Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs" by Molly Harper

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper follows the start to Jane Jameson's undead life. After an embarrassing accident leaves her for dead, Gabriel, a vampire, turns her and now Jane has to deal with unemployment, undead prejudices, a murder conviction, and the prankster ghost of her dead aunt hiding her car keys.
Though simple, the story is entertaining and quite funny. I've always enjoyed good vampire books and I appreciated that Harper keeps to the general vampire myths (thankfully nothing sparkles). Much like the society in the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, Harper's vampires have "come out of the closet" to the public and have to adapt to social politics and norms. I especially liked Harper's ideas of vampire rights, such as undead prejudice laws.
The plot was entertaining, but predictable which is why I'd rate it 3/5 stars. This book would be a good read for a quick distraction and a few laughs. 

Katie is an employee of the Los Angeles Public Library. She has an inexplicable love for YA Fiction, and is a member of the Young Adult Book Council. During her free time she volunteers for Bridge To Books, drinks obscene amounts of coffee, takes artsy photographs, and talks about herself in third person. She also has a love/hate relationship with chocolate and an affinity for the color green. You can follow her personal blog here.

Friday, March 30, 2012

"The Reptile Family" Is Coming

           Maybe you've heard of The Reptile Family. They've been inspiring the discovery and appreciation of the Earth's most misunderstood creatures through innovative, educational, entertaining and hands-on experiences in a safe and caring environment and they've been doing so since 1992. 

          The Reptile Family will be here Tuesday, April 3rd from 2-3pm and they are the only group who bring their animals in baskets and containers so it looks like the safari has arrived. The Reptile Family dresses in safari or outback attire and all their animals are clean and safe for touching and holding and they let everyone know that it's their choice to look, touch or hold.  

This "fun for the whole family" program is free and we hope you all join us.
If you have any questions please feel free to call the branch at 323-224-0039

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Volunteering at the Library

Ashley standing with the presentation she turned into school about volunteering at the library.

 Ashley, first of all we'd like to thank you for choosing to complete your school community service hours with us. We have a few questions for you about your experience volunteering at the branch. We hope you enjoyed completing your hours with us and hope to continue to see you in the library.

 What kind of things did you do while volunteering at the library?

I hosted teen programs and put books back on the shelves. Hosting teen programs is amazing because I do different things like Xbox game night, bingo time, movie night and played board games. Re-shelving books sounds easy but it's not. You have to put them back in order and by year.

What did you learn from your experience volunteering at the library?

Throughout the whole time working at the library I learned many new things. For example, I learned how to do origami figures, organize books/movies. The hardest thing I learned was checking the books that the Librarians didn't want and the ones they did want. I also learned that helping at the Library seems or sounds boring but it's not because you are helping people and learning new things. Being at the library around people  and kids was a great experience because I learned how not to be shy and just be myself.

How has it impacted your life?

The library has really impacted my life because even though it's so close to my house I've never really bothered going. I never liked reading books or even helping out. This experience changed that. I am more about helping out kids and organizing books because I get to see different types of books which sometimes means I get to look at them. Each book has it's own meaning and knowledge to learn from. That's really amazing. This is why the library has influenced me.

Teens: If you have community service hours you need to complete as a requirement  for your school and would like to complete them here contact Paula Grigorian, our Young Adult Librarian, here at the branch at 323-224-0039.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

By The Lake Of Sleeping Children by Luis Alberto Urrea

       By the Lake of Sleeping Children is a follow-up to Luis Alberto Urrea's first book "Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border" which showed what life is really like for those living on the Mexican side of the border and what a difference their life is like compared to those living in nearby San Diego on the United States side of the border.
       We were lucky enough to get an interview with Luis Alberto Urrea and I originally wanted to ask him questions about his writing in general but as I read this book I had so many questions about what I was reading. 

       Luis, I'd first like to thank you for your time. I wanted to ask a few questions about the book and also post a few quotes that I found interesting and thought I should share with our readers.
Art: My first question is about the man who asked what you were writing in your journal. You told him you were writing about him and you were unsure how he was going to react.  How did he react and what did he say to you? 

 Luis: He was startled and, perhaps, a bit miffed. I'm not sure. But he gave me what was my God-calling moment. That epiphanic minute. He said: "Good. Godd. Write it down. I was born in the trash. I have spent my life picking the trash. And when I die, they'll bury me in the trash. You tell them I was here." Can you imagine? He set my agenda...forever. Right there. I never saw him again. In my feverish moments, I think he was an angel working undercover.

“My father raised me to be 100% Mexican. My mother raised me to be 100% American. If, as some have suggested lately, I am a “voice of the border” it is because the border runs down the middle of me" 

Yeah, one half of the apartment was Sinaloa and the other half was Long Island.

    Art: You wrote about a very tough woman (understatement?), “Negra” in your book and how you’d write her autobiography someday. How’s that coming along and can you tell us a story about her that didn’t make it into the book? 
     Luis: There are a million stories about her.  Here's the big one.  She told me why her daughters would never pick trash like she did.  She was working in the dompe one day and felt a rock in her shoe.  But she couldn't stop.  It was a busy day.  When she finally did get her shoe off to shake out the stone, what she shook out was a chopped off human finger.

