The background of Downey California’s Latino Graphics

(Published in Latino Graphics and shared here as part of my writing portfolio.  Spanish language version found when you scroll down on the version published in Latino Gamer.  Also note that all underlined text is a hyperlink to related content)

claudia y ruben

Ruben Chávez and Claudia Hernández immigrated to the United States with the goal of acquiring a higher standard of living. Ruben has a BA in Computer Science from Instituto Technológico de Aguascalientes (ITA), and Claudia has clerical experience, but in their home country of Mexico, their ambitions could not be reached. As a newly married couple, they felt the need to explore a new world together in America.

In the beginning of their journey they both had to endure many hardships as they struggled to find employment and proper housing. There was even a time when they had to sleep on the floor without a bed. Eventually, Ruben and his wife acquired housing in the city of Anaheim since he found employment washing dishes at the world renowned Disneyland Theme Park. They were grateful for that, but when the opportunity to work for El Clasificado came along, Ruben took the job after much consideration and this allowed him to use his computer skills which he learned while attending college.

Claudia, not to be outdone, studied graphic design at Cerritos College. She then used her newfound knowledge to start her own business: Claudia Designer. She designed flyers and business cards, decorated calendars, and organized brochures for businesses. Soon, however, Ruben joined her, and together Latino Graphics was born. Latino Graphics is a local business in Downey, California, that offers services such as:

and many more services that reach all the corners of this beautiful country. With affordable advertising, Latino Graphics is here to help the community and meet its needs. Latino Graphics serves English and Spanish speaking customers with friendly bilingual employees. Ruben and Claudia started with a dream, but with the help of satisfied customers, it is rapidly becoming a successful reality. Discover why so many customers are satisfied with the work of Latino Graphics by utilizing whichever of their resources is right for you.

The following is a link to the Facebook page

Latino Graphics Facebook Page

The following is a link to the official website

Latino Graphics 

Thank you for reading

Saint Patrick’s Batallion

erin-go-bragh-flag
Saint Patrick’s Day is the day people see as an excuse to drink or to pinch those who forgot to wear green.  Beyond that, though, is a chance to learn something about our home, California, and the rest of the American South West for that matter.  There was a time when these lands were ruled under Mexican law.  The process of turning them American involved a controversial war between the United States and Mexico, in which America took about half of Mexico’s vast territories.

Irish immigrants, who were Catholic and victims of oppression under British rule, were drafted to join the Army to invade Mexico.  Some of them questioned the legitimacy of the war, and after an act of courage, or some might say, foolhardy rashness, they switch sides and fought for the Mexican state.

Picture yourself in their shoes.  Imagine leaving your home island, wrecked by famine and imperial rule from England, migrating to a hostile United States, joining their armed forces, and then being forced to be the oppressors to a nation of fellow Catholics.  If you already lost your nation, your family, and the respect of those around you simply for being Irish, wouldn’t you find desertion easy, especially when it’s for a cause you relate to?  Perhaps this internal struggle was the main cause of the Irish American soldiers (though some were also from other countries) to switch sides and help Mexico in its war of self defense.

The reasons are still debated today, but among them are their mistreatment under the American officers, the promises of land that the Mexican government made them, and a solidarity to Catholicism.

They were the strongest and bravest fighters, threatening friendly fire on any soldier who would not stand up and fight against the U.S. in the heat of battle, and are remembered to this day.

sanpatriciosmemorial

I recommend you continue to look into this interesting piece of history that is often overlooked.  Library books, websites, and documentaries are great sources.  I also recommend you see the movie One Man’s Hero (1999).  The following is a clip from the movie.

Interview with Gamesanytime shop owners

gamesanytimeowners

I conducted an interview with the owners of Gamesanytime shop in Bell, CA.  Funny story how that came to pass:

I was riding my bicycle down Gage Ave. one day and noticed a closed video game shop.  At the top of the entrance was a big sign that said “FOR LEASE.”  I assumed it was an old store that was shutting down.  I peeked inside and saw Super Nintendo cartridges, old Game Boys, and classic consoles.  I had a brief and powerful nostalgia trip at that moment, which made me feel absolutely horrible about the notion that the shop might close down.  “If I had money, I would buy things here all the time to keep this shop from shutting down,” I thought.

Fortunately for me, the opposite of what I feared was actually true.  The shop wasn’t shutting down, it was establishing itself.  It wasn’t an old shop, it was new.  I introduced myself to the owners, and asked for them to grant me an interview for an article to be published in latinogamer.com

They kindly agreed.

The following is a link to the published version in the Latino Gamer website.

