Tag Archives: June

Working to Play, Playing to Work: Mexican-American Baseball & Labor in Southern California

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“I remember traveling to Lake Elsinore, which was a long way in those days,” reminisced Zeke Mejia in 1996. “But the only ride we could get was from a friend who hauled fertilizer in his truck, so all the guys crawled inside … and tried not to breath during the ride. By the time we arrived to play well we all smelled like fertilized fields. We did it because we loved the game.” 1

For Mejia and thousands of other Mexican Americans laboring in Southern California during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, baseball served as a means to at once demonstrate belonging in the United States, while simultaneously asserting their own identity. In Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties, Mexican American baseball teams dotted the landscape, creating a human geography of social, economic, and political connections that helped buoy working class communities, and even contributed to unionization efforts amid widespread…

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The Unforgiving Rinjani

What an Amazing World!

“It looks so forbidding!” James says with his eyes deeply contemplating at the summit of Mount Rinjani, piercing the sky above the island of Lombok. From the crater rim, the afternoon sun illuminates the very top of the volcano, giving a golden hue to the almost floating pyramid above the clouds, leaving its gigantic body on earth. Cold and unforgiving.

* * *

Six hours earlier we started our hike to Indonesia’s second highest volcano, standing at 3,726 meters, anchoring Lombok amid the Lesser Sunda Islands. The smell of fresh morning grass and the fragrant scent of ripening garlic in locals’ fields boosted our spirit to kick off the long hike through savanna and rain forests. Jen is our guide, a 21-year old lad who decided to become a trekking guide instead of continuing his study to college. “Even if I graduated from the university, it would be very hard…

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Eyes Wide Shut (1999) + the Paranoid Style in American Pop Culture

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What is it about Stanley Kubrick that makes people crazy?

I was truly excited about the release of last year’s film Room 237—as a historian and Kubrick fan, the idea of an hour or two of deep interpretation of the themes and symbolism of his 1980 horror classic The Shining sounded delightful.  It would be like taking a cultural history or film studies class where all the insights of a semester’s discussions were distilled into one megacut.

As it turned out, though, the film was more like a documentary about a cult or conspiracy theory, or simply the adherents of a weird fetish or hobby (say, a King of Kong for ersatz anthropologists).  Fairly ludicrous and elaborate inferences about the genocide of Native Americans or the faking of the Moon landing were narrated by the film’s motley, disembodied lot of amateur analysts, who even admitted that they may be…

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