      She has a cell phone now.  We text each other often.  She is running a small beauty shop in downtown Tijuana.  Trying to stay alive.  I still haven't gotten her book worked out.  Partially because of time and publisher constraints.  If some strong Chicana author wants to write that book, call me.  I'll give you Negra's number.

By the way--Nayeli in INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH is based on Negra's daughter. Nayeli. As soon as the book clears its advance and starts to make money, I am sending them 10% of everything. Including movie money. They don't know this yet. So c'mon, everybody--keep buying it! Hahaha.

 “They come here to make their best efforts, to work – to work hard- to better themselves, to enjoy a better world, to get educated and to prosper. It’s the American dream writ large. They’re just writing it in Spanish.”

Luis: I just wrote an essay for ORION magazine about this. It's called "Manifest Density." Check it out in the next issue.

Art: When you first described your experiences and what you saw in the dumps in Tijuana I'm sure a lot of people thought they knew what to imagine, "trash and a bad smell". What is the one thing most people are surprised to hear when you describe what really goes on there?

 Luis: Love, man. Humanity. They find themselves crying about people they would reel from. Then they send money. It's a little secular miracle.

"They come across the wires in the dark. We walk through their gates on the same night. They dream of our beds, our cars,our clothing. We eat the fruits they pick for us - our salads are washed in their sweat, our strawberries and tomatoes and cotton are passed to us by their fingers. They stare at us through the fence and wonder what our problem is. We keep our doors locked to them and we let them feed us and when we're through with them we pay men in Jeeps to throw them out. We send our losers to their town to entertain themselves. We pass each other on the way, and we never look into each others eyes."

Art: I was reading the book thinking, "My kids need to read this." and especially when I came to the part of Eduardo's funeral. As a father, it's hard for me to read that and you're a father too. How hard was it for you write that part of his story?

Luis: I was callow.  I was a young buck with girlfriends and no kids. Now...hmm. I can only tell you how bad it was to write something like THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY. I knew what it meant to lose my dad--that was what had driven me to the garbage dumps in the first place. But I could not have imagine that kind of pain. Writing DH tore me apart. Don't want to think about it now

I'll tell you as great story, though. There was a small indie bookstore in Tucson, since defunct. They were called Coyote's Voice. And rather than sell Self-Help books, they'd sell people Across the Wire instead. The owner would say,"You think you've got problems? You dont have problems. These people have problems". Seeing the current racist hard-hearts running Arizona right now, I can see that not enough people went to Coyote's Voice.

Art: I really enjoyed this book, Luis. It was an eye opener to say the least and I appreciate you taking the time to answer the questions I had. I'm moving on to "Into The Beautiful North" next. That is as soon as the copy I bought arrives. Thank you. 
Luis: You're welcome. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

At the library: March 26th-31st

The library will be closed today in observance of Cesar Chavez' birthday. 

3-4pm "Infant/Toddler Story time"
Join us for Infant/Toddler story time where Miss Alicia will read stories to the children and we’ll also be making crafts. This free program is for children up to the age of 12.

12-1pm "Adult computer class"
Adults, join us for a beginner's guide to the internet. Patrick will teach you the basics of web browsing, word processing and how to create and access your email account. Bring your questions. Patrick will supply the answers.

4-5pm "LACMA Family Art Program"
Children and families join us and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for our art weekly family art classes. Learn about various artists and learn art through various mediums.
4-5pm  "Teen Xbox Game Night"
Do you think you've got game? Join us for an hour of Xbox gaming. We supply the Xbox and games. You bring your skills and just try not to get played.

"Grandparents and Books"
Books come alive for kids when they share the fun of reading with GAB library volunteers. Grandpa Allen will be here.
The Friends of The Cypress Park Library will be holding their used book sale in the community room. Books and VHS tapes start at 25¢ with nothing over $1. 

For more information on any of these programs please call us at the branch. Our phone number is (323) 224-0039.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Hunger Games: Official Illustrated Movie Companion Giveaway


     The Hunger Games movie is being released into theaters tomorrow and we want you to enjoy the movie even more with The Hunger Games: Official Illustrated Movie Companion. 
     All you have to do is answer the five questions you're about to read, email the correct answers to us at and we'll contact the winner.

1. What does Katniss' name mean? 
Katniss was named after a plant that eats in the story.

2. From which District is Rue? 
Rue is from District 11. It is an agriculture district

3. Who is Madge? 
Madge was Katniss' friend from school who gave her the Mocking Jay pin and the daughter of the Mayor.

4. Who are the Careers?
The Careers come from wealthier districts who volunteer for the games. They train for the games and usually team up in the arena to kill off the others.

5. How does District 11 thank Katniss while she's in the arena and why?
District 11 sends Katniss a loaf of bread thanking her because she decorated Rue with flowers and sang to her when she died.

