Dec 31, 2006

First Gridley Exhibition


Chapter 1:

Photography, Video, y Radio
Gridley, CA, New York, NY USA Huejuquilla, Guadalajara JAL. MX

May 1st, 2006-December 31st, 2006

Born in Gridley, CA, the Luiseño Artist Collective is dedicated to supporting the arts in the communities it serves.

Nuevo Ideal marks Luiseño’s first engagement with the Gridley community. In this inaugural exhibition, artists featured are the Sacred Heart Youth Group, Shannon Bowers, Ricardo Ramirez and Tony Gannon, all of whom are Gridley locals.

Photos and video result from months of documentation in the Gridley area and during visits to New York City, Huejuquilla, Jal. MX, and Guadalajara, Jal. MX. The Luiseño Artist Collective is always seeking contributors from these regions and beyond.

The Luiseño Artist Collective will continue to seek out local voices deserving recognition. In fact, Luiseño hopes that this is the first of many regular exhibitions within the community.

Luiseño is presently seeking donors who support building community through art.

Please contact Luiseño at:

Dec 24, 2006

The Myth of the Petroglyph, or the Petrified Revolutionary

We are in Africa. We are on a journey to observe the causes of hunger in Africa. We visit farmers, we talk with them. We are in an area that is rural yet connected to a Metropolis nearby. It is called Juarez, and it is, in my mind, the future Juarez, Mexico, where people fight for justice, where noble people are prevailing against corruption.

I am there with my family, friends, former co-workers. We are meeting farmers, chefs. Amidst our visit, wind of a letter from arises. Young Tim Farrell mentions the letter, claiming “it’s pretty good, it may work.” I am curious and search out the letter; sitting in an idyllic pasture amongst the misty crags of a sierra where farmers receive assistance to grow their primary crops, I read the letter

It reads:

We seek out people who may be interested. We seek out the best of them. [Image of two men shouldering a tree, lifting]. We must raise money amongst ourselves—say $1000 dollars, and we give it to the chosen farmers. They use the money for the benefit of their crops, to farm unimpeded…

The money is not to be reported, its existence is to remain a secret between us and the chosen farmers. When the farmer succeeds (and he will succeed), we return next season and do it again. The success of the farmer puts him in a position to receive official aid, vast quantities of money. Our money serves him underground, but it’s for a worthy cause, namely to help his people.

I am reading the letter accompanied by imagery, as though the events had already been documented. As I read the letter I have a notion of the perfect farmer to begin the project.

The letter is hopeful, full of ambition, idealism.

The letter continues:

When the time comes, the country will be in a position for revolution.
Based on our efforts, we will be cultivating a revolutionary contingency of people, not only loyal to us because of the funding we will provide, but loyal to ideals, since the first man will be a man of ideals. When the time comes, children will be schooled in the ways of the revolutionary…

I stop reading the letter here. I look up and look at the rolling meadows, the mist setting on the mountain ranges. An image of a boy learning methods of farming that would replace current ones. An image of the words: hegemony replacing hegemony. This is the text the boy is reading, and I no longer want to read the letter.

What does it benefit us to have a revolution if the children are brainwashed from such an early age?

This is the myth of the petrified revolutionary:

The revolutionary was working to save his people. Money would arrive and he would put it in the cookie jar. Everyday he would put his hand in the cookie jar, to drop money off. Or so people thought. It came to the attention of the people that he may be taking money out as he puts the money in, or perhaps he was only pretending to put the money in, and removing his hand with the money intended for the people, or perhaps more. So they came to observe him, a man in a kitchen, allegedly putting his hand in the cookie jar for the benefit of his people. The revolutionary stuck his hand in the cookie jar, only to freeze there, his face looking out at the people he claimed to have been serving, a look on his face that told the people neither what they wanted nor what they feared.

And that is the myth of the petrified revolutionary.

As our visit continues, the makings of the letter become more widespread. A white woman whom everyone adores becomes a target of the letter-writers. She is sought after because she is a great chef and has a wonderful personality on top of that. She has carisma.

She is cooking something one day as she is accosted by two of the letter-writers. At first she politely rebukes their advances, but finally blurts out “I will not be your hero, I’m not even African!” As she is saying this, one hand is balancing a large pot while the other is stirring. An image of a man sticking his hands in a cookie jar, his hand stuck, his body frozen. The image comes to me because she is in exactly the same position. “Let me tell you a story,” she says, “of the petrified revolutionary.”

Dec 13, 2006

Huejuquilla and the Global Economy

A man comes to town from his ranch. He makes pottery and sells his work at the weekly market. Once or twice a year a Norteño couple comes down, a married couple, the woman with orders to fill Texas houses with his pottery. He makes good money off these orders alone. He talks about not having electricity a few years back, about his efforts to have electrical lines installed, as well as a road.

On one of our last days in Huejuquilla we meet a man who installs solar plates on homes outside of the electrical grids. These are largely for Huichol indians; he can’t quite install a system to power a refrigerator, but for a television, a computer, home appliances, it is possible. He talks about how much this benefits the people--Huicholes using the internet to connect to people in the US. I wonder how it’s possible to get internet where they live if there are no phone lines, much less fiber-optic cable.

