London Done Right

Yesterday, I had a busy day with an important radio interview in the afternoon on the Robert Elms show of the BBC London. Mr. Elms was prepared, gracious, and gave me a good fifteen to twenty minutes—which is hard to get these days on major radio. Apparently, Mr. Elms is very popular in London. I also heard he discovered Amy Winehouse and once lived with the incomparable R&B singer Sade. He also played about three minutes of “Meeting the Animal on Washington Square Park” from my CD of poetry and original music called “My Name’s Not Rodriguez” (2002, Dos Manos Records/ Later that day my friend Josephine Metcalf and I made our way to the Fulham neighborhood to speak at a youth center to a predominantly Afro-Caribbean audience. Parents, youth workers, teachers, organizers, and young people were in attendance, filling up the meeting space. The talk was highly engaged and the audience participation strong. Our host was Twilight Bey, who runs his own youth organization and has many years of urban peace and gang intervention work in Los Angeles and London. Later that night I did a poetry reading and talk at the Darbucka Club, which is well known for musical events, talks, and poetry. About fifty people were in attendance. My friend Garth Cartwright worked the turntables, playing Chicano music including El Chicano, Thee Midniters, Los Lobos, War, Joe Bataan, and other favorites of mine. A couple of people walked up to me who worked in youth organizations and came precisely because they heard about my talks concerning gang violence. I sold a good number of poetry books and CDs. I also shared tattoos with a Chinese Brit tattoo artist named Leslie—she was impressed with the fine line, shadows and grays, of the dozen or so Chicano-style tattoos I have. She had visible tattoos on her legs and arms. We talked about how tattoos can be done right, for their artistic value and beauty. Though I still have tattoos from my gang days (I got my first tattoo at age 12), I also have later ones of family and Mexika/Mayan images. So far London has been an amazing experience. c/s

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