Culture

Thumbnail image for Lena Horne: A Great Lady Who Broke the Color Line

Lena Horne: A Great Lady Who Broke the Color Line

by John Lawrence 03.31.2015 Culture

Lena Horne was the first black woman to get a contract with a major Hollywood Studio

By John Lawrence

Born into a black bourgeoisie family in 1917, Lena Horne was signed up in the NAACP by her grandmother, Cora Calhoun Horne, a college graduate, at the age of two. The Hornes owned a four-story residence in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn.

The distinguished Horne family included teachers, activists and a Harlem Renaissance poet. Lena’s uncle became dean of a black college. According to James Gavin’s biography of Lena, Stormy Weather, the black bourgeoisie were descendants of favored slaves “privileged blacks who, by virtue of their brains or their sexual allure to their masters, had worked in the house, not in the field. During the decade-long heyday of Reconstruction, they’d used their cachet to start businesses and gain social standing.”

Lena’s grandmother drilled into her respectability at all costs. She was to use proper diction, no dialect allowed, and always present herself as a lady. Cora was a determined fighter for black causes, and, despite her disdain for whites, she married a white man. According to Gavin, Cora’s cafe au lait skin, thin lips and delicate nose betrayed generations of intermingling with whites. Her maiden name, Calhoun, came from her father’s slavemaster in Georgia, Dr. Andrew Bonaparte Calhoun. His uncle was Senator John C Calhoun who championed slavery as God’s will.

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Thumbnail image for Baseball is Not a Metaphor

Baseball is Not a Metaphor

by Jim Miller 03.30.2015 Books & Poetry

By Jim Miller

Baseball season is here again and with it comes one of the last times in my only son’s fleeting childhood that I have the opportunity to help coach his team. This brings much joy and more suffering because, as we all know, most of the game involves failure.

When you watch young people pitch, they throw balls more often than not. And when they try to hit, they strike out a lot. It’s a house of pain.

So you spend a great deal of your time telling them to keep their heads up and to stay in it. Indeed, the game is hard enough that, for lots of our young people bent on more immediate gratification, the patience and work it takes to get better is too much for them.

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Thumbnail image for What the World Needs Now is Empathy

What the World Needs Now is Empathy

by Ernie McCray 03.30.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ernie McCray

(This poem was written to kickoff the 1st Annual Social Justice and Education Conference at San Diego City College, March 26-27, 2015)

I look around me,
breathing in deeply
as I reflect on the totality
of what I see.
Before me, a man lays sleeping
on a downtown street
that jumps with a crisp
four/four time Hip-Hop beat,
bouncing from an upbeat retreat,
where folks hang out,
chillaxed to the max
as it’s the “Thank God it’s Friday,”
day of the week.

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Thumbnail image for Donna Frye: An Ode to Open Government – ‘Let the Sun Shine In’

Donna Frye: An Ode to Open Government – ‘Let the Sun Shine In’

by At Large 03.28.2015 Culture

By Donna Frye / OB Rag

This past week, March 15 – 21, the annual celebration called Sunshine Week took place throughout the nation. It was started over 10 years ago by the American Society of News Editors, with its goal being to –

“enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.”

From news organizations large and small, the public learned about Sunshine Week and why open government matters. The Des Moines Register ran a series of editorials, guest views and features on the importance of open government. The Washington Post encouraged us to “think about how the federal government can be more open to the public” as they checked “on recent efforts to increase transparency.”And the Sioux Falls Business Journal noted in their headline that “every week should be Sunshine Week in S.D.”

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: The Surfing Madonna

Geo-Poetic Spaces: The Surfing Madonna

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 03.27.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Our Lady of Encinitas
is sliding down the lip of a wave
on rails

Lotus sun
unfolding

Wind thrashed tunic
splashing
light

Palms pressing
misty beads into prayers
the fin of her hands
carving
blue glass

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Thumbnail image for Ted Cruz Signs Up for Obamacare

Ted Cruz Signs Up for Obamacare

by Junco Canché 03.27.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for Celebrations of César E. Chávez Span Six Weeks Around San Diego

Celebrations of César E. Chávez Span Six Weeks Around San Diego

by Staff 03.26.2015 Activism

“The legacy of the United Farm Workers union in its first decade provides us with key lessons for the present and future. It reminds us that grass-roots power organized and deployed by ‘disposable’ workers, fearlessness in the face of corporate exploitation, and the political uses of music, theater, and ritual can change history. In 2015, in a society based on greed and personal ambition, we ignore these lessons at own peril.” –Jorge Mariscal, Professor, UC San Diego

While Monday, March 31st is the official César E. Chávez day, activities celebrating his legacy as a labor and civil rights leader will continue into May. The day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of his life and work. The ongoing activities are about continuing that legacy.

