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April-June ‘11 | №2

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Contents Literary 4 • Filming for Locations • 180 Degrees • Oro, The Desert Cat • The Idon’tcare Copter • First Snow (correction) • Those Times • The Flying Kung • Ekphrasis #1: Silver and In Abstraction Visual 16 • Sun Licked Surf • Alfredo • Queen Maureen • Piggy Piggy • The Dinner Party • Two Face • Resource For… And • Girl • Earrings and bracelet. Community & Misc. 26 • Keys • From our Kitchen • Local Bites

2nd Issue Cover by Amanda Clover, paper and ink.

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Rocaille

Rokoko’s first issue was a success beyond what we could have hoped! Thank you all again for your continued support, especially our fantastic, patient and talented contirbutors. This, hopefully, will be an improvement on the last. We have addressed some issues based on your feedback and we have come up with equally impressive content. This second issue is a mix of new and old. We have great content from previous contributors: Cervants, Susan Moses, Houston Sharp, Joseph Ligunas, Molly Lasslet and Oleg Kagan. Making their Rokoko debut are: Jasmin Bascos, Joshua Martinez, Amanda Clover, Pat Alexander, Eric Martin, Ericka Hawkins, Bat-Ami Gordon, Emilyn Vallega, BOMONSTER, and Shilts. We’ve assembled a hodgepodge of content that surprised us in quality and breadth once we saw it all come together. There should be something for everyone. This is also the beginning of original projects exclusive to this magazine. The first is Ekphrasis, an ongoing image and writing expirement that we invite all our readers and contributors to join us in. Keys, brain child of Casey Driver, aims to explore just how much we reveal about ourselves in the smallest possible ways. We expect to deliver quality results for these, as well as other exciting projects in our next issue. As always, we are on the hunt for new content to share. If you, a friend, a relative, a loved one, et al. know of someone, refer them to us or us to them. As the Antelope Valley grows and changes, we hope to accurately document, preserve and promote our community’s efforts to make the High Desert a more cultured, expressive and open place to live in. César Vega

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Filming for Locations Films are being crafted to“fit” locations based on deals, tax incentives and free resources. Article by Susan Moses

I

n the grand old days of Hollywood, film sets were created based on the imaginative elements within the script and practical locations were considered based on enhancing the fantasy experience for movie aficionados. Today, films are often produced in locations based on production and financing deals necessitating script revisions to accommodate the location incentives. Without big incentives how would the Antelope Valley attract film production dollars? “The Good, The Bad, The Dead”, a zombie western initially considered the desert landscape in the Antelope Valley to be ideal. The film’s director toured around the AV on a location scout and quickly agreed that the vistas, Joshua trees and old out-buildings perfect for the film. However, the investor had a completely different perspective. His deals are based in Michigan. Therefore the Golden Rule applied, “He who has the gold, rules”, which translates to production location bending to the requirements of the money. Consequently, the script was revised to accommodate being filmed on location and in a sound stage outside of Detroit. Long considered one of the more recession proof industries,Hollywood has survived the ebbs and flows of shifting global economies since the early 1900’s, with the inception of Nestor Motion Picture Company. Ticket prices as high as $20.00 in high-end specialty theaters do not seem to deter people who are seeking a 120-minute escape from reality in spite of the challenges in today’s market. If production tricks and FX magic enable the film’s viewers to have an experience, the financing politics are of little or no consequence to the box office. The United States Commerce Department considers movie production at par with other forms of manufacturing. As countless products have outsourced production to other countries in search of costs savings and economies, film production has also shifted in search of a plethora of goods, services, incentives and freebie offers to attract production dollars. In 2002 New Mexico was one of the first states to develop a program to attract a piece of film investment. Within 5 years the state had attracted hundreds of millions of productions dollars annually, created thousands of jobs and estimates the tax revenues to the state in the range of $21,000,000.00 for 2011. Since New Mexico created its successful production incentive program other states have followed offering a host of tax benefits, cash rebates and other enticements to lure producers. The competition for production dollars is fierce, as can be witnessed at various trades shows where location offices vie for producers’ attentions; offering gifts, novelties and free services in hopes of capturing the business. California opted to create a comparatively small economic incentive for film capped at $10,000,000.00. One or two high budgeted studio films could easily absorb the incentive leaving nothing for the Indie films seeking every option and edge to bridge the gap in cobbling film investment dollars together. For high net worth individuals who are motivated and

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able to invest in speculative ventures, the emotional or romantic attraction to the investment in film is a mere baby step in the process of negotiating and closing the deal. Savvy investors rely on financial, legal and business advisors who are not so easily swayed by the prospect of hanging out at cocktail parties or on a movie set with famous people. Their job is to protect the asset base of their client and rarely do they see film as a smart investment. Consequently, each film investment opportunity, if taken seriously, needs a comprehensive business plan, marketing plan, exit strategy, and projections on returns supported by hard evidence and bankable contracts. For producers there exists another aspect of the investment that often can lead to time and money wasted on dead end prospects. Hollywood’s lure, the mystique, the fantasy is more powerful than many drugs. People feel good or important when they are able to meet actors and directors or be on the“in” list for parties and events. To achieve this status, they become very clever at promising film investments and major deals. Dressed in discounted

