"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

Saturday, April 28, 2007

TRUE STORY: Los Panties en New York City

I"m in New York City this week for the PEN World Voices Festival, an annual gathering of writers from around the world, no Chicana/o writers hanging out here, just me and la colombiana Raquel...

Anyway, been staying with the journalist Roberto Lovato in Brooklyn, and as I left the N Train on 14th Street yesterday, a man rushed to reach me, saying "Excuse me, I think these are yours."

Raquel and I turned around. Nobody hardly talks to anyone on the subway.

He was a big, white, professional-looking man. In a pin-stripe suit, pa' acabar. With my black Victoria's Secret panties in his hands.

If you know me, I always have something to say. This time, I was frozen, stunned with verguenza, what would my mother say? Why does this always happen to me?

Raquel turned to me as he came forward clutching my french-cut calzones with the pretty pink rosettes. She was accusing.
"Did you forget to wear your calzones?"
"Well, then how come he has them, do you have to lose everything?"
Where, what, why? How how how how? I wanted to faint.

The man just stood there, waiting.

"Get them, idiota." Raquel said.

I gingerly took them, wondering what was done with them.

As we walked up the stairs to the street, I started shaking. You know that laughing and crying you do because it just rained and you're going to the concert of your life and you look like a drowned rat? And the bus just covered you with mud? You know that feeling? It was worse than that.

With the black chones in my hand, I remembered that the fleecy Chinatown chaleco I bought the day before, and laid on my suitcase before I went to sleep could have, might have, OhmyGod, magnetized my panties so I was roaming all over Brooklyn and the N Train with a pair of panties as decoration.

Well, so much for trying to be glamorous or even funky in New York. Que rasquache, como decimos en San Antonio.
As Raquel says, I won the prize. But I got my panties back.

Thank you, New York.

Friday, April 20, 2007

What the Henry Munoz Spin Machine is saying

I got a pretty nasty email from Nikki (?) about my Chingazos postings, relating to FightNight outside the Museo Alameda Smithsonian during the VIP Gala (see previous posts). Don't have time to interview the other side, but here's what I do know.

Artista Franco Mondini, dicen different sources, saw the fight. According to Rina Moreno, who was assaulted by Henry Munoz' family members, Juan Ramos, another well-known artista, talked to Cruz after the chingazos and repeated her depiction of events, telling Cruz that Franco had told him what happened just as Rina alleges.

You know what happens next, doncha? The right thing to do is for Henry Munoz to apologize, he's buena gente, que no? But it won't happen.

Political people, trust me, Munoz is one, don't think in terms of what's right. They think in terms of advantage, appearance, deals, money. They don't listen to their soul, they listen to their ego, which is richly rewarded in this material and artificial world. My guess from the beginning was that Henry would silence Franco and Ramos, two talented artists who likely perceive they have much to gain by siding with Henry. We shall soon find out if they can choose between la verdad and el miedo. Maybe Ramos needs to include these cards in his loteria-arte.

If Henry's familia doesn't, that's his problem, but he needs to be a caballero, and set a good example.

I hope the artistas will tell the truth.

Now Henry's side has filed a police report alleging that it was Rina who assaulted one of Henry's grandnieces, una hijita de Meredith and Peter Falcon. Falcon, who I've heard expound on zen budhism exquisitely, is the one who Rina states punched her. Like I've said before, I've also heard that Falcon has a predisposition for violence.

You can find the police reports at the downtown courthouse. I have to go out-of-town and won't be here for ten days, so don't have time to review them or talk to anyone.

Why am I airing our dirty calzones here in front of everybody?

Because if we get tribal about this, then we won't help each other become better people. And that's what I want for myself, and for all. Henry isn't perfect, and I've thrown some rocks, believe me. But if we don't examine what happened outside the museum on that first noche, then how can we truly honor what he's created and all it's supposed to stand for?

Or does the Alameda stand for orgullo at a woman's expense, corporate perceptions and patronismo?

