Page 1


From the Editor: N

Dear dear readers,

bicycling, Cassie Ellis and Louise Colbert-Mar look at the Fresno County Bicycle Coalition’s fight to make ow I’m not sure it was too Fresno a more bike-friendly place in wise of my fellow editors “Every Month is a Bicycling Month, to put the task of writing but MAY IS BIKE MONTH!” In this letter in my hands. See, this is “American Me: Lowrider Bikes and our first ever bike issue. We’re all Chicano Artistic Expression” Ruben Lucero discusses the artistic and culturvery excited, but my qualification as any kind of authority on bicycles al aspects of lowrider bikes. Jessi Hafer offers some tips on bicycling consists of the facts (1) that I rode safety, and Mike Becker gives us some a bike as a kid (and stuck playing philosophical musings about some of cards into the wheelspokes with the differences between automobileclothespins to make it sound like a drivers and bike-riders. And, of motor) and (2) that I had a brief course, Steeves and Ingeman bring us stint as a bike-riding urban hipster “Bi-kuklos,” the latest of the Lost Socratic Dialogues. Also, scattered during grad school in Boston, the throughout the issue, you’ll find myrihighlight of which was the time I ad statements (in the form of “I ride very narrowly avoided smashing my bike because…”) from assorted my bike into the back of a parked local bicyclists.

ous plugs of some great events going on around town over the next few months.

And, of course, it’s that time of year again. The Undercurrent has been happily chugging along for 3 years now, and we’ll be hosting our big birthday bash—our annual fundraising event— on Saturday 13 June. And this time we’re doing it at the Starline, in the Tower District—so our readers who are not yet of legal drinking age can join us this year. And we are again blessed by various local musicians who will be playing that evening. See page 23 for all the details.

Finally, if I may take a stern tone for a moment, dear readers, I must say this before I sign off. We always wanted car while riding…in the We also have all of our usual The Undercurrent to be a community snow…and talking on my celleffort, an amorphous thing that interfare this month. In our Labor & phone…drunk. Economics section, Michael Eisenscher acts and grows with its readers and its myriad creators—and it is, to a certain But there’s also another readiscusses the rebirth of the Iraqi labor extent. But all too often, folks son I was reluctant to write this letter. movement. In the latest “Cultivating Bicycling (like veganism) is a subject I Consciousness,” Gena Kirby discusses approach me with wonderful or try to avoid—because it reminds me of the risks and wonders of giving birth at scathing or constructive criticism about the paper in general or about a particumy own weakness, lays bare a flaw in home. And, in our Local section, Joe lar article, and I ask them to write my life. Look, I know I should ride a Aguayo relates a frustrating tale of something up for us to print, and they bike. I know cars are awful. And I how the Fresno Police Department say they will—and then they don’t. know that, therefore, when I can, I recently screwed him. And even more often, I’m sure, folks should turn to the bicycle for my transOn the arts front, we have don’t approach us at all with their ideas portation needs. And I know that the several album, book, and film reviews, about what we could be doing better or fact that my old bicycle is covered in including Matt Espinoza Watson on the about what they think of something cobwebs in the corner of a garage— latest hip hop from BRWN BFLO, they’ve read. and has been for many years—is, in Antonian on Steven Vahram Imagine if we were able to the end, entirely about laziness. Soderbergh’s bio-pic Che, and Jessi publish a page or three of letters from But now I’m writing the letter Hafer on the latest Wholphin DVD readers like yourself each month. It and it’s forced me to face up to it. So release. would be a great forum for debate if there’s anyone out there who’d be about the various issues that traverse And we’re proud this month willing to help out a mechanically the terrain of these pages, and we’d to highlight the work of a wonderful inept Undercurrent editor and fix up an know more clearly what it is that you new artist on the scene, Abigail Janzen, old Nishiki from the 1980s into someall want from your local rag. whose work graces both alternate covthing rideable, I’ll do my part by joiners of this double-issue of The Long story short, write to us. ing the ranks of the bicyclists and cutting out the use of my car as much as I Undercurrent. Check out her interview Write to us at letters@fresnoundercuron page 32. We’re also honored to rent.net. Seriously, people, write to us. can. And if there’s anyone else out bring you the first part of a new short there who’s also got an old bike they story from Edward R Paul Jr and an never ride, join me. We’ll start a bike Peace, excerpt from the great Tim Z gang. We’ll just ride around cleaning San Joaquin epic poem, Hernandez’s —abid. the air. It’ll be awesome. Sutra.

Okay, so, now that my moral compass is at ease, down to business. We at The Undercurrent are proud to present the bike issue. Welcome to page two. We think you’ll enjoy your trek through the issue this month. On the subject of bikes and

Also, The Undercurrent Spotlight returns this month to shine a light on the work of Bilaal Rajan and Christy Cole returns from her hiatus to bring us, once again, “Gardening with Christy Cole.” And be sure to check out the indie PREVIEW and our vari-

May

2009

Volume 4

Issue 1

Editorial Board Carlos Fierro Editor editor@fresnoundercurrent.net Jessi Hafer Associate Editor jessi@fresnoundercurrent.net Matt Espinoza Watson Associate Editor mattw@fresnoundercurrent.net Abid Yahya Associate Editor abid@fresnoundercurrent.net Staff Writers Vahram Antonian Nicholas Nocketback Contributors: Joe Aguayo Nikki Banks Ramzy Baroud Mike Becker Christy Cole Vince Corsaro

Cresencia Cruz Escalona Eatcho Michael Eisenscher Cassie Ellis Jason Gonzales

Tim Z Hernandez Steven J Ingeman Abigail Janzen

Gena Kirby

Ruben Lucero Louise Colbert-Mar Angel Ricardo Martinez Jim Miles

Tracy Newel Edward R Paul, Jr H Peter Steeves Ed Stewart Adam Wall

Georgia Williams *Photo credits-bike pictures: Laura Gapper, Patrick Moyle, Beneto Ramirez, David Thammavongsa & Sylvia Villalobos For advertising inquiries, please email ads@fresnoundercurrent.net For letters to the editor, please email letters@fresnoundercurrent.net For submission information, please email editor@fresnoundercurrent.net For subscription information: FresnoUndercurrent.net or send check for $35 to “The Undercurrent” P.O. Box 4857, Fresno, CA 93744

©2009 Out of respect for our contributors, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the permission of the Editor-in-Chief.


B O O K REVIEW The Second Book of the Tao 2 8 by Matt Espinoza Watson FILM REVIEWS Che (Part One and Part Two) 2 9 by Vahram Antonian 30 O N T HE M EDIA 4

The Life & Death of Newspapers by Carlos Fierro

16 16

SCIENCE,H EALTH,& ENVIRONMENT 5

Cultivating Consciousness: They’re Going to Let You Do That? by Gena Kirby

You’re Going to Do What to My Car, Officer? by Joe Aguayo

17 18

LOCAL N E W S 6 7

Prison Workshop by Georgia Williams

LA B O R & ECONOMICS Still Under Occupation, 8 Iraqi Unions Find U.S. Allies

9 10 11 12 13

22

Latin America Files: The Eagle and the Condor Meet in Trinidad by Angel Ricardo Martinez

23

Palestine Report by Abid Yahya AfterWords by Abid Yahya

Clinton’s Unpromising Start by Ramsy Baroud

25 25 26 26

15

Sickness Unto Death by Mike Becker Bicycling Safety by Jessi Hafer

The Undercurrent’s indie PREVIEW

Patrick Contreras Band CD Release Block Party by Jessi Hafer The Undercurrent’s Third Birthday Patry by Abid Yahya

Woodward Shakespeare Festival Embarks on 5th Season by Jessi Hafer

Club Austral by Cresencia Cruz Escalona Poems All Up in Your Face! by Abid Yahya

All Washed Up: The Art of Josh Wigger by Abid Yahya

M USIC REVIEWS

FEATURED T OPIC: B IKES 14

American Me: Lowrider Bikes & Chicano Artistic Expression by Ruben Lucero From The Lost Socratic Dialogues: “The Bi-kuklos” Discovered by Ingeman & Steeves

PLUGS & PROFILES

by Michael Eisenscher

Terror and Torture by Jim Miles

Bike Month Events by Jessi Hafer

C ALENDAR 2 0 UnderCurrentEvents Calendar

23

STATE,N ATIONAL,INTERNATIONAL

Every Month is Bicycling Month, BUT MAY IS BIKE MONTH by Cassie Ellis and Louise Colbert-Mar

27

BRWN BFLO by Matt Espinoza Watson

Wholphin #7

by Jessi Hafer

B ORED? G AMES! Nerf Russian Roulette 3 1 by Joe Aguayo, Nikki Banks, & Jessi Hafer About the Cover 3 2 by Abigail Janzen Local Eats Sakura Chaya 3 3 by Jessi Hafer 33

Taste—Epicurean Adventures in Fresno: Hot Chicks by Tracy Newel

Green Up Your Thumb: Panacea Gardening by Christy Cole The Undercurrent Spotlight: Bilaal Rajan by Vahram Antonian The View Looks Good From Here, Fresno by Adam & Ed

C OLUMNS 34 34 35 35

Dear Nocketback by Nicholas Nocketback

POETRY From San Joaquin Sutra 3 6 by Tim Z Hernandez SHORT FICTION No Apology for Noses 3 7 by Edward R. Paul, Jr. The Dictionary Game by Carlos Fierro Misfortune Cookies by Nicholas Nocketback Undercurrent Sudoku by Jessi Hafer

PUZZLE PAGE 39 39 39 39

Did You Know? by Carlos Fierro


The Life and Death of Newspapers

T

he financial failure of newspapers is intimately linked to the fact that the newspaper industry itself is failing its reading public. For the fact that newspapers have greatly lost the trust of their readership…lost local ties…largely lost their way, newspapers mostly have themselves to blame. The newspaper business model is directly linked to their loss of credibility, which started shortly after the professionalization of the industry (standards and practices, along with academic training), and more recently to the industry’s loss of profits.

by Carlos Fierro

the first to go, replaced with official pronouncements from the Departments of State or Defense. Business reporters were replaced by stock quotes and press releases from the very entities that business sections were tasked to report on. You can only imagine the quality of reporting that you might get when the fox is In fact, it was guarding because of partisan papers’ relentless advocacy for issues the hen house and beliefs and, at times, (it is harsh treatment of those in no power that created an adversursarial relationship between No one denies that prise partisan papers and those in newspapers are in desperate power. Professional standards that straits. In the US, major were established largely to newspapers have shut their ease the relationship between doors (the Rocky Mountain the press and the powerful. In News most recently) or return for a more “responsiswitched to online versions. ble” form of journalism, (The Seattle Post Intelligencer newspapers would be brought made that move just last into the fold and granted month, and the Christian Science Monitor declared last easy access to the centers of power. Still today, we see year that it would print just once a week and exist mostly the remnants of this old bias. Responsible, proas an online newspaper). fessional journalists and However, aside from the newspapers they The Christian Science represent have access Monitor, with its limited to governmental and advertising and reliance on business leaders that the Church of Christian throwback journalists and Science for a large portion of newspapers of the partisan ilk papers its income, the newspaper like the Fresno Bee rarely do. industry’s profit-driven were asleep at the wheel as As newspapers motive has created the situathe economy was on the verge became more professionaltion that exists today. of total collapse). Consider, ized, they grew and embraced conversely, the proud history capitalist cost saving measof the muckrakers and their Early Newspapers & ures. In essence, these news- incessant banging on the Professionalized Corporate papers became corporations empire’s gates. There was a Mentality that just happened to produce time when business and newspapers. And even in the industry were Readers of early newspagood times when newspapers challenged…called out…and pers would have a difficult time recognizing newspapers saw profits that other segtaken to task by journalists. today, but not so much in the ments of the economy could Recall Upton Sinclair and his only dream about, they made revulsion at the Chicago meat layout and format—the cuts. Foreign bureaus were appearance of newspapers is packing industry, Ida Tarbell roughly the same as it was 150 years ago. The greatest change in newspapers has occurred in tone and style of writing. Before the establishment of professional standards, codes, and journalism schools, journalism was advocatory and partisan. And, despite the common misunderstanding, journalism’s professionalization (objectivity, dispassionate writing, reliance on official sources) wasn’t a result of out-of-control partisan newspapers, but the desire for newspapers to gain access to the halls of power.

place of local reporters. It is easy to see how the press serves the busiyou’r e ness sector and government leaders. It has become increasingly difficult to recognize how the readers’ interests are served. Complicit reporting and the profit motive helped to create the environment where corporate malfeasance had free range, and scandalous reporting not only got us into the current wars we are fighting, but essentially helped us get into every war this country has fought.

Newspapers are the victims of their own greed (incurring massive amounts of debt by gobbling up smaller newspapers) and cost saving/profit making strategies (closing bureaus and stake relying on PR firms and govin the ernment agencies to supply presnewspapers with news). ent sysHowever, as newstem, it papers across the US close became less mean- their doors, not all is lost. The internet didn’t kill newsingful, at papers, but it, along with least to its and readers. The independent media, may save her history press became journalism as more and more of Standard Oil, or a tool for busi- amateur journalists do what Ray Stannard Baker’s depicnewspapers in the US have ness and govtion of the coal miners’ life. failed to do for so long, nameernment interPresent this as litmus for ly picking up the mantel of ests. Upwards of 60% of today’s business journalism, “muckraker” that the newspaeverything you read in your and a sad picture begins to daily newspapers originates in per industry long ago discardunfold. the offices of public relations ed in return for a seat at the table. Therein lies the rub. firms. The rest is mostly As the press became more and proclamations of government more professionalized, more officials, and wire services corporatized with more at stories, which have taken the


have my baby at home? Personally, I don’t think so, because my decision was made based on facts and figures. I’ve done my research, my due diligence and it has Safety in childbirth nothing to do with bravery. is measured by how many Am I trying to make some Wagner states that mothers and babies die and sort of statement? Am I in Europe midwives far out- how many survive childbirth against the system rebelling number physicians: “In no in less than perfect health. in order to be rebellious and European country do obste- Studies done comparing cool? No, I’m just a mom tricians provide the primary hospital and out-of-hospital health care for most women births indicate fewer deaths, who wants to bring my baby into this world safely and with normal pregnancy and injuries and infections for birth.” He states that the homebirths supervised by a gently in a candle lit room with soft music playing in U.S. has the highest obstetri- trained attendant than for the background, surrounded cal intervention rates as well hospital births. No such by loved ones. And afteras a serious problem with studies indicate that hospiwards we will both recover malpractice suits and contals have better outcomes in the comfort of my own cludes that a strong, indethan homebirths. home, eating my favorite pendent midwifery service While maternal foods; with no one telling in the U.S. would be a most death rates have vastly my husband that he has to important counterbalance to improved since the turn of leave ‘because visiting hours the present situation. the century, factors like are over.’ Yes, my friend, In a conversation I proper nutrition and cleanli- they are going to let me had with Dr. Wagner on my ness have played a big part have my baby at home, and radio show a few weeks ago, he told me, “The Netherlands loses more mothers and babies around the time of birth and one third of their births are planned home births.” He went on to say that whenever he speaks to a personally, I think you might in the change. The maternal be the brave one. group of obstetricians and mortality rate in the U.S. is mentions the words home ______ the highest it has been in and birth in the same sentence, there’s always hyste- decades, according to statis- Gena’s third baby girl was born gently at home on March tics released in 2007 by ria. “But then I will ask 17th this year. It was exactly them to show with a raise of CDC’s National Center for what she wanted. Health Statistics, the hands how many of them have ever seen a home birth. AP/Washington Post reported in August of 2007. Well there are no hands raised. So I will tell them So am I brave to U.S. for a “strong independent midwifery profession as a counterbalance to the obstetrical profession in preventing excessive interventions in the normal birth process.”

A

They’re Going to Let You Do That?

few months back, someone asked me which hospital I would be delivering at. This was going to be my third child; I was planning on my second home birth and told her as much. She seemed genuinely shocked and said “They’re going to let you do that?” I really didn’t know what to say to that at first, or who exactly THEY were, but I smiled and finally said that yes, they were going to let me have my baby at home. “Isn’t that dangerous?” was her response, followed by, “You’re so brave. I would be terrified to have my baby at home, I’m definitely having my baby in a hospital.”

referred to. That she felt like so many other women that they have no choices when it comes to birth upset me. It upsets me that women believe there is only one way; to go to a hospital and turn their bodies over to a group of people they have no previous relationship with and do whatever they tell them to do, because they couldn’t possibly know any better when it comes to their bodies.

involved in childbearing. In a small percentage of cases, the skills of an obstetrician/gynecologist and high-tech equipment like ultrasound and fetal monitors are necessary in order for the mother or the baby to survive childbirth without long-term ill effects.

The neonatal mortality rate for the U.S. in 1989 was slightly more than 10 per 1,000 live births. We have the most highly sophisBirth is an incredi- ticated and expensive sysble event in a woman’s life. tem of maternity care in the world, and spend more It is a rite of passage and money per mom and baby, can be incredibly transformative. One way or another, yet in the same year twenty you will be transformed by other countries — countries with less technology than your birth experience. This experience is a journey of we have in our hospitals and discovery and each journey laboratories — had more is as different as the women babies survive their first experiencing them. What it months of life than our I think what bothered me the most about this is not is a process, or proce- babies in the United States. dure or medical event. It is exchange wasn’t that she What do they do in sacred, holy, and precious thought I was doing somethose 20 countries to have and should be revered as thing dangerous to myself better outcomes? and my baby. What bothered such. Is birth treated like a In his testimony sacred event in the hospital? me the most was the idea before the U.S. Commission Let us look at some statistics that I wouldn’t be able to to Prevent Infant Mortality, before we answer this queshave my baby at home if Marsden Wagner MD, someone didn’t want me to. tion. European Director of the I’m referring to the mysteriNow let me make World Health Organization, ous THEY that she had plain that there are risks suggested the need in the

that they are like the geographers who try to describe a country they’ve never been to because they are too afraid to go there.”

“…sometimes, when you're going really fast with a good tail wind, it's like you're flying down the street. It's Great.” —Silva


You’re doing what to my car, officer?

I

by Joe Aguayo

’m scared of cops. Very scared. I understand if people view my fear as irrational, but I’ve just heard too many abuse of power stories to feel any different. So when I was pulled over on the corner of Maroa and Floradora while heading home from dinner sometime after 6:00 p.m. on April 21st, I was more than a bit worried.

brain that’s supposed to come up with the right words in emergency situations went into overdrive. Except the only thing that came to mind was, “no no no no no no no.”

At this point I remembered that I had an August 08 sticker on my back license plate. Ok, no big deal, now I knew why he pulled me over. I wasn’t worried about it only because I had paid my registration and had passed smog. My car was registered and legal to drive. I knew that, as soon as he’d run my plates, I would be given a fixit ticket and be sent on my way.

just bought my first house and it was just about to close, so I took the needed paperwork from my back seat and threw it down on the sidewalk. I realized that this guy wasn’t interested in what I had to say.

It took a couple of seconds but I gathered myself and said, “Are you kidding?” Officer Holguin replied sternly, “I wouldn’t joke about something like that. You I saw the cop sitting can’t drive without registration and yours is 6 months behind a parked car with a speed gun, but I wasn’t speed- overdue.” I informed the offiing so I thought nothing of it. cers that I had indeed paid my When he pulled out and start- registration and getting smogged was the only hold ed to follow me, I became up, but I had recently gotten nervous. I hadn’t done anything, but when dealing with my smog certificate. He replied coolly, and in a way the Fresno PD that doesn’t that made it clear that he didnecessarily mean anything. n’t want to hear what I had to When he pulled me over I say, that he only knew what know that I have the right to came up on his screen. I was ask why I was being pulled defeated, at this point I wantover, but I didn’t. He didn’t ed to remind him that there state why he was pulling me over either. He simply asked were people, other than law abiding citizens driving home me for my license, registrafrom dinner, that required his tion, insurance, and attention, expertise, and keys...keys? I thought that authority: Criminals. But was weird, but I didn’t feel whatever, I didn’t feel like like giving him probable cause to detain me so I hand- getting arrested, or hit with a stick. But why didn’t my ed him the keys. And like I reg/smog info come up when said, I was scared. Even though I knew I’d done noth- he looked up my car? ing wrong, I was scared. It so happens that I had

And then I realized that the smog cert was still in my car somewhere. Surely if I could produce that cert, he’d have to let me go. I asked if it was Instead officer S. Holguin ok to get back in my car and comes up to my window and he said that was fine, so I says something to me, but all scrambled around until I found it. YES! I was getting I heard was, “... I’ll be impounding your car tonight.” out of it. I called to the officer and showed him the cerIt was one of those slow motion moments. I thought it tificate. Knowing that he knew perfectly well what that was a joke. The part of my

certificate meant, I still said something like, “See, I did get it done! If that info isn’t in the system, it must be a mis“…it helps relieve my stress and makes me feel happy.” take, right? I mean you can see that this is a certificate for —Beneto Ramirez this car!” Just to be clear, those are exclamations of relief and not frustration or was waiting to see how much authority under the law to shut. A few minutes go by anger. I knew I was getting those late fees were going to impound my car. I explained and he asks if this had ever off the hook now. I mean, I my story and then she looked set me back. There was an happened to me before, to proved my case, right? at a printout of what the cop awkward moment of silence which I gave a short “no.” Wrong. The officer saw the night before. As she His reaction to that is weirder that he broke by telling me, glanced dismissively, and in hindsight than it was at the “We’re done here.” Puzzled, looked over the printout her barely at that, at the cert and look changed from disbelief I asked him if that was the time. He said, “I’d be frussaid that all he knew is what to something I might have trated if I were in your shoes case, then I was legal to was on his screen. I couldn’t too,” and now his voice was- drive? He replied affirmamistaken for apologetic. She believe what I was hearing. I n’t cool and stern but almost tively and said quite abruptly gave me a number and said thought it was a bad dream. she thought I was wrongly nervous, “well if there was a that I shouldn’t have been At this point he had already impounded and that I should impounded. Pulled over? mistake on our part, the city called the tow truck, and a big will reimburse you for the Absolutely. Impounded? No. fight it. part of me thinks he just He said that they had just gotticket.” In the heat of the So, you can’t fight city wanted to save face. I said moment, it didn’t dawn on me ten out of a meeting in hall…and it seems that the nothing else to the officer and that he KNEW he messed up which they talked Fresno PD knows this sat, waiting for the tow truck and instead I snapped, “but about cops so I could get his contact info. who will pay for So it’s me and this so called the tow public servant sitting about 6 feet from each other. Now I’ve moved from scared to angry and frustrated, but I’ve still had enough sense to keep my mouth shut. But I did wonder what happens well. I’m not the between the time when a impound- only one they’ve done this to young boy says to himself ing people in just my situaand and I have to wonder just how that he wants to be a cop so tion. He said it was a “grey impound?” much money the Fresno PD is that he can protect people, area” and that cops were I got no reply for that one. making off of the wrongful and the time when he’s taking And, there went my car on impounding people at their impounding of resident’s someone’s property for no discretion when those cars the back of a tow truck. cars? other reason than to save face. I took the next morning off should not have been _______ Serve and protect? My ass. to go down to the DMV to get impounded at all. He ended Joe Aguayo is a new home At some point before the everything squared away. By our conversation by telling owner. He lives just down the tow truck got there, he asked now I had cooled off and fig- me “You should fight it.” street from a couple of ediif I had any questions. Next stop was the police ured that this must have been tors. Now that he has a Questions? For the sake of substation (Fresno & C) to my fault. Maybe there were house, he is beginning to my freedom I’m glad I have pay my impound ticket. The understand the American some late charges since I good impulse control, but waited so long between pay- deputy at the counter looked dream is really all about tryyeah, one did pop into mind at my citation and told me ing for registration and geting to figure out how to fill it at that moment: Why are you ting smogged. It would all be how much I owed. I asked up with stuff. He can be an asshole? about filing a complaint and cleared up at the DMV. reached at she gave me that look you When I got to the counter I Jeez. Questions? You’re middleclassjoe@gmail.com. give people when you’ve wrongfully towing my car. I told the attendant I was don’t have questions...but I’ve impounded for lack of regis- heard their story a million got a few suggestions for you. tration and said that I wanted times. She pointed at the to clear that up. He pulled up citation and reminded me that At this point I was livid my file, printed a registration, my registration was 6 months and knew it was in my best stapled some stickers to it and expired and that officer interest to keep my mouth Holguin was within his placed it on the counter. I


Prison Workshop by Georgia Williams

W

hat do you tell children who have a parent in prison? How do you talk to a loved one who is incarcerated? Are there boundaries set or protocol to be followed? How does one manage their life during such a stressful time? To find out the answers to these questions and more, you are invited to a Prison Workshop, sponsored by Greater Fresno Chapter of the ACLUNC. The workshop will be held on Saturday, May 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at Pearlygrove Baptist Church in West Fresno. Pre-registration is encouraged.

