Every once in a while the stars align themselves and I find myself in the midst of a spiral before I can say “sweet gangsta-guerilla-gardeners growing grapes, guavas and ginger.” Honestly, after the events of this past weekend, I have to ask, “have I reached the end of the spiral yet, or is there still more to come?”
In brief, the past few days have included a tree lighting ceremony in the city of San Fernando, a short journey to Newhall, California to see A Pretty Mess; the 46th annual Pacoima Holiday Parade followed by a trip to Historic South Central Los Angeles for the 5th Annual Anarchist Book Fair, all topped off with a car show in Van Nuys.
An Evening In San Fernando
A Pretty Mess in Newhall, Release Dee Batz!
Graffiteria LA @ the 46th Annual Pacoima Holiday Parade,
& LA-Artist @ the 5 Annual Anarchist Book Fair with LA-Artist
The Wild Bunch Car Show
A Thursday evening in San Fernando, California
(Gloves, Guitar, & A Fresh Print)
It was cold enough to see my own breath as I rode my single speed, fixed gear Schwinn Cutter, “Trillium Ammonite Grace” down Maclay Ave. My gloves were keeping me just warm enough and the grey scarves that I had wrapped around my neck were doing all they could to retain my body heat. On this chilly Thursday evening I was part of the masses journeying to 1st street in San Fernando.
I heard the train’s horn before I had reached my destination, the telltale sign that I was close– 1st street is a stone’s throw from the railroad track.
Upon my arrival I took note of just how many people had said mentally said, “screw the cold we’re going out!!!” From youth cheerleading squads, mariachi ensembles, and pastry designers to rows of food trucks, dozens of singers and even a martial arts academy had made their appearance. It seemed as though no amount of winter chill could stop people from taking part in the annual tree lighting ceremony.
And then it happened… a loud cheer for a man in a red suit. Somewhere between the fire department’s horn (announcing their own arrival) and the countdown to the tree lighting (delayed a few seconds by technical difficulties) it happened; “Santa, Santa, Santa!.” Le sigh. I won’t get into my personal quips about the man in the red suit, but let me tell ya, we have a long history.
In any case, he arrived, had his photo ops and then in a flash the event drew to a close with a series of songs played by a slightly audible mariachi band– “Feliz Navidad” (featuring the 9:00pm Amtrak train) was just one of many traditional songs played that evening.
After the closing words and events I had gathered my guitar, books and my 42×50 inch print (a large pink heart, conveniently rolled up in a delivery tube and just itching to be displayed at the Pacoima Parade), then said good evening to Frank and Deicy of Graffiteria LA. Both of them had dropped word of the tree lighting to me just before the end of November– councilman Jesse H. Avila mentioned the event too, but it was April’s post on IAMSANFERNANDO that affirmed that the tree lighting ceremony was something that I should attend.
Lesson of the evening?
In the land of late-night mobile night eateries, the churro man is king.
Friday. A Pretty Mess in New Hall California
(Release De Batz)
With the joy of a tree lighting behind me and less than 24 hours left before the Pacoima Parade, I found myself walking down the paint isle of the hardware store. I had a slow morning and wasn’t in the hardware store until the early afternoon.
Cue brilliant idea 1:
At the Granada Hills Food Truck Night, Frank and I had a conversation about how to make the Graffiteria LA truck parade ready. “Use a drop cloth, paint that and then hang it off the side of the truck,” he said.
As I made my journey through the paint isle, I also picked up a five square foot drop cloth. Now, for the amount of coverage and the cost of the cloth, this was by far a great investment– I will definitely be using this drop cloth in future projects, so keep an eye out. After a small discussion with the cashier, I loaded up my bike basket with spray cans, my newly acquired drop cloth, and then went back to Lake View Terrace to begin painting.
After completing the drop cloth, I had some unused spray paint, an old wooden bat stencil (that I had rediscovered during my setup), not to mention, some extra time on my hands. Based on the mathematics of graffiti culture, I calculated that I could create something for the Pacoima Parade that would also serve as a beta test for future projects… And thus Releaze De Batz became the project of the evening (brilliant idea number 2). Honestly, I had forgotten how much I Love stenciling.
Flash-forward two hours, over one hundred stenciled batz were created and I was on highway 14 heading to Newhall to see A Pretty Mess play for the first time . Small historical note, I have had the pleasure of being introduced to the guitarist and lead vocalist of the band several years ago by John Redick of Skulrot, but I had never actually heard or seen Dora perform. I had played her guitars, celebrated various occasions, but never had seen her on stage. That changed Friday night.
