Friday, March 30, 2007

Something You May Not Know about Me #1

I was one of "Los Ninos del Mundo" (Kids of the World) who helped to paint the famous Estrada Court murals in East LA. Anyone who saw the 70s T.V. show "Chico and the Man" will recognize these paintings from the show's opening. Our family was good friends with one of the main painters for the project, the Chicano artist Charles Felix, who we called "C.W."

There was a picture of my brother and I working on one of these murals in the LA Times. It was actually the second time I was featured in the LA Times for my painting. The first time was when I was in head start in East LA, and the wife of Governor Pat Brown (Jerry's mom) hovered over me as I painted at an easel. (Mom, this news clip may not be scannable, but I sure would love a copy!)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vargas Llosa vs. García Márquez: Mano a Mano

Dateline: Mexico City, 1976.

The scene: a movie theater packed with people attending the premiere of a film about the plane crash survivors in the Andes who turned to cannibalism.

At one point Mr. Vargas Llosa rushes up to Mr. García Márquez, who innocently tries to embrace him. Instead Mr. Vargas Llosa decks him, Mr. García Márquez’s blood gushing everywhere.

Some had surmised that the fight may have been over politics, since Mr. García Márquez has always been on the left and Mr. Vargas Llosa at the time had begun to migrate to the right. (He later made an unsuccessful attempt to run for president of Peru in 1990 as a free marketeer.)

But, the cause was a woman, specifically, Mr. Vargas Llosa’s wife, whom Mr. García Márquez consoled during a difficult period in the marriage.

From this article in The New York Times on the publication of the post-fight photo after 30 years.

14 months old!

Yesterday Amadisto turned 14 months old! The months are really flying by now. But where are the rest of the teeth?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Slowly, but Surely

Leading Swedish church embraces same-sex marriage

Sweden's dominant Lutheran Church will marry same-sex couples if the government legalizes same-sex marriage, the Swedish Church Assembly said March 16.

Sweden has had a registered-partnership law that grants same-sex couples the rights of marriage since 1994, and is now planning to extend full marriage rights to gays and lesbians.

A church spokesman said priests would be allowed to choose individually whether to marry gay couples, and the church might call same-sex marriages something other than "marriages."

About 78 percent of Swedes are Lutherans, though most don't go to church.

The United Church of Canada is believed to be the only mainstream Christian church that performs same-sex marriages at present.

Full same-sex marriage is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and Massachusetts.

News clip from here.

Art by Clemente.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Hi, I'm a Swan

Did you know swans mate for life? I guess that means the other birds are just doing it for fun.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Walking on Thin Ice

Edge-a-Spring Round Up:

+ Today, on a walk with Amado in the park, I saw a new mom park her stroller with a newborn in it and ask her three-year old kid to sit on a bench in a semi-secluded area. Then, in her full coat and dress shoes, she did wind sprints back and forth on the sidewalk, never going more than 10 feet from her kids. Her apparent desperation made me sad.

+ Yesterday, on another walk in the park, Amado and I ran into a cria named Pancho. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera and Amado was asleep, so we both missed it. However, rumour has it that the cria will be around all summer, so keep your eyes peeled.

+ Today, while taking a nap with Amado in the morning, I had a dream that I walked the plank of a pirate ship and happily jumped into the sea. I wasn't afraid at all of drowning, being eaten by sharks, or anything else. It was marvelous and so refreshing. As soon as I hit the water I woke up.

+ Intrigued by a rumour that there was a new Mexican restaurant on Roger's Road, which is not exactly on the beaten path, I went on a taco hunt and discovered Rebazos, one of the few real Mexican restaurants in Toronto. It's no bigger than 10' x 10' and seems to be the actual kitchen of the house it's attached to and run by the family who lives there. There were six apparent Mexicans sitting there eating and watching Mexican soccer on a small colour T.V. on the counter (it must be a special channel, because cable only carries the English soccer league in Toronto....which is boring). I got two carnitas tacos to go and ate them in the parking lot of Canadian Tire. Delicious.

+ Amado is very cute these days and on the move....not quite walking, but going from place to place, grabbing on to things and leaving Katrina-like destruction in his wake.

+ On Saturday night I watched Kazan's Viva Zapata (1952) staring Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn. This one seemed a bit self-conscious, at times clumsy. But I love old movies and campesino uprisings, so this was a pretty good night.

+ "MarlonBrandoized" is a word we use in my family that my mom, the great coiner of words, made it up, though I'm not sure she remembers it. "MarlonBrandoized" is the state of a once attractive young man (Brando in Viva Zapata) who ballons to incredible porportions when he enters middle age (Brando in Apocalyse Now). Usage: "I like totally MarlonBrandoized by my 45th birthday."

+ I've been really busy so I haven't been posting too much lately. Sorry!

+ P.S. The swans are home.

Above: Grenadier Pond, High Park

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring Fever

Well, while there isn't exactly dancing in the streets (Toronto has a strong British heritage and still knows all about what is proper and what isn't), there has been a great lightening of mood sweeping the city with the warmer temperatures and the increase in light.

