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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Do the Right Thing (1989) (What the Hell Happened to Spike Lee??)

DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)

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Over consecutive Sundays, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, New York filmgoers had the opportunity to contemplate two very different Spike Lees. Last night, the filmmaker (and several members of his cast and crew) gathered at the closing night of BAMcinemaFest for a 25th anniversary screening of his masterpiece Do the Right Thing, a film that maintains its power, humor, and thoughtfulness after all these years. The previous Sunday, Lee appeared at the closing night of the American Black Film Festival to present his new, crowd-funded film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, a picture so bafflingly bad that it hardly seems the work of the same filmmaker. It seems as good a time as any to ask: what the hell happened to Spike Lee?

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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.

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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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25 Books Guaranteed to Make You Laugh

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Not to get too philosophical, but it’s hard to define what is truly funny. Is it something that has you falling on the floor laughing or something that has you chuckling inside while also pondering the absurdity of the human condition? What each of us defines as funny depends on the individual subject: some of us might think there’s something funny about The Stranger by Camus, while others prefer Adam Sandler making fart sounds. The point is that humor works as a device that can make you laugh with reckless abandon, but also ponder this strange situation we call life. Not everything that’s funny has to start off with “Knock knock,” and these 25 books offer an opportunity to see how writers have used humor in different ways, to often-brilliant results.

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What Kanye West’s “Runaway” & Elvis Have in Common: An Excerpt From Kirk Walker Graves’ 33⅓ Book on ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’

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In the introduction to his book on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kirk Walker Graves acknowledges the argument that a four-year-old album should not be memorialized with a volume in Bloombury’s 33 1/3 series on classic albums. But he also makes a convincing case for why he did exactly that in the subsequent chapters, which analyze the album’s songs one by one after 50 pages of general (and brilliant) Kanye scholarship.

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