The obvious benefits of solar electricity aside, there is a question here, a broader question. It's the question of progress--Is this it?—electricity, a telephone line, fiber-optic cable for the Huichol Indians? Not unlike the vision presented by Microsoft in their commercials, a diverse world, enacting their dreams, participating in the global economy, on their terms. Cut to a beautiful shot of a monk somewhere in China on a computer, a business transaction in the morning before getting down to the real work of being…spiritual. Is this the future, the indigenous people winning back autonomy by joining the global economy?

Dec 6, 2006

La Batalla del Pueblo

We went to la Señora's rancho today. 'Cardo’s mother is hesitant to get out of the car at first, but we finally convince her. Later I learn she hasn’t been back to the rancho in 20 years.

Here is the deep well that once had water. Here are the steps Chato used to play on. Here was the casa de las gallinas. Irma wants a shot of a cross on a hill. It’s so far away, I try to hide my disappointment in the ability of my lens, but I take the picture anyway.

We leave the ranch and head toward the capilla. We stop along the way to take a picture of the school, La Batalla del Pueblo. We see two kids who we’d seen on a previous visit. At the capilla, we decorate the cross with a tinsel string boa, the kind one sees on Christmas trees. The cross is already decked out in an elegant white fabric that looks like the fabric of a wedding dress. Someone else has placed 4 mirrors on the cross and flowers. Lupe explains that people decorate the cross to try to outdo other ranchos. She looks into a Jesus statue’s eyes and coos in adoration; she loves Jesus. The three women decide to recite a rosary while we wait outside.

At the end of their prayer they sing and it’s beautiful. Ricardo and I are miles away, even though we're right outside.

I wonder about the land, who it’s belonged to. Who died over this property? How close by do the Huicholes live?

At night, the windows of our bedroom are directly adjacent to the sidewalk. Footsteps and clear voices pass the house at night. A group of Huichol musicians pass by, a car blasting banda music, drunken revelers. A truckload of cars with drunken young men. I heard celebratory screams deep into the night last night, distant yelps and whistling.

Dec 5, 2006


Talking on the phone with Hong, Pancho rides up on his bicycle. He’s in his 30’s, a good looking guy with a thick mustache. He came over to the house the first night we arrived with a present for Don Adolfo. He told me he spent a couple years in Las Vegas doing chrome on cars (I imagined him working on lowriders, but that's just me). He’s got two kids, a wife: he's settled down. One night, I ask him if he's going out to the dance. He chuckles, and says, no, I don't dance anymore. He's got two boys, adorable, happy. There's something that tells me he used to by quite the dancer. He sees I'm busy on the phone and says he'll be around.

Hong tells me she’s applied for a job within HBO Latino, and all I can think about is that the capitalist agenda of HBO doesn’t necessarily fight the exploitation of the Latino community.
A man rides by on a horse. A kid walks by whistling, Hong asks me if it’s me. I get off the phone and make my way to Pancho over at the farmacia. I tell him about my girlfriend, that she's Korean. He tells me to bring her here to Huejuquilla.

I sometimes get the impression that everything is perfect in Huejuquilla. People work, they talk and seem content. I don’t see too much poverty—some Huicholes sleeping in the town square, a man asking for cans. I'm sure there's poverty...but people seem so much happier here. They don't seem discontent, they don't seem to be tortured by everyday life...

But am I not experiencing the town through some grotesque prism? I’m an outsider, people know that I didn’t grow up here, I'm treated differently. It occurs to me that I am, in many ways, still a tourist.

Dec 4, 2006

An Evening in Huejuquilla

Leave the house to go the cyber-cafe to check email. Stop and talk to the dude outside of El Nene, a tiendita that sells music, dvds, car stereos, miscellaneous electronics. Talk for a minute, tells us that too much technology isn’t good for you. A friend of El Nene rolls by and gets out of his car. Talk for a minute more. Leave, round the corner and stop at the family farmacia. Cardo’s father is there, we chat for a minute. Go next door with the intention of stopping at the cyber-café, which turns out to be full. The lady next door, distantly related to 'Cardo, stops to talk to us. Asks us how we’ve liked our stay so far, what we've seen. We tell her about Huejuquilla, Guadalajara. She recommends a natural thermal spring outside of Huejuquilla. She also tends an art gallery right next door to the cyber-cafe, which she opens for us and shows us. Say goodnight and head to the public internet café, run by the pueblo, or the government. Check email, but they’re about to close. Manage to finish right before. Outside we look at our options for stores to buy some cigarettes. I want a beer so we go to the liquor-store nearby. We’ve been there before, and the man there asks us how we’ve liked Huejuquilla so far. He tells us he’s been to the USA, that he’s retired now. He worked for years in San Jose before it turned into Silicon Valley. He knows Chico, Lodi--even Gridley. We tell him we’ll be back to pick up a couple of bottles of tequila. Outside Cardo spots the man with the laptop he’s seen around town. It turns out he’s the engineer doing work with 'Cardo’s father on his property. We talk for a minute about the laptop, his work, etc. We leave, go across the plaza to the other convenience store, but they don’t have the kind of cigarettes i want. We head back toward the house, stop at the farmacia again. Maria is there with her father, along with Betty and Norma and Tia Goya. We say goodnight. We drink a beer outside of the house. Ricardo’s father walks up with someone. He's tall and lanky, has a family in Huejuquilla, but used to work in Gridley, thousands of miles away. He talks to us for a bit about working in the United States, throws out some English words. We say goodnight.

It's late!

