Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'll be back in da Valle over the holidays. I'm looking forward to attending Viva El Valle 5. See some friends, and endure the night.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Deportation Nation: History Repeats

USD Ethnic Studies, Calaca Press and the Red CalacArts Collective present:

Deportation Nation: History Repeats
A cultural series highlighting the issue of deportation in America


Visual Migrations
January 31 – March 8, 2009
Opening reception Saturday, January 31, 2009 7pm FREE
Centro Cultural de la Raza 2125 Park Blvd, SD, CA 92101
Art exhibit addressing the issue of deportation featuring work by Berenice Badillo (SD), Doris Bittar (SD), Chikle (SD), Isaias Crow (SD), Celeste De Luna (Harlingen, TX), Gerardo Quetzatl Garcia (San Antonio, TX), Xochitl Gil-Higuchi (Tucson, AZ), Nuvia Crisol Guerra (SD), Ricardo Islas (SD), Gabriel J. Vélez (Scottsdale, AZ), and other artists tba. Curated by Cal A. Vera of Calaca Press. Opening reception music by Gabriel J. Vélez.

Cinematic Migrations
Thursday, February 5, 2009 6pm FREE
USD Mother Rosalie Hill Hall - Warren Auditorium @ Soles
5998 Alcala Park, SD, CA 92110
Movie and lecture by filmmaker Isaac Artenstein and his work: Break of Dawn. Break of Dawn depicts the story of Los Angeles musician, radio personality and activist Pedro J. Gonzalez and his deportation for speaking out against the mass deportations of Mexicans in the 1930's. Introduction by SD Mesa College Chicano Studies chair Mike Ornelas.

Spoken Migrations
Friday, February 6, 2009 7pm FREE
SD Central Library Auditorium 820 E St., SD, CA 92101
Poetry and Spoken Word related to the experience of deportation and migration. Featuring: Francisco J. Bustos (San Diego), Olga Garcia Echeverria (Los Angeles), Ken10 (San Diego), Viet Mai (San Diego) and Amalia Ortiz (Los Angeles). MC’d by Cal A. Vera of the Red CalacArts Collective. A small collection of poetry and prose called Deportation Nation will be given away free to the first 150 Deportation Nation: Spoken Migrations attendees.

Musical Migrations
Saturday, February 7, 2009 - 8-10pm FREE
USD University Center 5998 Alcala Park, SD, CA 92110
Musical program featuring Los Alacranes, Quino and Son Sin Fronteras playing the songs of Pedro J. Gonzalez and others related to deportation, including a jam session with all musicians playing the Woody Guthrie classic Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee). MC’d by USD Ethnic Studies professor Jesse Mills.

Organized by USD Ethnic Studies, Calaca Press and the Red CalacArts Collective.

Sponsored by the Centro Cultural de la Raza, SD Central Library, USD AChA and USD MEChA.

Financial support provided by the USD Trans-Border Institute.

Deportation Nation graphic by Chikle.

For more info contact Brent E. Beltran: calacapress@cox.net or (619) 920-1713

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I watched Man on Wire last night and then had dreams of flight. The same age as the Altazor, I want to levitate, too.
Good Tidings

Tonight, a hand-painted and
haloed cherub is watching
over you as you drift off.
It is the same angel that
inhabits the candle's shadows,
the spirit that dwells
in your glass of warm milk.
It is also the protector
of good art and the speaker
of all romance languages,
as well as the guardian of
your dreams and little wishes,
and the keeper of each dark
secret you swore you would
take to the grave, but which
you have given up this time
around--your second and final
chance. So turn away from
the light. Sleep. Let go
of every unknown answer and
explanation. When you wake,
you will own your own life.