One or two high budgeted studio films could easily absorb the incentive leaving nothing for the indie films designer labels, driving rented cars and offering business cards with 90210-masked PO box addresses, they seem legitimate at first brush. Time and experience teaches that cutting through the smoke and mirrors is a must. Investors can have desire without the ability, which is a fatal flaw in the process for producers looking for capital. Determining ability is key at the outset, which can be accomplished by requesting two key documents. The first is a Letter Of Intent (“LOI”) which can be non-binding, but which outlines the terms, conditions and contingencies under which the investment will be made. The second, considered the more important document, is the Proof Of Funds (“POF”). After a prospective investor reads the business plan and other supporting documents the next step for the producer should be to secure the LOI and POF. Often the investor will require, as part of the terms, that the film take advantage of all tax and state incentive programs which again, drives the location for the production. If the investor demands tax credits and incentives, how would the Antelope Valley attract film production? Would it make practical sense to build a soundstage 75 miles north of production central in competition with studios and third party facilities within the primary production zone? The simple fact, notwithstanding the lack of incentives, is that film can be produced successfully anywhere with smart producing. With clever use of deferments, leveraging of local services and by offering the investor alternative forms of compensation to the tax credits, some films can make sense, even in the Antelope Valley. Films create jobs, spend money locally and generate tax revenues. While against the odds and up against significant incentives from alternative locations, film production in northern Los Angeles County can and should be a lucrative form of potential revenue worth exploring beyond emotions and glamour.


180 degrees Characters:

Screenplay by ERIC Martin

Andy - A young man with a shaved head. Michelle – A dark-haired young woman. Diego – A young man.

Diego: I’m not finished yet. Michelle: Are you going to put one of them in? You said it wasn’t a portrait. Andy: Are you at least going to make the dark stuff look like curtains. Diego: I am going to sign it. I think that is all it needs. Then it’ll be done. Andy: But it won’t be done until you sign it? Diego: That is what expresses the relationship, I think. The name, the signature.

Setting: An easel with a triangle painted on according to the description below stands on

Andy: You are going to make Michelle think you’re crazy.

one side of the space. Diego is standing back a few feet from the painting as the scene opens.

Michelle: (A slightly uncomfortable laugh.) No, of course not.

He is a dark-haired young man who wears a thoughtful expression. The non-business end of

Andy: See?

a paintbrush is held to the corner of his mouth.

Enter Andy and Michelle.

Diego: Look, I didn’t ask you to come and interrupt me here. You came on your own. So don’t start telling me that I owe you explanations, especially when it’s about things I do when you are not around.

Andy: Hey Diego! How are you? This is Michelle.

Andy: But, ah, as you can see, we are around, Diego.

Diego: Hi Michelle. Nice to meet you. Come on in. So, you’re hanging out with this loser?

Diego: I just said –

Michelle: He is my one and only favorite loser.

Michelle: Don’t worry about it. We’ve got to go anyway. Andy’s got some people to see on the way to Sanjay’s.

Diego: That is sweet. Ahem. What are you guys up to?

Diego: Yeah? Is Craig back in town?

Andy: I wanted to swing by and see if you wanted to get some dinner. Michelle’s friend Denise is going to meet us at Sanjay’s Place.

Andy: Stuart is having a little pre-party and I told him we’d stop by.

Diego: I’m finishing up this painting right now…when are you going, now? Andy: We’ve got to make a quick stop first. What are you painting? Diego: It’s about my grandparents. My father’s parents. I never really knew them. Or, actually, I never got to meet them. They were dead – both of them – before I was born.

Diego: And you wanted me to go with you – to Stuart’s? Andy: We’re just stopping in for a second. You wouldn’t have to go in. Diego: You know, if you keep hanging out with Stuart people are going to think you are a Nazi too. Andy: He’s not a Nazi.

Andy: But, ah, so, where are they in the painting?

Diego: He’s a skinhead.

Diego: It’s not a portrait. It’s a narrative, an abstract narrative.

Andy: Yeah. He’s a skinhead.

Andy: It just looks like a triangle.

Diego: Skinheads are Nazis.

Michelle: Andy. It’s probably just not done. Did you just start?

Andy: No they aren’t. That is why they are called skinheads, not Nazis.

Diego: Um… Andy: Well, what is the story then? Diego: It’s like this. My father’s parents were from the “big city” – like they used to say – from the east coast. They moved out to the mid-west in their 20’s and bought a farm. My dad’s dad’s family had always been farmers and my grandfather thought he could do it too. Yada yada yada…they mostly only grew dust, I guess. And my grandmother suffered through. She smoked, apparently a lot. It’s the one real thing I know about her. Andy: But the painting is just a triangle… Diego: Not exactly. You see, the image I have of my grandmother that I just can’t shake – one of them – is her standing inside the house at the window, smoking her cigarette and watching her husband plod around on his little rusty tractor, moving dirt around as she blew smoke into the curtains. Michelle: So, the triangle is the window? Diego: Yeah. Exactly! The triangle is where the curtain parts and the light comes in. See how it’s lighter and the rest of the canvas is dark?

Michelle: He’s a Nazi? We’re going to a Nazi party? Andy: No. Diego: Andy, what is the difference between Nazis and skinheads, in your mind? Andy: Why did you say it like that? In my mind? I’m not delusional, Diego. I’ve known Stuart for a long time and he has never called himself a Nazi. Diego: Does he have swastika tattoos? Andy: I don’t know. Michelle: Do you have swastika tattoos, Andy? Andy: What?! No. I don’t have any tattoos. (To Diego) See what you’re doing? You’re just making me look bad, because I didn’t say you were a genius for painting triangles. Diego: I don’t think so. I am not saying anything that isn’t true. You said Stuart is a skinhead. I am not making that up. You said it too. Andy: Whatever. (To Michelle) Let’s go.

Michelle: I see. Yeah. That is a really interesting way to tell a story.

Michelle: What are we going to do there?

Diego: The darkness is symbolic of how much I don’t know about them and the triangle of light is how much I do know, which is much less, obviously, than what I don’t.

Andy: It’s just a party. We’ll have a beer or something then we’ll go to Sanjay’s. Your friend is meeting us at eight. That gives us a little over an hour to go to Stuart’s.