People actually seem lighter, and in one sense we actually are: We've shed our winter coats, our tangled scarfs, and our cloddish snow boots. Even this small wardrobe change has lifted people's spirits.

Did change like this happen when spring arrived in California? If so I can't remember it. In Toronto however, spring is a rebirth and a real awakening.

Art: Primavera, Botticelli

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sol Shreddies

Happy Birthday to my brother Sol, seen above copping some nice ollie air into alternate realities at the Desert Knolls Ditch, way back in July 1982. (Click to make big.) Let me tell you, the old dude still shreds, man!

And Happy Birthday also to my niece C.C......a shredder in her own right! You rock!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Over Montreal

Montreal Hotel Parking Lot

There was no snow storm. Apparently the city is buried in snow like this all winter.

It's Almost Cruel... email me a picture of one of my favourite people (my brother Sol), cooking one of my favourite foods (enchiladas), in one of my favourite places (the Mojave) on a Sunday night while I am stuck in a dingy hotel room on a nondescript highway, just outside of snowy, frozen Montreal, waiting for a work meeting to start.

...but I really liked it.

Friday, March 16, 2007

This Desert Land

This desert land is where I grew up....

This Desert Land

By Joseph Bayly

I said
this desert land is barren
void of life and beauty.
I drive for miles
see nothing
only sand and sage
feel nothing
only wind and heat
taste nothing
but spit dried spit.
He said
have you ever driven in spring
through this same desert
seen blossoms flower
gorgeous wild?
It’s all a thing of timing.
Seeds of beauty
are there now hidden
waiting fall of rain
to bring them life.
Lord send rain
upon my world
my life
I’m tired of dried spit.

Source: “A Psalm in Mojave Desert” from Psalms of My Life

Posted on Inward/Outward

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Adios Alberto

I find it an interesting coincidence that the U.S. government announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had confessed to being the mastermind of Sept. 11 on the same day that Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez got himself into some very hot water with Congress.

Gonzalez, when he was still Bush's White House Counsel, argued that the war on terror placed "a high premium on...factors such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors." In short, he was justifying the harsh treatment, perhaps even the torture, of prisoners like Mohammed who were captured in the war on terror.

Alberto, just because a bad man confessed doesn't make it ok to torture people or fire U.S. Attorneys for reasons that are blatantly political.

After becoming Attorney General, he then went on to argue for government eavesdropping on U.S. citizens. What law school did Gonzalez go to anyway? School of the Americas?

I am happy that my brothers and sisters of La Raza are starting to be considered for the highest positions in the U.S. government, but, c'mon, we have to be able to do better than this.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What's Up With Tina?

I also received this poster with an email urging us to do all we can to combat crystal meth, which has become an epidemic here in Toronto, just like in so many other cities and towns across North America.

Tina, crystal meth, crank---no matter what you call it, it is the probably the worst thing ever invented by humans. Avoid it at all costs. And tell your friends the same thing.

There are so many sad stories that Wendy deals with every day as an addiction counsellor. I am glad that there are folks working to help those stuck in this terrible cycle.

See the website for more about this particular campaign.


I received this poster with an email the other day that said I would be blessed if I shared it. So there you go.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mom's Night Out

BaaHaaHaaHaaHaaHaaHaaHaaHaaHaa.....! Amado and I had some real fun when Wendy was at the gym!

P*Land Rocks

Sol rocks a nose grab-tail jam off the top of the coping. Tony styles it down and low. Dudes, P*Land Rocks! (Circa 1981, Phelan, California).

Click on the "P*Land Blazes" link to the right for the full series of skate shots.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Little Boy Blue

Boojimado now grabs a book and climbs up on this chair all by himself to do a little light reading. However, once he is settled in he has trouble putting the book down and getting out of the chair. Don't we all?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Another Deputy Associate Deputy Secretary Gone Amok

From a nice article in The Nation on Cheney and his henchman, Scooter Libby:

Why does a Vice President have a chief of staff? The Vice President has no administrative functions. Why does he need a staff or a chief to run it? And why should he have a National Security Adviser? The President already has one. Why should the Vice President have one, too?

Those of us outside the bureaucracy have no idea how many steps there are in the hierarchy. Paul Light does. Every six years he checks to see how much more the hierarchy has grown. As of two years ago the following is the parade of titles, grades and subdivisions a Cabinet secretary may have under him or herself:

