SOL CON

I usually don’t like to write about work.  Strange thing though as work and passions are intertwining.

Federico, Elena, Lalo

The Revolution is Coming

I got to meet Lalo Alcaraz one of my favorite pochos (I haven’t forgotten you Gustavo, Al, Daniel and Laura Luna P).  I got to help organize the first ever African-American Latino Comix Expo, SOL CON (here is a cool article about the why of SOL CON in the Washington Post), and as part of it Lalo Alcaraz was one of our 50 artists.  It was amazing, and I am not sure I even started to appreciate it until it ended.  I knew I was a fan girl (a term I learned this weekend) for Lalo but it was amazing to watch grown men drool over Jaime Hernandez.   Grown men, organizers of other comix expos just stared at poor Jaime.  I overheard a man, published multiple times himself and recognized in the field say “I just got to carry Jaime’s box. It wasn’t heavy or anything but I got to carry it.”    I desperately didn’t want to be that dorky so I actually avoided Lalo…although my concussion also had me out of many of the events. Truth is only comic book I’ve ever bought was Love and Rockets by Jaime Hernandez and his brothers Gilberto and Mario.  I bought it for two reasons the name ‘Hernandez’ and the inside seemed to be Mexican-American.  As a Xicana growing-up in Ohio I craved anything Mexican-American, anything that was like me.

That is what the artists offered this weekend to so many, and to each other, art and writing about things we could relate to—it was cathartic for many.  David Walker (by the way I feel like there are tons of people who are jealous I got to talk to this guy when he is totally awesome and down to earth and I had no clue who he is–still don’t I think) said it this way “I can say ‘it smelled like a hot comb going through hair’ and my audience will immediately know that smell.”  We crave understanding, belonging and seeing our self and that is what this weekend provided for me.  As well as an appreciation for comix that I hadn’t had before.  I am excited to read more, to ask for more comix zines from my friends. I am very appreciative for all that was shared with me this weekend. I am appreciative of the inspiration from people like Tim Fielder, and Raul Gonzalez III and watching them motivate high school students and providing legitimacy in the black brown nerd…not that I needed it but that I crave having it confirmed.  I like to say, you might be preaching to the choir but sometimes we like to know we aren’t singing a solo. I am appreciative that I got to organize this and work with John Jennings, Ricardo Padilla and my boss Federico Aldama…because of them I only know Black and Latino Comix.

SOL CON 2015

SOL CON 2015

For my health I skipped the after parties which still makes me sad. Also, because I was so busy during the event I missed out on a lot (including going by the bank to get cash) I missed out on Tim Fielder’s Matty’s Rocket (black super heroes ¡yes! ) I wanted to buy a couple and for a way under-priced $5, Mr. Fielder was doing drawings of fans.
I missed out on having a conversation with Raul Gonzalez III and thanking him for making exciting Xicano characters.  These are all things I have to look forward to next year.

strong ladies

I’m really proud I get to call these strong ladies my friends.

Amber, Elenamary, Hannah

Amber, Elenamary, Hannah

Amber, in the purple, (who can bench what I can deadlift) is moving away from Ohio for the first time in her life.   I’d been oh so hopefully she would push herself out.  I was worried she didn’t recognize how strong she was, how independent she could be and now she has loaded-up her car and started driving this morning to California.  Cali, if you need a personal trainer, I know a great  one ;-)   Hannah, in the black state shirt, is on summer vacation from Veterinary school and leaves for Finland this Saturday to compete on the USA Power Lifting Team.

There are some people that come into your life that leave you stronger, and confident in yourself, and these ladies sure do inspire that in me.

Columbus World Naked Bike Ride

Four years ago I rode in Columbus’ first World Naked Bike Ride.  We started at the bike co-op.  Unlike later years Pedal Instead wasn’t there to valet our bikes, we didn’t have a real planned path, or too much planned anything. Having not felt comfortable being nude on High Street, I wore a bathing suit bottom and sports bra, and had body paint around my abdomen and back that was supposed to look like animal print.   It rained while we rode and was invigorating. I came home high on adrenaline.

This year, I’ve struggled with whether to go or not.  I talked to my friend and journalist Aaron Cynic who covered the Chicago World Naked Bike Ride last weekend.   I sought advice from him as he enjoyed the ride and kept a journalistic arms length distance.  I love the World Naked Bike Rides but here in Columbus they have become associated with a group  that I fear has encouraged gentrification with all the negative connotations.  A group that participates in both institutionalized and overt class warfare.

