives a mere two blocks from me, and I'm vicariously thrilling about what he experienced on the Mall on January 20th. Join me in some good this slideshow of his trip. He's the fella in the cowboy hat and beard. Kendall is good people, por siempre...]

Saturday, January 24, 2009

ANA SISNETT memorial celebration today in Austin @ 1pm

allgo celebrates the life of Ana Sisnett; artist, writer, activist, beloved community member and friend

Celebrating Ana. Join us Saturday, January 24, at 1:00 PM as we honor Ana Sisnett’s life and spirit.

Trinity United Methodist Church
600 E 50th St, Austin, TX

Ana transitioned gracefully on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at her home in Austin, Texas, surrounded by her family and loved ones. Ana was a long-time ALLGO supporter and community member. Her visual art and spoken word performances inspired and moved many at ALLGO events. No one who ever heard her read her poem about how to eat mango was ever the same. She could often be seen at ALLGO events dancing salsa with her signature smile. She was a published poet and writer whose writings are included in several anthologies. She was also the author of Grannie Jus’ Come! a children’s book inspired by her childhood memories of Panama.

Her local, national and international activism included community media, anti-oppression workshops, HIV/AIDS awareness, and community technology training and access. As a "Technomama" during the '90s, Ana provided Internet trainings in English, Spanish and Portuguese throughout the world for organizations including the UN. As the Executive Director of Austin Freenet, Ana sought to ensure technology access for everyone. Her focus was on empowering women and communities of color around the world.

Ana will live on in our hearts and be a spirit of ALLGO for generations to come.

Ana Sisnett’s family requests that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to one of the following causes in Ana’s honor:

The Care Communities
7215 Cameron Road
Austin, Texas 78752
Web: http://www. interfaithcarealliance. org

Austin Free-Net
2209 Rosewood Ave.

Austin, TX 78702
Web: http://www. austinfree. net/

Contributions to cover Ana’s medical expenses and final arrangements may be made to:
Priscilla Hale
Box 6149
Austin, TX 78762

What I earlier posted on Myspace about Ana:

A beautiful person has passed to the other side: Ana Sisnett ! Presente !
Category: Friends

I had the honor and privilege to work alongside Ana--as poet, media activist, and feminist--and her voice always rung true and loud for me, even as she spoke with a quiet, unhurried tone resounding with empathy and wisdom. Her tremendous grey dreadlocks were easy to spot among crowds of gente--at benefits, protests, cultural celebrations--letting me know that my amazing comadre was in our midst. Ana presented herself with dignity and calm assuredness that could never be mistaken for arrogance. The tremendous work she did as a cultural worker and feminist internet pioneer (she was proficient on the web long before I even knew what a MUD or homepage was) helps to etch her name into the history of Austin, Texas. Ana was from Panama, but grew up in the States. As author of the children's picture book, GRANNIE JUS' COME! and performer of her infamous "mango" poems, she had quite a following from Austin to San Antonio. I'll never forget that New Year's Eve, long ago, when I went to her home to do a special on-request poetry reading for her and a special German friend. It was the highlight of my evening, sharing love poetry for Ana in love. Go gently, as I'll always remember you, TechnoMama! qepd. (For more info, read the Austin American-Statesman obituary.)

Stay well and cherish each day, folks. Live lively, carrying on the work that Ana's legacy inspires us to continue. In her name, and keeping in mind all her gentle reminders, I find renewed strength to do what I am supposed to do: for comunidad, my gente, our planet, our own lives.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dawning Poem - Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2009

6:57 a.m.

there are some mornings, in the course of human life,
when the body will not sleep. will no longer lie prone.
as if by invisible fishing line, i too have been pulled from rest.
when my body knows, it is time, why do you lie there,
there is a new day to be dawned, a new day to be alive,
a new day to get started the work of a new day.

today is such a day.

my body has stirred, perhaps from the bark of a yard dog,
perhaps from the sound of cars moving in unison.
just like everyday, those sounds have sounded in my midst.
but today, my body yearns for a beacon, a bugle call,
to remind me that this is a day to not linger with sleep.

i have had such mornings before.