Chief of Staff to the Secretary
Deputy Chief of Staff to the Secretary
Deputy Secretary
Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary
Deputy Chief of Staff
Deputy Deputy Secretary
Principal Associate Deputy Secretary
Associate Deputy Secretary
Deputy Associate Deputy Secretary
Assistant Deputy Secretary
Under Secretary
Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary
Principal Deputy Under Secretary
Deputy Under Secretary
Chief of Staff to the Deputy Under Secretary
Principal Associate Deputy Under Secretary
Associate Deputy Under Secretary
Principal Assistant Deputy Under Secretary
Assistant Deputy Under Secretary
Associate Under Secretary
Assistant Under Secretary Assistant Secretary
Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary
Deputy Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Chief of Staff to the Deputy Assistant Secretary
Principal Deputy Deputy Assistant Secretary
Deputy Deputy Assistant Secretary
Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary
Chief of Staff to the Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary
Deputy Associate Assistant Secretary
Assistant Deputy Assistant Secretary
Principal Associate Assistant Secretary
Associate Assistant Secretary
Chief of Staff to the Associate Assistant Secretary
Deputy Associate Assistant Secretary
Principal Assistant Assistant SecretaryAssistant Assistant Secretary
Chief of Staff to the Assistant Assistant Secretary
Deputy Assistant Assistant Secretary
Chief of Staff to the Administrator
Deputy Chief of Staff to the Administrator
Assistant Chief of Staff to the Administrator
Principal Deputy AdministratorDeputy Administrator
Chief of Staff to the Deputy Administrator
Associate Deputy Administrator
Deputy Associate Deputy Administrator
Assistant Deputy Administrator
Deputy Assistant Deputy Administrator
Senior Associate Administrator
Associate Administrator
Chief of Staff to the Associate Administrator
Deputy Executive Associate Administrator
Deputy Associate Administrator
Assistant Administrator
Chief of Staff to the Assistant Administrator
Deputy Assistant Administrator
Associate Assistant Administrator
Associate Deputy Assistant Administrator

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Original P*Land Skate Team

Here is the original P*Land Skate Team, on our second ramp. I'm guessing that this picture was taken no later than 1977. Many would come and go from the P*Land crew, but the group pictured here were the originals, who started together by shredding the sidewalks at Phelan Elementary school on clay and even wood wheels. I can still remember being totally amazed when Lee showed up with the first set of Cadillac urethane wheels. They like something from outer space. Then Calvin returned from Hawaii with a fully equipped Sidewalk was all downhill from there.

This ramp, like the halfpipe it predated, was built in the Elferings yard, next door to where Circle K is now in Phelan. It was built leaning on Wrightwood Disposal trash bins, which was the company owned by George and Tony's dad. That's the trash truck in the background.

Left to right: Tony Elfering (top row), George Elfering, Aaron Gallegos, Calvin Owens, Lee Williamson, Sol Gallegos (top row)
Thanks to Tony Elfering for sending me this historic photo. I had never seen it before. Tony send me several more that I will be posting very soon. They're gonna blow your mind.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Would Jesus Do 'Social Cleansing'?

From an article in The New York Times:

Human rights advocates and opposition politicians have taken the two sets of killings [of three Salvadoran congressmen by Guatemalan national police, and subsequently, the murder of the killers four days later in prison] as proof that criminal gangs have corrupted Guatemala’s national police force and that groups of officers are operating like drug syndicates, robbing and killing competing dealers.

A high-ranking United Nations official here, who requested anonymity to protect his diplomatic neutrality, said he believed the Interior Ministry and the National Police created death squads over the last three years, trying to combat the wave of violent crime by gangs like the notorious Mara Salvatrucha, a group started in Los Angeles by the children of Central American civil-war refugees of the 1980s.

The officers in those squads belong to evangelical churches, the official said, and see the extrajudicial killings of gang members, known here as "social cleansing," as holy work. But they have also begun to commit crimes for their own profit. "It gets out of their hands," the official said. "They create a Frankenstein."

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Good Morning Daddy ;-0

Early this morning about 5:30, Amado woke me up by jamming his thumb deep into my eye. (I don't think he meant it, he just got lucky.) It really, really hurt and I couldn't see, so Wendy and Amado took me to the emergency room at St. Joseph's. I waited along with two crazy guys who had spent all night eating at the Mandrian all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, three people with headaches who wanted Tylenol 3, and about six people with various injuries from slipping on the ice.

The doctor gave me a few eye drops of pain medication (thank you!) and then added some yellow dye that allowed him to see the damage. "Wow, that's a big one!" he said. He drew a diagram of my eye with a huge slash about halfway across it. The nurse told me that by far the greatest cause of eye injuries they see in the emergency room are by babies sticking their fingers in their parent's eyes. Who would have known? Are these coordinated attacks?

My sight in my left eye is super blurry---the picture above is on the generous side of what I see. Plus I have tremendous pain whenever I open that eye. But the doctor says it should heal in 3-4 days. Meanwhile, I'm a one-eyed daddy and it's harder than it looks!

This blog will have to be on hold until I can see what I'm writing!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Heading East

We're getting hammered by a fierce winter storm here. I'm thinking of Wendy out on the cold, icy streets distributing needles.

Meanwhile, the creator of my favourite blog, Raul Gutierrez of Heading East, and his wife Jenn are on the cusp of giving birth to their second child. Raul blogged about the birth of their first child (above), who they thought was a girl until the moment he was born. I have recommended Heading East several times here and will again. Raul's an amazing artist. Many blessings on their whole family at this sacred moment.

I'm also thinking of Lesley and Keith in Manitoba who will arrive at the very same moment any day now. I guess each birth is completely different, but I remember the giant rush of life that I felt when Amado was born and so I just want to say to all these folks: May peace be upon you.