Thursday, July 28, 2005

Say no to CAFTA - Central America Free Trade Agreement

If passed, CAFTA would advance the passing of the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas).

Can we stop U.S. domination of Latin America? Do we want blood on our hands, the blood of exploited labor, in our consumer products of convenience?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"Parents Magazine" apparently cool w/ kids ingesting toxins

The following is excerpted from the newsletter "ORGANIC BYTES" (#62, published by Organic Consumers Association):

"Parents Magazine", one of the most influential parenting publications in the U.S., advised parents not to worry about pesticide residues in children's food in its recent August 2005 issue. In an article titled "Food Under Fire," the magazine belittles the benefits of organic foods as a myth, and endorses pesticides in foods as safe, stating: "there's no evidence that these chemicals, used at the low levels found in our food supply, are harmful to children." The author of the piece based his research on the opinion of a single "expert," never mentioning three decades of scientific evidence from academic, government and industry sources that states otherwise. The magazine serves as a "parenting guide" to more than 14 million subscribers....write a quick letter to their editor here:"

What follows is my quick letter to the PARENTS MAGAZINE editor:

"Any parent knows that infants and children are generally more vulnerable to toxic substances. For PARENTS MAGAZINE to disregard years of research findings and to conclude ("Food Under Fire", August 2005) that toxins such as pesticides are somehow to be tolerated in our children's early life diet is blatant irresponsibility. At first meal, at second ingestion, perhaps a child appears to have experienced no harm. But reared on a consistent diet of foods heavily-laden with known toxic ingredients, some level of cumulative harm is inevitable for even the most robust of children. It concerns me that PARENTS MAGAZINE has chosen to relax its standards of acceptability of toxins in our world.

Tammy Gomez
Fort Worth, Texas"

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My Multicultural Moment for Today

I had just dropped my niece off at her Summer Theater Camp session, and I was turning the corner onto Magnolia St.

I blinked to make sure I was seeing right: a rather large group of Asians (Japanese tourists? a family out for a cholesterol-heavy homestylee lunch?) were streaming out of the legendary Paris Coffee Shop--which is nothing to do with Paris, Parisian cuisine, French style and has everything to do with sustaining the downhome Texas cafe tradition of fresh fruit pies (by the slice!), chicken fried steak, and Whites at the tables/Blacks in the kitchen. Haven't eaten there in years, though I pass it daily, scorning its cheesy, misdirected (unfortunately) exterior mural and seeing people of color only when it's staff (kitchen crew) hanging out by the back door having a smoke.

ANYway--I imagined what those Asian folks might have thought of the place.

Fort Worth wants to break out of a too-tight Bible belt chokehold on ethnic diversity and inclusivity in all public realms.
Let's see it happen.

I said it before and it'll be on a t-shirt before long: Fort Worthwhile: Let's Make It!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Hectic pace makes perfect - convening a convention

Been doing email non-stop for days, trying to put finishing touches on a National Convention program and programme. The big annual gathering of VETERANS FOR PEACE is happening in less than two weeks, and we got bucketloads of work yet to do, things to arrange.

I've been telling folks to spread the word and to download the entire contents of the 2005 CONVENTION PROGRAMME from the VETERANS FOR PEACE website, in order to ascertain what events, workshops, concerts they might like to attend.

The convention's offering words, music, inspiring truth-talk from the likes of these folks: Jim Hightower, Dahr Jamail, conscientious objector Camilo Mejia, singer James McMurtry, whistleblower Coleen Rowley (who's now running for Congress), and David Rovics (activist singer-songwriter).

Film screenings will happen Thursday through Saturday (August 4th-6th) in the evenings at 10pm in the Big Tent (air-conditioned, by the way). The TEXAS PREMIERE of "Sir! No Sir!", a 90-minute film
that just received its WORLD premiere in Los Angeles last month, is described herewith:

"In the 1960s an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history. It emerged in army stockades, navy brigs and in the dingy towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point and spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. "Sir! No Sir!" by David Zeiger tells the little known story of this GI movement against the war in Vietnam."

LATE NIGHT VIDEO SERIES - 10pm - in the Big Tent on-campus at the University of Dallas at Irving - Donations accepted

Thursday: The Cost of War (57 mins.)
Friday: Sir! No Sir! (90 mins.)
Saturday: Voices in Wartime (90 mins.)

Veterans For Peace: Waging Peace for 20 Years!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The official Veterans For Peace 2005 Convention Programme Booklet

You can download it (it's a pdf) to your desktop and peruse its thoroughly-detailed contents (about convention workshops, keynote speakers, performance schedules, and more). Just go to the Veterans For Peace website and scroll down a bit to the DOWNLOADS section. Click on "Download Program Booklet PDF" and it's all yours.

Feel free to print/distribute copies (or sections thereof) to anyone who you think might be interested in attending the Convention. I also have PRE-SALE Saturday, August 6th Banquet Program (Jim Hightower is the keynote speaker) tickets for sale.

