Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Summer hits with a wallop

Hope you all had as restful a holiday weekend as I did.

Today, however, I went to see my friend Ray in a board and care facility in Rosemead. He won't be going home. He is unconscious now all the time. All I could do was cry and pray and tell him how much I loved him.

I've added a few links on the right. If you click on the header at top, you'll see a photograph of my view from the corner where I used to live in Chinatown Heights. Next to Florida, it's quite a hill. The neighborhood kids skateboarding down 14 stories in two blocks was
probably scarier for me to watch than it was for them.

The link to the site, You Are Here, is also at right. I've also added links to the sites of friends I ran into over the weekend, artist Daniel Rios and musician Vicki Randle. The California Council for the Humanities has a neat website I've linked, also, California Stories.

I'm just babbling on, trying not to think of Ray and not doing a very good job of keeping from crying into the keyboard so I'll end this now.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Boishakhi Mela!

Happy Bengali New Year 1413!

One other good thing to come out the DaVinci code nonsense: an upswing in literary tourism. Literary tourism goes back to at least the fifth century B.C., but people reading and visiting the locales they've read about is at an all time high. A friend just back from Paris said the town is inundated with DaVinci nonsense --and you know how bored the French like to act about it all... especially with all those foreigners running around spending their Euros in France...

One site I've meant to mention that I enjoy reading I've linked here, the Bookstore Tourism blog.


Are Steve and Phil trying to re-elect Arnold governor? The way they've started slinging mud at each other can only result in liquefaction for the Democrats come election day. They're making it mighty easy for a governor who isn't all that popular to just keep his mouth shut and let them win him his reelection.

Somebody should really tell those two about that. This election is turning into a civics course on, "How to Ensure the Electorate Won't Bother to Vote on Election Day."
c a

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Whose English?

While I'm on a rant that I suspect is part of the Republican agenda to vainly boost their falling popularity, let's look at this 'English Only' bullshit.

First off, tribal lands recognized by as domestic sovereign nations with treaty relationships with the U.S. government cover an area of 56 million acres, making them the 11th largest state in the country in area. That doesn't include trust lands for the Hawaiian people and other territories.

According to the Foundation for Endangered Languages (click on the header for a link above), half of the 6,500 languages spoken on Earth are in danger of extinction. Experts are debating the number of languages already decimated by (oh dear, those words again), colonialism and Western domination.

Lastly, if the Queen of England dictates the proper English in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, then who gets to decide the standard English for the United states? A purple dinosaur? Or whichever evening news has the highest market share?

In Good Journalism, the Coverage of the Story is Never Supposed to BE the Story

It was almost a month after the fact, but over all, the stories by Todd Henneman and Neal Braverman on the gay and lesbian angle of the immigration issue were right on the money. Yet, instead of a well deserved cover, the Advocate opted for a frivolous cover story on gay polygamy, which I'm going to go out on a limb and suspect affects far less people than the immigration status of a significant portion of the GLBT community.

The focus was for the most part on couples, as opposed to the millions --yeah, that's right, millions-- of GLBT immigrants who are single as well as the children, siblings and parents of other immigrants. The story focused mostly on subjects from Latin America, mirroring the bias of mainstream media, with little to no mention of Asian, African or even (ahem) European and North American members of the GLBT community trying to gain legal citizenship status in the U.S. The graphic of the Mexican and American flags delegates other nationalities to a second tier, and suggests to us once again that the origin of the immigration issue has been pushed by some unknown party with a hidden agenda.

Is the Republican party trying to shove immigration reform and 'English Only' issues into the national dialogue to bolster their sagging polls? They've figured out that gay marriage doesn't have the intended emotional pull they'd hoped. ARE IMMIGRANTS THE NEW FAGGOTS?

Getting back to the polygamy cover story (are that many people really watching that f'ing show on cable?), there's the whole conundrum that single people --gay and straight-- face in a relationship-centric society. Remember what Miranda had to endure when buying her own apartment on Sex in the City? That's not fiction, folks; and it ain't history yet.

