• Progressive Democratic Club Release Endorsements for June 5, 2012 Primary

    FEDERAL OFFICES:

    President(& Vice-President)

     

     

     

     

    Honorable Barack Obama/Honorable Joseph “Joe” Biden

    Congress

    Senate:

    • Dianne Fienstein

    House of Representatives:

    • 33rd District: Honorable Henry Waxman
    • 43rd District: Honorable Maxine Waters
    • 44th District: Honorable Janice Hahn
    • 47th District: Peter Mathews

    CALIFORNIA STATE OFFICES:

    State Senate:

    • 35th District: Paul Butterfield

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  • By the Numbers: California’s June 2012 Primary

    17,153,699

    Californians registered to vote in the June 5, 2012, Presidential Primary Election

    21,993

    Precincts throughout the state’s 58 counties

    154

    Legislative and congressional seats up for election (20 State Senate, 80 State Assembly, 1 U.S.Senate, 53 U.S. House of Representatives)

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  • A “Ho, Hum” June Primary

    By Ann Cleaves

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  • Memories of Doc

    By Bernie Pearl

    The news of the passing of the great guitar-man Doc Watson this week evoked some fond memories and I’d like to share them with you.

    The early 1960’s were years of great musical discoveries generally and personally. I had met Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Jesse Fuller, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Rev. Gary Davis, and many other greats of American traditional music. I had the opportunity to see them perform  many, many times, and had availed myself of their knowledge in informal settings and through paid lessons (Brownie and Lightnin’).

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  • NOM: An Astroturf Web of Deception

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    Originally Published in the print edition of Random Lengths News, April 5, 2012

    Astroturf organizations are good at creating deceptive names for themselves and the “causes” on behalf of which they advocate.

    The term astroturf refers to the building of a grassroots program for the purpose of manufacturing public support for a point of view in which either uninformed activists are recruited or deceptive means are used to recruit them. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “deceive” as an act to make a person “believe what is not true; delude; mislead.” And, like some people who believe in the devil say, deception takes all sorts of shapes, forms and color. It can even come in a simple name.

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  • In The Times of a Butterfly

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    Chinese master paper cutter, Xiyadie (pronounced Zhee-yá-dee), has been exhibiting his work, The Metamorphosis of a Butterfly: A kaleidoscopic vision of life by a gay Chinese artist at Flazh!Alley Art Studio in San Pedro, in conjunction with The Center Long Beach.

    Consisting of more than 50 works, Butterfly celebrates the artist’s his family and same-sex life transcending discrimination and social stigma in China. His work will remain on display through July 14.

    To the naked eye, Xiyadie simply marries the traditional Chinese art of paper cutting with same-sex erotica. But hidden in the intricate patterns of the cutouts is his story detailing his struggles as a gay, married father of a son with cerebral palsy.

    “(My art is about) living and feeling,” Xiyadie said through his interpreter, Alan Quach. “My feeling with my living is different because I have a lot of pain and suffering in my past, so that is why I have stronger feeling to express my art.”

    In Chinese, Xiyadie means Siberian butterfly. He chose that pseudonym to mask his identity. It is a symbol analogous to the freezing winds that blow from Siberia.

    His collections detailing aspects of his personal story made from red paper cutouts illustrate his love for his family, his challenges and his dreams for them.

    “Joy 14,” an intricately cut example of the family series depicts the interaction between the artist’s mother and son, both of whom are ill. His son, who only can move his foot, massages his grandmother’s legs to relieve her pain.

    In “Letter,” Xiyadie displays how his son’s sister reads a letter from their mother and love of the mother pours through the paper, and moves the dog and bird.

    Paper cutting originated in Eastern Han Dynasty of China between 25 and 220 A.D., which has been passed down from generation to generation.

    Xiyadie grew up poor in the Shen xi Province of China and his family were farmers skilled in the art of paper cutting–skill handed down though several generations in his family. At 16 years old he followed in their footsteps, albeit with a spin of his own. In the beginning, it was just something he did for fun.

    It wasn’t until after he was married, at the age of 26, that he began to recognize his homosexuality. He had same-sex encounters in his teenage years, but he hadn’t associated them with being gay. As with other gay men of his culture, his traditional upbringing dictated that he would marry and have children. It wasn’t until he moved to Beijing that he fully began to accept his sexuality.

    “Before I came to Beijing I had a lot pain,”he said. “I tried to change myself to not be a gay person, but I couldn’t. In my mind, gay life is beautiful, so I cannot put it [out of] my mind.”

    Xiyadie depicts this struggle in many of his art pieces, such as “The Door” series, which deploys color cut-outs depicting nature and red doors to convey the narrative of his male-on-male desire and the beauty and pain of his coming out process.

    Other works go deeper into his family life, dreams and pain.