-David Trinidad

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Morning

"When will we go, over mountains and shores, to hail the birth of new labor, new wisdom, the flight of tyrants and demons, the end of superstition, to be the first to adore...Christmas on earth!" A.R.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fight Night

"Woke up, got out of bed, drove a comb across my head(?)..." and now I am writing this. Mahler's blasting in the Ipod-- "Sympony No. 5!" I'll be assembling poem packages to send to editors soon. They will swarm the continental U.S. like bats in the night, and most likely come back to me like dejected, little pajaritos. But that's ok, though. It's the empty mailbox that sux. (slightly paraphrasing bukowski)

Stopped by my favorite newstand in Hillcrest (S.D.) last night and picked up new ZYZZYVA. It's gorgeous! I love this newstand because it's always stocked with a decent variety of lit. mags. Scanning the shelves, however, I realized how much I really miss Long Shot. Man, those issues used to pop. It's a shame that it fell. If it's still in existence, someone please wake me from this nightmare.

I received Dear Jack by Scott Inguito with an intro by Craig Santos Perez yesterday as well (thanks F.A.). The cover art looks great, and I love Inguito's self portrait. I can't wait to read it!

Also in Hillcrest, I picked up Tomaz Salamun's A Ballad For Metka Krasovec and John Yau's My Heart is that Eternal Rose Tattoo. I was really there for some more David Lee books, but hey, you know how it goes.

On our way to our favorite restaurant in Hillcrest, called Mama Testa (great fuckin' name-eh?), my wife and I were stopped during our walk by a couple of hair stylist standing outside of their salon. They offered us two discount coupons for a total hair makeover. "Recessionary tactics," homeboy told us. Wow, I thought, when the stylist has been moved to drop his prices after refusing to shear my dome for no less than 40 bucks in the past, must mean some serious shit in Denmark!

Tonight is the night. De La Hoya vs Manny Pacquiao. Never thought I'd see this one. New possible titles for the dynamic writing of Kevin Gonzalez: The Night Oscar De La Hoya KO'd Manny Pacquiao, or, The Night Manny Pacquiao KO'd Oscar De La Hoya. Which should it be? A ver, no?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Behind the Twinkie Defense
by Paul Krassner