Answers provided by our winner, @ElusiveMinds
   There you have it. Those are the questions. If you think you have the answers, email them to us at If we get more than one email we'll randomly select a winner and notify him/her as soon as possible. 

Thanks for playing.

Also, another free copy of this book will be given away to one lucky teen at our teen program today.

We'd like to thank everybody who played along and we'd like to congratulate @ElusiveMinds on winning our first ever online giveaway contest. We'd love to do this again soon. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Who is "El Librotraficante"

Who is "El Librotraficante"?
Well, "Librotraficante" means "book smuggler" in Spanish and that's the name Tony Diaz has given himself. He has been quoted as saying, "When Arizona tried to erase our history, we decided to make more" and he's doing just that, leading the way with a caravan of now contraband or "wetbooks" as he calls them after Tucson's School District suspended it's Mexican American studies program and banned the books used in it's classes.

The caravan will be rolling through Tucson, AZ today. Check out the times and places you can catch him.

Tucson, Arizona Friday, March 16
12:30 PM: Gallup, NM Bordering Crossing Ritual
3 PM: Press Conference: John Valenzuela Youth Center 1550 S. 6th Ave., South Tucson, AZ 85713
​7 PM: Latino Caucus 2016 Reception. 

and tomorrow

Sat. March 17: Studio ONE 197 E TOOLE AVE, TUCSON AZ 85701-1210. Student Breakfast: rsvp

10 am - Noon: Latino Cultural Caucus: School Board Elections-2 seats open in November. We will win them. Studio ONE 

1 pm - 4 pm: Ultimate Lit Teach-In for 100 students and 100 teachers RSVP

All Day: Libros Libres Taco Truck: We will distribute copies of the banned books throughout the city from a Taco Truck.

7 PM: Literary Showcase: (Flyer) Mind Altering Prose: The University of Arizona, Social Science Bldng Room 100. 1145 E South Campus, Tucson, AZ 85721

With such authors as Ana Castillo, Luis Rodriguez, Rudolfo Anaya and Luis Alberto Urrea on the "Banned Book List"(Check out the complete list here), Tony knew something had to be done.

The "Librotraficante" has also set up a few Underground Libraries
They're listed below

Houston - Multicultural Education and Counseling Through The Arts (MECA)
1900 Kane Street, Houston, TX 77007
Alice Valdez, Founder/Director

San Antonio - Southwest Workers Union
1414 E. Commerce, San Antonio, TX 78205
Genaro Rendon, Director

Albuquerque - Los Jardines Institute

Want to follow the Librotraficante. Here's the map
803 La Vega Dr. SW, Albuquerque, NM 87105
Sofia Martinez, Program Coordinator

Tucson - John Valenzuela Youth Cneter
1550 S 6th Ave. South Tucson AZ 85713
Gloria Hamelitz, Director

All this information and a lot more including how you can donate to this cause can be found on the Librotraficante website.

Also check out the story "Books Without Borders" in today's issue of the New York Times

"Our literature and our history must never be at the mercy of political whim ever again." - Tony Diaz "El Librotraficante"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A BEASTly Conversation With Jim Marquez

Hey, Jim, I want to thank you for agreeing to do this interview. I just finished reading Pieces Of L.A. and I’ve got to say, it IS hardcore, man. I really liked it and enjoyed how you connected the beginning and the end of the story. You and I talked briefly when we met but after reading this book there’s more I’ve got to know.

Hey, thanks for the kind words. Glad you got through it. It's not for the faint of heart that's for damn sure.

So first off, I’m sure you answer this all the time but I’ve got to ask you myself. The nickname, “Beast”, where does it come from?

The Beast. Yeah. I love that name. It describes me perfectly. A very good friend of mine, an artist by the name of Emmeric James Konrad, who I collaborated with on a book we did last year called "Suckling the Urban Teat", he did the illustrations, sorta like a Charles Bukowski and Robert Crumb thing, or a Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman thing; anyway, Emmeric had invited me to read at this underground speakeasy in Downtown LA one night, on 6th and Alameda-this was back in 2006-and it was a nasty debaucherous, hellish place, a REAL speakeasy-god, I loved that joint-and I read onstage, cursing yelling, sweating, stomping about, howling, because that was part of my performance back then, and very drunk too, of course, nobody paid any attention and Emmeric was waiting for me at the bar in the back of the room. He points at me and says, 'You, my friend are truly a beast amongst all these beauties!" And we stopped short, our eyes went big, and we both said at the same time,"That's it!" My stage-name if you will, and because it is known to anybody who knows me that I drink like a beast, fuck like a beast, live life with the abandon of a great beast, and, certainly writes like a beast, that moniker, 'The Beast', would make a lasting impression. And it has. Almost like a living character, a reflection of me and the man in my stories. When I enter a room people say, "It's the beast!" and yes, I like that very much.

So, 12 books in 6 years? Really!? The things you write about are real experiences. When do you find the time to get out into L.A. and live these experiences you write about?