Mr. David Dougherty, Community Resource Manager at the Central California Women’s Facility, Chowchilla, will be the keynote speaker. The agenda includes morning sessions on visiting protocol, dealing with emotional issues, inmate and family needs, and family volunteer opportunities. A retired correctional officer, a prison mental health professional, a prison transitional specialist, and a parolee will form a discussion panel in the afternoon. Child care for children ages two to twelve will also be provided. Children can play, listen to story-telling, and have their faces painted while their parents attend the workshop. Attendance at the workshop is free of charge and lunch will be provided. “People need to hear from those who have served time to understand what it’s like on the inside,” says Laura Wass, who is helping organize the event. “Our main goal is to lose the ‘them

against us’ mentality and build communities with purpose.” “We want the community to attend, to listen, and to ask questions,” says the Rev. Floyd Harris, who is also helping organize the event. “Too many people have folks in prison and don’t know what to do when they see something going wrong,” according to Harris.

The workshop is cosponsored by a number of local social activist groups, including the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, the California Prison Moratorium Project, the National Network in Action, Californians for Justice, Fresno Metro Ministry, Fresno Pacific Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies, and the Fresno County Peace and Freedom Party. Organizations or individuals who would like to cosponsor the event or provide assistance in the form of volunteer time or financial support should contact the Rev. Floyd Harris at 559-803-0286 or xyfloyd@aol.com or Georgia Williams at (559) 439-5268 or at georgiam@csufresno.edu.

Groups interested in tabling in the morning or at lunchtime should contact Rev. Harris. The cost is $25.00.

Seating is limited. Those who plan to attend should register for the workshop by calling Georgia Williams at (559) 439-5268 or emailing her at georgiam@csufresno.edu.

“…because in the night time, when I see no cars on the roads, I push the limit and glide freely. Because I don’t need redlights to push me back behind the line. Because point A and point B are not desired, but the trip between them is. Because it’s a joy to know that others ride with me.” —Jonathon


Still Under Occupation, Iraqi Unions Find U.S. Allies

T

he First International Labor Conference in Iraq witnessed the rebirth of Iraq’s labor movement after years of repression.

by Michael Eisenscher

Workers Councils and Unions. The conference included 200 delegates from a broad cross-section of the workforce and 15 of 18 provinces.

the power station demanded current Maliki government stration in Baghdad March the military leave, but was even sought to certify who 28. ignored. The U.S. military is entitled to lead unions and decreed that no Iraqis would tried to impose governmentSTRIKES OVER LIGHTS be permitted in the station controlled elections. It OUT after dark—making it backed off in the face of The unions are finding impossible to maintain the massive resistance by workUnder both Saddam remarkable ways to resist The two young station 24 hours a day. ers. Hussein and the newly the conditions rising from a members of Iraq Veterans When some workers tried to Early in the occuforeign army’s occupation Against the War were nerv- installed regime, Iraq’s unions have struggled for pation, the U.S. ous about speaking to a the right to exist. In 1987 military was crowd of Iraqis, in the the dictator declared public involved Kurdish city of Erbil. workers “civil servants,” directly in They’d seen and done making it illegal for them to these actions, actions in Iraq they would unionize. They are 80 perbut now has do anything to undo. How cent of Iraq’s labor force. subcontracted would the crowd receive that job to the That law was on them? Iraqi governthe books when the U.S. As they finished ment. Union invaded in 2003. Paul their presentation to a conleaders were ference of Iraqi union lead- Bremer, director of the tortured and ers March 14, an older man Coalition Provision assassinated in Authority, ditched most of rushed the stage. No one the first years the Iraqi legal code, but he knew what to expect—he found one law he liked, and of the occupawas an ultra-nationalist tion by sectariwho’d lost family members he kept it. That labor law was passed on to the incum- an militias and in the six years Iraq has bent Iraqi regime, which has death squads been occupied. widely enforced it energetically. The man grabbed believed to be In that way, the situation acting on the mic and said in Arabic, Iraqi labor leaders celebrate the rebirth of the Iraqi labor movement in Iraq resembles the U.S. “I’ve come up here to behalf of the embrace my comrades from labor movement before the occupation forces. and help serve the people of Wagner Act of 1935. enter the station one night to America.” Tears flowed as Iraq. One challenge has been The government’s Workers had no legal protecmake repairs, they were they all hugged and the the fight for reliable electric raids of union offices are a tion to organize a union and arrested. room burst into applause. no legally guaranteed rights, response to organized work- power. The union called a ers’ demands to change the After the invasion the but they organized unions strike that compelled the U.S. military occupied a REBIRTH anyway, and the Iraqis have way the country operates, military to release its memboth on the job and off. The anti-war veterans power station serving four done so as well. bers. That led to more Unions have ardently were there as part of U.S. provinces and 5 million peoThe government strikes over workplace defended public ownership Labor Against the War’s del- applies the anti-union laws ple. They declared it a miliissues and the demand that of Iraq’s oil and have fought tary encampment, which egation to the First selectively, primarily to the station be demilitarized. privatization of government- turned it into a target, and International Labor weaken labor’s influence in owned enterprises. They The Iraqi government ultiConference in Iraq, witness- high-value public enterprisresulted in several union mately negotiated for have demanded that the ing the rebirth of its labor members becoming casuales, especially oil. At times, removal of U.S. troops, and reconstruction not be dictat- ties when insurgents movement after years of including in the last six today there’s no military ed by foreigners. repression. attacked the base. months, the government has presence. This contradicts the As a dozen TV The local union at gone beyond simply regulatAll this came without firgovernment’s and the U.S. cameras whirred and the ing or repressing union agenda. Right now, the govconference was reported all operations. ernment is demanding that over the Middle East, deleIt has used the the teachers union hold govgates founded a confederapower of the state and the ernment-run elections— tion that brought together military to invade union although its leadership has the powerful Federation of offices, destroy equipment, already been democratically “…it makes me look good naked!” Oil Unions, the Electricity seize records, freeze bank —Xiva elected. Five hundred teach(utility) Union, and the accounts, and on occasion ers turned out for a demonGeneral Federation of arrest union leaders. The

ing a shot—and from a union that is technically illegal. That same kind of power has been demonstrated repeatedly by oil workers, dock workers, and others, responding to the conditions of occupation. Meanwhile, while the U.S. government pontificates about building democracy in Iraq, it is silent about union rights.

Iraqi unionists want the same things we want: democracy and the right to run their own affairs, respect for union rights, to rebuild their country without interference. They are eager to meet unionists in the U.S. Civil engineers want to learn how to rebuild infrastructure, and utility workers are thinking about how the power industry should be administered. The moment is ripe for U.S. unions to invite their counterparts.

_____ This article originally appeared on www.labornotes.org. _____ Michael Eisenscher is national coordinator of U.S. Labor Against the War. Read more about solidarity with the teachers’ demonstration, and donate at www.uslaboragainstwar.org.


table. The thing is that it’s getting pretty heated: since January the leaders of Latin America have visited the island, and at the Brazilian mega-Summit of December, Cuban President Raul Castro received the Hollywood star treatment from the vast majority of the leaders present. Curiously, Cuba is no less communist nor the U.S. any less capitalist, but the pseudo-pariah status of Havana before Washington is an uncomfortable pebble in the shoe of Latin America: the revolutionary island does not form a part of the Organization of American States, nor will it attend the Summit in Trinidad.

Obama knows this, and travels prepared. So far, he has this week lifted restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban Americans in the U.S. The general reaction, to be sure, has not been incredibly supportive, but estiny and the cal- Sunday, an audience very difnobody will deny that it is a ferent from that which he endar—fickle positive—although small— both—have wanted faced in Europe. It would be step in the right direction. unjust—and perhaps cruel— the travel itinerary of The central topic of the blockto look to Evo Morales or Barack Obama to first penade is much more complicatMichelle Bachelet for the eleed. Nobody is saying so, but cil in the appointments gance and enchantment of if Obama were to lift the with glamour, luxury, and Nicolas Sarkozy or Carla “embargo” tomorrow, Raul self-congratulation, rather Bruni. It would be naïve to Castro would probably see the than the appointments of hope for the bewitching need to bring the army out Prague of Kafka in the suspicious looks, compliinto the streets: the Cuban cated rhetoric, and uncom- Caribbean island of Trinidad. government simply and plainIf he does in fact feel more fortable situations. In his ly lacks the infrastructure to comfortable amongst elite tour of Europe, Obama— even collect a tax, not to Europeans, in the hotels of like Caesar in Pontus— speak of banking or financial London, Paris and Berlin, in came, saw, and conquered. systems. And, what is more, the presence of the leaders of the Castros know perfectly We saw him enchant the powerful industrialized queen of England, mediate nations, Obama presides over well that the sudden lifting of the embargo will bring consebetween Turkey and the a nation, the U.S., that is a quences—economic and politEU, reinvent NATO, deliv- part of the American contiical—out of their control, and nent, and that, just like the er a “historic” speech in on the island they are not romantic Prague, and make rich neighbor in a poor neigh- accustomed to many things borhood, has never felt quite good on his promise to escaping their control. speak in a Muslim capital, so safe or comfortable with The fierce pressure the other nations of the hemiAnkara, where he said that from all of Latin America sphere. his country was not at war toward the two nations The Summit in with Islam. The prince of approaching each other Trinidad and Tobago will Chicago even took time to should be properly seen as the have a strong Cuban flavor. make a trip to Iraq to greet The relationship between the indulgence of an area of the world that every day likes the troops. U.S. and the island will no itself a little bit more. Every doubt hang heavy in the enviNow, Obama steps time it looks into the mirror, out onto the back porch for a ronment, and some presiLatin America sees itself as dents—Morales and trip closer to home. The taller and more attractive, and Chavez—announced they Northamerican President is completing the first and would bring the topic to the faces, from today until

T h e Ea g le a n d t h e Co n d o r Me et i n Trin id a d

D

fundamental step toward being really important, which is to believe that you are. The Brazilian Summit in December (created expressly with the idea that the U.S. would not form part of it), the recent Summits in South America with the Arab nations, the South-South initiatives and the vigorous relations of many nations in the region with China, Russia, or Iran are unmistakable signs that an irreversible change is occurring in America’s “backyard.”

that has been one of the In spite of Obama strongest and most powerful coming to visit Calderón, one weapons of the new Latin hopes that the subject—above American left, and one that all that which concerns the will surely appear—and Mérida Initiative [1] and the resound—at the Trinidad possible transfer of the Manta Summit. If, in Europe, few base to Colombian soil [2]— dare to discuss the U.S. ecowill be widely debated at the nomic model, at the Summit Summit. of the Americas, Obama will There is an ancient have to navigate among the Inca prophecy that says that in ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative the beginning, the God of for the Americas; signees Time created the Sun and the include Venezuela, Bolivia, Moon, and together with them Cuba, Honduras and emerged the eagle and the Dominica), MERCOSUR condor (North America and (Southern Common Market, a South America) with such Apart from the topic trade agreement signed force that it gave rise to between Argentina, Brazil, of Cuba, the economic crisis Central America and the will be a central theme. Two Paraguay, and Uruguay), and nations that expanded, divideconomic proposals will find even some countries like ing themselves according to themselves head to head, and Panama and Colombia who the four directions. Obama will sit at the table for long to see their free trade According to this prediction, agreements ratified with the the first time with the counat some point in time these tries that humbled the FTAA giant of the north. nations will re-unite from the (Free Trade Agreement of the But there are more four suyus (the four sides of Americas) of his predecessor topics at the American round- the Inca empire) after comBush during the previous table. The “War on Drugs” pleting their cycle of liberaSummit in Mar de Plata in has always divided the conti- tion. Seeing them struggle, 2005. The Northamerican nent, and is, for many, syneach one with its own ghosts, president will share company onymous with U.S. dominait is very probable that the with leaders like Chavez, tion. No other “First World” nations of our continent are Morales, Correa, and Lugo, nation shares such a large bor- not yet liberated. But with all elected thanks to massive der with a third world counBarack Obama, an eagle of movements that were direct try—and continent—such as beautiful plumage and a consequences benevolent of the neolibappeareral policies ance, few pushed into seem to the region by doubt that the United the States. In Americas some way, it are a little could be bit closer appropriate to than where say that we were Obama will with that have to strughawk gle with the Bush. The results of the appointdisastrous ecoment is nomic policies promising. Chavez gifts Obama Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin and the sysChavez, America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent. tematic abanavid of donment of its showing— “backyard” on in the face the part of his predecessors. that shared by the U.S. and of the more moderate Lula— While Uncle Sam has been Mexico. In the face of the his leadership of the out searching for the philoso- alarming situation along the Latinamerican block, is probpher’s stone in Iraq and southern border, both counably rehearsing in the mirror Afghanistan, its poor neightries are initiating a new era for his crossing with Obama. bors in the barrio have organ- of cooperation, such that Uribe is perhaps praying for ized, made themselves Hillary Clinton has recogthe TLC (The U.S.-Colombia stronger, and created alterna- nized U.S. responsibility for Free Trade Agreement) and tive economic proposals, the problem and offered mili- Plan Colombia. Fernando based in an anti-imperialist tary support. Continued next page... and anti-neoliberal rhetoric


Eagle and the Condor continued...

Lugo, the mischievous ex-bishop, is surely hoping that the subject of his paternity is not a topic of conversation at the summit, and that it won’t affect his image before his colleagues. [3] Each leader will arrive at the Summit with distinct expectations and attitudes toward the encounter with the rich and glamorous neighbor of the barrio. But today, in Trinidad and Tobago, history will be made for another reason: for the first time the condor will be looking the eagle in the face. ______

NOTES: [1] The Mérida Initiative is a security cooperation between the United States and the government of Mexico and the countries of Central America, with the aim of combating the threats of drug trafficking, transnational crime and money laundering. The assistance includes training, equipment and intelligence. [2] The U.S. air force was granted a 10-year concession in 1999 to use the base, located in the port city of Manta on Ecuador’s northern Pacific coast, in its counter-drug trafficking activities in the region. [3] In April 2009, scandal erupted when Lugo, the president of Paraguay, admitted to being the father of a two-year old son, who was conceived while he was still a Bishop in the Catholic Church. _______ Angel Ricardo Martínez is the foreign editor of La Estrella, a newspaper in Panama City, Panama. Contact him at: armartinezbenoit@gmail.com. *This article was translated from the Spanish by Matt Espinoza Watson

Terror and Torture

T

he current media frenzy concerning Obama’s coming release of more information on U.S. torture between 2000 and 2005 is a political storm conveniently kept out of context. There are two aspects to the context that are missing. First, this is not new information and well before current events erupted into the news, the case has been made all along that the Bush administration in general—Bush and Cheney, their political advisors and legal representatives—are all complicit in contravening the Geneva Conventions on torture and the treatment of prisoners of war. Secondly, terror and torture go hand in glove, the two are fully related and have been used by the U.S. and its proxies in many different contexts around the world—and are still doing so as Obama has put an end to torture at Guantanamo, but has not denied renditions to friendly torturers elsewhere.

The spin-doctors in the White House are no longer allowing the use of the term “war on terror” although the facts of the war have not changed. As the global war on whatever or the long war on whomever continues, the abuses associated with terror and torture will continue to spread.

“...long rides could be considered a good birth control method.” —Chuck McNally

The initiator of terror of course is the occupier of foreign territories creating the obvious wish on the part of the indigenous populations for the occupier to go home, currently involving most of the Middle East from Israel/Palestine through to Pakistan. This has happened throughout history, ancient and modern, from the Crusades and the Mongol hordes through the genocide of native populations in the Americas to the more modern terrors of a highly developed technological warfare that readily conquers “enemies” as defined by the political elites for a variety of reasons from religious zealotry to political zealotry, frequently one and the same thing, seen most evidently in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan….and Pakistan?

Put in simpler terms, the U.S. uses terror, the U.S. uses torture, its allies and compatriots use terror, use torture, and as the U.S. expands it war frontiers further into Pakistan, so will the edges of terror and torture expand.

Power and control Torture is ultimately about power and control. It ranges from the pure brutality of physical torture often described in many of the wars for suppression of indigenous control in Central America to the more ‘refined’ torture currently used to break down a prisoner’s psychological persona

by Jim Miles

without leaving the physical scars of the less sophisticated forms of torture. Torture is used to create terror, to create a population that is subservient and easily controlled by the very fear, the terror that it spreads. In turn, as terror and torture strips away the thin layers of civilization that control man’s baser instincts, terror and torture become devices used by the combatants on both sides.

As the most powerful country in the world, the U.S. role in abrogating human rights and crimes against humanity have a powerful effect elsewhere in the world. “The actions of the United States have also made it more difficult to critize the violations of international law by other countries, most notably Israel.” What occurred at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Bagram airbase “bear more than a passing resemblance” with the “testimonies of Palestinians released from Isreali prisons.”[1] As expressed shortly after Abu Ghraib, “the powerful often turn to torture in times of crisis not because it works but because it salves their fears and insecurities with the

psychic balm of empowerment.” Even though torture does not do what it is purported to do, provide useful information, “a plea to torture one terrorist with a ticking bomb becomes the rationale for insecure leaders to win the right to torture someone, anyone, to assuage the uncertainties of rule and empower themselves for dominion.” [2]

Obama I have no sympathy—and perhaps a seed of disdain— for Obama’s current problems on the political front with his inheritance of the Bush legacy of torture. If the world is to look forward with “hope” for “change” it needs to start at home. Simply releasing more information will provide neither hope nor change. If Obama wishes to be more than a man of wonderful sounding phrases, he will have to do what is correct by international law and arrange whatever is necessary under U.S. law to investigate and prosecute those involved with the torture – not just the low level people, those “following orders”, but the ones in the executive and legislative branches who formed the

concept and provided the legal okay for it, contrary to international laws.

From readings of international law, Obama himself becomes guilty of torture as anyone who is complicit with aiding and abetting torture becomes guilty of the crime. If he refuses to act, then under international standards, Obama becomes guilty of the crime. Unfortunately the U.S. is one of the most contradictory countries when it comes to upholding laws, always telling others that they need to be transparent, open, democratic, but when it suits its own purposes it relies on ignoring, abrogating, or denying international law.

Guilty until proven innocent Phillippe Sands work Torture Team examines one particular case related to Guantanamo and arrives at the clear conclusion that there is good cause for prosecuting Bush, Cheney, Feith, Haynes, Gonzales, Yoo, Bybee and others from this case in itself. [3] Others included in this list

Continued next page...

Iraq Casualty Counter total US soldiers killed

4,284

US soldiers killed in April 09

19

total US soldiers wounded

31,156

US soldiers wounded in Mar 09

52

1,033,000+ Iraqis Dead

(May 2003 - August 2007) Iraq report is e in Apr d dead il 09

344

(Sources: icasualties.org, Opinion Research Business)


Torture continued... are the medical workers, physicians and psychologists, who supported those actually applying the torture.

