Support Local Artists, Artisans and Small Businesses, Buy Independent for the Holidays

By Brent E. Beltrán

The holidays are upon us and the time for gift giving is here. Instead of shopping at the malls and giving your hard earned cash to a corporation why not purchase items from local artists and artisans?

Here is a short list of holiday art bazaars and small businesses that deserve to be patronized this holiday season.   [Read more…]

Las Monthly Ondas June Edition: Taco Shop Poets Dream of Sugar Skulls

Read Tacos. Eat Poetry.

By Brent E. Beltrán

Has it already been twenty years since a band of guerrilla word slingers thought to share poetry with taco shop patrons? Apparently so, as the Taco Shop Poets are back in poetic motion for a gig at The Front in San Ysidro.

Founding Taco Shop Poets member Adolfo Guzman Lopez told me “it’s been 20 years since the idea for taco shop poetry was put in motion. We’re presenting the group’s 2011 book Sugarskull Sueños at the Tijuana book fair and what better place to reflect on our personal journeys as Mexican Americans, Chicanos, Latinos, cuarentones, border vatos, and fathers than a homegrown community space in San Ysidro.”

Originally started as a large, loose knit group of mostly Chicano and Latino raconteurs the Taco Shop Poets almost singlehandedly helped recreate the California spoken word poetry scene. They eventually whittled themselves down into a tight collective of border bards that have toured the nation and beyond. Their influence on the Chicano poetry world can still be felt today even though they’ve been relatively dormant the past few years.   [Read more…]

We Built It? 2012 Republican National Convention Site: Publicly Financed, Publicly Owned

Next weeks Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida will be held at The Tampa Bay Time Forum, an indoor arena that is publicly owned and whose construction was paid for primarily with tax dollars. Seven bond issues issued in 1996 for construction, according to the St. Petersburg Times, are being paid off with a combination of revenues from sales taxes, tourist development taxes, and ticket surcharges. The facility is legally owned by Hillsborough County, which leases it the Tampa Bay Sports Authority. County ownership keeps the property off the local property tax rolls.

So it’s ironic, to say the least, that the GOP has adopted “We Built It” as their theme for the 2012 convention. As Media Matters has pointed out, this premise is build upon the Fox news’ distortion of one part of President Obama’s remarks tying the success of businesses to “this unbelievable American System” that includes government spending on infrastructure and education.

The Federal Election Commission, financed by 33 million tax payers who direct $3 of their taxes towards election costs, has given the Republican Party more than $18 million in grants to be used towards the costs of the “We Built It” convention. (The Dems received a matching amount towards their convo.)  Tampa Bay & Charlotte, NC have each received $50 million in grant money from the federal government to beef up law enforcement capabilities.

The majority of the grant money in Tampa will be used for paying the costs of public employees brought in from other jurisdictions to aid in security August 27-30.  Downtown has been wired up with an additional 60 cameras, which, along with airborne surveillance equipment, will feed data into tax payer funded databases running facial recognition software (developed for the Pentagon) that boasts facial recognition rates of 99.7 percent for well-lit, frontal photos. And local tax payers have coughed up an additional $2.7 million for “beautification” projects around the city.   [Read more…]