Winter 2010 Poetry Contest Honorable Mention

I lay supine on Wilshire and Veteran

subtle ground cracks tickle spaces

where my skin collides with concrete

gaze skywards beyond bruatal timbre of recreated blasts

I hear you utter

I can’t marry you because you’re not Jewish

From Westbank to Westwood

2pm on a Saturday

middle of the street

my head on foreign legs

stacks of bodies occupy tire-marked roadway

this is the die-in

demise of silence

my skull caresses asphalt

black dirt on red hair

a melody of two thousand heart beats

rhythm to your little song

no girlfriend of mine will support Palestine

red white green and black insignia of aspiration for harmony

you slip in and out of my consciousness

I’ve never stared at the sky while laying in middle of the street

Lost Angels

later I rise from concrete

plant feet in cement terrain

ear memory of you declare

even though you voted for Obama you can still be my girlfriend

you place index fingers in ear drums

as our hymns form sound paths through urban walkways

from the river to the sea Palestine will be free

We march

intone the enflamed chants of a people

who burn their vocal cords for peace

on the corner of Veteran loud speakers detonate sound bombs

genocidal anthem of Gaza

vicious reverberations shake the ground

I rehear you whisper

how could you support the enemy?

i would leave UCLA and take up arms in Tel Aviv in a heart beat

the hum of pseudo explosions reside

two children entertain crowd with polyrhythmic hand slaps

i unshake the memory

yesterday you say it’s a shame i’m so liberal

an indignity i went to Cal

in one more redundant insult of romantic hatred

you call it a disgrace i come from Berkeley

a land where each inhabitant is so radical

they incapacitate themselves to think critically

if only you had listened to me say

i spend more time in temples than churches

how graceful to produce a bireligious child

i adore your Faith

still you beg i come over

tickle your flesh with my Lusotongue

flesh knows no politics

polar opposites

swear you unwish to reconcile our differences

crave to combine our mouths together

outside a memory of your orison for we

to dazzle the body with colorful friendship

this procession incantates miles down city blocks

a plea for peace

my voice ripples sound waves

floats subtitles to you

one final attempt to profess

you never hear me speak

I won’t marry you since you’re not Christian

shame you’re so conservative

I defriend you for fighting for your country

Winter 2010 Poetry Contest Honorable Mention

I’m coming from where

A bus and a train will get you there

You’re where

No gas in the tank – I’m not going there

Where do we meet?

I’m three hours ahead – The city that never sleeps

You’re three hours behind – Snow you’ll never see

Where do we meet?

Between the Hellas and the Fo Shos

I need my Son, Feel Me, Word to Mutha and

That’s Wassup. You like to hear Coffee, Quarter and

Of Course. I like the sound of Finna and No Worries

It’s always different when we speak

Where do we meet?

I’m coming from where

Jamaica meets Church Ave

You resting where

Mexico meets Home Depot

I’m jumping up and whining to Dance Hall

You twirling and stepping to Salsa

The beat never misleads the feet

So, maybe in the middle of a track

We can meet.

Poetry Contest Winner: 3rd Place

“California” By Ramon Sanchez

Why don’t you run away with me.

We’ll fly away tonight

And live beside the sea

In California.

You’ll love the clean and breezy air,

And flowing traffic ev’rywhere.

Run away with me to California.

I’ll show you where to pan for gold.

Get rich in just one day,

Retire before your old.

In California.

We’ll buy a house, the cheapest pick,

Inflate the price and sell it quick.

Come away with me to California.

The grizzly bears will let you scratch their ears.

The mountain lions will let you take their photograph.

And if you wave at whales they’ll flip their tails.

The movie stars will ask you for your autograph.

And ev’rywhere we go the sun will shine.

‘Cause back in California you’ll be mine.

Just picture us beside a pool.

We’ll have to make the scene

‘Cause ev’ryone is cool

In California.

The summers there are not too dry,

The politicians never lie,

And lovers there say love will never die

‘Cause that’s what life is like in California.

Poetry Contest Winner: 2nd Place

“L.A. State of Mind” By Ashley M. Esprio

Welcome to the land of disingenuous deceit

Where promises are made while promising defeat

Where dreamers of tomorrow arrive with hearts of hope

Then quickly trade their hearts in for ½ an oz. of dope

A city full of “angels” filled with eternal “fear and loathing”

Where wolves cross dress, camouflaged by sheep’s clothing.