Nov 29, 2006

Additional Notes on the Subject of La Perrada

I ask my cousin Karen about this expression, la perrada. I want to know how much it’s used by people, if it’s considered offensive. Its meaning: People – Gente – The Masses – The Herd – Common Folks – The Rabble – and more literally -- Dogs.

Despite it's being potentially offensive, i latch onto the word. The movie Amores Perros comes to mind, the opening dog-fight amidst an expanding urban existence. We get what we can take, even if its the scraps.

Guadalajara has been expanding dramatically in the last 30 years. The city where my father met my father, once the city of roses, is now over-crowded with people from the country. How many of these recent arrivals contemplated heading al norte, and how many have relatives in Los Angeles, or Idaho, or Virginia? My cousin Tako talks about the city's over-crowding as we pass through a neighborhood that's cropped up in the past 10 years. "Aqui es pura perrada." Families walk the streets, take their dinners at taco stands. Women sit outside their doors. The houses are close together, many of them joined.

I can't process this herd of people sometimes, the urban organization of people into struggling consumers. I'm
greatful to be at the heights of Tonalá.

Nov 27, 2006

!Estoy en la Chamba!

We're driving through the streets of Guadalajara, Mexico with my cousin Taquin. Men and women approach the car selling fruit, water, candy. Ricardo takes a picture of a man selling large calculators. Later, also with Taquin, we get a card with a girl on it wearing a bathing suit, a phone number. We turn our heads to a performer walking on his hands. Check it out, Cardo says. Tako was tired and grouchy. “Pues asi lo hacen aca,” he says, “para el dinero.”

The slang for "hustle," we learn soon enough, is "chamba." It's not exactly a verb, though one can say, "estoy chambiando." I prefer using it as if it were an all-enveloping mode of existence--"estoy en la chamba" (literally: i'm in work).

Making money in Mexico seems more honest, somehow.

Nov 21, 2006

Mexicanos Unidos

Mexicans: tall, short, lanky, bearded, dark, blond, squat, skinny, wavy, pudgy, fit. How many times have i gotten the "you're Mexican?" Mostly it comes from people who have a notion of what Mexicans look like from the Mexicans they encounter--in New York, they're from Puebla, so they have a certain set of characteristics they've maintained from their indigenous ancestors. Yet the Homies, a Northern California pop-cultural creation based on Mexican stereotypes (or should i say archetypes?) , look generally pretty different than the people of Puebla.

Class divisions are strong in Mexico. In the US we have the luxury of forgetting this, realizing it's a much more powerful tool to unite with all Mexicanos--and Central and Latin Americans, and the oppressed black populations, and the Hmong people of Northern California, and hell, why not even some disenfranchised white folks while we're at it? But in Mexico, it's back to that old racist shit: the lighter one is, the more likely it is you're simply not living in poverty. Just look at the soap operas.

Nov 20, 2006

Dia de la Revolucion, o la Perrada

Of all places to go on November 20th, I end up at Zapo-Poom, a "carnival" organized, seemingly, by a group of investors, corporations, or both. The whole experience is marked by the crisp white tents housing "exhibits," markets, restaurants, small dance venues: a showroom for new Dodge trucks, a room containing miniature models of Mexico's biggest tourist sites, a Chivas exhibit showcasing the new stadium still in the works, a "flea-market". A schedule of the nightly performers tells me i just missed Maria Daniela y su Sonido Laser the night before! It's Mexican culture enveloped, masked, by whiteness, and with the undeniable sense of making you want things. It's the whiteness of corporations: New!ness, Stability, Safety, Control.

When deciding where to eat, we have basically a couple of options--a row of tents down the carnival's main drag, featuring restaurants with outdoor seating, menus, waitstaff, etc, and a single large pavilion where you have a bunch of taco stands to order from. We choose the larger tent with various food stalls. “Vamonos aca, con la Perrada,” says my cousin Taquin.

Nov 15, 2006


Here's a contrast: Mexico’s economic poverty and its cultural riqueza.

What causes an economy where a range of socio-economic classes--from the poverty stricken, to farmers to educated people---are forced to flee their country in search of better, paying work?

Specifically, what role does the United States play in creating poverty in Mexico?

How do Americans not see the importance of a stronger Mexico?

Why should we let corporations determine the quality of life in developing countries?

Nov 14, 2006

First Days of Huejuquilla

We're fortunate to arrive just before the celebration of Huejuquilla's patron saint, San Diego. A perigrinacion makes its way through town, it's destination the iglesia. Dansantes perform in front of the church. The feathers and the cross, this is Mexico.

At night the town gathers around the town square. In the church courtyard: music, theater, atole. Later, the traditional fireworks. This is really the holiday season now--in a week is November 20, Dia de la Revolucion, a secular celebration of course, but a reason for the pueblo to come together nonetheless. Following that is the Dia de la Virgen Guadalupe, and then of course Christmas, New Year's, Dia de los Reyes...Did I miss one? In between there's no reason not to have carnivales and bailes.

This is an aspect of small town living that I long for in good old Gridley, California: the regular rhythms of town gatherings and celebrations--days of explosions set off by days of work and peace. Maybe I'm idealizing the life of a Mexican pueblo, but Gridley by contrast seems constantly on the verge of exploding, and everyday is an effort to repress this urge, to control one's self.