when i was in nepal, high up in the mountains of Himalaya,
my body would be roused by 5am, my mind briskly churning
with anticipation for the views i could see as soon as
the morning sun would deign to start warming, start shining.
to be in bed was impossible, as my spirit rushed ahead of me,
pulling on clothes, lighting a morning candle,
drawing open the curtains, peeling open a fresh day.

so, too, when i was trapped in my own bedroom closet last year.
at the first sign of dawn, the possibility of renewed light
through the opening beneath the door that miserably confined me,
this light had surely been worth waiting for, but in due time,
the waiting is over. the light starts beaming through,
the body surges with energy, and reserves of ambition you never
thought you could have now push you to get up,
wipe the sleep from your eyes, and get to work chiseling,
get back with increased fervor to the work of carving
one's way out of darkness.

i am excited. heart beating fast, i am thrilled.
it is 7:01 a.m.

and i am not a morning person.

though i am a quick-thinking, hard-working woman,
i have a penchant for deep-sleeping well past sunrise.

but here, in my 4th decade, i am awake
like the most exhuberant child:

hours before the holiday parade,
the first one awake on christmas day,
blinking in bed on birthday morning, wondering
whether the cake will be chocolate or not,
the first day of school with the smell of my new shoes
and freshly sharpened #2 pencils ready for use.

it is dark yet in this room, i could lay back down,
it is not too late to get some more sleep,
i could sneak in a cat nap and be up again later.
i could shut down this awakened state,
and resume dormancy in bed.

but it is now 7:05, and there are people on a lawn,
the hugest green belt in d.c. they have been there for hours,
standing and singing. i think i can hear their song.
their heartbeats have wakened me, and my own pulse is
now racing in unison with theirs.

as well, there are whispers of greeting in family hallways,
footsteps to the the kitchen, as households pull them selves
together for not just an ordinary day.
somehow, the coffee is perkier, more aromatic,
almost jumping out of the pot into our cups,
and we will drink of the morning like we haven't
in so many many a year.

a baby is being born.
a birthday is to be celebrated.
a party is happening soon.
friends just called from the airport.
grandmas coming for the weekend.
you're starting a new job.
today you close on the house.
your son is coming back from iraq.
you fly out in an hour to pick up your adopted daughter.

this is the day that
the hisbiscus blooms,
new software gets released,
a desired email arrives from your lover,
you will be handed a diploma,
you are honored with a medal of service,
you are toasted at a banquet

it is all happening at once,
the anticipation and the rush
towards that sunlight of the day,

and you are there with it, basking in its brilliance,
dispelling all shadows and feeling the promise
and beauty of today.

sleep is for the weary, and weariness is in that bed
and not your body. you feel like jumping on your bike
and breathing in a fresh air, you want to grab the chalk
and draw a huge 'good morning' in the middle of the road
or string balloons from your tree to your neighbor's tree
across the street, you want to wear something special
or you want to hold up a sign--standing in the median
of a busy boulevard--that says something bold,
or grab pots and pans and bang them in a parade or
ask the funny man down the street to please play his bugle
or invite all the children to join you for ice cream,
or sing a loud song and share the words with your friends
or honk your car horn like you're leaving a wedding,
or running running fast
like there's someone waiting with their arms to receive you--
or releasing hundreds of doves in a peace ceremony.

that is our work for this day.
get up and join the others.
feel your excitement, enjoy the surge.
hold hands with everybody, even if just in your mind,
and smile a radiant smile that adds to the light.

we have our hearts on the same page, so let's begin
to cajole a fresh change.
we will work together, alongside like family.

i cannot wait to join you and that is why, dear people,
i am now fully awake.

by Tammy Melody Gomez

scene from "Good Morning, U.S.A." (a dream and call to action)

Latina in black braids to her waist, stands amidst daytime traffic,
holding a sign which reads on one side:
"will NOT work for petty change"
and on the other:
"WILL work for RADICAL change!"

