Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ceci n'est pas une avocado (This is not an avocado)

Poor Claire Regan. The Kraft Foods vice president of corporate affairs had to explain with a straight face that their guacamole has no avocado.

Kraft Foods is being sued by Brenda Lifsey, who told reporters, "It just didn't taste avocadoey. I looked at the ingredients and found there was almost no avocado in it."

"We think customers understand that it isn't made from avocado," Regan responded, presumably with a straight face.

With all the stuff in the news, at first this made me smile. Then I got to thinking; I had to go read the labels of the food in the fridge (I'm known for being a compulsive label reader in the market as it is, anyway). Who needs horror movies when all you have to do is see what's in your kitchen? Or, in this case, what isn't.

And people still wonder why "they" hate America. They tasted the dip.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A few new links

There are several new links to the left I ought to tell you about:

Beantown Cuban is the blog of Johnny Diaz, journalist and author.

Ego the magazine
is an online publication of arts and news of the South Asian and people of color communities.

Espresso Mi Cultura
has found a new home at 1166 Whitter Blvd., Unit A, at First Street in Montebello.

Open Bod is the site of Matt's writings and electronic greeting cards for those who don't think Hallmark.

Vidur Kapur is a man of many talents, among them, he is one heck of a comic.

Bebe Moore Campbell

Novelist Bebe Moore Campbell died November 27 at her home in Los Angeles of complications from brain cancer. She was 56.

She won many awards for her books covering a wide range of subjects. I can tell you that the first time I met her, she carried herself with a sense of grace and dignity.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Emilio Ildefonso Velasquez Ruiz

The weather is much nicer than we had been lead to believe it would be for the holiday.

The town of San Luis Obispo was caught up in "Black Friday" frenzy; so I only took a brief walk downtown today.
There is still a kind of disconnect I feel between my consciousness and the world around me.

I found out online a only few hours ago that Emilio Velasquez Ruiz passed away on September 29, in Mexico. I had read somewhere that he had late stage cancer, but I couldn't get ahold of him or get any sort of confirmation from anyone who knew him as to how he was doing. There as yet has been no obituary in any American publication; I found only a few mentions online from Mexican websites.

Emilio swept me off to Mexico when I was but 23 years old, and had been a significant part of my life from that point on. I was with Emilio when I saw the newspaper headline that Harvey Milk and George Moscone had been assassinated. The City was still reeling from Jonestown, then that shocking event was followed by another...

When I get home, I'll dig through my boxes in storage for a suitable photograph that I can try to post. I have one of him marching in CSW from around twenty years ago, as handsome as ever; others from the San Diego AIDS Walk sometime in the 90s; and somewhere, two albums full of photographs of Cafe Emilio's along with a broken cassette tape of his incredible voice that I had refused to throw away.

Emilio was responsible for translating "Hair" into Spanish. As he showed me his notes for the translation, he recalled dryly how the government had shut them down by their third performance. This was not long after the police massacres in Tlatelolco.

He was the reluctant lawyer who wanted to perform, never thinking that one day his skill as a lawyer would come in handy when he became an activist. In 1986, he came to LA as a presenter at the International People of Color conference at the Ambassador Hotel.

There are more organizations that he founded or helped to start than I could possibly name; I hope the link at the top of the post is still working. What comes to mind is that there are countless people who had no one else to turn to but Emilio; that there is an enormous empty space unfilled with his passing.

That summer, there was an ice cream truck that would play the introduction to "Souvenirs" on an endless loop as it wound its way through the dusty streets far below us as we sunbathed on the roof.
I can hear his voice in my mind as if it were but yesterday, sitting on a stool with a guitar in the darkened cafe after closing, singing to me when everyone had left for the evening. When he sang Billy Joel's "I Love You Just The Way You Are" in Spanish it sent a tingle down my spine.

f you get one or two great loves in your life that lift you above the clouds and suspend time and make everything magical it's a wonderful thing.

