"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

New El Paso History Titles

There are a few El Paso history titles I wanted to mention.

One came out last year, but I think it's been published before:

Historic Photos of El Paso by Sandra Fye.

Book description: El Paso is a city with an international history and culture that is tied to the Rio Grande. Native Americans followed the river and traded with other groups that lived near it. With the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1848, the Rio Grande became the international boundary between the United States and Mexico.

Historic Photos of El Paso is a gorgeous photographic history of this important American city spotlighting photographs collected from the most prominent local and state archives. The multicultural diversity of the area adds to its rich heritage and economic success, as these striking photographs demonstrate. In rarely seen black and white photography, this handsome coffee table book details the historical growth of El Paso up to recent times. Filled with nearly 200 beautiful black-and-white images, Turner Publishing's Historic Photos of El Paso offers a unique and compelling look into the past for any resident and/or history buff alike.

About the Author: Sandra Fye has a Bachelor of Art degree in Geography, with an English Minor, from the University of New Mexico. Her favorite place in El Paso is the El Paso Museum of Art. She became interested in the history of El Paso when she saw an Otis Aultman photograph album about the Mexican Revolution; a book about the architect Henry C. Trost added to her interest. She likes photography, history, and art.

Street Railways of El Paso (Images of Rail) by Ronald Dawson

Description: Spanish explorers traveling north from Mexico in 1581 crossed the Rio Grande at present-day El Paso and called the area El Paso Del Norte, or “the pass of the north.” Two cities were linked together: Ciudad Juarez and El Paso. In 1881, the railroad brought even more people to El Paso. What had been a sleepy adobe town became a vibrant, bustling city. Public transportation was established with a mule-car system in 1882 and ran for 20 years. The first electric cars were introduced in 1902 and were also very successful, serving all parts of the city and establishing neighborhoods. At the zenith of the system, there were 63 miles of track, 17 routes, and over 100 streetcars. In those days, everyone used the electric cars.

I've really liked these Arcadia Publishing books such as the Mexicans of Chicago and so forth. Dawson had an earlier book on streetcars of El Paso published at the beginning of the decade.

El Paso:: 1850-1950 (Images of America) by James R. Murphy

Book Description: Located at the far western tip of Texas, the city of El Paso is bordered on the north by New Mexico and on the south by the city of Juarez, Mexico. The area’s recorded history dates back more than 400 years when Spanish missionaries gave the region its name: El Paso del Norté, or The Pass of the North. Between 1850 and 1950, El Paso’s growth was influenced by a variety of people and events. The “four dead in five seconds” shootout in 1881 gave El Paso the short-lived nickname “Six-Shooter Capital” until the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, happened later that year. When the railroad arrived, El Paso was abruptly transformed from a sleepy, adobe village to a vital international crossroads. The Mexican Revolution influenced the city in the early part of the 20th century, and the 1920s saw Prohibition energize the local tourist trade with barrooms and gambling available just across the border. El Paso also became an inland Ellis Island, with thousands of immigrants entering the United States eager for a new start. This book examines the early years of El Paso’s evolution.

Author James R. Murphy is the director of development for the El Paso Museum of History. Along with the assistance of many individuals within the El Paso historical community, Murphy has created this early pictorial history of the region by showcasing more than 200 vintage photographs.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reflections of Lalo: Lalo Delgado's 77th Birthday

Reflections of Lalo

Please join us in celebrating the late Lalo Delgado’s 77th birthday –

a true humanitarian and social-justice crusader

Friday, Nov. 20, 2009 at 7 p.m. Soft Opening


Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 at 7 p.m. Special Reception

La Fe Culture and Technology Center

721 S. Ochoa St. (Rear Building)

El Paso, TX 79901

For additional information contact: (915) 545-7190

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New book: Literary El Paso

This new anthology features many of El Paso's Chicano writers. Not only looking at creative writers, journalists such as Ruben Salazar and Ramon Renteria are included.