[slow pan across the horizon of the planet, as it breathes a huge sigh of relief]

Monday, January 19, 2009

817 FLAVORS -- it's a wrap, folks_success in the city

[the crew of EIGHT HUNDRED SEVENTEEN FLAVORS, relieved and happy, after our first live taping on Sunday, Jan. 18th in FW]

says co-producer Cesar Hernandez: all the cats who worked with us...independently as strict profecionales...couldn't/wouldn't have been as smooth as it was...all the audience members that came out were graciously patient...intrigued i hope...see you on TV.

says camera operator John P: The show went great and it couldn't have happened without everyone working as a team. Until next time....

says co-producer Tammy Gomez: oh, wow, how to begin. house was packed. folks in the good vibe, and all the cameras set to roll, with content that pushes people beyond any self-created boundaries so we push to a new re-created boundless concept of comunidad. theater meets music meets grassroots activism meets visual arts meets talk in the street. a very good time was had. we gave away an Eaton Lake Tonics cd, a Crystal Casey cd, and 7 tickets to the next Q Cinema film screening.
talk about promoting local arts and artists. we doin' this 360 degree-style. puttin' you on top...just wait 'til this joint is thrown up on the 31. canal treinte y uno, amigas y amigos!


natalia "nati" dominguez
mark "theater jones. com" lowry
rodrigo "on the street" pessoa
suzette "go green! green go!" rangel
carlos "dj sol*los" juarez
tony "goodwin" diaz
tay, syntax strange, cristina, crystal casey, tony ferraro, john p,, todd and Kyle, kelsie torres-pelham, FW Cable Television's Rick Leal, doro garcia, ramiro, and Arts Fifth Avenue!

TOGETHER, we makin' the fort aka cowtown aka 817 show the flavor of its true selveseseseseseseses.

love ya truly!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Join our studio audience: live taping Sunday, Jan. 18th for 817 FLAVORS

We will be filming in front of a live audience (that would be YOU and your friends) this Sunday at Arts Fifth Avenue in Fort Worth. Seating is limited...get at us if you want to be part of the experience. Of the community, for the community. RSVP for a spot...

From soundculture project images


SUNDAY, JANUARY 18th - 6:15 doors open (taping @ 7pm, don't be late)

http://www. artsfifthavenue. com
1628 5th Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76104.
(northwest corner of Fith Avenue and Allen Street in the heart of the Fairmount Neighborhood--minutes off of I-35 and I-30)

EIGHT HUNDRED SEVENTEEN FLAVOR - "new project for tv uplifts local talent, voices"
Original rhyme: Syntax Strange
Original audio mix: Spewcataclism
Original video: Cesar Hernandez aka DesertedPoetic

Thursday, January 08, 2009

"Vagina Monologues" in FW - AUDITION NOTICE

[Calling all women (teens and older) to participate as performers in the audacious play "Vagina Monologues". I performed the "Bosnian rape victim" monologue in 2005, when we produced the show at Texas Wesleyan University. My co-performers were women from various backgrounds who shared in the empowering spirit of the play. I highly recommend this experience to any woman who wants to work and play alongside some of the most amazing gyno-mite in Fort Worth!]

V-Day Ft. Worth is holding auditions for its 7th annual production of Eve Ensler's legendary "Vagina Monologues", which will be performed at Casa Manana on Saturday,
March 21st, 2009, in Fort Worth.

The performance will be the culminating event of the Whole Woman Festival, which will take place in the morning and afternoon of March 21st--also at Casa Manana.

Where: Westside Unitarian Universalist Church, 901 Page St., Ft. Worth
(For detailed directions:
When: January 18th, Sunday, 1:00 - 4:30 PM
What: You may bring in a one minute excerpt from any monologue. Or you may do a cold reading from provided selections. Walk-ins will be welcomed, or you may prefer to schedule an audition time (see contact info below).

For more info, and to access the "Vagina Monologues" script, go here.

Rehearsals: Minimal rehearsals will take place on Sundays starting Feb. 8th.

Please contact Beth Bontley, director, at: or by phone at 817-923-2366.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Manuel Diosdado Castillo, Jr. - passes to the other side at the age of 40

This morning I opened some email to find that MANUEL DIOSDADO CASTILLO, JR., the founder and director of San Anto Cultural Arts--which helps underserved youth through mural-building, a teen-produced newspaper, and media education projects--has died after a brief struggle with cancer.

Manuel or "Manny" as we all called him, was only 40 years old.

I met Manny when he was drumming in a garage punk band at a tiny club off Sixth Street in Austin back in the 1990s. He was friendly and laidback cool, though he was ferocious on drums.

His band, Cleofus Trujillo Trio, played at one of the best parties I've yet to throw, when I lived on rural land on the periphery of Austin's city limits. Again, Manuel was alot of fun, and very kind to me.