Is Gridley poised for a riot, you're asking? No--far from it, actually. Gridley is under control, and any notion of resistance is quickly diminished by the rapid passage of Time. Time passes in astonishing ways in the US: one goes to work, one ends his/her day, and then it seems there isn't much left but sleep or TV. Time in Mexico, meanwhile, seeps by, it comes and goes like families visiting. Sometimes time is their, and sometimes it's not. At 11pm one still feels it's early--an hour before bed is so much time! The next day begins early, and it's oh so far away.

Nov 12, 2006


mcmcmcmcmcmcmcmcmcmcmcmcmcmcmc donalds asta que bastan.

leaving the place, do not drink the water, watch for thieves, protect your cyber-family.


freaking out, internet cafe. dial up. tacos de oro. rockeros donde estan. family fries. no more nothingness. 2 dollar and fifty cent lunch.

Nov 10, 2006

Chihuahua MX.

Honeywell, Coca-Cola, Lextor, Holiday INN.


landscape of a travelling mind:

1) Confessions of an Economic Hitman, John Perkins
2) Elizabeth Costello, J.M. Coetzee
3) Don Quixote

Also, Oaxaca

El Paso feels like Mexico, but it's not. Getting into Mexico is no problem. Within Mexico: 1 military checkpoint, 2 casetas (tolls). Holiday Inn Express Chihahua however may as well be Holiday Inn Express Yuba City, CA.

Nov 7, 2006

election theater. upstairs, downstairs.

did angelides really even try to defeat the andriod gov? besides the fact that i watch zero tv anymore, i still wonder how the democrats tried to reach me? i got some robo-calls last week. urging me to keep the california dream alive. but nothing about how the dream is actually a well kept gated community in the suburbs. angelidies, i realized your were a token canidate a long time ago – but if you are going claim representation for the middle-class and liberal minds, walk around the rural towns of northern california. at least try to give an option to the people i see everyday that might need some help from sacramento. don't just hang back and wait for the elections to be over so you can go back to the random political postion you have held for who knows how many years.

I voted purple.

2nd Mission Proposal

Since the onslaught of information directed at spectators/audiences/consumers heightened it's rate of attack--arguably at the beginning of the 20th century--the notion of "community" has been changing. As if the age of mechanical reproduction did not affect the masses in never-before seen ways, memeplexic online communities are now as real as physical communities of human beings, if not more.

Fragmented self expression is a requirement to belong to these communities: name, location, interests, etc. People are connecting through any number of online communities, where they share music, photos, videos, often created by the members themselves. Meanwhile, entire websites are devoted to user generated content.

Luiseño Films is an alternative media-arts movent committed to building community, both physical and virtual.

flirting with danger USA

Proposal For Mission Statement

It is the year 2006 and the notion of community is beginning a sequential loop. It is both changing and remaining strong. We are in a time of primordial preservation as well as a youthful climate of change. Luiseño Films is an alternative media-arts movent dedicated to serving the memory of communities in a cyclical universe. Memetic Communication has propelled us into a dreamscape present, where justice and freedom reign.

Luiseño is committed to serving its communitities by providing a resource for creative expression on a community level.

Nov 6, 2006

tiger mckenna is on the case today with some reports from the field:

1) explosions reported in Mexico city

2) Ortega headed for victory in Nicaragua

3)Oaxaca continues

ex ex ex's READ: I remember being at the Old Time Sacramento many New Years ago, with Peter Fonda, Juan Cicada and The Romainian Bank Robber.

We waited and waited for the fireworks to rip throught the orange clouds. And Nothing.

Talking about Republicianism. Fireworks. RepublicianSIM. OAXACA.

Nov 5, 2006

This Is How One Half Lives

While the dutiful Sebastian Zargossa happily went about his work, bringing new friends into the fold, his alter ego Nigel K-FKA was in the bay-area, forcing observations from the other side, with that other half we must acknowledge, often live with, and especially, love. Here are some of Nigel's notes:

they(/we?) roil through life. roily f-ing polys. One big diahrrhea. a big burst PPPPHHHLLLLLaaaaaUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUrrrrrrtt in the middle:

they(/we?)speakEnglishgotocollegegetjobsStartpredatorylendingcompaniesthatkeep la gente del otro lado livingonthissideinpoverty,oppressionDriveBMWs...
and then its over: sss$$$ching. Retirement and Dia de los Muertos, if they(/we?) are lucky enough to be remembered.


So: rat-race-brown flushed-down into the neat sewer pipes of silicon valley

BUT! the blood comes through the pipes again: they(/we?) have children. and the children: beautiful brown, but what color's their blood?
hint:the color of their parents blue Hummer.
Martines, Rodriguess,. Box-checkers indeed, all of them, but how do they vote, and why are they racist.
who$ fault i$ it?

Nigel also told of a dream where he and Seb are at the top of a giant bunk-bed party with about 15 other people. The bed falls 80 stories and crushes all of their cameras.
The outcome of the dream/what we can learn from it: 1) Nigel and Seb are completely unharmed 2) falling those 80 stories was quite fun 3) the girl throwing the party had insurance.


9:30 am. Why? Unlike Saturdays, Sundays always seemed to get away from me, homework, girls, family. ?
10:00 am Northbound Historic US 99, into Biggs. Richvalle. Nelson. Durham. Chico.

Butte County is breathing, the earth beneath it is blessed. Could everything be perfect?

El Corazon dise la verdad.