At night. When all the other good, wholesome, christian-folk are climbing into bed at 10pm because they have to get up early for work the next morning, I'm out prowling about. Not every night, mind you, there are a couple nights I go out, hit the bars, the art parties, openings, closings, after-hours, roof-top madness, and then don't crawl home until 8am. Sleep it off the next day, lay around, sober up, cry, eat a late lunch, read the paper, answer emails, do my facebook, go to Starbucks, get my head straight, then, late at night, usually about 3am I start writing, go until about 6am, then, hit the pillow. And the ten years I spent backpacking across Europe, solo, has filled the files and memory banks with enough experience for ten men. But I don't actually 'go looking for stories'. Naw. That's amateur hour. Don't carry a notebook either. You stay in one place long enough and the [stuff]'s gonna find you. I just allow myself to be open to that. If I'm in a pissy mood I avoid it, move on. If I feel relatively safe I'll stick around, see what happens or tag along to an underground scene, or whatever. Or have that next drink because so-and-so is buying. Other nights I read voraciously, go to theaters to catch films, go to Santa Anita, the track, bet on the ponies, have lunch at historic food joints around the city, meet a buddy for happy hour at El Torito, and all those places too [things] happen; I remember it and file it away. Try to remember the feeling, the look, the sense, the mood. It ain't rocket science. Too many 'writers' try to make more out of it. But I am in it. I'm an arrogant bastard so the point of view is always through me or a third person pov that's usually me too. Not interested it other people's stories. I must have that passion, that closeness to the happening in order for me to do it any justice. You tell me a story about what you did in Palm Springs. Ok. I'll listen, laugh, nod my head in agreement, but if you ask me to write it out for you I can't do it. I simply don't want to. It's your story. YOU write it. Henry Miller once said "Write what you know". I do.

People can find your writing in many different places online and in print. Besides the 12 (gazillion) books you have out, you’ve also written for magazines and sites like Citizen LA, LA Weekly and Is there a particular outlet that you prefer to write?

Whoever is willing to publish it AND pay me for it, THAT'S my favorite outlet.....Serioulsy though, I loved writing for "Citizen LA", the arts and culture magazine, print, monthly for over 4 years, out of Downtown Los Angeles. They let me get away with murder. And it's there where I started my 'name' in this writing gig. I was very independent, the editors left me alone, and never changed a thing. Which was wise. I have degrees in English, a teaching credential, an ESL teaching credential, have taught literature and conversation and writing for 15 years, I know of what I speak. Wish to Christ LA WEEKLY would run my stuff-I had a few things in there a long time ago in another galaxy, but I guess I'm too much or I just suck. LatinoLA I love because in addition to running my pieces they are kind enough to let me post free announcements for my shows and signings. But it's the books I self-publish, where I am truly a god. Not THE God, but A god. I can do whatever I want. Even the mistakes, and there are plenty, are mine, but I'm still proud of them. Grassroots, brother. Just got to get those books into more indy markets around the city. One great place is "Half Off Books" in Uptown Whittier. They just sold out a box load of "Pieces of L.A.". I was surprised. People actually asking for the damn thing. I'm like, wow! They ordered more, plus other titles from my catalog, and want an order of my next book due out in March. Now *That's an independent bookshop. I want more of those shops! Hell, at Antigua Coffee House in Cypress Park I had a stack of books and half of them were stolen. As an artist that makes me feel great. Stealing my literature? Are you serious? 

How long have you been writing and when did you know that writing was what you wanted to do full time?

Since the second grade. And, since the second grade...My teacher had a writing contest, I didn't know it was a contest, I thought it was just another writing practice assignment in class. I wrote this fantasy thing about a dog who was this Sherlcok Holmes type of doggy detective. Short, silly, stupid. The next day the teacher anounced the winner of the best story and she called my name, then, called me up to the front of the class to read my story to the other 40 kids there. Then, and this is the most important part: she gave me a giant plastic Tootsie Roll bank filled with tiny Tootsie Rolls. I thought: WOW! I got candy for my wrting? Really? They give you stuff for writing? I wanna do THIS!

How would you describe your writing style to someone who hasn’t read any of your books?Which author would you compare your work to or would you?

My style is not to everyone's taste, I know that. I accept that. It's rough-going, but elegant I think. And most foul. Very Sexy. Over the top. Naive. Scatter-brained. Loving. Lonely. Erratic, Pulsing. Electric. Intense. Moody. First person narrative but lately switiching to third person. Unafraid. Honest. Stories about bars, booze, broads, sex, death, memory, dreams, passion, adventures in foreign lands, dealing with the humanity of sketchy environs, race, class struggle, art, identity. I am proud to say that my writing shares the same flavor as, but by no means can begin to compare with the likes of Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, Oscar Zeta Acosta, F. Scott Fitzerald, Nathaniel West, James Joyce, Ernest Hemmingway, Henry Miller, Bret Easton Ellis, Stephen King. All those guys and more I read, still read, they took me into worlds I never knew, then, became familar with as I got older. Yes, they influenced me, but I've also established a beastly-voice of my own....This novel of mine,"Pieces of LA", is about all those things I listed, but it's wrapped around a murder mystery and takes place in different parts of Los Angeles, each chapter is a new area of the city. And, for the first time, I deal heavily and harshly with cultural identity. I hear it's all the rage now.