I think I'm going to lose it and I want to concentrate on all the good memories I will take with me for the rest of my life --
and that's all I have of him. Precious moments, far less than I would have liked, that are too big to be filed away and forgotten... I want to play with my nieces and nephews and embrace the life and laughter in them here in the present and that's all I can write now because I'm already sniffing away the tears... and when the it's the right time I will be able to let them just flow when they will, but not now...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"They say I did it, nobody caught me, y'all got to prove it on me..."

Rupert Murdoch can say that he's sorry until the cows come home; but who --who?-- in their right mind, okay'd the publication of that travesty in the first place? How many people up and down the chain of command have to answer for the decision to publish that book, much less air that interview? I'd love to hear what j-school profs across America are saying about this as it unfolds. I've already got a pretty good idea what the business schools are saying.

And they fined CBS for a "wardrobe malfunction?" And don't even get me started on all the homophobic,
racist, xenophobic crap to come out of American media. My cousins in Hanna's town, Pennsylvania grew up with stocks in front of their house (my Uncle Walter was the caretaker for the colonial village). If it were put to a vote, probably more people would want to see someone pilloried for this than voted for Bush in 2004.

Frankly, when they grind those books up into pulp, I wonder what will grow atop where they dump it...

If you want to know why there are those in the world who hate America, look no further.

Monday, November 20, 2006

As if I wasn't already in a good mood

image from Towleroad

West Chester, Pennsylvania has named a new high school for Bayard Rustin, the architect of the March on Washington. This makes for one more addition to the very short list of monuments to gay people -especially gays of color.

It's just too friggin' beautiful outside to describe... too bad you're not here! I feel for you, I really do. The people at Fox, not so much. Even though they came down off their crack high long enough to realize what a stupid thing they did with that OJ interview, and cancelled it.

So, you see, we do have to put up with some crazy ass shit as a price for being in paradise...

It sucks not being in California, doesn't it?

At least it's dry heat... here.

The weirdest thing about the heat today is that I actually agreed with Bill O'Reilly on something (the OJ book). Is somebody passing a crack pipe around at Fox? Of course, I still haven't forgiven them for tearing down the Welton Beckett building in Century City (amongst their many other crimes against humanity). I have to side with Jay Leno in his suggestion last week that everyone boycott any and all advertisers for the interview... and I'll expand that to the network as a whole --oh, yeah, I forgot: I don't even watch Fox. It frightens the horses when I yell at the television.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Happy birthday to me!

I recently discovered that I share my birthday with the date of the opening of the original Shakespeare & Company by Sylvia Beach in 1919. When I went to Paris for my 21st birthday, alas, the original Cafe L'Abbaye was no longer in existence. The present-day Shakespeare & Company, of course bears scant resemblance to the original. I did walk down the street where James Baldwin stayed his first nights in Paris, however.

I began my birthday celebration at the "Ansel Adams at Manzanar" exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum, as I previously mentioned. A cool chill sifted through the air of the museum; it provided a perfectly controlled climate for the artifacts within. So different from the relentless cold wind and dust and searing heat at Manzanar...

Manzanar covered some 5,700 acres. Over 60 acres were 36 blocks of 16 barracks with three to five apartments
measuring about 20' by 25' in each. Schools, lavatories, parks, warehouses, canteens, mess halls, service buildings; 860 buildings in all, made up the virtual town of 10,000 internees. Mt. Williamson, at 14,8 feet, is 10 miles due west, with a 'seven mile shadow.'

Manzanar is one of those places where you can hear the stillness of the air, the heat, the desolation. Every history, American government and civics teacher ought to go there (with their students, hopefully). The next Day of Remembrance to mark the anniversary of Executive Order 9066 will take place on February 19, 2007. Admission to the Manzanar National Historic site is free, however, and one may visit year 'round. Most tourists driving to Reno or Mammoth pass by without even knowing it is there...

