Monday, December 27, 2004

And Now, The News ...


Panel session on Chicana/o Environmental Writing at the Sixth Biennial Conference, Association for the Study of Literature and Environment June 21-25, 2005, University of Oregon

Walden Pond in Aztlán?: Chicana/o Writing and the Environment

Papers may consider: discussions of specific works by Mexican American and Chicana/o writers in an environmental context, such as María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Jovita Gonzáles, María Cristina Mena, Américo Paredes, Cherríe Moraga, Ana Castillo, Denise Chávez, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Ray Gonzáles, and others; or, reflections on specific challenges and/or insights resulting from considering Chicana/o writers in an environmental context, including but not limited to environmental justice, land rights, bioregional identity, political activism, traditional environmental knowledge, environmental citizenship, and more.

Please submit 1-page abstracts to Priscilla Ybarra at
Priscilla Solis YbarraPh.D. Candidate LecturerRice University Yale UniversityDepartment of English American Studies Phone: (713) 294-1278 Fall 2004 For more info:

A note from Texas writer David Rice:

Hello teachers/friends. Over the past year I have been working with some high school students in Kyle Texas to help write a college hand book for young students. "Wiley's Way" is the book. Already folks from the Rio Grande Valley have ordered class room sets for schools in Edcouch Elsa and McAllen.

Please visit the website:

The book is bilingual and very colorful. I think it will be a good book to get our students to start thinking about college at a very early age.

thanks, david rice

Voices of the New Sun: Songs and Stories / Voces del Nuevo Sol: Cantos y Cuentos

The 155 page anthology contain the works of 38 local authors, some very well-known, e.g., Jose Montoya, Francisco Alarcon, Olivia Castellano and others, as well as some for whom this will be their first work published. It contains the tribute poem, Las Murales, by the late Phil Goldvarg. Order it by mail, sending a check for $13.50, made out to Aztlan Cultural; mail to: Escritores del Nuevo Sol, P.O. Box 162714, Sacramento, CA 95816-2714.

For more information, call (916) 456-5323, or (916) 451-1372.Website:

"The Blood Cake Vendor and Other Stories" by J. L. Navarro

This collection of 43 stories has just been released and includes pieces published in Cafe Irreal, BIGnews Magazine, 3AM Magazine, Angeleno Stories, Suspects Thoughts, Shadowkeep, Margin, Aphelion, Bastard Fiction, Gang Related, Con Safos, XhismeArte, The Murder Hole, The House of Pain, Blue Food, Savage Night, Apocalypse Fiction, and The Dream People.

The book is 522 pages in length and is available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook formats. For more info:

Manuel Ramos


The end of the year means that we can post the annual La Bloga List of Whatever We Want to Make a List of ...

I’ve chosen to list “bests”. You could do worsts (pardon the pun).

This is so subjective.

Best Book - Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway. This is the one book I recommend to everyone. It’s about desperation, tragedy, courage. It reads like excellent fiction but, unfortunately, it is all true. Here’s a website: Urrea recently was named winner of the $125,000 Lannan Literary Award for non-fiction. The awards, presented by the Lannan Foundation, recognize writers who have made significant contributions to English-language literature through poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

Best New Movie I’ve Actually Seen - Very limited category since I didn’t see many new movies this year. Those in the running include Baadasssss!, Collateral, Fahrenheit 911, The Incredibles, Kill Bill Volume 2, The Manchurian Candidate, Ray, Shark Tale, Shrek 2, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Spider-Man 2. Some excellent flicks and some slim pickings, too. I think the winner has to be Maria Full of Grace, runner-up is A Day Without A Mexican. I missed something new from Mexico, since the last couple of years have seen excellent movies from Mexican directors such as Amores Perros, Y Tu Mamá También, 21 Grams.

Best Old Movie I Saw This Year - How about Out of the Past (Robert Mitchum in the quintessential noir tale)? Check out the Mexicans in this 1947 hard-boiled private detective movie that is always included in the “best noir” lists.

Best TV Show That Might Get Canceled - The Wire. Character-driven drama on TV– is it possible? Yes. Only cautionary note--there don't seem to be any Latinos in The Wire's Baltimore.