Interview with Gamesanytime store in Bell, CA. 

Interview with Loco Coco

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Loco Coco: A clown that enjoys puns, jokes, street theater and juggling.  His name implies that he has a crazy mind (loco = crazy, coco = head, in colloquial Spanish), but his real name is Siddhartha, just like the Buddha.  Once president of the Philosophy Club in East Los Angeles College, with ambitions of being a graphic designer, Sidd has found in Loco Coco a persona that not only makes him some money in birthday parties, but has also been a source of emancipation for his inner child, a medium for his endless energy, and an art form that lets him enjoy the lighter side of life.  The following interview lets us see some of the intricacies of the clown business.

How important is a clowns name to his persona? Why did you choose your name to be Loco Coco?

A clown’s name is very important because you have to get the crowds attention. Having a funny, quirky, rhythmic name, so they can remember you.  I chose Loco Coco because it had a good sound to it.  I used to do shows with another clown, and he would always call me “Loco”, which is a common nickname in the Hispanic community.  I got the Coco nickname from Conan O’Brien, so thought I would be the Mexican version of “coco” hence Loco Coco. It rhymes and it sounds funny.  Clowns need to have a memorable name.

Do people need to have a certain unique personality to be a clown, or do you think anyone can do it?

I don’t think anyone can do it.  You have to have heart, the love of art, and the capacity to inspire imagination in kids.  It is an art, and you must have appreciation of it.  Some people do it only for the money; that’s not me.  When I see joy, laughter, and happiness in others, it makes me happy as well.  Some people don’t have that personality.  You have to be animated, energetic, and the center of attention.

What is it about your personality that makes you a fit for the art form of family party entertainment?

I did not always see myself doing parties for kids.  I saw myself as an entertainer for young adults, but it was with the kids that I thrived the most.  I was surprised at how successfully I worked with kids.  A clown told me that the invention of a clown is from a Child’s imagination.  I try to be the most professional when it comes to working with children. Some kids are shy, others quite the opposite.  I focus on bringing a smile nonetheless.

Do you believe that clown humor has a healing effect for people?

Yes definitely, like the movie Patch Adams. Except I’m no doctor but I’ll play one on TV.

What have your experiences been like as a clown?

It’s been up and down.  Most of the times pretty up.  There have been lots of laughs.  The most memorable was seeing the clowns I grew up seeing as a kid.  My mom would take me to Plaza de Armas in San Luis Potosí in Mexico.  I would see the jokes and pranks, or “pikadría” of the clowns.  One day I was lost. Not Jimmy Hoffa lost, but just lost! I did not know what I wanted, what to do, what I wanted to be.  I saw these clowns perform again, when I was 20 years old.  I told myself, I want to do that, street theatre. That way I can work and do art at the same time.  It was an extraordinary experience meeting clowns in Mexico.  I was in an urban roach hotel that was packed with professional street clowns.  I was amazed.  We had a kinship.  One clown introduced me to a clown I had seen before as a child, his name was Meme.  I extended my had to greet him, as I did… I slid and fell on my back.  He asked, “Did you do that on purpose?  Or was it an accident?” I responded; “ I don’t know.” It dawned on me that as a clown, falling on your back is funny.

What should our readers look for when hiring a clown?

They should look for face paint, balloon animals, juggling, magic, and games:  if you have all that, then you will have a great party.  And of course also look for LoCo CoCo “Quack! Quack!”

 

Every Day is Like Sunday: Review of Morrissey’s great song

“Every Day is Like Sunday” by Morrissey, the British singer of Irish descent and spawn of the New Wage music scene, is a bitter yet uplifting song.  The lyrics, like much of his other songs, are a challenge to decipher, but they are ambiguous enough to let the listener project his own emotions and ideas to the song, which increases its likability.  The song expresses a very poignant idea, namely, that every day is like Sunday: sleepy, gray, pleasantly dull.  The speaker of the song lives in a world where the mundane is too much to bear, but the song (both the voice and instruments) give a sense of thrill, of elation.  The result is a pleasant and ironic juxtaposition of ideas, namely, of mundane dullness and apocalyptic distress, mixed with excitement and a sense of excitement and joy.  It is candy to the ears, and a sedative, and stimulant, to the heart.

Morrissey succeeds time and again in producing music that is most definitely art.  The existentialist issues that are raised prove that the songs are philosophical in nature, that they touch upon human issues, and are easy for people to relate to.