Hollywood: the La-La Land chock full of fabled truths

Where the “American Dream” is born

And Sell Outs mass produced.

Where a penny for your thoughts is an unnecessary expense

For your kiss? A thousand dollars. For your soul? Fifty cents.

A city where artificial beauty runs in high demand

where silicone and normalcy go together hand in hand.

Where combat is commercialized like fifteen minute fame

And soldiers run by corrupt politicians, pawns in a chess game.

Skewed perception and deception are the orders of the day

Convoluted youth is bred then shown misguided ways.

Products of a pompous society that’s sadly gone astray

All for an “L.A. state of mind”… what a misconstrued cliché.

Winter 2010 Poetry Contest Winner

“Oh California, bella” By Salvador Ramirez

Oh California,

tierra de los que buscan linda morada,

pues eres bella con tus montanas con nieve y tus suelos planos,

aunque de ahi despierten temblores que hacen la arena agua.

Oh California,

Tu has recibido gente en los cuatro puntos cardenales,

desde el norte te han seguido con los bisontes para poder comer

desde la ancha costa para poder gozar el mar y la brisa,

desde el oriente han fluido por noticias del oro,

y desde el sur por los que buscan solo una mejor vida.

Oh California,

aunque has sido cuna de los que luchan contra la desigualdad,

de ti han salido tratados justos como el de las Naciones Unidas,

en ti han caminado lideres ejemplares como nuestro Cesar Chavez,

y aunque tus dolores no parecen aun terminar,

siempre mantienes esa fortaleza de gente con esperanza

Oh California,

has sido esposada por varios reinos,

primero con la de los nativos, despues de los Espanoles,

por un momento fuiste de Mexico, pero ahora eres el pulmon

de los Estados Unidos de America,

sin embargo, todo paso con mucho sacrificio.

Oh California,

eres tan grande y rugiente mas que muchos estados juntos,

Pues te adornas con las estrellas de Los Angeles,

te conectas al mundo con las industrias tecnologicas,

y acaricias sin cesar con tus bosques nortenos, huertas de naranjas y vinas de uvas.

Oh California,

si algun dia llegare a verte otra vez,

sera dia de alegria, paz, y armonia

pues el corazon de tu gente lo desea y lo necesita

desde San Ysidro hasta mas alla de Redding y tus otros pueblos,

que por muy chicos que sean son parte de tu buena vibra y fresca naturaleza familiar.

More Arizona Immigrants to Consider ‘Self-Deportation’

La Opinión, News Report, Claudia Nuñez, Translated by Elena Shore

PHOENIX, Ariz. — In the last photograph she sent her parents, Sandra Ortiz looks happier than she really is. “It’s the big immigrant lie,” she explains. “If they only knew how many times you cry.” For the past nine years, she has lived her life between four walls, waiting for the promise of immigration reform.

Now, she says, “The best thing is to have a plan in case you get deported.”

The news that 90 days after the end of the legislative session, a law will criminalize undocumented immigrants in Arizona — and give the police the power to investigate their legal status based solely on the way they look — made her change her plan.

Owners of shopping centers, car lots, banks, money wiring services, and even the Mexican Consulate in Phoenix, are witnessing the rise of “self-deportations,” generated by intimidation among the immigrant population in Arizona in recent years.

Laws such as those enforced by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, who has made it his mission to persecute the undocumented, have caused hundreds of families to leave the city.

Phoenix consular officials have reported receiving as many as 94 applications to transfer school credits from the United States to the Mexican school system.

“It isn’t courage … it’s tiredness. Really, you get tired. You’ve already been persecuted for nine years,” stresses Ortiz, a mother who overcame her fear and came out to protest SB 1070 which was signed into law on Friday by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

Combined with the economic crisis and mortgage meltdown, James Patchmir, an economist and financial expert, believes that anti-immigrant sentiment could lead to the “self-deportation” of dozens of families.

“From the economic point of view, the damage will be considerable” if a large number of immigrants leave, Patchmir said. “Various studies show that Arizona is the state that receives the most taxes from businesses that send remittances to Mexico. We’re talking about more than $5 million.”