Thanks for your help in getting the word out!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Emma Tenayuca in convention booklet

I am so excited! Yesterday, while proofreading the final draft of the 2005 National Convention Veterans For Peace programme booklet--all 60 pages of it--I noticed that the editor had put in a few pages of information under the heading "Texas Women in History" or something similar to that. In this section, there were brief bios, along with notable quotes, on such Texas famous femmes as Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, and Molly Ivins. Hmmm, I thought, that's cool to have a section devoted to this kind of thing. But second thought: wait, how 'bout a Chicana notable? How 'bout Emma Tenayuca? You cannot leave out somebody like Emma Tenayuca? So, I sent a suggestion to the editor, along with a url for info on Tenayuca, right away. A print deadline loomed.

And so, today, when I went to check my email, I found a message from the editor. She wrote that she'd booted Molly Ivins from the programme booklet and put in some historical info about Emma Tenayuca instead. Yay, victory! I helped make a tiny difference...I am letting folks have a chance to learn about the pecan shellers' strike of 1938 and about the beloved San Antonio labor leader, Tenayuca, who helped bring about movement towards labor justice. Awesome!

Every little bit helps, every tiniest act can make a ripple in someone's consciousness, and growth can happen from even a tiny effort at watering a seed....


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Look who's listed...

I happened to be looking up something in google and decided to check on new results for my own name. (Why not? It's one efficient way to find press reviews and blog notices about my work, which i can then include on updates of my bio, etc.) So, what do i find? Apparently, on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) website, my name is listed as "cast member" for Rick Linklater's first (pre-Slacker) full-length feature film. What?!! I was not believing that i would ever actually be listed as an actor in this film, even though--once i'd read the premise of the film, which is titled "It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books"--i'd had my suspicions about some of my ideas possibly being included in Rick's first long project. You see,
back in the day (being actually the mid-to-late 1980s), i'd hung around with Rick and some of his go-see-films-during-the-day-at-the-Texas-Union-and-go-to-hear-bands-at-night vintage slacker buddies. These folks were, at the time, wanna-be filmmakers, who were doing experimental shorts (super 8, 16mm) around town in unlikely unconstructed scenarios and locations. I had alot of interest in these guys, cuz their reading/film/music tastes pretty closely aligned with mine. For instance, we were similarly drawn to writers J.G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick and punk-industrial sounds like SPK, Throbbing Gristle, Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid and others.

Rick and his housemates also launched the Austin Film Society the year after I graduated from college, so I was an early film series fan--going to the Dobie Theater for midnight screenings, sometimes offering a flower freshly-picked from the UT-Austin campus flowerbeds as admission payment. Who knows what the guys thought of me: resident film groupie? literary somnambulist? wanna-be scenester? I just remember that the films they screened were so amazing and diverse, and their following grew quickly over the years. (The Austin Film Society is now a mainstay, a veritable institution, known not only to Austinites but to cineastes nationwide.)

Anyway, on to my point, to the present: I remember hanging out with Rick at the house ('round the corner from Les Amis, which is also now-defunct), and being a little wound-up cuz i'd just left my modern dance class across the street. I started dancing around, full of crazy energy, and talking jibberish about my day. Typical 22-year old, I guess. Rick, always a good listener, seemed amused and drawn to my stories. At one point, after i'd detailed a particularly emotional concern of the moment, an outpouring that had moved me to tears, Rick perked up, as if with sudden concern. He merely asked, "Is it okay if i set up my camera--a beta video camera on a low tripod)--and shoot you saying again what you just said. Over there, by the window...just like before....." Happy to go along with this distraction from my own verbalized musings, I shifted into performer mode. It kinda pleased me that Rick had taken an interest in what i had to say. After all, i was only talking about boyfriends and an audio cassette recording that i'd recorded and mailed to an ex-boyfriend, only to get it mailed back to me at a time when i was experiencing a new heartache. The recycle value of my own recorded spoken encouragements was what i was so intrigued by. The concept of comforting yourself with a tape you recorded being mailed back to you was almost poignant, a little pathetic. I guess Rick recognized the pathos in this and wanted to document it for further study, for consideration later. Or perhaps i just looked a little visually interesting standing at the window. Whatever. I agreed to pose and reiterate for the camera what i'd just casually shared with Rick.

And now, years and years later, I'm seeing that my name is on the credits list for his 1988 film "It's Impossible....." Okay, i think i have to check this out further. More soon.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bridge Center search bridges me to David Nakabayashi

I had written down the words "Bridge Center - El Paso" on a tiny scrap of paper, and had forgotten why, so I decided to google the term to see what popped up. Of course, when you google, you add your own oomph to the search, knowing that you approach such a moment with your own built-in filters and preferences. I knew that I didn't want to see results about bridge construction, the game of bridge, or some civic center administration webpage. I wanted "Bridge Center - El Paso" to be about a Center for art, a Center for literature, a Bridge for people, a cultural relevance for Latinos on the border....