Didn't our mothers teach us that un hombre doesn't hit a women? Rina is a mother of three.
No woman deserves to get a beating, it's called respeto - even if that woman says a few bad words, that's not a reason to get chingazos. No way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

THE CHISME CONTINUES: The fight at the Museo Alameda on Opening Night

Ok, so I got a call from a relative of Rina's, the woman who was beat up outside the Museo Alameda on Thursday, April 12th, during the VIP Gala in downtown San Antonio. Los chingazos were apparently given by relatives of Henry Munoz, the Museo Alameda Smithsonian's empresario, the Alameda Museum's founder, and resident star-maker.

Rina Moreno, the social worker wife of Cruz Ortiz, artista, has filed a police report and intends to press assault charges against Peter Falcon, an actor. Falcon is married to Meredith, Henry Munoz's niece, and they brought their two young daughters to the Alameda VIP pachanga. Here's what happened according to Rina's familia:

It was about 12:30 am on Thursday night, and Cruz was helping put an easel away a few feet outside the museum. While he worked on this, Rina decided to return to the dancing which was still rockeando the museum. On the way there, she wished outloud to no one "Goddammit, I want a fucking giftbag!" after fijandose that everyone else had one. That's when a man, turns out it was Peter Falcon, admonished her about her palabras, saying that [his] children could hear her. Up to this point, Rina says she didn't know Falcon.

To this, Rina, a mother of three, retorted "Shouldn't they be in bed?"

That's when the chingazos started. According to Rina's side, Falcon punched her in the face.

Tony! Tony! Tony!

Rina started yelling for Cruz to help her (that's what his family calls him). Cruz ran to her, and saw a man taking his wife down to the ground, punching and punching her, while a woman was sitting on Rina's head. It seems that another woman who was standing by abetted the punching, likely, Emily Buche, Henry Munoz's sister who was calling out from the sidelines.

Henry's relatives let Rina have it. Whore! Whore!

Cruz Ortiz pushed Falcon off his wife and wrapped his arm around his neck, just in time for the police to arrive and handcuff Ortiz.

It seems that Henry Munoz walked by during the commotion carrying one of his by-now screaming grandnieces. He did not stop to intervene in any way.

Since Rina and Cruz needed to return home to their own children, they decided to file police charges later. Rina ended up going to the University Hospital for her injuries.

I asked Rina's family if Henry Munoz had called to apologize. No, they said. Munoz has purchased Cruz's work in the past for his private collection. Good sources have told me that Falcon has a temper, and we know what happens next.

All this for a gift bag? See the problem with extreme-marketing of our cultura? I know all of them (un poquito) Peter Falcon, Meredith, Rina, and of course, Cruz. This shouldn't have happened. Did people drink too much? Is that an excuse? Are we that hungry for recognition que the Alameda Museo's arrival is turning one against the other?

What was in the gift bag, anyway?

Artistic Credit: Una mesa para la gente, lead artist Cruz Ortiz and Lisa Vera Cruz, mural on North Zarzamora and Salinas Street in San Antonio, Texas

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Chiiiisme! After the exclusive pachanga at the Alameda, los chingazos

Ok, so everybody I know is mixtiado about Henry Munoz, the (alleged, some say) founder and corporate fuerza behind the Museo Alameda Smithsonian, which celebrated an exclusive dinner for the hoi politicos in San Antonio before the public's opening night on Friday the 13th.
The food was delicious and VIP.

My good sources on the scene tell me that Rina, la esposa de Cruz Ortiz, a chicano artist of repute who was in Henry's Chicano! exhibit by Target some years ago, got into some chingolazos with la wifa de Peter Falcon (the niece of Henry Munoz) outside the Alameda's steps by the plush sofas close to the midnight hour.

Hey, it was meant to be a let them eat cake night (check out the installation by Franco Mondini Ruiz with a Venus de Milo on a stack of pancakes)

Emily Bueche also got into it, Henry Munoz's sister, throwing down puro
alamierda style (as it is commonly referred to in barrioesque), according to very good and reliable chismosos working on the inside of the joint.

It seems that Rina, a mother of three (four if you include Cruz), was complaining about the late-night hours of Henry's little grandnieces, dressed in little white flouncy dresses - and barefoot - on a chilly night for San Antonio. La wifa and mother of the little girls threw water at Rina and then
chingazos were thrown from male to female and back. Cruz, a big Mexican with a dutchboy haircut, got Peter Falcon in a headlock, and that's when the cops arrived and handcuffed Cruz.

