In Mike Davis’s seminal discussion of noir in City of Quartz he defines the genre as “a fantastic convergence of American ‘tough-guy’ realism, Weimar expressionism, and existentialized Marxism—all focused on unmasking a ‘bright, guilty place.’” Born in the minds of the “Depression-crazed middle classes” of southern California, the “nightmare anti-myth of noir” trafficked in alienation and a distrust of the morality of capitalism. More specifically, Davis notes how “noir everywhere insinuated contempt for a depraved business culture while it simultaneously searched for a critical mode of writing or filmmaking within it.” Thus in the “through-the-glass-darkly” novels of this new genre, early noir writers created “a regional fiction obsessively concerned with puncturing the bloated image of Southern California as the golden land of opportunity and the fresh start.” In so doing, they transformed “each charming ingredient of the booster’s arcadia into a sinister equivalent.” [Read more…]
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By Jimmy Santiago Baca
How stunning the morning desert was to Vito. His heart burst with pleasure and a desire for his childhood days when the sun radiated one tiny ray of faith on his life, a ray that had weight, one he could toss from hand to hand and hold up and carry in his pocket and embrace before sleep and kiss at daybreak.
Fields steamed dew as the pickers arrived. Men, women, and children humped in the furrows, picking. Carmen slept the whole way. He was thinking bad thoughts as her chest rose and fell. He looked away, told himself to stop thinking of touching her. He told himself to shake it out of his head, he could control his mind, he was a trained boxer, he could discipline his body and mind, he could fuck any chick he wanted, but something else was pulling him.
In the miles that stretched out before them he wished Carmen wasn’t engaged to his brother, that she was like so many he’d had—a free-loving chick who just wanted to fuck all night. But no, he was on a mission, and he would never betray his brother.
Still, he reached out and his fingers grazed her cheek and the sweetness of her sleeping face and her breath made something in his chest tighten. [Read more…]
San Diego City Works Press Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Anthology:
“Sunshine/Noir II: Writing From San Diego and Tijuana”
Friday, October 16th at 6:00 PM at the Glashaus Mainspace
1815 Main Street in Barrio Logan
By Jim Miller
This fall, San Diego City Works Press marks its 10th anniversary with the release of Sunshine/Noir II: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana, an anthology of local writing about San Diego edited by Kelly Mayhew and myself.
Sunshine/Noir II is dedicated to the late local poet Steve Kowit, who was an original member of the San Diego Writers Collective and, as so many San Diego writers can attest to, a fellow traveler and one of our community’s great treasures. His work appears in the anthology along with poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from Sandra Alcosser, Marilyn Chin, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Stephen-Paul Martin, Mel Freilicher, Elizabeth Cazessús, Perry Vasquez, and many more. Local journalist Kinsee Morlan formerly of San Diego City Beat as well as Doug Porter, Anna Daniels, Brent Beltran, and Frank Gormlie of the SD Free Press and OB Rag appear in the anthology along with former SDUT Book Review editor and columnist Arthur Salm.
November 1st Deadline Approaching
By Jim Miller
San Diego City Works Press is still accepting submissions for Sunshine/Noir II until November 1st. In particular we are looking for creative non-fiction pieces about underrepresented communities in San Diego and generally uncovered topics with regard to life in our region. We are also looking for good fiction, poetry, and artwork that runs against the grain of San Diego’s official story.
SDCWP is run by a 100% non-profit collective and is the only small literary press in San Diego that focuses primarily on the publication of local writers with an emphasis on our region that moves beyond the postcard version of our reality. In an era where commercial forces and hegemonic instrumentality are drowning out what remains of literary culture, we have persisted against the odds. We invite all interested parties to be a part of our beautifully useless endeavor.
To celebrate our tenth anniversary, we are putting together a second edition of our first anthology, Sunshine/Noir II. All local writers are encouraged to submit work for consideration. [Read more…]
By Jim Miller
San Diego City Works Press is soon approaching its 10-year anniversary. SDCWP is run by a 100% non-profit collective and is the only small literary press in San Diego that focuses primarily on the publication of local writers with an emphasis on our region that moves beyond the postcard version of our reality.
In an era where commercial forces and hegemonic instrumentality are drowning out what remains of literary culture, we have persisted against the odds. We invite all interested parties to be a part of our beautifully useless endeavor.
To celebrate our anniversary, we are putting together a second edition of our first anthology, Sunshine/Noir II. All local writers are encouraged to submit work for consideration. [Read more…]
San Diego City Works Press is a project of the San Diego Writers Collective, which is a group of San Diego writers, poets, artists, and patrons dedicated to the publication and promotion of the work of San Diego area artists of all sorts. Our specific interests include local, ethnic, and border writing as well as formal innovation and progressive politics.
The Collective’s main focus is local, but we have engaged in occasional collaborations with writers from around the world. City Works Press is an all-volunteer non-profit, funded by local writers and friends of the arts, committed to the publication of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and art by members of the San Diego City College community and beyond.
