28 February 2008

in solidarity

Lawrence Salinas, poet, read this poem at Raúl Salinas' memorial service, February 16, 2008, in Austin, Texas.

Who is this man?

Raul, Roy, "Tapon" Uncle Roy,
"El stupido" as my grandmother sometimes called him

Who was this man who ran wild in the barrios of East Austin "con los pachucos" instead of being a "father."

Who is this man who was by his own mistakes
(some of which I too have made)
Not only got himself imprisoned but also imprisoned my mom, my broth my sister and me.

Who is this man I could never call "dad" because he wasn't there.

Who is this man, who was out of sight but not out of mind who, as a lil kid, would often creep into my thoughts as I watched my friends go to father-son days at school or watch episodes of "mis tres mijos (my three sons) the Brady Bunch, or God forbid, Father Knows Best … longing for my own episode to run, but quietly knowing it never would.

Who was this man who I wished could have been like Ward Cleaver but in reality is more like ELDRIDGE Cleaver!

Who was this man who I've tried so hard my whole life to be un-like because of shame, embarrassment, and let's not forget the ever-present Catholic guilt … that today as I look at my own life, I find ironically, I am so much LIKE him.

Who is this man I curse every father's day as I make that painstaking annual pilgrimage to the card shop looking for that "perfect" card only to end up with the "Snoopy" one that lacks the love but hey, fulfills my obligation.

Who is this man – I hate for giving me the bad traits; but thank my MOTHER and HIS mother for the good ones, and secretly laugh because I find the more I "resist" to be NOT like him; the more I find I AM!

Who was/is this man that was such a stranger to me?
Yet whose blood runs through my veins – forever connecting us…

Who is this man whose name I carry
But do not really know him

Who is this man who caused me to struggle to understand why he seemed to have so much time for other "kids in need" but so little time for me?

Who is this man ya'll come to hear, to see?
You say to him, "I love your poetry, you're an inspiration, you're so this, you're so that … "

Who is this man some have called over the years: artsy, a thinker, a writer, an activist, a lecturer, a "maestro" … and today, who would've thought, even an internationally "renowned poet"

Who was this man some once called a "ladies man" – un romantico, I can relate to that … hey, you know what they say bout' the apple not falling far from the tree.

Who is this man whose image I once saw as a child, with blurry, yet rose-colored glasses; but today I see with the clarity and understanding of a man.

Who is this man?? He's my father … and in some ways, he's ME …

March 19, 2005

27 February 2008

twice is just right

for some reason i've been craving polenta. it's strange b/c i never really have cooked polenta before and have only had it a few times at restaurants. regardless, the last time i was at TJ's, i saw it and decided, "why not?"

so i tried one recipe and it was a total and complete failure. i think it was because i added WAAAAAAAY too much water for the pre-cooked polenta tube. that was singlehandedly the worst thing i've ever cooked in my life. i tried to eat it too, but i just couldn't. the arugula and cheese were lumped together like clay and the polenta was a watered down mess.

i was disappointed with the last attempt, but today i decided to try again to MUCH better results. i put in much less water, some milk, a dash of soy sauce and stirred, stirred, stirred until i got the consistency i wanted. i then added butter, tore up some leaves from beets, garlic and parm cheese. finally! what i wanted. success. and will definitely be trying it again soon.

26 February 2008


this article explains the epitome of what i'm attempting to do these past few months. close the doors in my head, do the emotional dump i need to do, experience the loss and then move on. enough already. am closer than i've ever been.

The Advantages of Closing a Few Doors

"Apparently they did not care so much about maintaining flexibility in the future. What really motivated them was the desire to avoid the immediate pain of watching a door close.

“Closing a door on an option is experienced as a loss, and people are willing to pay a price to avoid the emotion of loss,” Dr. Ariely says. In the experiment, the price was easy to measure in lost cash. In life, the costs are less obvious — wasted time, missed opportunities. If you are afraid to drop any project at the office, you pay for it at home."

what's yr stance on glitter?

yay ellen!

three is the magic number...take two

the CT is obsessed with the number three. this is no secret. so she'll share three things that made her smile today.


"bitches get things done. ... bitch is the new black." indeed. "deal with it." tina fey is just oh so great.


"the shiny guy always worries."


get out and vote texas.

23 February 2008

where's the storm?

the CT and her boo were supposed to go up north to wine country to celebrate being alive. instead the weather people made a big fuss over a huge storm that is supposedly coming to northern california. but now it's saturday and there is no rain, no gusts of wind up to 50 mph. nada. grr. but there is always next weekend, isn't there? that's the beauty of being alive.

so the CT decided if she was going to be holed up in her apt with her calimexican roommate, she was going to make the best of it. like back in the day when the CT and CM both lived in nyc, and nyc would be closed down due to the snow. she got a copy of the next dvd of the L word, some organic red wine (from argentina, that's right...) and some good stories to share. in the meantime, she is curling up with her favorite thing in the world. tea. if you happen to be in a town with a trader joe's, the CT highly recommends the mango spiced black tea. preferably in this huge mug. two hands to hold, twice the fun for the CT! yummmmmy.

orale pues. bueno bye.