Andy: But none of that is in the painting. None of that is on the canvas. Your grandmother isn’t there. There are no cigarette’s, no smoke, no tractors or farms. No silo in sight. Just two shapes. The triangle and the not-triangle.

Michelle: I’ve never been to a Nazi party. Diego: Are you really going to take her there? Andy: Why not? She’s white.

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Michelle: Oh my god.

name on the painting, if you don’t mind, and then cruise.

Andy: What? What’s wrong?

Diego: I don’t think so. I’m not going to sit in your car for an hour while you guzzle beer with the skinhead crew.

Michelle: You’re…you have…(She is looking at Andy’s shaved head.) You told me you liked to keep your hair short because it was too curly. Andy: Yeah. That’s true. Michelle: I knew this was too good to be true. Andy: What? I’m not a Nazi, if that is what you mean. Look, look at where we are. Diego: Oh. I see. You came over here to show me to your girlfriend in case she started to think you were just like Stuart. I’m your I’m-not-aNazi insurance. Andy: Shut up, man, will you? You are not helping. Diego: Who said I wanted to help? You know I don’t have any love for skinheads and bigots and those fascist idiots whose greatest desire is to rid the world of all its color and fuck their sisters and their kids in one big incestuous romper room of inbreeding. The most asinine, backwards vision of heaven anyone could imagine. They want to live in a place where everyone is first cousins and sit around watching “Dukes of Hazard” all day. Andy: I thought you liked “Dukes of Hazard”. Diego: That is not the point. Andy: Isn’t it? Who’s the bigot now, Diego?

Andy: It won’t be an hour. If you come, we’ll just pop in and pop out. Diego: Yeah right. And what if they see me there? Andy: What if they do? Diego: They’ll think I’m doing a stake-out, watching them, planning an attack. Andy: No they won’t. Diego: You know how paranoid they are. You’re the one that told me. They sit around sniffing coke, drinking Bud Light, concocting conspiracy theories about how the world is out to get them. Andy: That’s true. But that doesn’t mean they’ll do anything. You’re scared? Diego: This is going nowhere. Michelle: Why don’t I just wait here with Diego while you go, then come back and pick us up and we’ll go to Sanjay’s. Andy: I don’t know. It’s out of the way. Diego and Michelle look at each other and look at Andy. He is outnumbered. Andy: Alright. Fine. I’ll be back in half an hour. (With a final look at both, Andy exits.)

Diego: I’m pretty sure it’s still Stuart – the skinhead who refuses to associate with anyone outside of his little gang of pale-faced friends.

Michelle: Do you think he is a skinhead?

Andy: You are the one sounding like a racist.

Michelle: No. I didn’t want to walk into a Nazi party. What if they don’t think I’m white?

Diego: I just get angry when his name comes up. It’s personal, not racial.

Diego: Did you stay here to ask me that?

Diego: But you are white.

Andy: That’s not what it sounds like.

Michelle: Yeah, but my parents aren’t from here.

Michelle: So, Andy, are you a skinhead? If Stuart only hangs out with his gang of skinhead friends, and you got invited to the party…

Diego: So?

Andy: Don’t listen to Diego. He is exaggerating. Tell her, man, tell her you’re exaggerating. Diego: Ok. Michelle: Look, I don’t care, really, about this Stuart guy. I’ve got some crazy friends too I think. But I am not ready to date a skinhead. Andy: You’re not ready to date a skinhead? Michelle: I don’t think I’m working my way up to it either. Andy: Stuart is just a friend of mine. I’ve known him for a long time and I know a bunch of his other friends. And hey, just because my hair is cut short –

Michelle: I’ve got dark hair. Someone once told me I look Jewish. Diego: I’m sure you don’t have anything to worry about from Stuart. But you made the right choice not to go. Those guys are – well, I don’t even want to get started on the list of all the ways they suck. Michelle: So you think I look white? Diego: I…ah, yeah. But I wouldn’t have even thought about it if we weren’t talking about racists and race. Usually, I don’t ask myself how white someone looks, or how Hispanic. I mean, you can’t help noticing the obvious stuff, but… Michelle: What if I told you I am not white? Diego: What?

Diego: Shaved. Your hair is buzzed all the way down to the -

Michelle: What I said I am Turkish?

Andy: Just because my hair is short doesn’t make me a…doesn’t make me anything. Just because Diego never wears shorts doesn’t make him a freak. It just means his leg hair looks like black junglewire. It’ll cut you like a thousand razors.

Diego: Does that make you non-Caucasian? Does it matter?

Diego: (laughs) Here we go. Michelle: What are you talking about? Andy: He never wears shorts. Always pants. I’ve known this guy since third grade and he never, ever lets his legs see the light of day. One time though his pants got caught in his bike. Ripped. Out popped a grizzly calf that looked like the Alaskan tundra speckled with those pigeon spikes in the city. A calf that would spike you to death if you fell on it hard. Michelle: (Laughs) So you guys are really good friends, huh? That’s why you talk like this? Andy: What do you mean? Michelle: I mean – oh, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Andy: Diego, are you coming or not? We can watch you put your Literary | 6

Michelle: I just want to know what you would say. Diego: I’d say, “Oh, you’re Turkish? That’s nice. I’ve never been to Turkey but I have heard it’s beautiful.” Or I’d say, “Oh. I’m from Iowa.” Michelle: What do you think Andy would say? Or Stuart? Diego: Stuart would probably say, “Turkey isn’t a country. It’s a bird I eat once a year.” And he’d think it was the funniest thing anyone has ever said. Michelle: I’m not from Turkey. I was just saying…an example. Diego: Ok. What is on your mind? Michelle: Andy. I met him a little while ago and he’s been so nice. I never thought he was a skinhead. Never thought he could be. Diego: I didn’t say he is. I didn’t say one way or another. Michelle: Yeah. But you implied.