Book description:

The latest addition to the successful literary citieis series by Texas Christian University Press, Literary El Paso brings attention to the often overlooked extraordinary literary heritage of this city in far West Texas. El Paso is the largest metropolitan area along the U.S.–Mexico border and is geographically isolated from the rest of Texas. It is in this splendid isolation surrounded by mountains in the midst of the beautiful Chihuahuan Desert that many award-winning writers found their literary voices. Literary El Paso features bilingual selections to reflect the bi-cultural environment of the region and the state.

Daudistel uses her years of publishing experience in El Paso to gather the works of past, present, and emerging writers of the Borderlands. Historical essays, fiction, journalism, and poetry portray the colorful history and vibrant present of this city on the border through the works of sixty-three writers.

Once a backdrop to the Mexican Revolution, El Paso was also home to infamous outlaws. Historians C. L. Sonnichsen and Leon Metz write on the gunmen and lawmen of El Paso including John Wesley Hardin, Dallas Stoudenmire and Bass Outlaw. There are feature stories from award-winning journalists Ruben Salazar early in his newspaper career, Ramón Rentería with the last interview of poet Ricardo Sánchez, and Bryan Woolley on the 1966 University of Texas–El Paso Miners and lively South El Paso Street.

Many groundbreaking Chicano writers began their work in El Paso, such as José Antonio Burciaga, Abelardo Delgado, Estela Portillo Trambley, and Arturo Islas. The works of Tom Lea, Amado Muro,Dagoberto Gilb, Rick DeMarinis, Pat LittleDog, the inimitable word sketches of Elroy Bode, and the poetry of Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Pat Mora, and Bernice Love Wiggins, one of the first African American female poets published in Texas, explore the experience of life in El Paso.

In addition, previously unpublished works from John Rechy, Ray Gonzalez and Robert Seltzer are included. For the first time in the series, Literary El Paso features bilingual selections to reflect the bi-cultural environment of the region and the state.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juárez

My advisor when I was at UTEP has just released another book Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juárez.

Here's the description:

Thousands of people die in drug-related violence every year in Mexico. Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, adjacent to El Paso, Texas, has become the most violent city in the Mexican drug war. Much of the cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine consumed in the United States is imported across the Mexican border, making El Paso/Juárez one of the major drug-trafficking venues in the world.

In this anthropological study of drug trafficking and anti-drug law enforcement efforts on the U.S.-Mexico border, Howard Campbell uses an ethnographic perspective to chronicle the recent Mexican drug war, focusing especially on people and events in the El Paso/Juárez area. It is the first social science study of the violent drug war that is tearing Mexico apart.

Based on deep access to the drug-smuggling world, this study presents the drug war through the eyes and lives of direct participants. Half of the book consists of oral histories from drug traffickers, and the other half from law enforcement officials. There is much journalistic coverage of the drug war, but very seldom are the lived experiences of traffickers and "narcs" presented in such vivid detail. In addition to providing an up-close, personal view of the drug-trafficking world, Campbell explains and analyzes the functioning of drug cartels, the corruption that facilitates drug trafficking, the strategies of smugglers and anti-narcotics officials, and the perilous culture of drug trafficking that Campbell refers to as the "Drug War Zone."


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Por qué no somos un ‘nosotros’

Por qué no somos un ‘nosotros’

Sergio Troncoso


Sunday, September 27, 2009

El Paso Writers: Bad Link

Pluma will be updating our links on our blog. Send us a note if the link we have for you is bad.

La Rana

I caught this after the fact, but it looks good.

POETA Griselda Munoz "La Rana" is presenting a play titled "Monios DeBatalla," Un Cuento Revolucionario, written by her and directed by Ernesto Tinajero, TODAY, Saturday, September 26th, 7pm @ SacredHeart Gym, 602 S. Oregon ($5 in...cludes an enchilada plate). Proceeds goto the Centro Cultural Los De Abajo. All ages welcomed.

Arise Chicano! Angela de Hoyos passes

Angela de Hoyos, grande dame of Chicano poetry, dies in S.A.