 

Una nueva forma de leer

La tecnología ha afectado profundamente el modo que hacemos las cosas cotidianas, y si eres un lector de libros, a usted también le puede tener un impacto directo.  En los años recientes se ha desarrollado el concepto de libros electrónicos, o “eBooks”.  Estos son libros como cualquier otro, ¡pero sin papel!  Igual que usas un aparato electrónico para ver películas y escuchar música, ¡también puedes leer!  Tal vez usted, queridos lectores, sí están emocionados por este hecho, pero en nuestra comunidad hispana en general necesitamos más lectores, y los eBooks son una forma de interesar a más de nuestra gente en el gran pasatiempo que es la lectura.

Uno tiene acceso a estos recursos literarios electrónicos utilizando una computadora, una Tableta (como el “iPad”), o un aparato específicamente diseñada para la lectura electrónica llamado “eReader” como el “Nook” de Barnes and Noble y el “Kindle” de Amazon.

Hay gente que diría:

-No voy a usar esa tecnología rara.  Es para los jóvenes.  Yo prefiero mi librito tradicional hecho de papel.  No voy a cambiar.

Pero los motivo a que lleguemos al tanto con la tecnología moderna sin miedo de perder la tradición.  No piensen que si muchos empiezan a usar el libro electrónico, nadie va a leer libros de papel.  Fijense, la televisión no reemplazó al radio, y el internet no reemplazó a la televisión.  Si utilizamos este nuevo recurso, estaremos más avanzados como comunidad, y listos para afrontar los desafíos de un mundo que es más y más globalizado y digital.

Tal vez estés pensando:  ¿Cómo le hago, entonces, para leer eBooks?

 

Bueno, en mi caso yo uso Google Books.

http://books.google.com/

 

Este es un recurso muy útil.  En primer lugar, hay muchos libros disponibles: unos se pagan y unos son gratis.  Libros clásicos como Don Quixote de La Mancha por Cervantes están disponibles a cualquiera, específicamente porque están en “dominio público”, osea, pueden ser reproducidas libremente.  Uno puede pedirle a Google que le venda una copia del libro imprimido si uno gusta tenerlo físicamente.

Entonces, queridos lectores, hay que aprovechar este recurso pronto y disfrutar de la información.  La sabiduría es sagrada, buscala y compártela.

 

A student’s perspective: Captivating Student’s Interest in Public School

Society, the Humanities, and Public Education
Author: CJ

 

School can be the source of breakthrough after breakthrough in all spheres of knowledge, and it can nourish and release the potential of all of its participants.  Schools can produce more scientists that cure disease, more statesmen that establish social contracts for peace and cooperation, more artists and philosophers that prove and teach of the deeper meanings in life, among a plethora of other important roles.  A common trait among people who are successful is that they do what they enjoy doing.  Unfortunately, school is not the first thing people think about when they consider things that they enjoy.  On the contrary, school brings about memories of endless paperwork, trivia, and frustrations.

We have to change this paradigm and make school the place where kids train to be powerful, responsible, and creative adults.

The following video might strike your interest in this topic.

Mexico in a Nutshell

Every country has its unique history and character.  Some countries have a certain prestige to their name (England is the birthplace of Shakespeare, and French cuisine is world renown)  while others are infamous (North Korea is not a place that evokes the notion of freedom in people’s minds), and many are both (such as the country that we are discussing here).   Regardless of the negative or positive connotation that a country has, it is important to note how it came to be that way, and for that, a general understanding of the culture, history, and political situation of a country is necessary.  Considering Mexico in particular, we can see the powerful contrasts of rich and poor, educated and uneducated, ethical and unethical, purity and debauchery, spiritual orthodoxy and occultism.  There is such contrast in Mexico (in terms of nature and mega cities, decadence and moral value, ignorance and world class academia, etc) that it is no surprise that the country can mean anything to anyone, allowing individuals to project the best and the worst in such a nation. 

