Updates since the New Year

Over these past few weeks, I did a panel for the new PM Press (www.pmpress.org) book, “Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail: Stories of Crime, Love, and Rebellion,” edited by Andrea Gibbons and Gary Phillips. Held at the William Still Art Center in South L.A., authors in the book, including myself, talked about fiction and politics to a receptive audience on a nice clear L.A. day. My story in the collection, “Look Both Ways,” was an attempt to do a modern mystery story with political and social relevance. The whole book is filled with gems by authors like Sara Paretsky, John Imani, Gary Phillips, Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Penny Mickelbury, and more. Definitely worth reading and sharing with others. I also did a second public unscripted conversation called “The Three Louies” with Luis R. Torres, Chicano journalist and former L.A. radio personality; Louie Perez, of the great East L.A. band Los Lobos; and myself. This included remembrances, anecdotes, insights, and more. This time we were at KPCC-FM’s Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena, CA on January 5, 2012. This went very well and we’ve now received requests to do this in other venues. As Louie Torres says, “Carnegie Hall… here we come!” On January 17, I had the privilege to be in a public conversation with Father Greg Boyle, founder/director of Homeboy Industries and author of the book “Tattoos on the Heart.”  He was most generous and kind (we’ve been friends and colleagues in this work with hard-core gang youth for years). We also had great questions and comments from audience members in the full house at the Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Public Library. This was sponsored by Aloud!—a wonderful program of readings, talks, conversations, and more. Go to www.lfla.org/aloud/upcoming.php for information. During this time, I also got word that my last book, “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing” became a finalist for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award in their autobiography category. This memoir is the sequel to my best-selling “Always Running.” I’m going to the awards reading, dinner and ceremony in New York City, March 7 and 8. I’m honored to be thusly recognized, especially by those who read and critique books. [caption id="attachment_886" align="alignleft" width="360" caption="Luis Rodriguez, grandson Ricardo, and Ricardo's mother Jennifer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 2012."]Luis Rodriguez, grandson Ricardo, and Ricardo's mother Jennifer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 2012.[/caption] This past Saturday I was in Fort Lauderdale Airport on my way back home. My oldest grandson Ricardo—currently in his first year of college—came to visit me in Fort Lauderdale Friday evening with his mother and uncle. What a wonderful young man, whose dream is to become a top-notch graphic artist. He’ll make it—whatever he wants to do he can do. Prior to this I was in Miami/Coral Gables at the historic Biltmore Hotel as part of the Eight Annual “Gathering of Leaders,” sponsored by the New Profit Foundation. Here were leaders in politics, business, nonprofits, sciences, and the arts addressing social innovation and what this means for the rapidly changing—and crisis-ridden—realities we are all in. I did a dinner talk on February 8 that was well received, introduced by new friend and youth leadership dynamo Robert Lewis of Boston. I particularly liked hearing the journalist and TV writer David Simon (“The Wire,” “The Corner,” “Homicide,” and more). He hit hard—with strong personal authority, facts, and a big heart—the disastrous and unjust drug laws of the United States (and linking this to the terrible violence in places like Mexico). My respect goes out to this man who continues to fight for the peaceful, encompassing, and just country we need, not the country the bankers, corporations, much of the media and most politicians have forced on us. To end I’m reprinting here a poem by Matriz, who has come out of the In Their Own Words women’s writing workshops held weekly at Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural (www.tiachucha.com). She also happens to be my wife Maria Trinidad Rodriguez (La Trini)—someone I love, admire, and respect.
Change Change is the child we all carry. We cuddle it, hold it, soothe it, but it is insistent. Its nature makes it persist, knowing it can do no other. Change wears the face of the unknown. Unrecognized, and feared because of it, we approach it timidly, it rushes at us, unapologetic, ready and roaring, an in-your-face presence needing attention. Change grows beyond our control, independent of our will, it minds itself as it springs from every core, being and becoming all at once. Strength and courage impels it forward and we need the same to do likewise. Change is the heart of anything alive. It makes us see the Earth as our Mother, helps us know the Sky as our Father. It reminds us that all the in-between is connected, vibrating and beating together, unable to stop transforming, making itself new. Change is throughout, cleansing all the wounds of time and humanity with the medicine of our time, of past legacies, of new promises. The colors of this new day necessary, not a cover for illusions or camouflage --these will not withstand a stripped-naked truth. Change requires that we respect, see again all that we have done, are doing, need to do. It means we need to let go of the old orders, march to the different drummer in us all, open up to the possibility that At Last has finally arrived with bells on, so let’s dance. Change will be the hardest and the easiest thing we will ever give in to. Change has always been with us but its never been here quite this hungry, so let’s not play at feeding the Need, let’s be bold and let go of old traps. Change will take all we got and give it back in new forms ready to change us and the world forever all over again. -- Matriz July 29,2011

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