    “Joy 18,” a red-paper cutout, explains his and his wife’s decision to stay together for the sake of keeping the family together. The cutout depicts Xiyadie lost in a war with his wife ready to leave, but not before encountering his son, who buries his head on Xiyadie chest crying.

    The “Vase” is a symbol of peace and prosperity. It he shows an androgynous couple copulating. The head of one of those two people extends outside of the vase and spews beautiful flowers from several stems that touch a centerpiece on top of the figure’s head, the symbol of the happiness of marriage. It is this sense of empowerment and harmony that he’s been able extract through his artwork.

    “Cutting this thing I have to have a lot of imagination,” he said. “Through my imagination, I am the creator;  I’m the king. So, cutting paper is not cutting my skin, cutting my body, it’s cutting paper.

    “I can do whatever I want. I create the whole work… That’s why in my product, you always see a lot of nature like birds, trees, flowers; all connect from nature.”

    In China, authorities largely turn a blind eye to homosexuality as long as it is not obvious. His work would be confiscated if they were to be displayed without proper permits. Although it is has not been illegal to be homosexual since 1997, it also is not encouraged by authorities to live an openly gay life.

    Authorities are known to shut down events and establishments that are perceived to promote homosexuality, even if there is almost underground-like activities such as gay nightclubs. As with most places in the world, small towns are more conservative and more heavily censored. His work is, thus, not able to publicly be displayed in China.

    Freedom is more a matter of connections and a matter of whom you know in China, he said. For example in Beijing, people seem to be more open to homosexuality, as long as criminal acts do not take place. His work has been displayed in gay and lesbian festival in Beijing.

    “I don’t care whether it is private or public,” he said. “I do these things for myself…  I lived in Beijing for 8 years, I don’t have television, radio. I don’t know what’s going on outside with the politicians. I just do my art work … I never complain about government because I don’t have experience with government.”

    Although Xiyadie is not concerned with pushing any social or political messages, he’s glad he’s impacted the lives of others. Like his Siberian namesake, Xiyadie revels in his freedom of expression even under severe cold climates, where it must rise against adversity.

    “When I do my product, I don’t think about what people want, what people need, what people enjoy, what people think about it;  I don’t care,” he said. “I just care about what I want. I just, like a butterfly, fly everywhere I want to go.

    “If I think about what people like, what people want, what people enjoy, my art has a limit; it doesn’t belong to me; it belongs to other people.”

    Flazh!Alley Art Studio will be open by appointment and with a special Pride schedule:
    7 to 10 p.m. June 8
    12 to 6 p.m. June 9
    2 to 6 p.m. June 20
    Details: (310) 833-3633
    Venue: Flazh!Alley Art Studio
    Location: 1113 Pacific Ave., Long Beach

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  • Homeowners Bill of Rights May Go the Way of the 48 State Settlement

    By Sherry Hernandez, Author and Member of Occupy San Pedro

    When the US housing market tanked in 2008, former Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan admitted “that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to anticipate the self-destructive power of wanton mortgage lending.”

    You would hope that by year four of dealing with the fallout from the financial sector’s hubris that some of Greenspan’s newfound humility would have spread throughout the industry. Apparently it has not.

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  • Foreclosure Workshop for the 99%

    On June 16, Occupy San Pedro is hosting a workshop to assist homeowners that are either in the pre-forclosure process or beyond, and struggling to make onerous mortgage payments. The workshop is intended to not only provide information and direct troubled homeowners to resources, but also function as a support group for homeowners dealing with the same issues. The workshop is from 9a.m. to 2p.m. and it’s free. 

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  • Public Interest Journalists Expose Mortgage Settlement Bait and Switch

    On May 22, Propublica published a story highlighting how states are spending the $26 billion the states won as a result of negotiations between the nation’s state attorney generals and the nation’s biggest banks to forestall the massive number of lawsuits were facing as result of bank malfeasance leading millions of foreclosures and the financial crisis that plummeted the nation into a deep recession.

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  • After the Settlement Settles…

    By Sherry Hernandez, Author and Member of Occupy San Pedro

    Originally published in the Feb. 23, 2012 edition of Random Lengths News

    Legend has it the Europeans purchased Manhattan for $24 worth of beads and mirrors almost 400 years ago. On Feb. 9, the U.S. Attorney Generals sold out the American people for $26 billion dollars to the banks that have defrauded our American dream.

    The terms of the settlement has not yet been officially released. The terms need to be signed off by a judge and the results might not be in effect for more than a year. What this means to the home buyers is that the banks will escalate their foreclosures while they still can. Most of us will not see any relief for quite some time and others have already lost their homes and future revenue. The banks that brought on this massive fraud are getting by with a slap on the wrist. The $26 billion dollars is a paltry sum for causing the American people more than $700 billion in underwater debt.

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