Making even further mockery of the Advocate's leadership role in gay media is the guest commentary by heterosexual publicist Michael Levine. The "A-list" PR guy gets an F for dredging up the argument (however well intended) activists have been hashing over since before Stonewall. Levine is clearly out of touch with most Americans under 30. His approach has us all be good, quiet little Jews marching quietly off to the ovens, where we'll get our rights posthumously.
Heterosexual white men do not surrender power willingly. Whether it's colonialism, or parity for all regardless of color, gender, ethnic origin or sexual orientation, being silent and invisible doesn't get us shit. Never has, from Rosa Parks to Pontius Pilate.

The effect of the concentration of media ownership is not a new topic. Here, however, we get a Journalism 101 case study of what happens as a result of consolidation of ownership the sources for our news and information.

Ironically, the Advocate overall does an excellent job of covering GLBT news issues-- but then again, a better job on their website than in print. Click on the header above for a link to their website.

Don't take me to task before you get out your watch and see for yourself what fraction of the evening news reflects women, people of color or the GLBT community in comparision to our representation of the population.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Transamerica Building

Click on the header above for a link to a photo from the USC School of Architecture that far better represents how the Transamerica Building looks today-- as well as evoking the beauty of the building that I remember when we first came to LA in the 60s.

Straight White Men Doing Stupid Things (As Usual)

Before my family ever visited Los Angeles, much less lived here, William Pereira's 1964 Transamerica Building has stood out from the rest of the Los Angeles skyline.

Hollywood never attacked the building in the movies with creatures from outer space, as was the fate of LA's
City Hall.

Rather, the post-modern tower --as with Welton Beckett's DWP building, were quite simply the most beautiful glass-and-steel structures ever built, proof that post-modern architecture need not just be a box.

Alas, just as Fox News decimated the Welton Beckett offices in Century City, news comes that the new owners of the Transamerica Center, LBA Realty, have commissioned the architectural firm of Gensler to re-sheath the exterior of the building. At least Fox had an excuse for gutting the interior of the Welton Beckett offices, yet like the Russians' remaking of Unter den Linden into a visual reminder that Communism was in control, Fox had to obliterate the exterior off one of the most distinctive architectural landmarks in the city.

The boxy high rise skyscraper has come a long way since Louis Sullivan. No one could deny that there are plenty of buildings that deserve to be redone-if not given the "Fountainhead" treatment by Gary Cooper.

The Transamerica Building --which most people still call it no matter who owns it-- has always been a magnificent design.

The re-design of the Transamerica building will result in not one square inch of additional rentable office space. It will serve no purpose other than to... oh, Hell... it serves no purpose whatsoever.

Do the guys at LBA Realty have small penises? What other excuse is there?

I guess you can tell I am not amused.

Supersized Democracy

In what has to be an all-time low in my experience as a voter, I just received word today that my polling place will be in a McDonald's restaurant.

When we voted at the Van Ness Avenue School, the kids were brought in to sit in the gym bleachers so they could see democracy in action. It made you really proud to cast your vote. Plus you knew no election hanky-panky could happen with all those little faces watching you.

If only we had a Starbucks in the neighborhood that could be used as a polling place, it wouldn't be so bad...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Speaking of Literary Festivals...

I haven't heard yet how it went at this years Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. If I could've been there, I would have. There's a link to the festival's website on the left, or click on the header above.

Great Britain names "Tales of the City" as 'The Big Gay Read'

Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" was named the winner of a competition throughout Great Britain to find their favourite lesbian or gay book.

Those Brits always have loved San Francisco. Given that there was a British documentary on TOTC years back (not to mention if not for them, the series might never have been filmed) I don't think there's any great surprise there.

It's interesting that a series of novels that began almost 30 years ago would outpoll more recent books.