Here in Columbus the ride is starting and ending at the same site that held the paint yourself as an Indian with small pox and drink whiskey at a “thanksgiving” party a few years ago.  My objections to the party never gained apologies I was only ostracized as the dick who takes things too seriously.  These same people throw up their arms in protest in “a hey can’t we just have fun” argument?  Hells yeah we can have fun, but can we not do it at the cost of ousting a community or at least maybe have a discussion about it?  Trust me I want to ride in the streets in my swimsuit and enjoy the carnival attitude of it all, but I can’t do it when it is hosted by a group of people who are racists.  By racists I mean people who have done racist things, been called out on it, and continue to do it.

After much deliberation, I’ll reluctantly be bowing out from this year’s ride.  Maybe you all need a talk with Andrew Ti.

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good week

Sunday, biked to the quarry with a group of triathlete friends for a practice swim followed by dinner at Lavash Cafe.

Monday, went to the Gateway movie theater for the free monthly movie put on SBB.

Tuesday, saw Juanes at Palace Theatre with a group of friends I’d met through La Clínica.

Wednesday,  ran on a trail path for the first time followed by a refreshing swim in Alum Creek.  Then with the friends who’d taken me for that run and swim got to have a fabulous picnic they put together.  Lucky for me he is an amazing chef  and she a gardener—that is to say it was a kick-ass fresh spread.

I know just last week I was complaining about Columbus, but it really is a great place, and I do have some awesome friends here.  I’m looking forward to the summer.

how dinner and bikes saved my idealism

I first met Joe my senior year of high school, when Joe was making road trips down to Columbus from Cleveland for a summer of amazing punk rock like I never experienced before.  The scene in Columbus was great then, and I am not sure I went a week without going to at least 3-4 shows and at least one music festival a month.  During this time Joe had started his small publishing company which has now grown into Microcosm Publishing.  He was political aware, sweet, calm and hilarious and still is and yet sadly we hadn’t seen each other in more than a decade. I was so happy that I could host Joe and his friends as they made their Great Midwest & Northeast tour.

Their tour, Dinner and Bikes, came through Columbus, Ohio and I got to spend two days being a terrible host to four amazing people who had more influence on me than they probably realized.  The four activists were on tour and crashed at my place, they were author and documentarian Joe Biel. Elly Blue author, and research activists on cycling.  Joshua Ploeg author and vegan chef .  Chicagoan Aaron Cynic  a journalist with chicagoist and Diatribe Media .

The gang arrived at my home after I’d finished an unexpected 12 hour work shift, and had another the following day.  I was burnt out, not just from those two days but with the punk scene and the world as a whole.  I’d thought grown-ups had their shit together, that rational intelligent people were in charge of making decisions deciding everything from war to public transportation to urban planning.  I was frustrated with the idea that maybe it wasn’t possible for punks to have an influence they way I’d imagined when I was younger. Where were the people who understood the realities of the political system and could still be idealists? With this mentality and after the second long day of work, I headed to Dinner and Bikes.

Per my usual, I arrived late and loudly, I made my way past Aaron at the door to the first open seat which happened to be next to my buddy Bob.  Elly was coming to a close on her presentation regarding the Economics of Bikes or as she calls it Bikenomics.  I am embarrassed to say I’d had low expectations for Elly’s presentation expecting that it would be mostly “cars are bad, and use oil, and oil is bad, so bikes are economically better”.  Not that it means a lot but have a degree in economics and have some knowledge of economics–this is to say I wanted substance.  But it wasn’t a dumbing-down or lacking substance, here was Elly using economic terminology and speaking to her audience the same way one of my professors would have in an economics 200 level course—that is to say giving a quick reminder of what a term meant, and then presenting a wide range and source of studies on each point she brought up.   For example to quote from her book (which is written very much like she speaks) Bikenomics: How Bicycling Will Save The Economy (if we let it):

The greatest part of the disparity in cost between bicycling and driving is in the externalities.  An externality is, in economics-speak, a cost or benefit that isn’t reflected in something’s price…Why are these external costs worth so much scrutiny? Because the result of them being externalized is that the price of roads, gas, and parking become artificially cheap when we pay for them directly–so cheap that we have become reliant on them.  If all these costs were internalized, driving would suddenly become something only the wealthy could afford.  In truth, we already pay quite a bit more for these things than we realize, but indirectly through taxes, retail prices, health care costs, lost wages and more.