Diego: Did I? Maybe I did. Does it really matter what I say or imply or don’t say or imply? He just went to Stuart’s house. Stuart is without a doubt a foaming-at-the-mouth white supremacist and Andy went to his party to pay his respects. That, to me, says a lot.

Diego: Then how do you know that the skinheads will hate you?

Michelle: But it doesn’t say that Andy is a racist.

Michelle: Are you defending them?

Diego: It doesn’t say that he isn’t.

Diego: No. Of course not. I’m defending myself. (pause) I’m just saying that everyone is afflicted with stereotypes and biases. I am and you are. Those of us who see stereotypes for what they are don’t get sucked into the stupid trap of actually believing that all Latinos in America are from Mexico or that, you know, ah, all French people are rude, or that all Muslims...

Michelle: But he’s your friend. Diego: And what is that supposed to mean? Michelle: I didn’t think people were still like that. Diego: Most people aren’t. That’s why I can’t believe it either that Andy is going over there. He might not be a racist, skinhead, but there he is. Michelle: Out of all the people in the world, even out of all the people in town… Diego: I know, exactly, out of all the parties he could be going to, out of all the houses, he chooses the Hitler house. Michelle: Out of all the people. Diego: You are from Turkey aren’t you? Michelle: My parents are. Diego: Why keep that a secret? What does that make you, besides Turkish? Michelle: Muslim. Diego: Oh. Michelle: What? Diego: Nothing. I can see though, I can understand why you wouldn’t want to walk into a house full of rabid skinheads. If they found out…you were Muslim… Michelle: I wouldn’t go there. I wouldn’t want to. I’m glad you said something before Andy brought me over there. I don’t know what I would have done. Diego: I’m sure you would have done exactly what I would have done – stood by the door half-covering your face with a beer can, avoiding eye contact, ready to run. Michelle: Who do you think they would hate more? Diego: (Tries to laugh it off.) This is some conversation. Michelle: I know. I wish people weren’t like that. I wish Andy wasn’t like that. I hope he isn’t. Diego: At this point, after all the things people have been through in the last couple hundred years, growing up knowing about all the things that happened, you’d think people would learn. Michelle: To be open-minded. Diego: That’s one way to put it. But…saying open-minded…I don’t know, that makes it seem like we’re being generous to classify each other as humans. It’s not like I should ask for acceptance from Stuart because he is white and I am not. I don’t demand that he ask for my acceptance. It’s not like we are bending the rules. I’m not allowing him to be human too. He just is. Even though he is also a bigot and an asshole. He’s human too. Like me. Michelle: I just meant…that people should see…better. People shouldn’t hate automatically and believe the stereotypes.

Michelle: That isn’t being prejudiced. Diego: I don’t know. I think it is.

As Diego is speaking Michelle’s gaze drifts away and she begins twirling her hair. Diego: Are you listening to me? Michelle: You won’t tell Andy, will you? I think I should. Diego: Tell Andy? …tell him that you’re Muslim? Andy bursts into the room. Michelle and Diego stare at him, surprised. Andy: Hey. (He surveys Michelle and Diego in their silence.) Let’s go. Michelle: Go? Andy: To Sanjay’s. We’ll get a couple of drinks before dinner. Michelle: What happened to the party? Andy: Oh. I called and said I wasn’t going to come. I got half way over there and decided it wasn’t worth it. Michelle: (Smiling awkwardly.) Oh. Andy: So, let’s go. Ready? Did you get your name on that painting yet? Diego: Not yet. I’ll just do it later, I guess. Andy: No, we can wait. Go ahead. Andy moves to Michelle. Her phone rings as he is reaching for her hand. She turns away from Andy to get the phone from her handbag/ pocket. Michelle: Hello? …oh hi mama….no…I’m not…no. I’ll be… Andy: (smiling to Diego) “Mama”? Diego shrugs and turns to his painting. Andy listens to Michelle’s conversation. She is telling her mother where she is and what she is doing. Michelle grows frustrated by her mother’s excessive concern and forgets about the other people in the room. Andy smiles indulgently, warmly entertained by the conversation until they say goodbye. Then Andy stops smiling. Michelle: I will be home later. I’m out with Andy. You know – Andy. …Yes. …No. I’ll be home before eleven. Ok. Yeah. Yes, mama, I know. I know. Ok. Allaha ismarladik (ah-LAHS-mahr-lah-duhk). Michelle shakes her head at the conversation and at her mother, still unaware of the others in the room. Andy shakes his head in disbelief at the foreign salutation Michelle used with her mother. Diego looks up from his painting then busies himself with signing his name on it. Michelle becomes aware that Andy is looking at her then seems to realize what he has heard. She starts to say something, “Andy”, but stops short and waits to hear what he will say. He is, for the moment, speechless. End.

Diego: Hey. You don’t have to tell me. I know. And I know I’ve got my biases and I see the stereotypes when I’m at the store, at the café, but I try to see past that. Michelle: But you are biased? Diego: Of course. You can’t undo the society that’s in your head. Society is there in all its sundry genius, filling in the blanks, in your mind. Michelle: I’m not prejudiced. Diego: You’re not? Michelle: No. Rokoko | 7