11:04 am KZFR Studios. Washington Quezada invited us to document his interview with Dr. Char Prieto, Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Chico State. She and two of her students were on the air speaking about their project and work involving the history of Franco's Spain. They spoke of mass graves left over from the Spanish Civil War, oppression and the dangers of unconditional nationalism. After Hitler commited suicide, and Mussolini was executed and hung by the legs in Giulino di Mezzegra, Franco persisted for another 30 years, prolonging the pain and devastation as long as he could for his unwilling peoples. Off the air, while an unknown singer sung about Federico García Lorca, political parrallels hung silently in the crowded booth.

Afterwards, I spent the afternoon with the three Espanistas at the Pluto's nearby. As the time flew by, more and more people entered in and out of the scene. Talking about our ultimate desires and fears = Instant community. Built within mere minutes, random passers-by became friends and collaboraters.


Lou Reed having a salad in the background.

Chico, can you restrain yourself from the temptations of the evil yuppie?


3:10 pm Southbound Historic US 99. Durham, Nelson, Richvalle, Biggs, Gridley. Birds. Baseball. Packing. Blogging.

Princeton, I promise to visit this week.


Nov 4, 2006


I remember when Saturdays meant that I finally had time to wander around the valley, alone and happy. Books about Russian Lovers, View Cameras, the ORB, Grain Elevators, overcast skies and cheap gasoline. I spent most of my post high school years doing this, thinking it would go on like this forever and ever.
Driving towards Knights Landing–alone, brings back many great memories of my random visits and perpetual picture taking back in my early 20's. Now, as I drive south on Highway 113 I can look left and see the miracle of community and art in this small island town. Luiseno first encountered the work being done on the side of the Plug N' Jug gas station wall back in September, two women sat atop scaffolding working globs of paint into the primered surface. Even then, the mural was an amazing site. People and Place. In an otherwise lonely little town, colors shifted out from the surface, resonating the history of the sleepy hamlet. I received an email from Alyssa Nelson a while ago inviting us to grand celebration in honor of the artists and community that supported the mural's creation.

When I first arrived, I wondered if it was all a dream. The whole thing, did September 2006 ever exist? Was I still 20 years old, dreaming of something like this in the next town I stumbled across... but it couldn't be. I was looking at the completed mural, more alive than I remembered. The shapes and figures within it, swaying back and forth. Colors shifting. Winter on the horizon, cold air and perfect grey skies one minute, breaks of light the next moment; sweat beading up on my forehead. All the while, videotaping... Trucks passing by.

At this point, my disappointment in missing the festivitess had been flashed out of existance and I was just happy to be in Knights Landing again, alone, Saturday.... As I panned the video camera south, a small procession began to appear. Slowly, it move quietly north towards the Mural. Dozens of people, children, neighbors, college students, artists, musicians, farmers, high school kids; everything into my camera. No longer dreaming I stayed still. Eventually, as the crowd grew thicker and thicker, the drumming began.

Saturday, will you marry me?

Nov 3, 2006

Los Nuevos Ricos

On the air, in the place. Thank You Emobos for letting us do whatever we wanted live on the air. We had fun and were glad to do our first on the air live Zelbond session on your show. I love the Unicorns. Emotional HoboCore friday nights 8pm to 10:30. Streaming online. KRBS 107.1 FM in Oroville. Podcast of the live Zelbond session coming soon.

Afterwards, we got invited into the home of a family of Musicians
and got an amazing performance of original material and general warmthness, Thank You Too. The potential for the Oroville Music scene is BIG.

We hope to help make it a reality, yet again another long term project.

Before all of this, we spent the day with Ms. Mahanna's 7th Grade classes at Sycamore School. Returning to my old stomping grounds was therapeutic at the very least. I remember walking around the open air halls with my friend Ramiro as he tried to find girls to make out with; I, feeling wired and distant, dreaming of Depeche Mode.

We brought most of our gear and laid it out on a table so that the kids could see our art and filmaking tools. Needless to say, they went straight for the cameras and started to take pictures of each other. They also delighted us with some skits about jewelry store thefts and muggings. Somewhere in between we gave an off the wall talk about the wonders of life in a small town.

( !@!%?)

We'll be back again.

Dream of the Falling Party

We were at someone’s "apartment" located in a tall building. It was called an apartment, though it was more like a giant structure made of 4x4s, a skeletal edifice of painted brown wood, the color of the wooden steps at the mobile home. We climbed to the top, or took an elevator. Everyone had to be careful and balance on the wooden skeleton. At the top, a very precarious party. I dont' remember much about the girl who was throwing it, except that she was white, had brown hair. Despite the danger, everyone was having fun fun fun.

Then the structure collapsed. It happened slowly, it gave plenty of time for everyone to brace themselves. I remember gathering my equipment close to me. I did a practice jump, and then I timed it just right just before we all landed. I remember 'Cardito shouting with joy when we realized we were all still alive.

Our equipment however did not survive. We were completely ruined, stressed. I remember looking at my bolex, beat up beyond repair. We felt some resentment toward the girl who’s apartment it was: why'd she have the party there, anyway? Then she called us over and faced us, saying frankly: “none of us really want to talk about what happened up there, but we have insurance for your equipment.” Vindication.

Nov 2, 2006

Gridley and Friends.

General Wandering and photographing. Finally finished watching Batalla en el cielo, hold on tight, don't fall over when the tension breaks...