Armistead Maupin received his award from Sir Ian McKellen at The Big Gay Read Literature Festival held May 12-18 in Manchester, England (click on the header above for a link to their site
for more information). There is also a list of the top ten books submitted by readers. From what I could see of the website, the citywide festival puts American LGBT literary organizations to shame. The Lambda Literary Foundation can barely survive. The Big Gay Read was, by contrast, a very reader-friendly event, and possibly a model for other communities to use.

It helps that I'm still coming off of the high from the LA Times Festival of Books and the Asian American Writers Congress, with more than four months until I can again indulge at the West Hollywood Book Fair.

Armistead Maupin's well designed site (http://www.talesofthecity.com) has, among many other things, a cool tour of the sites from the TOTC books.

It's not the only gay literary landmark tour in the U.S., but it's a fun one. San Francisco has no shortage of literary tours, of course. There's the Beat tour, the Dashiell Hammett tour, and literary sites from Jack London to Ina Coolbrith and more. No city in America has named more streets after famous authors associated with their community.

Some Good Came Out Of "The DaVinci Code" After All

It seems that in India, the both the Muslims and Hindus jointly announced that they hated it. If Ron Howard is down in the dumps about his reviews, at least he can be assured that in his own small way he's helped bring some measure of peace to the sectarian strife wracking the country.

It's not like it's gonna help him catch up with Bono as a humanitarian on the world stage or anything, but it's a start.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Lost"is what the fans must be by now....

If the first fake commercial for the Hanso Foundation was startling, they obviously knew they had to best themselves, as everyone would be looking for the one last night. This is getting just too complicated for my poor little brain to wrap itself around.

Okay, so Henry Gale was Dorothy's uncle in the Wizard of Oz. But the balloon makes me wonder about the wizard/magician that Dorothy ran into... does that make The Island like some sort of Oz?

How will it be wrapped up in the end-- and there has to be an end someday. Doesn't there?

Catching word that Invasion has been cancelled is further dizzying (with all the problems in the world, these are the things I ponder?) so the season finale is it for that show. We'll be left hanging for all eternity as to what happened to Russell's wife. The folks of the real Homestead are probably just glad it's all behind them. Of course, anything that causes tourists to go that far out of Miami just to walk around where a show was supposedly set (and they will, for years to come) is music to the ears of any small town's chamber of commerce --especially a town still trying to put itself back together 14 years after Hurricane Andrew.

The place where Russell and the sheriff had the showdown with the evil hybrid I immediately recognized: Battery Osgood at Fort MacArthur, by the Angel's Gate Cultural Center. It's part of the military museum site that hovers somewhere between benign neglect and outright decay. Just a few weeks ago, I walked down those same dark, eerie passageways where the huge guns that protected Los Angeles Harbor from enemy attack during both World Wars once stood. If anybody is contemplating writing a mystery or a thriller, you get atmosphere by the loads. Then there's that million-dollar view of Santa Catalina Island right there as well-- okay 2.5 to 5 million in today's real estate market.
There was a scene shot near there in the short-lived (but highly slick and enjoyable) detective series only a couple of seasons ago.

There's definitely an angel looking out for that bluff overlooking the sea, because in the real world developers would have snatched up that open land before they'd finished playing taps when the Fort closed. Donald Trump's horrific development is but a few minutes to the west along Palos Verdes Drive South (that is, until it falls into the sea). I'd wager that more than 95% of the residents of Los Angeles have never taken that incredible scenic route (especially since Marineland closed). It's one of the few places in Los Angeles County where one can stop and enjoy a view of a pristine shoreline almost unchanged since humankind came along.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The more I read, the more 'Lost' I get

Do not, I repeat, do not, call, knock on the door or set off any earthquakes tonight until the season finale of Lost is over.

The more I read, the crazier it gets. That slick commercial after last week's episode had me at the television for a few moments --did I just see what I thought I saw?

After my yell when Libby and Ana Lucia got shot (hey, compared to the noise my neighbors made during the Super Bowl, I'm entitled)...