Within its own internal laws the U.S. has provided immunity from prosecution under the Military Commissions Act as it “Gives US officials immunity from prosecution for torturing detainees that were captured before the end of 2005 by US military and CIA.” [4] Sands adds, “Legislation creating such an immunity would allow the crime to be covered up: it was almost an admission that a crime had occurred.” [5] That immunity, however arguable under U.S. law, does not extend outside the U.S.:

Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, any country may prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by anyone anywhere. [6]

Alfred McCoy in A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation From the Cold War to the War on Terror examines the history of torture up to the days of Abu Ghraib. He starts by stating “five intertwined aspects of its perverse psychology”, the fifth of which needs to be restated strongly today: …a nation that sanctions torture in defiance of its democratic principles pays a terrible price. For nearly two millennia, the practice has been identified with tyrants and empires. For the past two centuries, its repudiation has been synonymous with the humanist ideals of the Enlightenment and democracy. When any modern state tortures even a few victims, the stigma compromises its majesty and corrupts its integrity. Its officials must spin an ever more complex web of lies that, in the end, weakens

the bonds of trust and the rule of law that are the sine qua non of a democracy. [7]

ernment’s arguments is that Khadr needs to be processed through the U.S. legal system (hmm…see above) even though under For Obama to international law he could avoid complicity, for be tried here in Canada. Obama to not be seen as While Harper wishes to opposing basic human rights, for Obama to avoid appear tough on terrorism, he is only making himself being labelled an ineffeccomplicit in the illegal tive orator, he needs to act on the information that is at practices utilized by the U.S. at Guantanamo, soon hand and proceed with some form of investigation perhaps to be sanctioned by that has the power it needs Obama as well. to fully complete its legal The Canadian pretasks. For the U.S. to not tender to the throne, whom be seen as it has for the past I do not always agree with, decade as a country that appears to understand the trammels other people’s situation more clearly than international rights, the Harper. Michael Ignatieff people of the U.S., and states, …even in emertheir elected representagency, even if some libertives, need to support that ties must be suspended, a investigation. constitutional state must remain answerable to the higher law, a set of stanCanadian complicity dards that protect foundational commitments to the Canada is a minor player dignity of every person. [8] on the world political scene, increasingly seen as Terror’s answer nothing more than a U.S. puppet, a minion succourTerror is an act of ing favour, trying to be one of the big boys on the glob- aggression. It is part and parcel of the nature of waral stage by supporting the fare, and is a particular conBush doctrine, even after joint of unilateral pre-empBush is gone. The Canadian government under tive warfare. The answer to terror is twofold. First the Harper has supported the initiating countries, those U.S. in Afghanistan and currently on into Pakistan that are doing the invading, without considering the manipulating, coercive context of who started the activities, need to stop. The second is that terror used in great mujahideen warriors response to terror cannot be in the first place (the U.S. CIA and Pakistani ISI) and stopped by war, but needs why they are now fighting to be stopped by international police work and the them in Central Asia (gas, oil, containment of China upholding of international and Russia). law internally and internationally by all parties. This complicity

will continue regardless of any war label applied to U.S. actions. If it cannot be contained and brought to justice in the U.S. it will not happen internationally.

_____ Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications. _____ Notes: [1] Byers, Michael. War Law – Understanding International Law and Armed Conflict. Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, 2005. p. 154. [2] McCoy, Alfred W. A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror. Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2006. p. 207. [3] Sands, Phillippe. Torture Team – Deception, Cruelty and the Compromise of Law. Allen Lane (Penguin), 2008. See review at http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_detail s.php?id=14918 [4] Anup Shah. “Military Commissions Act 2006— Unchecked Powers?” Znet. October 02, 2006. http://www.zmag.org/znet/vi

ewArticle/3050 [5] Sands, ibid, p. 252. [6] Byers, ibid, p. 143 [7] McCoy, ibid, p. 14. [7] Ignatieff, Michael. The Lesser Evil – Political extends to torture. The case For Canada, hope- Ethics in an Age of Terror. Princeton University, 2004. of Maher Arar is a relative- fully Harper will see the ly well-known extradition last of his controlling reign p. 44. case that the government in the next election and aided in. More recently, equally hopefully, Ignatieff now that Guantanamo is can stand up his own being shut down, a beliefs in human rights Canadian citizen Omar extending beyond state Khadr is being denied entry legalities. Obama needs to back into Canada even act in his own back yard though the Federal Court and ignore his own state has said it should be legalities of the Military allowed. One of the govCommissions Act, or terror

“THE MOST MORAL ARMY IN THE WORLD,” MY ASS

the academy’s newsletter.

Palestinian father was ordered out of his home, shot in the front yard to the horror of his wife and children, who were then fired upon, which killed one child and injured the mother and three more of her children.

One infantry squad leader summed it up pretty well. “The climate in general... I don’t know how to describe it. The lives of Palestinians, let’s say, are much, much less important than the lives of our soldiers,” he said.

A

Tales recounted by the soldiers included two stories about elderly Palestinian women shot in cold blood by Israeli sols was bound to hapdiers. One soldier recounted the pen after the massacre story of an old woman who was shot by Israeli soldiers while that was Israel’s attempting to cross a major three-week bombardment of Gaza in January, myriad sor- street. “I don’t know whether she did tales of Israeli crimes and was suspicious, not suspicious, I don’t know her story,” he said. abuses have begun to come to “I do know that my officer sent light. people to the roof in order to take First off, investigators her out… It was cold-blooded working for the UN recently murder,” he said. released a report accusing the Some soldiers told also IDF of using “human shields” of cases of Palestinians, includduring their offensive. It told of ing unarmed women and chila 15 January incident in which a dren, being told to leave their group of IDF soldiers forced an homes and then being shot at 11-year-old Palestinian boy, at close range when they did. gunpoint, to walk in front of They also reported varithem, under fire, for several ous incidents of unnecessary and hours, as they entered and malicious destruction of searched buildings and houses. Palestinian property. One soldier It also said that the UN had found “hundreds” of similar inci- described how Israeli soldiers would take over private dents. Additionally, the report Palestinian homes. “We would claims that Israeli troops bulldozed a home with a woman and throw everything out of the winchild still inside, shot knowingly dows to make room and order. at children, and ordered civilians Everything...refrigerators, plates, furniture. The order was to throw to enter a building that they shelled the next day. It also told all of the house’s contents outside.” of an incident in which a

FINALLY A FEW SPEAK UP Then, one mid-March evening, at a seminar for new recruits to the military academy at Oranim College (a huge training college in Kiryat Tivon in northern Israel) graduates who had served in Gaza addressed the audience and spoke openly about the abuses they had witnessed and/or participated in. The accounts were then published in

Of course, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) conducted an investigation of their own into these incidents and concluded that they were based on rumor and hearsay.

AND WE SHALL JUDGE THEM BY THEIR TEESHIRTS Then, a few days later,

Continued next page...


Palestine Report continued... Haaretz journalists discovered that some Israeli soldiers were sporting some pretty inappropriate teeshirts, which were being given to groups of soldiers coming off periods of active service or at the end of training courses. One shirt depicts a cartoonish image of a pregnant Palestinian woman within rifle crosshairs above a caption that reads “1 SHOT, 2 KILLS.” Another shows a Palestinian boy carrying a rifle, also in crosshairs, with a caption that reads “THE SMALLER, THE HARDER.”

Then an awful axe murder occurred on 1 April. In the Israeli settlement of Beit Ayin south of Bethlehem in the West Bank, an unknown Palestinian attacker killed 13year-old Shlomo Nativ with an

more than 20 bullets into his windshield. Clashes broke out afterwards as dozens of Palestinians spontaneously protested and threw stones at police.

The next day, a group

Officially, Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has disavowed the axe, while also badly wounding of Israeli settlers from Beit Ayin teeshirts, claiming that they a seven-year-old boy, before (the site of the aforementioned were made and distributed by being shot by Israeli security axe murder) entered the nearby soldiers on their own, though forces but escaping neverthePalestinian village of Safa. A the IDF didn’t seem to mind less. A couple of Palestinian number of Palestinians tried to very much…until Haaretz began snooping around, that is. militant groups claimed respon- stop them, and many began sibility for the attack. throwing stones. The IDF came onto the scene and, rather than On 4 April, a pair of THE TOTALLY breaking it up and sending the Palestinian militants in Gaza UNSURPRISING CON- were shot dead by IDF soldiers. settlers back to their settlement, decided to open fire on the Allegedly, they were CLUSION “approaching” the Israeli border stone-throwing Palestinian youths. The IDF claims that with Gaza. Later that day, a So Israel recently bombed Palestinian woman opened fire they were merely firing at the the crap out of the Gaza Strip legs of the stone-throwers (as if on an Israeli police base near and then elected a right-wing even that is acceptable), but the Bersheeba in southern Israel hawk as its prime minister, as 20-year-old Palestinian left in before being shot dead. No settlement growth and the con- Israelis were hurt. critical condition with a bullet struction of the snaky security Then, on 7 April, there to the neck would, if he could, wall in the West Bank continues argue otherwise. was the incident at Hussam unabated. And all of this is Then on 17 April, Dwayat’s place. In July last supposed to somehow stop or south of Hebron in the Israeli year, Dwayat used a bulldozer dampen the violence going on to overturn a bus in Jerusalem, settlement of Beit Hagai, a between Israel and occupied Palestinian youth (Rabah Hejazi killing three Israelis. As a Palestine, but let’s take a quick Sidr, 17) attacked and lightly means of deterring future look at what it’s wrought lately. injured an Israeli with a knife attacks against Israelis, the On Saturday 21 before being shot dead by Israeli police routinely demolMarch, police in the Israeli city ish the homes of Palestinian another settler. of Haifa discovered a car laden attackers. As the demolition In short, lots and lots with 100kg of explosives took place in East Jerusalem, a of bad news. packed with ball bearings Palestinian man (who may very parked outside of a crowded well have merely been driving shopping mall. It was discovby, though the police claim that ered only after a small explohe lightly struck three officers sion occurred nearby, promptwith his car) was killed as ing a search. Israeli police officers unloaded

W

ealth and industrialization in Saudi Arabia have led to a curious discovery. In the holy city of Makkah (known to many as Mecca) lies the Kabaa, the ancient cube allegedly built by Abraham and Isaac, and the center of the Islamic prayer ritual. Wherever they are in the world, Muslims point themselves toward the Kabaa when they perform their daily prayers. Mosques generally have a niche carved into a wall or corner that indicates the direction in which prayers ought to be aimed. However, observers from the top stories of recently built high-rises in Makkah have noticed that many of the older mosques in the city are off a bit, aimed at a trajectory that passes right by the Kabaa. Oops. A BBC article I found about this dilemma contained the following sentence that I just can’t help but chuckle at. “Some worshippers are said to be anxious about the validity of their prayers.” Sounds like these worshippers are missing the point in two ways at once. ~AY

N

byAbidYahya

ow, I don’t own an iPhone, but apparently there’s an app that you can download called Baby Shaker. It’s a simple little video game, in which the goal is to shut up crying babies (depicted in black and white) by shaking them (i.e. shaking the iPhone itself) until two

red Xs appear over the babies’ eyes. Now, there’s the obvious comment to be made here about Apple’s tastelessness and recklessness in approving this app for distribution (particularly given the on-the-rise medical condition known as Shaken Baby Syndrome). Once folks started complaining, Apple removed the app and said, “We sincerely apologize for this mistake and thank our customers for bringing this to our attention.” More importantly, though, who is playing this game?

“…my airplane is broken.”

How bored are you that this game seems fun? This is entertainment now? Sitting around shaking your cellphone and fake-killing fake babies? It’s sad how simple-minded we are, how short our attention spans are. I think I’m gonna Twitter about it. ~AY

B

ad news for Indian guys. The Indian Council of Medical Research recently conducted a study in which over 1,200 Indian men volunteered to have their penises measured. The study showed that about 60% of Indian men have penises that are 3-5 centimeters shorter than the international standard used by condom manufacturers.

In response, medical officials urged condom manufacturers to make smaller condoms more widely available throughout India, the most HIVinfected nation on the planet, where about one in five condoms either falls off or tears. Also in response, most Indian men said, “Dude, shhh.” ~AY

—Sara


Clinton’s Unpromising Start

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ncongruous. One can hardly think of a more suited term to describe the new US administration’s approach to peacemaking in the Middle East. Though there is little evidence that previous US administrations had genuinely attempted to play a balanced role in forging a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians, many hoped—and a few still hope—that Barack Obama’s administration would bring about new standards.

By Ramzy Baroud enough of that? Is it not time to relegate such detrimental language and focus on positive engagement, regional stability and economic cooperation?

In fact, there is concrete evidence that supports the claim that a responsible US policy in the region could indeed usher in a new beginning, which would ultimately prove beneficial to the US in a time of economic meltdown and repeated crises. For example, Iran has made clear its intentions of espousing dialogue with the US, Hamas is openly seeking “engagement”, and Hizbullah—which seems committed to Lebanon’s stability—is positively responding to EU diplomatic overtures.

However, if recent comments made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suffice as a general indication of the administration’s Middle East However, it seems that the policy, then little change is on new US administration with the horizon. all the gutsy talk of boldness, Clinton told US legislators daring and audacity is still 23 April that the key to peace unwilling or unable to conbetween Israel and the front Israel’s chaotic and Palestinians was Tehran; that destructive behaviour in without getting tough on Iran, Palestine and in the Middle Israel could not be expected East at large. to pursue peace with the Clinton should have used Palestinians. “The two go entirely different language hand in hand,” she emphaand adopted a wholly differsised. What a baffling ent approach if she and her approach to peacemaking. In administration were keenly order for peace to prevail, interested in investing in a Israel should engage just peace, and not mere “disMahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian cussions”. Instead of trying to Authority in “discussions” entice Israel to engage the aimed at inspiring the isolaPalestinians long enough to tion of Iran, for reasons deceive the Arabs and alienate entirely pertinent to US interIran, she should have dealt— ests and Israeli “security”. and strongly so—with the While Clinton’s approach provocative politics dissemirests on luring Israel into her nated by Israel’s new rightproposed peace discussions, wing government. what is Clinton’s promise to Israeli leaders, confident of the Palestinians, the Arabs, their country’s revered status and indeed Iran but endless among Western governments, chatter, a regional cold war which immunes it from any and sectarian divisions? consequential criticism, are Hasn’t the Middle East seen

lashing out left and right.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, recognised in many circles as “fascist”, is leading Israel’s diplomatic offensive, a strategy used and perfected by previous Israeli governments. The aim of the offensive is to condition any Israeli “concessions” on specific demands, whose implementation often elicits anything but peace and stability.

Lieberman told The Jerusalem Post on 23 April that it would be “impossible to resolve any problem in our region without resolving the Iranian problem”. One can only guess what “resolving the Iranian problem” means and requires. However, it’s important to recall that it was Lieberman who launched his newest career by rejecting the Annapolis peace conference outcomes, reverting to the roadmap solely because the latter requires nothing of Israel until Palestinians completely crack down on “terror”. Under Israel’s definition of terrorist groups, which also includes the elected Palestinian government, Lieberman’s true objective is to absolve Israel from any expectations pertaining to peace, dialogue or even simple discussions. Lieberman is not only agi-

“…I have so many DUIs the judge says I cant drive anything with an engine or motor!” —Jeff tated by the largely discretionary requirements placed on Israel, but by the language itself. “Over the last two weeks I’ve had many conversations with my colleagues around the world. And everybody, you know, speaks with you like you’re in a cam-

paign: occupation, settlements, settlers,” said Lieberman, who described those using such language as “speaking in slogans”.

on the peace process. We are in the process of reviewing our policy; don’t rush us,” Netanyahu reportedly told visiting Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Netanyahu was helpful enough to elaborate on what he meant by “peace is in

Israel’s interest,” when he said: “If Israelis can’t build homes in the West Bank then Palestinians shouldn’t be allowed to either,” in reference to the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements and destruction of Arab homes.

for a Palestinian state.

Not only does Israel want to preserve its matrix of control over the West Bank, annex Arab lands, and maintain its illegal settlements in violation of international law, but it also wants to control the language, silence mere calls for Palestinian statehood, and lead a world of fury, including that of the Arabs, against Iran. So much for peacemaking.

start.

Under such a reality, it behooves Clinton and the Obama administration to abandon the tired slogans and the old, belligerent policies of their predecessor. If they are indeed interested in a just peace, for its own sake, then luring Israel to engage Abbas only to trick the Arabs and isolate Iran cannot be a promising

______ Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of Lieberman is, of course, PalestineChronicle.com. His not the eccentric loner of the work has been published in Israeli government, but in many newspapers, journals many ways represents the Lieberman, on the other and anthologies around the emerging status quo in Israel, hand, has dashed any hopes world. His latest book is, The with all of its alarming tenthat Israel might find the Arab Second Palestinian Intifada: A dencies. Haaretz reported that peace initiative a common Chronicle of a People’s Israeli Prime Minister ground for peacemaking, Binyamin Netanyahu is angry according to Haaretz, report- Struggle (Pluto Press, London), and his forthcoming over an EU attempt at linking ing on 24 April. He rejected closer ties with Israel with the it, in part, because it stipulates book is, My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza The latter’s commitment to a two- a just solution to the Untold Story (Pluto Press, state solution. “Peace is in Palestinian refugee problem London) Israel’s interest no less than it in accordance with internais in Europe’s interest, and tional law. Moreover, he there’s no need to make the called on the international upgrade in relations with community to stop pushing Israel conditional on progress


Sickness Unto Death

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sceticism may be an unlikely trait to apply to this thing called a culture that we are forced to live in. Mencken noted that “no one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” But even in the drive for the lowest common denominator of pleasure (fast food, Keanu Reeves, Linens ‘n Things, Dancing with the Stars et cetera ad nauseum) the ascetic quality shows itself. Given the end of history, with nothing standing forth as a particular purpose for human existence, there is still what Nietzsche termed the basic fact of the human will: that it “prefers to will nothingness than not to will.” As a “chief tool in their fight with enduring pain and boredom” (Nietzsche again) I wonder whether the ascetic trait might not show itself today in an altogether fantastic and unheard of way? That is, does homo sapiens consumeris deny itself joy and, in so doing, will nothingness on a truly grand scale? Or, rather, in order not to admit to itself the incapacity for actual joy, is homo consumeris willing to bring it all down?

by Mike Becker

3,240,140 Americans had succumbed to the destructive force of this machine, a little under three times the number of Americans killed in all wars in US history. (Obviously the death culture

and elders to contract asthma and other lung ailments, thus adding to the harm rather than abandoning the death machine.

loves killing in wars as much as in cars; the numbers are merely for comparison sake.) It injures 3 million Americans each year and kills an estimated one million pets and wild animals in this country alone each year. So dedicated to mass death are consumers that they will pay, cumulatively, tens of billions of dollars On the one hand there is the most deadly tech- annually in the U.S. for insurance and accident related nology ever invented. Over Watch an “educated” the history of its use, the aver- costs. The air and water pollubourgeois describe any loomtion from this technology conage number of Americans ing catastrophe: species loss, tributes to an untold number killed each year exceeds the global warming, the garbage of additional deaths. And in number of US casualties in island in the Pacific gyre…. the Vietnam War, a September cities small and large across They say it with a smug the globe its noise pollution th smile. There is a sense of sat- 11 every month, month after raises decibel levels beyond month, without let up. Over isfaction as if to say “our what the World Health one million lives are claimed Organization and other prokingdom come, our will be done, to the earth as we have annually by this machine fessional health organizations worldwide, making it the already done it to heaven.” considers safe. The last man number three cause of death Homo consumeris has killed is so dedicated to the will to god, but is incapable of inher- globally after starvation and nothingness of automania that iting the earth, the power and communicable diseases. he puts his schools near busy Between 1899 and 2003, beauty of earth being vastly streets and allows his children

there is the bicycle: a tool that kills nothing and no one, that enhances personal and community health. It is a technology that allows for creative thought (Einstein is said to have come up with the basic idea for the general theory of relativity while cycling). It permits one actual freedom from two of the largest killing syndicates in the world—the automobile and oil corporations. All capable persons cycling for all reasonable commuting trips, say under ten miles, would end nearly all forms of pollution, substantially reduce global warming, and almost entirely eliminate the need for US “Defense” spending. Obviously, the bicycle does not stand a chance.

too formidable. But not being able to own is a threat to the will as the last, weak, and cowardly man experiences and understands it. So the earth and our earthly companions will be dammed, not from spite but from lassitude. As the wasteland grows the will to annihilation is evident in any of the technocratic, corporate, commodification systems: the depletion of the ocean’s fish “stocks,” the caging, torturing, and killing of 25 billion animals yearly, the conversion of minerals, rivers, wind and sun into an endless power source to fuel it all. But nowhere is the will to nothingness more evident than in the automobile. This is the death machine par excellence of a culture that deals death absolutely. And as everything is promised to us as our freedom, flattering us as if any of this is a matter of our individual, consumer choice, then choose.

On the other hand

You, dear reader, might argue that, for all of its faults, the automobile is con-

venient. But that is precisely the point. “I,” says the last man, “will a system that involves incalculable destruction so that ‘I’ may have my convenience.” The last man is defined by weakness, the inability to exert physical and psychical energy, to will personal freedom, to experience the profound personal challenges that can sometimes elicit joy. He denies himself spontaneous pleasure and scrupulously conforms to the detailed prescriptions for domesticated life: hair cut, clothes shiny and new, lawn trimmed, and a detailed car with chemical fragrance to deliver him to his places of worship, work and store. That such a price in blood should be paid for the last man’s convenience is just exactly the definition of asceticism on the modern gigantic scale. Others might argue that people don’t actually understand the risk involved in automobile transport. Please. It is felt. It is the delicious psychological thrill that we mask by saying, “after all the speed is a rush.” Besides any adult reading this knows someone who was killed or injured in a car accident. With so much mayhem ever present, it is not ignorance but exultation that is the salient psychological fact here. The last man relishes that so much blood is spilled. That everyone recoils at the ACTUAL sight of blood is the dirty, guilty conscience of the bour-

geois.

Freud is surely one of the architects of the death culture with his ready-made variety of exculpatory death obsessions, the better not to contemplate the death structure of all civilizations. In “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” Freud theorized that there existed a “death drive,” a force that counterbalanced the pleasure principle and was marked by the drive to return to a pre-organic state. But what if the discontented of civilization live against repression because there exists an almost genetically derived sense of the identity with the natural world that existed before civilization? What if there burns within the discontented a basis in the wild more primordial than symbolic representation, which the lie tells us is our nature, more basic than the invention of the concept of time, and then its measurement, and then its conversion into history with its various “inevitabilities”? What if direct experience in the world predates specialization and wage slavery? What if Freud’s death wish is actually the expression of a desire to be done with the conformity to death rituals marked by this culture, automobile driving foremost among them? If a collective voice for this culture could ever speak honestly and with one voice it would recite the words of a musician and lyricist known, ironically enough, as “Smog”: “Too many lives have been broken, too many people have crumbled apart, in my hands; I should have left a long time ago.” Of the cyclist who rides fast between lanes of traffic, runs red lights, and hops curbs, the resentful automania driver says “he must have a death wish!” But the cyclist is already riding into a future beyond the asceticism of the death culture. ______ Mike Becker is a local activist and educator. He can be reached at mikebe@csufresno.edu


B icy cli ng Sa fe ty

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write this as someone who has commuted via bicycle often, though not in the “serious cyclist” sense. That is, I don’t have a super-fancy bike, and I don’t have special riding gear. But I encourage anyone to bicycle and to do so safely. There are a lot of great resources out there (including the League of American Bicyclists safety courses), but I’ve summarized several points here to get you started.

