Thursday, June 30, 2005

Chávez Ravine

"A" for effort to Ry Cooder for his latest CD, Chávez Ravine. Not a perfect album but the concept was noble, his heart was in the right place and most of the songs are right on.

UFOs to the Red Scare to Cool Cats and Cool Chicks, all against the backdrop of the demolition of the barrio in the name of progress (which turned out to be the Dodgers). It's a tragedy so many of us know, from Barrio Viejo in Tucson to Auraria in Denver. The CD features Chicano music legends Little Willie G., Lalo Guerrero, and Ersi Arvizu, the vocalist on El Chicano's classic Sabor A Mi. She sings on the last track of Chávez Ravine, Soy Luz y Sombra, and if that song doesn't tear you up, you have no soul, brother.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Jazzy 4th of July

Heres an event worth supporting:

A Jazzy 4th of July is an outdoor block party on 24th & Washington in the historic Five Points neighborhood. There are about 9 nonprofits selling tickets, such as the African-American Leadership Institute, who share in the proceeds from this event. For adults 21 and over. Great music, a good time, and a meaningful way to celebrate the 4th.

Monday, July 4, 2005
Washington St. Business District
East 24th Avenue and Washington St. ¼ Mile North of Downtown Denver

Hugh Masekela
Manuel Molina’s Latin Jazz Combo
The Sheryl Renee Band
Gates open at 1 PM --

Entertainment from 2 to 7 PM
General Admission Tickets: $20

For tickets or to make a reservation, call 303.299.9035

Live Free and Soar

Patty Limerick's article in the June 29 New York Times deals with the apparent contradiction of Native American patriotism. Patty is a gem, as anyone who knows her will verify. Another one of the fine professors from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She's doing a short stint with the Times as a sub for Maureen Dowd. Here's a paragraph from her article. To read the entire essay on the web you have to log in to the Times' website, which requires registration (free).

"Much of what we have taken to calling 'the lessons of Vietnam' - perhaps especially the difficulty of sequestering noncombatants from violence, as well as the complex moral choices raised by confronting guerrilla war - could just as easily have been learned as 'the lessons of the Indian wars.' If Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ever hints at even the slightest interest in exploring the historical meanings of the Indian wars, I will be on the next plane to D.C."

Monday, June 27, 2005

La Historia Premieres June 27

June 27, 9:00 PM, Rocky Mountain PBS (Channel 6 in Denver)

Tonight is the premiere of the first half of the documentary La Raza de Colorado. This half is entitled La Historia and gives a broad but inclusive summary of Chicanos in Colorado, from way before Coronado to the beginning of the Chicano Movement, which will be covered in depth in the second half of the documentary. I've seen the first half and thought it was very good. Some articulate folks give expert accounts of this history - people like Polly Baca, Lalo Delgado, Eddie Montour, Charlene Garcia Simms, Luis Torres, and my favorite, Florence Hernandez-Ramos, who describes how her father came to this country as part of the Bracero program at the end of World War II.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mexico's Jaguares

This from the San Francisco Chronicle:

One of Mexico's most popular rock bands, Jaguares plays before crowds of 100,000 people there. With a following that spills into the United States (reflected by its appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O'Brien), Jaguares has reached a point where every new song is eagerly awaited (and scrutinized) by fans and critics.
The group's latest album, Cronicas de un Laberinto (Chronicles of a Labyrinth), is a statement about how Mexico is still searching for the right mix of social justice and economic prosperity. On the bittersweet tune Madera (Wood), lead singer Saul Hernández envisions a wood that "is resistant to all weeping" and "resurrects in Ciudad Juarez" -- a reference to the unsolved killings of hundreds of women in the cities of Juarez and Chihuahua. To bring attention to the tragedy, Jaguares released its new record in Juarez. When the group begins its U.S. tour in San Francisco, it will spotlight the work of Amnesty International, which is pressuring the Mexican government to solve the murders. Jaguares has worked previously with Amnesty to raise money and gather signatures.

Read the complete article by jumping here.