This morning at Nick's Cafe, I had a short stack and sausage, and enjoyed the goings on around me at one of the last of the little hole-in-the-wall diners in LA. The couple to my right ordered their usual, but the cook already had their order up before the waitress brought it to him. They were with an artist friend just back from Paris. Everyone lamented the rising cost of rents in the Artists' District. The framed LIFE magazine cover from April 12, 1948 was missing. So were all the railroad caps, leaving the rack looking empty and forlorn. A film crew had re-arranged everything when shooting a commercial, and nothing got put back where it was before.

Two cops in suits dove into their regular breakfasts to my left. Their super-neat haircuts were the one give-away as to what kind of civil servants they were --that, and their sidearms.

The skies are blue (if a little smoggy) and the weatherman is actually apologizing that the temperatures will remain above normal at about 78 degrees throughout the weekend. The tourists don't seem to mind, though. It is snowing somewhere, as I recall...

For my birthday so far I've scored a gift card from Barnes and Nobles (but I'll spend my money at my favorite independents), some Atkins protein bars, a T shirt from radio station 106.7 fm in Santa Maria ("La Preciosa"), and dog tags to honor Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit, the three young Israeli soldiers who were kidnapped this summer and hose fate remains unknown. It was their kidnapping that in theory sparked the war that ripped apart Beirut and Lebanon. It isn't a contradiction for me to be angry at the Israeli government and Hezbollah and Hamas, too. Today, though, I want to enjoy the beautiful day, and hope that all those in the Middle East will soon be able to also. Someone already asked me about the dogtags, so they're doing their part to spark discussion and keep them in the public eye.

If I'd wanted a perfect day for my birthday, I think this is it. Nothing like listening to the tourists gush about their once-in-a-lifetime vacation in fabulous, sunny Southern California to remind you how lucky you are.

My November 17th birthday horoscope:

November 17 birthday:

Your momentum is strong. This year you are too bighearted to be easily offended and way too busy to get knocked off course by minor distractions. The final weeks of the year bring you new opportunity for love and connection. A trip in February amps up your earning potential. Give yourself time off in March. Gemini and Libra people adore you. Your lucky numbers are 9, 36, 2, 19 and 50.

LA Times Horoscope

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm gonna start my birthday with breakfast at Nick's Cafe

Photo by Maxwell M

I don't know if there's something customarily done for a special birthday (no, I'm not going to say what year... yet; I'm still trying to get over the shock myself), but I
do plan to start with a real breakfast of comfort food at Nick's Cafe, across from the Cornfields. When the state park eventually does get built, this place will be mobbed by everybody and their cousin --it's unfortunately already been written up too many times as it is. So I'm going to enjoy it while it languishes in its final days of near obscurity...

Ansel Adams at Manzanar

My birthday plans have yet to be finalized, but one thing I want to be sure to visit is the new "Ansel Adams at Manzanar" exhibition at the Japanese National History Museum in Little Tokyo. Most Americans have never been to Manzanar ...I can tell you it is one of the most powerful sights and experiences one could have in the whole of the entire United States. If you ever get the chance to go, do.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Eduardo Santiago reads from "Tomorrow They Will Kiss" on December 10th.

If you can't get to the International Book Fair in Miami (the Mecca for booklovers, but of course, you know that already), Eduardo Santiago will be reading from his novel, Tomorrow They Will Kiss at A Different Light on Sunday, December 10 at 6 p.m.

Photos: Skylight Bookstore

Losses on both coasts....

From New York comes word that the latest incarnation of the Stonewall has closed. There is always hope, in a more perfect world, that the space becomes a National Historic Site with interpretation of the Stonewall's contribution of to GLBT history.

From Long Beach, I just found out that the Equal Writes Bookstore will soon be closing, despite the best efforts of owner Dan Wall. Too often those who
leave a mark for the better through their service to the community go unthanked. I hope Dan realizes what a difference he has made in the lives of countless people.

Photo by Sylvar

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Before Kristallnacht, there was another "Night of the long knives"

This is the lynch mob posing in front of my great-grandfather's newspaper after they'd burned it to the ground on November 10, 1898. Accounts vary from 30 to 300 as to the number of people killed by roving mobs. Many people fled the city to hide in the woods, with only the clothes on their backs. Fortunately, my great-grandfather escaped, making his way to Washington, D.C., or I probably wouldn't be here now.


