Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I save the detritus...

...of all my meanderings. I used to be worse at this. In Austin, I would pick up every free weekly, handmade zine, printed template for madness, and cultural event hand-out (y'know, the flyers that MOTORBLADE--the rollerblading late 20th century version of Mercury, thrusting his body through central Austin environs, armed with a power stapler and a backpack of 8 and a half by 11 announcements for punk shows, underground theater cabarets, and stencil art revues--posted up on every community-friendly public bulletin board. (I used to stand and stare at the overwhelmingly thumbtacked bulletin boards outside Wheatsville Coop on Guadalupe for minutes and minutes, eventually forgetting what I had come to buy at the store. But I love information, what can I say?)

Anyway, freebie lit is such a cool thing, so I have come to be an unoffical collector of underground press product--in other words, a packrat with discriminating taste.

I'm only writing this today, because I happened to take notice of my cluttered worktable with newly-rested non-deadline-blurred eyes, and see that I have some stacks of stuff to attend to--sorted by city or recent destination. I have the Chicago-Urbana-Champaign tour STACK (museum passes, indie zines, Chicano/a art opening postcards, and the like); I have the TeatroFest-visit-to-SanAnto detritus STACK (handbills, gallery brochures, etc.).

But right now, it seems quite urgent to find somebody who can use my leftover CTA TRANSIT CARD, which expires on July 1st. Do I have time to send it, via 1st class mail, to my performance art/videographer colleague Sheelah Murthy in Chicago? How can I throw away this card when it still has some credit on it?

Such things as this transit card and tiny stickers with webzine URLs on them hold promise. The promise of conveyance: a sidetrip to a new musuem show via inner city bus line or a mindtrip through a cool new zine website, featuring artwork by artpeople I have never met. I guess what I'm saying is that the detritus on my desk holds promise of potential, and if I just relegate it all to the dustbin without a pause to consider...well, it's like hanging up on a friend, mistaking him for an electronic telemarketer.

My friend, Ginger, might just tell me I have "scarcity" issues.

One broken promise: I picked up a little scrap of a promo announcing a "TCU Student Journal of the Arts" called "eleven40seven" which apparently only resides in memory cuz the URL didn't take me anywhere this morning when I tried to connect to it. Promises, promises. At least I can feel alright throwing away the little 1 inch by 4 inch promo scrap now.

Hmmm. I just noticed that the CTA TRANSIT CARD doesn't expire 'til July 1st, ***2006***!! That means I have more time to get this card to somebody who can use it. That means one more thing to stockpile and hoard for future use. That means one less thing that gets thrown away.

Now on to other piles and scraps. And promises of promise.

Call for Proposals/Call for Poems to Commemorate Ken Saro-Wiwa

Deadline is June 30th to submit ideas for a LIVING MEMORIAL, which will, according to the REMEMBER KEN SARO-WIWA website, be Britain's first deliberately mobile memorial. It will have the ability to be toured to as many as six locations in London during 2006-07. The competition is open to everyone, people from the arts, design, and architecture, as well as those from non-arts backgrounds. Go to the website for the guidelines and more info.

Deadline is also June 30th for submitting original tribute poems to be included in the anthology to be titled DANCE THE GUNS TO SILENCE: 100 POEMS INSPIRED BY KEN SARO-WIWA (forthcoming, November 10, 2005).

Send poetry submissions to: More information at this link from the main website.

For those who do not know of Saro-Wiwa, his execution in Nigeria which left "blood" on the hands of Shell Oil, and Saro-Wiwa's lasting legacy of struggle for self-determination and resistance against devastation of his people, the Ogoni, this is the year to catch up and know. This coming November (2005) will mark the 10th anniversary of Saro-Wiwa's execution (by hanging) for crimes he did not commit.

Scholar Anthony Guneratne, Professor at the National University of Singapore has offered a well-written essay about Saro-Wiwa's legacy titled "The Death of Ken Saro-Wiwa and The Persistence of Colonialisms."