And over on LatinoHeat Online and on the Jaguares website you can get the complete tour schedule. Locally: Aug. 3- Denver, CO / Gothic Theater

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Keeping Up With the Bloggers

Over on La Bloga, Michael Sedano reviews Alicia Gaspar de Alba's tough novel, Desert Blood. It's a comprehensive and insightful review, which means that the book gave Michael plenty to think about. As Sedano points out, here's a crime novel in the fashion of Sinclair Lewis. High praise, indeed. Too bad Alicia did not have any Denver appearances during her current book tour - the closest she got was an event on the C.U. campus in Boulder. What's up with that?

Daniel Olivas's post on La Bloga for June 20 has the usual wealth of information about writers, books, literary events, and even some stuff about Daniel's own writing life. He will be signing his first children’s book, Benjamin and the Word / Benjamin y La Palabra (Arte Público Press), on June 25, at B. Dalton's Booksellers, Topanga Plaza, 6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park, CA, noon to 4:00 p.m., (818) 883-8095. Those of you in that neck of the woods - go out and give Daniel your support. He's doing some good things with his talent and energy.

One of the authors Daniel writes about is Sheryl Luna, poet and professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver. Daniel recently reviewed her debut poetry collection, Pity the Drowned Horses (University of Notre Dame Press)on the Elegant Variation. I have to say that the sample of Luna's poetry that I've read has me intrigued - yet another book for the TBR stack.

Monday, June 13, 2005

La Raza de Colorado

This info from Raymundo Eli Rojas, Editor of Pluma Fronteriza - gracias, Ray.

Special sneak previews of Rocky Mountain PBS’ newest production – an original documentary about the history of Latinos in Colorado titled La Raza de Colorado (The People of Colorado) – have been scheduled for June 18 at 3 p.m., ahead of when the first episode airs on Rocky Mountain PBS. The sneak previews offer a shortened version of the two-hour, two-part documentary.

June 18 – Boulder. Sponsored by Boulder Public Library, Sun Microsystems and the Society of Latinos@Sun, El Centro Amistad and Boulder County Latina Women's League. 3 p.m., Boulder Public Library, 1000 Canyon Blvd.

La Raza de Colorado consists of two episodes. The first is La Historia (The History), and the second half of the series is El Movimiento (The Movement). La Historia covers the period from the 1500s to 1940, while El Movimiento covers the 1960s and ‘70s. Rocky Mountain PBS will air La Historia on Monday, June 27, at 9 p.m. El Movimiento is under production, scheduled for a winter, 2005, release.

In creating the documentary, Rocky Mountain PBS producer Lisa Olken conducted more than 30 hours of interviews with 20 different subjects, filling up 54 videotapes. Olken and the Rocky Mountain PBS production staff also traveled throughout the state to shoot video – from the San Luis Valley to Greeley to La Junta.

The little guy in the photo up above is José de Jesús Hernández, mi suegro, and his parents.

Luis Urrea in Denver

From The Tattered Cover Newsletter -

Luis Alberto Urrea, the multiple-award winning author of Devil's Highway, Across the Wire and By the Lake of Sleeping Children, will read from and sign his new novel The Hummingbird's Daughter. A spectacular novel as grand as a western sunset and full of cowboys and outlaws, Indian warriors and cantina beauties, silly men who drink too much and desert women who in their dreams travel to the seashore, The Hummingbird's Daughter is Urrea's majestic masterpiece, the story of one girl's life and the swollen heart of all Mexico.

The Tattered Cover (Cherry Creek), June 23, 2005, 7:30 PM

Request a signed copy:

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Hinojosa on Writing

Words of wisdom from El Maestro, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, taken from his interview in Chicano Detective Fiction by Susan Baker Sotelo:

"Without reading, no writer gets anywhere. Imagination is helpful but it will flag without reading .... At present I go to bed with Cervantes, whom I've read a great number of times, and with Montaigne. If one plans to write, one must be like a shark, which, by the way is what defines a writer: you read everything, and like a shark, you have no natural enemies. When Mexican American students tell me they do not relate to Shakespeare, I tell them they're in trouble, and that their language will be deficient as will be their thinking. Someone may think I'm being hard nosed, but that's what writing is ... tough. It's not for people whose feelings are hurt easily.

