THIS essay got me thinking.
My maternal grandmother was born on Santa Catalina Island, raised most of her children in Villa Guerrero and Temastian Jalisco and when she returned to Califas she refused to speak English. My mother carried the burden of Spanish through high school, in a violently unfamiliar but always brown English-only Los Angeles. A reminder to my mom that she was definitely not Mexican-American. Fast (not so far) forward to my birth and childhood, when English forced my mom into becoming a definite Mexican-American, I learned that grandma always understood her grandchildren, something we felt beyond language barriers. As a child I always wondered if it was her stubborn ways, but as an adult I realized she's just the badass matriarch of the familia Ramos.
But where does this leave me, and my pocha ways? With big responsibilities. If English makes us Mexican-American, what are we without Spanish?
Should some of us adopt a Spanish-only rule, I'm pretty sure that I don't have too far to go before I can fairly declare myself Mexican-American. But Spanish first.
This album. This man of music. Changed our world. It did. Forget about the people who didn't want change, the music played on. It always plays on. Lifting us from those momentary lapses to those places on mountain tops, or in those softly lit corners of the forests, the places we don't want to leave but we have to. Or do we have to? The music can always keep us there, free jazz always kept me there. The recording stops but the notes still play. And play. You can hear it around the corner from where you are now, I bet you didn't know there was 'an around the corner' from where you stand. Those are Coleman's corners. He built them to teach us how to listen. And we listen. LA still listens. Jazz is hardly dead. It's a part of life, the metamorphosis of our heroes, the creators of innovation and inspiration. He made this music, this free and divine magic carpet ride, and now he is his music. Eternal. Ornette Coleman is hardly dead, he's just becoming something else. Something eternal. Ornette Coleman was Jazz. Jazz will do anything but rest.
Art is neither a creator of moral compass nor a solution to societies dysfunctions. Art is a response. A catalyst for discussion. So at the end of day when an artist and their work is perceived to reflect or mimic those systematic dysfunctions, by the community of people who have been affected by societies lack in moral judgment regarding basic human rights, that artist ceases to be an artist, and instead becomes a part of the "problem." Because... perception can be molded by either a single lifetime of privilege, or thousands of years of singular and collective oppression, slavery, and injustice. So yeah, sometimes there's a right and wrong.
Let's not take Freedom of Speech out of context.
In the notes for Place's Miss Scarlett, Poetry Foundation writes, "...Place inverts our relationship to Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling and beloved American epic by prioritizing the formal aspects of language over Mitchell’s famous narrative." But this "note" reminds us that Place chooses to put aside the challenges faced by Hattie McDaniel at the time, the integral struggle she endured by accepting those roles, and the legacy she left for so many artists in film. Place chooses to deny history. How about we invert Place's relationship to art and society, in the context of history in America - and history of the Arts in America.
Vanessa Place at best is simply boring, in her attempt to aesthetically rewrite revolutionary texts. And with "Miss Scarlett," she is simply wrong. There is no place for her in the literary community that I find home in. And this shit is getting old.
They say, "Everything always changes." Until you step inside a restaurant that you haven't been to in twenty two years, the time when the semblance of a family held itself together before what would be a final holy eruption. And my teen-aged everything comes flooding into the space, drowning the old green carpeting and creeping up and over the wainscoting that kept these walls intact all this time. Nothing has changed, I sit drinking the same Thai iced coffee that I ordered in 1993 and all those years before. It tastes the same, except for that missing familiar after-taste of wanting something that isn't in my reach, life as a verb. This coffee has no after-anything, just the taste of now. I should have listened to this restaurant back then, when it was trying to tell me everything is going to be ok. And that I'll make it out better than alive.