This month marks the 30th anniversary of the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, who wanted to decrimalize marijuana, and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay individual to be elected to public office in America. November also marks the release of a film about the case titled Milk. Although a former policeman, homophobic Dan White, had confessed to the murders, he pleaded not guilty. I covered his trial for an alternative weekly, the *Bay Guardian.*
I’m embarrassed to admit that I said “Thank you” to the sheriff’s deputy who frisked me before I could enter the courtroom. However, this was a superfluous ritual, since any journalist who wanted to shoot White was prevented from doing so by wall-to-wall bulletproof glass.
Defense attorney Douglas Schmidt did not want any pro-gay sentiment polluting the verdict, but he wasn’t allowed to ask potential jurors if they were gay, so instead he would ask if they had ever supported controversial causes--“like homosexual rights, for instance.” One juror came from a family of cops--ordinarily, Schmidt would have craved for him to be on this jury--but the man mentioned, “I live with a roommate and lover.”
Schmidt phrased his next question: “Where does he or she work?”
The answer began, “He”--and the ball game was already over--“works at Holiday Inn.”
Through it all, White simply sat there as though he had been mainlining epoxy glue. He just stared directly ahead, his eyes focused on the crack between two adjacent boxes on the clerk’s desk, Olde English type identifiying them as “Deft” and “Pltff” for defendant and plaintiff. He did not testify. Rather, he told his story to several psychiatrists hired by the defense, and they repeated those details in court.
At a press conference, Berkeley psychiatrist Lee Coleman denounced the practice of psychiatric testimony, labeling it as “a disguised form of hearsay.”
* * *
J. I. Rodale, health-food and publishing magnate, once claimed in an editorial in his magazine, *Prevention,* that Lee Harvey Oswald had been seen holding a Coca-Cola bottle only minutes after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He concluded that Oswald was not responsible for the killing because his brain was confused. He was a “sugar drunkard.” Rodale, who died of a heart attack during a taping of *The Dick Cavett Show*--in the midst of explaining how good nutrition guarantees a long life--called for a full-scale investigation of crimes caused by sugar consumption.
In a surprise move, Dan White’s defense team presented a similar bio-chemical explanation of *his* behavior, blaming it on compulsive gobbling down of sugar-filled junk-food snacks. This was a purely accidental attack. Dale Metcalf, a former member of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters who had become a lawyer, told me how he happened to be playing chess with Steven Scheer, an associate of Dan White’s attorney.
Metcalf had just read *Orthomolecular Nutrition* by Abram Hoffer. He questioned Scherr about White’s diet and learned that, while under stress, White would consume candy bars and soft drinka. Metcalf recommended the book to Scherr, suggesting the author as an expert witness. For, in his book, Hoffer revealed a personal vendetta against doughnuts, and White had once eaten five doughnuts in a row.
During the trial, one psychiatrist stated that, on the night before the murders, while White was “getting depressed about the fact he would not be reappointed [as supervisor], he just sat there in front of the TV set, bingeing on Twinkies.” In my notebook, I immediately scribbled “the Twinkie defense,” and wrote about it in my next report. This was the first time that phrase had been used, and it was picked up by the mainstream media.
In court, White just sat there in a state of complete control bordering on catatonia, as he listened to an assembly line of psychiatrists tell the jury how out of control he had been. One even testified that, “If not for the aggravating fact of junk food, the homicides might not have taken place.”
* * *
The Twinkie was invented in 1930 by James Dewar, who described it as “the best darn-tootin’ idea I ever had.” He got the idea of injecting little cakes with sugary cream-like filling and came up with the name while on a business trip, where he saw a billboard for Twinkle Toe Shoes. “I shortened it to make it a little zippier for the kids,” he said.
In the wake of the Twinkie defense, a representative of the ITT-owned Continental Baking Company asserted that the notion that overdosing on the cream-filled goodies could lead to murderous behavior was “poppycock” and “crap”--apparently two of the artificial ingredients in Twinkies, along with sodium pyrophosphate and yellow dye--while another spokesperson for ITT couldn’t believe “that a rational jury paid serious attention to that issue.”
Nevertheless, some jurors did. One remarked after the trial that “It sounded like Dan White had hypoglycemia.”
Doug Schmidt’s closing argument became almost an apologetic parody of his own defense. Hetold the jury that White did not have to be “slobbering at the mouth” to be subject to diminished campacity. Nor, he said, was this simply a case of “Eat a Twinkie and go crazy.”
When Superior Court Judge Walterl Calcagno presented the jury with his instructions, he assured them access to the evidence, except that they would not be allowed to have possession of White’s .38 special and his ammunition at the same time. After all, these deliberations can get pretty heated. The judge was acting like a concerned schoolteacher offering Twinkies to students but witholding the cream-fillng to avoid any possible mess.
Each juror originally had to swear devotion to the criminal justice system. It was that very system which had allowed for a shrewd defense attorney’s transmutation of a double political execution into the mere White Sugar Murders. On the walls of the city, graffiti cautioned, “Eat a Twinkie--Kill a Cop!”
* * *
On the 50th anniversary of the Twinkie, inventor Dewar said, “Some people say Twinkies are the quintessential junk food, but I believe in the things. I fed them to my four kids,and they feed them to my fifteen grandchildren. Twinkies never hurt them.” A year later, the world’s largest Twinkiewas unveiled in Boston. It was 10 feet long, 3 feet 6 inches high, 3 feet 8 inches wide, and weighed more than a ton.
In January 1984, Dan White was released from prison. He had served a little more than five years. The estimated shelf life of a Twinkie was seven years. That’s two years longer than White spent behind bars. When he was released, that Twinkie in his cupboard was still edible. But perhaps, instead of eating it, he would have it bronzed.
In October 1985, he committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in his garage. He taped a note to the windshield of his car, reading, “I’m sorry for all the pain and trouble I’ve caused."
I accepted his apology. I had gotten caught in the post-verdict riot and was beaten by a couple of cops. My gait was affected, and ultimately, aa a result I now walk with a cane. At the airport, I have to put the cane on the conveyor belt along with my overnight bag and my shoes, but then I’m handed another cane to go through the metal detector. You just never know what could be hidden inside a cane.