But it isn’t just undocumented immigrants who will be targeted. Many children of immigrants will also feel persecuted under the new law. Even if they are U.S. citizens, children of immigrants are afraid that they will be targeted by authorities simply because they are Latino.

“The governor said she didn’t know what an undocumented immigrant looks like, but the police do and that’s why this law was approved. But I look just like my mom and she doesn’t have papers,” Clara Preciado said angrily.

The current law in Arizona, as in most states, does not allow the police to detain someone under “suspicion of being undocumented” and even criticizes police departments if they cooperate with federal investigations into immigration status.

But if the new law is not overturned by early August, when it is slated to go into effect, local authorities will be able to send an undocumented immigrant to be deported in a matter of hours.

Faith, however, persists. On Saturday, dozens of religious groups joined in a vigil to pray for the elimination of the law.

Arpaio celebrates

In a radio interview, the Maricopa County Sheriff welcomed the adoption of the law and predicted that other states would follow suit.

“You’re going to see a lot of interest from Washington politicians, because I think they’ll be afraid that other states follow our lead,” he said.

Immigrant advocates agree that besides the economic effect, the law could worsen the already tenuous relationship between police and Latinos.

“This is going to lead to a sanctuary for criminals,” warned Magdalena Schwartz of the Alliance of Valley Religious Leaders, who claims that immigrants will be afraid to report a crime for fear of being persecuted.

Opponents of the law left more than 11,000 phone messages for the governor warning of the law’s repercussions.

Hermenegildo Romero, who works at a hotel in an east Phoenix neighborhood, believes, like some of his friends, that it could be getting close to the time to go back.

“I tell my wife that maybe they did us a favor. We’ll be f—– if we stay here. She used to say we should put up with it for the sake of the kids, but now they’re going to go after them,” said Romero.

Several organizations have stressed that they will exhaust their legal resources to make sure that SB 1070, like Proposition 187 in California, will never go into effect. But in Arizona, home to an estimated half a million undocumented immigrants, with or without the law, hundreds of Latinos face deportation.

2010 Paid Dues Music Festival

The annual Paid Dues music festival, now in its 5th year, is one of the most prominent hip-hop festivals in the United States. Similar to Rock the Bells, Paid Dues is a day-long music event, featuring both independent and mainstream hip-hop artists. This year’s headliners were Ice Cube, Murs & 9th Wonder, Tech N9ne, and Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan. Artists performed at two different stages, the Paid Dues stage (indoor) and the Dues Paid stage (outdoor).

The indoor stage featured the more established artists, while the outdoor stage featured independent artists. The first few acts in the outdoor stage ranged from female emcee Hopie Spitshard to the group Potluck, the self-described “stoners from Humboldt.” There were also giveaways from this stage, as well as freestyle battles from audience members. Later in the night, Ice Cube’s cousin Del tha Funky Homosapien and the L.A. collective Freestyle Fellowship headlined the Dues Paid stage.

In the indoor stage, Sick Jacken and Cynic performed the energetic show Psycho Realm is known for, inducing mosh pits in the crowd. Followed Psycho Realm was Dilated Peoples, another L.A. based underground hip-hop group with growing mainstream success. Performing for a packed indoor stage as weed smoke filled the air, Raekwon performed both his solo material and material from the Wu-Tang Clan, while also paying his respect to the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Gangsta rap was well represented with Tha Dogg Pound (Daz Dillinger & Kurupt), along with the headliner Ice Cube. Murs was a present throughout the festival, and his set included “L.A.,” songs from the 3:16 project with 9th Wonder, and a song that brought Sick Jacken out to the stage once again. Ice Cube energized the crowd with some of his classics including “It Was a Good Day” and “Check Yourself,” as well as debuting a new song from his upcoming album.

Overall, it was a great festival, the only problems were that some of the set times got changed around last minute, and having two stages meant not being able to listen to everybody. Other than that, Paid Dues showed how, for a day, an empty field in San Bernardino could transform into a showcase of some of the best hip-hop L.A. has to offer.

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April: Aryan-zona

Nothing gets my eyes rolling more than the lazy poop-slinging of the label “Nazi”— like when some nerd calls another nerd a “grammar Nazi” for nitpicking split infinitives or when a spelling-inept Tea-Bagger sharpies a Fuhrer-stache on a pic of Obama, under a banner that reads (ironically) “communist!” But if the moniker of Nazi should be tacked onto anything in recent American history, let it be the great state of Aryan-zona. Yeah, it’s funny but unnerving nonetheless.

