Category Archives: political activism

Rough Cut Resurrected: Watsonville Peace & Unity March

Watsonville Peace MarchIt took me three years to write the first draft of my novel, Fruit of the Devil. Writing was ecstasy—the story poured out of me as if it were being channeled. The characters came alive. Then I found out the horrible truth—that “writing is rewriting”—and I embarked upon what has now become  five years of revising, editing, and rewriting hell. Almost half of my original content has been trashed because, according to my various esteemed editors and critique groups, those scenes, characters, and chapters didn’t “move the plot.” “Keep it moving” is the mantra of genre fiction writers, and rightfully so—it would be nice to write a book that people will read. (Although I will guiltily admit to a secret proclivity toward writing literary fiction.)

Whatever. I’ve found that in any medium—whether it be clay, paint, or words on a page—there comes a critical moment in the creative process when one feels oneself futzing around, putting edited bits back into the work. That’s when the artist is at risk of overworking the piece and needs to stop; must surrender to the fact that works of art are works-in-progress, and are rarely perfect. I believe I’ve come to that moment with Fruit of the Devil.

Today, I sewed four pages, which I had previously savagely chopped off, back into the body of the manuscript. When I finished doing the horrible deed, I actually heard a voice in my head saying, “Thank you.” I think the manuscript is still breathing, and the resurrected piece is more relevant today that when I wrote it five years ago. The scene describes a community’s response to gun violence.

My main character, Aurora Bourne, is in love with a Catholic priest, Father Francis, who works in the community with at-risk youth. Aurora’s fourth grade student Paloma has two brothers—fifteen-year-old Johnny and eighteen-year-old Victor. Johnny has just jumped in with a Norteño cliqué and has been arrested after trying to rob a liquor store. He sustained major injuries from being jumped in and is now in the hospital under police custody. Victor and Father Francis visited him earlier in the day . . .

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Valle Verde Plaza

At high noon, the fifth annual Peace and Unity March wound through town toward the Plaza. Leading the march, the Azteca Mexica Ixtatutli—the beautiful White Hawk dancers, all in feathers—blessed the barrios and the pueblo in an indigenous, ceremonial way, with smoky copal incense and the haunting tones of a conch shell horn. The blessing felt like strong medicine. Victor, wearing a brown t-shirt and brown beret, was up at the front of the march with other similarly uniformed young men and women.

The community of Valle Verde had organized and come together today, on el Día de los Muertos to honor those who had died in violence, to listen to the family members of those who had been murdered, and to pray, bless, rally, sing, dance, and support El Pueblo de Valle Verde with peace.

Victor felt very uplifted and salved in his heart to be a part of this gathering. These people, his communidad, had Ganas—they had the will, the spirit, to affirm life and peace, in the face of so much personal tragedy. That’s what he needed today, just to keep it going, to keep on believing.

The marchers wound through the city and returned to the plaza. Victor watched all the familias setting up memorials to loved ones lost to violence, placing mementos, photos, flowers, and even favorite foods and personal effects of the departed on the altars. People were remembering their muertos for all the community to see.

The rally started. A woman up on the stage spoke through a microphone. She was a small woman but her voice sounded like it could shake down mountains.

“This violencia is going to stop,” she said. “I’m here today because I lost my son at the hands of gang members. Too many of you know about the pain I am feeling. We all need to work together to end the violence and bring peace to our community. The cops try, but they can’t do it by themselves. We need the families to get out and show support. The answer isn’t just more law enforcement. It’s about parental involvement and community building, education, and faith at a time when it’s clearly hard to come by. I pray that all this violence will stop. But prayer isn’t enough. This is our community. We need to take it back, for the sake of our children.”

The crowd cheered and applauded. Another speaker took the podium—one of the founders of the Valle Verde Brown Berets, a guy named Vallejo.

“We are proud to be here today. Proud that the Brown Berets could play a part in organizing this Peace and Justice rally. We’re tired of the injustices in our community, and tired of not having a voice or political representation in our own town . . . We’re young and brown, so they don’t want to listen to us. But we will be heard.”

Victor had a lot of respect for Vallejo and his message of courage and self-determination. He’d met Vallejo at Indian Canyon with Father Francis, and had heard him speak at the weekly Brown Beret meetings in the Bike Church downtown, across the alley from the Adult School. The guy was a natural born leader.

Victor ambled around the fountain in the center of the park-like plaza. Art, tradition, and culture surrounded him. The Folklorico dancers were swirling their colorful skirts in beautiful, traditional dances of Mexico. Women and children were giving out treats for free—candies, skulls made of sugar, and pan de muertos, bread of the dead.

