Chavela Captures the Essence of a Ranchera Icon

On January 25, 2018, in Uncategorized, by Zamná Ávila

By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

Filmmakers Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi are making sure rancheragreat Chavela Vargas is never forgotten. Their documentary, Chavela, explores the life of the singer through interviews, images and, of course, music.

The 25-year project illustrates the life of a woman who used music as an instrument to release her pain, which she gifted to her audience. The film, which was screened in early January at the Art Theatre in Long Beach, will have an encore presentation in February.

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Only Sissies Like Yellow

On January 11, 2018, in Uncategorized, by Zamná Ávila

Tom of Finland Explores the Influence of the Man Behind the Leather

By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

Among many gay men, Tom of Finland is a well-known name. When I learned there was a movie about his life, I wasn’t interested in seeing it. I prejudged the film because of my opinions against fostering unattainable fantasies that produce negative self-image issues in men.

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Platform Places Activism Experience on SameSide

On December 21, 2017, in Uncategorized, by Zamná Ávila

By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

These days, the extent of our outrage at public policy, government misdeeds or private injustice comes in the form of a retweet, a repost or an online rant in all caps in 140 characters or less. Indeed, if there is ever a revolution, it won’t be televised, but it won’t happen in the wake of mass marches either.

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Circus Vargas’ Steam Cirque Updates Tradition

On November 10, 2017, in Uncategorized, by Zamná Ávila

By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

It has been around for nearly 50 years. Circus Vargas’ new show, Steam Cirqueexemplifies the circus industry’s blending of traditional acts with modern requisites. This year, San Pedro will host Steam Cirque from Nov. 16 through 20.The circus that emerged in the 19th century, complete with dancing lions, tigers, elephants and bears are a thing of the past. These days, circuses are reinventing the performances with imagination and wonder. Circus Vargas is no different.

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Harbor Gathers to the Call of the Elders

On October 20, 2017, in Uncategorized, by Zamná Ávila

By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

Columbus Day was a flash point on the 525th anniversary of his voyage to the New World. Recently, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-1, Councilman Joe Buscaino opposed, to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. But the struggle isn’t over for indigenous people. The education system still largely ignores native histories.

“The history of this country is not told properly,” said John Funmaker, a community activist and spiritual Ho-Chunk leader. “It’s often ended in violence.”

For Native Americans, oral history is and has been a way to heal and reconnect with their ancestors. It offers a pathway to generations through time, identity and culture. Many Winters Elders’ Gathering, Oct. 12 through 15 at Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro will offer that opportunity for Harbor Area residents.

“The elders will bring their history through words, songs, dance,” said George Funmaker, John’s son. “We wanted to come back to the earth and return back to our culture through our elders…. Being in the city, we are disconnected from a lot of the culture. That’s why it’s important to have this event.”

The mission system, for example, still is venerated in California, ignoring the thousands of families torn apart when children were displaced and forced to assimilate Eurocentric standards. The Catholic church even canonized Junipero Serra who forced the conversion of many natives.

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Long Beach Goes Sanctuary

On October 3, 2017, in Uncategorized, by Zamná Ávila

On Sept. 19, chants from outside the overflowing Long Beach City Hall could be heard throughout the almost eight hours it took the city council to hear a motion that would help its undocumented community.

“What do we want?”


“When do we want it?


“Sí se puede!”

“Let us in!”

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Hotel Workers Ordinance Fails to Pass

On September 28, 2017, in Uncategorized, by Zamná Ávila

By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

Elida Aguirre, representing the Campaign to Stand with Women, told the Long Beach City Council she has worked at the Maya Hotel in Long Beach for 19 years.

“I am here because I am a housekeeper and I know what it feels to be woman when faced with the threat of sexual harassment from guests,” Aguirre said. “Sometimes we have to work in our areas and if something happens to us we don’t know if someone will hear us if we need help. I have marched in the streets many times and come to city council meetings more times than I can count…. I am tired of asking for support without a clear answer.”

Sept. 19 was no different. The city council voted 5-4 against a measure that would have provided hotel workers with greater safety tools against harassment and established workload limitations. Voting no were District 3 Councilwoman Suzie Price, District 4 Councilman Daryl Supernaw, District 5 Stacy Mungo, District 6 Councilman Dee Andrews and District Councilman 8 Al Austin.

The measure, which concerned hotels with 100 or more rooms, failed to pass despite support from politicians such as Rep. Alan Lowenthal and Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn. Attendees left the council chambers screaming, “Shame on you!”

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Los Rostros de DACA

On September 15, 2017, in Uncategorized, by Zamná Ávila

Dreamers Face the Death of DACA

By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

Diana Hernandez was only 2 years old when her mother brought her to America.

Her single mother was encouraged by her two other siblings to come to the land of opportunities and provide a better life for her children.

“I don’t remember anything from when I was 2 years old,” Hernandez, 19, remarks. “I knew we were very poor, but I didn’t know I was undocumented.”

Hernandez always wanted to be a doctor, but her dreams were stymied when conversations about college began to surface.

“[My mother said,] ‘I am here to help you and support you, but first, I don’t know if we can afford it and second of all we don’t have papers, no tenemos papeles,’” Hernandez, who grew up in San Pedro, said. “I was bummed out many times. ‘What if all my hard work doesn’t pay off?”

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Columbus Day: A Legacy of Tyranny

On August 21, 2017, in Uncategorized, by Zamná Ávila

#SomosIndigenas #IndigenousPeoplesDay

By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

On Aug. 8, Councilman Joe Buscaino released a letter urging constituents to attend the Aug. 22 Los Angeles City Council meeting and oppose what he called a “misguided proposal” to replace references to Columbus Day in official city documents with Indigenous People’s Day.

In that letter, Buscaino chose to wrap Columbus in the value cloth of willful immigration and diversity. He even goes so far as to say,  “Columbus, or Columbia, is no longer about a man … it is now a universal theme.”

As a first-generation Chicano of indigenous Mayan ancestry, I find Buscaino’s call for action deeply troubling.

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By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor


Celia Cruz

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a radio station playing Celia Cruz’s hit song, Carnaval. I lingered on the dial hoping to catch some more cumbia, merengue or salsa. (I grew up listening  to tropical rhythms.)

Yet, instead of the next rhythm to get me moving and singing in my car, the station’s program hosts came on.

They began recapping the Oscars from the night before. As you may recall, Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner for Best Picture at the end of the night, awarding the trophy to La La Land when it actually was supposed to go to Moonlight.

One of radio hosts jokingly referred to a black man in Moonlight as “carbon” (charcoal). He later said he didn’t care for Mexican award-winning actor Gael García Bernal’s speech on immigration because he’s kissed “vatos” (dudes), referring to some of the characters García Bernal has interpreted on screen.

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