Thanks to the UCSD Blink, produced by the faculty and staff of that fine institution, for providing us with a list of activities over the next six weeks honoring the life and achievements of César E. Chávez.

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Thumbnail image for Marijuana Commission Report, Polling Point to Legalization in California

Marijuana Commission Report, Polling Point to Legalization in California

by Doug Porter 03.26.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

California’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy is releasing an interim report today outlining issues needing to be addressed in any legalization measures going before voters in 2016.

The commission, led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and including the ACLU, assorted academics, activists along with, law enforcement officials, will not officially take a position on legalization. Public forums in cities around the state will soon be announced as part of forming a policy road map towards legalization. Issues such as taxes, driving under the influence and a means for prohibiting access to minors are among those being considered.

The panel hopes to have its policy analysis completed by August.

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Thumbnail image for Some Things Cannot Be Improved Upon

Some Things Cannot Be Improved Upon

by Bob Dorn 03.26.2015 Culture

By Bob Dorn

I still have my father’s hammer; it’s tough hickory handle, all blackened by decades of use, has never separated from its carbon steel head, which is similarly stained by use. (The grease and dirt buried in that wood, some of it left there by my father, probably is what keeps the hickory from taking on water and rotting.) Let it be a symbol of endurance, persistence, toughness, good design and good material.

Here are some others:

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Thumbnail image for Change Is Still in the Air for San Diego Latino Film Festival 2015

Change Is Still in the Air for San Diego Latino Film Festival 2015

by At Large 03.26.2015 Culture

By Mukul Khurana

Day 3+ began with EN FAMILIA, the shorts program meant for the whole family, which had some charming and funny entries: CHULA (Puerto Rico 2014) directed by Victoria Sorberal, was one of those funny and entertaining shorts. Bebo can’t be found on his wedding day! Various detours later, it is a happy wedding. But first…

Also from the islands, THE EXTRAORDINARY MR. JUPITER (Puerto Rico 2014) directed by Federico Torres Fernandez turned out to be a lovely magical tale of romance. True love is hard to find—but not if you are a magician. ***** Life can be cruel. Sometimes, only flowers can soften the blow. In EL MAESTRO Y LA FLOR (Mexico 2014) directed by Daniel Irabien, a teacher must decide what he is willing to give up for love.

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Thumbnail image for An Evil Monster Rises from the Depths of San Diego Bay

An Evil Monster Rises from the Depths of San Diego Bay

by Junco Canché 03.25.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for Zurbarán and Sorolla: Welcomed Guests At the San Diego Museum of Art

Zurbarán and Sorolla: Welcomed Guests At the San Diego Museum of Art

by Alejandra Enciso Guzmán 03.25.2015 Arts

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

“St. Francis in Prayer in a Grotto” by Francisco de Zurbarán and “By the Seashore, Valencia” by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida are the ‘newbies’ welcomed to the San Diego Museum of Art. The inclusion of these two influential artists’ works continues to build on the strength of the museum’s renowned permanent collection of Spanish art.

Earlier this month there was the unveiling of “By the Seashore, Valencia.” Several personalities for the arts community were present for the important event which falls perfectly into the celebration of the Balboa Park Centennial as well as the museum’s 100th birthday.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Finally Allows 1st “Legal” Pot Shop 19 Years After California Voters Passed Measure

San Diego Finally Allows 1st “Legal” Pot Shop 19 Years After California Voters Passed Measure

by Frank Gormlie 03.22.2015 Business

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

The City of San Diego has finally allowed the opening of the City’s very first medical marijuana dispensary.

This opening of the first “legal” pot shop in San Diego comes 19 years after California voters passed Prop 215, making medical marijuana legal.

And the County of San Diego has only allowed one dispensary to open to date – a storefront opened last summer in an unincorporated area outside El Cajon.

