What Are You Shooting For? by Roberto Rubalcava et. al. 1993

This mural no longer exists. I thought it was one of the best ones in Los Angeles, because it was so postmodern, but also specific to its location and time. I didn’t realize, until I did research, that it was created in 1993, a long time ago. It was created not long after the term “postmodern” was coined by Lyotard in 1979.

Because there are no searches that show this mural in web searches, I figured I’d better increase this art’s footprint on the web.

Image by Robin Dunitz, from USC Digital Library.

From the LA Times Archives, BOYLE HEIGHTS : Artist Drives Home Message With Mural, by Mary Ann Perez:

On the south end of the building, Roberto Rubalcava designed another mural, titled “What Are You Shooting For?” Organizers also want to install a basketball backboard on that wall, which incorporates several messages Rubalcava hopes will cause people to think about their future.

The mural, with the image of a gang member shooting a gun, includes statistics on teen-age suicide, homicide, child abuse and teen-age pregnancy.

“I know that even if it changes one person, I think that’s important,” Rubalcava, 24, said. “I think when people see numbers, it makes it more concrete and if they pass it every day, just like rap music, they memorize the lyrics. Hopefully, this will become ingrained in their minds.”

I had a photo of this mural, but in much worse condition, from around 2015. I wish I hadn’t deleted it, because it wasn’t interrupted by a vehicle in front of it.

With every photo, there’s an additional layer of interpretation to the phrase, “what are you shooting for?”

Robin Dunitz was shooting for a career, as a photographer and archivist of murals.

I was shooting a photograph for pleasure, as an observer, and also a voyeur of messages that weren’t addressing me. I was not the BH resident of 1993, facing the violence down at Hollenbeck Park.

The cholo faces the photographer, and the words address the photographer. If the viewer is a cholo, who is being asked the question? The guy in the mural, and the viewer, at the same time? He’s shooting at a target, imperfectly, but he’s shooting for sport and skill, not shooting to kill or in self-defense.

On the left side of the mural is a big red STOP sign, again, directly addressing the viewer. Stop what? Stop and view the mural? Stop the violence? Stop the death?

The skull with the top blown out, was someone whose life was stopped by a bullet.

The left side, the STOP side, looks more primitive or conventional in style, like a cartoon, while the right side, also cartoonish, is layered with the tropes of “gangster rap” hip hop: wild style lettering, a woman in silhouette, and the cholo with a gun. These are the images of the illegal graffiti mural.

The left side also has tropes that are present in other eastside publicly funded murals, of which this project is one: the graduate, the athlete, the chalkboard in a classroom. These are all intended to be inspirational messages, but are also “fundable” messages.

Between the two sides, you have a thin woman with a large bosom, in a shirt that might be interpreted as “gangster” of the time, placing what looks like a slice of apple atop a pencil. The words on the chalkboard read “the hands that destroy can also create”. In low-contrast pink letters, up higher, it reads “an illegal production”.

Also, in between, was a space intended for a basketball hoop, so the “jumpman” in the mural would be dunking into a basketball hoop. This interactive element would contribute to the active destruction of the mural, as the ball hitting the paint would damage the surface, while the hoop provided the opportunity for an anti-gang activity promoted within the mural.

As of 2020, the wall now hosts this mural:

Funny Hollywood Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Memes

Burn, Hollywood, Burn. Pirate every movie.

These are by Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay.

Scarjo. GTFOH. Burn, Hollywood, burn. Pirate every movie.

Fuckin Mickey Rooney. WTH? Burn, Hollywood, burn. Pirate every movie.

David Carradine. Piece of shit. Burn, Hollywood, burn. Pirate every movie.

I know, this is #bobaliberalism.

Corned Beef

This Easter we ran out of corned beef, despite having bought three packs of the stuff. St. Pats to Easter is, for Japanese Americans, corned beef season. I don’t know why, but it is. Maybe it’s a Catholic influence. The traditional form is boiled with cabbage, carrots, celery, and served with rice. Either in the soup, or on the plate. So we can keep it kosher, too, for Jesus.

Continue reading “Corned Beef”

Letter to Congress about DeJoy

Dear ____:

We need the USPS board to fire DeJoy and replace him with someone who isn’t out to sabotage the USPS.

I sometimes sell on Ebay and other online stores, and have sent around 1,000 packages in the past few years. USPS, in the past, was amazing. It was competitively priced and fast, especially if you used Priority Mail. The whole system ran especially smoothly, for people who printed postage at home.

I’ve lost several packages in the mail. I think I’ve lost five. Three were lost during this DeJoy regime.

Under DeJoy, the packages and letters take longer to arrive. In the past, they arrived ahead of schedule. If I was working hard to get the parcels done early, I could sometimes beat Amazon Prime delivery. The system was that good.

Today, they sometimes suffer long delays.

I know there’s a pandemic happening. We’re all able to accept slower delivery, but packages are going missing entirely.

I’ve heard horror stories of the USPS not giving out overtime… but the carriers are still staying late to finish their work.

From the outside, it looks like DeJoy is sabotaging the USPS.

Please, change the management, and let the USPS shine again.