Sue Kunitomi Embrey 1923-2006

Sue Kunitomi Embrey, the guiding force behind the designation of the Manzanar Relocation Center as a National Historic Site has passed away.

A teacher, activist and community leader was a life-long resident of Los Angeles. A former internee at Manzanar, she not only persevered in her efforts to have Manzanar designated both a California Historic Site and a National Historic Site, she tirelessly worked to ensure the shameful story of America's treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II would not be forgotten.

Sue Embrey also helped developed the curriculum for the UCLA Asian-American Studies Center, developed teaching plans for inclusion of the history of Japanese-Americans in California's schools, and was active in the movement for redress and reparations from the United States government for the 120,000 former internees and their descendants.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

First Asian American Writers Congress

The First Asian American Writers Congress was a well organized gathering... There was no shortage of authors to listen to and be inspired by.

So now I have to atone for my lack of posting by getting more of my "must add to my blog" notes in order...


I'm still reeling from that fake commercial that followed "Lost" on Wednesday. Thank goodness our fearless leader is scheduling his address to the nation on Monday night, and has better sense than to pre-empt the season finale.

Or does he?....


After all that hoopla about the Dodge Caliber commercial fairy, I want to hear someone say something about that racist Bud Light commercial denigrating Japanese. What does that say about beer drinkers (or advertising execs)?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"What ever you are, be a good one." --Abraham Lincoln

British racist right-wing politician Richard Barnbrook claims the film he shot in the 80s was, "an art film. It was not a bloody porn film."

So men undressing each other, performing sex acts flagellation is "art," eh? l never thought I'd live to see the day. The rule of thumb seems to be, the further to the right one leans, the kinkier one's skeletons in the closet.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Barnbrook, an openly racist London councillor in the British National Party, made the film while a student. Why didn't I get any assignments like that when I was in school? Of course, if it meant that I'd grow up to be a racist right wing politician, I'm glad I didn't...

I guess his vehement opposition to homosexuality is based on his own personal forays. Perhaps he was just lacking the right tutor...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

It's "Big Sunday" and "Museums of the Arroyo Day"...So many things to do!

Tomorrow is "Big Sunday" (click on the header above for more information) when volunteers will fan out all over LA to help out at myriad organizations, as well as the annual "Museums of the Arroyo Day" when you get to hop from museum to museum http://www.museumsofthearroyo.com/.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The drum is silenced

The Conga Room, LA's most prominent Latin night club, has closed its doors. With all the promoters bemoaning the lack of available space, somebodyy better snatch this property up quick.

The owners of the Conga Room had the decency to preserve the distinctive Deco facade of the building. Given the horrific makeover of the gorgeous Streamline Moderne gem at Orange Grove and Wilshire, there is no guarantee that whoever moves into the property will have any sense of their duty to respect the building. So many architectural landmarks have been lost already; even if it doesn't reopen as a nightclub, it would be a civic duty to ensure that who gets the property safeguards that little piece of the city's cultural heritage.

No good deed goes unpunished

Thanks to the 'John and Ken Show,' veteran KTTV 11 reporter Tony Valdez is at risk of losing his job. According to LA Observed, Channel 11 is receiving hundreds of e-mails thanks to the two idiots who should be roasting slowly over an open pit.

You must send an e-mail in support of Tony Valdez ASAP to: newscomment@fox11.com

If you're really feeling motivated, you can file an FCC complaint against the 'John and Ken Show' ...I have a link on the header above.

A simple google search pulled up enough prior complaints about KFI and the 'John and 'Ken Show' in particular to annoy even the most ardent government employee by now... yet still they are allowed to spray their racist, hateful bile all over America.

Our citrus trees get enough gunk sprayed on 'em courtesy of the government. Please don't let Tony Valdez go down because of a lack of community support (or I'll bean you with a copy of "Horton Hears a Who").

J J Abrams must have some helluva morals clause...

Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros were both arrested for drunk driving on December 1 in separate cars within 15 minutes of each other.