All I’m saying is that you can’t put on a helmet and think you’re done with bicycle safety for the day.

This is also one of the most significant arguments against riding on the sidewalk. Anytime you bike where a car

by Jessi Hafer

lane than you might normally be (if it’s safe to do so; there may not always be room to be further to the left, though).

other traffic in mind).

Be on the lookout for road hazards: stuff in the road, broken glass, potholes, etc. Do not move to the left to avoid a road obstruction without checking to make sure you won’t be getting too close to cars. Some people find a rear view mirror mounted on the handlebars or the helmet helpful (though personally, I’ve found then distracting and disorienting, so I don’t use one).

there. If the crosswalk can’t be avoided, walk your bike across the crosswalk. Always yield to pedestrians. While you’re riding on the right-hand part of the lane on the right side of the road, don’t hug the curb too close. Give yourself some space so you have room to move in case you need it.

If possible, make turns from the same lane you would as if you were in a car. So if you’re going straight at an intersection that also has a Choose your route carefully. Wide streets with a right turn lane, move out of low speed limit or light traffic the right turn lane. Make left turns out of the left turn lane. are wonderful (though often these are residential areas, so You’ll be more visiyou’ll have to watch for peo- ble if you where light colored ple coming out of driveways). clothing, and bike lights and Look for streets with bike reflectors are important even lanes. Check the bike lane in the early hours, or at dusk, map in this issue of The or when it’s cloudy. And you Undercurrent. should wear a helmet. Make

Don’t wear headphones while you’re riding your bike. If you must wear headphones, maybe try using ear buds so you can have one in one ear but not in your other ear. But really, you shouldn’t be wearing headphones while you’re biking because you should be listening to your surroundings and focused on the things around you.

sure your bicycle is in working order, checking your tires and your brakes.

There are also safety considerations that don’t involve the cars you’ll be sharing the road with. If you’re bicycling long distances and/or it’s hot outside, be sure to have water with you so you don’t become dehydrated. Don’t forget sunscreen. You may want to check the daily air quality forecast (particularly if you have respiratory issues).

The top of my bicycle safety wish list would be for cyclists to stop riding “…riding is a win win situation: super fun, cheaper than against traffic. driving, healthy, and you look GOOOOOD!” It’s illegal and —AP unsafe. I’ve heard novice street cyclists driver won’t think to look for Be ready for the possibility say they feel better riding Your first few times you, you’re compromising that they don’t see you, so be when they can see the cars bicycling, you may become ready to stop or move out of Observe traffic laws, tired quickly. Be kind to coming at them. There are a your safety. There are a lot of like stop signs (cars won’t be yourself and pace yourself, few problems with this. First, Cyclist visibility is a harm’s way. Don’t stop in a ways to think about bicycle car’s blind spot at red lights expecting you to blow this really isn’t a preventative big part of defensive bicybut keep working at it. You safety. Some people decide through a stop sign). Use measure, since most accidents cling. Like driving defensive- or stop signs; they might be can become a stronger, safer, that riding a bicycle isn’t safe don’t involve a car and a hand signals when turning or more comfortable, and more ly, when you bike defensively, turning and could turn right at all. I hope you are not one cyclist both driving down the you actively acknowledge that into you. Watch for cars that changing lanes. Glancing confident bicycle commuter of those people. I won’t deny same side of the same street, may be making a right turn in over your shoulder before even though an accident in time! that there have been some making a move not only both on the proper side of the might not be your fault, there front of you; you don’t want When you have to very bad bicycle accidents, street. Second, due to are things you can do to help to ride your bicycle into them. allows you to see what’s complease be courtedrive a car, but there have been bad auto- physics, speeds being equal, a prevent said accident. This ing, but it can help tell a When you pass ous around bicyclists. mobile accidents as well. collision between two vehiparked cars on the side of the motorist you want to move. largely involves doing what Other people will tackle the cles driving towards each you can to ensure you’re seen, road, ride far enough to the Avoid crosswalks if bicycle safety issue by putting other results in greater force left so that you won’t run into you can. Drivers probably but being prepared for the lights on their bike and wear- than someone rear ending possibility of the motorist still any car door that would be don’t expect to see a bicyclist ing a helmet. Proper lighting someone else who’s traveling not seeing you. Be aware of opened unexand a helmet are certainly part in the same direction. Third, cars pulling out of side pectedly. of how you increase your and perhaps most importantly, streets, parking lots, or drive- Giving yourlikelihood of safety; however, automobile drivers coming self three feet ways. Slow down and make there is more to bicycle safety out of driveways, side streets, eye contact so they notice of space from “…my Motorcycle is broken and skating than lights and helmets, just and parking lots won’t think parked cars is you. The motorist might be is too slow.” as there’s more to driving to look for bicycles coming a good idea more likely to see you if than seatbelts and headlights. from the wrong direction. —Rigo you’re further to the left in the (keeping the


Every Month is a Bicycling Month, but MAY IS BIKE MONTH!

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magine a community that is bicycle friendly, where children go to school by bike and lots of adults commute to work, run errands, and bike for recreation—where streets are less congested, the sky is blue, and the Sierra is visible every day!

Since 2000, the Fresno County Bicycle Coalition (FCBC) has been advocating these distant but not impossible goals. Their mission has been to make Fresno County bicycle friendly and this is done in many ways.

by Cassie Ellis and Louise Colbert-Mar lot more to be done. “We need to educate bicyclists, children and adults, and drivers alike that bicycles are vehicles and have the same rights and responsibilities as automobiles. Riding on the wrong side of the street and disregarding stop signs and red lights are both illegal and are two of the main reasons for bicycle/car collisions.”

Begun an annual bicycling Corporate Challenge. Ed Smith, Coalition board member: “Since starting the Corporate Challenge in 2006, we have improved the process and have made it easier to participate by using online team registration. Now “Throughout the teams can go to our web site year, we talk with city and at www.fresnobike.org to county planners, transportainput their information and tion staff, and elected offisee how other teams are cials about providing, maindoing, which builds some taining and improving bike lanes, trails, and other cycling friendly community competifacilities that will encourage tion.” Worked with other local bicycling and healthy agencies to promote safe lifestyles,” said David Lighthall, the chairman of the bicycling with cycling specific Public Service Fresno County Bicycle Announcements Coalition. “We’d love to catch up to bicycle friendly Facilitated ‘Share the cities like Portland and Road” signage on area streets Davis.” Worked (through memberIn the past few ship on Fresno’s Bicycle years, the FCBC has: Pedestrian Advisory Council) to provide input and guidance Encouraged and facilitated in the City of Fresno’s bike lane construction. There Bicycle Transportation Plan, are more lanes in Fresno and now in process. Clovis, and one of the three Friant Road widening phases was completed last year.

Had one of our Coalition board members become the area’s first League of American Bicyclists, League Cycling Instructor (LCI). Louise Colbert-Mar, LCI and FCBC Board member, has taught several bicycle safety classes to adults in the past year and says that there’s a

Sponsored and promoted cycling events during the month of May—Bike Month.

events to motivate communities to get out and bike.

“We would love to see either Fresno or Clovis be awarded the designation of LAB “Bicycle Friendly Community’ sometime in the future, and we really highlight cycling during Bike Month,” said Coalition board member, Tony Molina.

Fresno have been increasing in popularity and attendance.

“This year we anticipate surpassing 2008’s amazing turnout of more than 700 cyclists who bike to work as part of the Corporate Challenge, our effort to get area employers involved as catalysts for expanding bike commuting,” said Lori This year, May 11 – Cherry, the FCBC director of Corporate Challenge Bike to

T

Bike Month Events Preface by Jessi Hafer he League of American Bicyclists held the first Bike to Work Day event in 1956. Now, over 50 years later, May brings a month of events all over the U.S. The Fresno County Bicycle Coalition is promoting several events as part of “Bike Month,” including their 4th Annual “Bike to Work Day Corporate Challenge” on Thursday, May 14, 2009. You can recruit your

The Week Before: lDetermine your route to work—your bike route might not be the same as your automobile route. Choose roads with bike lanes, wide outside lanes, or paved shoulders (also consider traffic level and speed). Consider driving the route in your car during your normal commuting time to determine potential traffic problems (like school drop off areas). Lastly, bicycle the route on a weekend to examine the road surface for potential problem intersections and the approximate time it will take you. lInform your employer that you will be commuting by bicycle. Ask where the bicycle can be parked during working hours and what, if any, advance arrangements need to be made.

lMake sure your bicycle is in proper working order. Check for necessary mechanical repairs (such as brakes, tires, and gears) and also check adjustments like seat height, handlebars, etc. If you do not have a helmet, borrow or buy one. If you’ll be riding at night, get a light.

15 is Bike to Work week and FCBC is proud to be partnering with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to promote bicycling as a health alternative to driving cars.

Work Day. “Last year, we had over 100 bicyclists riding in our Downtown Ride from Manchester to Fulton Mall, coming from all over Clovis and Fresno.”

In summary, “The streets become safer for bicy“Riding a bike is a clists every time a person great way to reduce emischooses to ride their bike sions and clean up our air, instead of driving their car,” and is a key component in the FCBC works to proNancy Ellis, the secretary of mote cycling all year; but in Healthy Air Living initiative. FCBC. We’re very happy to partner spring they concentrate on ______ one month, May. In 1956, the with the Bicycle Coalition in Cassie Ellis & Louise encouraging this alternative League of American Colbert-Mar are members of Bicyclists (LAB) established to driving,” said Janelle the Fresno County Bicycle Schneider, Air District Public May as National Bike Month, Coalition. Information Representative. encouraging cities all over the United States to host Bike Week events in

The Day Before lThe day before you bike to work, you may want to bring things you’ll need for work on the day you bike that you would rather not carry with you on the bike (work clothes, toiletries, etc).

coworkers as teammates and “compete” against other Fresno employers lMake sure your tires are for miles bicycled. Even properly inflated. If they are the noncompetitive can get riding will be more diffilow, involved, though.

The California Bicycle Coalition offers several tips for those interested in taking part in California Bike Commute Week, May 11 – May 15 this year. To summarize (and, in some cases, add to) their points, they recommend the following (www.californiabikecommute.com/):

cult.

Day of the Ride lDon’t cycle on an empty stomach. You’ll need energy, so consider breakfast and/or a snack. lRemember water and sunscreen

lGet an early start. The first time you bike to work,

Continued next page...


Bike Events continued... allow yourself a little more time than you think you’ll need. Rush hour traffic may slow you down. lBike safely.

8th Annual Bike Month Schedule of Events (Also available at www.fresnobike.org) Friday – Sunday, May 13—League of American Bicyclists’ League Cycling Instructor (LCI) Seminar. Given for the first time in the Valley, this is a great opportunity for Valley cyclists to become LCIs and teach bicycle safety. Note. Traffic Skills 101 class is a prerequisite. Contact bikeclovis@aol.com for info.

Saturday, May 2—Kirch Flat Century and Metric ride. The Fresno Cycling Club is sponsoring these rides for members only. Ride the lovely hills around Pine Flat Reservoir; sweat out those toxins on the hills! Join up and find out more at www.fresnocycling.com. Saturday, May 2—Cycle4 Central.

The 2nd annual community bike ride to support the Central Unified School District. See www.centralfoundation.org/documents/Cycle4CentralRegistrati on2009-Final_000.pdf for details. Thursday, May 7th, 8:30 am—Fresno City Council. Come to the Fresno City Hall in dowtown Fresno to hear the Fresno City Council proclaim May as Bike Month in the City of Fresno. Thursday, May 7th, 5:30 pm—Bike Hop. It’s Art Hop on wheels. Meet at Tower Velo

Stop for an early morning (1425 N Van Ness in Fresno— S of McKinley, N of Home) to coffee and snack on your ride to work. Check out web site for tour local galleries. Wear a location updates. Sites will helmet and be illuminated. include: Tower Theater, Saturday, May 9th, 11:00 Manchester Center, N/E corner am—Bicycle Poker Run. Meet of Ashlan/Clovis, at the trail, Air at Tower Velo (see above for District on Gettysburg. location) for a 2-wheeled Poker Thursday, May 14th— Run through Fresno. Starts at 11am. There are 5 stops and the FREE bus rides. Fresno Area ante is $2.00 per rider. Prize Express (FAX) and Clovis will be awarded. Transit will provide FREE rides Monday, May 11. 7:00p.m. for cyclists. Mix it up! Thursday, May 21st, Come to the Council room at 6:30pm—Yoga for Cyclists. Meet just south of the Japanese the Clovis City Hall (1033 5th Tea Garden for a soothing street, just east of Clovis Avenue) at 7:00 pm. The Clovis stretch led by Yoga instructor, City Council will proclaim May Deborah Eacock. Bring water and a mat if you have one. If as Bike Month in the City of not, we’ll have some. Clovis.

American Me: Lowrider Bikes and Chicano Artistic Expression

Clovis City Council

Tuesday, May 12th. Fresno County Board of Supervisors. Come to The Hall of Records (1133 Tulare Street, Room 301) at 8:30 am. The Supervisors will proclaim May as Bike Month in Fresno County.

Wednesday, May 13th—8th annual Bike 2 Work Week Downtown Ride. Meet at Manchester Center near the FAX site on Blackstone at 8:00 am for an 8:30 departure. Clovis riders—meet at the rest stop on the Old Town trail (near Ashlan and Clovis) at 7:00 for a group ride to Manchester. From Manchester, we will be escorted by the Fresno PD Bike Police to Fulton Mall for coffee and snacks at Milano Restaurant. Buy a t-shirt too! Thursday, May 14th—4th Annual Corporate Challenge. RIDE 2 WORK!! Get a team, ride to work, win prizes!! See the FCBC web site at: www.fresnobike.org to learn how to participate, contest rules and how to win! Sign up at the web site. Thursday, May 14th— Cyclists Energy Stations

“…of a sense of power, freedom, no limitation, no wasting gas.” —Mary Ramirez

Saturday, May 23rd—Palm Bluffs Criterium. See Momentum Cycling’s web site at www.momentumcycling.com/.

Friday, May 29th Tower Velo, 6:30 pm—Coalition Member Appreciation Film Festival. Relax and enjoy pizza and watch a full length bicycle classic! Who wants to be a Cutter? And a short or two. Not a member? Stop by www.fresnobike.org—donate now.

Saturday, May 30th— Annual Winery Ride. Visit Englemann Cellars and Nonini Winery for a bacchanalian (and responsible) bike event. Meet at Tower Velo at 10:30 a.m. for an 11:00 departure. Round trip is approximately 22 miles. Bring water, food and a helmet! SAG will be provided.

M

by Ruben Lucero

y first memory of lowriders is watching my older brother and his friends fixing up their bikes when I was 7 years old. At that point, it wasn’t something I’d done myself, but it left a big impression. I grew up fascinated with lowriders, and, in high school, got my first lowrider bike. Currently, I’m a member of the Mini Impressions Lowrider Club and ride a Raider Beach Cruiser with apehanger handlebars, and am working on a smaller bike I call the “Silver Bullet” because of all its chrome parts & accessories. Over the years, I’ve picked up bits and pieces of the history of this subculture from books, Lowrider Magazine, and people involved in the lowrider scene.

out their bicycles. Some say that lowriders started out in LA in the 1930s; others say that it started in El Paso, Texas, and from that entry point (into the country for many Mexican immigrants) made its way all across the Southwest… What is clear is that it is a product of Chicano or Mexican-American culture. Since the beginnings of lowriders, Mexican cultural themes have been an integral part of this subculture; Aztec and indigenous murals, the Virgen de Guadalupe, and Pachuco/Zoot Suit era themes are displayed on many cars. Lowrider culture became popular on a national level in the 1970s, and even grabbed the attention of President Carter, who declared a “National Low Riding Week” in 1979. As for now, it’s clear that it has spread far beyond the Southwestern U.S. and far beyond being exclusively a Chicano thing. It is a global phenomenon.

Lowrider bikes go hand in hand with lowrider car culture, which was around decades before kids began tricking

Continued next page...

The story regarding the origins of lowrider bikes starts in a sorta random place: with The Munsters. Eddie Munster’s customized Sting-Ray Schwinn is credited by many as being the inspiration behind bringing lowrider style to the bicycle world, as being the very first lowrider bike. Part of the reason for the popularity of lowrider bikes has been the fact that the bikes are designed for comfort; you’re not hunched over the handlebars and standing up like on a regular bike; you’re sitting comfortably with your legs in front of you and your back upright, relaxing on a cushiony seat…being environmentally conscious, but in style at the same time…

Many old time lowriders speak about the working class roots of this art form. It has been explained to me in this way: art schools & institutions were accessible only to the wealthy. A big skill that many working class Mexicanos had was working with their hands, and so they used those skills and combined them with creativity to forge a distinctly working class art form. It’s really a demonstration of how important artistic expression was/is in the Mexican-American community; despite the fact that many working class and people of color were excluded from art schools, institutions, and museums, and despite a lack of resources, they created their own art form that served to unite the community and


Lowriders continued... showcase local talent.

It’s also distinct from other art forms in that it’s a product that’s never finished. You could have a really nice bike or car and still have a lot of work and customizing to do; it’s a neverending, ever-evolving art piece. It has only been recently that lowriders have been recognized as a legitimate art form; the Smithsonian recently had a major exhibit on lowriders, and there are more and more artists who cross over from the lowrider world into the mainstream art world.

leather seat and even a spiderweb etched into the metal sprocket. Our club will also do fundraising to allow whole families to attend big shows, like the ones in Vegas. Down in LA, some clubs do yearly events in housing projects, raising money to give gifts to kids on Christmas, and one club even raised enough money to build a brand new park in their community. Club members take care of each other and try to take care of their communities. For some, the club is like a second or extended family, and for others, it’s the only family they’ve got.

At the heart of lowrider culture is really the Some of the main family & the community. places that lowrider culture is One of the reasons most shared and passed down are lowrider clubs are mixed through lowrider clubs and car/bike clubs is because of lowrider shows. Shows are an family; while watching their opportunity for people to dads, the youngsters didn’t admire others’ hard work, have cars to work on, & so in meet people, and take pride in order to include them, their displaying their work, just as parents would help them trick an artist would seeing their out their bikes. Many times work hanging in a gallery. clubs are multi-generational Part of the reason that clubs where grandparents, parents, are formed is to organize and and kids are all a part of it. collect resources and skills of Custom mechanic, painting, different sorts; it’s a way to and upholstery shops often get get upholsterers, painters, passed down through families muralists, welders, mechanics as well. And lowriders themand others together to work selves (bikes and cars) often collectively, combining their get handed down to loved skills to construct a new mas- ones, who then take pride in terpiece. Clubs select names keeping up the family tradibased on their common cultion. ture, such as the Carnales Contrary to the negUnidos, Viejitos, or Latin ative perceptions some people Style…. may have, at lowrider shows Something I’ve seen is many clubs that try to get kids involved and encourage them to discover an outlet for their artistic abilities. Even when the kids don’t have resources/money, many clubs will hold carwashes to help to get new members started on their first bikes. I don’t think most people realize that lowrider clubs do this sort of thing. For example in 2008 , my club, Mini Impressions, heard about this young boy with cancer, and decided to put our skills and resources together to build him a customized spiderman bike. It had a custom spiderman

opportunities out there for parents and kids to be really excited or passionate about doing the same thing, and that’s something I see a lot with lowriders.

Unfortunately, something that also goes hand in hand with lowrider culture is a set of stereotypes, and harassment from police. For decades, they would have these huge gatherings in L.A. that would inevitably get broken up by the cops. Police would see a bunch of Mexicans hanging out in a park and think they’re up to no good… They wouldn’t harass the people at the hot rod rallies. But they would always assume that lowrider meant “gangster” or “criminal.” It is a stereotype that lowriding is tied in with gang culture. Many times, it’s actually the opposite: true lowriders are too into their cars or bikes to worry about gangbanging. In fact, I’ve seen it function as a healthy alternative to gangs, and even seen people get out of the gang lifestyle through their interest and passion for lowriding.

I once read an article written by the head of a lowrider club, which included his reflections about trying to negotiate with police. He talked about how so many people are against it, refer to it as gang culture, or a ‘foreign’ culture. In his view, kids who started this style in the 30s & 40s, did so as a way they often have food, informa- of admiring or celebrating tion/resource tables, faceAmerican culture & American painting and bounce houses cars…back in those days, kids for the children, and somewould see wealthy Americans times will have soccer or vol- in stylized Cadillacs with lots leyball tournaments, MCs, of shiny chrome & wanted to DJs and dancing. To empha- emulate it. In the end, lowridsize the family atmosphere, ers are part of American culmost shows don’t serve alco- ture. hol, and aren’t the wild, party _____ type scene that some might Ruben Lucero is a member of associate it with. Another the Fresno Brown Berets and thing I really like about a student at Fresno City lowrider culture is that all of College. it is activities where entire families can bond, and kids can get directly involved in the action alongside their parents. There aren’t that many

V

From The Lost Socratic Dialogues: The Bi-Kuklos

Discovered by Steven J. Ingeman & H. Peter Steeves

elocipedos: Ho, Socrates! Hast thou perchance come into unexpected wealth or, forthwith, hit it big in the lottery?