Eviction of Seniors to a COVID-19 Impacted Facility

This ongoing story of the patients of Sakura Gardens ICF, formerly Keiro, is looking bad, with a looming threat that residents will be transferred to the Kei-Ai nursing home facility, which has the highest COVID-19 death rate in California.

Ongoing information is published at the group fighting these transfers, Save Our Seniors.

For a comprehensive explanation of the situation, and the backstory of how this fits into Boyle Heights gentrification and the racist history of healthcare, listen to this show at Public Intellectuals.

Key points of action: support AB279, by writing to your Assembly member (and state Senator).

Call your CA State legislators to support AB279! Send thank you’s to Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi and Miguel Santiago. Find your reps here:

http://www.legislature.ca.gov/your_legislator.html

“Existing law requires the State Department of Public Health to license, inspect, and regulate intermediate care facilities (ICF) and skilled nursing facilities (SNF). Existing law generally requires an ICF or SNF to comply with certain procedures and disclosures when transferring ownership or management of the facility, as specified. Existing law imposes criminal penalties on a person who violates the requirements imposed on these facilities.

This bill would prohibit the owner of an ICF or SNF from ceasing to deliver or making significant changes to the nature of residential care services, or from transferring a resident to another facility, during any declared state of emergency relating to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), except if the owner files for bankruptcy. The bill would require, upon termination of the same type of state of emergency, the owner of an ICF or SNF to issue a 6-month advance notice of any proposed sale or termination of the licensed operation of the facility to each resident before the sale or termination goes into effect. The bill would also prohibit during the same type of state of emergency, any changes in all conditions for the sale of assets imposed by the Attorney General, except if the owner of an ICF or SNF files for bankruptcy. By expanding the requirements and prohibitions imposed on a licensee of ICF or SNF, the failure to comply with would be a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would repeal these provisions on January 1, 2026.”

COVID-19 Vaccination Inequality

These are a few stories about how vaccination efforts to focus on the groups facing the most infection were undermined, and led to privileged people getting vaccinated.

Los Angeles TL;DR: California and Los Angeles need to focus on getting vaccinations to working class Latino communities, which are extremely under-vaccinated.

Los Angeles Times: Work-at-Homers Got Appointment Codes Intended for Impacted Populations

Los Angeles Times: Rich People Get Vaccinated Way More Than Working Class Essential Workers’ Communities (my paraphrase)

CNN: A vaccination site meant to serve a hard-hit Latino neighborhood in New York instead serviced more Whites from other areas

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/30/us/new-york-vaccine-disparities/index.html

My comment about this:

Yeah, it’s like the world forgot the digital divide. It was never really addressed. It seemed like a rhetorical device to give telcos money to address it.

Telecom’s now like the most neoliberal, market-centered utility, and it’s helping to kill people. It kills people with barriers to medical care. It kills people with ewaste. It kills people through labor abuse. It’s killing all these people who are “invisible”.

Meanwhile, Americans are worried about being tracked for ads, and privacy, and a raft of other individualistic issues that, while very important, are not as important as not-harming-people.

Kaiser Family Foundation

This has a chart where you can filter by race. In California, vaccination rates mostly match population, and cases, except for Latinos, who are seeing huge numbers of cases, but not much vaccination.

My Take: On High Rates of Infection in the Latino Communities

Henry George’s Racist Screed Against Chinese People in California, New York Tribune, May 1, 1869

I was forwarded a paper that was published in a journal. I wondered what the journal was about, and found that they were looking to preserve the intellectual lineage of Henry George, a late 19th century philosopher and early Progressive reformer of capitalism. He wanted land to be held in common, and was known for the “Single Tax” of a 100% land tax. His ideas went out of fashion, but has always found a following, including a renewed one online, and at one point, I spent a while reading some of his old texts.

Continue reading “Henry George’s Racist Screed Against Chinese People in California, New York Tribune, May 1, 1869”

On High Rates of Infection in the Latino Communities

The management of this pandemic is racist as hell. I looked back over my emails and some posts, and I was going off on the issue of essential workers and crowded housing back in April of 2020.

This barely ever came up in the media as an important factor in the spread of COVID-19, until very recently. I just saw it on ABC 7. IT TOOK 10 FREAKING MONTHS.

They had to wait until so many Latinos died that it created a statistical anomaly, and then it had to be explained.

Un freaking real.

The only other places I saw this discussed were in some East LA and Boyle Heights groups, and even there, it wasn’t that widespread, and rarely got into any depth. I actually remember one conversation I had about it, because it wasn’t that common.

Also, now, there’s a whole other problem: it’s being treated like a race issue, when it’s really an issue of labor and housing. People are being forced to work, and they are in crowded homes.

So, we’re going to find out that this problem has probably affected all communities, but we just didn’t see it because of statistics: white people who are in crowded situations are a tiny minority of the white population; Asian working class people in crowded situations are more common, but there’s also these upper-middle-class people who have plenty of space, and throw off the stats – there’s no middle there; Black people are seeing the same situation as Latinos, but they have their own dynamics that might mitigate the effects a little bit.

This post was originally on Facebook, and it generated some discussion there, so I posted it here.