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Showing posts from 2008

The Dog next door

The guy next door works at the base, and he has a big german shephard named Duke. I call him Dukie, and I admit it, I've been using my feminine wiles so that I can play with the dog, who never gets out of his little yard, maybe 400 sq. ft. The guy built a wire fence for him, so that Duke can see out, but since the guy's house is in the middle of the block and Duke's area is in the back, he rarely sees anybody, except in the morning when the high school kids pass by, but they don't notice him.

Duke rarely barks. He's very sweet, and when I go over to give him treats from the alley-side, he rolls over for a rubdown, and I do my best over the fence.

I live upstairs so I can see everything that goes on in the next yard, and this is not a good thing, because I worry about Dukie. I've noticed lots of things, for example, that the guy comes back at lunch, but doesn't even pay attention to Duke, check on his water or anything. One time he didn't return on …

Trying to give thanks/Dia de gracias 2008

I am trying. I am grateful, I really am. That I'm healthy even though my knees hurt and I miss running. I am trying to give thanks that I have such a bounty of quiet to write and think today, but hope my single friends can rejoice in the aloneness, the solitude that comes from divorces and family members dying and children growing up.

I love this weather, it was in the high sixties today, but I'm worried that it hasn't gotten cold at all and it's the end of November. I wonder if my friends recognize what living the suburbs means for the environment -- the cutting of trees and construction of highways and the gasoline it will take for them to get into the city. I am thankful for my 900 sq ft apartment, the windows and space I have, why is it we always want more, even me? Now I want to live in the country, now I want a bigger house, now I want an acre or two, now I want a vista of greenscape, and what will my dream cost to the environment or what if I just gave that…

Thanksgiving in the barrio in San Antonio

It's 57 degrees outside tonight. Hazy moon. I walked home from the HEB groceries. My neighborhood is perfectly quiet, people have cars here or they're watching TV at 10 pm. No one's out except someone walking a dog and the crazy lady only come out on weekends.

People were loading up at the HEB. Whipped cream. Cokes, Dr. Pepper, Big Red. Cases of beer. Sausage. Cheetos. Ham. It was packed, because the store is closed tomorrow.

Somehow I remember the dinner party last night where we talked about the original thirteen colonies, quick, can you name them?

Yes, Georgia was one of them.

The thirteen colonies question is one of the questions asked for the U.S. citizenship interview, along with the Pilgrim question.

My girlfriend said last night that in a roomful of Ph.D's, no one could name all the thirteen colonies.

I'm sorry, but Thanksgiving just doesn't seem real to me. i've been to Plymouth Rock, outside of Boston and to the Charles River on the 4th of J…

Jose made me a turkey sandwich at 10 pm, are you in college?

Jose is handsome, young, hard-working, and tonight he made me the best Subway sandwich with lots of jalapenos and spicy mustard, just the way I like it. It was almost 10 pm on this Monday night and I always wonder when I see these young people working so late...are you in school, mijito?

No, I'm not.

He smiles, cleaning the counter with ganas. He's got a system to do it just right, he tells the manager.

Did you vote?

No. I don't believe in it.

He keeps scrubbing.

It's all about money.

I give him my spiel about Obama and how there will be more opportunities for him to go to college. He smiles, keeps cleaning. Then I tell him how I did it, with loans and scholarships.

I have his attention now.

Latinos are 20% of the electoral vote in Texas, but we're not voting in high numbers, I tell him. Blacks are 19%, and they voted. That means you could get much more help with a college education if latinos voted more.

I tell him my family story, how I went to college, how my br…

Where to start? What my neighbor did to his wife

It happened a year ago. My neighbor Rachel knocked on my door during the holidays. She was scared because her husband, (I will call him Big Panza) twice as big as she is with a voice that booms instead of talks, wanted a divorce.

They have three boys and she had no place to go. Panza has been beating her up, why hadn't I see it? Rachel could barely walk, Panza had beaten her in her pelvic area. And she had bruises on her neck and chest too. Rachel was sexually abused as a child. She drinks, and she's bipolar, and with all the medication she takes, she moves slowly, like she's drunk, but she's not. She weighs maybe a hundred pounds and she says she fights back sometimes when Panza hits her.

Rachel's not a great housekeeper. She feeds my cats, and she's very tender with her boys. They love my cats too, especially Snowball and Floofie, and aren't the type of boys who break windows.