Que 'stabando pasando? The cops asked Rina if she wanted to press charges, and she said hell yes, but if she did that, then Cruz would have to spend the night in the can too, and she said no, thinking they had to go home to their own children.

Well, a good time was had by all after a very elitist event according to some famous artists from out-of-town.

Al fin del dia se sale el cobre. The gold was really copper... I think emotions were high because people want to be recognized for their arte and cultura and there's something else going on at the Alameda, people feel like they're being pimped.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What the media didn't tell you about the Duke University stripper

I can't believe the media hasn't even tried to tell the truth about the Duke University stripper so I will. I'm a writer, who's also worked as a social worker. Contrary to popular myth, las strippers don't w ant sex. They become strippers or prostitutes because they've been raped, sometimes by all the men in their family, and they have been socialized to believe this is what a woman does. They want to please men, and yet they hate them.

Many times the stripper/prostitute will take drugs to escape the pain. Or she becomes an addict because that's how Daddy wanted it.

I believe the stripper in the Duke University case was raped. Horribly. Likely with a broom. But she was too drugged-up and too unstable to tell her story.

The rich white guys have so much power, and who's going to listen to this poor black stripped-down woman? Some of these guys will be judges someday....

I have seen prostitutes, strippers, abused women. It's all the same story.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

MEDIA WATCHATE! Imus isn't the only one

Let me count the haters: Coulter; Limbaugh; O'Reilly...and our own wolf-in-sheep's-clothing, Jonathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express-News.
There's more but I don't listen to talk radio or watch TV because of their rhetoric.

What Imus said isn't free speech, it's hate speech. He said it because he's gotten away with it but there are others who've said much worse. Imus is a symbol of Big Media that places profit over protest. The airwaves belong to all of us, not just to white men like Imus. We need real debate in this country. Diverse, informed, contextual, impassioned, but not racist, sexist... And we deserve to hear other voices besides the haters.

Register your protest to the FCC. See the link below.


artistic credits: http: www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~cperaza320/555%20copy.htm

MEDIA WATCHATE! Columnist Missing: What happened to Susan Yerkes?

Have you seen this woman? Susan Yerkes disappeared from the San Antonio Express-News a couple months ago. Her society onda reported women's affairs with a progressive, sassy, beat. Sus columns just disappeared one day with no explanation given. A reporter from the paper assured me that she was still alive, but seemed nervous just mentioning her name.

The chisme-mill says that Yerkes, a proud card-carrying feminista threatened by Executive Editor Bob Rivard with her job in the past, neglected to write about a party that retiring publisher Larry Walker hosted. Oops!

Another friend emailed the so-called Public Editor Bob Richter at the San Antonio Express-News on February 14th, 2007. The response from Richter was along the lines of "I don't know and I can't talk about it." This is from the Public Editor who's supposed to represent the readers.

With the disappearance of Yerkes, there are no out-feministas publishing columns at the paper anymore. Melissa Stoeltje, another excellent columnist, is now a reporter.

This is called media deregulation, gente. Profits at the expense of free speech.

If you've seen this woman, please contact lastruestories@yahoo.com
No reward is offered, because I don't have any money. But you will have saved the first amendment.

Latino lite or Latino life: The Smithsonian Museo Alameda in San Antonio opens

Henry Munoz, a vice-chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Smithsonian and San Antonio native, is the driving force behind the Smithsonian-affiliated Museo Alameda, opening with fireworks on April 13th, and a free concert by Linda Ronstadt. The Alameda itself is a historic theatre in downtown San Antonio, a resplendant building that once hosted a milieu of Mexican stars and the films from the golden age of Mexican cinema.

Now, it's a national museum. Here in San Antonio, where the Guadalupe Cultural Center is imploding from its corporate ambitions and wannabe-boardmembers, there is debate about the influence of corporate interests on the depiction of latino culture that the Museo Alameda represents. It is our story, yours and mine, after all, that has the power to change hearts. With this musuem, will we tell it, or will we ask permission from our corporate sponsor? You tell me.