Then they both get shot on last Wednesday's show.

Coincidence? If you believe that, then you should be handling PR for the petroleum industry.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The biggest and best laugh of the day goes to Sandra Tsing Loh

Her piece on this morning's "The Loh Life" on KPCC was good medicine. Just in case you think I'm too jaded...

There is still such a thing as good journalism

I already mentioned the May 3, 2006 LA Times "Critic's Notebook" article by Paul Brownfield, but he deserves mention again. His take on coverage of the May 1 demonstrations was a breath of fresh air. On May 2, Martin Miller and Maria Elena Fernandez also wrote on media coverage ("Immigrant story takes precedence"). For the present, both articles may be read online via calendarlive.com.

Ah, for the good old days when activists used to misguidedly attack the transmission towers of PG & E! Say, boys, for good old times' sake, take KFI down, would you?

Taking stock of the number of racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic --oh, let's just call it plain ol' stupid-- comments KFI has aired, the FCC should have fined them enough by now to fund all the cuts to social programs cut in the federal budget. It would be a good deal more satsifying and empowering were we to shut KFI down via the legal channels... like that's gonna happen during this administration...

Every time 'John and Ken' open their mouths it's a wardrobe malfunction. What's up with those two anyway? Are they secretly closeted gay Republican lovers?

are eddidea

Now that the caffeine has kicked in, I'm good and riled...

An excellent text I have meant to mention that documents much of the difference between our perception of California history and the reality --and what and who was behind this construction-- is "The Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Past" by William Deverell. There will be a quiz.


I suppose my friends are sick to death of me repeating the tale of North America's original get tough on illegal immigration policy, so here it is:

Unlike those poor bastards in Massachusetts who took pity on the starving Pilgrims and were rewarded for their charity with annihilation, the first north American English settlement in 1584 made the mistake of landing at Roanoke Island in what is now known as North Carolina. Unfortunately for them, the penalty for illegal immigration was capital punishment. They might have received a lighter sentence had they not burned down the local Indian village first.

The English response to the massacre at Roanoke was to keep sending more people. Eventually, the natives found themselves outnumbered and outgunned. One has to wonder how many white people need to die before their government stops sacrificing human beings in the name of profit. Hmmm... I could touch on any number of topics with that, couldn't I?

This seems as good a place as any to get to my next rant:

What were those suits at ABC smoking when they greenlighted "Fatal Contact: Avian Flu in America?"

As if they needed something to push compassionate immigration reform off the radar, all the major networks quickly jumped on the Chicken Little bandwagon.

And it makes me pissed. Mostly, because of media's spotty record over the past 25 years in covering the world-wide AIDS epidemic that has already killed millions, and continues to devastate millions more. Because they didn't pay attention soon enough or sufficiently enough, as was within their power to save untold millions or take to task those government officials who in effect got away with a genocide that dwarfs Serbia a hundredfold.

Cherry-picking which crimes against humanity make for good television is their specialty, I guess.

I'll show you my backlash if you show me yours...

The Minutemen's fifteen minutes of fame were over oh-so 20 minutes ago. How dare those neo-slaveowners defile the sacred ground of Leimert Park to claim they have the best interests of the African-American community at heart. Lest we forget, prior to acknowledgement of the existence of a Latino community, these characters were using the same "they're taking our jobs!" rhetoric against African-Americans.

I recall a Victorian era novel, The Enchanted Castle, where the young heir decides to remove all the portions of the castle that had been created with magic.

After A Day Without Immigrants, America ought to wake up and view the landscape of what this country would look like were it not for the sweat and labor of (for the most part under-compensated) immigrants. New York's forest of skyscrapers would revert to a forest of trees, for starters.

The false perception by most people is that America's immigration policy has been the same all along --or that it was based on sound rather than emotional and self-serving propaganda. The most constant element of America's immigration policy has been it's racism.