Living, observing, listening, undergoing a varied number of experiences, knowing the language, and the language used by the different social classes of this country and any other where one's characters appear and so on is not only important, it is also essential. ... One does not need to take classes in creative writing to be a writer [but one does need models and] Graham Greene would be someone who would be a model for any writer of any type of fiction."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Tenth Anniversary of Latina Letters

A schedule for the 10-Year Anniversary of Latina Letters has been posted on the Campus News site of St. Mary's University. Here it is:

PLACE: All events in San Antonio at St. Mary's University Center, Conference Room A, except a Saturday evening event which is at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

COST: Professional educators, $60; students and public, $20.


* Thursday, July 14, 1 to 6 p.m. Conference registration and housing check-in.
* Thursday, 7 p.m., Opening banquet. Reading by Sandra Cisneros. $25, Tickets: Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Book Store at (210) 351-7787. (Must be purchased by Friday, July 8).
* Friday, July 15, 7 p.m. Readings by Pat Mora and Ana Menéndez (Loving Che).
* Saturday, July 16, 7 p.m. Readings by Lorna Dee Cervantes and Alicia Gaspar de Alba. Screening of Lourdes Portillo's documentary film about the murders young women in Juárez, Señoritas Extraviada / Missing Young Women, at the Guadalupe Theater, 1300 Guadalupe Street. Free and open to the public.

FROM THE DIRECTOR: In 2005 we celebrate 10 years of what critics have called "one of the nation's most important gatherings about literature by Hispanic women." This year, we will discuss and celebrate three decades of Latina Literature in the U.S. The "crossing over" of U.S. Latino/a literature into the awareness of the general American reader began in the 1980s with the publication of Sandra Cisneros' "The House on Mango Street" by Arte Público. The widespread popularity of "The House on Mango Street," led to its eventual publication by Random House, to the awarding of a MacArthur "Genius" fellowship to a Latina writer, and eventually to the acceptance of the significant Latina literary market by the mainstream publishing houses of New York.

On its 10-year anniversary, Latina Letters applauds Sandra Cisneros for helping to open the gates of the mainstream for many Latina writers to follow. Also participating in Latina Letters is a voice of the '80s, poet Lorna Dee Cervantes who will read from her new work. For the decade of the '90s we celebrate Pat Mora, Chicana poet extraordinaire, who opened the mainstream doors to Latina children's literature. Representing the first decade of the 21st century are Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Cuban-American Ana Menéndez, two writers whose works explore both political and social issues in the form of fiction.

Latina Letters will be a forum for issues of literature, art, identity, ethnicity and gender, continuing as it has from the beginning to focus awareness on these important issues.

Gwendolyn Díaz, Ph.D. Director, Latina Letters

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Fifth Sun - Mary Helen Lagasse

I mentioned a few months ago (March 11) that The Fifth Sun by Mary Helen Lagasse won the 2004 Patricia and Rudolfo Anaya Premio Atzlán. I had included her book in a post about some of the best books of 2004. She recently sent a message that is in the archives of this blog, but I wanted to make sure that her information got heard. Mary Helen says that the subject of her lecture when she received the Premio Atzlán was Breaking Barrio Images: A Voice From The Deep South. She commented that "Señor Anaya thought this a very good topic since, as he said, there are no other prize-winning Chicana writers from the Deep South--certainly not from New Orleans!" Her publisher, Curbstone Press, is a small house, publicity is scarce and Mary Helen worries that her book will fall between the cracks. To date The Fifth Sun has won three literary awards: The Miguel Marmol Latina First Fiction Award; the Rudolfo & Patricia Anaya Premio Atzlán for Best Debut Novel Written in English by a Latina, and most recently at the Book Expo, the Independent Publishers 2005 IPPY Award for Best Multicultural Fiction. Moreover, the book was cited as a Best Debut Novel of 2004 by the New Orleans Times Picayune (12/04), and has garnered a number of excellent reviews. The Fifth Sun appears destined to become a classic Chicano novel and Mary Helen Lagasse definitely a writer to watch. Now, if we can just help out the sales.