Over the years, whenever I chanced to run into him in San Antonio, he was always eager to share stories about his projects at San Anto Arts. He kept inviting me to do a poetry workshop or performance for the youths, but my schedule was not on the same page as his, unfortunately.

His death is a great loss to the music and nonprofit and Westside working-class communities of San Antonio and beyond. A few years back, when Ram Ayala, the owner of Tacoland (legendary club where the Sex Pistols and other infamous bands played), was murdered, Manuel bolted into action by organizing a huge memorial show at Tacoland the very next day.

Manny usually had more than one musical project going at any given moment.

In 2007, I stopped in at Ruta Maya Coffeehouse to rendezvous with compas Karimi, Laura Varela, and la Vicki, when I got to catch the end of his set with the go-go-booted soul singer Suzy Bravo. Wow.

I had been hoping for his band, Snowbyrd, to play in Fort Worth sometime, and he'd almost made it happen last summer on their way south from a gig in Kansas, but alas...

The last time I saw him was in late July of 08, when Ramsey and I rolled through San Anto (NOBODY in San Antonio says "San Antone" by the way) on our way home from Mexico. Manuel was leaning on the bar at an old school conjunto joint where a live band was plunking out the Mexican polkas as couples scooted across the smoke-filled dance hall. He embraced me warmly and offered to buy me a longneck, but alas Ramsey was impatient and smoke-intolerant out in the parking lot.

Some opportunities just never make...

Rest in peace, Manuel. I'll bet there are dozens of San Anto graf writers incanting your name with aerosol colors upon the broken plaster and concrete walls of the barrios tonight...

http://www. mysanantonio. com/entertainment/San_Anto_Cultural_Arts_founder_dies. html

Web Posted: 01/06/2009 9:26 CST

Arts leader Manuel Castillo dies at 40

By Elda Silva - Express-News Staff Writer

Though not a visual artist himself, Manuel Castillo changed the face of San Antonio.

The executive director of San Anto Cultural Arts, an organization responsible for more than three dozen murals on the West Side, Castillo died Tuesday evening after a short battle with cancer. He was 40.

The graduate of Holy Cross High School was a founder of San Anto Cultural Arts, which grew out of Inner City Development, a nonprofit group run by former City Councilwoman Patti Radle and her husband, Rod.

“He seemed happiest when he brought the community together to do good things — to share food together, to share art together, to share music together, and he did so much of that through San Anto,” Patti Radle said.

After news of Castillo’s death, Radle was among his friends who gathered outside the squat, neon-green house that is home to San Anto Cultural Arts. At the vigil, some mourners tucked bouquets into the chain-link fence. Others simply stood in the yard illuminated by streetlights and shared memories.

“He’s always been a guy who took good risks and had an amazing love for what it meant to be community,” said artist Cruz Ortiz, a close friend.

Castillo knew the importance of being grass-roots, Ortiz said, although he never used that word. He kept his programs quiet and low-key, much like himself.

“But you walk around these streets, they all know what the impact was,” he said.

Castillo enlisted friends including Ortiz and artist Juan Miguel Ramos to get San Anto Cultural Arts off the ground. The organization’s first mural was celebrated with a blessing in 1994. In 1997, San Anto Cultural Arts was established as a nonprofit organization, and Castillo was hired as executive director.

“I had some idea of doing public art murals because there wasn’t anything like that going on in the city,” Castillo said in an interview in 2007.

In addition to the mural program, San Anto has a media arts program and publishes El Placazo, a community newspaper featuring articles, poetry and art.

Castillo also was a mainstay on the San Antonio music scene, most recently as the drummer in the experimental rock band Snowbyrd.

“I’m dealing with it,” said a somber Chris Lutz, who sings and plays guitar in Snowbyrd. “The greatest and loudest lead drummer in San Antonio underground rock has left the planet.

The band recently recorded a seven-song album. A tribute show is planned for Friday at Limelight.

Radle said she used to tease Castillo by referring to his band as his wife.

“He just loved his band so much, loved music so much, loved drumming and loved what music did for people,” she said.

Arrangements are pending with Castillo Mission Funeral Home.

Express-News staff writers Elaine Ayo and Hector Saldaña contributed to this report.