O

ne day Ms. Lovelace came home from work, took off her coat, scarf and gloves and exclaimed in an excited voice, “Oro and Finn,” she cried, “Next Thursday is Thanksgiving. My friends John and Sue are coming over.” “What’s Thanksgiving?” Oro squeaked to Finn. “Bro, it’s good times! We get all kinds of yummy treats to eat like turkey liver and gizzards,” unless he meowed, “she puts them in the gravy.” “Oh, wow! I can hardly wait,” Oro squeaked. “Sounds yummy to the tummy.” “I’m off to the store, boys. Be good while I’m gone.” In a little over an hour later she was back. She parked behind the apartment so it would be easier to carry up the groceries. ”I have a treat for you,” she told the cats. She opened the bags and found a package of cat treats. “Treaters,” she called, and both cats came running. Finn purred loudly. “It would be nice,” she sighed, “if you boys could help me. But I’m sure glad to have your company.” Ms. Lovelace then put away the groceries for tomorrow’s feast. She had decided to boil the sweet potatoes that night so she could fix her “famous” sweet potato casserole for tomorrow. It was getting close to 10 p.m. She watched the 10 o’clock news, put on her favorite flannel nightie and announced, “I’m going to bed.” Scooping up Finn from the cat bed on top of the woven chest she carried him to her bed and lay down. “Purr, purr,” said Finn loudly. He started kneading Ms. Lovelace’s arm, the way baby kittens knead their mother’s teats when they are just nursing. Oro jumped up on the bed too. He did not to like to be left out. He cuddled down just below Ms. Lovelace’s left arm. “Two wonderful cats!” she thought. She patted Oro and scratched his ears. “I’ve had enough for tonight,” Finn meowed to Oro and jumped down and curled up back in his cat bed. Oro jumped down, too, found a small toy mouse to play with and batted it around. Ms. Lovelace was soon asleep and dreaming of next day’s feast. The alarm went off about 7:30 a.m. “Got to get the bird in the oven,” she exclaimed to Finn and Oro. She pulled out the turkey from the refrigerator. She extracted the packet of giblets and put them in a small pan with onion, bay leaves and salt and pepper. “That’s for the gravy,” she told the cats, “but I’m going to give you a taste.” The giblets cooked quickly. Ms. Lovelace took a pieces of the liver, gizzard and the whole turkey neck and put it down on the cats’ plates. “Oh my goodness,” squeaked Oro. “This is the best!” “Didn’t I tell you bro,” meowed Finn back. “My friends are coming at 2:30,” Ms. Lovelace. “Now be on your best behavior and don’t hide under the bed. My friend, John, has a white cat named Mimi, and Sue has a cat named Blackie. “Are the cats coming, too?” Wondered Oro. “No, bro,” meowed Finn, “that would be a little much for Ms. Lovelace and they might be scared.” “Scared of us?” squeaked Oro. “Yes, bro, and the new house and new people.” Finn then retired to his cat bed on the woven chest. Oro climbed up on the window ledge to look out at the birds. A red bird flew by, spotted the bird seed, and landed. Oro was very excited! He batted at the window pane and growled. Finn turned over in his sleep, dreaming of the turkey snacks to come.

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Oro ^^

the desert cat

Oro the Desert Cat is a series of short children’s stories about a cat named Oro, his friend Finn and his owner, Ms. Lovelace. These entries, “Thanksgiving” and “Christmas is Coming” are selections from the series. By MELINDA Hunter

At promptly 2:30 the doorbell rang. Ms. Lovelace lived on the third floor, so her visitors had a slight climb. John arrived first. He had brought a bouquet of autumn flowers and a bottle of wine. Ms. Lovelace got out a vase for the flowers and put them in the middle of the table. She had set the table with her best silver and china and had a red and white woven table cloth on the table. ”Wow,” squeaked Oro, “why does she have that cloth on the table?” “She does that for company,” meowed Finn. “We aren’t company, we’re fam.” “Fam?” squeaked Oro. “Family. We are her kids.” The second time the door bell rang; Oro became nervous and scurried under the bed. “Oro,” scolded Ms. Lovelace, “please come out.” She put some cat treats near the bed ruffle to encourage him to come out. Susan came rushing in with a pie she had baked. “Just took it out of the oven,” she said, “that’s why I’m a few minutes late.” “Would you like something to drink?” Ms. Lovelace asked Susan and John. “I have wine, beer, tomato juice, and water.” He leaned over to pat Finn who was still in the cat bed. “You look a lot like my Mimi,” he exclaimed. Just then Oro stuck his head out from one of the bed ruffles. He had decided that the guests were not frightening after all. He ran straight for is feeding dish in the kitchen. “What a cute cat!” exclaimed Susan. “Isn’t he adorable!” agreed Ms. Lovelace. “Let’s eat, gang,” invited Ms. Lovelace. She placed the roast turkey, sweet potato casserole, green bean and mushroom dish, cornbread, stuff, relishes and fresh cooked cranberries on the table. “Can you carve, John?” asked Ms. Lovelace. “Sure,” he replied.” The three were soon eating the delicious dinner. Finn stayed under the table, hoping that some turkey scraps would fall or be fed to him. Oro jumped up on the table, but Ms. Lovelace sprayed him with a spray bottle. She placed some small pieces of turkey in their bowls. Finn and Oro were purring and chewing simultaneously. Ms. Lovelace had put on her favorite classical music station on and a Mozart symphony played in the background. The candles burned brightly on the table. Outside it was cold and windy, but not inside. No one spoke for several minutes as they ate. “Oh, Melanie, this is the best, “ said Sue. “Thank you for inviting me, Melanie, the food is delicious,” exclaimed John. After dinner, the three friends sat in the living room, talking. Ms. Lovelace fixed coffee and they had their desert-- pumpkin pie with whipped cream. “What kind of food is that?” queried Oro to Finn McCool. “Hey bro, that’s a strange food called ‘pie.’ Humans make it out of fruit and