Eventually we ended up in the Farm Labor Camp in Gridley late at night. It felt a little strange being there after dark, walking around and look for the danzantes that invited us. When we finally found the place where they practice, we realized that it must have been cancelled due to the heavy rain that had pounded the Valley all day –sending farm laborers home in time for lunch and a rare afternoon with the family.

When I lived in El Campo many years ago, we managed to keep busy, but what little art and music there might have been was a far 6 miles into town. Back then, as a child walking a mile to the nearest market took a full hour or so, the rest of the trip was not an option for me, so we would walk back to our sunken homestead with our bags of chips and pepsis in hand. Now that this community is gaining access to this type of art and dance culture many great things are at hand.

El campo is a special place, here you can find backyard weddings, palletas de arroz, bootleg Tears For Fears tapes that play both sides at once, discount clothes sold out of vans, small pets, directTV, a hopeful levee, garbage pail kids and an old carving in a tree that I made when I was 7. ( I couldn't make out my primitive markings, but lets just imagine it says "OAXACA")


Oct 31, 2006

he’s standing on Frog Road looking at a tractor driver till a prune orchard. he waves at the tractor operator, driver waves back. it’s late october, all the prunes have been shaken off, sorted, processed, dried. The peach picking is also long over—the only thing left, according to the pickers on ninos heroes rd., are Kiwis and of course Walnuts. It’s 4pm and mexicanos are working, driving tractors.

frog road is adjacent to an irrigation ditch; he’s being attacked by ten slow mosquitos. In years past he’s spotted in the ditch: carp, crawdads. In still younger days, he’d wade into the ditch with Brother Jordan and Afsheen, catch crawdads, play with them until they died. Once he heard of a way to feed them and eat them so you wouldn’t get sick.

In the distance su carnal Glue Dobbs emerges around a bend, camera in hand. Juan Cicada takes a picture of him coming down the road with his plastic green and yellow camera:
“What’s the dealio, chamelio?” Cicada shouts.
“I backed the truck into a rock!” Glue likes to tell stories. He once had Cicada convinced that he peed his pants just so he could avoid going into McDonald’s. “The neighbors came out and looked. I think they called the cops.” the facts don't always match up but taht doesn't mean he's not telling the truth

where are we? where we are.

Today. We drifted down Concow Rd. towards the end of the world.

Oct 29, 2006

Luiseño Films y que?

Juan Cicada and Glue Dobbs outted live on the air?

Yes it is true. 90.1 fm KZFR dj Smiley introduced us the North Valley on his "Cultural Roots of Aztlan" radio program friday night. Despite the 80 thousand things on our minds; we had few words to say. But it was good being in the mix with the late night KZFR crew during the pledge drive, I even got a call from a fellow Grid-town native, sup Indiana Street Juan.

Besides that, as we started working on a commercial for the zeph' we managed to run into a few long-lost friends and random hippies at the KZFR costume crawl in Chico last night, for a few hundred moments, I felt like I was in Heaven, or Alaska ( I've yet to decide since I have not been to either).

Too good.

The next morning we found ourselves driving back up the historic 99 towards Chico again, on our way to the station again to introduce ourselves to Washington Quezada, host of "The Trip". Needless to say, he welcomed us in the station and on the air again. Since it is pledge drive time at the station we decided to offer as premiums, a set of portraits in the homes of the donor. We got three pledges within a few minutes and one call from another long lost friend and teacher who just happened to be mousing around on the lower edges of the fm spectrum. Too good, again.

As things begin to pick-up, we take more time to think and roam. Excuse the dust on our website, multi-tasking can be heartbreaking.

Being as this is our first official blog post, I would like to recognize a few of the new friends along the way;

The Walnut shakers and movers and sorters and fathers and sons and daughters and mothers and aunts and uncles, you make for fine human beings. The Kiwi pickers, if I can step in and do one thing besides follow you around with a camera I will.

RIP Bradley Will

~Glue Dobbs

Oct 27, 2006

Then I almost lost the Battle of Assimilation out in New York City

We sold our clothes to the state. I don’t mind. I made a lot of mistakes in my mind in my mind.

Oct 17, 2006


We’ve returned to Gridley and found it utterly the same: conservative, contained, controlled. My brother and I went to the country vet to pick up our dog Moxie. Outside were two men in their late 30’s dressed in hunting gear—camouflage jackets, pants, hats, boots. At least one of them was also wearing a Butte County Sheriff’s uniform underneath. I saw his badge. The other was dressed similarly, though I didn’t see his badge.

They looked us over sheepishly as we got out of our car. Before we passed them they decided to go inside and wait. I might have seen a scowl across the sheriff’s face. Or maybe it was a scowl mixed with confusion. I guess people don’t know how to handle ambiguously ethnic looking people, especially ones with large beards and large uncombed heads of hair. I don't like to acknowledge that cops are looking me over, but they were.

Gridley hasn’t changed all that much in the years I've known it. The community shies away from its meth problem—despite all the drug busts in Butte County. In Gridley, there is one subdued outreach program, on the edge of its historic downtown.

The Mexican population is slowly taking over the town, but there are habits in town hard to overcome--the Mexicans don't celebrate enough, and when they do, there are plenty of cops to make sure "gangs" don't burst the seams of latent cultural tension.