Panza broke her jaw ten years ago, and that's why Rachel is always …

This is why Obama won't win Texas -- Si Se Puede

At a brunch with my comadres the other day, my girlfriends confessed that their elderly parents did not want to vote for who they callel negro. Some of them weren't going to vote at all, they said.

"El negro" is a Spanish translation for "Black man." It isn't a negative word at all, but it can be negative, depending on how it's used.

My girlfriends are voting for Obama, but they don't know what to do with their parents.

The tragic history of Texas has ensured that for Latinos and Blacks of the boomer generation and older -- the prejudice, ignorance, hate and scramble for scraps - continues.

Latinos make up 20% of the registered voters in Texas, and Blacks make up 19%. I know we have over 10% progressive White voters, so why can't Obama win Texas?

The past is still with us. Today, I roamed around the San Antonio (majority Latino) barrios today, Southside/Westside/Eastside. Where are the Obama signs?

Because the yard signs cost $7.00.

I don&#…

Chicano Renaissance at the Enchilada Library and who cares?

Everything we have is because of them and others like them: Rudi "Flaco" Rodriguez, fifteen years old, went to jail in Del Rio, Texas during the marches. Andrea Velasquez, a college student on scholarship at OLLU, organized Chicano teatro, marched in St. Louis with Cesar Chavez, organized the first Chicana newspaper El Rebozo and went to the Chicano Moratorium in Los Angeles. Artists David Gonzalez and Jose Esquivel aimed to be the pintores of protest as they wanted America to see that Chicano arte was vital, American, art.

This was the Chicano Movement, and the Central (Enchilada) Library is - delicately and diplomatically - featuring the Chicano Movement for Hispanic Heritage Month titled Chicano Renaissance.
Yesterday at the first panel hosted by San Antonio's most prominent and brilliant Chicana scholar, Antonia Castaneda, maybe 25 people were in attendance.

He who has the power tells the story, verdad? A teacher asked where are the books on the Chicano Movement? Ther…

Yes, San Antonio is against the War! Here is our protest

With four bases in San Antonio in bed with an archconservative Catholic presence, and a media that makes heroes of our poorest, most naive soldiers so that our young believe that War is right and good, there are plenty of us who say NO.

Gracias to all the writers who participated and submitted.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9g5IYGsHlY

POWER TO THE PANZA! THIS IS WHAT SAN ANTO NEEDS!

When I worked with la Vicki Grise at the Esperanza years ago, it was obvious to me she was a star. She had presence, wit, maldiciones and fideo-love. What else do you need? Between her and Irma Mayorga, the Ph.D from Stanford playwright and resident creative genius, they conceived and produced The Panza Monologues. Vicki has now finished her second year at Cal Arts - the nation's top program in the performing arts and Irma teaches theatre at Florida State University, where she is a star tambien.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Irma-Mayorga/12900109138?ref=share

Some musings from Vicki on not getting to premiere The Panza Monologues in San Anto this summer:

una notitita (ok its a notitote but not a mitote) we will be filming
the panza monologues in Los Angeles August 2nd. i am of course dissapointed that we werent able to do the filming in ourhome town (ran around woodlawn lake this morning - so glad to be home)but i'm actually not angry. so many people have opened up space …

What kind of performing arts center does San Antonio deserve?

San Antonio has cultura but no place or money to see high-quality theatre. (See my story on the Panza Monologues in the next blog). And very little discussion about WHY this is happening. (See the blog after that)

Intro: This past May 10th, 2008, the City of San Antonio approved a gigantic Bond Package that included 100 million dollars for a Performing Arts Center at the Municipal Auditorium downtown...I've heard the Mayor say he wants Opera (which I love too, but chinelas...) BELOW IS A POST FROM PABLO MARTINEZ, POET AND CULTURAL ACTIVIST (with my edits):

In 2000, I returned to San Antonio after 14 years in New York City, where I worked at the New York Philharmonic and two major arts funding agencies. Not long after my return, I had lunch with a high-ranking city official. As we talked about San Antonio's future, he observed that the city was nearing the threshold of immense change. "We can go in either of two directions," he speculated. "We can become ano…

Why The Panza Monologues Can't Come to San Antonio

Vicki Grise is from San Antonio, and so is Irma Mayorga. Together, they created The Panza Monologues, which has toured throughout the country, except here.