Sunday, October 21, at 4:30 at Tiger!Tiger! City Works Press, in concert with Verbatim Books, is proud to present the release reading for local novelist Josh Turner and San Diego poet, Joe Medina. Fall 2018 marks 13 years of publication by SD City Works Press, and Baxt and Medina’s works continue our tradition of birthing first books by homegrown authors. [Read more…]
Jim Miller has written about Golden Hill.
Anna Daniels has written about City Heights.
Brent Beltrán has written about Barrio Logan.
Barbara Zaragoza has written about the South Bay.
Maria Garcia’s series The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights has won numerous local and state awards. She continues the people’s history with her current series Latinos in San Diego.
The “San Diego Noir” and “Sunshine Noir II” series showcased an anthology of local writing about San Diego.
This is just a glimpse of the countless compelling and detailed articles published here at the San Diego Free Press. They provide a unique look into the working class lives and diverse communities that make San Diego what it is today.
Support the San Diego Free Press‘ People’s History project today!
San Diego Free Press
2358 University Avenue #1573
San Diego, CA, 92104
Donations are not tax deductible, but they are really good karma! [Read more…]
By Mukul Khurana
It is important that we nurture and encourage the next generation of artists. The Circus Collective of San Diego pools just that kind of talent (the next generation kind…). Their stated mission is to “blur the lines between circus and theater.” Given their background, that means that the physicality of the circus will prevail over the emotionality of theater, right? How does a circus troupe merge acrobatics, juggling, contortion, and aerial arts with the hyper theatricality of a “noir performance?” Can it be done successfully?
Initially, the set design of Circustantial Evidence: The Crimson Canary was on the sparse side. The music telegraphed a clear message—it was a mystery—a “whodunit…” This is a good time to give credit to the excellent musicians in the piece. Gina Granier (Piano), Aaron Pratts (Trumpet), and David Bramley (Drums/Guitar) gave a consistently great performance. They underlined the mood of the acts perfectly. The cast assembled at the base of a pole. We got a sampling of circus acts to come. And then, the sets were assembled. The dialogue and set up pointed to a noir mystery. [Read more…]
By Michael Billingsley
The morning of January 15, 1976 started out just like any other in the Skyline neighborhood of southeast San Diego, but there were two special things that set this day apart. For one, it was the day before my 14th birthday. Second, it was the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
There had been a movement to make MLK’s birthday a national holiday—in fact, African Americans all over the country started celebrating before it became a legal holiday. One of the things that appealed to me was that my birthday was on January 16, one day after Dr. King’s and the day before Muhammad Ali’s. [Read more…]
By Mario Lewis
“In the mid- to early ’70s my sister and I went to a Chargers game with my father. We (are) actually Raiders fans. My father, is a nice—nice-size man with some nice-size arms and everything and we were enjoying ourselves at the game and at the end of the game these four white guys were following my father out of the game calling him the n-word. Calling US the n-word, I should say.
“I was a youngster. I was maybe about 10 or 11 years old, if that. And so my father had a van and so my father, I guess he knew that he was about to get into a confrontation with ’em because they followed us all the way to the car. My father told us—he said ‘Run and lock yourself in the van.’ Right. So me and my sister ran and we locked ourselves in the van. [Read more…]
Grim Reality in “America’s Finest City”
By Susan Duerksen
“Living in poverty” is one of those shorthand terms that rolls easily off the tongues of news anchors and politicians before they turn to the next topic. We all tend to glaze over the full meaning of the phrase, the grinding day-to-day misery of hunger, worry, discomfort, exhaustion, and despair.
In the city of San Diego, the proportion and number of people living in poverty edged up in 2013. It should have gone down. Instead, 7,000 more people in the city live in poverty now, in addition to the 202,000 who remain in that dire situation from the previous year.
Statistically, it was a small increase, nothing drastic. When the Center on Policy Initiatives reported it in an analysis (63) of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the main response from local media and others was a yawn.
But consider what that statistic means. It counts only the people whose household income is below the federal poverty threshold, an absurdly low measure in high-cost places like San Diego. The threshold is the same everywhere in the U.S. and varies only by family size; for example, it’s about $12,000 for a single person and about $24,000 for two adults with two children. That’s per year. [Read more…]
The wall is the materialized representation of this idea of a border. In English people call it a “fence” and in the U.S. that fence means “defense”; something that in American minds brings protection. Interestingly enough you would have to ask them, “Protection from who or what?” And this same wall or barrier or fence means an “offense” to Mexicans.
—Norma Iglesias Prieto
By Perry Vasquez
The U.S./Mexico border is falling apart. Like Chipotle Swiss cheese, it is shot through with gaps, holes, lacunae, erasures, and stretches of emptiness. The border exists—but at times its existence seems to collapse beneath the weight of its own sovereignty.
How does the border both exist and not exist at the same time? How does it manage to appear in strategic locations and disappear in non-strategic ones? Why do we think of the border as having a fixed and permanent national identity instead of a contingent and temporary one?
Like every national myth, the U.S./Mexico border began life as a collective act of imagination. [Read more…]