To be honest, I didn’t capture any video, however a brief keyword search for A Pretty Mess will bring up dozens of videos, pictures and even the band’s website. Having spoken to Dora on multiple occasions I have been amazed to hear that A Pretty Mess had shared the stage with bands like Naked Aggression and 45 Grave. My inner punk-rock-rudegirl tingled with joy after hearing about that– “uber oi!” To say the least.
46th Annual Pacoima Holiday Parade & The 5th Annual Los Angeles Anarchist Book
As I sat in the Graffiteria LA truck, looking up a wet Van Nuys Boulevard, I couldn’t help but think of the impromptu a cappella that Rolene Naveja broke into during the parade planning meeting that I had attended the week before; she sang a beautiful rendition of the 1964 song “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” I also wondered, had her song tempted the parade-weather deities?
I sat in the truck, still moist from my journey to the parade location, and noticed that the poetess herself Evy Spiritluvchild (current host of Mental Mondays) was coordinating the parade’s volunteer booth right next to us.
“What are the odds” I thought.
Once, my friend, social activist, and Tia Chucha’s family member Marlon Stern, dropped off my five square foot canvass, the Graffiteria LA food truck was artified, and shortly thereafter parade ready.
The parade went by in a flash and these are some of my highlights: bubble machines, sharing the stenciled batz I created with people of Pacoima, not stepping in horse dung (more difficult than I had anticipated); handing out LA-Artist artcards, and signing several of my stencil batz for a group of youth that ambushed me for an autograph–ebay here I come woo hoo! I can see it now, “46th Annual Pacoima Holiday Parade Memorabilia, one blue bat stencil. Starting bid $1.99.”
After the parade was over, and I said my thank yous to Frank and Deicy for agreeing to participate in the parade, I headed over to Historical South Central Los Angeles for the 5th Annual Anarchist Book Fair. This was certainly not my first book fair but it was my first time attending one as a informational booth/vendor.
Throughout the day I had the pleasure of talking to people about the LA-Artist.com project, artcards, various systems of social structures and even ran into several companions, and recognized a few friendly faces as well. In short, the event was a rewarding experience. I may not be an card carrying anarchist but I am definitely open to the ideals that are proposed– perhaps my favorite is the concept “a decentralized system of power.”
My favorite part of the fair was listening to Cita Y Sus Muñecas Rotas, who I had seen several years ago in a play addressing the history of immigration within the United States/Mexico. Cita, if you are reading this, “Te quierro mucho, your passion for music is amazing! Call me.”
Sunday: A Wild Bunch Car Show
Steel guitars, customized cars, unwrapped toys, Graffiteria LA, and a steam powered vehicle with Jay Leno? Yes these were just some of the sights at the Wild Bunch Car Club’s 5th Annual Toy Drive and Cruise In. Over 50 people came out for the event– painters, body workers, and car enthusiasts of all ages. By the end of the day Hamilton Steel Guitars had a room full of unwrapped children’s toys.
See more event photos on the Wild Bunch Facebook Fan Page.
On a side note, I added a few new songs to my repertoire of guitar tunes this past weekend. The MRDLAM “Heads to the Hills” set list is still at the core, but I have also added, “Silent Night,” “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon, “Polly” by Nirvana, “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles, “Green Sleeves” and “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.
All this said, I just have to say that the spiral has not ended, be sure to review the community calendar– save the dates if you must– and I’ll see you soon.
Oceans of Love
Michael Ray De Los Angeles Menjivar
Special Event with The 13th Floor Art Collective, Friday 13 December 2013
MORE INFO HERE
North East Los Angeles Art Walk, Saturday 14 December 2013
Be sure to visit The Healing Arts and Community Awareness House,
5133 York BLVD
Go to the NELA ARTWALK WEBSITE for a full list of galleries and events.
Folk Acoustic Show featuring Marlon Stern, Dear Rabbit and More
MORE INFO HERE
A Pretty Mess, in Hollywood 4 January 2014
MORE INFO HERE
Earth Day with For Learners of All Ages Revolution, 26 April 2013
MORE INFO HERE
“Love is Universal” | Italo’s Corner
“Llano Llanero Lloron” | New music from Cuñao,
“Presa Del 40 Ink” | Visual Artist Alvaro D. Marquez