22 February 2008

thank you, have a good afternoon

the CT can't believe it's been nearly a year since she first heard of ceci bastida. ms. bastida played at the sxsw festival to much acclaim, and has found a small following in socal thanks to los angeles' fantastic radio station kcrw. she also played at last year's latin alternative music conference in nyc. gee, the CB sure knows where the CT likes to live and play.

for those who know the CT, you may have heard a rumor she likes someone called julieta venegas. not sure, just checking. anyway, the two female artists have been friends for 20 years, both having been in the mexican ska punk band Tijuana NO! since they were teenage chicas. julieta eventually went solo and became an international name playing her solo music. ceci happened to be with her friend through this transition and was her keyboard player for many years. recently ceci decided to branch out and do her own thing. the CT thinks the more mexican female artists playing this sort of music, the better.

ceci lives in los angeles, and backed up by the band volumen cero (those w/ mtv tr3s may recognize the acoustic guitar player as the host from indie 101), played an outdoor festival in pasedena in october 2007. oh how fun!

Ceci Bastida: Ya Me Voy from Graham Kolbeins on Vimeo.

oh, and by the way ceci will be playing the sxsw festival again this year. if the CT were in austin in march, she would definitely go to those shows. continental club, march 12 AND flamingo cantina, march 13.

21 February 2008

nine months of trouble

you may know my favorite site on the internet is jezebel. those women just never stop cracking me up. or never stop failing to show me something that is strange, yet not entirely created by pop culture. ok, it is. anyway, i saw something today that i thought was worth posting for the "things that make you go hmmm" factor.

before juno, 41 years ago, this is what america thought of (white) teenage mothers:

this is what america (but not britain) thinks of (white) teenage mothers in 2007:

i guess in 2007 they have a bigger vocabulary and shorter hair. oh, today's teens and are less slutty and less prone to being used by men? ok, whatever. oh, but for sure they have a witty indie soundtrack, are shown in film festivals, and are nominated for oscars.

19 February 2008

cognitive distortions II

was working on another post named the above minus II, but am not sure it will appear in its current form.

the CT's piece on cognitive distortions is along the lines of these two posts i recently read. one from dooce, the other from her husband. i think they are both refreshingly honest ways of talking about mental health without stigma. something from which we all can learn.

i suppose now it's time to fully read the chapter entitled "cognitive distortions" and eat a tofu sandwich exploding with lettuce. man, that head of lettuce i got last week was HUGE. and i also got a mango. i'm so happy with that particular addition, because although i lovelovelove the citrus fruits, i have to say this vegetarian (who is trying to eat locally) was really happy to have a new fruit buddy to devour during the week.

cognitive distortions

sounds like the name of a harcore band from the mid 90s, doesn't it?

but no, it's the name of a chapter in the book that i'm currently reading. and through the initial skim of this chapter, it got me to thinking about not only my own personal cognitive distortions, but others as well and how their CDs relate to themselves. makes me think of these people in a differently light, in both the sense that i have to think about separating their words as a reflection of myself, but more of a reflection of what goes on inside that person, whatever the intention may be. this may all seem like a big "duh" to some people, but to the audience of the book i'm reading, it truly isn't, and is the cause for all sorts of damaging internal thoughts turned into needless obsessions. i know the audience is capable of understand the concept cognitively, but for them to actually believe it, well, i think it something entirely different.

i think to better illustrate what i am trying to say, i will use the words of the person that got me to thinking about these things.

i'd never try to give my life meaning
by demeaning you.
i would like to state for the record
i did everything that i could do.
i'm not saying that i'm a saint,
i just don't want to live that way.
i will never be a saint, but i will always say,
squint your eyes and look closer
i'm not between you and your ambition...
32 flavors, ani difranco

i am beginning to actually believe that i, in my personal situation, did everything that i could do under the circumstances.

i am definitely not a saint, and am also beginning to believe that people can, and often do, make mistakes, and must learn from them, despite the ramifications of said mistake. i am also learning that in the making of the mistake, one must take responsibility for one's actions. this is easy in this instance, but not in others, but i know i am still learning.