Chicana poet Angela de Hoyos, considered the "grande dame of Chicano poetry," died Thursday in San Antonio. In the 1970s, her poet fueled the Chicano Movement and her work continued to inspire generations of poets.

"Angela and her partner Moses Sandoval were always there as the Chicano Movement grew," says fellow poet and artist Ramon Vasquez y Sanchez. Her poem, "Arise Chicano," is credited with giving the movement its push, he said. "She was the 'Frida' of the Chicano cause."

She's credited with mentoring poets such as San Antonio's Carmen Tafolla. During a visit to San Antonio, Rudolfo Anaya, author of the Chicano classic, "Bless Me, Ultima," praised de Hoyos contributions to the canon.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Look for an obituary in the Sunday Express-News.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book Review: Benjamin Alire Sáenz novel follows climb out of despair


Benjamin Alire Sáenz novel follows climb out of despair

El Paso Times Staff

"I've lived eighteen years in the season of sadness where the weather never changed," says the protagonist, from the deep well of his isolation, in "Last Night I Sang to the Monster" (Cinco Puntos Press, $19.95 hardcover), Benjamin Alire Sáenz's most devastating and exquisite novel to date.

Zachariah Johnson Gonzalez -- Zach to his friends -- is the son of an alcoholic father and a manic-depressive mother "who was allergic to the sky," and with an older brother whose drug-induced rages inflicted fear and violence on the family. So it was only a matter of time before Zach ended up in a rehabilitation facility after a near-fatal drinking binge -- his way of numbing the pain of witnessing the ills of his loved ones.

In "trauma camp," he's the therapist's most challenging patient. The path toward healing begins with the exploration of the past. Zach doesn't like to remember: "Remembering makes me feel things. I don't like feelings things." Instead, his sessions are hostile dialogues of evasion and disassociation from his emotions.

But weeks into such programs, even the toughest case can crack, and Zach slowly begins to realize that "maybe living is supposed to be more than survival."

The strength to overcoming his nightmares is fueled by interactions with his roommates in Cabin 9: Sharkey, a 27-year-old drug addict and smart aleck with a conflicted relationship with his parents, and Rafael, a 53-year-old alcoholic and child-abuse survivor coping with the loss of his

son. These men become Zach's surrogate family, helping him reconnect with such sentiments as affection, sympathy and love.

But the greatest challenge is yet to come: taming the monster that pushes him toward the self-destructive act of forgetting. If he is to move on to the next stage of recovery, Zach must come to terms with a devastating personal tragedy that left him "dead even though I was still alive."

Sáenz, a writer of great skill and precision, reels the reader into a place of such personal sorrow without slipping into tearjerking sentimentality, though it's difficult not to respond with tears to Zach's hard-won rehabilitation.

The testimonies that come out during Zach's group therapy sessions are relentless but convincing portraits of humanity at its most vulnerable, and they prepare both the reader and Zach for the shocking revelations at the conclusion of his stay.

And to allow the dark prose further flecks of light, Sáenz has Zach collect the sensory details of his smallest pleasures -- the therapist's green eyes, his high-school teacher's trumpet-playing, Rafael's lullaby -- a happiness-building exercise that echoes the plot's shift from anxiety and grief to poetic justice and victory song.

"Last Night I Sang to the Monster," with its impressive characterizations and heart-wrenching storyline, is the must-read novel of the year.

Rigoberto González is an award-winning writer living in New York City. His Web site is www.rigobertogonzalez.com, and he may be reached at Rigoberto70@aol.com.

Missed another event yesturday

I kept getting posts from Rich on Facebook yesterday. I was all set to get my self to El Paso Community College, but I did not make it. But from what I hear, the Literary Festival went well.

I must admit, that during law school I had more time to put out Pluma Fronteriza and post on this blog than I do now. Leading an immigrant advocacy center has take an toll on my time, especially during this recession. I think also that I was reading so much Chicano/a literature since 2002, mostly for book reviews and Pluma Fronteriza purposes, that I got a bit exhausted. Throw in the fact that as a reviewer one has to read some bad stuff at times.