The Fifth Sun is the story of Mercedes, a young Mexican woman who leaves her village to work as a housemaid in New Orleans. This novel takes her through her adventures in New Orleans, her marriage, her struggle to raise her children, her deportation, and her attempt to re-cross the river and be reunited with her children. And the novel takes place during the Roaring Twenties and the Depression, unique time periods for stories about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

Monday, June 06, 2005

International Conference on Chicano Literature

Here's something to plan for:

The Research Institute for North American Studies (IUIEN) of the University of Alcala has announced that the Fifth International Conference on Chicano Literature is scheduled for April 19, 20 and 21, 2006, in Madrid. At least those are the dates on the Institute's website. Teresa Márquez of the University of New Mexico, a regular attendee at the conference, tells me that the conference will take place on May 22-25, 2006. If you are interested in receiving information about this conference or the previous conferences (Granada 1998, Vitoria 2000, Malaga 2002, Seville 2004), you can ask for it at the following address:

Friday, June 03, 2005

Can't Quite Make It To The End

Books that surprised me because I wanted to like them but, so far, haven't been able to finish:

The Plot Against America - Philip Roth
Strangers On A Train - Patricia Highsmith
Voluntary Madness - Vicki Hendricks
Kill Whitey - Ken Harvill

It's just me, right? These are good books, I know they are. Sometimes the stars or planets or biorhythms or something aren't right and I have to put down a book and come back to it later. Happens with music, too.

On the other hand, a recent book I whipped through and didn't want to end:

Little Scarlet - Walter Mosley

Excellent, fine writing. Mosley's voice is true, his craftmanship is unobtrusive, and the story kills.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Hummingbird's Daughter

Luis Urrea talks about his great new novel, The Hummingbird's Daughter, in an interview posted on The Elegant Variation. The interviewer is our friend Daniel Olivas. Urrea makes the following point in the interview when asked whether he has created a new genre of writing that mixes magical realism with historical fact: "As far as the 'new genre' goes, I refer to Eudora Welty. She said that there is nothing new under the sun, the only thing we have to offer is point of view. So my text, which a reporter told me was baroque, is really an attempt to reproduce those fine semi-addled Mexican voices as they spin out tall tales to their children." Cool.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Writing is Sacred

I attended the Deborah Santana reading and signing of her memoir, Space Between the Stars: My Journey to an Open Heart. Nice, sincere, strong woman dedicated to peace. Her book should make a good read, especially because her experiences resonate with me as someone who also came of age in the late 1960s, matured through the 1970s, and still is looking for peace. The bookmarks she prepared for her tour carry the following message about writing:

Writing is SACRED
S - Set goals. If you want to write, choose your highest goal and write it down.
A - Apply butt to chair. At the end of the day, if you want to write, you have to sit down and write.
C - Create a structure. Find your best working style and stick to it.
R - Read. Read many authors to see how they create.
E - Edit last; create fearlessly first.
D - Dream! If you can dream it, you can achieve it.

There's a good chance that Deborah Santana will be interviewed by Pocho Joe on La Raza Rocks, the Sunday afternoon Chicano music program on KUVO, 89.3 FM in Denver. The show airs every Sunday at 1:00 P.M. (Denver) - listen for it on your radio or the KUVO website.

Reading Now

Here's what I currently pick up to appease my reading jones:

Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri: This series about Sicilian cop Inspector Montalbano has become a favorite of mine. Just don't be hungry when you read one of these books - man this guy can eat, and eat well. This one's about the "New Mafia."

Like A Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads by Greil Marcus: I can't escape my 1960s socialization. Wouldn't you want to know everything there is to know about "the greatest rock and roll song ever recorded"?

The Collected Stories of John O'Hara and The Complete Short Stories Of Ernest Hemingway : The Finca Vigía Edition: Never hurts to go back to those who knew how to get it done.

Chicano Detective Fiction by Susan Baker Sotelo: Well, of course. I didn't know, I didn't know --Luis Móntez is a feminist!

Riding high on my grandson's hit parade is Thomas Helps Out. Fix that broken whistle, Thomas. Next up for the kid and me is - Benjamin and the Word by Daniel Olivas.