One of the first observations I can make of that country is that it is an artificial nation.  What I mean by this is that its people’s identity had to be relabeled many times as time passed, making the identity of the people of the nation anything but uniform.  From pre-columbian times the territory that is now Mexico was an amalgamation of tribes that spoke a variety of languages, though some used Nahuatl as the lingua franca, such as the Caxcans of northern Mesoamerica.  After conquest it became a member of not only the Spanish Monarchy, but also the Roman Catholic sphere of control.  After independence it was indeed severed from the Spanish Crown, but not from the Spanish language, culture and traditions, not to mention the influence of the Catholic Church (though politicians aimed to change that, particularly Calles, initiating the Cristero Wars).  To this very day many Mexicans respect the leadership of the Bishop of Rome and do not question his authority.  In modern times, we see a Mexico that is influenced by many nations at once.  Being the country with the most free trade agreements, countries like Japan, China, Turkey, and others are trying to find their place in Mexico.  This will inevitably lead to another phase in the cultural development of the country, to one where English is the lingua-franca for business and where the educational system adapts to meet the needs of a global capitalist system by emphasizing subjects that deal with manufacture, tourism, and trade.  But with every new phase of identity layers piling on, the old still echoes through.  The caste system in place during Spanish colonial times still has a lingering influence to this day, and is evident in the proportion of actors in “novelas” that are light skinned an portrayed as affluent, the members of the high society, A.K.A “la alta sociedad.”   But even though the past still has a grasp on the present, there is always an effort, however small or big, to have self-determination.  The country has striven to differentiate itself from its Spanish brothers by having a unique national culture and identity.  The government under the PRI political party has in the 20th century sought to forge a national identity based on Meztisaje, Mariachi Music, and Patriotism.  It made Rodeo the official sport of the country. These endeavors are a challenge, for they use new concepts to create an identity for a new nation, a nation that is a mix of languages, ethnicity, religions, and ideals.

In addition to how we have described Mexico thus far, it is also important to see it as a modern nation on the rise.  The elite in Mexico City are trying to make Mexico a first world country, unfortunately, however, they are not as eager to modernize the judicial system or their position of privilege.  Compromises must be made if the country is to be a first class nation, and traditions that have made certain groups too comfortable must be changed for the greater good.

Brief History

Attempts at making Mexico a strong nation have been made many times in the past.  Emperor Maximilian wanted to expand the Second Mexican Empire to encompass Central America.  President Porfirio Díaz, hero of the Cinco de Mayo battle of Puebla, created railways, theaters, and imported French culture and architecture.  President Vicente Fox tried to make Mexico an example of a nation that can make the best out of globalization.  Although great progress has been made in all endeavors, the underlying issue, the root of the problem, has always been inequality.

The tensions in Mexico’s past and present stem from the ever-present issue of poverty and inequality.  It is as though Jesus’s words to his apostles, namely, that the poor will always be with you, was a curse that Mexico received in full force. This tension has been labeled as a battle between “conservative” (those who want to keep the status quo and its privileges to a few) and “liberals” (those who want a Republic that will represent the population in spite of people’s pedigree and status).

These two forces have been fighting each other since the nation’s birth, namely, its independence from Spain.  The conservatives wanted a Monarchy that would secure the privileges of the elite, and the liberals wanted a Republic, inspired by that of the young United States of America.

After the American Invasion, in which Mexico lost approximately half its lands, the liberals lost a certain level of legitimacy, as they could no longer point to the United States as a role model.  The conservatives now had the moral and patriotic high-ground.  But it was not long until they became traitors to the independence of the infant nation.

Conservatives, who wanted to privileged the rich and the Catholic Church, endeavored to bring a European Monarch to rule Mexico.  Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph of Austria was an ideal candidate, but he stated that he would only become emperor under the condition that it was the will of the Mexican people.  The Conservatives elaborated an electoral fraud that made it seem as if the country overwhelmingly was in favor of a national monarch (one more example, unfortunately, of electoral fraud in Mexico).  And so Maximilian was given the throne, but not long after, was executed by the forces of President Benito Juarez.

When Benito Juarez regained the presidency, the Republic was restored.  Juarez, a contemporary of Lincoln and Free Mason, presided over a country that resembled the United States in terms of political system.  Presidential elections were now official policy, as opposed to the hereditary monarchy that was envisioned during the rule of Maximilian.  This was interrupted, however, under the rule of President Díaz, who stayed in power for almost three decades, ousted only by the violent turmoil of the Mexican Revolution.

After the revolution Mexico became a modern, stable, and economically growing nation state.  The PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) presided over what came to be known as the Pax Priista, a period of constant economic growth and institutional stability.  The single party authoritarian rule was a mix of right wing nationalism (fascism), as well as welfare state populism (reminiscent of Soviet Communism), while at the same time allowing free market economic activity and the guise of a Western style democracy.  It was certainly a successful system until the incident of Tlatelosco in 1968, in which peaceful protesting students were massacred by an unknown shooter hidden in a building, and the repression was blamed on the armed forces.  The state lost its facade of legitimacy, and would slowly traverse through a transitional state in which the helm of power shifted to different factions (most notably the PAN party in 2000).