You might be a Nazi if…

You enact Senate Bill 1070, aka the Safe Neighborhoods and Happy Klansmen Act. As Saturday Night Live observed so hilariously a few weeks ago, certain folk in Arizona liken President Obama to Adolf Hitler, yet their state just passed a law that allows police to ask anyone they suspect as illegal immigrants for their papers. To quote Seth Meyers, anchor of SNL’s “Weekend Update,” “there’s never been a World War II movie that didn’t include the line, ‘Show me your papers’…Every time someone says, ‘Show me your papers,’ Hitler’s family gets a residual check.”

You might be a Nazi if…

Your department of education bans people with accents from teaching English, regardless of experience or proven efficacy. Now this has nothing to do with fluency, but a concerned and (budget-rattled) group of state officials that cringe at hearing “biolet” instead of “violet” or burrito instead of meat-and-veggie wrap.

You might be a Nazi if…

You are so ignorant and paranoid that you bar ethnic studies programs in public schools because they “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government” and the “resentment of a particular race or class of people.”  What devilish images of Latino-littered classrooms must these idiots conjure when they imagine the goings-on of Tucson’s successful Mexican studies program: a cluster of kindergarteners learning how to spell “Kill Whitey” on a whiteboard and a group of teenage Latinos running a Taliban-inspired obstacle course on the other side of the room. Uh-oh, they’re on to us…

And lastly, you might be a Nazi if…

Your “top cop” is the spitting image of Satan himself—well, let’s not be too loose with our metaphors; I’d say, “America’s Toughest Sheriff” (not named in fear of being snuffed out in the middle of the night) recalls a wrinkled, bloated Col. Hans Landa, “The Jew Hunter” from “Inglorious Basterds.” After all, you’d have to be a pretty twisted guy to be under constant investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and most civil liberties unions in America.

For these reasons Arizona is April’s Tarado del Mes. Oh, what the hell, let’s give them May’s honor too, for good measure.

Oh yeah, Arizona refused to make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a state holiday in the 80s…thought we should get that in too.

Indigenous Not Participating in Census

The U.S. Census Bureau launched a massive campaign to encourage New York Latinos to send in their census forms, but apparently made no effort to include residents of Mexico’s indigenous populations, according to community activists.

“A lot of people don’t understand the census, since most of them only speak a little Spanish,” said Rogelio Gonzalez, one of the 300 Mixtecos living in northern Staten Island.

Gonzalez and his family are among the few in the community who have returned their census questionnaire. Only 38 percent of the local Mixtec community, from San Marcos de Natividad in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, have sent in their census forms.

“We don’t even understand the census questions very well,” Gonzalez said of Spanish-speaking Mixtec people. “It should have gone through a translator.”

The census questionnaire has been translated into 60 languages. But these do not include Mixtec or other indigenous Mexican languages.

“We are counting on groups partnering with the Census Bureau to work in very specific communities,” said Igor Alvez, a spokesperson for the New York Census Bureau. “These homes will be visited by census workers if they don’t return their census forms. They will be counted.”

The Mexican Consulate said it supported the Census Bureau with a general campaign inclusive of all Mexicans, and that it did not want to be exclusive or divisive. There was no campaign specifically targeting the Mixtec or other indigenous groups.

The consulate noted that indigenous groups identify as Mexican.

In 2008, there were 295,000 Mexicans living in New York, according to the Department of City Planning.

A writer and expert on the Hispanic community, Louis Nevaer, affirms that a large percentage of them are indigenous.

Nevaer found that only 17 percent of non-Spanish-speaking indigenous Mexicans in the region are willing to participate in the census.

Nevaer led a team of 17 people who interviewed indigenous Mexicans from Feb. 1 to March 15 in New York City, Northern New Jersey and Long Island. The study found that this group would not participate if materials were not translated into their own languages–Mixtec, Zapotec and Mayan.

“They are very reluctant and distrustful,” said Nevaer. “They don’t speak the language, they’re undocumented, and they’re here without village elders to tell them that it’s okay cooperate.”