as part of the learning experience, i have learned not to take a messy situation at face value, because things are rarely black and white. that way of thinking makes for bushisms (either with us or against us), paints people all too easily into heroes and villians, into saints and martyrs, and rarely allows for the fact that people inevitably fall into an ambiguous part of the good/bad spectrum. (i also believe that the more realistic emotional portrayal of characters is the reason for the popularity of recent pop culture phenomena such as the harry potter series, and tv shows such as lost and heroes, all of whom have flawed characters where no one is either all good or all bad. but i digress...)

i'm also learning that i absorbed much of the catholic upbringing i tried to rebel against as a teenager. see [g]od, it got through after all... simiplifying those forgivness models and applying them to our situations here on earth are, as someone told me, "impossible." that means they are destined for failure and thus for the constant going to church to ask [h]im for forgiveness. and in people, one is either seeking forgiveness or refusing to dole it out.

and all of this is just skimming. maybe i should read it.

13 February 2008

RIP raulsalinas

taken from an email on las comadres listserv. he is also the poet the CT had the fortune to meet on her last trip to texas:

Raul Salinas, known as raulsalinas, that great human being, transformed by life and fire, has died. Raul was a featured poet at the Border Book Festival in 2000. It was a memorable performance as Raul danced, sang and gyrated through the power of his words his English, Spanish and Xicanindio.

His life was hard, yes, as he was incarcerated for many years in U.S. prisons, but those who knew and loved him saw his transformation into a light indescribable--beatific, really. We celebrate his great beauty and his gifts of spirit and words.

Raul has made his way to the Ancestors.

Raul will be greatly missed. His work, poetry, and philosophy will live on in the good works of poets, artists, musicians and cultural centros throughout America. His spirit we lead us all and help us to survive and thrive in difficult times.

His words/poems should serve as maps for us all in our quest to keep culture, heritage and tradition alive in our barrios, cul de sacs, suburbs, ranchos...wherever you/we live.

Thank you, Raul. You have blessed us all.

Manuel Diosdado Castillo, Jr.
San Anto Cultural Arts


Raul Roy Tapona Salinas was born in San Antonio, Texas on March 17, 1934. He was raised in Austin, Texas from 1936 to 1956, when he moved to Los Angeles. In 1957 he was sentenced to prison in Soleded State Prison in California. Over the span of the next 15 years, Salinas spent 11 years behind the walls of state and federal penitentiaries. It was during his incarceration in some of the nation's most most brutal prison systems, that Salinas social and political consciousness were intensified, and so it is with keen insight into the subhuman conditions of
prisons and an inhuman world that the pinto aesthetics that inform his poetry were formulated.

His prison years were prolific ones, including creative, political, and legal writings, as well as an abundance of correspondence. In 1963, while in Huntsville, he began writing a jazz column entitled THE QUARTER NOTE which ran consistently for 1-1/2 years. In Leavenworth he played a key role in founding and producing two important prison journals, Aztlán de Leavenworth and New Era Prison Magazine, through which his poetry first circulated and gained recognition within and outside of the walls. As a spokesperson, ideologue, educator, and jailhouse lawyer of the Prisoner Rights Movement, Salinas also became an internationalist who saw the necessity of making alliances with others. This vision continues to inform his political and poetic practice. Initially published in the inaugural issue of Aztlán de Leavernworth, a Trip through a Mind Jail (1970) became the title piece for a book of poetry published by Editorial Pocho-Che in 1980.

With the assistance of several professors and students at the University of Washington - Seattle, Salinas gained early release from Marion Federal Penitentiary in 1972. As a student at the University of Washington, Salinas was involved with community empowerment projects and began making alliances with Native American groups in the Northwest, a relationship that was to intensify over the next 15 years. Although Salinas writes of his experiences as a participant in the Native American Movement, it is a dimension of his life that has received scant attention. In the 22 years since his release from Marion, Salinas involvement with various
political movements has earned him an international reputation as an eloquent spokesperson for justice. Along the way he has continued to refine and produce his unique blend of poetry and politics.

Salinas' literary reputation in Austin earned him recognition as the poet laureate of the East Side and the title of *maestro* from emerging poets who seek his advice and a mentor. While his literary work is probably most widely known for his street aesthetics and sensibility, which document the interactions, hardships, and intra- and intercultural strife of barrio life and prison in vernacular, bilingual language, few people have examined the influence of Jazz in his obra that make him part of the Beat Generation of poets, musicians, and songwriters. His poetry collections included dedications, references, and responses to Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Charlie Parker, Herschel Evans, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles
Davis, for example. Academics have primarily classified Salinas as an important formative poet of the Chicano Movement; yet, while he may have received initial wide-scale recognition during the era, it would be unfair to limit a reading of his style, content, and literary influence to the Movement.