Although most Americans wouldn't know it, there have been calls for reparations to slaves (and so many others wronged) since the Emancipation Proclamation.

Not surprisingly, conservatives argue that such a move could destroy the American economy. Reparations is not about throwing money in the trash, but shifting capital to the rightful hands to whom it belongs. As if those who would have to part with their ill-gotten gains would ever willingly part with it. The conservative argument seems to run along the lines of, if Billy steals a quarter from Bobby and buys some candy, when the theft is discovered Billy might as well be allowed to keep the candy or it would spoil Bobby's appetite.

The perceived immigration policy and its affects --and the reality-- have more often than not been world's apart. How the business community today has so conveniently forgotten the "yellow peril" that controlled American immigration --and justified the vilification of Asian-Americans from the Gold Rush until, what? this afternoon...? The Asian presence on college campuses in California is in the media as much as crop futures are a staple of the news in the Midwest

And what of California, the locus of much of the recent attention about immigration? Under Spanish and Mexican rule,
Anglo migration to California was for the most part tolerated. Learning Spanish and conversion to Catholicism for a while were the only requirements for gaining legal citizenship. For anyone who finds fault with that last requirement would do well to recall the reality behind our treasured mythology of the Pilgrims. They were, truth be told, as intolerant a lot as one could find without white sheets. After the conquest, not until the 1880s did Anglo migration begin to equal or best the non-Anglo population in California. For so long as brown faces were kept out of the white collar labor force --and most noticeably absent in respect to their numbers in the population in television and film, the perception has been that Anglos numerically composed a greater percentage of the population. Asian-American, Latino and African-American media activists are still trying to rectify that. This would be a good place to bring up the bill in Sacramento to include gay and lesbian history, but I'll save that for a future time.

In San Diego, the business community has long since awoke to the economic clout of non-Anglos began purchasing their durable goods in for the worth of their warrantees if not the workmanship.

More than 65 years after Rosie the Riveter helped win World War II, the under-compensated contribution of women to American economic growth still goes largely unacknowledged --save for Mother's Day and whatever it is that they're calling what used to be Secretary's Day now. This past week has been awash with news stories that a stay-at-home mom's unpaid salary surpasses $110,000 a year.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

For the last word on local news coverage of Monday's demonstrations

Go to http://calendarlive.com and click on May 3 "Critic's Notebook" by Paul Brownfield.

So, you think you're a REAL American? What happened on May 4, 1961?

If you answered, "the beginning of the Freedom Rides," congratulations. If you weren't even born yet, give yourself extra points.

This is my "greatest generation." There were famous names and faces of the civil rights movement; yet for every name or face you know, untold thousands of ordinary Americans stepped up to the challenege of bringing democracy to the tens of millions of Americans who had yet to experience it.

They were students and retirees; June Cleaver houswives who risked everything from their position and standing in their families and communities to their lives.

These citizen soldiers, dedicated to the principles of
non-violence, went to the Deep South to teach men and women how to register to vote under a system that was pointedly and deliberately constructed to prevent them from participation in democracy. They had to convince a populace who had ample proof that it couldn't be done and that it wasn't so, that they, too, were a part of America.

Their faith in America, their conviction in the democratic system, that as yet had failed to live up to its potential and full promise, was either foolhardy or visionary.

They carried the highest ideals of democracy to cities and hamlets so small they were found on no map. They investigated and documented and pledged to bring to justice those enemies of liberty and freedom and ensure that the truth behind America's failure to fulfill that promise would be recorded for future generations.


On Monday afternoon, I stood on the spot where American soldiers had beaten innocent civilians during the Zoot Suit Riots of World War II. This time, however, there were young families and students, peace activists and war veterans, professionals and laborers, filling the street as far as the eye could see.

I saw an African-American grandmother walking silently hand in hand with her granddaughter, with smiles on their faces. I knew that woman could remember when.

There was no enmity between generations. People of all ethnicities and nationalities were walking in harmony. Families were experiencing true togetherness.