Your books all have great shots on the covers. I know all the photography is handled by your main man Rick Mendoza. How long have you and Rick worked together and how does that influence the work you put out?

The "Mini-Beast" as I insist on calling him. Yeah, man, he's a god too. We first met I forget, maybe five years ago. It was at another speakeasy called 'Higgins' that used to be at the corner of Third and Main, under a gallery. For many years. A true speakeasy too, in that, as mentioned before, with no set closing times, unlicensed debauchery, musical acts, celebrities, and hot like a [mofo] because it was in those caves that are all over the downtown area, and I noticed this dude drinking straight whiskey at the end of the bar, the way I drink. Most artists or kids have cocktails, mixed drinks, vodka and cranberry, but he was pounding Jameson Irish whiskey, like me, little ice. I thought, huh, finally a real drinker, you know? We'd see each other, tip our glasses, catch glimpses at various parties that Emmeric Konrad was taking me too and introducing me around town, and when the opportunity came up to write for the 'Citizen LA' (again, because of Emmeric's introductions, first to Linda Ford and Jonathan Jerald, then, to eventual Uber Publisher George Stiehl ), and lo and behold, Rick was starting there too as the photo editor. I'd come up with a column idea, some outlandish bit of stupidity, tell Rick about it, he'd go out a get a shot that reflected the essence of the piece. After a while, Rick and I started hanging out together on the scene, and he was snapping away, using those shots for the stories. We'd hit back stage of fashion shows, film festivals, art parks, beauty contests, after parties, drugs, sex, booze, drunk with actors, adult film stars, politicians, police raids, guns, everything. He has this roving Weegee-like eye of capturing the moment, and unafraid to go places. There was a TV crew once that wanted me to do a cable show, to show my beastly-world, and I had set up places to shoot, got permission all over town because people owed me favors for giving them good coverage for the magazine, but the cameramen they sent out couldn't keep up with me. Rick could. That's what made he and I stick. It got to a point that whenever there was an event I'd show up and Rick would be right there too, soildering on. Whiskey in hand, screaming like a madman, running and sometimes falling down, getting the shots, keeping up every step of the way. I was on book number four when I decided to ask Rick to do a cover. He's the real deal, he shoots for national publications, he's done award shows, studio work, has been flown all over to take shots of celebrities for TV and film, so I was shy to ask him to do a cover because I had no cash to pay him. Turns out he was waiting for me to ask. And all he wanted in return was credit, and lots of whiskey and tacos. Done Deal ever since....As for the covers I tell Rick what I'm thinking about, he tells me what he's thinking about, to capture the spirit of the text. He has lots of time, and then little by little I'll get the emails, jpegs attached, 'what do you think of these?' We go back and forth, tweaking, adding, bitching, until he have a final product. We'll sit at the bar at 'Coles' on 6th and Main with grilled cheese sandwiches and Kibeggan whiskeys to make it so. I like his mind for this because even though I always have an exact vision for what I want he's able to adjust it, offers another view to what I'm thinking about, and makes it perfect. My work is very visual, lots of raping of the senses, and we make sure the covers capture that. People LOVE the covers. Gotten to point now that at my shows I sell poster-sized prints of the covers. People want the Mini-Beast! In additon to the years we put in at 'Citizen LA' and the books, Rick and I have done pieces for "Artilley", a national arts magazine, and worked on projects for artist Robert Vargas' Red Zebra Art and Fashion Show over at the Crocker Club in Downtown LA.

I caught this video of you reading “Girl In The Café”. What’s it like getting on the Mic and sharing your thoughts with strangers? Did you
ever/ Do you still get nervous?

The booze helps. Serioulsy. Nervous? Sometimes. But when I'm reading I'm in a zone. Don't bother me let me finish! HA! I have years of teaching experience, of independent travel where you make friends quickly and on the fly; I love interacting with strangers. Of being in front of large groups of people, acting the fool, so that prepared me for the public reading. I've done radio too. POWER 106FM. College radio. Internet/Cable TV. I especially like reading for strangers because they don't have to feel obligated to like it. When they do I am extremely grateful and blown away.

As a writer I’ll assume you do lots of readings at lots of different venues all over L.A. What’s that like and do you have a favorite spot you like to read at? Why?