The Highway 99 is both Gridley’s economic crutch and its major flaw. The 99 runs right through Gridley. Some would say the “middle” of Gridley, though it's a little more complex than that—it runs north-south on the eastern side of its historic downtown. Fast-food chains have become lasting investments because of it. For a long time Burger King was one of the only fast food places on the 99, along with a couple of locally owned businesses. Then a McDonald’s came--a momentous event, and then a Taco Bell and a Subway. More recently, right next door to McDonald's a Quizno’s has come up. Even more recently, a Starbucks has finally come to town, though unlike the Quizno’s owners, the proprietors were savvy enough to find a better location up the highway, nearer to the highschool, and almost encroaching on Gridley’s “downtown.”

Gridley’s downtown: El Toro Foods, Bremer’s, Sylvio's Pizza. There used to be a video store until Blockbuster came through (also along the Hwy 99) and put virtually every one of the seven (7!) video stores out of business. There a couple of bars, one of which is probably unwelcoming to people of certain shades of color. The Family T-Shirt Factory is also there, next to the police station. A couple of parks. Right in the middle of town, across the street from the police station, where the theater used to be, is a giant Church of the Nazarene.

East of the 99 the city limits approaches relatively quickly, as we approach that other side of Gridley. Between the train tracks and the Feather River lies an enclosure of public housing, once serving migrant workers, but now housing people with more permanent status. To natives, it's known as "el campo" and the "labor camp." "Segregation" might have a slew of heavy historical connotations, but this is what it is.

Gridley’s kids often work in agriculture of some sort. There isn’t much else around. Houses in town are large, opulent one might even say. They’re set back from the quiet roads with dutifully manicured lawns. But the larger, individual homes with unique designs are offset by the streets and streets of track housing. These houses are largely the same. People of all varieties live there though they often work in agriculture as well. There are a few other staple businesses of course--a glass company, cabinet makers, construction, mechanics.

Recently, jobs have become available as a result of the new housing developments that have gone up on the west side of Gridley—the type of semi-gated neighborhood with names like "Heavenly Meadows." Spacious, 2-story homes calculated to fit the needs of semi-affluent Northern-Northern Californians (or at least ones willing to go into large amounts of debt), they’re not that different from the flat 2-3 bedroom track homes a few blocks away, except that they're at least twice as big. Every house is basically identical. The residents may see the obvious similarities in their homes, but the streets are nice, all 4 cars fit in front, the rooms are spacious. Residents may however feel that they are twice as privileged as most people, perhaps with the exception of the old-timers with the older "classic" homes near downtown.

Did I mention that at the top of downtown, surveying it pasture, is a well-sized Church of Latter Day Saints?

Gridley: town of enormous churches, figuring itself out. Farmers struggling just as farmers struggle all over the world, though we wouldn’t know it (the Gridley Herald isn't exactly a bastion of investigative journalism). Mexicans, working for cheap, getting pulled over for driving without licenses, on their way home from building housing bubble homes.

Did I mention I love Gridley for some odd reason?

Oct 8, 2006

The Great Balloon Race

New York City: Money-city$$$$. Take a walk, spend $2.00 for the subway, $1.50 for bottled water, stop at a bar, get a $6.00 drink. If you smoke, $7.50 for pack!

Sunday. Sunny, bright. Hotel New York enjoys the business. Money city, money people, watch movies, buy drinks. Puerto Ricans run their bodegas, squeak out a living. Mexicans and Chinese deliver the food. Clubs open for business, charge fees for walking through their front doors, unless your name is Paris. Movies open and die. People talk about buying property, open entire businesses dedicated to the buying and selling of real-estate.

Oct 7, 2006

New York Exegesis

October 7, 2006

Luiseño Films

Initial Findings:
•The community of Gridley, CA, immigrant community:

Glue Dobbs
Juan Cicada
Poky Pokerson
Semo Simon
Apple Juice
Peter Paradise
Monica Kaczinsky
Batthew Marney
Alvin Alda
Peter Fisher Price
Don el Hijo de Juan
Mauricio Mano
Sebastian Zargossa
Nigel Kafka
Red Bluff
P.O. Box 1465 95948

Fotos Here

Oct 4, 2006

First Photos Finished!!!!!!!!!!!

talk about a fulfilling experience.

I was completely exhausted after we finished. We left at something like 11am. Ricardo saw some hot rockera chick smile back at him as we were pulling out of downtown. She was driving some bad-ass old-school Ford Falcon, baby blue. And we didn’t even have the energy for that. Then we passed some day-laborers at Home Depot, picketing! Normally, we would have straight up stopped. Today, we just had to honk. We finally went to my sister’s cushy house. I slept for 7 hours.

R.W. Apple has died.

Sep 24, 2006

Socrates in Gridley

Shot Mass today. Helped my Papa set up for his youth group.

R___ A______
He might be the closest thing we have to an extremist in this town, of the intellectual variety. Like Socrates--short, pot-bellied, ugly in appearance and demeanor--he's harmless. But he may end up just like him, the way he bombards people with his politics in town. The Priest even runs away from him, sheesh.

Gridley also had Zelda and the Mid-Nite Cowboy--whom we hope rest in peace. They were loners, permanent Gridley drifters who always made us ask questions, even though they may not have talked politics.

Sep 1, 2006


From: a#*@$!^
Subject: Belwether
Date: September 1, 2006 4:28:45 PM EDT
To: ee@vxe$$$2.nxt

It's been four years of work! Hustling!! Making that $$$$!!!!!!!
For a minute i thought i was living here. Calling this place home and shit. There's a shower in avid 9, check it for real!!! And a treadmill! I ran on that thing day and night!!!! And I still gained a belly while I was here, somehow.

