"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

Monday, August 10, 2009

Twelve Heads in a Bag: Hector Saldana's Krayolas painting in bold, true colors

Longleaf pines are native to the southeast United States, and their conservation status is vulnerable. Only three percent of this historic, unrottable pine tree forest that can live up to 500 years remains. With long leaf pine (no smack gum) by the comeback sensations, The Krayolas, it is clear they intend to make great music for the long haul. I’m talking about one song in particular, “Twelve Heads in a Bag,” a deceptive rock-ballad (written and sung by Hector Saldana, with Max Baca on bajo sexto and Michael Guerra on accordion). Twelve Heads… is dedicated to the beheaded victims of Mexico’s drug wars. As has been said before but needs to be said again, it is the first corrido of the 21st century and it’s for the history books. Twelve Heads in a Bag makes you want to dance with a Lone Star in your hand, no matter the barbeque stains on your Tshirt, wondering why it wasn’t you in that bag.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Fri Jul 10 8pm – 9pm Reading/Performance with Vicki Grise "The Panza Monologues" - Resistencia Bookstore, Austin, Texas
Fri Jul 31 7pm – 8pm Book Reading - Cafe Quetzalcoatl, El Paso, Texas
Sat Aug 1 Reading (TBD) at Summer MALCS Institute, Las Cruces, NM - Summer MALCS Institute, Las Cruces, NM
Thu Sep 3 6:30pm – 8:30pm Reading with local novelist Jay Brandon - Brookhollow Library, San Antonio, Texas
Mon Sep 14 7pm – 8pm Reading at Barnes & Noble, San Pedro Crossing, San Antonio - Barnes & Noble, San Pedro Crossing, San Antonio
Sat Oct 31 Featured Author, Schedule TBD, Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas - Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas

Monday, June 15, 2009


Thursday, June 18th, Houston Community College Central FAC115 Downtown
10:00 am
with writer/HCC professor Tony Diaz in a discussion about writing, community, and society
Book Reading, Barnes & Noble, Westheimer/Voss, 7pm
from Golondrina, why did you leave me?

Interview on Nuestra Palabra, Houston

Interview on LatinoUSA with Maria Hinojosa, June 26th, special program on Women & Books, featuring Sandra Cisneros, Josefa Lopez, and myself

Book Reading, El Paso, Texas, Friday, July 31st (To Be Confirmed)

Reading, MALCS Summer Institute, Las Cruces, late July-first week of August (To Be Confirmed)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Confession: To be a Writer of Conscience

I want to be the kind of writer who isn't afraid to make you cry or laugh or dream. Words matter, they have power and beauty and freedom, and with them, you can make this world a better place. Don't believe me? Check out the PEN International Book Festival.

And check out Robert Flynn's blogs on the site.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dance Lessons/Golondrina Book Reading at Salute! Bar

Now this is a book reading! At my favorite bar! La Azeneth, the owner of Salute!, is struggling to keep the historic bar open (Esteban Jordan performs there every friday night, like forever). So, a Benefit/Reading/Borlote: On Friday night, May 22nd, I will read the dance chapters from Golondrina as women dance-along and some may even read-along. MAMBO!
The Dancers are: Norma Zamora; Florinda Castillo; Dee Murff and Janie Alonso; Jessica Cerda

The artist Terry Ybanez will exhibit a series of prints that are golondrina-inspired, and the photographer Joan Frederick is exhibiting twenty years of Salute! Bar photos! Also for sale.