The shameful history of nearly 2 decades for both the City and County of San Diego that viewed together initiated delays, stalls, and outright resistance to the spirit of Prop 215, stands in deep contrast to the wishes of the state’s voters.

On this issue at least, the implementation of the medical marijuana law, our local governments have been very undemocratic as they have quite openly stymied what the voters, the people, wanted.

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Thumbnail image for The Uptown Battle for Safer Bike Routes

The Uptown Battle for Safer Bike Routes

by Doug Porter 03.20.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

There’s a special meeting of the Uptown Planners next Tuesday (March 24) to discuss overriding the SANDAG Regional Bike Plan in Mission Hills and Hillcrest. Cycling advocates are expected to face off against various organizations and people opposed to proposed traffic changes in the area.

This meeting is, I think, symbolic of a larger battle going on over the future of transportation in the city. While all the organizations involved give lip service to the Climate Action Plan’s goal of 18% bike mode share in Uptown by 2035, there are individuals who come across as negative about actually doing anything to achieve the goal.

Despite a growing body of evidence contradicting what some small businesspeople assume about the negative impact of bike lanes, parking spaces and traffic calming measures, when it gets down to an actual plan, all they can say is “no.” (Kinda like the GOP on their alternative to Obamacare, I think.) 

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: Knots

Geo-Poetic Spaces: Knots

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 03.20.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Show me a tree
that does not
bear signs of loss

Branches broken
by splintering rainstorms
still carried in trunks

Wounds healed
but not
forgotten

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Thumbnail image for Change is in the Air at the San Diego Latino Film Festival 2015

Change is in the Air at the San Diego Latino Film Festival 2015

by At Large 03.19.2015 Culture

By Mukul Khurana

It seems hard to believe that the San Diego Latino Film Festival has been around for 22 years, but it’s true! But with full adult status, come some growing changes. In the background since last year, a transition has been achieved from the Hazard Center to the Fashion Valley Center. But those are not the only changes to be felt.

Phillip (Phil) Lorenzo has returned to SDLFF as Exhibition Director after a seven year absence during which he worked with SDAFF. One other thing that was different this year—it didn’t rain to mark the beginning of the festival. Instead, we were in the throes of a heat wave courtesy of our Santa Ana winds (in keeping with climate change predictions).

The people who braved the heat were rewarded by the usual excellent shorts on the first day in the form of DOCU-SHORTS. The unusual mix included a short about the decline of marriage and partnership over time, a maternity home for pregnant women in Cuba, and a photographer’s story (a man in Castro’s rebel army), among others.

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Thumbnail image for Chicago Mayor Rahm’s Chair

Chicago Mayor Rahm’s Chair

by Eric J. Garcia 03.19.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for What It’s Like to Own and Run a Flourishing Marijuana Dispensary

What It’s Like to Own and Run a Flourishing Marijuana Dispensary

by Source 03.19.2015 Business

Northern California owner: It’s “quite different from the view from the outside looking in.”

By David McCullick / Alternet

The view I have from behind the counter of my Medical Marijuana (MMJ) dispensary—the Sonoma Patient Group in Santa Rosa, California–is quite different from the view from the outside looking in. Many law enforcement types, city and county elders, and much of the general public have a very pre-conceived notion of what it is we do, how we do it and who we do it for.

If you are not privy to what actually happens in a dispensary, you might be inclined to believe what you read and hear from those that do not visit them, use MMJ at all or have their own agenda (i.e., draconian drug laws and incarceration quotas). You may hear talk of how the MMJ laws are just a front so that people can smoke their weed, or that the movement is a distraction or just a way to full legalization of recreational marijuana. You might believe it when you are told that only young healthy people under 25 visit the dispensaries or that we are a danger to your kids.

The truth of the matter is that MMJ works for most people that try it on some level or another depending on what you use it for, how you use it and how often you use it, keeping in mind that we are all different. What works for you might be different than what works for me. Most people that use MMJ are legitimate patients who want the medical benefits.