Why? There is no place to perform. And if there is a place, there is no funding for them. The Guadalupe is recovering from a nightmarish board and directors, and Say Si cancelled at the last moment.

I've always wondered why San Antonio doesn't have an established Chicana/o Theatre Program at one of the universities, why we don't have an Equity City Theatre, why we don't have Chicano Chakespeare, why Cherrie Moraga's Media didn't perform here, so many whys and neither Vicki or Irma live here anymore.

And now we have a multi-million City bond package that just passed and very little debate about its merits. (Read what Pablo Martinez has to say about that in next blog).

THIS IS WHAT WE DESERVE IN SAN ANTONIO! SEE THE VIDEO!

SAN ANTONIO MEDIA DOESN'T HAVE TO BE CLEAR CHANNEL, LISTEN!

In Minneapolis this past week, thousands of people gathered to challenge the corporatized bottom-feed media brought to us courtesy of Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Bush - it's called media deregulation.
http://www.freepress.net/conference

In a democracy, the media should be free. People like me - and you - should be represented and it shouldn't be about selling ads on the front page of the newspaper or sex ads filling up the alternative paper or mainstream views on public radio. Television news should be local, and not focused on ambulance chasing and violence. We get the media we deserve. Let your Congressman and Senators know how you feel.

PUT THE KOOL BACK IN YOUR SUMMER, SAN ANTONIO-STYLE: THE KRAYOLAS ARE BACK!

THE KRAYOLAS AND THEIR NEW CD
“LA CONQUISTADORA”

What if you could be a teenager again at the baile and the cutest guy with hazel eyes or the girl with the longest black hair slow-danced with you? Remember how it made you feel, all bubbly and dreamy and how life swirled us in Kool-aid colors, sweet and tangy, how life stained our tongues and white shirts in ways we can’t forget?

That’s how it is when I hear Hector Saldana (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica) singing rock-n-roll in that strawberry milkshake-voice of his with The Krayolas. Now a grown-up baby boomer, he and his brother David Saldana (vocals, percussion and more), are proving that midlife gives you another chance to meet your destiny in the production of their new album “La Conquistadora.” And conquer they do, featuring Augie Meyers, Van Baines (harmony vocals, lead guitar, pedal steel guitar) , Joe Sarli (harmony vocals and electric bass, and The West Side Horns.

Dressed in their sleek, black, retro-Beatles …

In San Antonio, why are we celebrating Fiesta!!??

It's true, San Anto is puro-party. Someone somewhere tonight is celebrating something, and I'm invited. But this week, I'm not goin no-where. It's Fiesta!, the biggest ten-day pachangalooza you'll ever see, and frankly, I'm tired of dancing on my grave.

Let me explain.

On April 21, 1836, the Texan rebels - led by General Sam Houston, defeated the Mexicans at the Battle of San Jacinto. It was a massacre. (Sweet revenge for the preceeding Anglo deaths at the Alamo and Goliad).

And of course, there was a woman involved. There is a legend about a Yellow Rose - whom my friend Denise McVea has researched extensively, and it's a wet-dream myth about a mulatta whore in Mexican General Santa Anna's bed seducing and betraying him for the Anglo Texans - and she's discovered the origin of this myth. I've always been repulsed by this story, as have most women...

But it's party-time now, and the past is pasado, right?

Yes. And no. I think, as Carlos …

The Media Pretends to Pay Attention as Six Inner-city Schools Close To Appease Corporate Interests

Last week, Michelle Jimenez Reyes, mother of a Travis Elementary School student in San Antonio’s inner-city schools, discovered that her daughter’s school library was closed – with eight weeks to go before the end of the schoolyear.

It was only the latest shocker since the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) announced they were shuttering six inner-city schools – citing decreasing enrollment. The city of San Antonio is one of the largest cities in Texas, and with over a million residents, is not losing population. It's building new schools – in the farthest reaches of its spidery suburbs as its citizens move out in search of jobs and cheap housing, leaving behind the oldest and most valuable inner-city housing stock remaining in Texas.

Since the surprising announcement from the SAISD in February, Jimenez Reyes has organized a concerted protest of parents and activists, called Keep Travis Open (www.keeptravisopen.com), a defiant, grassroots, challenge to the closing …

FIESTA SAN ANTONIO! FORGET THAT WE LOST AND WE'VE GOT NOTHING TO CELEBRATE

On April 21st, 1836, the Anglo Texans, after the Alamo and Goliad massacres, overwhelmed the Mexican forces led by General Santa Anna at the battlefield of San Jacinto. The Republic of Texas was established, and the rest is history.