Tomorrow is Kristallnacht.The only LA observance I know of at the moment will be at Loyola Marymount University, but I'm certain there will be others. Click on the header for more information.

"Wait! Wait! It's not REALLY free..."

After years of renovation, the Griffith Park Observatory has reopened --at a cost of $93 million. That buys a lotta bells and whistles, but they couldn't be bothered to install any new bicycle racks (according to the LA County Bicycle Coalition, there are only two old racks located behind the bathrooms... for a city of three million people).

Officially, admission is free, but depending on which news source you listen to, no walk-in visitors will be allowed, and visitors must ride the $8 shuttle to alleviate overcrowding.
Since the Observatory reopened Friday, there is currently a two month waiting list for the shuttle. At least that's what the Observatory spokesperson said on the KCRW news. The LACBC site reports that visitors arriving by bicycle or foot may make reservations 48 hours ahead --yet cyclists and hikers are only allowed entrance until 3:50 p.m.

One thing the $93 million renovation couldn't fix is the smog and light pollution, which has obscured the view of the night sky a heck of a lot more than when the observatory first opened in 1935.

Apparently the restricted access for pedestrians or bicyclists is in violation of city law, and the existing bike racks are not up to code.

No one seems to know if or when mass transit will be restored to the Observatory. In my 20's, I was able to jog up to the Observatory, but that was a long time ago, and I wasn't aware of the rattlesnake factor. I guess when the oil companies got their revenge on Californians for Prop 87, they didn't pussy-foot around.

Arizona goes "English Only;" it will now be the state of "the place of the small spring"

In Tuesday's election, Arizona voters approved Proposition 103 by 74%, making English the official language of the state. There is some dispute among historians as to the origin of the word Arizona, from the Pima Indian language. It is generally referred to as "the place of the small spring" or "small spring."

The Hohokam indians that have lived in Arizona for tens of thousands of years could not be reached for comment.

I just wanna know how he budgets!

According to the antigraft watchdog Global Witness, the son of Equatorial Guinea's dictator for life, Teodoro Nguema Obiang, has purchased a $35 million beach house in Malibu on his official salary of $60,000 per year.

There was no word in the New York Times if he has cleared this purchase with Mel Gibson, who claimed after his recent arrest, the he "owns" Malibu.

Isn't South Florida the preferred vacation home of choice for the families of dictators? The climate there, after all, would be comparable to their homeland.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Seriously, didn't we see this coming when Bush said Rumsfeld was 'doing a heck of a job?'

Maybe we can work out a deal to turn Rumsfeld to the Iraqis for their next trial for mass murder and the insurgents will leave our boys alone...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm already running behind, but I'm still in the game...

November is National Novel Writing Month, if you didn't know. Click on the header above for the basic info. I'm trying not to get too bogged down in one of my favorite sidetracks, research. And I've got a lot yet to read to help put get it all together. And I didn't have my espresso this morning, either (it was way too hot, and I had to go vote).

Enough with the excuses, though. I'm going to forego the endless repetitive election night blather on television tonight, and see what I can do about getting caught up...


If enough of us go out to vote today, it will make it that much more difficult for them to steal the election.... and since the conservatives in power seem Hell-bent on stealing as much of the election as possible, I'm all for making them really sweat while doing it. Why should I just hand over what little say I have in society?

Take a look around you at what ever you hold near and dear; it's only a matter of time before they'll eventually come for that, too. Universal suffrage? Free schools? Privatized beaches from Malibu to Palm Beach? A repeal of the Thirteenth amendment? I wouldn't put any of it past them. I, for one, am not going to be forced into the fields to pick their cotton. And if you want a say in anything that concerns you tomorrow, better start today by getting off your ass and going to vote.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Cat in the Hat couldn't have removed all trace of last night's Halloween carnival any better...

All that was left to show for a two hour trip to the Boulevard and another two hours to get home was a little pink feather from a boa...