"Remember El Alma" First On-site Performance Challenging the Alamo, March 2010

"Remember El Alma," First on-site performance
challenging the Alamo
original poem written by Barbara Renaud Gonzalez

Adapted by Virginia Grise; Produced by Bihl Haus Arts, Kellen McIntyre, Ph.D; Performed at Luminaria!
San Antonio, Hemisfair Plaza, San Antonio, Texas, March 13, 2010; 5 Actresses, 1 Musician
A cast of beautiful women, all ages and colors, from
all over San Antonio
; Foto Credit: Joan Frederick @2010

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Why are we afraid of this Virgen in San Antonio, Texas?

In San Antonio, this rendering of La Virgen de Guadalupe by the artist Anna-Marie Lopez was censured - though these days we don't use that word -there's too much terrorism in it - at the Centro Cultural Aztlan, a Kool-Folk Chicana/o institution on the fast-track to mainstream inclusion in this town.

I admire Centro Cultural and all the people connected with it - but - we need this Virgen. Look at her:
She's naked, a serpent wraps her body, she's behind barbed-wire, and her jewelry is a ruby-red human heart. It seems to me that she's a woman of the times, evoking an imprisoned, marginalized, suffering, loving, woman, whose power is seen but not realized.

"They missed the point," says Lopez, who barely gets by on her disability paychecks, and who created this piece after much research especially for the Guadalupana exhibit. "At this time, people are scared of us," she said, referring to the post-9/11 world and subsequent immigrant-bashing. "I'm very proud I did it. I'm gay, I'm Sephardic...if nobody ever buys a painting again, so be it."

Credit: "Virgen," by Anna-Marie Lopez 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

San Antonio and the War: It enriches us, it owns us, it orders us

San Antonio, Texas is the most soulful city in the state, we're a haunted city with the Alamo, the ghosts that wander around it at night, and a river, now over-developed and touristized, but a river nevertheless that haunts the memory of the descendants of the people who have been here since before the Alamo...

So many wars and battles here, the Alamo itself is the centerpiece of its glorification, and the modern-day equivalents are the four bases here. True to San Antonio, and the magical world of paradox we embody, is the irony of how it's been the military that's taken so many latinos into middle-class life. The textbook case is Henry Cisneros, whose late father was a colonel, and Henry himself was in the ROTC at Texas A&M, where he graduated from college.

San Antonio was defined by a war, the Texas Revolution, and continues to serve the interests of the military-industrial complex. The San Antonio Express-News, Hearst-owned, gives us stories every day it seems, about the heroes in Iraq, there is rarely a story about those of us who think differently. The high schools are replete with ROTC programs, and there are politico-military pressures on St. Mary's University, previously known for its social justice focus, to create a "torture law" center.

And of course, la raza, our young people keep getting the poorest education possible, just look at our rankings for the inner-city, we are the meat, the supply-center for soldiers. The MLK March is coming, and the military has now co-opted the day, pushing the city council to allow "fly-overs" in commemoration of the day. Even when T.C. Calvert and other black leaders in the city articulated how MLK was against the Vietnam War.

San Antonio has to support the war. The War feed us, brainwashes us, and tells us how to celebrate.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas in San Antonio

Outside my window this Christmas morning, I see my neighbor's children and grandchildren arrive from the suburbs to share their traditional tamales, everybody bringing bags of presents, smelling of new colognes and soap. One of the daughters-in-law is pregnant, and her new leather coat is wrapped tightly around her pansa.

As usual, I'm just watching, there's probably something wrong with me because I just like to look, admire, and write about Christmas.

Christmas always makes me feel weird. There is nothing sweeter than seeing
las familias coming together like this, and I can feel their love for each other all the way to my upstairs apartment. It reminds me when I was married, and my ex-husband's family had their Christmas-frenzy on, lots of wato and Santa Claus-dressing, a buffet of food, teenagers trading secrets, scrabble boards opening up, football blaring on the television, and children crying because they're overwhelmed, I guess.

One year I tried to get my very middle-class nieces and nephews to go to the INS' Refugee Center, where I had read many Central Americans were being held. Don't ask me why, but I just wanted to hear their stories.

My then-husband's family thought I was crazy, so I talked myself out of it, and went for one of my five-mile walks instead on the beach, and read myself to sleep, as usual.

I regret I didn't go see those people, and regret that I like expensive gifts. I wish I was a better person, and its these two passions, both unfulfilled, that keep me away from Christmas, I guess.

Meanwhile, come see our RiverWalk if you're in the city. There's something about all those lights blazing on our little green river, in our poor city that tries so hard, that isn't poor with all the cultura and Tex-mexing and tacos and generous gente that will call you back to a Christmas that I don't think we're celebrating yet.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ciro Rodriguez Wins: The San Antonio Express-News Loses

In case you didn't read it, the SAEN yesterday endorsed Congressman Henry Bonilla (R) despite having nothing good to say about him. It was weird, and it took the queque for bad editorials among zillions served. The editorial clumsily attempted to find something negative about Ciro Rodriguez (D), a progressive congressman who was a victim of Tom De Lay's redistricting tactics that were overturned by the Supreme Court. And tried to put the fear of God in us by suggesting we'd risk gaining a military medical center, yea right. Like we don't know the difference between good and bad pork. The SAEN never even attempted to closely examine the candidates as people, their ideals, their achievements, their failures, etc. etc. etc. Porque you ask? Because they know Bonilla stinks, but the newspaper, like all the media in San Antonio, wants this war, wants its profits, and to hell with the soldiers dying over there. Keep us poor, keep us fat, keep us ignorant, that's their plan so they can continue to make money off our dreams and patriotism. Acabo the mijitos get their picture in the paper, and the paper calls them heroes when they die, that's good enough, verdad?

Ciro Rodriguez won last night in a landslide victory that was called "stunning." I know La Virgen de Guadalupe had something to do with it.

My letter to the Bruce Davidson, at the San Antonio Express-News:

Of all the anemic editorials I've read from you, the absolute prize is your sorry attempt to defend Bonilla. Even my students at Northwest Vista College last year - who don't like reading, especially the newspaper - absolutely hated him. For reasons you well know but didn't write. What struck me about the SAEN's coverage was the lack of it. I know Ciro, and he's what you call - what people say they want -
un buen hombre. Bonilla is something else, and sometimes we'd just rather have a good man who's not the best wheeler-dealer than a supreme playa who is.

I'm gonna save your editorial to use widely as a prime
ejemplo of how not to write editorials - and how to forget about any resemblance of balanced, fair, impartial, coverage of a highly critical story beyond the superficial. Please tell your publisher and the other powers-that-be over there that some of us do read beyond the SAEN. And that they and you can try to shove this war down our throats and have us send our children to a war you surely think is all we're good for, verdad, but we are all not as stupid as you think.