Christ, I've read all over the damn place. I swear to god I am the best kept dirty secret in Los Angeles. You're the first whose ever wanted to run a piece on me. Thank you...Anyway, I've read at universities, high schools, the bars, art festivals, gallery openings and closings, Million Dollar Theater, Beyond Baroque, Olvera Street, Pershing Square for Autumn Lights, Barnes and Noble, The Last Book Store, Half Off Books, Libreria Martinez (Lynwood), Edward James Olmos Literary Festival, Dutton's, Antigua Coffee House, and the radio and TV stuff, Hollywood, Westside, Eastside, Northeast, tons of Downtown LA galleries, Farmer & Merchant Bank Venue. It's fun, nerve-wracking, chaotic, exhausting, arousing, hectic; just happy that people want to hear it. But lately, after all that madness, I'd prefer to read at a quiet bookshop, tired of raising my voice over broken glasses and drunken banter, you know? Universities are cool too. Lots of hot chicks there. But no ONE favorite spot. I've done it all. Trippy because I'm nowhere as well known as all those other Latino writers. Not that I want to restrict myself, but you go where you can. I'm self-published, it can be tough. Well, no, that's not entirely true: people on the Latino art circuit have heard of me, they do know about me, but most want no part of me. They're afraid. I'm too much of a beast for them to handle. Jim's too crude, he's drinks too much, he says bad words, he sleeps around too much, he farts too loud, he's always hitting on the girls, he writes about sex, he doesn't know Spanish, he's not really from East LA, he doesn't know the gang names, he talks too honestly about his own people instead of getting on the white man's case as you're supposed to, he angers the gods, he doesn't sacrifice his individulaity, he doesn't give proper respect to the elders...whoever they are. Please, give me a break! I'm my own beast. Oh well, their loss...

Are you working on anything right now? What can your fans expect you to release in 2012?

My next book, my 13th, is called "Beastly Bus Tales". Due out March 17th. Hardcore stories about Jack Morales, our 'hero' from my novel "Pieces of L.A." as he takes the buses every night on the way home late, after hitting the bars. The freaks he comes in contact with; the dealers, artists, prostitutes, psychos, homeless, gangsters, rich kids, the phonies, cops, racists, drunks, the whole whiskey soaked tapestry that is Los Angeles after midnight through Jack's bloodshot eyes. And Mini-Beast is doing an amazing cover! It's a brick wall, and all the bricks in the wall are like tiny tiles, each with a tiny picture illustrating the stories in the book. He's been taking pics when he can over the past six months. And spray painted in dripping red paint on this wall is the book's title. I came up with that in a dream. When I told Rick my idea he was for once speechless, but in a good way, I think. And, because I respect Rick's work so much I'm keeping my name off the front cover so as to enhance the art of it all. My name however, will be in GIANT LETTERS on the back over! HA!

What advice would you give others (youngsters) who may be considering writing/journalism.

Don't do it....just kidding. If you really gotta do it, it had better be inside of you to begin with. You don't learn this crap. Sacrifice a lot too. Sleep. Various relationships. Money. Be honest in your writing, even if it pisses people off. If you wanna be on Oprah, then, okay, lie. Write for yourself, that's what a real writer does. [Forget] the reader. [Forget] the audience. The people will come around to you. So never keep them in mind when writing. Real writing connects on its own. Be serious in your writing. You want people to woot, woot, woot you at some lame-ass poetry-slam BS-drum-circle or whatever, then be a comedian, don't waste your time writing. Write what you know. Get experience. Always write about something from the inside out, never from a distance. Listen. Observe. Be smart. Get drunk get to know people, places, habits, like a cop staking out a suspect. Then attack. No mercy.

Where can your fans connect with you to keep an eye on future readings and releases?

Fans? I got fans? First time I ever heard that one. Cheers, lad. Now, STALKERS, maybe.
 But, okay, if they really wanna know then I beg you to check out the following two sites:

Books (print & apple itunes/ibookstore downloads :
Events, news, work in progress, pics, random thoughts
(You can also Google me, but for some reason they took down all the 'pics'. There were hundreds of pics from the past 5 years that Rick took, now it's just video stuff. I don't do the YouTube thing usually, it's always been in photos for magazines)

Thanks for your time, Beast err may I call you "Beast"?

That's Mr. Beast to you, pal...

Front Cover of novel 'Pieces of LA"
'Jim Marquez at Union Station, Downtown Los Angeles"
'Jim Marquez strolling the back streets of Chinatown, one of his favorite haunts'
'Jim Marquez reading from "Pieces of L.A." at Farmers And Merchants Bank, Old Bank District/Gallery Row, Downtown LA'
Jim Marquez Lost in Downtown LA
Cover from Jim's best selling "From East Los"
Cover from illustrated book with artist Emmeric James Konrad 'Suckling the Urban Teat'
Irish Whiskey for The Beast & Mini-Beast
Photographer Rick Mendoza at Bar 107 (Downtown LA). Photo by Jim Marquez

Monday, March 12, 2012

This Week March 12-17th At The Branch

3:30-5:30pm "Grandparents And Books"
Books come alive for kids when they share the fun of reading with GAB library volunteers. Grandma Sara will be here.

2-3pm "SWAZZLE" puppet show!
Join us for the greatest puppet show in town, SWAZZLE is coming to the library! Come join us for a fun and energetic puppet show, which is sure to be the most fun that you've ever had. Make sure you're there! Best for the whole family . This free program is for children up to the age of 12.