The best result I found had to do with a guy named David Nakabayashi who'd had a show at the Bridge Center for Contemporary Arts in El Paso. Reading some of David's writing compelled me to check out some of his art from the series of retablos he made last year--the series was on "Consumption." You've got to see this work online. It made me so happy, elated, contenta. His colors are brilliant, his subject matter well-considered, and the evocation of themes very personal. I love the Prayer to the Cow and the Prayer to his Alcoholic Friend(?).

When mass media wants me to be fascinated by Tom Cruise & Paris Hilton romances, I am so relieved to be reminded of the beauty that can be accessed--ever so non-viscerally, of course, if it's on the web--at my fingertips, as I wind down from a long day, cold Tecate at my side.

Makes me wanna say a prayer.

Friday, July 08, 2005

BlogHer Conference on July 30th, 2005

It's a SINGLE DAY DEAL--starting at 8:30am (take an espresso, depth charge!) and ending by 6pm--but this first-of-its-kind blogger meet for girls (and boys, as 20% of the pre-registered are of the XY chromosome) promises to be a frenetically-paced conference.

Taking place at a joint called TechMart in Santa Clara, California, the programming for the day includes a friendly debate ("Does Today's Link-based Power Structure Hurt Women Bloggers? Should We Care?") and plenty of sessions which are thematically all over the map: Mommyblogging, feminist hip-hop bloggers, podcasting/vlogs, and the bidness side of blogging.

Don't miss the catchy-titled LUNCH SPECIAL: "Flame, Blame, and Shame: What happens when women write for an audience of men and women who can write—and bite—back? Moderator Liza Sabater leads a panel including online security expert Ellen Spertus and Debi Jones." There's even a Blogher Global Panel, featuring blogging women from India and Portugal. They're thorough with this confab, que no?

I can't be there, but maybe we'll get a Blogher t-shirt for the Cowtown girls sweating out their August thoughts for online viewing. Here's where to go for more Blogher Conference INFO.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Lorenzo Thomas leaves us to our own soundtrack

This in yesterday's HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Lorenzo Thomas, a much-respected fixture on Houston's literary scene and a poet who married bluesy lyricism with a social conscience, died Monday. He was 60.

I hate getting word of my friends' passing via email; it really sucks. My friend Amanda in Austin has trumpeted at least two different announcements such-like via her mass email network. And then today, casual like an invitation to a workshop, I get a notice from the Writer's Garret's Thea Temple: Lorenzo Thomas has passed away.

Why didn't I hear this w/ music, a clash of radio station soliloquies hitting it hard on the funk or soul at the intersection of dayjob and evening happy hour? Or couldn't this news have breathed into my heart via a nighttime dream, replete with horn section and poetry? I don't want nobody else to tell me that another of my goddamn kindred friend and awesome contemporary Texas poet chums has died--not this year, and definitely not on email.

Anyway, Lorenzo, thanks for the words and the kind brown eyes of "getting it"--connecting with a sister who respected you como si fueras mi papa. Un maestro for our times, the guy who played Robert Johnson records during a class on the Poetics of Blues at Naropa Institute that summer I met you. Boulder, Colorado, maybe it was 1988.

Here's a bit of info, the kind people like to read so they learn what they missed in a man they never got to meet: Lorenzo Thomas, assistant professor of English at the University of Houston-Downtown, was a member of the legendary Umbra workshop in the 1960's. This workshop drew young writers to the Lower East Side of New York City in search of their artistic voices. Reflecting on those years in a 1978 Callaloo essay, Thomas observes, "cultural black nationalism of our moment did not spring forth from inspiration of the New York Times or the Late News," but was the result of cultural transmissions from the griots of the folk tradition to these young writers.

If you want to read more, check HERE.

Lorenzo, in 1967, wrote his poem "Onion Bucket." One line from this one reads: "All silence says music will follow." In the silence of his departure, there is bound to be music. Just be still and hear it.

Good thoughts, Lorenzo, all good thoughts.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Who's Getting O'Conner's Vacated Seat on the Supreme Court?

This is from the MOVE ON website: Sandra Day O’Connor, a widely respected and moderate justice, has resigned from the Supreme Court. Now, in anywhere from a few hours to a few days President Bush will nominate a replacement—and what happens next will either destroy or protect our most basic rights for decades to come. This is an absolutely critical moment for our senators to hear directly from the people—and our message is clear: PROTECT OUR RIGHTS!

Take a moment to sign the online petition at the website indicated above.

And now, precisely now, a CHRIS CHANDLER quote comes to mind: "Until then, if you pray, I ask for your prayers. If not, I ask for your kind wishes. If you don't pray or wish, I ask for your caring thoughts. If you don't pray or wish or think, don't bother anybody."