It was one of those all-too-brief instances when I could see the whole of humanity together as one.

And it felt good.

I'm one of those odd sorts that remembers with a chill when I visited Fort McHenry and Independence Hall and Plymouth Rock and the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream" speech.

And I remember the courthouse in St. Louis where human beings were sold like cattle. The desert wind bearing silent witness at Manzanar. One wintry morning on the Capitol Mall when I gazed up at the dome atop our nation's Capitol Building and recalled that it was slaves that built it.

The masses making their way through the streets of Los Angeles on Monday were commited that the purpose for which so many made the ultimate sacrifice with their own blood would be a reality and assured and safe-guarded.

At West Hollywood's annual Russian festival a few years back, the only word of the Russian-speaking announcer that I could understand was when he reverently enumciated, "America."

The word that means the same in every language on Earth. America.

You rarely --if ever-- have a word that you hear every day suddenly take on an entirely new dimension.


The evening news didn't tell you so, and at times even tried to dissuade us and convince us that it was a foolish, unneccesary waste of time, but that's what I could see on Monday afternoon.

When a crack addict chases after that perfect high that he thinks he remembers, yet never forgets? As Monday, May 1, recedes from the nation's consciousness, that's what I want to hang on to.

Somewhere in Heaven, I think Fanny Lou Hamer and Dr. King and all those who gave their lives in the struggle are smiling.

The Case of the Amazing Disappearing Millions of People of Color from the Evening News

CBS, NBC and ABC all treated May First like old news by Tuesday night's broadcast.

Not that the local news was any better.
When they did cover it, they didn't get it. So the next time, we'll have to really stick it to 'em. The print media, at least, utilized their lag time to do a great deal of follow-up.

As for television, kudos all the way around to KCET's Live and Times and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

God, I don't ask for much, but let me have a fifty-yard-line seat when white Americans realize that they are the pentultimate ittybitty inconsequential irrelevant entity of the human race. Yum.

Until then, we have to keep an eye on them, to keep them from blowing up the planet (or leaving it uninhabitable for humans).

Such is the bane of our existence.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Forgive, maybe; Forget, never!

On Monday and Tuesday, during and after the marches and boycotts around the nation, sseveral DJs on KFI radio in Los Angeles made overtly racist remarks that were more in line with what one would expect to hear in the Deep South during the 1960s. I have a mind to get a list of advertisers to KFI and inform them who they are affiliating with. A boycott of said advertisers would definitely be in order, should the station not apologize. Isn't there something called "standards and practices?" Every listener has the right to complain to the FCC about such remarks. If Janet Jackson having a "wardrobe malfunction" during a violent bloodsport can cause a hefty fine, what those DJs were saying over the public airwaves was tantamount to cause for more than just a monetary fine.

"After We March, We Vote!"

For anyone not living in California, click on the header above for a link to Rock the Vote for information on how to register to vote.

Among my most treasured books is a collection of photographs by Charles Moore, "Powerful Days," that contains many of his iconic images when he was an eyewitness to pivotal moments in American history.

If you click on this link to "The Digital Journalist," it will take you to Moore's image entitled "Demonstrators Blasted Against a Doorway, Seventeenth Street, May 3, 1963," ironically almost 43 years to the day from Monday's marches. It was a day when ordinary schoolchildren helped shock a nation out of their complacency and into action.

On the Tonight Show Monday evening, Jay Leno made a crack about schools having to teach "white history." Such glib comments should not go unchallenged: it was not until the 1960s that students in America received anything but white history. It is far from a given today that the true stories of the contributions of --and atrocities against-- all people are acknowledged.

After "A Day Without immigrants" begins An Era of Immigrants in Your Face

I have never missed an election while in the United States. The last time I visited my grandfather, he told me about events in the 1920s, during the Depression, and the McCarthy era that I only knew of secondhand.

I was increasingly aware as I was growing up the lengths that my parents went to in order to assure that we would not suffer the indignities or personal danger in those parts of America where it was not a given that those "inalienable rights" would be within reach.

