Upcoming Exhibition at Alley Cat Books: April 2014
Alley Cat Books has a large, well lit, art gallery at the back of the store. I will be showing my Mission District Series here from April 4th to April 28th, 2014.
As the days grow shorter and the shadows longer I have been working my way back down 24th Street from Balmy Alley:
Day of the Dead 2014
The November 2nd Day of the Dead Procession and Celebration of the Altars in the Mission was the largest I have ever witnessed. Led by the Aztec Dancers it wound south on Bryant. At Galeria de la Raza where a mural illustrates a funeral parade for ‘La Mision’ in a casket, it turned up 24th Street proceeding all the way to Mission Street where it moved north. The sheer number of celebrants, easily in excess of 15,000, rivaled Carnaval. City authorities seemed unprepared for these numbers. But the crowd was peaceful, many bearing candles with faces painted to resemble skulls. Elaborate banners declaring “No Evictions in the Mission” set the theme for the evening.
Among the participants, we spotted Rene Yañez who started this procession in the seventies. Rene, a major cultural figure in the barrio, was a founder of the Mission Cultural Center and the Galeria de la Raza, He is now facing eviction. His eviction proceedings have galvanized the Mission, and were one of the reasons this year’s event was so large.
Activists I have spoken to in the Mission are insistent that there needs to be a moratorium on further Ellis Act evictions as well as all evictions in the 24th Street corridor.
The Latino community has done much more than introduce Latin American traditions to San Francisco. It has adapted them, with the input of both Latino and non Latino artists, until they have entered the City’s mainstream.
For example, the Day of the Dead, which originates in Mexico as a fusion of indigenous and Catholic culture, morphed in San Francisco during the creative ferment of the seventies into something wonderful and strange. And yet, my friends in Michoacan would still recognize it.
The United States of Denial – from San Francisco to Fukushima
Our culture of denial, which has allowed the gentrification of San Francisco to drive thousands of moderate and low income folk out of our communities, without, until recently, any official acknowledgement of the inhumanity of this process, affects all aspects of contemporary life.
Nowhere is this culture of denial more evident than in the silence around the ongoing disaster at Fukushima.
When the disaster occurred, the Obama administration disabled our radiation sensors along the West Coast. To this day, the Federal government has provided no information about the dose of radiation we received in April and May of 2011.
After Chernobyl, Europe identified hot zones and excluded them from agriculture for a number of years. In Wales, near Cardigan, where my brother lived, for example, the population was not allowed to consume or market the local mutton for seven years.
As if our government’s stonewalling were not bad enough, we recently learned that Fukushima has been leaking 300-400 metric tonnes of radioactive water into the Pacific everyday since the disaster – with no end in sight! The radioactive water is moving on the gyre clockwise around the Pacific. It just reached Alaska and will move inexorably down to California. At the same time, the highly radioactive debris from Fukushima has been drifting east for the past two and half years and will reach California early in 2014.
There is a lot of water in the Pacific, but, unfortunately, radio isotopes are being absorbed by plankton and are concentrating up the food chain.The radiation is beginning to be detected in surprisingly high concentrations in some fish.
The radio isotopes that are of most concern are tritium, strontium 90, iodine 131 and cesium 137. Cesium 137 is perhaps the most dangerous. Our bodies mistake it for potassium and it concentrates in organs like the heart and thyroid. It is extremely hazardous to infants and young children.
Apart from our immediate health, the Pacific Ocean, itself, is in peril.
For more detailed information: the Official Radiation Report from the ARAI