vegetables. Pumpkin is a vegetable.” “They can have it, bro,” squeaked Oro. Melanie’s two friends left about eight p.m. “Loved it, Melanie,” exclaimed Sue. She scratched Oro behind the ears. “I’ll see you Saturday,” said John. “You can drive up to my house for dinner, and then we’ll drive to Northwestern for the Baroque concert.” “I’m looking forward to that,” replied Melanie. The next morning, Ms. Lovelace slept in. She didn’t set the alarm because she had a day off from work. Oro was sleeping on the end of the bed. He yawned and stretched. Ms. Lovelace opened one eye. She reached over to pat him. “Oro, my beautiful, cat,” she said. “Thanksgiving is over. Now we have to get ready for Christmas.” Finn was sleeping in his cat bed on the wicker chest. He also stretched, jumped down and headed for the kitchen to look for breakfast. Ms. Lovelace picked him up. “Time for your shot, Finn.” Holding on to him, she stretched him out on the bed, measured the insulin and finding a patch of skin, she administered the shot. She then gave him several cat treats. Finn and Oro nibbled at the dry food and ate the wet cat food with zeal. Finn purred and said to Oro, “That shot’s not so bad, bro, since she give me treats after.” “Well, I’m glad it you, not me,” squeaked Oro. Ms. Lovelace turned on the TV. The 12:00 WGN news was predicting snow over the weekend. Ms. Lovelace liked the snow, but didn’t like to drive in it. The phone rang. “Hi Dennis,” she said. “Oh yes, I’d love to.” Dennis had invited her to go shopping in Woodstock. It was a quaint little town with cute stores—an Irish shop, special candy stores, antique shops. “Christmas is coming, cats,” she cried, “the goose is getting fat. “ She sang a few lines of the song. “And we’re going to have a real, live Christmas tree.” “A tree in our house, bro!“ meowed Oro. “I’ve seen fake trees,” replied Finn, but the real McCoy. That will be great. There are lots of toys on the tree to play with. You’ll love it. Christmas means food and fun!” The following Saturday, she drove out to Dennis’ place in the suburbs. “How charming,” exclaimed Melanie, as they walked toward the shops. Dennis bought a lovely Irish cladaugh for his stepdaughter and in the Sweden shop picked out a Swedish horse for is nephew. “I want to get a live tree, Dennis,” said Ms. Lovelace. So on the way back to Oak Park, they stopped at a tree lot. It was snowing. They picked a beautiful 6’ foot fir. They pulled into the alley behind the apartment. Dennis shouldered the tree and brought up the 3 flights of wooden steps. He was exhausted by the time he reached the top. The cats ran out excitedly. “Meow,” said Finn. “OOO,” squeaked Oro. They sniffed at the tree. An hour later, Melanie and Dennis had put the tree in the stand and poured water into the container. They sat down to admire their work, sipping hot cocoa. Oro and Finn lay down under the tree contentedly. The next day was Sunday. After she came back from church, Melanie knocked on Kris’ door. “How would you like to come over and help me decorate my tree?” she asked Kris and Malhia.“ I have some eggnog and Christmas cookies. Kris helped her bring up the boxes filled with Christ-

mas decorations from the basement. Oro and Finn sniffed curiously at the boxes. “What’s in those, bro?” squeaked Oro. “The ornaments for the tree,” meowed Finn. The first round gold container had once held a fruit cake, but now it was the place she kept the crèche or manger scene. Ms. Lovelace lovingly took out each figure, Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, the shepherds, sheep, camels and, lastly, the Baby Jesus, carved with olive wood from the Holy Land, and placed them on top of a small bookcase. She placed live evergreen branches on either side. She had a cardboard stable in which she carefully placed the figures. Kris and Malhia started removing the ornaments from the boxes. Oro excitedly jumped up by the crèche and started smelling all the figures. One of the wise men tumbled down. “Oro,” scolded Ms. Lovelace. “No. You can’t go up there.” She sprayed him with water from a spray bottle and Oro jumped down immediately. Finn lay in the cat bed, with one eye open. “Bro, he commented, “you can look but not touch.” Kris untangled the strings of lights and placed them on the tree. He plugged them in, and the living room was ablaze with red, green and white lights. One string with little bells played carols and the lights blinked off and on. Oro squeaked when he heard the music. “This is so exciting,” he said to Finn. After the lights were on the tree, they started hanging the ornaments. Ms. Lovelace found the ornaments from her childhood and some that her son had made, including an ornament of Scrooge saying “Bah Humbug!” and a tiny pinecone angel. “Here’s the bell and the angel I made in 6th grade!” she exclaimed and the mirrors that Mom bought. As each ornament was removed and carefully placed on the tree, it became more and more lovely. Melanie brought out the eggnog and homemade ginger snaps. “Yum! Thanks, Melanie,” said Malhia. The two cats batted at the wonderful ornaments dangling down from the tree. “I love that little man with the hat and beard,” squeaked Oro. “That’s Santa,” meowed Finn. “The real Santa comes on Christmas Eve. He comes down the chimney.” “But we don’t have a chimney,” squeaked Oro. “Umm,” meowed Finn, “I guess he comes in the door then, but we are asleep.” “I’m going to stay up all night to see him,” squeaked Oro. As Christmas came closer and closer, Melanie became more and more excited. She and Dennis had plans to go the “Christmas Carol.” They were going the 23rd of December. As she was putting on her makeup, she heard a sound of glass breaking. Oro had succeeded in knocking off an ornament from the tree. “Oro,” cried Melanie in exasperation, I know you love the tree, but you broke one of my favorite ornaments.” She moved the ornaments up a little higher so the cats couldn’t reach them. Finn was lying on the quilted tree skirt. “Bro,” he meowed, “be good or you may not get a Christmas present.” “Oooo, I will try,” squeaked Oro. “What will it be?” “I don’t know, but we’ll find out on Christmas Day.”

Rokoko | 9


The Idon’tcare Copter

OLEG Kagan

I Jazzy the space-walker, napping in old clothes like a dusty LP with scratch-and-listen glistening, jittery waltz crippled skeleton-scraper, squeak swinger with passions like Jesus had with weaker liquor to hear his dad he eases the incision till the trickle beats a rhythm with his blood, he drips a vision.