I looked around the room, the audience seemed engaged and understanding, and I also realized I knew a lot of these faces.  I was still one of the younger people in the room, and yet still very much a grown-up, but those around me had even more years/experience as a grown-up then I had,  and here they were listening to some punx teach them about the economic cost benefits of bikes versus cars on an intellectual level. I sat up straight and thought about how I couldn’t wait to purchase Elly’s book.

Then Joe started his documentary film on Critical Mass and at the same time I got up and served myself to an awesome vegan buffet made by Joshua (who by the way has the best cookbook title ever So Raw It’s Downright Filthy).  The documentary was really well made.  Joe had interviewed police officers, detectives, police chief, mayors, city council members, congressional representatives not just the punx, he let all sides be represented so that the truth could come out that many individuals in an organic grassroots culture shift had helped bring together a community and that even if the “grown-ups” in charge didn’t like it, change was is possible.

I felt re-inspired but I didn’t know that this feeling was only going to increase.  I made my way to their merchandise stand to hopefully purchase the documentary I had just seen. I ended up not buying it—by completely getting side tracked when I picked up If It Ain’t Cheap, It Ain’t Punk: D. un I. t Y. and reading the backside.  The bands listed were This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, Defiance Ohio, Ghost Mice, One Reason, Operation Chief Clavin,  and Sophie Nun Squad.  I’d seen all of these bands and most of them with Joe! I remembered how alive I felt at those shows, how much I love dancing and moshing to punk music and the fact that it has probably been at least three years since I got down at a show.

Enjoyng the band Defiance, Ohio

Enjoying the band Defiance, Ohio picture by Jimmy Buttons

I ended up purchasing the documentaries Cycling Shorts: Short Documentaries About Bicycles, If It Ain’t Cheap, It Ain’t Punk: D. un I. t Y., and Elly’s book Bikenomics.   I left exhausted from work but re-energized that change was possible.  That night back at home I tried to explain how I was feeling to Aaron but not sure I did a good job.  I also didn’t know that I was about to be even more impressed by Joshua.
The next morning at breakfast, I think I made some comment to Elly about a dish not being vegan or something like that, so that I didn’t think Joshua would be able to eat it. I had made an assumption and you know what happens when I do that.  I made an assumption that because Joshua was a vegan chef he was vegan.  Elly calmly explained “Joshua isn’t a vegan but he does believe vegan cuisine should be available for all people”.  I’m not sure how to articulate how great that statement was. It was non-judgmental and not just accepting but an embracing of others.  I now tried to explain to Joe as they piled into their car how I was feeling about their visit, and again I thought I’d failed at sufficiently expressing myself.   I gave them hugs, wished them luck on the rest of their tour and they were off and I was alone.

I cleaned up the dining room and then headed to my bedroom and next to my bike (Yes, I keep Keni Styles in my bedroom) I found the following book BEYOND the MUSIC: How Punks are Saving the World with DIY Ethics, Skills, & Values by Joe Biel.  I can’t explain to you how big a grinned and the absurdity of my high pitched squeal.  I immediately texted Joe and asked him if he had put that book in my room? Had he meant to do it? To which he responded “Haha! Sounded like you needed it.”  He was right I did.   To you my non-touring friends, I ask you to go see their show which ends June 4th in Chicago at Heritage Bikes.

blurry picture of punk media thanks to Dinner and Bikes

blurry picture of punk media thanks to Dinner and Bikes

 

Sara

This is my friend Sara Medwid. She was an amazing person, doctor, advocate, and friend. She passed away 7 years ago today. She taught me how to judge less, love more, and date even more. I miss her.  I wrote about her before but I don’t want anyone to forget her.  If you knew her, please tell people about her.  If you didn’t know her, know that she was compassionate, know that she taught me not to be afraid of illness, to view patients as people first, never as their disease.   She knew how to have fun and when to be serious.  I admired her a lot and still do.

There is a corner on campus that every time I pass it I think of Sara.  Sara, had me meet her one day at this corner, she picked me up in her car and said, we are going to go hang out with a lot of hot Latino baseball players and I figured you would bond with them.  She was right and it became a great memory of my young adulthood.  I think of her when at clinic and med students get too much of an ego —she would’ve knocked that out of them but much more subtly and with greater effect than I ever could.

Sara & Elenamary