For those of you who haven't experienced it, the view from our wrap-around balcony is particularly nice at 5am. But the real secret is that I once woke up in Avid 1 and saw a stubborn dragon careening past the guard rail! Like he had somewhere to be and shit. Max knows. Tina believes me. Vito's a believer too. I've got a ride now to the West, to Gridley. That took an incredible level of persuasion, but i won him over in the end. So now I have a blazing orange dragon on my side, an invitation to a party in the sunrise, feathers bristling!

Oh, before i forget, it's possible also to walk from the balcony to Scores with a tightrope I've set up. You can also set it up to go toward that sunset, and march into the marijuana dream.

I've learned to accomplish incredible feats of perfection with all of you. The value of hardwork. I wish you the best.


Aug 27, 2006

Al Otro Lado

Just heard about this cool doc that showed on the PBS series POV, Al Otro Lado. By Mexican/American director Natalia Almada, it examines illegal immigration and drug trafficking through the lens of corrido music.

also check out this article in the NYTimes:

We're jealous.

Jul 25, 2006

Lola Alvarez Bravo

Hope to visit The Center of Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ one day (which may or may not have this photo, though they have an archive of her work).

Jul 5, 2006

From Luis Urrea's The Devil's Highway

The image of Mexican men in the desert, traveling to the United States of America, delirious from the heat, crying, near death, tearing their American dollars to little pieces.

May 1, 2006

May 1st, 2006 – A Quiet Walkout, May-Day in New York City

I had roughly two jobs going at once: Editor at at a company that made its profits, whatever that was, by editing mainstream Network and Cable Television Commercials; and a second "job" co-editing a documentary film with Jeremiah Zagar--a film about his father, an artist. I packed the Canon PowerShoot in my bag, watched some NY1 as Pat Kiernan reported on the demonstrations for the day and then headed for the subway i take every day of my life.

I would often observe my co-passengers, making note of them--on this day it was the usual 20—35 years old, white or assimilated/absorbed, but flaring tattoos and tight pants and Olsen twin and time-warped aviator sunglasses, dirty shoes and irony-clad t-shirts, dishelved and striking cleopatra haircuts, seething breasts and wobbly limbs. They listened to iPods or dozed off or read books. An occasional few engaged in intimate-public conversation: “Oh hey—I thought it was you! How’d it go the other night?sorry I couldn’t be there. How’s work?yeah i hate mine too---We Should Get A Drink Sometime!!?"

Most don't talk though at this hour, they zone their eyes in one direction of moving lights, lost in thought and dozing before work. Being a part of the American Economy. I heard later there were delays on many trains, packed trains of this seemingly harmless people seeping about underneath New York City.

Work that day was procrastination. A mild level of responsibilities hung over my head, but i could put them off. Sitting at my computer station
I pulled up NY1 and did some google searches to find times and locations of the various gatherings throughout the city. In fact, I did absolutely no work whatsoever. Somewhere in my head I'm telling myself not to work; to abstain from supporting this economy, to stop, for one day, from giving it my time and my energy and my creativity, my identity and, shall i venture, my Inner-Sol.

A co-worker commented on the note in the air, atonal, an audible question mark. Gladly, I wasn't the only one on edge, walking with this heavy spirit. New York as a city sometimes vibes in a tangible way. I believe this. Like when the weather changes after a long spell of humidity or dreary snow, and the city is swarmed with these people; they display ambitious new clothing combinations, and new skin. A million social currents. This was an alter-spirit though, contained, intangible--the feeling of seeing a man in a mask--
trepidation?---don't hurt me! Fear?---Don't destroy my life! Resentment? F**K U! Shame?--?

During a silent conversation in the common kitchen, the only voice heard on the matter was, “well, they’re illegal, right? Send them home.” Silent reactions, sort of embarassed by such marked...conservativism. At an editing and Special Efx+Graphics compnay--in NYC! "What," I said stepping away, "the f**k." I walked away, realizing, right then and there, that i knew far too little regarding the collective actions of my own people; i had no idea--no idea--of how to respond to this.

After hiding out at my work computer for a couple hours, I decided it was time to go. Our receptionist might have asked when I’d be back, to which I told her to reach me on my cell phone if someone really needed me. In LA kids were burning up on the streets.

When I got out the streets were streaming with people. Brown faces everywhere, bouncy and smiling. Entire families, children in strollers, kids in front of parents as the crowd progressed. There were of course several activist organizations, but the majority seemed like regular gente; for all intents and purposes, it was a successful dia de comunidad in New York City.

I remember having to walk uptown several blocks just to get onto the street with the marchers on their way down to the court-house. I could see the march on the next block, but police were not letting anyone through. There were volunteer demonstrators guiding people most of the way. Non-demonstrators asked cops where they could pass, some annoyed, others curious. Most just watched, pudgy blank faces wondering why their routine trip downtown was so difficult, others with forlorn glances through roving eyes.

The mainstream media reported X number of people. It felt like many many more people. I couldn’t even get all that close to the court-house. All along the way I snapped pictures. In the distance I heard a few seemingly charismatic speeches. I ran out of pictures on my camera and drifted off to a side-street. I made my way through the financial district. Straggling marchers walked passed me with flags draped over their backs. Later I noted on the news the replaying of the pledge of allegiance in Spanish during demonstrations in D.C.