On the stage where the woman had spoken earlier, Teatro Campesino was getting ready to put on a performance. Victor sat on the grass to watch and drink his champurrado, a thick and delicious Mexican hot chocolate. The Father of Teatro Campesino, The Farmworkers’ Theater, introduced the play. Luis Valdez was a distinguished looking man with a silver moustache. He related the story of how Teatro Campesino had gotten its start out in the fields on flatbed trucks, among the grape and lettuce pickers, back in Cesar Chavez’s day. It had been born on the strike lines of the Great Grape Strike of 1965—Chicano Comedia Popular, revolutionary guerilla street theater.

“When I produced my film Zoot Suit, I made enough money to purchase a teatro permanente down in San Juan Bautista. If you haven’t already, I hope you will come to see us there. But we don’t forget our roots. We will always show up for the people, right out in the open air, whenever we are needed, like today. We hope you enjoy the show.”

As usual, the actors wore wonderful, crazy costumes and talked in a mixture of Spanish and English, street slang, and even a little bit of barely intelligible Azteca and Mayan. The play was an exciting and surreal story full of regular people getting mixed up with strange, supernatural characters and happenings, surprises for both the living and the dead, and very funny lines with lots of double meanings and satire that made the audience split their sides laughing. Victor’s heart was hurting real bad with worry for his little brother. But still, it felt good to laugh.

After the play, children in skeleton costumes with black and white painted faces gathered in the center of the plaza, next to the fountain. Victor’s little sister, Paloma, was not among the children. He’d insisted that she stay home with Grandpa tonight. She was too upset about Johnny.

As evening’s shadow descended, people began lighting the candles they held in their hands.

Several compañeros from the Brown Berets stepped out of the dark and surrounded Victor. “We’re here for you, hermano. We heard about Johnny,” said Pato. “He’s gonna be alright.”

A large mariachi band assembled. Wearing cleric’s collars and black robes, a couple of priests from St. Patrick’s—the big red church in town—said a blessing. Acolytes passed through the throng with smoking incense censers. Pretty soon, everybody was moving, following the children on a procession to the community arts center a few blocks away. There, they would have a grand fiesta, with elaborate altares made by community groups, more food, music and dancing until midnight, when all of the souls went home to rest.

Victor moved along with the crowd, following the eerily lit skeleton kids and the priests with their thuribles of swirling, ghostly copal smoke. The procession wove along Main Street and up toward the Galleria del Arte. The mariachi band, with its full-blown brass cacophony, sent evil spirits flying off ahead of the revelers into the night.

In the bruised, dark purple twilight, Father Francis suddenly appeared at Victor’s side.

The priest, clothed in jeans and a light nylon jacket, put his arm around Victor’s shoulders and sang to the mariachi musica at the top of his voice.

Victor joined in, lifting his voice and his heart, his spirit, up into the night.

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March for Science ~ Washington D.C. Earth Day, 2017

Here’s a nice song to listen to if you don’t mind having a second window open while looking at the slides.

I am an American Citizen. A Patriot. My family has lived, worked (mostly as coal miners, farmers, and teachers), loved and died on American soil for over 400 years. I love my country. I’m also a well-educated researcher, trained in scientific method, the daughter of an electrical/chemical engineer and wedded to a physicist. I rely on Truth, not “alt-facts” to navigate reality. Therefore .   .   .

In April 2017, I  felt compelled to travel from California to Washington D.C. to take part in the March for Science and, a week later, the Peoples Climate March.

Early in the morning on Earth Day, we gathered at the downtown offices of the Union of Concerned Scientists, where we had coffee and donuts, got our tee shirts, talked, and made signs. Then we marched. In spite of bitter driving rain on Earth Day, at least 300,000 people marched in the nation’s capitol (and many more participated in cities around the country) to support scientists, scientific rigor, funding for scientific research, science-based governmental and non-governmental institutions, and respect for the  scientific process as a means of understanding reality and verifying facts.

The following weekend, more than 100,000 people turned out despite ironic record-breaking heat. We marched all the way from the Capitol Building to the White House to demand that our governmental representatives honor commitments we made, with the signing of the Paris Climate Accord, to reduce carbon emissions.

Lately I often feel like I’m standing on the sidewalk watching my house burn down. Paralyzed. Hypnotized. Slack jawed. In shock.

Since the November inauguration, we’ve witnessed a violent assault against all the institutions that Make America Great: our national Environmental Protection Agency, our Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Protection Acts, our National Parks and National Monuments, our National Security System, our Courts, our Health Care, Social Security, and Medicare, old age pensions, labor unions, Food Safety, Women’s Rights, Civil Rights, our Middle Class, our Public Educational System, freedom from the threat of nuclear holocaust, national infrastructure providing good roads, hospitals, sustainable energy and healthy water systems and our respect for honesty, civility and truth. In fact every aspect of government that makes Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness possible for We the People is now under threat of being dismantled.