Guneratne begins his essay by re-stating a question posed by an impatient colleague: "When does the state of postcoloniality end?...I answered my progressive friend as succinctly as I could: 'When we stop putting ropes around the necks of our writers so that their oil pipelines are kept clear.' This was shortly after the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was put to death for having led the protests of the Ogoni people against the exploitation of their lands by Western petroleum companies."

Read this essay in its entirety here. And don't forget to submit your ideas for the LIVING MEMORIAL and poems for the anthology publication as soon as possible.

!Saro-Wiwa! !Presente!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Lingering thoughts of TEATROFest

Things went well in San Anto. TEATROFEST was pretty cool. I am so glad (and the tech crew at GCAC was as well) that i chose to perform a short-n-sweet performance work (Sueno Despierta), which has a running time of about 17 minutes. No one got burnt out on my work. No one walked out during it either, to my knowledge.

Folks, however, did get tested by some of the other works presented during the FEST--in terms of content, aesthetics, "stage-readiness", and length of certain pieces. Oh well, at least I tried to be patient and did see all of the works presented during my time in San Anto. (Which is more than i can say for certain teatristas who might be of the "came to perform, didn't come to be an audience" camp.....que lastima.)

The platica on Saturday could have been facilitated a little (okay, a LOT) better than it was in order to steer us to more focused conversation about future of Chicano/a theater and performance. Instead, we seemed to digress into topics like lack of funding (without letting people speak about REAL POTENTIAL that is out there) and politics in art (wherein the younger vatos--mostly from Brownsville--eagerly weighed in despite their relative LACK OF EXPERIENCE from which to speak). Alas, the platica left me more hungry than the lonche (which was down to offerings of tostadas and one flauta, by the time i got to the food line).....

All in all, I made the time and the weekend and the FEST work for me, as I engaged young and old, newbies and veteranos, men and women. Writers, performers, media makers, tech staff---I had awesome conversations (over beer, tequila, popcorn, and bbq) with all of these and more in locales from GCAC, the Holiday Inn lobby, the Jump-Start, to Lisa Suarez' driveway. By the way, I also had a pleasant first-time interaction with Paul Bonin-Rodriguez--unexpected surprise.

I got to talk about loteria cards (interpretation, symbolic meaning, color-coordination, etc.) with Linus Streckfus, who lived in Austin when I was living there, and was running sound for the TEATROFEST showcases. I got to see other artistas who I hadn't crossed paths with in ages: David Zamora Casas (who was disarmingly sweet in Saturday night's "Cara Mia Carpa"); Rupert Reyes (director of Austin's Teatro Vivo); Trino Sanchez (whose partner and wife, Regina, regaled us with amazing stories of her movimiento family history--somebody pair her up with a scriptwriter!); and many others.

Hopefully, I'll be back in San Antonio soon. There is a plan to get me to San Anto for a one-night reading event at an art show opening at the MEDUSA LOUNGE in mid-July (at the invitation of Rosie Gonzalez and Robert Tatum). Am still awaiting confirmation of travel arrangments. I think it'll be on July 21-22 that I'll be there. A quickie. Can't wait.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Elia Arce: "I am trying to present work that has a little deeper dialogue about war"

I had heard of Elia Arce and know several artist-friends who have worked alongside her, in collaborative efforts. My good buddy, Robert Karimi, shared a stage with Arce at La Pena in Berkeley. And my friends Paul Flores (of Los Delicados) and Jime Salcedo-Malo worked with Arce on a community-based performance work titled "The Fruitvale Project". So, when I heard that Elia was going to be performing a new work at the Jump-Start Theater in San Anto--while I also happened to be in town--I was pretty excited. Beyond that, I had also just been given her cell number by a Veterans for Peace coordinator, who told me to call Elia, make contact, and find out more about this new work, THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT.