Salute! Bar International
2801 N St. Mary's
San Antonio

The Reading begins at 8:30 pm - 9:30 pm. FREE.
Includes Deliciosa Comida. Cash Bar.
If you want to stay and hear Esteban, $10.00 at 10:00 pm


Friday, April 24, 2009

BookWoman Reading, Sunday, May 3rd, Austin, Texas

But what makes Golondrina special, what drives its considerable innovation and perfumes its hundreds of tiny pleasures, is the sheer descriptive mestizaje beauty of the novel’s language, word-by-word, in English and en español. González wields Golondrina’s Tex-Mex dialect with real mastery; in her hands, the language is lyrical, big, luxurious, funny, and terrifying. González’s arsenal, linguistically and as a storyteller, is immense and complex, with Joycean neologisms (“cornpaste”) and fierce rhythm...
Golondrina, for all its potential difficulties, deserves and has the power to attract a wide audience. If you care about the changing face and language of American contemporary fiction (of world fiction; East Indian authors in particular, primarily in the UK, are pioneering new forms of English phraseology, too), and if you love a good story, and appreciate vivid descriptions of Texas landscape, architecture, culture and history rendered with surprising touches of beauty and dark humor, I’ve got a book for you bien cierto. •
(Sarah Fisch, San Antonio Current, see link above)

Golondrina, why did you leave me? Book Reading
Sunday, May 3rd, 3pm
5501 N. Lamar #A-105
between N. Loop & Koenig
Austin, Texas

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Rosalinda Reading/Latino Cultural Center, Dallas Texas

My girlfriend, Rosalinda Garcia, a teacher from Grand Prairie, Texas, has cancer. It's bad, and it's good in that Rosalinda is loving life every single minute.

On Monday, April 20th, I'm reading at the Latino Cultural Center, a place that is a dream come true for me, as the appointee on the Commission for Cultural Affairs who initiated, and led its establishment in the early stages.

I couldn't have done it without Maria T. Garcia Pedroche. Dr. Catalina Garcia. Diana Flores. Regina Montoya. Felix Zamora. And Rosalinda Garcia, who listened, protested, and helped me with her powerful listening, patience, support, protesting, marching, and most of all - love.

So I am dedicating my reading to her. Golondrina, why did you leave me? is a love story based on my mother's life. And like her, Rosalinda is a golondrina: questioning, freedom-loving, fearless, and most of all, she knows that love is the land we're seeking.

Reading for Rosalinda
from Golondrina, why did you leave me?
The first Chicana novel from UT Press/Chicana Matters Series
Latino Cultural Center
Monday, April 20th, 2009
Dallas, Texas
7 pm

Praise for Golondrina, why did you leave me?

But what makes Golondrina special, what drives its considerable innovation and perfumes its hundreds of tiny pleasures, is the sheer descriptive mestizaje beauty of the novel’s language, word-by-word, in English and en español. González wields Golondrina’s Tex-Mex dialect with real mastery; in her hands, the language is lyrical, big, luxurious, funny, and terrifying. González’s arsenal, linguistically and as a storyteller, is immense and complex, with Joycean neologisms (“cornpaste”) and fierce rhythm...Sarah Fisch, San Antonio Current

Friday, April 10, 2009

Golondrina Book Reading Schedule/Texas

Ok, so if you want to cry, laugh, dance, get a little nekkid, and celebrate this impossible state of Texas, please join me for my Premiere Reading in San Antonio y mas:
Tuesday, April 14th, Northwest Vista College, Cypress College Center, 2:00 -4:00 pm

Wednesday, April 15th, PREMIERE READING, Twig Bookstore, 5005 Broadway, San Antonio,
5:00 pm (Get your taxes done early
!) http://www.sacurrent.com/story.asp?id=70048

Monday, April 20th, Latino Cultural Center, Dallas, Texas, 7pm

Sunday, May 3rd, BookWoman Bookstore, Austin, Texas, 3pm

Saturday, May 9th, Celebration of our Mother Tardeada, Pa'htilKali Gifts, 1024 Donaldson, San Antonio, Texas, 4-6 pm

Friday, May 22nd, Salute! Bar (warm-up for Esteban Jordan) 9:00 pm
$10.00 admission -- includes Esteban Jordan, Joan Frederick's twenty-years of photographs of the venerable Salute! Bar, comida, and dancing while I read and of course, when Esteban plays

Sunday, May 31st, Retro-Mex Vintage on Hildebrand, 4pm
Pilar is hosting - she's la reina of Mexican vintage
Art Exhibit by Terry Ybanez

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Alamo, as it should be

I do not want to glorify war anymore. Gracias a Laura Varela, a filmmaker who envisioned these images, and Joan Frederick, who took these glorious photographs as San Antonio's Luminaria Celebration on Saturday, March 14, 2009.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why Women, Las Mujeres, Must Claim the Alamo

Because women are here to heal the world. Men are here to destroy it. We are the ones who must guide men to use their power constructively. Have you ever seen a man cry? Believe me, they want to. The love of women for the world is a divine gift, and too often we have let men take it away.