Best CD - Now here is a category with plenty of possibilities. The year saw new, great music from Los Lobos, the rise of Los Lonely Boys (although their one and so far only CD came out in 2003), Quetzal on tour, and new CDs from Conjunto Los Pochos (West Coast cantina band), Ozomatli, and local (Colorado) musician Rick Garcia. There also was plenty of jazz (Dianne Reeves is out of sight), latin jazz (Conrad Herwig and his Another Kind of Blue - The Latin Side of Miles Davis), blues (the reissues of the Muddy Waters classic 70s albums have brought me many hours of musical bliss), and even some Christmas music that brightened up my CD player (The Blind Boys of Alabama deliver the goods with several guests on Go Tell It On The Mountain--Tom Waits, George Clinton, Aaron Neville, Solomon Burke, Mavis Staples, Richard Thompson, etc.) My nod for best CD, however, goes to the Loco Moco limited edition compilation The Trouble With Men (and those of you who have it know why this is at the top of my list - now, make your own lists). Runner up is Pocho Joe’s Undercover 2004 - some great music there, bro. Thanks.

And that's it for now. Happy New Year!

Manuel Ramos

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

This Is Not A Christmas Story

Happy Holidays to all you bloggers. Here's some news for you writers out there--speaking of writing, here's a question first: why do you write? And, if you're a Chicana/o and you write Chicana/0 Lit, why do you write Chicana/o Lit? Answers you don't have to make include: I am obsessed; I would die if I didn't write; my characters make me do it; I'm trying to preserve the culture; to make money (yeah, some writers make money with their work).

Now, the latest I know about.

The editors of Ventana Abierta, at UC-Santa Barbara, Luis Leal and Víctor Fuentes, have issued a call for poems, essays and short stories dedicated to the diverse aspects of today's Latino Literature, to be published in February and August 2005. (6-page limitation, double space). The deadlines for submitting a piece to these issues are Dec.31 and June 30, respectively.Center for Chicano Studies University of CaliforniaSanta Barbara, CA 93106
FAX (805) 893-4446
Pluma Fronteriza is a nationally distributed publication that covers news on Chicana(o) and Latin(o)a writers from the El Paso, TX/Las Cruces, NM/Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, Mex. tri-state region.

We are currently accepting submissions of open letters, essays, poetry, and short memories in honor of Abelardo B. Delgado and Ricardo Aguilar, both passed away this year.

Guidelines for writers

Poetry: No more than two 8 ½½ x 11 pages on a Microsoft Word or WordPerfect format.Essays should be no longer than 400-500 words on MS Word or WordPerfect format.Short memories (remembranzas) should be no longer than 100 words on the formats listed above.We are hoping to dedicate two issues to these great fronterizo writers. Submission deadline for the spring issue is March 15, 2005. Submissions for the winter issue should be postmarked Jan. 3, 2005.

Non-writers on Abelardo Delgado
We will accept letters and 200-word memories from non-writers. By non-writers, we mean individuals who do not write creatively, academically, or journalistically but were somehow influenced by Abelardo Delgado as students, farmworkers, or members of the many organizations he founded and ran.

Special call for current high school students and Denver-area colleges
We are accepting submissions of letters, essays, poetry, or short memories honoring Abelardo Delgado as an educator. If you had Delgado as an instructor in Upward Bound or a Chicano Studies class, we invite you to submit. Note, in this category, submitters must be either current high school or college students. We will accept submissions from high school graduates who have not started college. We ask you write something on how Abelardo Delgado influenced your life or education. Please include the name of your college, university, or high school as well as your age.We are accepting visual art and photo submissions as long as they are placed onto a digital format (*JPEG). Must relate to the themes of honoring Lalo Delgado or Ricardo Aguilar. Submissions selected will be featured in our winter and spring issues.

Send submissions to:
Pluma Fronteriza
1510-J Greenway Dr.
Eudora, Kansas 66025
E-mail submissions are accepted as attachments to or

If sent by postal mail, please include a copy on a 3-diskette or CD; however, we do not require submissions be on a computer disk. All visual arts or photo submission must be on a computer format.All submissions should include your postal address, phone number, and e-mail address.

The Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) at the University of Notre Dame & Center for Women’s InterCultural Leadership (CWIL) at Saint Mary’s College in Indiana are pleased to announce that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded a grant to Poetas y Pintores: Poets Conversing with Verse. A multidisciplinary proposal, “Poetas y Pintores,” will pair a group of Latino/a visual artists with the work of a select group of Latino/a poets. Each artist will spend a year in “dialogue” with the work of a particular poet and produce an original work of art. The results—both work of art and poem that inspired it—will form a traveling exhibit that will be displayed in 2006 in galleries in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, as well as the Moreau Galleries at Saint Mary’s College. Invited artists and poets will take part in readings and colloquiums at the various venues. Stay tuned for more information, including the list of poets and painters who will form a part of this two-year initiative.Meanwhile, visit the NEA website to read the official announcement:

FRANCISCO ARAGÓN is pleased to announce that Momotombo Press has published a new title and has a new home. With the publication of Arroyo by Lisa Gonzales, MP initiates its venture into prose, and celebrates its new home: the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, where Aragón is a Fellow. Of Arroyo, Helena Maria Viramontes writes in her introduction: “There is nothing more exciting than discovering a rising light in American literature. No doubt, the work of Lisa Gonzales will shine bright. It already dazzles.” Visit their new website to read an e-interviews with Lisa Gonzales—conducted by Maria Meléndez, who has joined Richard Yañez as Associate Editors at Momotombo Press. And stay tuned for an e-interview with Steven Cordova, author of Slow Dissolve, which inaugurated MP’s mission to promote emerging Latino writers. Again, please visit:

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The Greatest Song Ever Written

This past week I spent some time on an airplance, so I loaded up on reading material. One of the mags I picked up at the airport was "Rolling Stone".
Remember that rag? At one point in history I thought it was so-o hip. That's where I learned about Santana; the review made me rush out to find that first album and the rest is, as they say, history.

Anyway, RS has aged, as have we all, and neither it nor I are as hip as we once were, or at least thought we were. However, I bought it for the trip because the cover said that it was a "Special Collectors Issue" featuring The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. How could I pass up that?

Of course, the first thing I do is look for the Latinos--I'll take Chicanos if there are any, and lo and behold, there at number 210 is ? and the Mysterions and their ultimate garage song, 96 Tears. Cool. That song is like number 5 in the Chicano All-Time Hit Parade. RS says that when ? promoted the song in Michigan (where all the band members were living in 1966), he never revealed his real name (Rudy Martinez) or took off his sunglasses. Cool again. I also learned that the original has never been on a CD; all the CD versions are rerecordings. So now I got to find that 45.

Good start, I keep looking. There's songs that I liked when they came out and I still think are great: Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps (#102); She's Not There from The Zombies (#291); and Marvin Gaye doing What's Going On (#4). Many more, of course. But except for one more, that was it for Chicanos.

Ah, but that one more.

According to RS, the greatest song of all time is Like A Rolling Stone, recorded by Bob Dylan in 1965. Ooh-Ahh. That is a mighty song, no doubt. I read the piece on the song and came across this bit of info: (The author describes the roots of the song): "Later, Dylan sits at a piano, playing a set of chords that would become the melodic basis for 'Like A Rolling Stone,' connecting it to the fundamental architecture of rock & roll. Dylan later identified that progression as a chip off of Ritchie Valens' 'La Bamba.'"

And there it was. La Bamba ranked only #345 in the RS list, but the greatest song writer who ever lived had given credit for some of the structure of the greatest song ever written to a chubby seventeen-year old West Coast Chicano. I was all tangled up in blue thinking about the irony. The Chicano kid had taken the old veracruzana wedding song and recorded it as the B side for what would become his hit "Donna". And that B side has gone on to immortality.

What Chicano band doesn't insert the Valens' arrangement into their lineup? Even Los Lobos couldn't escape the power of this song - it finally wore them out and they quit performing it for a time. The cross-rhythms are textbook, the guitar solo is fine, so fine.

We all know the story about Richard Valenzuela. We all saw the movie, right? No need to dwell on what could have been. We know what it was, what it is.