Here's a media/promo blurb about her piece/her chronology of performance:

"THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT is a timely multi-media piece exploring the many complicated issues including defense, fear, patriotism, sacrifice and survival that face the U.S. military community. Through a collage of images, sound scapes, text, movement and interviews with former and current soldiers, Arce brings us into the hearts and minds of military personnel who are dealing with their ethics and spiritual beliefs about the act of killing, amongst other thorny subjects.

Elia Arce, a dual citizen of Costa Rica and the United States, is an artist working in multi-disciplinary theatre. She is the recipient of the J. Paul Getty Individual Artist Award, grants from The Rockefeller Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has been presented internationally and most recently at the International Theatre Festival (Los Angeles) and Teatral International Latino Theatre Festival (Cuba)."

And that's the short version of her history of work.

I really enjoyed THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT, if you can say that you enjoy feeling deeply moved, a little uncomfortably challenged, and definitely a bit saddened. You don't know how much ELIA ARCE's work THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT would fit into the VETERANS FOR PEACE national conference setting, as Elia so strongly suggested we try to arrange. (I'm working as a co-coordinator to organize and promote this national meeting, which is scheduled to happen in Irving, Texas, this coming August.) Of course, being a performer myself and having heard such glowing reports of Elia's integrity and reputation, I was honored to be in her audience at the final matinee presentation on Sunday at Jump-Start.

The show: It was incredibly poignant, respectful, yet challenging. Two military soldiers (not sure if they were on leave, discharged, or what) participated in the performance with a recitation of the list of fallen U.S. soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq. A woman at the opposite side of the stage, also read a list, presumably of the Iraqis who have also lost their lives in this current war. My friend, Gertrude Baker, a Vietnam vet (nurse), participated in the flag-folding ceremony during the performance. One of the most jarring moments of the work was at the beginning of the show, as a toy soldier made its way around the platform where Elia stood, with a staccato rhythmic thumping on the stage that was very haunting. It was with small, almost nondescript props, that Elia was able to suggest myth, emotion, and history. This eloquence was highly appropriate given that so much of the war experience (and attitudes about war) are so difficult to convey with spoken language.

To hear an interview with Elia Arce speaking about THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT, which she plans to develop and expand, visit this site.

U.S. military fatalities through June 23, 2005: 1728
Iraqi civilian fatalities through June 23, 2005: 22,434 – 25,426 (est.)


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Ginger tries to save my adrenals

My herbalist amiga in Austin, Ginger, just suggested a little tonic for a multi-tasking, overcommitted summer 05 lifestyle--like mine. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm eager to give it a go. Lately, I've been down on eating--it's just too hot and digesting is such a draining bodily activity. I'm in the mood to fast and actually tried to fast in preparation for my "Sueno Despierta" performance at TEATROFest; I guess I wanted to put myself in a little bit of an altered state so my performance mindset would be similar to the hypnopompic state (immediately post-sleep) of consciousness which I love so much.

I didn't eat on Monday at all--except for an organic juice blend--but I did nibble on Tuesday and Wednesday. Through TEATROFEST, I think I drank more than I ate. I'd say my daily caloric intake averaged between 800-1500 calories, which gave me the satisfaction of feeling lighter and less exhausted.

Okay, here's Ginger's recommendation for stressed-out American bodies:

"licorice is great for adrenal exhaustion, in combo with milky oat tops tincture. Some company besides my own, available in fort worth, is bound to have such a tincture combo. Take the whole bottle, start to finish, for a week or two, however long it takes."

Just fyi, Ginger's company is Texas Medicinals.