It is more powerful to love than it is to hate. The Alamo is a monument to war.

Join me for a Reading/Platica and Q&A about the Yellow Rose of Texas and Reclaiming the Alma, the Soul of Texas.

Saturday, March 14, 2009
3-5 pm
Luminaria Reading

Bihl Haus Arts
2803 Fredericksburg
San Antonio, TX 78201

photo credits: Joan Frederick @2008

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The next mayor of San Antonio is Julian Castro and will he or won't he?

So I"m at the first-ever virtual townhall meeting for a political campaign in San Antonio! I got here late, so I can't really tell you what happened, lots of male bloggers and just met Julian's wife, Erica, who's due tomorrow. It seems I'm one of two female bloggers, here at the Julian Castro Headquarters on Mulberry and Broadway. It's fun to be here, the campaign people are real people.

I know Julian's mother, Rosie, a long-time activist in the Chicano movement. Like so many of my generation, she gave her son the best education she could -- Stanford and Harvard Law School. And he's certainly polished, I've seen him on television answering questions in a succinct, cool, tvbite way.

I first met Julian Castro as a progressive City Councilman in 1992 who stood up to the real estate developers who wanted to build a PGA golfcourse over the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer. But the pressures on any city councilperson in this city are immense, and eventually Julian's courage took a backseat to the then-Mayor Ed Garza's rejection of a voter referendum -- and the golf course development was begun.

If I had arrived in time, my question to our future mayor is this: How do you feel about that vote now? The PGA Golf Course represented San Antonio's sad history of real estate development, the destruction of our environment, the religious belief in cars and highways to get us there and back, and the regressive tax structures that have kept San Antonio's poor, poorer still.

If Julian gets elected on May 9th, he could be Mayor for up to eight years (4-two-year terms)

Would you do it again, Julian?

Monday, March 09, 2009

The good and the bad of San Antonio

The Good:

Margaritas with top-shelf tequila
Nachos bien greasy
The river that runs through the city
San Pedro Park
The Missions
Conjunto music, especially Eva Ybarra's accordion
Nopales with yellow florecitas
No te freak, toda twistiada, the language of Tex-Mex
La buena gente, people are kind. Even the mugger worried the other day how I was gonna take the bus after he had my money.

The Bad:

The Alamo -- the way the children are confused walking out of it. What lessons are we giving them? The Alamo. The souvenir shops across the street confound people after they hear how "sacred" the Alamo is. The guides at the Alamo tell us stories of battles and "brave men." One time a group of people told me "We kicked your butt."
The Alamo. And the thousands of ghosts that still roam there -- the men who died from both sides, and the Native Americans buried under the plaza that we walk on every day.
The Alamo. A symbol of war, of violence, of hate.
The Alamo: Sometimes, a symbol of nothing, because people just walk across it for its sheer beauty. To take a picture.

The Alamo. Let's talk about it.

Let's talk about it. Let's make the Alamo a good place to be.
Saturday, March 14, 3-5 pm, Luminaria Reading
Bihl Haus Arts
2803 Fredericksburg
San Antonio, 78201

photo credit: Joan Frederick

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Alamo, Abused Children and Battered Women

I don't like the Alamo. Don't care who won or lost anymore -- the Anglos or the Mexicans? It's all the same to me.

The Alamo didn't give me "freedom." The civil rights movement did that.

The women lost at the Alamo. The children lost. Women were raped, abandoned, forgotten, used. I say Forget the Alamo on March 6th by remembering the ugliness, the horror, the pillage of war.