Today Mexico is a contradiction.  It is on the verge of being one of the most economically powerful and politically influential countries in the Western Hemisphere, yet at the same time it is also on the verge of being a failed state, a narco state where the rule of law exists only on legal documents.  Where it goes from here we can only speculate, but hope is never missing in the hearts of the nation, as Mexican activist Andrés Manuel López Obrador said, “Only the people can save the people.”  We are certain that the Mexican people have the will to make the country safe and prosperous once again.

Modern Economy

The Mexican economy has received a large amount of foreign direct investment recently, but it has not done enough to foster a strong internal market.  Millions still live in poverty in a country with the resources and capital of a first-world country.  Low wages account for this paradox.  In order to remain “competitive” in neoliberal globalization terms, wages must be kept low so that foreign investors have more of an incentive to build factories in Mexico, reminiscent of the Chinese model.  A society with low purchasing power cannot have a robust domestic market, and thus, cannot have a high standard of living.  Even though foreign owned factories employ many in Mexico, the wages are low, the products produced are exported, and the profits off-shored.  Therefore, despite high GDP ranking and billions of dollars related to high amounts of international trade, the benefits are not reaching the common folk enough.  In sum, Mexico is a first rate country with third rate living standards.

Although it is important for Mexico to be a model Socialist leaning nation like Venezuela, the free market economy does have a chance to continue to thrive, and thrive more, if honest, consistent, and effective regulatory power is used by the government.  If businesses are protected, if organized crime is dismantled, if corruption is persecuted, and honesty promoted, then Mexico’s economic power can be unleashed and show its true force, a phenomena that would impress the world.

Gustavo Arellano Event at South Gate

I went to the South Gate campus to see Gustavo Arellano, the columnist who writes the weekly newspaper entry entitled “Ask a Mexican”, a column that explains the origins and opines on the veracity of stereotypes on the Mexican community.  I arrived at South Gate expecting a good event, and I got it.  There was free food (very important for me!), and I got to sit in the front role to see Gustavo up close.

Gustavo went up the podium and began his presentation by asking questions.  There were many people in the audience, and they were all very attentive.  I had at first hoped to ask him why there is such a great anti-immigrant atmosphere in the country, particularly in shows like “Lou Dobbs Tonight” and a few talk show hosts in radio stations.  After contemplating possible questions, since I figured I should only ask one so that many people can get a chance to participate, I ended up asking him other question that addressed what I considered the root of the challenges to the Mexican community, namely, “Why is the Mexican community so divided?” He answered that all communities are divided, not just the Mexican one, but that this is a negative thing because the powers that be are aiming to keep us divided.  It is an old dictum of “Divide and Conquer”, and it is essentially the way that groups are kept repressed.

Aside from discussing the divisions in the Mexican community, he elaborated on the fact that stereotypes originate from exaggeratedly broad assumptions.  People see a condition in one segment of the population, and assume that it is the same for all.  The thing that is required to debunk a stereotype is an exception to the particular stereotype.  Once this is done, the whole false belief crumbles down.

He also pointed out that there are both positive and negative stereotypes.  Mexicans are thought to be hard-working survivalists.  This is a stereotype that is pleasant.  But there are also stereotypes that say that Mexicans are lazy.  This is unpleasant.

Then he went on to explain the origins of his column.  It all started when a white co-worker of Gustavo noticed a billboard that had a picture of “Piolín” wearing a Viking helmet.  He asked Gustavo, “Who’s that Mexican with the Viking Helmet?”

Gustavo replied in shock and outrage.  He chastised his friend for not knowing that Piolín was the most famous DJ in the country.  His friend got an idea from this little exchange.  He proposed to Gustavo that he should make a column that would educate white people about the stereotypes about Mexicans.  He proposed that the column should be called, “Ask a Mexican”.  Gustavo followed through, and to his surprise,  received plenty of questions for his column.

Little by little the column grew bigger and more successful.  It got to the point that Gustavo was not able to keep up with the amount of questions submitted.  And even more amazing (and eerie), was the fact that none of the questions ever repeated (I personally don’t believe that).

Everyone in the audience seemed to enjoy Gustavo’s presentation.  They were captivated by his witty remarks.  He was a quick thinker and talker that was able to improvise in any situation, and adjust his speech to fit the participation of the audience.  The audience laughed at his jokes, made comments, asked questions, and had an overall good time.  I know that it is hard to have such presentations, but I noticed that this one went exceptionally well.

Gustavo Arellano is a man who gets paid thousands of dollars to give presentations.  I was very lucky to be able to see him without having to pay.  Being a “starving college student”, I need the experiences and education, but I also need to be easy on my wallet.  And so I appreciate the chance to be able to attend such an event.