I've been throwing the idea of resurrecting Pluma Fronteriza soon. So I'm wondering what our Chicano writers and El Paso writers think. Plus, what direction should we run to.

Our resurrection probably will not be the PDF style newsletter we use to do. It just takes to much time to layout. Most likely, we will not go in the hardcopy direction.

Well, Chucenos and pachucotas, let me know your ideas.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Justice in the Rough As a border town becomes a murder capital, Mexico pushes for dramatic rule-of-law changes


Justice in the Rough

As a border town becomes a murder capital, Mexico pushes for dramatic rule-of-law changes

July 2009 Issue

By Allen Pusey

In the early morning hours of May 17, 2008, Willy Moya had just closed the V-Bar, one of several popular nightspots he owned in the Pronaf section of Ciudad Juarez, when a couple of friends wandered in and told him they were hungry. Moya decided he could use a bite, so he offered to send one of his bodyguards out for pizza.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Activist Reies López Tijerina earns ovation, 'Ohtli' award


EL PASO -- Mexican government officials on Friday paid tribute to Reies López Tijerina, one of the most radical leaders of the Chicano movement that fought for greater rights for Mexican-Americans.

An estimated 100 scholars, Chicano activists, friends and South El Paso residents gave Tijerina a standing ovation when Mexican Consul General Roberto Rodríguez Hernández presented him with the prestigious "Ohtli" award for his lifetime commitment to human rights and civil rights for Hispanics in the United States, mostly in the 1960s.

Tijerina, 82 and in failing health, now lives in El Paso. He is perhaps best known across the U.S. for leading an armed raid at the Tierra Amarilla courthouse in northern New Mexico in the mid-1960s.

"I am intoxicated with gusto," Tijerina said upon receiving the award at La Fe Cultural & Technology Center in South El Paso amid the adoration of Chicano activists who said he continues to inspire them, Mexican-Americans and others to fight for their rights.

La Fe Clinic co-sponsored the tribute with the Mexican Consulate in El Paso.

"He's part of the leadership of the Chicano movement, somebody who has spent all his life in the struggle and continues to fight for his people and continues to make the demands that are necessary for us to finally become first-class citizens," said La Fe Clinic Executive Director Salvador Balcorta. "He has given a lot of himself."

Tijerina is often described as one of the great warriors of the Chicano


movement, along with César Chávez, the California farmworker organizer; Colorado Chicano activist Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales; and La Raza Unida Party founder José Angel Gutiérrez in Texas.

Tijerina, a former Protestant minister, was the only major activist in the early Chicano movement who served time in prison. His influence is still felt.

"Without the efforts of Mr. Tijerina, we wouldn't be here," said John Estrada, president and chairman of La Fe Clinic's board of directors.

Estrada presented Tijerina a plaque on behalf of La Fe Clinic for "his lifetime commitment to human rights, social justice activism and to the Chicano civil rights movement."

"He deserves to be recognized for all the struggles that he went through, especially at the end of the '50s and the beginning of the '60s," an epoch that was even more racist than today, said Socorro Tabuenca, academic director for the Center of Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Tijerina, accompanied by his wife, Esperanza, glowed as he also received kisses, pats on the back, abrazos and white carnations in the shadow of paintings depicting César Chávez and the revolutionary leader Che Guevara, two other Hispanic icons.

Ramón Rentería may be reached at rrenteria@elpasotimes.com; 546-6146.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Comic Book Signing - the Railroad Killer

Jimmy Daze Comics/Death Moon Comics/All Star Comis

Invite you to the comic book premier of


June 13, 2009 from 12pm-6pm at All Star Comis, 4406 Dyer, El Paso, Texas 7930

The Railroad Killer is a 24-page horror comic book (PG-13) based in El Paso

Written by Jaime "Jimmy" Portillo, creator of the critically acclaimed vampire graphic novel, "Gabriel."

Art by Arturo Delgado Molina