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Thumbnail image for Group Seeks to Replace Jackson With a Woman on the $20 for 100th Birthday of the 19th Amendment

Group Seeks to Replace Jackson With a Woman on the $20 for 100th Birthday of the 19th Amendment

by Source 03.18.2015 Culture

By Meteor Blades / Daily Kos

Matt Iglesias at Vox first discussed what a good idea it would be to have a woman on the $20 bill last July. But it was a more recent Vox story by Libby Nelson that seems to have kicked off a surge in media attention given to the idea that is being promoted by the organization Women on 20s. The group is asking people to vote their choices from a roster of 15 women.

The list—already winnowed from 30 to 15—will be further culled through three rounds of voting. The group hopes to get 100,000 votes because that’s how many names it takes at the White House petition site to get an official response. The candidates: Alice Paul, Clara Barton, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony, Rachel Carson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Thumbnail image for The Rep’s Oedipus El Rey: A Greek Classic Meets Chicano Mysticism

The Rep’s Oedipus El Rey: A Greek Classic Meets Chicano Mysticism

by Doug Porter 03.17.2015 Courts, Justice

By Doug Porter

We are fortunate to live in a city where theater and the performing arts flourish. San Diego’s offerings are enriched by companies large and small; those that hew to tradition and those willing to stretch the limits of artistic expression.

The San Diego Repertory Theatre has been at it for nearly four decades, “promoting a more inclusive community through work that nourishes progressive and social values.” The current production of Oedipus El Rey speaks to those values through a modern day adaptation of Sophocles’ classic Greek drama, first performed in 429 B.C.

The ancient temples of Thebes are recast as the barrios of Southern California. Greek mysticism is supplanted by Mexican mythology. And the city-state is presented as gang turf. The familiar chorus from Greek theater is now bilingual and just as nuanced as ever.

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Thumbnail image for Watching Dreams of ‘Home’ Come True

Watching Dreams of ‘Home’ Come True

by Ernie McCray 03.16.2015 Culture

By Ernie McCray

I’ve attended many a wedding in my life, even conducting a few in rhythm and rhyme that got people to say “Hey, that was pretty nice.”

But I have never witnessed a marriage that was as special as the one I showed up for on the last day of this past February.

It was beyond nice. It was magical. Sweet. Soulful. Teary. Poignant. Smiley. Earthy. Inspiring. Cosmic. Fun. Invigorating. Both lighthearted and sincere. A journey “home,” proceeded over by the groom’s brother-in-law.

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Thumbnail image for being Sweeney tonight

being Sweeney tonight

by Will Falk 03.16.2015 Books & Poetry

By Will Falk

a warm wind
blended with whiskey
softens the distinction
between tonight
the sky
and my confusion

those shadows aren’t real
shadows, or
the shades of crows
because there are no crows
in crow canyon anymore
only darkness dripping

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Thumbnail image for Headhunting Drones

Headhunting Drones

by Eric J. Garcia 03.14.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for Have a Happy 3.14159265358979 Day (And Other News)

Have a Happy 3.14159265358979 Day (And Other News)

by Doug Porter 03.13.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter 

Yes indeedy. While some people are obsessing about Friday, the 13th, I’m busy getting ready to celebrate Pi Day. It is/was Albert Einstein’s birthday. And it’s a day that reminds me of how I struggled to get through what was then called “new” math. 

This year (2015) is a special year for Pi Day enthusiasts. In the mm : dd : yy format, the Pi Day, which is March, 14, ’15, will be written as, 3 – 14 – 15. These are the first 5 significant digits of Pi (3.1415). 

Lots of people use the day as an excuse to indulge in pies. One of the best places to celebrate would be Pie Town, New Mexico, an unincorporated area where US Route 60 crosses the continental divide. 

And, yes, there is some news to mull over… 

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Thumbnail image for Help Us Find San Diego’s Progressive History and Locales

Help Us Find San Diego’s Progressive History and Locales

by Staff 03.13.2015 Activism

By Staff    

A reader from Liverpool, England, wrote us recently requesting our help in finding “hidden gems of progressiveness and places of historical importance I should visit whilst I’m there.”

That request got us to thinking about how much local history we must be blissfully unaware of. So we’ve decided to create and continue to update a page where the local history of progressiveness and protest will come alive for visitors, students and locals.

We’d like your help in putting this together. You can leave us ideas in the comments section of this article or email us at contact@sandiegofreepress.org with the subject line Progressive San Diego. Many thanks!

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