S: “Contraption”? That’s what it’s called? Did Contraptos help you build it?

this mess of an interchange where Market Street feeds into the Agora. During that time I have nothing to do but V: He did some of the sit and wait. This is prime heavy labor. But it was essentially my idea. You see, philosophizing time! Why, if Socrates: Why, if it isn’t by pressing footally here, on I moved effortlessly through the crowd, as you seemed to this thingamajig, my weight my crunchy old friend be doing before you stopped and force is transferred, by Velocipedos! How’s it to talk with me, I would be at means of this linked metal going? the market and back in just a thingy, to this wheelybob V: Socrates, don’t be coy few minutes, and I would over here, which turns the with me. You’re driving a have no time to ponder the rear disc and propels me forfour-horse chariot! Where essential natures of such ward. did you get the money? things as Truth, or Love, or S: Fascinating! S: As much as I would Beauty. V: And since traveling in love to convince you otherV: No, but your thighs wise, the truth is, my friend, perfectly straight lines is would be rock-hard. And that this is not my chariot. I reserved for the immortals, I chicks Truly Love Beautiful just borrowed it to run to the have a stick here on the front rock-hard thighs. market for a few things. Do that I can use to turn the S: Say again? you want a ride? For, if I’m leading disc this way and V: Look, Socrates, I’m no that, thereby avoiding earthly not mistaken, it seems you expert on philosophy, but it obstacles. are headed my way. seems to me that the Hellenic S: Are there obstacles V: I am, indeed, Socrates, ideal is to have a sound mind down there? and while I see that there is and a sound body. plenty of room for me, my V: Plenty. S: I’ve heard that said. wife and children, our neighS: Hmmm. I suppose I Where are you going with bors, a large group of friends, sometimes do feel the slightthis? some slaves, and a few sides est spring in the shocks now of beef, I think I will neverV: How much exercise do and then, indicating that the theless proceed under my you get, Socrates? land is not perfectly flat own power. S: I prefer to get my exerbeneath this fabulous chariot. S: You’re going to walk, I suppose it would be nice if cise above the waistline, my then? the Demiurge had not created friend. V: Walk? Walking is for such a bumpy world. But V: Huh? then, that’s what luxury rides Spartans, Socrates. If you S: I only exercise my help us forget. will lean over the jewelmind. While I relax I’m encrusted side of your chariot V: And the best thing, preparing my soul for its you will see that I am locoSocrates? I have a basket on reincarnation into a more fit moting myself by entirely the front! and youthful body—it’ll be a other means. S: Charming. win-win situation. S: Intriguing. It appears V: And a little bell! V: Good luck with that. to be some kind of very skinLook! Ring ring! But let me ask you someny horse—one with only two thing. Why don’t you just S: This is all well and legs, both of which are discs. walk to the Agora? You good, Velocipedos, but I have Is this some beast of Hades could think while you’re that you have summoned out a concern. For I worry that it walking, and you could get of Tartaros to do your unholy would be difficult to be fresh air and exercise at the bidding? Have you taken up philosophical on such a consame time. traption. witchcraft, my friend? S: It would take too long. V: What do you mean? V: Not at all, Socrates. And my feet would get tired. Or at least not in this case. S: Well, look at me. It V: Exactly. So you borIn fact this is simply a will be twenty minutes, at row a chariot. But is the mechanical “contraption” that best, before I can get my I have invented. four-horse chariot through

Continued next page...


Dialogue continued... chariot a perfect solution? S: Sure, why not?

V: Have you looked behind the chariot recently, Socrates?

occasionally gives you a warning when you are about to fall into error?

S: No. Actually, I just saw what you’re wearing. Why are you wearing a spandex toga?

B: Cuts wind resistance. S: Oh. Do you refer to the And it also shows off my horse poo? rock-hard thighs. V: To be sure. And also S: It shows off more than the urine. And the gaseous that, my handsome friend. emissions. And even more Say, tell me all about this poo. And the unsightly ruts invention of yours. You’re so left on the landscape. And the smart. And built. And noise. And the way in which sweaty. You call it a “bikukchariots were supposed to le,” you say? make things faster but now B: Totally. You should try that everyone uses them it one out. actually slows things down. S: I do find myself sudAnd the sense in which a denly bik-curious. horse-drawn chariot-based city-state makes us dependent on foreign oats. And then we might reasonably mention the poo again. And also the...argh! S: Whoa, Bessy! Easy, girl!

Bikuklos: Ho, there, Socrates! You’d better watch where you’re going. I’m afraid you’ve just trampled that poor fellow with your magnificent team of horses. S: Bikuklos! Where did you come from?

B: Cool. You could come by my house later and mount up. I’ll show you how to ride it.

everyone to make jokes about. S: Uh…

B: Seriously, just the suggestion alone that someone might be attracted to a member of the same sex, that’s funny to people? You don’t even need a real punch-line? All you have to do is make reference to someone being gay in these dialogues of yours and that alone seems funny? I just find that really sad.

S: What do you mean “these dialogues”?

B: I mean how you chat up people around Athens and engage them in philosophical conversation all of the time. S: Oh.

S: No doubt.

B: And once you try “bik,” you’ll never go hike.

B: Why, I just zipped through traffic on my new S: It looks hard. thingy here. I just invented it. B: Ah, you may be an old I think I’m going to call it a man, but you can take it. A “bikukle.” whole day going at it can S: It looks just like the make you a little sore back late Velocipedos’ “contrapthere, but once you get the tion.” Are you sure rhythm and the motion…hey! Contraptos didn’t invent it? Wait a minute. Are these all B: Ah, you caught me! In somehow veiled jokes about fact, Contraptos is selling gay sex? these for ten drachmas a pop. S: … It’s a great deal, considering B: These are gay jokes, how quickly and easily I can aren’t they? Oh, man! That’s get around on it. I bet you just sad. I mean, it’s nearly had to pay more than ten 400 B.C.E. and we’re in drachmas for that four-horse Athens. We are progressive; chariot! we have a Nubian in power; S: Oh, I didn’t buy it. I’m we have hope again for the just borrowing it to...to...uh... future. So why is it still B: What is it, Socrates? appropriate to make fun of Did you suddenly see, flashsexual orientation? And ing before your eyes, a sign midgets? Those are, like, the from your Daemon, who two topics it’s still cool with

wearing a Hades’ Shades leather toga.]

S: The true and eternal Form of Freedom, you’d say?

So: Wow! What was that? H: No time for philosoOne of those contraptions, but phizing, Socrates. I’ve gotta so fast! It seems that it is har- fire all of my guns at once nessed to a lynx. That is just and explode into space. So: Lovely, really. So plain…awesome. Cha, cha, S: Take me with you! new and yet a little retro. Bessy! Giddyup! Sch: What do you think of H: Well…. Harleython: [looking over the commemorative Olympian S: Please. his shoulder and slowing numisma that I’ve put in the H: There’s really no room. down] Socrates! Fancy meetspokes? Does the sound My little friend Munchkinos ing you on the road to Sturgis. please you? is strapped ‘round my engine. S: Actually, I am just So: It’s like the singing of Munchkinos: Hey. headed to the market, but let the cicadas. Make of that me say: wow! H: But you should trade in what you will, but it does that chariot and get a powered H: Oh, you like the ride? seem that I am seeing more Harleython for yourself! No Yeah. Listen to her purr. and more people on these exercise needed or allowed— Contraptions these days. S: I have to admit, I was my thighs are soft as a baby’s Sch: It’s true. I believe not really sold on old bottom! we stand at the forefront of a Contraptos’ latest get-richS: Lose the midget and revoluquick invention at take me! Take me now! first, but this really has H: Sorry, Socrates. the looks You’re already cramping my of a style. The road is my only winner. home—I can’t be tied down. I love You’re smothering me, man. the But someday when I blow Sch: Ah, it’s a new invention of mine. Do you like it?

back into town, maybe I’ll see you, and we’ll freak dialogical. Ta ta!

S: Come again?

B: You betcha! The great thing is that once you learn how to ride, you never forget. You’ll never have to walk the streets. Plus you’ll never want to be on top—up there in a chariot like that—ever again.

So: Schwinnikus, my old friend! What are you riding down below?

S: Watch out for that…!

H: [crashing noise, cat yowling]

B: Here we were having a nice and informative meeting, talking all about this great new machine, and you sink to the lowest common denominator and get cheap, ethically questionable laughs based on politically marginalized people’s sexual proclivities. Sheesh.

tion in thinking with the current generation. These Schwinniks—I call them Schwinniks, since I invented them—are really starting to catch on, and the youth of Athens have given up riding around in grand chariots, taking, instead, to the streets for S: I’m sorry. Well, maybe both sport and exercise. It’s a we could talk about…the new green Athens, old friend, immutable nature of Vehicleand it won’t be long, I imagness? ine, ‘till the gods themselves B: No. No. It’s too late. take note and Apollo unhitchI don’t want to talk philosoes the burning sun from his phy. You really…argh! golden chariot and hooks it up to a ten-speed that he himself S: Easy, Bessy! Whoa! propels across the sky with Schwinnikus: Hey ho, his rock hard thighs. Why, Socrates! Careful on the reins even you, my fr—argh! of those mighty steeds! I So: Whoa. Bessy. Don’t. think you just trampled something.

[Harleython speeds by

shiny chrome metal everywhere. And you look so…dangerous.

H: Believe me, it is dangerous. But not as dangerous as riding around these crowded streets on some flimsy thigh-powered contraption.

S: If only someone would invent a protective covering for their heads. Actually, that’s not a bad idea. I will have to talk to Contraptos about that. We could call it a Socrat. Oh, and with leather buttless chaps, fingerless gloves, and a studded collar? Delicious! Giddyup, Bessie! To Ephebes’ Town!

______ H. Peter Steeves, Ph.D. is Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University and can be H: This is a Harleython— reached at I just invented it. Fast and psteeves@depaul.edu. Steven furious. And the freedom! J. Ingeman, MLIS, is an indeIncredible. Once it’s just you pendent scholar and and your lynx out on the open Circulation Supervisor at road, you feel like you’re Mary Riley Styles Library in really living the Grecian Falls Church, VA and can be dream. You toss the engine a reached at ingeman@fallslittle raw meat, she squeals, church.lib.va.us. and you take off, the wind blowing through your hair. This is the life! S: You don’t have to tell me.


Sunday Monday OngoinG/June 31 w Brian Kenney Fresno (5p), $1 Punk Nite EveNts:

Tuesday

Wednesday

6/6 * Lecture: Aztlan, AAM, 11a 6/6 * Fres Grand Opera: Marcell Giordani Concert, Pavarotti Tribute, $15+, WST, 7:30p 6/6 * Respite by the River: Plora, Fauna Floricanto: w 2nd Space Theatre: Educating Rita, Apr 23 - Jun (9p), Audie's Bilingual Children's Book Fair, 11a 14 Olympic/Club Fred 6/6 * Rainbow Pride Parade & Festival, Tower Dist w Open Mic, free, ZP, 7p w Roger Rocka's: Little Women, Mar 19 - May 17 w May is Bike Month! See featured articles, this issue 6/12 * Nights in the Plaza: Sonora Dinamita, AAM 6/13 * UNDERCURRENT 3RD BIRTHDAY w Theatre Ventoux: Anastasia Trials in the Court of PARTY!!! SL Women, $15, SEV, 4/24 - 5/10, Fri @ 8 & Sun @ 2 6/19 * Nights in the Plaza: Trio Los Panchos, AAM w 2nd Space Theatre: Is He Dead?, June 18 – Aug 19 w Woodward Shakespeare Fest: As You Like It, June 25 6/20 * Patrick Contreras CD release block party (see – July 25 plug in this issue) 6/5 * Men Who Cook, FAM 6/26 * Nights in the Plaza: Mariachi Tenonchtitlan and 6/5 * Nights in the Plaza: Paz, AAM Ricardito Paz, AAM

Where:

2ST: 2ND Space Theatre, 928 E Olive CRS: Crossroads, 3315 N Cedar Ave CYT: Chinatown Youth Center EXT: The Exit, 1533 E Belmont FAM: Fres Art Mus, 2233 N 1st St

IFS: InfoShop, 935 F S ITZ: Studio Itz, 370 N Fresno St JAV: Javawava, 1940 N Echo KPJ: Kuppajoe, 3673 St LMK: The Landmark RL: The Red Lantern RR: Roger Rocka’s, 12 Wishon SEV: Severanc Floradora & Wishon SL: The Starline, 831 E

3 4 Formerlys, w Alice Stuart & the 5 len Delpit & w Brian Kenney Fresno (5p), Outlaw Country:

6 w Love, the Captive: Head like a Kite, Sleepover

10 11 w Brian Kenney Fresno (5p), Happy Mutha's

14 w B 13 w Love, the Ca w The Lovetones, Chief Knowhere, Jen & Abby, JJ

Metal vs Country (9p), Audie's Olympic/Club Fred w Freeshow, VVV w Open Mic, free, ZP, 7p

Day: Roger Perry (8p), Audie's Olympic/Club Fred w Fresno Phil: Orion Weiss (piano), $24+, WST, 2:30p w Rebozo Festival, $35, AAM, 10a - 2p w Freeshow, VVV w Open Mic, free, ZP, 7p

17

w Brian Kenney Fresno (5p), Outlaw Country: Metal vs Country (9p), Audie's Olympic/Club Fred w Fresno Folklore Society: Bryan Bowers (autoharp), $10, Wolk Garden, 5p w Freeshow, VVV w Open Mic, free, ZP, 7p

24 w Open Mic/Jam (free, 5p), Little Dragon, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Freeshow, VVV w Open Mic, free, ZP, 7p

the Subterraneans, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 8p w Listen in Pain w/DJ Johnny Q, VVV w Same Shape, Outline, Rumspringa, DJ Johnny Q, $5, SL, 9p w Café Scientifique, Lucy's Lair, 6:30p

w Eighty Five, VVV

18

w Needy Eevy, Santoni's Revenge, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Eighty Five, VVV w Palace of Buddies, ZP, 9p

25

w Sista Otis, The Inflight Nymphs, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Eighty Five, VVV

w Open Mic/Jam: Aesop & the Olympians, free, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Licorice Pimps/Jeff Logan, VVV

12 w Open Mic/Jam: Aesop & the

Olympians, free, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Licorice Pimps/Jeff Logan, VVV w Numbskull Shows: Dredg, Torche, Judgement Day, SL, 8p

Disaster, Aircrash, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w SJ Townhall Lecture Series: Ric Burns: “Creating Dynamic Films,” $20 (free to stu w?ID), WST, 10:30a w Soul Freedom Lounge, Mr Leonard, VVV

Brown, DJ Johnny Q, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Golden Age of Film: Shanghai Gesture, FAM w Hump Band, VVV

7 Ar w Love, the Ca

Audie5000 w Rademacher, w Brothers of B w Bike Hop, m w World's Most w Art Exhibitio town and T w Art Hop Rec w Rafaela Ruiz

Fred, 9p w Rademacher, w Taste & Toas w Furious Slug w Cosmic Hayr

19 w Open Mic/Jam: Aesop & the

20 w L80s Nite 80z Dance Party: DJ Audi5K, free,

26 w Open Mic/Jam: Aesop & the

27 28 w Hump! International House Dance Party, Audie's w Brother Luke

Olympians, free, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Broadway in Fresno: Stomp, $25+, WST, 7:30p w Licorice Pimps/Jeff Logan, VVV w Valley Arena, Boomshake, Buildings Breeding, The Fay Wrays, $6, SL, 9p

Olympians, free, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Licorice Pimps/Jeff Logan, VVV

Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Broadway in Fresno: Stomp, $25+, WST, 7:30p w Soul Freedom Lounge, Mr Leonard, VVV

Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Hump Band, VVV

21 Art w Dia Del Astr

Audie's O w SJ River Park River: Wil w Rademacher, w Inner Ear Po

Olympic/C w Rademacher, w Evo's Old Tim

Got An Event? Email : C


Thursday

SMH: Smokehouse Bar, 1231 Van Ness TKG: Tokyo Garden N TT: Tower Theatre, 815 Olive Ave N First WST: William Saroyan Theatre WWPL: Woodward Park Library 226 N VVV: Veni Vedi Vici, 1116 N ce, Fulton ZP: Zapp's Park, 1105 N E Fern Blackstone

St N

aptive: The Suppressors, HR7, DJ 0, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p ,TKG, 9p Baladi, $10, FCB, 8p meet at Tower Velo, 5:30p t? Thirsty Thursdays, ZP, 9p on Opening: Josh Wigger, Teazer (down Tower locations) ception: Abigail Janzen, Alenya Reeves, z, and Elizabeth Castro, CYC

rt Hop T(wer/Downtown)

Bike to Work Day aptive: Tassa, Audie's Olympic/Club

,TKG, 9p st of Tower, $15, 5 – 8p gs, $1, FCB, 8p ride, ZP, 9p

t Hop (Metro/Outlying)

ronauta, Scarlet Symphony, Ralpheene, Olympic/Club Fred, 9p kway and Cons Trust: Respite by the lliam Emery Justice, 6p , TKG, 9p oetry Jam, $5, FCB, 8p

e & the Comrades, Pataphysics, Audie's Club Fred, 9p , TKG, 9p me Music Jam, $6, FCB, 7p

Calendar@FresnoUndercurrent.net

Friday

Saturday

2 w Lecture: Ancient Calendars, AAM, 11a w The Same Shape, VVV, 10:30

1

w Punk Show, CYC w Lucky Lopez, $6, FCB, 8p w Soul Good DJs Matt B & Manny Carr, VVV w Meatball Magic, RL, 10p

w Juke Joint Jokers, $6, FCB, 8p w Falling Up, Circles & Circles, Ruth & Josiah James archeology, $8, KPJ, 7p

8 9 w Mike Smith (5p), 40 Watt Hype, Bayonics (9p), Audie's Olympic/Club Fred w Sparrow Love Crew, Robo Pop, DJ Rick Savage, Audie's w Fri Brownbag Cinema, A Day's Pleasure (Charlie Chaplin), MET, noon – 1p w Fresno Filmworks: Two Lovers, $10, TT, 5:30p and 8p w Jazz Jam (Karen Marguth and friends), $5, FCB, 5:30p w DJ Prof Stone, VVV w Sleep for Sleepers, Everfound, The Thomas Confession, Elephants & Crayons, $7, KPJ, doors 7p w Something for Tomorrow, ZP, 9p

Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Fresno Phil: Orion Weiss (piano), $24+, WST, 8p w The Stepsons, $6, FCB, 8p w Beat Dynasty, VVV w Live Free Festival (Chuck Dimes, others), Calwa Park, noon Let's Go 77 Promotions Punk Show: Widdly Wahs, Gyrators & Guest, ZP, 9; w Anna Conda's Charlie Horse (Rock Drag Show), free, The Den 4538 e. Belmont. 9p

15 w Mad Sin, Rezurex, Diesel Finger, The Midnight Howlers, Audie's

16 w Cattie Ness's B-Day Bash: Hellbound Hayride, Cattie Ness & the Revenge, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w In-Flight Nymphs, $6, FCB, 8p w Body Rosk DJ Don D & F-Plus, VVV w Order 66 Promotions, ZP, 9p

Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Jazz drummer Charli Persip, $15, Central HS, 7p w Pipe on the Hob, $6, FCB, 8p w Frisky DJ P-Rez, VVV w Meatball Magic, RL, 10p w Ocelot Awesome A Lot, $7, KPJ w Do U Ent/Katalyst Music, ZP, 9p

22 23 w Glen Delpit (5p), Three Bad Jacks, Moonshine, Midnight Howlers, Audie's w Lance Canales, Trey Tosh, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p

Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w End of School Party DJ Deal P, VVV w Robin Trower, Corby Yates, TT, 7p w Buffalo Guns, Consider the Thief, Riots of Eighty, From Indian Lakes, Jeffrey Conway, $8, KPJ, doors 7p w Konkrete Jungle: Club, Drum, & Bass, $5, ZP, 9p w Suicide Lounge, $7, FCB, 8p

w Central Valley Burlesque Society: Evening of Vaudeville, $13, FCB, 8p w Word of Mouth DJ Rusty, VVV w D4D Entertainment, $5, ZP, 9p

29 w Terril Cross (5p), Cash'd Out (Johnny Cash tribute)(9p), Audie's

30

Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Opening Night for Nights in the Plaza: Salsa Caliente, AAM w Blacklight Poetry: Spoken Funk, TT, 8p w Tempest, $15, FCB, 8p w Manny Carr's B-Day, DJ Transparent, VVV w Critical Mass, meet at Fresno HS, 6:00p w Santonies Revenge, ZP, 9p

w Kountry Kittens Burlesque Troupe, Pendletons, Motel Drive, Moonshine, Audie's Olympic/Club Fred, 9p w Manteca, Smoke my Pipe, Born Loser, Necro Wizard, $2, CYC, 6:30 w Centerfire, $6, FCB, 8p w Samurai Beats DJ Samurai and Sxtek, VVV

w Calendar

current as of printing


JOHN VANDERSLICE f a r

l e f t

HANDSOME FURS

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g

h

t

THE AIRCRASH l

THE SAME SHAPE • THE OUTLINE • RUMSPRINGA •DJ JOHNNY Q

i

e

f

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HEAD LIKE A KITE • THE SLEEPOVER DISASTER • THE AIRCRASH

Fresno music scene heroes The Same Shape provide the perfect bridge between two impressive touring bands for this Love, The Captive promotion. Rumspringa bill themselves as R&B, and you’ll hear that influence in their music, along with a little blues and a lot of indie rock ala Hot Hot Heat and Franz Ferdinand. Take the same formula and rock it up a bit, and you have The Outline. Sounding like they’re at the top of their game, The Same Shape have that soulfulness still, but rock it up these days. All in all this show M O N M A Y 0 4 promises to be one of the highlights of May, and DJ Johnny Q will 9 0 0 p m • all ages • Fresno’s be there to fill in the blanks.

Seattle’s Head Like a Kite bring it in a real way. They bring a crowd. They bring great songs. They bring energy that will make it impossible for you to stand still. A little New Wave, a little Post-Punk, this electro/indie band puts on a big show. If this were American Bandstand, one might say that they have a good beat and you can dance to them, but they also rock. Their first appearance in Fresno was a near sell-out, and this Love, The Captive promotion is likely to be no different. Get spacey and rock out with support band, The Sleepover Disaster, and W E D M A Y 0 6 get there early to see one of Fresno’s 9 0 0 p m • 2 1 + • best new bands, The Aircrash.

The short drive to Merced will rarely be so worth it as it will on this night, a showcase of some of the best San Francisco has to offer. Studio recording guru John Vanderslice appears performing his beautiful, eclectic brand of indie music at Merced’s finest venue. Vanderslice will presumably present songs from his new full-length record. If his appearance at Tokyo Garden last year is any indication, this will be an engaging performance not to be missed. Young San Francisco indie rockers, The Morning Benders, provide support for this first show of S U N M A Y 1 7 Vanderslice’s three-month summer 9 0 0 p m • 2 1 + • tour.

Fresno favorites The Fay Wrays will anchor this show, which features an eclectic mix of touring bands. Buildings Breeding are promoting their recent full-length album released on SF label Devil in the Woods Records, performing their brand of gorgeous, airy indie pop. San Diego’s Boomsnake provide a minimalist, experimental take on the same genre, bringing jangly guitars and big vocal harmonies. Finally, Long Beach, California’s The Valley T U E M A Y 1 9 Arena, a long-time Fresno favorite, 9 0 0 p m • A L L A G E S • return to do what they do best: rocking your socks off.