Full day of Teatro in San Anto

Teatrista/videomaker Haldun referred to it as SAN ANTONTO, but there were plenty of brilliant creative minds sharing the Cesar Chavez building salon for the morning "lonche y platica" on Saturday, June 25th. By the time I arrived, only half an hour late thanks to Adrian Villegas (Adrian, thanks for the ride, but sorry you kept driving in the wrong direction), the comida offerings were pretty much reduced to veggie frijole tostadas and bargain brand sodas. No worry, cuz the conversacion is what held the greater attraction for me anyway. The salon was full, presumably with performers here for TEATROFEST, but also with a few mentors/veteranos from the Chicano/a theater community. Marisela Barrera, theater director of the Guadalupe Theater, opened things up with a welcome and brief intro and backhistory to this first annual TEATROFEST. She then intro'ed maestro Jorge Pina, currently the artistic director for TALENTO BILINGUE DE HOUSTON (and a former director for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center). He gave a brief, though passionate, talk about the Chicano/a theater movement and about the purpose of our work. "We have to be a machete of intelligence, with our humor AND our tragedy...we can solve our problems with our art...our prisons are full, the drop-out rate is high, and we have to deal with these idiots in Goliad with the Minutemen..." He got so emotional at one point, that he had to slow his speech in order to compose himself. I could feel that most every person in that salon in that moment--even if they had never met Jorge or had chance to know his work--were impacted by his "call to teatro".

After Jorge addressed us, the floor was opened up for discussion and many different people spoke--folks from Cara Mia Theater (Dallas), the Royal Mexican Players (Houston), a nurse from Brownsville, and even me. I had to respond to an ill-conceived recommendation that a young man from Brownsville made, exhorting Chicano/a teatristas to "leave the political out" and just do "cultural" theater so that more mainstream "politicians" wouldn't be alienated by our work to the point of defunding or refusing to fund said work. This young person spoke with such a matter-of-face, take-it-or-leave-it sense of authority--without even, apparently, recognizing to whom he spoke (folks with a vast range of experiential knowledge and years of navigating bureaucratic channels of the arts world)--that many of us veteranos exchanged quick glances of "quien es este chavo?" and rolled our eyes como "chihuahua, porque tenemos que sufrir este mierda....?"

When i took the floor, I was pretty wrought with passion and fire, and the words pretty much shot out of me. I must've made my points (defending the right and duty of the artista to share her work without overriding concern for who might be displeased by its message; discussing privilege and "affirmative action"; etc.) pretty well, cuz I got a few hugs and exclamations of "Thank you, Tammy."


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Should you find yourself thirsty and alone... San Anto, my friend, you must thrust yourselves into the empty booth at the crazy-popular bar BAR AMERICA, face the door and watch the local luminaries drizzle in as you swoon over the conversant artistes to your left and right. and if you're lucky, you'll be across the table from RUBYNELDA PEREZ--Chicana actress extraordinaire--AND a few people over from slam poet ANTHONY FLORES, and then you'll spot HALDUN (videomaker, educator, Youth Liberation Network organzier) hustling in to roust a spot at a booth, as the CARA MIA DALLAS crewe rolls in, post-rehearsal, for a round of chicharrones and Lone Star longnecks. if you're really lucky, Michael of the San Anto band COYOTE DREAMS will recognize you and give you the biggest hug since bears. and you'll feel that if CHEERS had been filmed in a Chicano/a bar in the heart of San Anto, you would have been a permanent extra, happy to earn less than union wage. if only for the firme company, conversation, and endless liquor-lubricated tejano onda spirit of familia.

that's my place. and that's where i found myself.
again, tonight.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Arriving in San Anto last night...

...was a little bit of a fritz, cuz we knew we were headed into a chaotic churn-spew. after all, the NBA championship finals game was headlong into the fourth quarter as the Amtrak I was on was surging towards the 210. the conductor or some subordinate on the p.a. kept periodically announcing the score, so we could adjust ourselves emotionally. knowing that our train, if on time, would arrive in San Anto minutes after the pivotal game, i resigned myself to a long wait at the station and to a hyper-exuberant city-mood of victory--should the Spurs win, as indeed they did.

and yes, it was crazy. screaming hordes of curfew-exempt teens and adults streamed through the intersections--some on foot, some on the hoods of cars, expecting to defy gravity as they yelped shirtless and crescendo.

i was happy to witness such citywide late-night excitement, but not so thrilled with the stupidity of people fender-bending and defying traffic laws. my friends Elaine and Michael braved the traffic snarls to pick me up and take me to their cool loft apartment in the downtown area, after we'd successfully circumnavigated the worst of the traffic congestion.