12-1pm "Adult computer class"
Adults, join us for a beginner's guide to the internet. Patrick will teach you the basics of web browsing, word processing and how to create and access your email account. Bring your questions. Patrick will supply the answers.

4-5pm "LACMA Family Art Program"
Children and families join us and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for our art weekly family art classes. Learn about various artists and learn art through various mediums.

4-5pm Today's "Teen Art Hour" will be an Introduction to Origami. Have fun learning how to make the basic folds that lead to all the beautiful Origami classics like the Crane, San-Bow, Fortune Teller and many others. 

Books comes alive for children when theyshare the fun of reading with GAB library volunteers. "Grandpa Allen" will be here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lalo Alcaraz walks into our library...

     Stop me if you've heard (read) this one before. A radio show host, a college professor and a Chicano cartoonist walk into a library. Hey, it happens. Okay, what do you do when they're all the same person and that person is none other than the creator of the first nationally-syndicated, politically-themed Latino daily comic strip, "La Cucaracha", co-host of KPFK Radio’s wildly popular satirical talk show, “The Pocho Hour of Power” airing Fridays at 4pm on 90.7FM and "Jefe in Chief" at, Lalo Alcaraz? Well that's easy. You let him make the funniest library closing announcement the patrons of your branch have ever heard.

   Lalo Alcaraz surprised patrons and staff alike when he walked into our Cypress Park Branch Library Saturday afternoon after a speaking engagement he had at nearby Occidental College. He toured the library, greeted the staff and patrons and even contributed to our "Strike A Reading Pose" blog post with the picture below.

Lalo Alcaraz reading a book he illustrated, "Latino USA: A Cartoon History", which is being currently updated for its historic 15th Anniversary paperback edition
    Library staff and patrons near the Circulation desk stood around watching and laughing as Lalo alerted the rest of the patrons to the library's approaching closing time. He informed patrons that they had 10 mins left in the library, asked them to bring their purchases up to the front and also let them know that carne asada would be served in the parking lot after we closed. He quickly bummed people out when he told them with the next sentence, "Just kidding. Carne asada will not be served."
     We'd like to thank Lalo Alcaraz for taking time out of his day to stop by our branch. It was a great surprise and we really appreciate it. Stop by anytime and remember, Lalo, This Is Your Library too.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Aztlán Reads

      If there's anything we here at Cypress Park Branch Library believe in it is the importance of promoting literacy and strengthening our community. We wanted to take a minute and acknowledge a group who shares our mission. The name of the group is Aztlán Reads. They are a strong online presence with a website and Twitter account. Aztlán Reads was started by friends who all met online and were connected by a common love for literature and respect for their people's talent.

For those (few) who aren't familiar with Aztlán Reads, please tell us first , who and what is Aztlán Reads .

Anne: @AztlánReads came to be when @xicano007, David Cid, a graduate student from California State University, Los Angeles was tweeting titles & covers of his books. I was enjoying the tweets and suggested he add a hashtag.

LettyThat meant that after every comment about reading Xicana/o publications (fiction or non-fiction) or after every recommended title one would type #aztlánreads immediately following. What that did was create a tool to be able to go back and search for what other people were saying.

David: Eventually, a separate and more accessible twitter feed, @aztlanreads, was created  to continue our endeavor.With the encouragement and support of several friends:  @GinaRuiz, Art Meza (@Chicano_Soul), @SJRivera, and Leticia Manzano (@MexicanWoman), a website was created.

Art: I remember Gina took Aztlán Reads from a hashtag to Twiter and then a Wordpress acct. on a Thursday. I was so excited about it that I mentioned it during a job interview I had that same day. I was on the phone back and forth with David bouncing ideas off each other and people were already following the account like crazy. *That was an exciting weekend.

S.J.Rivera: Aztlán Reads has really touched a nerve with people. To me, Aztlán Reads is a way to reach out to gente and let them know about our literary achievements and goals. It's a way to collect and promote literacy among our people and to encourage Xican@s to see that we do read and we are writers, teachers, professionals, activists and bibliophiles! It has become a tool for activism as well, which I think is great.

Letty: You should have seen the out-pouring of love that went into what people shared. Some people said that such and such book changed their life. Ahem, maybe that was me (Shout out to This Bridge Called My Back and the late Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherrie Moraga)

What motivates you to keep Aztlán Reads going?

LettyTo be honest, it’s the people who are involved.  It’s not because they call me or tell me to keep it going.  It’s because when I see them on Twitter posting and sending out calls for submissions, it reminds me what a great forum we created.

Anne: It's just so cool. I'm honored to be part of a community dedicated to Chican@ writing.

David: One goal for this Aztlán Reads is to promote literacy within the Twitter community and beyond. Another goal is to let the world know that Xicanas and Xicanos are reading and thereby asserting that we are not an uneducated group of people. My most important goal is that Aztlan Reads is a constructive response to the censorship and educational genocide that is occurring in Arizona with the dismantling of Xicana/o Studies at the K-12 level.