This side project from Andrew Kenny of Austin’s American Analog Set will not disappoint fans of that band. The melodies and beautiful spacey qualities that AAS delivers are present here, but with a feel more akin to the Americana genre: soft acoustic guitar strums and subtle, sweet vocal harmonies. All of this makes them a great fit for their new label, Barsuk Records, a label that the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), and The Long Winters have called home. This will be their only Central stop on a tour that sees the S A T M A Y 3 0 Valley band traveling throughout Europe 9 3 0 p m • 2 1 + • and the western U.S.

Handsome Furs is apparently more than just a side project for Dan Boeckner, frontman for Montreal band Wolf Parade. This California stop is one on a fairly extensive world tour promoting the duo’s recent release on Sub Pop Records, the label that Wolf Parade also calls home. Realistically, Handsome Furs sound is a logical extension of that of WP, with the organic drums and bass guitar being replaced by big-beat electronics and thick electric guitar atmospherics. Experience the big sound and energetic live performance that Handsome Furs bring and T U E J U N 0 9 you’ll see that this project stands well 9 3 0 p m • 2 1 + • on its own, thank you very much.

Rocking audiences all over the world for over a quarter-century hasn’t slowed The Queers a bit. This band still tours extensively, adding to their already huge catalog of poppy punk rock along the way. A great example of the fun days of old-school punk, these guys draw not only from the first wave of punk, but also 60s surf music and maybe a little Motown. Berkeley’s Atom Age provide support as do all-female indie/pop group, The Hot Toddies (Oakland, CA). Denver’s The T H U J U N 1 8 Mansfields and Fresno punk rawk 9 0 0 p m • 21+ • faves, The Giddy-ups, will also play.

San Francisco’s Dave Dondero is an entertainer in the truest sense. Whether performing solo or with his backing band, Dondero is an engaging artist and storyteller. The stories that he tells arrive through the vehicle of his music and through his equally entertaining banter and audience interaction. Dondero played a memorable show in the alley behind the Cultural Arts Building downtown a few years back. Supporting Dondero will be his friends, Rademacher, and, if Lady Fortune smiles upon the show, you might see F R I J U N 1 9 El Olio Wolof rounding out the bill. can also see that triple bill at The 9 0 0 p m • 2 1 + • (You Partisan in Merced on June 13).

THE STARLINE

JOHN VANDERSLICE • THE MORNING BENDERS

AUDIE’S OLYMPIC

THE VALLEY ARENA • BOOMSNAKE • BUILDINGS BREEDING • THE

THE PARTISAN THE STARLINE

THE WOODEN BIRDS

CELLAR DOOR

THE QUEERS • ATOM AGE • THE HOT TODDIES • THE MANSFIELDS

HANDSOME FURS • THE CINNAMON BAND

CELLAR DOOR

DAVID DONDERO • RADEMACHER

AUDIE’S OLYMPIC T O K Y O G A R D E N

page THE VENUES / Cellar Door = 101 W Main St, Visalia • The Exit = 1533 E Belmont, Fresno • Audie’s Olympic Club Fred= 1426 N Van Ness, Fresno • Howie

22 Fresno • Veni Vidi Vici = 1116 N Fulton, Fresno • Babylon = 1064 N Fulton, Fresno • The Venue = 1148 7th St, Sanger • Chinatown Youth Center = 901 F & Sons Pizza = 2430 S Mooney, Visalia • The Starline = 831 E Fern, Fresno • The Partisan = 432 W Main St, Merced • Tokyo Garden = 1711 Fulton,


Patrick Contreras Band CD Release Block Party

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he Patrick Contreras Band will be releasing their new CD, American Rock Violinist, on June 20, 2009 in the Tower District with a unique, ambitious event that is sure to be a blast. It all starts with people gathering at the DMV on Olive Ave at 7pm. At 7:30 pm, the caravan will head east toward the Tower Theater, with the band playing on a float as people follow on foot or in their cars. Then the show begins at 8 pm with a block party in the parking lot area behind the Tower Theater. After-parties will be held at Palominos (more of a lounge vibe) and at Sequoia Brewing (live music). Inspired by Tower events like Jamaica My Weekend as well as by an outdoor show he played in Austin, Patrick said that he wanted to bring a great, outdoor concert vibe to the CD release event. “We really want to do something different.”

The area will be gated off, but $10 gets you in to the festivities. Sequoia Brewing will be selling beer in a Beer Garden area, and Me N Eds will be selling pizza. And of course, the Patrick Contreras Band will be playing and selling their CDs.

by Jessi Hafer Fresno (i.e., North Fresno) show as well as on iTunes that might need to be shown and CD Baby. what’s going on in other parts If you’ve never of town heard Patrick Contreras play Patrick adding that the violin, you’ll be stunned he wants the event to have a by the sound he gets from the good reputation, too: “I want typically classical instrument; to raise the bar, show that this then again, you’ll be having can be done.” too much fun listening to The independently- think about what a technically strong and incredibly unusual labeled American Rock sound he has. As great as the Violinist CD features 12

CD is certain to be, it won’t tracks, most of which are be able to compete with a live original songs. Purple Haze performance from the Patrick is the only cover song... and Contreas Band, particularly at it’s amazing (look for it on such a festive event as a big their myspace page: block party. Patrick said, “we www.myspace.com/patrickwant to have a good time out contreras). In addition to there and try to make somePatrick Contreras on violin, thing memorable.” the band includes Quetzal Andrade on bass and Jason Confident of a safe Williams on drums and perand family-friendly event, cussion. Their sample tracks kids under 9 get in free. promise a sound that’s Patrick explained that he has intense, polknown people who have ished, and wanted to go to shows but honed from a couldn’t because of baby sit- wide range of ter issues. He hopes that peo- influences. “…it's fun.” ple will bring their kids to the The CD will —Juanita show. He also hopes to target be available people in other parts of for $10 at the

W

by Abid Yahya

Destructo Bunny (the clever and funky emcee-deejay from Merced whose freestyles are famous all up and down the state, and who recently opened for Aceyalone), the Sleepover Disaster (Fresno shoegaze legends and humble stars of this year’s SXSW Festival), Three Bags Full (Kevin Hill’s funky-ass band who make our town who we’ve such a wonderful been honored place to be, we’re to have play putting on our third at every Undercurrent annual birthday birthday so show, this year at far), Shon J the Starline (831 E. (the hardestFern, in the Tower working District). We hope emcee in you’ll come and celtown, whose ebrate with us. new album Now, as you should be dropping probably know, The very soon), Undercurrent is a noprofit project. Ad the Fay Three Bags Full sales pay for the printWrays (a ing, but there’s very local threelittle left over for growth, for the show; it’s for a good piece who will rock your face cause. implementing many of the off with their very, very loud ideas we have for making and intense performance), This year, like the Son del Valle (an amazing The Undercurrent bigger and last two, a bunch of local better (or, in these times, for musicians have come forward four-piece who play interpregiving us some kind of tations of son jarocho from and volunteered to play our Veracruz, Mexico), and It’s month-to-month survivabili- birthday show, and we are ty). honored. So we hope you’ll An Icicle (a very talented, upEveryone who con- all come out and have a good and-coming indie rock band). It’s going to be an tributes to The Undercurrent time. The show takes place on Saturday 13 June and, as I awesome evening, with local (from writing to editing to mentioned above, will go musicians representing a designing to delivering the printed product around town) down at the Starline (which is wide array of musical genres an 18+ venue), so the under and styles, all woven together 21 crowd can join us this into a single big-hearted, year, which is great. The beautiful performance. Don’t cover charge is $15 and all of miss it. The Undercurrent it will go toward keeping The needs you. The doors will open at 5. The music starts at Undercurrent afloat. The show will fea- 6pm. is a volunteer who does it merely for the love, but there are costs involved. We need ell, folks, it’s your help to keep on keeping been a great on, to continue to provide three years, and Fresno with an independent voice and to spread the word we’re ready to go for wider and wider about the many, many more. As a thanks to our readers, and myriad brilliant artists and musicians working in and to the musicians and artists around Fresno. So come to

ture performances from


Woodward Shakespeare Festival Embarks on 5th Season

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by Jessi Hafer

his summer marks the 5th season of Fresno’s Woodward Shakespeare Festival (WSF). Over the past four summers, the WSF has been producing high quality productions of some of the most beloved Shakespeare plays. Often these productions come alive through unique, intriguing contexts, and performances are free. As such, WSF is one of Fresno’s greatest sources for accessible arts. Mark your calendars now so you are sure to include their upcoming season in your summer plans.

WSF’s 2009 season opens on June 25 with As You Like It, directed by Michael Peterson. In As You Like It, the heroine Rosalind escapes from her uncle’s court to the Forest of Arden, and she assures her asylum by disguising herself as a young man (“Ganymede”). Rosalind has the company of her cousin Celia and their jester Touchstone… and eventually the shepherdess Phebe (who falls in love with Rosalind disguised as “Ganymede”), Silvius (who’s in love with Phebe), Audrey (who Touchstone courts), William (who loves Audrey), Orlando (who loves Rosalind… but doesn’t realize she’s in disguise), and others. “Love triangle” becomes an understatement (“love octagon,” perhaps?), and to charming and funny effect. In the WSF production, Peterson sets the play in 1969 on the beach in Southern California, ensuring a production of As You Like It like none other you’ve seen. Performances are held from June 25 – July 25.

The 2009 season will continue with the delightfully dark Richard III, directed by Arlene Schulman, who directed WSF’s production of Hamlet last year. Performances of Richard III will be held from August 13 – September 12.

WSF performances are held on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00 PM in Woodward Park. Performances are free, but reserved tickets for the best seats are available for $10. For more information, see www.woodwardshakespeare.com.

“…it's HELLA tight! And free too!” —Paula

Club Austral

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by Cresencia Cruz Escalona

t’s hard to find a place where people can gather with a group of other people and be able to discuss art, literature and even discuss their own literary works in Spanish. It’s wonderful to be able to share your thoughts, dreams, hopes and even your soul (at times) in your first language, which, at times, is something hard to do, especially when those around you don’t share the same interest. I wasn’t born in Mexico, but my first language is Spanish, and English is my second. And although I have mastered English, my soul relies on expressing itself in Spanish. To me, Spanish is a beautiful language. With just one word you can sometimes say so much more. But for others, Spanish is their only language and they cannot say what their heart desires in English. For some of my friends, it is sometimes difficult to be able to have discussions about authors from Latin America especially, since people hardly read the works of writers such as Borges, Neruda, and Fuentes, but someone is trying to change that.

others who are willing to experience and learn from various Latin American cultures with open arms. Austral has started literature readings, where a local poet is brought in to share his or her work. The poet takes advice or just shares their experiences with whoever attends the readings. Austral has also managed to organize their own literary workshops, where they help each other out with editing and feedback on each other’s writings. Club Austral also holds meetings at least every week, where they plan for their next literature reading or workshop, and lately for an extraordinary cultural event.

Club Austral would like to invite each and every one of you to an evening of celebration of Latin American folk music and poetry as well as some art. You will hear music from Mate y Bombilla, who, with their music, will be sharing the riches that South America has to offer, including the lovely voice of mi paisana Beatriz Herrera who has been compared to the amazing Argentinean folk singer Mercedes Sosa. Renato Martinez, Chilean poet, literary Club Austral was cre- critic and author of Estaciones ated about a year and half ago (Seasons, 1997) and Para una at Fresno State, by a group of relectura del boom: Populismo Spanish speaking students who y otredad will be sharing his longed to have a place to be work with us. Also you will able to share their work, the hear the works of Fresno State admiration for writers from students and members of Club their homelands, or just to share Austral. This event will take their culture with those who place Friday, May 15th at come from the same place as Fresno State’s Satellite Student they do as Union starting at 5:30 pm. Club well as with Austral hopes to see you there. those who They also wish The don’t. Club Undercurrent a very happy Austral birthday and thank you! seeks to share their culture with


POEMS ALL UP IN YOUR FACE!

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n spite of the fact that so many of us whine so often about there being nothing to do in Fresno, the month of May brings two events that say otherwise. The Inner Ear Poetry Jam’s seventh anniversary show and Black Light Poetry’s latest adventure in live poetry performance should remind us all that Fresno’s on the right track, thanks in part to the hard work of folks like Bryan Medina and Stephen Mayu Jr.

Mayu and the good folks at BLP have come at it with a fierce ambition, hosting unprecedented and very well-attended poetry events over the last few years. And they’re at it again this month, bringing us a show that is part poetry and part comedy, featuring two Def Jam poets and two Def Jam comedians (Sekou the Misfit, Steve Connell, Ron G, and Dwayne Perkins) and hosted by Poetri, the Tony-winning Def Jam poet who blessed us with his first Fresno performance in February. On top of all that,

local musicians Armen Nalbandian and Eva Scow (and some special guests) will be on hand to provide live music. The event takes place at the Tower Theatre on Friday, 29 May, at 8pm. It’s a family-friendly event and the doors open at 7. The cost is $20, well worth it. All in all, it should be a wonderful event. As Mayu puts it, “I’ve decided to raise the bar and do something a little bit different.” He also calls it “a night you won’t soon forget.” Given his track record, I’m inclined to believe the hype. Don’t miss it.

And for seven years, Medina and his crew have been bringing us the Inner Ear Open Mic Poetry Jam. “It’s a counterculture Ed Sullivan kinda thing,” explains Medina, “but based on poetry & spoken word performance…and art…and music.” Through a laugh, he continues, “We kinda see our-

by Abid Yahya

selves as a smorgasbord of alternative art, I guess.” Their show on Thursday May

21, their seventh anniversary show, will be, as Medina puts it, “like our usual show, but on steroids.” Throughout the evening, there will be, of

you may know as a member of the hip hop group The Typical Cats. The show will go down at the Full Circle Brewery (620 F. St.) and costs $15 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased for $12 at Palomino’s (in Olive in Tower), the Fresno Arts Council (downtown), or at the Full Circle Brewery itself.

Also, to round out the evening, 40 Watt Hype will be providing the tunes and local artist Ramiro Martinez will be making live art, painting throughout the evening as he flows with the poetry, music, and energy of the show.

Denizen Kane

course, the Inner Ear’s usual open mic, but the night will be capped by performances from local poets David Campos and Stephen Mayu Jr (of BLP), both of whom are awesome, and Def Poet Denizen Kane, who some of

In short, for those who continue to insist that Fresno sucks, or that there’s nothing to do in Fresno (the twin robotic refrains of many, many Fresnans), attend these two events and then get back to me. I’m confident that this should settle the matter once and for all.

All Washed Up: the Art of Josh Wigger

finest artists to ever emerge from Fresno, in my humble opinion. And he’s damn prolific, by Abid Yahya known to produce huge series of paintosh Wigger’s back in Fresno after a stint abroad, and ings in lengthy dayswe’re all glad for it. And we’ve got a great opportunity to long no-sleep sessions see what he’s been up to these many months starting on 7 and sell them on the May, when a unique new show will be opening at not one— sidewalk outside the but two—venues here in town. Teazer World Tea Market is bar for the next several hosting All Washed Up: The Art of Josh Wigger at both their days with a flower in Tower District location and their downtown spot in the his hair. Go check it Galleria Building. out. Seriously, if you Wigger holds a special place in The Undercurrent’s haven’t seen his work, heart, as his work graced our very first cover, but his imporit will change the way tance goes far beyond that. His work is wildly original, crazy you see all art. It’ll imaginative, and just plain high quality. He has been comblow away your whole pared to Salvador Dali. His work is, all at once, dark and concept of what paintfuturistic as well as sensual and innocent. He’s one of the ing is.

J

One of Wigger's recent works


BRWN BFLOBRWN BFLO Independent (2009)

by Matt Espinoza Watson

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“Yep, I did it, I meant it, I said it out loud: / Fuck Ronald Reagan, I’m James Brown and Proud.”

s summer approaches, it’s good to have some summertime music lined up. The soundtrack to this summer can’t be the same as last year, and it’s good to now have an idea of what I’m gonna be bumpin as the heat increases. We’ve covered BRWN BFLO before here in The Undercurrent, when they were still known as the Brown Buffalo Project, and most recently when their tour brought them into the Valley from Oakland along with Ise Lyfe. That really wasn’t that long ago, but a lot has happened for these guys. They’ve gone from being a loose collective to a committed musical group— “each member integral to our goal of representing the multifaceted Brown (some say Pocho) experience.” Their impressive video “The Reappearance” has been catching attention on YouTube and elsewhere online. Their debut full length album is available in stores and online on Cinco de Mayo, and they will be returning to the Valley to bless us with a couple of performances real soon. More on that in a second, though; first let’s talk about this album and this group. BRWN BFLO is named after Oscar Zeta Acosta, (who called himself the “Brown Buffalo”) revolutionary Chicano lawyer, author, and infamous friend & companion of Hunter S. Thompson. Acosta disappeared mysteriously in 1974. The group describes itself as “that wild ass group of larger than average Chicano artists who promise nothing more than honest MUSIC aimed at moving people to creative action.” BRWN BFLO is reminiscent not of one group in particular (especially because their sound is so unique), but of all the really great hip hop that’s ever resonated with

me. One comparison that made sense in my head though, was that this album is kinda like the Chicano response to Dead Prez’s Let’s Get Free. It’s full of innovative and fresh beats, combined with revolutionary, thought provoking, and uplifting lyrics. It’s about self-determination and taking responsibility for our future, and it’s about shaking your booty on the dance floor. Actually, if your body doesn’t start moving when you hear the first track on this album, you might want to get that checked out with your doctor…for reals though.

Keep Spinnin” has a definite Oakland-hyphy feel to it, with guest MCs Bambu and Zumbi (of Zion-I) lending their mic skills as well. “Chido” is probably my favorite song on the album right now; “I’m hot like a stolen rental / Chido cuz I said so / Steppin up the dress code / I’m zoot-suited up /All Catrín / Lookin fresco / Oye, somos listo / Vamos loco, let’s go.” And all of that is just the first five tracks. The album keeps it consistent throughout 17 tracks, where Jacinto demonstrates impeccable skills on the 1s and 2s and with unique beats, (along with meticulous executive production from Big Dan) and Giant, SomoS 1, and Big Dan flex their verbal muscles all over the place.

The music on the album is tremendously varied; on their myspace, the BFLO cite as influences “WAR, ‘Chente (Vicente Fernandez), NWA, and WuTang Clan.” So I actually had pretty Combine those high expectations for this album (based on seeing them perform live with some of the & the 5-song sampler they were sell- other influences ing the last time they came around), mentioned throughout the and I can now definitely say that album; “Bob these expectations were surpassed. Marley, Manu “Never Been Gone” begins the Chao, Lila album by slapping you in the face with a ridiculously smooth & funky Downs, Nasir bassline and that body-rockin head- Jones, and 2pac” nodding beat. The BFLO come out are all present spitting that fire, & they don’t let up here. as the album moves on. “Powerful It is People” is an empowering song music that is hisabout brown & black unity and torically and “street thugs organizing in the barpolitically aware. rio”; the beautiful “Corazón” is Self-aware. about immigration, identity, day Music that teachlaborers, survival, and lots more: es love and “Smash the borders, Abajo con la respect for self migra / Tenemos Corazón, co, cora- and for those zón / Olvidate mano, de ser como around you (to todos / Let it shine….” “Wheels

use a term from KRS-One: Edutainment). But it’s also music to party to; about pisto and tacos de asada and blowin them trees; about the harsh realities of barrio life, and “ghostriding on the system.” It’s angry and militant, yet introspective and peaceful. Full of anger toward those who oppress, brutalize, and prey on our communities; but also full of love for those communities, the love of family and cultura. In the end, it’s full of contradictions, complexity, and most importantly, corazón.

(myspace.com/studioitz), and on Friday May 8 at 11 a.m. at the Fresno City College Theater, where they will also be hosting a workshop afterwards. (All three MCs also happen to be UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies graduates and educators.) Both events are open to the public and FREE, and either would be a great opportunity to see their performance skills in action and pick up a copy of their new album. For more on BRWN BFLO, check out www.brwnbflo.com or myspace.com/brwnbflo. For more BRWN BFLO will be per- info on the events, email me at forming in Fresno on Thursday May matt.w@fresnoundercurrent.net. 7, as part of ArtHop at Studio Itz


THE SECOND BOOK OF THE TAO edited by Stephen Mitchell /

Compiled and adapted from the Chuang-tzu and the

Chung Yung, with commentaries The Penguin Press (2009)

by Matt Espinoza Watson Looking for an enlightening summer read? Look no further…

the ten thousand things. She lets the confused stay confused if that is what they want and is always available to those with a passion for the truth. In the welter of opinions, she is content with not-knowing. She makes distinctions but doesn’t take them seriously. She sees the world constantly breaking apart, and stays centered in the whole. She sees the world endlessly changing and never wants it to be different from what it is.

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ut of many books I love, (and the many I usually have on my person or in my trunk at any given time) there are only a select few that I feel I need to have nearby at all times. Among these is Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching (or ‘Book of the Way’, often described as the ‘classic manual on the art of living’). The others, for the record, are Daniel Ladinksy’s translation of Hafiz’s The Gift and Brian Browne Walker’s translation of the I Ching. All three are fresh, modern translations of books of ancient wisdom. All three strive to capture the spirit of the originals, rather than exacting word-for-word translations. Through the best and worst of times, these books of incredible wisdom have served as guides, encouragement, counsel, perspective, respite, nourishment, and communion.