this morning, though, Elaine had something unpleasant to share. she as arts editor of the weekly publication--the San Antonio Current--was grappling with deadline pressure and worse, the unfortunate overnight loss of a major local luminary, Ram Ayala, the rock-n-roll club purveyor, tequila shot sharer, and all-time big hero of upstart young punkers trying to get a gig in the town of San Antonio. Ram's infamous lounge-cum-legendary rock joint, TACOLAND, has been host to many a snarly punk band and up-and-coming original music outfit. Ram is gone, dead in a bloody robbery heist. tonight, we heard, there was a tribute memorial service at Tacoland, with bands and San Anto dedicated joining together for a final send-off to the man.

what a pity. what a loss. my friend, painter and alterna-gallery owner Robt. Tatum told me that even CNN covered the story of Ram's death. and Tacoland, what will become of Tacoland? said Tatum: it is no more. it will be no more. the end of an era. no more of this beloved venue. all on the night of the Spurs victory.

consider that, my friend.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

What to do if you find yourself in San Antonio this weekend

San Anto's the place to be this weekend. First, for the first-ever TEATROFEST at the GCAC, and secondly, for ELIA ARCE's newest performance piece, "The Fifth Commandment."

I'll be performing a spoken word soliloquy on dreams titled "Sueno Despierta" on Friday night. Other awesome groups, including MADMEDIA and CARA MIA, will perform showcases throughout the weekend. And I'm really looking forward to the lonche/platica on Saturday wherein all assembled will discuss the state and art of Chicana/o theater in Texas and beyond.

For more info, go here.

AND--if that wasn't enough, there's also the new one-woman show by L.A.-based Elia Arce, which opens at the Jump-Start Theater (also in San Antonio) on Friday night, June 24th.

from the San Antonio Express-News:

"Performance artist Elia Arce brings her solo show "The Fifth Commandment" to Jump-Start Theater Friday through June 26. The show, which she based on interviews with military personnel, explores the personal ethics of soldiers during wartime. Arce will perform at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. June 26 at the theater, Building B of the Blue Star Arts Complex, 1400 S. Alamo St. Tickets cost $12 general admission. Call (210) 227-5867 for reservations."

Teatristas reign in the city of the Alamo this weekend, boi.

Monday, June 20, 2005

July writing workshop: Writing in the Natural World - San Antonio

Gemini Ink, the non-profit writing org based in San Anto, offers some pretty great educational workshops and they're often quite affordable.

Here's the next one--sign up at

Summer Literary Festival
Purple Mountain Majesties: Writing in the Natural World
July 8-24, 2005
Don't wait any longer to sign up for one or more of our courses! They're filling up fast! This summer's festival features classes with Pattiann Rogers, Ken Waldman, Pat Mora, Jan Jarboe Russell and many others. Don't forget our writing camps for children and young people or our summer festival readings every Friday in July. Visit our website to see our course listings or come by the office to pick up a few catalogues!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Looking out the window of the Junsuree Thai House...

...where I'd just indulged in an amazing Thai buffet lunch, I saw not one, not two, not three, but FOUR bicyclists (not together, not connected in any romantic or familial way) pass to and fro before my eyes in the sudden span of about EIGHT SECONDS. On Magnolia "bicycle highway" Avenue.

Does this mean, could this possibly hopefully mean that Fort Worth now has a genuine BICYCLE CULTURE?

I was incredulous as I walked to my car to drive the seven blocks distance from the Thai House to my home. Wishing all the while that I'd bicycled instead.

Reminds me of the time that I was bicycling downtown, a few years ago, on a paved sidewalk. I was just about to turn a corner, northward, I believe, when another bicyclist, headed southward, just about careened into me. Fortunately, I was moving pretty slowly and he had quick instincts, as we both squeezed the handbrakes on our respective bicycles and made eye contact for the first and (maybe) last time in our lives.