Below is a comment from Pablo Miguel Martinez, noted poet and cultural activist. He's from San Anto, and lived in New York City for many years. This is what he told the San Antonio Express-News, thanking them for their coverage, and asking some tough questions:

"The museum indicates that it will "ensure that the story of the Latino experience in America is told." I am not convinced there is such a thing as "the Latino experience." Do we really believe the experience of a South Texas Chicana is also the experience of a Cuban exile in Miami, or the same lived experience of a puertorriqueña in the Bronx? The museum's attempt at cultural cohesiveness negates the very thing that makes Latino cultures so rich -- our diversity.
If Museo Alameda can ensure that our stories are told, why is its architectural iconography so decidedly, almost singularly Mexican? (The hojalata entrance, beautiful though it is, incorporates the Virgin of Guadalupe's aura, Quetzalcoatl's feathers, etc. Mexican, yes. Chicano, perhaps. Latino, definitely not.) If the focus of the museum is Chicano/mexicano-based art and culture, say so, unashamedly, unapologetically, proudly. If the development of pan-Latino culture, identity, and sensibility is your goal, please diversify your programming, your Board, your Staff, and your mindset. If the museum's reach is hemispheric ("America," its mission states), include Afro-Peruvian, Dominican, Chilean, Bolivian and other artistic expressions in your offerings from the start, not as an afterthought that follows a Chicano-centric outlook."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Guadalupe: MudKing can't clean up the mess

My good sources tell me that Russell Felan, Mud King Extraordinario, will be voted on tonight, April 10th, at the Guadalupe Theatre as the newest boardmember. There's something too about Mike de la Garza getting on the board, though I don't know who he is.

Don't quote me, but I've also heard that both men are connected to Maria
Elena Torralba-Alonso, via family or corporate ties. She's the one
who got the Guadalupe into the mess they're in today. IF they are
connected, this is bad news.

In a conversation just now with Councilwoman Patti Radle, she expressed her frustrations with the Guadalupe Cultural Center, but stopped short of taking the steps necessary to force the Guadalupe Board to resign.

Look, the Guadalupe Cultural Center is in deep debt and deeper denial. Program-stifling, board-silencing, macho-armoring, dinero problems. (Long story, review my past blogs if you want.) At this point, unless the community marches down Guadalupe Avenue, (during Fiesta Week?), I don't think anything new or positive is going to happen. Correction: Nothing good is gonna happen. MudKing has to raise dollars to just pay off the debt. We already know the Board doesn't care about the community, they're trying to save their reputations at this point.

Here's the answer: There's plenty of talent outside the Guadalupe. Let's create our own CineFestival, BookFair, all that we want, cause it's not gonna happen at the Guadalupe. I know how, so do you. Are you game? If we don't, Henry Munoz and the Alameda and other non-profits will continue to siphon the dollars away from the Guadalupe...and who can blame them.

So the Guadalupe has Juan Tejeda and the Conjunto Festival. Too late, too tarde to save the Guadalupe. Juan can't do it by himself.

Photo Credit: www.nado.org

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Guadalupe: Los Paintbrushes

From one of the founders of the Guadalupe: 

I remember when we first moved into the Guadalupe...it was being
used as
a flea market.....on the southside (Guadalupe Street)
there was a door
and a long room all painted red...it was used
as an arcade........
One guy from the neighborhood came to see me...
said he was a commercial
painter.......said he had no money for
diapers for his child.........
from his back pocket he pulled out
some house paint brushes (4 inch)
and said look hold on to these....
give me $15 and I'll come buy them back
......I looked at the brushes
and I looked at him....the brushes were used

but they were well taken cared of......at the time there was some
on the walls...not awhole bunch...and I told
him.......I got a gallon of paint......go cover that graffiti and
I'll give you

Another time a guitar player came and we went throught the same
thing.......at this time we were already in the Progresso
also....so it had to be the second year......and I told him ...
"Go down there and
play guitar in front of the theatre for and hour
and I'll give you fifty dollars.......

