A&E  

Thank You, Tia Chucha

Celebrating Words Festival shines a light on friendship and understanding, the sense of community and creative forces at work

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: June 29, 2009


Thank You, Tia Chucha


Like a flashback in time, I recently became aware of something missing in my life, my children's life, and now my grandchildren's life...the spoken word metamorphosed into a life's lesson.

I remember when I was around 8 years old, one of my younger cousins had burned her hand grabbing onto a hot iron...and my Mom and tias sitting around a table playing cards and dominoes, sharing chismes and wine, and talking about how hurt my cousin had gotten for a couple of years afterwards, but also admonishing all us kids within listening range NOT to do that.

"Touch it with a wet finger first", or "make sure it's unplugged before you grab it", or lastly, "make sure nobody else has something to iron before you put it away" were additional anecdotes we received whenever this story came up during large family visits and gettogethers...something that doesn't happen anymore among this current "adult" generation now passing the 30 year mark. (too busy texting on on "twitter" I guess...)

This might not make ANY sense among the permanent press-wash and wear-look like you just got out of bed look generation, but ironing your clothes used to be tantamount to showering, shaving, and combing your hair ....something that comes into question for some younger guys nowadays...that now seems a lost art left to cholos, military men & women, and owners of dry cleaners. It gave a message that reflected how you cared about yourself, how others looked at you, what others thought were possibilities in you, and your willingness to be around people without fear of rejection because you know you looked good.

The point here is that my last three paragraphs were a message, a lesson, a joke, a bit of history, and lastly, a bit of familiarity all put into one medium for you all to absorb and digest at your convenience...the written word.

And if you can't read, I could have spoken these points to you in person like my Mom and Tias would have (GOD bless all our their resting souls) with more color and smile-provoking side statements than 20 paragraphs.

Communication as a peaceful way of learning and sharing the world with one another is going the way of another soon to be lost art ~ manners and common courtesy (See Edie Adler's piece Not So Common Courtesy

That being said, I feel fortunate to have joined around 1,000 people or so attending the 4th Annual CELEBRATING WORDS FESTIVAL held last Saturday afternoon at Mission College in Sylmar, courtesy of TIA CHUCHA'S CENTRO CULTURAL.

A free family event co-sponsored by the L.A. City Department of Cultural Affairs and a handful of optimistic and supportive local political leaders that still see hope in the future, the day-long event featured music, dancers, poetry readings, food, refreshments, souvenirs, books and magazines for all ages, arts and crafts, community resource booths, a farmer's market, and a real chance for people to get together and communicate, while appreciating the wonder and beauty of art for it's own sake...and the sake of humanity.

"Yeah! We're facing tough economic times, and government on all levels are making cuts and doing away with programs and other services that they may not see as essential...but what could be more essential than art & creativity in our lives and community?" internationally acclaimed writer, poet, lecturer, and founder of TIA CHUCHA'S CENTRO CULTURAL Luis Rodriguez said as he opened the program with a welcoming message. "It didn't take any creativity to get us into this current financial mess we're in...but it will take a lot of creativity to get us out of it, and nothing establishes and promotes creativity more than art and culture in our lives. Let's share and enjoy this today, I welcome you!"

And with that, a colorful program of Native American, Azteca, hip-hop (yeah, hip-hop!), spoken poetry, and contemporary dancesand& music were magically blended together for everyone's enjoyment under a clear blue sky and cool California breezes, with fresh food cooking, happy children running around playfully, and different generations of people coming together in an almost tribal way that somehow seemed very welcoming & familiar to me.

There were job booths and college recruiters, book stands offering FREE books and magazines (I scored on a free, rare copy of James Crawford's 1992 classic book "Hold Your Tongue - Bilingualism and the Politics of English Only", a book that exposed the sophistication racial bigotry had evolved into), fortune tellers, artistic painters and crafters, and people just talking to each other.

"You know, it's a trip nowadays, just to walk up and greet a stranger," one of TIA CHUCHA's staff said on stage while introducing some of the performers. "I guess because of all the electronic devices, cell phones, twitter, MySpace, and text messaging junk available today, people have almost lost the art of spoken word. I say hello or good morning to somebody, for no reason at all but just to say it being courteous, and some people get uncomfortable, wondering what do I want...that's the sad reality of some people today."

Like a trip back into the 1960's and 1970's when hope and individuality sprang like a gushing well from the restrictive and white controlled confine our society had become during the Cold War , here were talented poets, publicly speaking their soul and trade on stage, giving messages of life, love, hope, reality, and heartache as beautiful as a song to all that would listen, drawing enthusiastic applause.

I had almost forgot what it was like to have a poet give my soul a motivating and educational shock...the kind that had encouraged my 1970's post Chicano Movimiento-Viet Nam era generation to head for college rather than the factories or produce fields that once existed in abundance in Southern California.

As I sat there, eating my warm fresh tacos, rice and beans under the shade and taking it all in while beautiful music, aromas, conversation, and laughter filled the air...I felt bad that only a mere 1,000 or so people were fortunate enough to share this peace, this wholesome art, the smiles of friendship and understanding, the sense of community, and the creative forces at work on this day....

Thank you, TIA CHUCHA's....I will be back to see you again....and I'm bringing friends !

About Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is a regular contributor to this fine web magazine, thanks to the literary, artistic, & poetic exposure he received in Los Angeles public schools in the 1960's, and the example older family members set forth in creative ways..
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