I chuckled and he uttered something like a laugh or snort of surprise. "Whoa," I exclaimed, "we almost created the FIRST EVER BICYCLE HEAD-ON COLLISION IN THE HISTORY OF FORT WORTH!"

Thursday, June 16, 2005

National Convention of "Hispanic" Journalists in FW

Okay! It's gonna be a great time to walk downtown in Fort Worth this weekend. Why? Because it's gonna be Latino/a time in Sundance Square, vato/vata! With over 1,000 conferees expected for the annual convention of the NAHJ (National Association of Hispanic Journalists), you can't stay home this weekend.

Trot/drive/lowride downtown to hang out and schmooze some Latino/a journalists and give 'em a mouthful of your mind; certainly it can't hurt to encourage them to cover stories that are under-reported about Tejas.

Los Angeles mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa opened the convention with a discussion about his victory and its significance for the Latino community. (Villaraigosa is the first Latino mayor to be elected in Los Angeles in more than 130 years.) Other notable speakers at the convention will include actor John Leguizamo, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and "Democracy Now" radio producer Amy Goodman. But my favorite journalists in attendance will be Patrisia Gonzalez (Fort Worth native) and Roberto Rodriguez, who co-write the weekly COLUMN OF THE AMERICAS.

For more information about all the hoopla, check out this spot or the NAHJ website.

Oh, the conference lasts from June 15th through June 19th, so pace yourself well. See you on the streets, pen and notepad in hand, eh?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Just by the skin o' my neck am I...

....gonna make all three deadlines in the first part of this month. I made (!) the NALAC Fund for the Arts deadline on Friday, June 10th. I proposed my "bicycle love story", a multimedia spoken word opera. [See brief description of this project below.]

Then, I hustled to submit an app to the Vermont Studio Center, "an international creative community" in the Green Mountains, where I would absolutely LOVE to spend a four-week residency in Autumn '06. Writing, reading, and enjoying the cool clean air of Vermont would be the best way to follow up a hot Texas summer.

And now, I am rushing to finesse an essay, two excerpts from Monsoon in Nepal--my other blog--and three poems, for submission to a forthcoming travel/guide tentatively titled: FROM ASIA WITH LOVE. The book will include writings from folks who've traveled or lived in Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. Cool, I absolutely love writing about my 1999 trip to Nepal. Anyway, the deadline is tonight, midnight, so off I go to finish my submisssions.

And a big by the way: I have been hosting an enormously pleasant and conscious poet from Flagstaff, AZ--Logan Phillips--in the midst of this flurry of writerly activity. So I've been making and taking some quality time to share MY funkytown 817 onda with him, introducing him to folks of like mind and craze. And accompanying him to some local slams, etc. SO---You cannot tell me that I am a lazy Tejana poet. Sweaty, maybe. Exhausted, maybe. Poetically-challenged, maybe. But lazy-------never!

Here's the project I'm hoping to stage next year ('06):
She: Bike/Spoke/Love would be adapted for a multimedia stage performance, including the participation of local artists, musicians, youth poets, low rider bicyclists, and others. I would seek to present excerpts from this project as part of the annual Hispanic Playwright’s Festival (July06)of Fort Worth, as well as Texas Unbound Festival at the annual TEXAS UNBOUND Literary Festival (Aug06) in Dallas (I have performed at both festivals in previous years.) However, the full-length performance would take place in August-September06. I would reach my audience by soliciting the promotional support of the Latin Arts Association, Writer's Garret, Texas Book Festival, WordSpace, and local bicycling networks. I am part of a poetry community which spans the nation and would provide resources. I would work with the Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as youth art groups, to facilitate participation by their constituents.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Really i do

You know I want to post a detailed, fact-filled new entry here. You know I really didn't want to fall behind in sharing, really sharing all the stupendously wonderful expressions and experiences of my onda, your onda.

Just also please know that I am having a blast and collecting ideas and words to eventually, and hopefully more thoroughly, convey to you, my dearies.