II He’s in the copter with blue sky Not waving his hands and drowning but surfing a shifting platform, earth-quaking beneath him; excited and anxious, head back, laughing away. III Flying away and forgetting the whisper that family, fate brought. Blessing the buck-shot air atoms. They say: “Never are we alone always the hurt; the victims of victims with ulcers dancing on a water-bed, wearing stilettos and dog’s eyes.” IV On Benny-magic he was never still, always a good host; faster, faster, have it, have it coffee, toast, coffee break tragic - landed on the street. What filth; what sugary sweets he mustn’t ingest, but to spite those on stilts, he did. He does.

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V His amorous drips cause languor - yes, yes! Breaking the rhyme and straddling skipped excuses - still it repeats: I want you, you in your cleats - walking the line, buckled to seats pushing the pedals, gripping the stick. Just shut up and sit. But you look and he’s pulling the copter like he’s breaking the fifth: telling you everything abandoning shticks: opening - floating - no joking no shit he’s spinning with ribbons enlisting the crowd till we lift and we listen and it’s us! Up in the air, rising magicians. Is he strapping it on? doesn’t matter, I’m with him... I don’t care, copter - I’m gone.


First Snow

PAT Alexander

Soft, floating, crystalline beings Visitors from old memories of youth spent in an icy world. Long, brilliant days and Starry nights of hushed silence, of glistening silver ribbons, Gracing bare branches of the Sleeping trees. A hulking white northern owl. Way up high in the tallest fir Blinking its golden eyes Searching for tiny mice To warm its belly against The searing cold.

Why, he was so thin he could barely keep his pants from falling off. He barely ate enough food to keep him alive. Once he was very handsome, an architect, a talented artist. He had a wife named Mae (but no children) When they divorced (because of his drinking) he cried. Now he really had a good reason to hit the bottle - so they said. I say, God bless him. He lent me twenty dollars once, when no one else would, he had a kind heart. God Rest his soul

He fell into a snow-bank and Couldn’t get up. Too weak, too drunk, Too old, too tired of living. He went to sleep in the cold embrace of a Buffalo snowstorm and Never woke up. George Bachman died that night. People said it was for the best. Everyone knew he was alcoholic for years.

This poem appeared in Rokoko #1 with some unfortunate errors. We are committed to faithfully presenting our content, so we apologize to the author and the readers.

Wasted Time

LUCIANO Santini

Each day I awake and count the minutes of each hour in my mind. I look outside to see the clouds cover up the sun as they move across the sky. I have to relax and hear my voice within tell me here is where you will find. Find what I ask? The response comes back into my head in a faint little voice. The wasted time the wasted time the wasted time the wasted time. I begin to look around with a frantic feeling of disgust wondering if I have a choice. I take a deep breath deeper than I ever have before and realizing that I am alone. I am alone in this room with just four walls no windows and no door. I hear it again and again and again within my head in a faint little voice. Wasted time wasted time wasted time wasted time the wasted time. I begin to feel anxiety and I begin to cry alone and feel chills deep into my core. It takes a few hours of anxiety and crying to realize that I am alone In a room with four walls no windows and no doors. I realize that my mind is my world where there are no walls and no doors. I continue to hear the faint little voice inside my head. The wasted time the wasted time the wasted time the wasted time. A few more hours go by and hear that damn annoying little faint voice again. I run around in circles and I find that time continues just wasting away no matter what. I stop running and I scream out loud holding my head in hopes it stops. I lie down and close my eyes and realize that in life no matter what, sometimes We have to jump obstacles, red tape and politicians and worst of all endure the pain. Each day I awake and count the minutes of each hour in my mind. I look outside to see the clouds cover up the sun as they move across the sky. I have to relax and hear my voice within tell me here is where you will find. The power and potential to be what you want to be with in these four walls Where there are no windows and no doors the solution was always within my mind. Rokoko | 11


Vibrations

RANEE Dillon

Clicking across the rails, it sooths the senses. Haunting whistles serve as a reminder; the sacrifice of flesh still fresh, after so many years. These centered moments; mirrored in walls that crumble. falling to forces outside our grasp While echoes float in shimmers, a connection to events since removed from context; carrying a sting that ripples.

Across the rocks, a tumbled glint catches the eye. In the splash, a laugh, a smile; laid to rest in moonlight, the voices fade to murmurs. As he whispers in my ear, my heart stops, waiting for the push.

Here, in the moonlight, thoughts wander, conjuring images of life; stories set to emotions that linger. Each step past the ruins, of the old church, drips with purpose. The pull of sorrow, sits in rustles, held in shadowed figures. The marker points to endeavors far removed from this moment. Fighting and falling to blade and bullet, defending ideals, captured in promises; freedom, elusive yet visible, witnessed by the fallen.

Those Times

BAT-AMI Gordon

‌like the time you dug your fingers into the wall and pulled yourself to the corner slithering along the baseboard just to let your essence seep high into the ceiling crack propitiously cut there by the most recent rainstorm. ‌or that time you crashed into the bathroom, only to use your robe as a rope, to climb down through the heating vent to find yourself surrounded by the energy generating bowels of your desolate domain. it’s like that time you threw everything out of the closet so you could crawl in under the empty hangers and sit there, in fetal position like a stow-a-way on an alien spaceship praying they would have magic titanium rods to wave over you and cure your aging bones.