Here's one final bit. The rarest version of "La Bamba" probably is the 1961 recording by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who were seventeen at the time. They recorded a jam session in the living room of a friend's house. The tape of that session later was auctioned in the mid-Eighties for $81,000.

You can listen to songs like La Bamba and 96 tears on the best Chicano music show in the nation at KUVO, 89.3 FM (in Colorado) or at, every Sunday from 1 - 2 PM (mountain). Check it out. Pocho Joe and Gabe do a great job pulling together the classics and the new stuff. The Rolling Stone list is on the RS website.


Saturday, December 11, 2004

La Bloga

La Bloga

Saturday, December 13

How do we know what's happenin', re: Chicana/o Lit (Chicano Culture in general)? There are some trying to get the word out: Pluma Fronteriza, Clyde Torres Webones Newsletter, La Clicka Newsletter. And that's all good. And such discussion certainly happens in all those Chicano Studies classes around the country, no? Blogs offer another avenue--and La Bloga wants to do its part. Give it to us. Events, new books, reviews, articles, artwork, awards, music, whatever. It's about art, ese.
In that spirit, dig this:
"Guerrilla leader, writer collaborate on crime novel
Associated Press
December 9, 2004
MEXICO CITY -- Only two weeks ago, a Mexican novelist got a clandestine message from Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos. The proposal: Let's write a crime story together.
The writer, Paco Ignacio Taibo II, accepted the unusual offer, and within days, the first installment of ``The Awkward Dead'' was published by the leftist daily La Jornada.

Judging by the first chapter, which appeared Sunday, the novel is based loosely on Marcos' true story: a professor-turned-guerrilla who led a 1994 uprising in the name of Indian rights and continues to champion a quieter social revolution from his hideout in the jungles of southern Chiapas state.

Marcos is writing Chapters 1, 3 and 5, which will revolve around a Chiapas-based Zapatista investigator named Elias Contreras. Taibo will take Chapters 2, 4 and 6, and will focus on the Mexico City exploits of Detective Hector Belascoaran Shayne, the protagonist in past Taibo novels.

In Chapter 7, the characters will meet at the Revolution Monument in Mexico City and begin a joint investigation. Neither author yet knows how the tale will end - each chapter is spun off the preceding one.

Taibo and Marcos have contracts to publish ``The Awkward Dead'' in book form throughout the Spanish-speaking world and in Italy. It also will appear in Spanish in the United States, where negotiations are under way for an English version.

Taibo has said the authors will give the proceeds to a non-governmental organization that works in Chiapas. The group has yet to be chosen.

A leftist who is sympathetic to the Zapatistas, Taibo has never met Marcos face to face and is evasive when asked how they communicate. The author insists the subcomandante did not reveal any ulterior motive for the project.

``Our pact is based on the idea that we are going to write a novel together,'' Taibo said by telephone. ``We all know that it will not be an innocent novel.'' The book will ``criticize certain realities that exist both in the mountains (of Chiapas) and in the urban world of Mexico City,'' Taibo said."

Read more of the AP story.

Taibo is one of the best. Not only is he a clever, prolific writer (dozens of novels, many translated to English), for several years he has pulled off Semana Negra, the ultimate festival for la novela negra. In February, 2005, Taibo will be the International Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime 15, in El Paso, TX. Now, that should be a party.

How about this bit? Mario Acevedo's "The Nymphos of Rocky Flats", "X-Rated Bloodsuckers" and an untitled third novel, featuring Latino Vampire Private Detective Felix Gomez have been sold to Rayo Publishing in what is described as a "very nice deal". Latino vampires and private dicks! Who knew?

There's a new book from Malaquias Montoya, a leading figure in West Coast political (Chicano) graphic arts. Premeditated: Meditations on Capital Punishment, Recent Works by Malaquias Montoya is a book/exhibition catalogue and it features recently created silkscreen images and paintings, and related research dealing with the death penalty and pintos. Sixty percent of the proceeds from the sale of the catalogue will benefit organizations actively working to abolish the death penalty. Contact Lezlie-Salkowitz-Montoya,


This is a test of the blog.