There were many dimensions to Salinas* literary and political life. Though, at times, some are perplexed at the multiple foci of Salinas life, the different strands of his life perhaps best exemplify what it means to be mestizo, in a society whose official national culture suppresses difference: his life*s work is testimony to the uneasy, sometimes violent, sometimes blessed synthesis of Indigenous, Mexican, African, and Euro-American cultures. Salinas currently resides in Austin, Texas, where he was the proprietor of Resistencia Bookstore and Red Salmon Press, located in South Austin. Arte Publico Press reissued Salinas* classic poetry collection, Un Trip through the Mind Jail y otras Excursiones (1999), as part of its Pioneers of Modern U.S. Hispanic Literature Series. He is also the author of another collection of poetry, East of the Freeway: Reflections de Mi Pueblo (1994).

En paz descanse. May he rest in peace.

11 February 2008

inventory: thirty-six


she may not be so angelic afterall.

inventory: thirty through thirty-five

king cubano:


la smiley:

two unaccounted for so far. will need to do more research.

inventory: twenty-nine


she tries to make others smile because she is not so happy herself.

inventory: twenty-eight


he'll serve you straight up to your face.

inventory: twenty-seven

mr. frosty.

owns and drives the custom low rider ice cream truck in the hood.

inventory: twenty-six


happy go lucky homie.

inventory: twenty-five


esteban likes being scareded. silly mijo.

inventory: twenty-four

baby girl.

she goes to college. she goes to the local high school to recruit young homies to go to college too.

inventory: twenty-three


she's sad cause she lost her boyfriend in a senseless drive-by.

inventory: twenty-two

tennishoe pimp.

he sells sneakers and wicked prices.

inventory: twenty-one


he never gets caught.

inventory: twenty


shady pool hustler.

inventory: nineteen


he lurks in the shade.

inventory: eighteen


kicks it playing the drums and with an accent.

inventory: seventeen


catburgler. don't call him, he'll call you.

inventory: sixteen


he's a painter.

inventory: fifteen


sells hot merch.

inventory: fourteen

poco loco.

he's a little crazy.

inventory: profile thirteen


makes furniture to sell at the flea market. stays out of trouble.

inventory: profile twelve

old school.

likes to cruise, be with his woman and stay out of trouble.

inventory: profile eleven

milky way.

there's always at least one...

inventory: profile ten

homie pigeon

hangs out around gordo the chef's taco truck.

inventory: profile nine


when he's arounds, things just aint right.

inventory: profile eight

gordo the chef.

hosts a mexican food tv show.

inventory: profile seven

fly girl

dancer, aspiring lakers girl.

inventory: profile six

double o.g.

trying to stay out of trouble.

inventory: profile five

q ball

the local pool shark...who is blind.

inventory: profile four

p rico.

the nuyorican homie.

inventory: profile three


california highway patrolman.

inventory: profile two


she's in marketing and sales and wants to run her own business one day.

inventory: profile one


UCLA undergraduate activist.

it's a small world after all

and google just keeps bringing us closer together. soon the world will fit in the palm of someone's hand. this is neither a good nor bad thing. just...interesting. and in the immortal words of texans everywhere: "n-e-wase."

it's funny, the CT had been coming out of her shell until about, hmm, october of last year. then she quickly and quietly retreated back into the shell which has covered her from when she was born. but, she still thinks she talks to people about what she has been thinking. so when she was at brunch today talking to her boo, she was completely surprised when she realized she hadn't shared her new video idea with him. and that's just downright strange because in her idea he, or rather his voice, takes a pivotal part. and during the brunch which turned into an informal brainstorming session, he offered to create and donate a model he will soon make. she couldn't have planned that better herself.

the new idea conceptualized after a chance meeting with a poet in texas while getting video for another project. this poet is from another generation, one that is slowly starting to meet back with its original mother, and after which all stories will be silent unless told. the CT and the poet got along on a new age-y level, and he invited her to his bookstore so they could continue the conversation. so she did a few days later, and stumbled upon a small meeting of like-minded folks. she felt like she hadn't left her california non-profit ways at all when looking around this table and listening to them speak. she then began to discuss her ideas with them and got positive feedback. she even agreed to meet with them on their trip to califas in the near future. she then completed a commercial transaction, an apparently uncommon one, as the employee told the CT she was given access to the poet's personal backstock of chicano artifacts. upon hearing this, she determined this was an honor rarely bestowed on other humans, and quickly expressed her humble thanks and thought she had the new age-y connection to thank for that.

so the weekly-sunday-brunch-turned-informal-brainstorming-session turned out rather well. and thanks to the initial discussion of the poet and the long-haired rock star immigration JD, the CT and her boo also realized their parents share somewhat similar activist roots, including mothers who once had what sounds like the same job. weird... but that is one connection google didn't make today, they managed to figure that out on their own without the help of the google on the internet machine.