Credits: Virgen of Guadalupe

The Meaning of Easter from El Salvador, that country

Maria C. is a journalist, who just returned from El Salvador on a fellowship. Here is her post (with my edits) from an email she sent me:
I live in a country, el salvador (remember)  where 10 corpses
turn up every day and they're not just gangbangers, (we all know
that loss weighs less on the soul)400 women are killed every year
by men that promised to love them and yet I was woken up this
morning to some lady with a megaphone asking God to forgive us,
el pueblo,for murdering a man nearly 2000 years ago.
Last Friday I wound up by mistake downtown in front of the
cathedral where they stuck Monsenor Oscar Romero's remains in
the basement. A bunch of ladies wearing ridiculously frilly lacy
veils, white,prayed as some pig faced evangelical preacher told
them that the King and Queen of Spain are in town...but you know
what...he intoned...all the powerful people (men, he said) could
come here and it wouldn't make a difference. it won't change the
poverty, the violence, the crime, no MAN can solve those problems.
Only el Senor. And it's not just the evangelicals, I'm at the same
park in front of the same cathedral today, left the house to stretch
and get a bath of reality. The FMLN, the student communist brigade,
the committee in honor of the Virgen de Guadalupe constructed these
huge alfombras (rugs) made of painted salt, of images of the virgen or
in the case of the communists, a campesino crucified to the cross.
A street performer is bleeding from the back and his act involves
shards of glass.I can't take it so I go inside the church where an
ancient, of course, archbishop is retelling the story of the
crucifixtion, for you non catholics think Passion of Christ.

Well that's great dude, same story 2k years later but now what do
we do? Have you looked outside, if you aren't killing someone they're
killing you. in the
u.s. i would say: have you look outside to see how
good we've gotten at killing people??

Credits: Archbishop Oscar Romero, assassinated during
the El Salvadoran civil war by the military.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

While the Guadalupe fiddles, a Chicano theatre dies

Cara Mia Theatre in Dallas was founded over ten years ago to bring Chicana/o theatre to la raza, and to train a whole new generation of artistas. Adelina Anthony, a highly-regarded actress from San Antonio who looks like a movie star with the conciencia of Cherrie Moraga, founded it with much sacrificio. The City of Dallas has never rewarded them for their community work and grassroot audiences. What has happened to us?

Its funny that in 11 years here with Cara Mia and me about to resign my
positions and long journey with Cara Mia it is not because we are in debt.
But because we can't get enough funds to pay a director and staff what is due.
And the moneys are in the bank as I speak loca, but I have given too much to this
beautiful child that every one loves but few understand. I have cried rivers like a
baby knowing this will become history for me, but I have to go on with my life.
Just maybe I will return if things go well with me, and maybe not Cara Mia but
the same Mission with another name and strategy. It is the Mission that is the heart of any organization and Cara Mia has served well to the community. The educational programs continue as I speak thanks to Frida Mueller now wife of previous Artistic Director David Lozano. This Chilanga from the D.F. without any English some how has the heart to continue our educational programs...

(Eliberto Gonzalez, the managing director, was my husband in my former life.) He's a great guy, and is a roofing contractor when he's not at Cara Mia.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Guadalupe: R. Bret Ruiz Resigns and the Board Must Go Too

I heard tonight from very reliable sources that tomorrow, April 4th, the city's newspaper, the San Antonio Express-News,will report that the Guadalupe's Cultural Center MBA-President, R. Bret Ruiz, is resigning, effective April 18th of this year. The SAEN will report the party line, that he's moving on to better things, that they accepted his resignation...and other b,,,..,,t.

Here's what happened. The Guadalupe has been in serious debt for a long time, thanks to the corporate ambitions of past directors, most notably Maria Elena Torralba-Alonso, and the corporate rubber-stamp board she selected. Some people say the Guadalupe is in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and I'm being careful.

So long story short: The Board hasn't had a clue for a long time, and they're responsible for getting the Guadalupe into this mess of debt, and for the mass firings of women, most notably la Mary Jessie Garza, who was interim director. Instead they hired a director/president just like them. Turns out the Guadalupe doesn't have the money to put on the Conjunto Festival this year.

As I said before, the whole board needs to get the chancliada. Are you listening, Councilwoman Patti Radle? It's time for the community to take over the board, and start over. Tell us the truth about the debt, and next time, let's not get carried away by corporate dollars and real estate.

The Guadalupe is supposed to serve the community. Not the Board, not Budweiser, not Bret Ruiz.

Let's give the Board a Chancliada, and let's not make this mistake again.

(For more stories on the Guadalupe, see my past blogs. Sorry, I need help in reconfiguring the links...)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Guadalupe in Crisis: Machismo and the Ten Women of Lady Lupe