Commentary: There’s nothing special about the Master. She doesn’t know any secrets, and she doesn’t live in some state of exalted consciousness. She’s just like you, except that she no longer believes her own thoughts. “When I attained unexcelled perfect enlightenpublished translations of ment,” the Buddha said, “there Gilgamesh, the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Genesis, the Book of was nothing that I attained.” The Job, as well as the poetry of such mind at peace with itself needs only what it has, wants only what literary greats as Pablo Neruda it is. and Ranier Maria Rilke. While the majority of the aforemenSo, the whole point of this tioned texts are translations, review was so I could share a Mitchell makes clear that this collection is comprised of adap- couple of these passages with you, but I figured I’d give it tations, “sometimes very free ones.” In addition to this distinc- some context & form (like, say, a book review) rather than having tion, one other major difference free-floating Taoist verses ranbetween this work and other of domly dispersed throughout our Mitchell’s books I’ve encountered is that here we are also pro- paper… Here’s another I really love: vided with his commentaries on

That being said, when I read that Stephen Mitchell had just written The Second Book of the Tao, my interest was piqued. The Second Book of the Tao? Is there such a thing? Those familiar with the Tao Te Ching, written each of the selections. Far from explaining away the beauty or by Lao Tzu in the 6th Century magic of the texts, Mitchell’s B.C., may be wondering why they’ve never heard of a sequel; commentaries shed further light:

and, well, it’s because there wasn’t one, until Stephen Mitchell put it together. Compiled from the work of Lao Tzu’s disciple Chuang-tzu and Confucius’ grandson Tzu-ssu, it is Mitchell’s attempt to create a complimentary volume to the Tao Te Ching, “a left to its right, a yang to its yin.” To be sure, Stephen Mitchell has embarked upon many ambitious translation projects before; besides the Tao, he’s

11 Text: The Master doesn’t aim for success, doesn’t avoid failure, doesn’t act with a motive, doesn’t try to follow the Tao. She speaks when she is silent, says nothing when she speaks, and remains pure amid the world’s dust and grime. The Master soars past the sun and moon, tucks the universe under her arm, and is one with

21 Text: The Master treads lightly on the earth. Life is not serious for him, and death is not serious. Even if the whole world collapsed, it would not disturb him. He realizes what is essential. He has returned to the source. Commentary: The more we move beyond our ideas about life and death, the more open we are to life. This

Continued next page...


Tao continued... radical ignorance is not a path to wisdom: it is wisdom itself. There’s a current that is deeper than we are. It will carry us off whether we want it to or not. When we resist it, we suffer. Only when we let it take us can we begin to sense its intelligence. The Master knows how to die, because he knows how to deal with the everyday losses that form the texture of our life. He deals with them by understanding that loss is just a concept. He looks into the abyss as into the eyes of the beloved. He knows nothing about death; he knows everything he needs to know about dying.

Che (Part One and Part Two)

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(2008)

directed by Steven Soderbergh by Vahram Antonian

Te Ching, that would probably be a great place to start exploring.

Songs says, When you make the handle of an ax by cutting wood with an ax, the model is near at hand. Thus, in dealing with people, you already 24 And I’ll leave you with this one; Text: have the perfect model of behavior know that there are 61 others includTo find the Tao, there is nowhere you inside you. Just act with integrity, ed in the book, and if you like what need to search. If it is not inside according to your true nature. Don’t you’re reading, and aren’t familiar do to others what you wouldn’t want with Mitchell’s translation of the Tao you, it is not the Tao. The Book of done to you.

Commentary: We talk of inside and outside, but it’s as impossible to locate the Tao in the mind as in the world. Anything here or there isn’t it. Can your eyes see themselves? When the answer searches for the answer, what can it ever find? That’s why even the most golden rules of behavior don’t work, if they’re only rules. What is genuine has no models or rules. It’s spontaneous, self-generating, free. Nothing can stand against it. It doesn’t depend on motivation and isn’t concerned with effect. It just wants to be itself, to express itself, to give itself utterly away. Its nature is kindness, but there’s nothing moral about it. In dealing with people, you’re always dealing with yourself. The apparent other is you in disguise, the mirrored impulse, the reflection of your own mind, brilliant or confused. Unkindness to the other is literally unkindness to you. When you realize this, you naturally stop hurting yourself. And in the end, you come full circle, where 0° equals 360° and selfishness is an act of pure love.

recently had the pleasure of viewing Steven Soderbergh’s Che at the premiere of the film in San Francisco. Appropriately, it was a rather low-key event, an intimate gathering in a modest-sized theater. The film(s) did not make it to most movie theaters near you, and the only people who managed to see it had to put forth the effort. I get the feeling this is the way Che himself would have preferred things to be.

Reactions were mixed and opinions varied. I must admit I was disappointed at the film’s complete lack of attention to major events of his life—his time as economic minister in Cuba, his well-documented world travels, his attempt to bring revolution to the African continent, etc. Indeed, the vast majority of the four and a half hour cinematic experience takes place in the jungles and villages of Cuba and Bolivia. Benicio Del Toro’s likeness to Che, however, is uncanny and, other than his Caribbean-influenced Spanish accent, he accomplishes the feat of becoming the man he portrays. Early in the film, Che abandons his life in Mexico in a heartbeat to climb aboard a leaky ship bound for Cuba with an intriguing young man named Fidel, played by Demian Bichir.

offers a more realistic vision. And it’s not very glamorous. There are no Schwarzenegger-esque shots of Che strutting around with two AK47s at his waist mowing down fascist soldiers by the dozen. What we are presented with, rather, is the determination and sacrifice involved with those brave revolutionaries who undertook the monumental, suicidal challenge of overthrowing a national establishment and going toe-to-toe with its armed forces. Che and his men were illequipped, half-starved, desperate and disillusioned, yet they pushed on. They pushed on because Che demanded this of them.

For much of the first film, Che is almost a minor character, one who only leads when he has to—the mark of a true leader. The only departures from guerilla Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s footage are snippets and news reel shots of Guevara visiting New written work, The Cuban York to address the U.N., where Revolutionary War and Bolivian Diary, served as the inspiration for his reception is lukewarm at best. Part One and Part Two, respective- There’s a brilliant scene where Che runs into Senator Joseph ly. The outdoor footage is beautiMcCarthy at a party, and takes the fully shot, and it soon becomes opportunity to thank him for the clear the director stays true to the Bay of Pigs invasion and the personality of his subject. Sure, we’ve all imagined how romantic resulting rally of support it produced in Cuba. it must have been to be a revolutionary, standing at the side of Che Ultimately, the story of and Fidel Castro, rifle in hand, Continued next page... cigar in mouth. Well, Soderbergh


Che Continued...

Che in Bolivia is portrayed a bit like the story of Jesus. Everything seemed to be working against Che. The mountainous jungles were harsh and inhospitable, the locals were uneducated and distrustful of foreigners, the communist party withdrew its support, and the watchful government authorities enjoyed U.S. support in their counterintelligence efforts. Despite it all, Che’s faith in humanity never wavers, and he never loses his devotion to people suffering everywhere (regardless of whether or not they asked for his help). Even after his capture, on his final night alive, his benevolent presence is almost too much for the young guards who are assigned to keep watch overnight. Their guilty consciences force them to stand outside the holding room.

Wholphin 7

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McSweeney’s (2009)

by Jessi Hafer holphin is the “DVD Magazine of Rare and Unseen Short Films” published by McSweeney’s. All film fans should check out Wholphin, as should anyone intrigued by short films who also recognizes how rare it is that most of us even

remember that there are such things as short films. Wholphin 7 actually has a few films that I didn’t particularly care for, yet even those had worthy stories (just not stories that compelled me personally); then again, it had quite a few that I just loved.

My favorite film on Wholphin 7 is “Fantaisie in Bubblewrap,” which you access through the third title menu background. If you don’t select a film from the title menu, then the DVD eventually launches you into one of three short films (and these three are all among my favorites of Wholphin 7). What I love about “Fantaisie in Bubblewrap” is that the four and a half minute film takes a simple, fun concept and uses it for some fairly surprising dialogue. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but trust me: it’s hilarious. The second title menu background takes you into “William Tell,” which is just under four min-

utes long. I showed this story of bizarre futility to a friend, and my friend wasn’t as impressed. I hope to show this friend the interview with the director in the booklet that comes with the DVD so maybe he gets a better appreciation of the film. And that’s one of the great things about Wholphin: each issue includes a booklet with interviews and commentary from directors and others involved in the films. “William Tell” is the story of a cardboard-clad knight (very Don Quixote-esque) in an open field surrounded by trees. Using a BB gun, he’s trying to shoot a tin can off the top of his own head. I couldn’t help but laugh and sympathize at the awkward futility of this archetypal image. The first title menu background becomes “Look at the Sun,” a five minute montage of solar flares and sunspots (set to music) recorded by SOHO (the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) during the most active part of the solar cycle. It’s beautiful footage that conveys a

personality to the sun that we may rarely consider. There’s some great animation on Wholphin 7, including “The Even More Fun Trip,” about a trip to an amusement park. The streaks and blocky colors of director Bob Sabiston’s animation perfectly com-

municate the fun and dizziness (not in a queasy way) of typical amusement rides. The central character continually repeats “Just like last time,” and I found myself hearing his voice any time I said “last time.” “Cold & Dry” is an intriguing short film that uses a light style while showing the sad effects that can come from a desperate hope in the future coupled with a lack of joy in the present. The reliance on technology is juxtaposed against the communicative eyes and expressions of the perpetrators and users of the technology. “Choque” is a short film from Spain. A man takes his date to play on bumper cars, claiming that the reason kids aren’t stressed out is because they bash each other and

themselves on things like bumper cars. The stress release quickly becomes more stressful as the man finds himself embattled with some pubescent teens making rude gestures about the man’s date as they all drive the bumper cars. The man stubbornly decides to take on the boys on their own turf. “The Disclipline of DE” comes off as a 1950s personal improvement plea, only subtly funnier. Based on a story by William S. Burroughs and directed by Gus Van Sant, the black and white film shows the benefits of the DE (“Do Easy”) discipline and lifestyle, through which “you do everything in the easiest, most relaxed way you can manage.” For example, “if you don’t catch that nervous finger that won’t let go of that handle [of a tea cup], you may twitch hot tea across the duchess” (and as the film shows, the duchess will smack you if you spill tea on her). Besides, “how can you pilot a space craft if you can’t find your way around your own apartment?” Good point. Seriously, watching the guy in the film applying DE and not applying DE is pretty funny. These are just a few of my favorites from Wholphin 7, and the DVD includes several other shorts to choose from as well. For more information, visit www.wholphindvd.com.


Nerf Russian Roulette

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by Joe Aguayo, Nikki Banks, & Jessi Hafer

ikki: Russians are assault rifle with laser sighting. I realize that on paper awesome. They that sounds like boatloads of invent the best stuff: Sputnik, socialism, and Russian Roulette

up about it.

Nikki: As a variation, instead of aiming at yourself,

Jessi: Real Russian roulette with real guns is totally uncool and not funny. However, Nerf Russian Roulette is awesome and hilarious.

Joe: Especially after a few drinks. I like this game as an alternative to “Flip a coin. Tails, I punch you in the face.” Although after those aforementioned drinks, both will seem like grand ideas.

Jessi: For the “weapon,” we recommend the Nerf NStrike Maverick. It has a rotating barrel and six darts. You’ll only need one dart, but it’s good to have extras in case you lose a dart (or can’t reach one when it gets stuck on the big screen TV you shot at, which is hanging from the ceiling at a bar—not that we would know from experience or condone such behavior). You should be able to pick up the Maverick for around “10 bone” ($10) at a big box store you would otherwise never set foot in.

awesome, but really, that setup just doesn’t lend itself to Russian Roulette. Your only problem then will be convincing yourself to drop 10 bone on a Nerf gun while sober.

you can take turns aiming at each other. As your friend aims at your head, close your eyes, and pray…

Joe: Also, remember not to lick the tip of the dart if you’re playing with people Jessi: So you put one dart you don’t know really well. in the barrel and spin it Jessi: Ew. Please tell me around before snapping it you didn’t lick the darts. closed. Then, take aim at your own head (I recommend the point a couple of PS/aside/Public Service inches above your ear; obviAnnouncement: ously you don’t want to aim Summer game tip: You at your face). Pull the trigprobably shouldn’t play ger—this is surprisingly board games outside in the nerve wracking. Even direct sunlight. The game though you know it’s a toy board and/or cards might and it won’t really hurt you, curl a bit. Trust us. the anticipation and uncertainty of wondering whether a Nerf dart will be bouncing Joe: Make sure you off of your head will leave aren’t drunk when you buy you down right giddy, and your gun. Seriously. You’ll you’ll probably forget to end up walking out of there breathe, you’ll be so hyped with the fully automatic

“…it's fun, and when I do tricks, I feel a sense of great achievement when I land something.” —Alyssa


Abigail Janzen

holiday celebrates the lives of relatives who have passed and is spent in prayer for those souls. My family and I have always celebrated this day by making altars in their honor. We decorate these altars with bright flowers, festive papel picado, and sugar skulls that we decoTell us about this particular cover image. rate with colorful frosting. I made

(Blue cover: Shiori Kahlo) A combination of experiences from a trip to Japan in 2006 and a book loan from one of my professors on the artist Takashi Murakami inspired me to create this piece. The districts of Shibuya and Roppongi in Tokyo really impressed me; therefore, I incorporated bright colors in my painting to reflect the fashion scene and night life. Murakami is a Pop Artist from Japan whose work is inspired by anime and manga. He creates cartoon-like characters and uses bright colors to bring them to life. The materials I used to make this particular art work include acrylic, oil, enamel, and spray paint. I also included Japanese stationary that I bought from 100 yen shops in Utsunomiya, Tochigi.

(Brown cover: Maria Alvarez) Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) influenced this painting that I made in 2007. The

this painting for the altar of my grandmother Maria Alvarez. What got you started in your artistic endeavors? When I was younger, my parents would have me write book reports during the summers and I would illustrate scenes from the stories I read. There was always an art project that I would be working on for fun. They also encouraged me with dance and music. My mother taught me traditional folk dances from Mexico and my father taught me how to play the violin.

How long have you been creating art here in Fresno? My hometown is in Atwater. I have lived in Fresno for about four years and have recently started to create art here in Fresno during the fall of 2008. Has Fresno or the Fresno Art scene had any influence or effect on your work? The Fresno art scene definitely has influence on my work. I am a huge fan of Art Hop! Also the community of local Auto-retrato artists that I have met throughout the I will be showing a few pieces at years encourages and inspires me. the Chinatown Youth Center in How would you describe your downtown Fresno for May’s Art style? Hop on the 7th from 5pm-8pm. My style is still developing, as Those interested in seeing more there are always new experiences artwork may that affect my work. I like to make email me at stencils and experiment by incorporating different materials on one panel or canvas. If someone wanted to see more of your work, how would they go about that?

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ajanzen209@csufresno.edu. What if someone wanted to give you money for your work, how would one go about that? Send me an email if you’re interested in purchasing a painting. Please provide a short bio. My name is Abigail Janzen. I was born in Santa Clara and moved to the valley before I started school. I grew up in Merced and Atwater. I am an Art Education major at Fresno State. I am a member of the Aztec dance group, Yoztaltepetl, and the Mexican Folkloric dance team, Los Danzantes de Aztlan, both at CSU Fresno. I have been a participant in the Mariachi Festivals here and have performed as a musician for a children’s theater production at the university. Of the places I have traveled to, Tokyo, Teotihuacan, and Jamaica have been the most memorable. I plan to do more traveling after I receive the credentials to become a teacher.


Sakura Chaya 690 E Nees Ave / 438-9378

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b y J es si Ha fe r

akura Chaya was the best teppanyaki experience I’ve ever had. I concede that vegetarians aren’t necessarily the best for judging teppanyaki, but that’s sort of the point. At one place in Fresno, where I was with eight other vegetarians, the chef just acted stunned that so many people would not eat meat, and he even said that he didn’t know what to do with just vegetables. Since the point of teppanyaki is the “show” of them cooking everything in front of you, our experience was boring and disappointing, and we eyed other tables with envy as their chefs orchestrated flames and flying vegetables. The other disappointment I’ve had with other teppanyaki places is that they haven’t done much to flavor the vegetables,

either.

Our chef at Sakura Chaya was a much better sport. We ordered the Vegetable and Tofu teppanyaki “a la carte,” which comes with salad, soup, and either steamed rice or fried rice. The soup that usually comes with the meal was chicken broth based. They offered us extra salad in place of soup, but then we inquired about their miso soup, and since that was vegetarian, we got that instead (good choice). The salad was very good, though, and I really liked the dressing. For the rice, I recommend the fried rice. They make that right front of you also, so you can ask them to do it without eggs if you’re vegan.

want eggs (one person at our table got the eggs on the side after everything else was cooked). The chef seemed to pause for a moment as he thought about all of our requests. Then he took it in stride and did a wonderful job with our food, gracefully and dramatically chopping and stirring the fried rice, then sprouts, vegetables, and tofu. The sauces and seasonings were really wonderful, too. It wasn’t anything overpowering, but it was balanced and different (in a very good way). For much of the meal, I didn’t even think to use the ginger sauce because the flavor of the food was already so good. One person at our table asked for a little side of sesame seeds, and it was nice to sprinkle them over the vegetables.

The teppanyaki was a lot of food, too (we had leftovers). Yet we also tried the inari and a sushi roll (both good). They have edamame and spicy edamame; we really liked the spicy edamame, which had a medium-spicy chili powder/paste coating.

In addition, Sakura Chaya has an extensive listing of nonvegetarian sushi rolls and dinner items, and you could elect to eat in the regular dining area instead of doing teppanyaki. There are numerous meat options for their teppanyaki, also. It’s obvious I’m So as our chef not the only fan of Sakura started, we indicated that Chaya, because the parkwe didn’t want the mayon- ing lot was pretty full naise sauce they give you (especially for a Thursday (which worked out well night). It’s a big restaubecause he gave us extra rant, though, so it didn’t ginger sauce), that nothing feel overly crowded. should be cooked in butter, Over all, it was a great and that most of us didn’t experience.

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Hot Chicks

few Saturdays ago, I became a chicken mama. For the next few weeks I have four little guests in my spare bedroom, scratching, flapping, peeping, and sleeping (sleeping, and sleeping). My intention is to wean them into their outdoor coop where they will become fulltime egg laying machines!

Urban chickens have become a trend among elitist types, obsessive foodies, humane activist Reese Witherspoon, entrepreneurs, hippies, and even the occasional hipsters. Fresh, pastured eggs are going for upwards of $8 a dozen at Farmer’s Markets across the country, and more and more people are on board with the nutritional benefits of well fed chickens. Think of it like this…if I sit around and eat Fritos all day (aka industrial chicken feed) versus my neighbor who eats salad and a few nibbles of lean protein, who, at the end of the day, is going to have a better lean muscle mass? The same applies to chickens. Feed a chicken corn and soy and watch the cholesterol in their eggs skyrocket. Feed a chicken carrot tops, grass, flax seed, and the occasional garden snail and their eggs will provide a plethora of vitamins, Omega3s, and nutraceuticals. Chickens are most effective gardeners, scratching in the dirt, nibbling tender weeds, snapping up seeds, shitting every where, and gobbling

warmed plate. Top with a smidge of salt, pepper, and a fresh herb (my favorite being dill or parsley). The purity and color of this ancient protein, allowing for the subtle flavors of each element to dab neatly into my mouth is such a stunning way to start the weekend. Thanks be to the chickens. Let me note, that this old-school hobby is not legal in all parts of Fresno… (for those that need a quick bioloup bugs. They are a multi-task- gy lesson, no, you don’t need a rooster for eggs, so it’s not a ing organic team of aeration, herbicide, pesticide, and fertil- noise issue). Ultimately, this is izer. Best of all is chicken TV. just another way that eating is a

A Hot Chick Like an episode of The Hills, hours are wasted watching the minutiae of who got the last worm, which hen preens her feathers the best, and deciphering loads of frenetic, peeping gossip. Breeds are predisposed to personality traits and each chick is her own little lady… smart, uppity, regal, skeevy… you name it! Most importantly, fresh eggs are stellar performers in the kitchen. Their fresh yolks are bright orange, lending stunning color to hollandaise and yellow cakes. Whites are firm and full of the magic needed to whip into snowy peaks. For my personal tastes however, nothing triumphs over a simple Sunday morning scramble. In a heated, non-stick pan, add a tablespoon of butter until browned. Then crack two eggs in the pan and stir to break the yolks as they cook. Once firm, roll out of the pan onto a

politically charged statement. Raising chickens in my backyard is my own personal way to eat local, act with compassion in the food-chain, provide myself vital nourishment, and stick it to the Man. Resources: •Chickens In Your Backyard: A Beginners Guide by Rick and Gail Luttmann (the bible for most backyard enthusiasts) •www.backyardchickens.com (info and merchandise for people who like to “chill with their peeps”) •www.omlet.us (featuring the Eglu, a modern designed selfcontained chicken coop popular in Europe) •www.belthatchery.com (Fresno’s local hatchery; “home of the classy chick”)


thing…that I was able to physically touch and fix something when I couldn’t do a darn thing about anything else.

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Gardening is a Panacea

realize that I tout the virtues of gardening ad nauseum. Are you overweight? Get exercise in your garden. Want to meditate? Pull some weeds. Want great food? Duh! Garden! But I have a new one for you! (Try to control yourself!) Gardening is great therapy— like lay on the couch and talk about your feelings therapy. I know this because I am going through several intensive rounds of garden therapy (which was cheaper than the conventional one until I started buying literally hundreds of plants! Yikes!). Here’s my story:

that they ranged from emotional to medical, leaving me, at times, almost totally incapacitated. I know, I know…. you’re asking where you can sign up, right? Anyway, when I actually was home and could move around, I found myself, more often than not, working in my gardens.

Let me say that I wasn’t really expecting that to happen. I honestly expected to be in bed, lamenting, and eating junk food until I ballooned out to sumo wrestler proportions…you know, like normal people. But there I was, feverishly planting seeds and nursing transplants. I stopped and wondered quite a few times why I was out there, and what about it made me feel so much better. I came up with this (highly philosophical) reason (and let me apolHave you heard that ogize for the language, but I saying from Mark Twain that assure you that this is the best goes something like, “Some terricombination of words for what ble things have happened to me, I’m saying…trust me, I’m a some of which actually writer): In the garden, shit makes occurred”? This usually will elicsense. I don’t mean that as some it a chuckle or two…because it’s kind of plug for composting or true. Most of the things that are anything! I mean, more eloquentusually causing me to text my ly, that in the garden, life (even girlfriends until my thumbs are for a moment) is manageable, ready to pop off do indeed happen tasks are doable, and success can in my head. transpire. I couldn’t control what But, as the quote says, other people, or even my own sometimes they actually do occur. body, were doing, but I could And how. This year I have had weed, or trim or rake. So I more than my fair share of allmoved plants, took out weeds, too-real, seriously horrific things and cleaned beds. I felt better happen. I won’t bore you with every time, and had the satisfying all the gory details…let’s just say feeling that I had done some-

Gardening at this time also made mundane things seem like great leaps of faith…like planting a seed. Life wasn’t working out for me so well at the moment…but I had to muster up a belief that the dry lifeless seed could thrive. I reasoned with germination rates…probabilities…blah, blah, blah. In the end, I just planted the darn things. Even just looking at the trees, which at the time hadn’t leafed out yet, was a challenge. Would they really come back, and, moreover, would I flourish too? And even further, I saw that some plants weren’t thriving or had died, but how they made room for or nourished new things. Instead of fighting against nature and wanting things to be different, I started to feel more a part of, well, life. I saw that stuff happens, and it just is; that nature or life wasn’t out to get me, I was a part of it, and these things just happen. Things started making more sense.