But in San Antonio, the defeat of the Mexicans is celebrated as Fiesta!, a ten-day bacchanalia that brings millions of dollars to this tourist-dependant city known for its margaritas and mariachis.

A city comprised of a majority-minority population of brown and black people who still suffer the ramifications of San Jacinto and Anglo dominance in finance, education, city government and every other index you can think of.

La gente de San Antonio save their few dollars and spend their cash on the rides, the beer, and the music of Fiesta! Even though they lost the War, their cultura is the reason the city is enriched by them as its leaders continue to impoverish them. San Antonio is one of the poorest cities in the country, one of the most polluted, with a reg…

According to a new book by Denise McVea, the mother of Texas was a Mulatta

Denise McVea is a black woman from San Antonio, Texas, who speaks better Spanish than me. I used to read her stories in the alternative press in Dallas, where she was highly regarded. However, nothing prepared me for the stunning revelation - a decade-long investigation - into the story behind the Yellow Rose of Texas - the legendary mulatta whose seduction and betrayal of the Mexican General Santa Anna changed the course of history by allowing the Texan rebels the opportunity to defeat the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

According to McVea's painstaking research in Texas, Mexico, New York, and France, the mulatta was Emily West de Zavala. She was the legal wife of Lorenzo de Zavala, a prominent liberal Mexican politician who fled from Mexico, traveling through New Orleans, New York, and finally making a home in Texas after becoming the ideological enemy of Santa Anna.

The Yellow Rose is a myth. But Emily West de Zavala was real, and according to M…

Obama is in San Antonio today and this I know

I'm for Obama, but all my girlfriends are for Hillary. As a born and bred Tejana with absolutely no polling experience, I predict that Clinton will take Texas - but not by much.

My beloved state of Texas has a history of racial segregation between whites and blacks, whites and browns - and browns and blacks. I'm from the baby boomer generation, and my peers carry the prejudiced baggage of our parents. Not all - but many. They will never admit it, but it's there in what they don't say and the murmurs...you don't want to hear those words.

My generation of people in the fifties and forties has led separate lives from Blacks.At the MLK March we have every year here, billed as the largest in Texas, latinos and whites were maybe 20% of the thousands of black marchers on the city's eastside - now turning browner with immigrants and middle-class blacks leaving for the suburbs. Remember, latinos are easily 60% of the city's population, and I think blacks …

I picked a fight with the Girls Scouts over their fat cookies

Yes, it's true, I was a Browniea long time ago, and learned how to toast marshmellows and make rag-rugs, and I sold cookies then too.

But people weren't so - ummm - deliciously smitten with cookies and cakes and candies and pizza and hamburgers and tamales and barbacoa. We weren't so gorditas and gorditos then, ok?

San Antonio, Texas, has a reputation for great Tex-Mex food. But if you live here, it's hard to be slender. And the only slender thing about San Antonio is the river. We are one of the poorest cities in the country, deliberately so, making my community vulnerable to commercials and the flour-tortilla temptations of our working-class history. In my part of the city, there should be a law against all the fast-food joints on one block. Cheap, fast, filling food that working and middle-class people eat all the time. Have to eat, or else they'll starve.

This is why I picked a fight with the Girls Scouts selling their make-me-fat cookies outside the sto…

Rachel, The Battered Woman from the Pink House Next Door

The reason I haven’t written is because of Rachel.I live in the barrio, well, San Antonio is one eternal barrio, a heaven and hell mix of fix-your-flat-tire repair shops, tortillerias, taquerias, pitbull puppies for sale around the corner. There are no bookstores here, no kiosks, and the only place to buy the New York Times is at the Starbucks off the freeway.My street is working-class, on the poor side of JeffersonHigh School, away from the big homes of the Monticello district. I like living in the barrio, it’s real.But I also know why people don’t like living here, it’s too hard.People here have problems that my family surmounted years ago, my parents made sacrifices so that I wouldn’t see what I have in the almost-three years I’ve been here.And I know there must be something wrong with me – because I want to see it. I want to help, but I'm not able to help. Like for example,
Rachel.I haven’t been able to write because of her, my next-door neighbor.Right after New Year’s, sh…