San Antonio is a violent city. We have some of the highest rates in the nation for abused children, battered women, cruelty to animals.

As long as we celebrate this monument to war, there will be no peace in San Antonio. Violence engenders more violence. That war haunts us still as we revere the "heroes" and don't know who the peacemakers are.

This year, I am asking women from all over the world to examine, study, and look again at these monuments to war. Let's begin with the Alamo. Let's ask that the Alamo become a Monument to Peace. A Wailing Wall where all of us can go and cry in our suffering, and let's turn the Alamo into a Center for the Study of Peace, Healing, & Reconciliation.

photo credit: Joan Frederick, www.joanfrederick.net

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Eva Ybarra, Queen of the Accordion, tells her story

She calls them viboras, the men who deny her stature as one of the world's best accordionists. She lives here, in San Antonio, and she doesn't have a car and is worried about her taxes. Eva has played in New York City, and yet no one in San Antonio seems to want to pay her what she deserves. Enough to live on.

The other day Eva played me a new composition, it's called Eco de Mujer. The song is haunted, a polka-tango-blues of a woman's pain and loneliness, betrayal and it sounds exactly like when my mother used to cry at the clothesline under the hot Texas sky. Like she was on fire and there was nowhere for her to go -- except to hang up more of my father's workshirts.

My mother listened to Lydia Mendoza. I listen to Eva Ybarra.

On Thursday evening, I finally get to read from my novel, with her accordion accompanying me. Though it is really Eva, her music, and that voice of hers that I wish I could put down on paper: That voice made of hard,
dusty, gravelly, roads walked alone, head held high, fearless, holding a child's hand in one and a mother's in another, wishing that he loved her as much as she loves him, but not willing to go back for the scraps he is offering. No.

Who do you love, Eva? I ask her.

My music, she says. I am in love with my music.

The performance is on Thursday, February 26th, at UTSA/Downtown, Buena Vista Theatre, across from Pico De Gallo restaurant, at 6:55 pm. It's called Noche de Cultura, thanks to NACCS/Tejas Foco, which includes many other great artists. Free and open to the public.
And Gracias to the Office of Cultural Affairs of San Antonio, Texas, for their financial support of this performance.
Stage Design by David Zamora Casas
Production Chief, Mary Jessie Garza

photo credit: www.pbs.org

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No candy, no flowers, just love the world like Luti does

Last Friday, my girlfriend Luti Gude treated me to dinner and we talked about politics, cats, and always, her children. Luti Vela Gude comes from a prominent, progressive, South Texas family, puros Tejanos (and don't forget it!) with ties all the way to the (current) White House. Even in that family known for their enlightened views and activism, Luti shines because she ran in the Boston Marathon in her forties. She's currently a graduate student at UTSA in Counseling, and from all accounts, teaching them more about the community than the faculty can ever teach her. Luti was also determined to raise her children to care about the world -- and it's working. Her oldest son, David, a spectacular student, attended Brackenridge High School and other public schools in the inner city, becoming a humanitarian, dedicated to giving something back to the world as a physician and researcher.

David's life has not been without suffering, believe me. But last year he got married to a Hindu woman who is equally gifted, and who Luti has embraced as her new daughter.

At our dinner, Luti and I talked about love (what else is there?) and I bragged about attending the wedding-of-the-decade last April between John Phillip Santos and Frances Trevino -- and then Luti told me about the mesmerizing wedding of her son, David, to Nisha. There was David on a horse, and there were candles, fire, Luti dancing better than any Bollywood queen, and echa el grito, the mariachis!

On this Valentine's Day, I celebrate Luti and all the mothers who love their children enough to teach them to love others without measure and to fly far away from home!

The world is waiting for us to love like this.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A lesson for the Guadalupe Cultural Center: Apologize for Bret Ruiz's harrassment

Juan Aguilera, the former Board Chair of the Guadalupe Cultural Center, should apologize to Dee Murff and all the women of the Guadalupe who were summarily fired because of Bret Ruiz, the former and very-flawed director of the Guadalupe.