Well my friends, I am improving every day and I look at the seeds I sowed and transplants I planted at that time, and smile at them. You know, they didn’t all come up, but most of them are stretching out, even getting ready to bloom. They remind me I’m just another little living thing, not watching or apart from nature, but of the same material, and to have faith…winter will wander away, trees will blossom, and I will heal too. _____ Christy Cole will gladly charge you $100 dollars an hour to work in her garden to get your garden therapy. She teaches for several different departments at FUSD and can be reached at callansmama@hotmail.com.

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Bilaal Rajan

hat were your hobbies as a child? Video games? Sports? Well, 12 year-old activist Bilaal Rajan of Toronto has a hobby too. Since the age of four, he’s raised more than $5 million for myriad causes around the world. The current Canadian Nation Child Representative for UNICEF, Bilaal began his activist career selling Clementine oranges doorto-door to raise money for victims of the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, India…In 2004, at the age of eight, he organized a team of 12 children to sell cookies and donate the funds to hurricane relief in Haiti. They presented UNICEF with a check for $6,387 from cookies sold...Raised over $50,000 for The World Partnership Walk, which the Canadian International Development Agency matched dollar for dollar…As a UNICEF spokesman, has made frontpage news and appeared on television many times since to raise the awareness of the plight of the Haitian children...Reached out to over 50 major companies to obtain donations including prescription medicine worth $342,700, and over 2000 cases of baby food sent to Haiti…For Christmas of 2004, Rajan collected over $1200 selling decorative acrylic plates which he made as part of a UNICEF drive for children with HIV…After the South East Asian earthquake and tsunami disaster hit, he issued a UNICEF Canada

Bilaal Rajan

Kids Earthquake Challenge and personally raised $50,000. The final donation totaled nearly $4 million…Bilaal wanted to know how the funds raised for the tsunami victims were being used, so he raised money to visit four of the most affected countries on his spring break. There he met with dignitaries including the President of the Republic of the Maldives…Spent the summer of 2007 volunteering in Tanzania to bring awareness and education of HIV/AIDS to their communities…Has authored two books on the success of his fundraising efforts and his Success Principles, one of which is titled Making Change.


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dam—Spring brings young life, a rebirth, a new cycle. Yes, we’re talking about Adam’s birthday at the end of April. No, not really. Besides that, this is a time of anniversaries, both for The Undercurrent (turning three) and also for The View Looks Good From Here, Fresno (turning one). Yeah, we really are a bunch of babies. Waaah.

But more than that, these are examples of how a lot of energy, time, and money can go into something you care deeply about and you still don’t get paid. For Ed and I, it’s been a journey of amateur journalism. We’ve blogged, Ed has acquired the equipment for us to record audio shows that assail the ears, and recently The Undercurrent has generously offered this 800 word column space for us to pretty much do whatever we want. We’re here mostly because we think Fresno has a lot of great stuff going on and more people need to be talking about it, hearing about it, and participating in it. You can bitch and moan...or you can do something about it and put your money where your mouth is.

Ed—And let’s not forget, when you’re doing something about it, putting your money where your mouth is and all that stuff, you can still complain about the state of things in Fresno and the world. To me, doing something gives you the street cred, or the impunity to back

good, clean (except the language) fun. It’s a great way to interact with other people doing awesome things in Fresno and just shoot the breeze in a very casual manner. I’ve got some ideas about how to liven up the podcast or make it more fun, but I won’t divulge here. You’ll just have to listen and see.

Ed—Damn, I was going to ask what up your complaining. But you were thinking, and then I let’s focus less on the comread the rest of the sentence. plaining aspect and more on Shoot. But I hear you, podthe doing. Why do we do casting is pretty fun. I’m not what we do? I’m still doing sure why, but hearing a voice this amateur journalist thing seems more alive, more because I really do want to important than reading a blog. contribute to and change the They’re both pretty similar culture of Fresno. I love the content for me, but podcasting city, and really want to see it rocks. And that’s why we continue to evolve into a shin- keep doing it. That, and I’m ing example of city life. A very self-important. part of me thinks, “People But seriously, let’s know what’s going on in get down to some Fresno Fresno, they don’t still think brass tacks—aka stuff you there’s nothing to do,” and should be checking out. Of then I run into people that still course, you should be listendon’t know what’s going on. ing to our podcast. And, it Just recently I ran into several goes without saying that you people that didn’t know even should be at The 1/10th of the cool things that Undercurrent’s birthday show. are going on. So, I pointed Get your rear out to older stathem towards some good ples of the community like information sources and hope Arthop and hit its newer that they can see how good, cousin Archop. What are you how exciting of a city they recommending right now, live in. What keeps you blog- Adam? ging and podcasting? And Adam—Well, I’ve how are you going to keep it checked the schedule and fresh over the next year? nothing is posted yet, but Adam—You know, there’s bound to be some right now, there isn’t a lot roller derby happening again keeping me blogging. I’ve soon. Be sure to check the always kept a pretty personal local blogs, find out when, blog that didn’t deal with and get thee to a bout. Also, Fresno directly (as in reviews if you haven’t been there yet, of shows and restaurants, or take a nice drive out 180 into letting people know upcoming the hills and somewhere near events, etc). I’ve blogged Dunlap, take a left turn into diversely, but right now it’s the Cat Haven Wild Animal kinda been reduced to bitchPark. There’s a big sign. It’s ing about work and commen- the best $9 you’ll spend to see tary on some of the most asi- some fantastic animals. Lions nine letters to the editor of and tigers and cheetahs and The Fresno Bee. I’ve been leopards and jaguars, oh my! thinking a lot about how I can Ed—Well, if there’s better contribute to the blonothing else, I think I’d like to gosphere. Some time soon, say peace out. perhaps, I’ll come up with something new and exciting and fun. Podcasting is just

The Undercurrent editors strongly suggest that under no circumstances, for no reasons imaginable, or in any possible worlds, should the advice given by Mr Nocketback be followed, contemplated, or considered. We completely absolve ourselves of any unfortunate consequences that may occur as a result of Nocketback’s advice, solicited or otherwise. That said, send your questions, problems, or concerns about money, love, or life to: Nocketback@Fresno-Undercurrent.net.

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ear Nocketback,

I just received a rather large sum of money from my grandfather when he passed away two months ago and seeing that we are in troubled economic times. I am not sure how to invest. Any ideas? —Cash Wilson

Dear Cash, I’m glad you asked me first. There are a ton of sharks out there that would take you to the cleaners (although that’s a pretty shitty metaphor because sharks generally don’t clean things). Anyhow, carefully read this word for word and you will be the belle of the ball, for sheezy. 1) Buy a new suit from Macy’s, one for everyday of the week; that’ll show ‘em you mean business. 2) Place a crisp 100 dollar bill at the bottom of every drink you buy for a woman; that’ll show her you mean business (you can stick it to the bottom of the glass with a dab of honey). 3) Buy an ’09 Corolla for everyday of the week. Sure, you could get a real nice Mercedes, but 7 new mediocre cars says you mean business. 4) When making love to women, don’t use a condom, simply wrap your kielbasa with 100 dollar bills—use that papier-mâché stuff from elementary school; this will show her you mean business. 5) Finally, buy 20,000 shares of Crayola. Cheers, —Nocketback


from San Joaquin Sutra V

by Tim Z Hernandez

I sing the praises of the campos! The pale trains and panaderos baking sweet bread before Venus’s bashful face vanishes in the page of night, and the worker vans hum engines and stutter into sunrise the campos where dirty faced infants crawl among swept gravel and jump rope escapularios blessed in DDT showers campos like poorly sewn seams on the ragged end of a skirt, flittering on invisible zephyrs living prophetic corridos on the nylon strings of a splintering vihuela Campos in the ghostly architectures of dissolved Chinatown across the tracks from the Sports Arena where line the glistening gutters with erect meters and expiring clocks where behind the Kearny Fish Market jezebels cop nasty paychecks & spend the day drunk on dumpster juices Campos of Ararat where stirs the inconsolable gait of the Avenger’s eyes lurking among the poppies gun smoke unfurling loose fogs of Yettem and the campos of Oaxaca where a battalion of broken pencils marched off paper onto dirt roads scrawling aloud in the Zócalo, about the inadequacies of led and the campos of Portugal and Cambodia —hovels of corn stalk and bamboo Internment everywhere! Internment in the cherry blossom and whispering magnolia Internments of jade and alabaster drowned in silk Internments on Houston & N.E. 4th Street

where Mohawk chola dykes ball gangbangers initiated under Belmont St. black lights down low councilmen bask in golden showers bugling Bull Elk speak to the slavering gargoyles of ghetto Zoos Chukchansi/ Arapahoe/ Lakota/ Niwot/ Mono/ Papago chump change rattling powwow horse prayers at the methadone clinic Internments of aborted fetuses and undocumented brassieres pinned to clotheslines wavering for a breast middle class interning students with immigrant tongues and five fingered candles lit ‘round the clock Yokohama bl u r r r i n g Oklahoma dust calligraphic internments scrawled with brass Heron beak & feathers of mud unmarked codices translate the demolition Laos and the Philippines —elsewhere

VI

San Joaquin, why are your back roads stricken with altars? And your plastic carnations entombed among deflated balloons? What keeps the tattered photographs from disintegrating with the dew? Who dies in the back of a narrow van —limbs splayed to the heavens? Who survives? Who arrives first? Who will harvest the bodies? Who’ll recall them in a dream? How does one return the belongings? When names fade where do they go? What Country will claim the purgatoried? What is the geography of hell? Who inherits the wreckage? How deep the ravine of a child’s memory? Are there two sides to the swallowtail’s account? What business has the worm entering the persimmon? What galaxy in the mollusk? Whose bell in the pelvis? Do crucifixes exclude? What irrigation of blood? Does a fig weep in the open air? Does water discriminate? What of sirens? How do we count the invisible? Can angels scale border walls? Who will open the gates for them? Who denies them? What manner of love is this? ______ These are two selections from Tim Z Hernandez' s San Joaquin Sutra. In its entirety, San Joaquin Sutra is a 20 page poem to the valley. It is also the last section in Tim's unpublished manuscript, Brown Lotus. More importantly, it serves as an entry point into one of several book projects he is working on now. His upcoming novel, Breathing, In Dust explores much of the same themes. He is also working on a “notebook” collection of poems, stories, and conversations that revolve around the history, the contemporary, and the possibility of this Great Valley of ours. Tim had this to say about his current work: "I strongly feel that most of my writing, whether it is fiction, poetry, non-fiction, etc…the mission du jour is to revisit the history of this landscape, ripe with contradiction, disparity, shadows, and fruition, to coax out the cockroaches in those dirty little corners, but also, to reimagine the history of this place, to scribble in the words wherever void exists. In the end, the mission is to invoke the human, hardscrabble, immigrant, spirit to come forth from the sediment and testify."

Tim Z Hernandez is a writer and performer from the central valley. He is the recipient of a 2006 American Book Award, and a 2006 Zora Neale Hurston Award for writers of color dedicated to their communities, among others. His collection of poetry, Skin Tax, garnered national attention upon its release in 2004. His debut novel, Breathing, In Dust is forthcoming in Winter 2009 from Texas Tech University Press/ Americas Series. He lives in Fresno with his family, and is currently the Director of Community Programs at the San Joaquin River Parkway Trust. “…it makes me orgasm.” He can be reached at THernandez@riverparkway.org

—Tigre


Introduction

come into the studio where I was completing the now famous ‘Nose that Glows’ watercolor, which I, Barbican T. Yoko, have often thought about how I got started in depicts a nose as an orb in a dark cobalt sky…in actuality, a space painting, but never knew if anybody would be interested. When I entity. “What do you think?” I was young I had dreamed of being queried. “This is my concept of a a pilot, a doctor, a major league nose that comes from beyond time baseball player or a stage personor reality to totally absorb human ality, but none of these ever matekind.” My relative looked at the rialized. For one thing I wanted watercolor, getting redder and to do something different. I had more antagonistic with each passread about crazy painters and how ing moment. “This nose, which some of them, like Picasso or has special cream colored bases Gauguin, got famous. So, I got which are luminescent, actually the brilliant idea of forming a career of painting noses. When I glows at night! The orb glows, Louvre. During the day it started out I did sketches of the remains basically neutral. Besides body, using traditional models or the usual watercolors there are bits casts, then became able to sketch of mache dabbed in along with my particular favorite part, the whiskers and other media which nose, actually winning the prestigious PANACHE RAMP award in best show contrast for the proboscis. Power and honor should 1975 in Bern, Switzerland, the be given to the world’s people for annual award given to a painting accepting this nose as a universal of the most illustrious nose with frontal, side or oblique view. My symbol!” Walking back to my philosophy was that a nose was desk I could see Atony inspect the the true extension of the soul, the painting and write a few notes on most prominent and least prone a notepad he had taken out. “This body part to acquiesce away from is an absolute absurdity,” he confrontation. I had noticed that offered. “It has no purpose other people I met over the years bore than to be. For mankind it had no great pride in their schnozzes and resolution or help, no relief or were less apt to change or defend physic to lessen pain, no historical that structure than other, less benefit. It just is a damnable, prominent parts. I, in fact, have no apology for noses, unlike other large, grievous nose hanging in more exasperating features of the space.” With that I turned out the light and the nose shone immacuhuman frame, being willing for a late and resilient through the venlong time to put my nose up against any other body part when omous slurs of Louvre Atony. “I shall laugh all the people feel the need to contest the way to the bank, sir,” I said. He nose as the true extension of the gave me a look of grand disgust, life force. blowed on his fingertips and walked out. Looking out the I door, I shouted, “A nose you may not always have with you. You Members of my family had often scoffed at the idea of me spending will realize some day that I took something common and made it an my days painting noses. But, in 1983, when I began to get a repu- immortal entity. You, on the other hand, are stuck with your landtation by doing so, my cousin scapes and mortgage payments.” Louvre Atony came to see me. “So what is this I hear about your As he neared my front door he gave an unmentionable gesture as fetish with the nose thing?” he he left. asked. I motioned for him to

NO APOLOGY

BINDS, which featured music by the great rock group, PARAII LYZED PETUNIA. When I arrived that night, I saw Billy Over the years I became well Crystal standing in front of my acquainted with some of the best picture depicting Yogi Berra’s noses in the world. With my nose, and when I asked him what shows doing well I was able to he thought, he turned and, with meet the influential, the famous tears overflowing, said, “Let’s play and the great artists of our times. The one thing I had not had was a two, Yoko, let’s play two. What a major exhibition of my work, my beauty you show here. It’s the paintings being included in various nose of the age.” “Billy, what two do modernistic, absurdist or irrayou want to play? Two games?” tionalist exhibitions from Portland, Crystal smiled, and started to hug Maine, where I met my devotee me. Stephen King, all the way to “Naw, Yoko, I want to Odense in Denmark, where Prince play that number two in the Garkiner bought a nose of What jockBelmont on Saturday. Liberace for $650,000 one ey is that? Manzanitas? He’s autumn. But that’s beside the hot!” I laughed, since I knew point. One day in 1998 I got a nothing about racing at all. My phone call from Andy Warhol in nose show that day included New York who said he wanted to sponsor an exhibition of my work Jimmy Durante’s schnozz, Gandhi’s bill, Ray “Boom Boom” in Manhattan and film the first Mancini’s nose and, of course night, where he would be seen Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer’s mingling with me, prospective red bulbous one. Each nose paintbuyers, along with many of his ing had a plaque underneath which cross dressing friends including described the specific nose, and the fabulous Divine. I agreed almost immediately with the stipu- also gave a story about the nose, with its universal significance. lation that all monies garnered I had gotten the idea for might go to form a reserve for telling the stories about my noses puffins, penguins and flamingos, from my memorable 1977 meeting which would be put in Central Park. He agreed. This made my day since I was really tuned in to puffins, penguins and flamingos. The night the show opened, February 13, I was astounded to find so many people there. The Granite Tower exhibit was filmed by all major magazines and was made into the famous movie, THE NOSE THAT

with Jack Benny, who had offered me two million for Henny Youngman’s nose collage, which he said he wanted to burn. Being young and naïve, I had given it to Benny gladly at the time, and when he got it, Jack said, “I never could tolerate poor violin playing, Yoko. He should have used me as a model.” “I didn’t know you played, Jack,” I had said, way back then. “I always thought your playing was dubbed.” That was the very last I ever saw of the straight-faced comedian. He died some few years later, some said of a broken nose. But not mine, of course.

III

To think that painting noses would take me where I finally came. With all of the more talented and much more interesting artists, I had proceeded to become the most well-known and respected painter of the twentieth century. Thirteen biographies were written about me including one in the shape of a nose. I particularly liked that one. I was now constantly followed by

Continued next page...


Noses continued...

don't have a car...(sorry).” —Rosa Elena Alvarez Berryless and Mayor Betty Bloop, put me in retirement painting little old winos’ schnozzes or call girls’ noses on Castro Street, after I had floundered in San Francisco with my own eyebrow paintings.

Undercurrent Sudoku

V

When I died in 2038 my epitaph was put in a broken down cemetery in Colma, California. Imprinted on a chiseled marble headstone looking up at the hills of Daly City, lay the words still visible today: 1952-2038 HERE LIES BARBICAN YOKO, WHO TOOK HIS TIME, POCO A POCO, TO PAINT HIS NOSES, BIG, LITTLE AND LOCO MAKING SCHNOZZ LOVERS CRY IN THEIR COCO WHILE FAKIRS BROUGHT HIS ART TO MOROCCO. LET’S HEAR IT FOR POOR SAHIB EL YOKO.

5. plug, n, piece of wood used 4. dry, adj, free from moisture croquette of ground chickpeas

3. fallalfel, n, small deepfried 2. loblby, n, a an entrance hall

alcohol

talline, slightly water soluble 1. Menlthol, n, colorless, crys-

_____ Edward R. Paul Jr. is a retired special education “…I don't want to walk to Blockbuster.” teacher —Kody Donnelly formerly with IV Fresno I continued doing well in all my endeavors Unified Schools. He is 64 years old, marfor seventeen years until the revolutionary ried with two grown children, one of which attends UCSB (Santa Barbara.) He has eyebrow paintings of Sergei Goldsmitt been writing creatively for 44 years, has from St. Petersburg became the national rage in 2034. What Goldsmitt did so well two published poetry editions, and had a was to capture eyebrows, with all their deli- play shown at the Rogue festival in 2005. cious highlights, of thirty of the most beau- He can be reached at dafleyjm@pacbell.net. tiful transsexuals in Sin City. The ‘Bay Bridge and Golden Gate crossings’ pictures, “…I showing the brows of City adorables Bill Frame, Meryl Froda, Barley Felk, Sister

Dicltionlary Game Anlswers

to stop up a hole

paparazzi and had been visited by Pope Cornelius, who wore a talk“…I ing nose on a chain around his neck in my honor. How President Schwarzenegger got to be a personal fan of mine was interesting. And, to this day, I still don’t know why he loved my schnozzes so very much; excepting they were popular and he liked having popular things. In 2014, the president asked to see me at the White House, where he had a giant sculpture of the nose of his I had made him. He got up from the desk and shook my hand, saying, “Barbican Yoko, it is great to see yah, kid!” I shook the limp hand and he said, “I want a painting of my nose now for the Blue Room, for posterior sake!” “Posterity, sir,” I said. “The word is posterity. I’m kind of bright, sir,” I added. The large man handed me a poster which had a picture of him on it dressed as Uncle Sam, with a Republican elephant on it. “Can you paint something like this, only bigger?” he said. “But I am a Democrat, sir. You really want art from a Demo?” He shook his head yes. And walked slowly over to me. “Hell, yes, Toko. Even a man with my brains is willing to go slumming a little. It’s a people thing. I am doing it for the people.” He continued by saying, “I’m giving you, Moko, the NIXON CHARACTER AWARD OF CONSCIENCE, since your noses give dignity to the common proboscis.” I smiled, accepting a cigar from Mr. Schwarzenneger, and gave him a hug in parting. It was one of the ways I eventually became in charge of the Kennedy Commission in 2017. All awards we gave out to winners of competitions were thereafter in the shape of silver, bronze and marble schnozzolas.

Pick your misfortune...

feel Free!!!”

—Raymond


The Dicltionlarly Game © TM

Instructions: With the 2 words given, guess the word that comes between them in the dictionary. No word derivations.

UndercurrentbySudoku Jessi Hafer

1. menltaltion, n, mental activity _ _ _ l_ _ _ _ n. menltion, v.t., to refer briefly to

2. lolbate, adj, having a lobe or lobes _ _ _l_ _ ,n.

lobe, n, roundish projection or division

3. falkir, adj, realistic; practical _ _l_ _l_ _ _, n.

fallange, n., Franco’s Spanish fascist party

4 Druze, n, a member of an independent sect living mainly in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel _ _ _, adj.

Misfortune Cookies

by Nick Nocketback

1 2

Money and fame await you...in another life. Happiness wa know what has invented by the Dutch, ppened to th e East Indianand we all s...stay

3 With Jupiter in the seventh moon this month, it'll be nothing but pellet sized #2s for ten 4

5

You don't even deserv e a fortune. Try ag next month. ain

is r your life th te en ll best wi ve ur A spicy new loyour cousin's...then yo en month...th

Did you Know...

…that the word bedlam, meaning mass confusion, is taken from the London area Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem, which was converted to a lunatic asylum in 1402? The Ôbedlam,Õ rather than ÒBethlehemÓ is accounted for by the Cockney accent. And did you know that the word ÔpanicÕ is taken from the Greek god of the woods, Pan, who was said to cause mysterious sounds emanating from the woods that would cause herd animals and lone travelers to spook?

drylad, n, a nymph of the woods

5. pluck, v, to pull out from the place of growth _ _ _ _ , n.

pluglolla, n, improper payment given to media member


The Undercurrent  

May/June 09 Undercurrent

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