Every day on the news I hear new revelations about high Treason, Lies, Theft and Corruption. I, like you, try to stay balanced and positive, try to juggle day-to-day survival in an economy where it seems increasingly difficult to make ends meet. I try to eat healthy, exercise, maintain my home and garden, do creative work, read and write, meaningfully connect with family and friends, sustain a spiritual practice. I try to devote time to uniting with others in our life-or-death struggle to resuscitate the greatest democracy human civilization has yet known, to unite with others to keep those things we’ve worked so hard to protect from unraveling, to unite with the people of the world to peacefully usher in the Great Turning .   .   .

But often, the best I can do is lay on the couch twittering and facebooking the latest shockwave on my smart phone while the timber that scaffolds my earth household collapses and falls around me in flames.

In case you too have been feeling that we’ve lost our collective soul, I offer you these photos, which I took at the Climate and Science Marches. Look in the faces of these people, our fellow Americans. And know that at the marches I found that which Makes America Great: The best of America. Our Character and Values are alive and well in our People: Hope. Perseverance. Creativity. Intelligence. Humor. Ethics. Compassion. Strength. Care. Craftsmanship. Rigor. Fortitude. Innovation. Scholarship. Genius. Diversity. Union. Justice. Honesty. Respect. Faith. Courage. Love.

(climate march photos coming soon)

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On the March

After the Women’s March, Women are Still Marching On

mandela

Some say the WOMEN’S MARCH, which took place world-wide the day after Trump’s inauguration, marked a global transition in the consciousness of women and in the men who love and respect women. The Spirit of Standing Rock woke many to this new consciousness, to the realization that  love, peace, and compassion are more powerful revolutionary forces than hatred, fear, and violence.

On the day of the march, women donned their pink pussy hats and owned those disparagingly sexist labels of “pussy” and “nasty woman” with pride. Our march was remarkable not only because of its historic numbers, but also because everyone that day, even the police, honored the Divine Feminine with beauty, grace, humor, peace and love.

But the Divine Feminine is not only a spirit of love, peace and beauty. She is Great Destroyer as well as Mother Creator. Sisters, now is the time to get in touch with all the power of our Divine Feminine. Wipe that pink juicy pussy couture off your face, slip on your warrior armor and rise. Treasonous Trump and his cronies must be stopped before they destroy all that is good, beautiful, innocent and sacred of Mother Earth and her children. Beyoncé said it, right?

Okay Ladies, now let’s get in Formation. Prove to me you got some coordination. Go hard. Go hard. . . I slay. We slay. Slay, Chick, or you get eliminated. ”

We cannot be emancipated by someone else. We must emancipate ourselves, to be truly free and equal. 

Are you WOKE yet? Can you hear me now? Connect the dots: The Women’s Movement, Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, Sustainability, Climate Change, Banking and Capitalism, Marketing, .  .  .   It’s all connected.

Have you seen that viral Pepsi ad? http://www.vanityfair.com/…/kendall-jenner-pepsi-ad Pepsi trying to co-opt the #BlackLivesMatter movement in order to sell soft drinks. That’s evil. But corporations using marketing to co-opt liberation and justice movements is nothing new.

I think women-hating misogyny in America runs even deeper, and is older, and more virulent than racism. Around a hundred years ago Edward Bernays, Father of Modern Marketing, figured out how to promote the TOBACCO industry by using the Suffragettes (Yes, R.J. Reynolds used those women who risked their very lives to win women’s right to vote, after they’d already helped to win the Black vote – big tobacco used those women’s equal rights campaign to sell cigarettes. )

These marketing corporations have been sticking it to us ever since Bernays figured out how to manipulate us through fear, lust and greed. But not a lot of people paid attention.

Check it out: Have you noticed the way the big department stores are currently selling torn blue jeans for over $100 a pair? Yes, you and your daughter can join the proletariat and sacrifice and struggle to make the world a better place, so poor you can’t afford new blue jeans, or you can pay a lot of $$$ to just look cool – like a radical protestor – in your ripped designer  jeans.

How did this happen? Watch the amazing four-part documentary The Century of Self to understand how corporate capitalism is co-opting our authentic grass-roots movements and manipulating We the Consumers. Wait. We are NOT Consumers. WE are Citizens, and PEOPLE. We are Human. Not slaves born to lift the machine’s GDP. The Century of Self : https://youtu.be/eJ3RzGoQC4s

Here’s the Pepsi ad with hilarious commentary by Stephen Colbert. Be sure to scroll all the way down and watch Seth Meyers’ alternative ending to the ad (it’s sick). http://www.vanityfair.com/…/kendall-jenner-pepsi-ad-stephen…

Stephen Colbert Rips Kendall Jenner’s Ill-Conceived Pepsi Ad
“Luckily, Ms. Jenner, a wealthy young white woman, knows exactly how to handle police at a protest.   vanityfair.com

Until we are all free, none of us will be.