Murff, the most outspoken of the group and surely the one with the most red-haired attitude - filed a lawsuit against the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (GCAC) charging sexual discrimination during Ruiz's tenure. The rumors are that the Guadalupe wants to settle the case before the arrival of the new executive director, Patty Ortiz.

Let's be clear: This lawsuit was a last-resort attempt to get the community to pay attention to the problems at the GCAC. Sometimes an organization, like an individual, like a nation, has to face its errors. Confronting guilt can be healing for everyone concerned. We all make mistakes, and Aguilera needs to man-up.

Bret Ruiz was the man hired to be Executive Director in July of 2005, despite a phone call from Mauricio Navarro, who told me he told Aguilera that Ruiz was the worst director the Anita Martinez Ballet Folklorico (Ruiz's former employer in Dallas) had ever seen.

Well, surprise, surprise. According to my sources, Bret Ruiz has continued his negative path, recently departing his position as Managing Director (he was there August-November 08) at the Latino Policy Forum in Chicago. A staff member there, Ruben D. Feliciano, a housing policy analyst and outreach coordinator, has written me, stating: (edited for this blog -- if you want to see the whole email, please contact me at lastruestories@yahoo.com)

"I felt in my spirit that Mr. Ruiz looked down at me on on several occasions also made very sarcastic references about me and my persona..

I see so many parallels in your stories and his conniving ways...I felt deep in my spirit that I represented everything that he despised. I am a strong and openly gay Puerto Rican/Latino man that wore my cultura with pride and honor in my frente, came from the community and is successful at it without having to compromise my values. But I guess I was too "ghetto" for his liking."

A new director has now been hired for La Lupe, Patty Ortiz. I met her last week, and she seems very nice, and is an accomplished visual artist and curator, besides. According to the Rocky Mountain News, Ortiz is going to continue to advise her old center, and she's planning on curating an exhibit in the fall of 2009.

The new Guadalupe Cultural Center Board has stellar members, including civil rights attorney Al Kauffman, labor historian Antonia Castaneda, and Trinity University's Arturo Madrid. Aguilera is still on the GCAC Board.

I trust that the GCAC Board will recognize what the women of La Lupe suffered under Bret Ruiz. A cultural center that doesn't respect the rights of women, la gente del barrio, the artists who are the soul of this city, has lost its mission.

One conjunto festival isn't enough.

photo credits: Joan Frederick, "The Accordion Player"

So did you get laid this week? Sexual harrassment in San Antonio

My girlfriend Cecilia just left her job at Amed Community Hospice where she was a social worker for terminally ill patients. Why did she leave after two years there? Because of a man named Chris Sitton, the Bereavement and Volunteer Coordinator, 40 years old, married with a child.

Cecilia is a serious, 46 year-old woman, who tells me she loved her job, and that it was very difficult for her to say goodbye to her patients and their families. It isn't easy, or professional, to leave patients who are facing death.

But Sitton asked her constantly about her sexual life, she says. He whacked her on her derriere with a newspaper, and asked her things like "So did you get laid this week?" I know what this feels like, and most women I know have encountered sexual harrassment in their lives. But few of us actually fight back.

Cecilia told me Sitton harrasses others, but she refused to accept it to keep her job. She went to EEOC, and filed a complaint. Amed In the meantime, Amed has offered her $500 which she's rejected, along with a a letter of recommendation. But she doesn't want their bribes. She knows Sitton goes drinking with Tim Wagner, one of the executives, and Sitton has in fact been promoted - to Marketing.

Cecilia was only one of two latina social workers in San Antonio, where half of the patients are latino. It's easy to see why she's good at this kind of work -- she listens, she's empathetic, she's generous, the kind of person you'd want to be by your side if you were about to die.

She has a new job that begins on Monday.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Persecution of Bambi Cardenas/Todas Somos Lobas

Blandina Ramirez (Bambi) Cardenas, the first latina college president of the University of Texas system, is retiring from my alma mater, the University of Texas at Pan American,http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif in Edinburg, Texas. Edinburg is about ten miles from the Texas border, across from Reynosa, Mexico, state of Tamaulipas.