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The Flying Kung

ERIKA Hawkins

“Did you see that?” Nude man running in deserted sand, around rocks. Nude with elephant feet, at his judgment seat, maybe I’d like to meet. Kung-being far away, watching, monkey, for fear he or she may go astray, this day. On film, we watch as he made his next move, the Hunt. This was no stunt; the marks, stalks withoutwalks as if it were a bird of prey, dancing you might say. We observe, see no end in sight. His arms full of might, longing for the moons’ night, No woman to help him with this special delight. He roams with Elephant feet, wrinkled from earth’s crags. Wrestling with competition in his habitational jungle. His yes a slither with the sun. Animated, flirting with the camera. Wondering who the foreigner could be; Could be me? He thinks, never drinks, with Nature in Stature with the World. Her story unfolds as he’s been told by the marrow of the arrow. The soul in his eyes, where his hear sighs—no home?

Rokoko | 13


Ekphrasis

1

/ˈɛkfrəsɪs/

It is an overstated reality of contemporary living that because we are inundated with images, all images have lost their power and impact. Rokoko doesn’t agree with that idea. Images still have a bizarre power to make our imaginations buzz, they move us to action and help us rally around otherwise nebulous ideas. While the scholars in arts and humanities debate the impact of the internet on the “power of images,” we would like to present a series of writings inspired by and from images. The images will range from the most mundane captures of everyday life to beautiful and grandiose works of art. The goal is to inspire the viewer, the reader, the writer and the artist to search for a sensitivity that may be vanishing. This is the first, short entry in this series.

poetry and prose by: JOSEPH Ligunas and MOLLY Lasslet

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The machine rumbled to life around him, groaning angrily, metal grinding against metal in a violent sexual interlocking of cogs to gears, ending in the loving pressure of wiper blades and the heat of dryers. He let his head fall against the back of his seat, shifting uncomfortably when his moist skin came into sticky contact with the cracked tan leather. His thick rimmed glasses fogged a little as he exhaled heavily, directing the release of carbon dioxide into the dark wavy hair hanging in his face. He turned and glanced at the back seat. He remembered her scent; cheap perfume and cigarettes. He remembered her laugh; raucous, deep, sultry, rising, high pitched when he kissed her neck. He felt the pull of the tracks under his feet, through the fabric and the bent metal frame of the car, forcing him along a predetermined route. He frowned and cringed. Pounded his calloused hands against the soft plastic grip on the steering wheel. He threw the car in drive and slammed his foot down, determined to destroy the beast. He peeled out, and into the desert. The rubber pounding against the unforgiving road in time with his own heartbeat. A tune reverberated through him. It came through the road, vibrating in the rubber and into his very soul. The Lone Ranger.

In abstraction icebergs sail into warm tongues melting through this gigantic tootsie pop— it is the entering that is disorienting—but in focusing on what now bulges through quivers our teeth in excitement and dissolves the barrier towards chewy experience.

Rokoko | 15


BOMONSTER, Sun Licked Surf, scratchboard, 12”x16”

Visual | 16


tjCERVANTS, Alfredo, 2010, Color pencil drawing Rokoko | 17


PAT ALEXANDER, Queen Maureen, acrylic and brass headpiece on canvas.

Visual | 18


PAT ALEXANDER, Piggy Piggy, 2010, oil on canvas

Rokoko | 19


Visual | 20


PAT ALEXANDER, The Dinner Party, acrylic on panel. Rokoko | 21


HOUSTON SHARP, Two Face, digital painting

Visual | 22


MIGUEL de MOSQUEDA, Resource for…And, silver shade polaroid and digital editing, 4x7”, 2011

Rokoko | 23


AMANDA CLOVER, Girl, paper and ink Visual | 24


Bracelet and earrings by JASMIN BASCOS, gesso and color pencil over copper, 2010 Rokoko | 25


Keys #1 what if we lived in a world where we didn’t need these?

Community & Miscellany | 26


Manang Glenda’s Secret Family Puto Recipe Plain Puto 2 cups flour 1 cup rice flour 1 cup sugar 3 tbsp baking powder 2 eggs ½ cup fresh milk Optional:

Ube (Purple Yam) Puto 1 packet of ube powder 1 cup sugar 1 cup wheat flour 1 Tbsp baking powder ½ cup rice flour 2 eggs 1 cup water 1 cup coconut

2¼ cups of Edam cheese

Puto is a steamed rice cake typical to the Philippines. Fluffy, subtly sweet and just a hint chewy, it is often served along side savory dishes, especially the infamous dinuguan; a thick soup made with pork blood and offal. It is also perfectly delicious on its own, without the blood. Here are two variations of puto, courtesy of Manang (aunt) Glenda. Feel free to try some already made at one of Lancaster’s many Filipino food markets, where you will also find the ingredients. However, nothing beats a fresh steamed batch! Recipe provided by EMILYN Vallega

1) Grease small cake tins, puto molds, or ramekins for use in a steamer. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate, larger bowl mix all wet ingredients together. Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture until evenly incorporated. Fill the prepared molds 2/3 of the way with batter (sprinkle with cheese if desired) 2) Fill a steamer with a few inches of water. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Place the molds into a steamer basket and place over the boiling water and cover. 3) Steam until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the putos comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Local Bites The Antelope Valley is home to quite a surprising variety of musicians. Here are some you should watch for. You can hear them on http://www.rokoko.me

JOSHUA MARTINEZ is an extremely talented guitarist who has played with several local bands. While he is not currently focused on recording and releasing, he quite frequently posts songs and clips. All are rather good!

SHILTS is a professional jazz musician and recording artist. He was deeply involved in the Palmdale Jazz Festival before its unfortunate end. His most recent album, Going Underground, came out late last year.

JEANA LEE was featured in the last issue of Rokoko. She has performed several times in local venues. She is busy preparing her first mixtape/EP. Be warned, her first single, “Find You,” is quite the earworm!

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ROKOKO

In its essence, any art that relies on words makes use of their ability to eat away—of their corrosive function—just as etching depends on the corrosive power of nitric acid.

—Yukio Mishima

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Rokoko #2