Every night on the evening news, we watched the civil rights movement taking place all over America, slowly coming to know the role our own family has in the movement.

Click on the header at top, and you will be connected with the California Secretary of State's website, which has instructions and links for you to download voter registration forms in English or in Spanish. Additional assistance is available via toll-free numbers provided for those who speak Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, or Korean.

Si se puede!

There is so much to cover on the day after the huge demonstrations... I'll probably break down this post into several entries.

Don't trust the news media crowd estimates.

By their own admission, news media have reported that they have been less than certain of crowd estimates provided by authorities --and organizers-- in recent years. Although a number of formulas have been employed over the years to determine the probable number of people in a certain space, the caveat is that no definitive number could possibly be given once the numbers reach a certain size.

That said, I will tell you that estimates of a million people in just the Los Angeles marches on May 1 would be far more accurate than what some local (and national) media have given.

From the media pen by City Hall, atop the ruins of the old State Building at Spring and Temple, it would be easy to undercount the marchers present. The vast majority of marchers were not visible from the media pen at all. A number of local news stations (but not all, by any means) diverted their news helicopters to fly over Broadway and pan down the mile-plus crowd that filled the street from sidewalk to sidewalk, filling all four lanes of the street. Marchers stood in front of City Hall to listen to speakers from the platform that was erected in the middle of Spring Street, covering the grass on the West and South sides of City Hall and filling the surrounding streets. Standing at Broadway and Fifth, and later at the top of the hill at the Civic Center near Broadway and Temple, I can tell you that the crowd stretched down Broadway as far as the eye could see; the overwhelming majority of whom could not have possibly fit in the open space by City Hall.

The largest parade to City Hall in recent years that I personally observed was to celebrate the Lakers World Championship. The crowds on Monday were so many times larger than the half million or so estimated for that event.

Unlike the Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco, or the enormous space in from of the Ministry of the Interior in La Habana, there is no large open space near City Hall to support any public gatherings of this nature. Spill over marchers, in fact, were filling First Street all the way to Little Tokyo, and although Broadway way the only street closure the media had announced in the hours prior to the march, both Spring Street and Hill Street, parallel to Broadway, were filled with overflow crowds.

And I couldn't get to the Wilshire Boulevard march from MacArthur Park to La Brea that many of the marchers went to after marching up Broadway. That march, organized in cooperation with government officials, schools administrators and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, all of whom had urged protesters to stay in school and on the job and march later, was described as even larger on most of the local media.

One marcher had a sign identifying herself as a teacher that also read, "and my students are here, too!" I couldn't imagine a more fitting lesson in participatory American politics for young people. Indeed, despite the rhetoric from the speakers on the platform, the entire scene had a very festive, upbeat mood. One of the most significant sights within the crowd were the number of multi-generational families all walking together. There were grandparents and countless babies in strollers. The number of entire young families marching together was significant.

LAUSD reported a truancy rate of 27% for Monday. School districts around the Los Angeles area gave out absentee figures ranging from 10% to 72%.

Because of the lost revenue from the state of California based on pupil attendance, some school districts on Tuesday were floating around the possibility of making up the lost time with after school or Saturday sessions. It would be beneficial to the continued participation in democracy if that time was to be used for some sort of teach-in. I suspect from the exasperated tone of school administrators on local news, that isn't likely to take place.

This was the largest civics lesson most of the young people present will ever get to experience first hand. Given that the overwhelming number of those present were American citizens (one of the frequently seen
signs, "Today we march, tomorrow we vote!" in eitherr English, Spanish or both) the history of such large marches in America --coupled with a teach-in on voter registration and a chance for students to speak to one another --and those who didn't or couldn't participate-- on how they affected by Monday's events.

This was a large scale lesson for everyone in America on how to reinvigorate democracy and encourage citizen participation. Empowerment has been such an overused word in recent years. Well, Monday gave it new meaning.