Presumably, it's because of a heart attack. But I believe it's because of a spurious, "anonymous" campaign targeting her because of whatshe symbolizes -- educational progress, and the best of latin@ leaders. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1974.

This is bullshit.

I believe this campaign seeks to undermine and destroy her reputation: How DARE she dedicate her life to educational achievement, cultural pride, and civil rights? How dare she not be a good ol boy? Como se atreve? She's dangerous.

You betcha she is.

I say all this because I know Pan Am: We called it "Taco Tech," when I was there, and it is easily 95% brown. Pura raza. And because it is brown, students assume that everything is good in the world, when in fact powerful forces have deliberately denied latinos a superior education. When I was there, the guys drank beer in the library...I loved the place with its arches and fountains and tamale-eating contests, as I despaired at the illiteracy. Danos break, Sir! I wrote a long letter to then-President Miguel A. Nevarez while at the University of Michigan, explaining why a 50% dropout rate among college freshmen was not a good thing for la raza.

Apparently, Bambi agrees with me, and did something about it. This is why she is known as a heroine of public education in Texas.

Early on in my professional life, Bambi gave me hope as then-President Carter appointed her to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, then to the Civil Rights Commission, where she fought for years on behalf of affirmative action.

I remember how she told me in an interview how she would come home after daily confrontations with the Reagan-appointed conservatives and just throw up [from their veiled hate of us].

Bambi isn't like her name, exactly. She's gentle, but she can run with the wolves intellectually. My girlfriend Terry Ybanez painted her face on a mural in San Antonio, alongside labor leader Emma Tenayuca and political and spiritual leader Maria Antonietta Berriozabal,among others. There is a good reason Terry spent a whole summer in the very hot sun painting these women's faces and names on a wall, the first mural in the country to extoll these women so publicly and beautifully.

I'm sure Bambi isn't perfect, (though she's awfully close).
There is no way she deserves leaving the stage in disgrace, which is what has happened.

It's persecution. It's harrassment, it's unethical, it's unconscionable.

My promise to those who orchestrated this nasty campaign: There are more Bambis out there, and you will not stop us from taking our rightful place in Texas.

Like it or not babydoll, your children and grandchildren will have to apologize for what you've done some day. And we will forgive them, but you will be forgotten.

While Bambi will stay in the history books.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My father, Roberto, turns 90 on Inauguration Day

My father called me the other day from the Assisted Living Center where he lives in Corpus Christi. He says he wants to die. This coming Tuesday, he will be 90 years old.

My father is lonely, he's almost deaf, halfway blind, and he has a white manx cat, Blanca. He left us when my brothers were little, and there was so much crying. My parents divorced when I was in graduate school, so I wasn't at home when it happened.

In the years despues, I tried to set a good example for my brothers, but it wasn't enough. My father went to live way out in the country after the divorce, the land he loved, and he never came to visit. Not for graduations, not for weddings, nothing. Still, my brothers made pilgrimages to visit him, and it made him happy.

His anger at my mother was such that when my brother Charlie died suddenly at age 30, he refused to give her the Pesame at the funeral. It was like he pretended she didn't matter, even when I know he could barely walk from the grief.

I have been the most absent of the eight of us, enjoying my solitude, wishing I had my own rancho in the country.

The solitude has been good for me, I'm a writer. But it's made me very poor, and I've struggled to visit him, especially now that he can't drive his like-new truck, sold years ago. Daddy misses his old five dogs rusted with mange on the day he left the country. He misses the good smell of dirt, the whispers of animals feathering, chasing, hiding from each other. He misses the moon that seems to talk to him as if he was the most important man in the world. He always wanted to be, that's for sure.

I think he has regrets about the way he didn't love us very well and what happened because of it. I think he has been afraid of dying. I'm probably going to miss the Inauguration because of his birthday. My father has changed. He's proud that he voted for Barack Obama.

I hope I learn from his life.

photo credits: my nephew dressed up as Obama at Halloween.