So who’s #45 GOT BY THE PUSSY now? Besides poor zombie Stepford Wife Melania, he’s got  Congressional Representatives Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming and Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina selling out to SERVE the Master. These token women were photo op’ed at the signing of a Trump executive order rolling back hard-fought victories for women in the workplace.

Trump’s order revokes the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces legislation that protected women from sexual harassment in the workplace and guaranteed fair payroll practices. http://www.nbcnews.com/…/trump-pulls-back-obama-era-protect…

How did #45 get Liz and Gini to go along with screwing the women of this country? Maybe we should grab him by the balls and ask him. Snip snip.

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And now, Arch-misogynist #periods-for-PENCE and the Republicans have forced the HobbyLobby anti-contraception  Supreme Court nominee Mr. Gorsuch through, with Mitch McConnell’s democracy-destroying “nuclear option” clearing the way for repeal of Roe v. Wade and a future for American women resembling the cultural/socio/political-economic landscape of The Handmaid’s Tale.

By the way, if you haven’t yet read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, now would be a good time, because we are no doubt in for some sci fi horror playing out in our real lives very soon. Read author Margaret Attwood’s recent illuminating and chilling INTERVIEW in the New York Times for more on this.

If you’re not in the mood to read, you may want to watch the new HULU original series based on the book, season premier April 26, 2017.

handmaid4RESIST!

Come on, Ladies. Let’s get in Formation. Time to March. We’re going to the Tax March. Going to the  People’s March for Science. Going to the Citizens Climate March.

We going to March for Liberty and Justice for All.

Join your local INDIVISIBLE group to find out about the next march, the next action, the next letter or phone call you need to make. DOWNLOAD THE INDIVISIBLE GUIDE. Subscribe to Andrew’s Actions.

Slay, Chick (Pussy), Slay. or you gonna get eliminated.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
George Orwell, 1984 

RESIST!  “Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
George Orwell, 1984

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General Strike Called Nationwide for January 20th Inauguration Day

 
Boxes of sugar cubes bearing the image of US President-elect Donald Trump on sale at a supermarket in Tula, Russia. (Photo by Sergei StarikovTASS via Getty Images)

Boxes of sugar cubes bearing the image of US President-elect Donald Trump on sale at a supermarket in Tula, Russia. (Photo by Sergei StarikovTASS via Getty Image

“On the Day of Trump’s Election, spontaneous protests broke out across the United States. People saw the danger represented in Trump’s politics and refused to comply with business as usual. Out of those protests, a nationwide call has gone out for a General Strike on the day of the Presidential Inauguration, January 20th.” the following article was posted by the Santa Cruz General Strike Organizing Committee.

What is a General Strike? Why a General Strike?

A General Strike is a political action in which the general population refuses to engage in work, they close the doors to their workplaces and their schools. Born out of early 20th century labor movements, we can thank General Strikes for the 8 hour workday, minimum wage, and the weekend, among other accomplishments.
 
The General Strike is one of the strongest political tools that the people have at our disposal. General Strikes have the power to force governments to their knees. Just in these past few months: a General Strike forced the South Korean President to resign, a General Strike forced the Polish government to roll back restrictive anti-choice legislation.
 
Our political system only offers limited input for ordinary people in the form of voting and lobbying our “elected representatives.” When it fails the people, we have little recourse to act within the system. A General Strike has the power to bring the system to a halt, to force those in power to hear the people.
 
In addition to the disruptive power of the General Strike, it is also a demonstration of solidarity. Trump won an election based on hate and fear. We seek to overcome that hate and fear with mutual respect and love. With Solidarity. By joining together in the General Strike we show that we are able to overcome a politics based on individualistic difference. We will stand together and defend each other in the face of misogynistic and racist attacks, cuts to social services, environmental catastrophe, and impoverishment.
 
Instead of being forced to rely on a broken system that only offers false choices between hatred and corruption, by striking we show that we are ready and able to build a new order. One that is not based on hate, fear, and profit, one that is built on solidarity, mutual-aid, and respect. When we do not work, when we do not go to school, when we do not allow business as usual, we show that we will not allow politics as usual to rule us. We will not allow a racist, misogynistic billionaire to rule us.
 
It is important to not normalize Donald Trump’s governance. A first step to building a meaningful opposition to his rule is to make sure the day is not a normal work day. We have no illusions that not going to work on January 20th is going to bring down the Trump administration and systems of oppression in a single day. But striking together is the first step towards building the meaningful solidarities and organization that will allow us to actually oppose and survive his administration.
The election of Trump was a Coup D’Etat by the Russians. Sufficient evidence is available to the public to support this. Why? The Russians have far greater oil reserves than any other country, and they can’t sell it because of US sanctions. The Russian Trump puppet  will lift those sanctions and set a course for massive exploitation, production  and profit-taking by the billionaires’ multinational fossil fuel industry.
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