S.J. Rivera: The positive response from everyday working people and from young people is a big motivator for me. The ability to do something positive and to help promote literacy in each of our communities is rewarding. This is cutting edge stuff! The ability to reach out across the country and even the globe and tell someone, listen, we are readers and writers too! I love helping and promoting something that a kid might see and find inspiring. That kind of stuff is sorely lacking in our community.

LettyThe other thing that keeps me motivated is meeting people on Twitter that are writers and helping them to get their poetry/essays/prose/art-work published.  There is no reason to feel alone as an artist.  There is a community of Xicana/o supporters on Twitter from all over the country to engage with.  And we have created a space to make those connections and to remain connected. “La Fuerza Unida, Jamás Será Vencida!”

Art: I'd have to agree with what Letty said. Twitter is all about sharing information. We all know that information of every kind gets passed around the internet every day. Why not share something worth teaching? Each one teach one. You know what I'm saying? We can and should all learn from each other.

So Aztlán Reads recently passed the 400 follower mark on Twitter. How does that make you feel to be a part of something like that?

SJRivera: It makes me feel great and I hope that it continues to grow and attract more people and inspire people. The people involved in this project are fantastic and I'm honored to be among them. I am always in awe of people that help and give back to their communities. These guys are gifted and have a lot of heart.

David: Its great to see the positive response and, of course, the growing interest in contributors to Aztlán Reads.  With acclaimed Xicana/o historian Dr. Rudy Acuña and Xicana/o indie author SJ Rivera frequent contributors to the website, this has encouraged several twitter friends/allies to contribute their own personal work. Aztlán Reads is forum that gives voice to our community in a non-academic setting.  Aztlán Reads is Xicana/o self-determination at its most basic level.

Anne: Aztlán Reads seemed the logical idea. It gained traction fast. I think because we all hear so often that there aren't Chican@ authors, books or readers. It goes to show how hungry people are for Chican@ writing.

Art: "Aztlán Reads" was WAY over due. I mean for so many kids, teens and adults who have ever felt inferior to others because of the color of their skin and what they've been taught to believe, I believe Aztlan Reads gives us all that reinforcement of knowing our people can and do produce some of the best writing out there and unfortunately some of the best writing we haven't seen yet.

What does the future hold for Aztlán Reads? Which direction would you like to see it go?

David: Those of us supporting Aztlán Reads hope that our endeavor becomes one of the largest databases of Xicana/o Studies fiction & non-fiction work. It is made available by a community of readers and therefore sacred. We invite you to join us by contributing your recommendations and reviews. This website will eventually be a site for community book readings and discussions, as well as a forum for Xicana/o authors to discuss their own personal work.

Letty: I'd like to see a few things. I'd like to see interviews with other writers much like the one I saw on your blog with S.J. Rivera I would like to see more Artwork. I think that artwork is a form of self-expression and sometimes we can communicate and relate to others in a non verbal way.
I would like us to be able to hold writing workshops and maybe even a full scale conference someday, like Hijas Del Quinto Sol. There's no limit to what we can do.

SJRivera: I would like to see it continue along the path that it is on and reach out to more people,authors, students and professionals and activists authors. This project is nothing but positive energy and we all need that in our lives. A conference would be amazing as would more community outreach across the country.

Anne: Looking at the issues of race & the digital humanities, in the future I see AR becoming a resource for all Chican@ texts and readers.

Art: Aztlán Reads is going to continue to grow. I personally would like to see it branch out into music and film. They're are many people on Twitter that I have in mind right now as I answer this. Nobody's making any money off this site. "Aztlán Reads" is for our younger brothers, sisters and children who want to write, who want to draw or sing but maybe need that extra encouragement to believe they can

S.J. Rivera: I see great things in Aztlan Reads future. This is an exciting time to be participating in a project like this. 
David Cid is a third generation Chicano currently completing his Master’s degree in Chicana/o Studies at California State University, Los Angeles.

Annemarie Pérez is an Angelena living in Santa Monica, Annemarie recently finished her Ph.D. in English (specializing in Chicana literature) from USC.  Her interests are Chicana feminism, cooking and Chicana/o editorship.  She hopes to be an English professor when she grows up.
Leticia Manzano is a Mexicana born and Xicana raised Radical Feminist living in, working in and changing Houston, Texas. She is an activist in the movement to end all forms of oppression with over thirteen years of professional experience as a counselor and advocate for victims of sexual and domestic violence.

S. J. Rivera is a Xicano writer, indie publisher and stranger in a strange land. Originally from Denver, Colorado, Rivera now calls Northeast, Florida home. He is the author ofDemon in the MirrorAmeriKKKan Stories, and Alcohol Soaked & Nicotine

Art Meza is a third generation Chicano born and raised in Los Angeles. He is married and a father of two. Every @Chicano_Soul has his story. This one is his
How can people contribute to Aztlán Reads
Anyone can contribute poetry, prose, short stories, artwork, literary criticism, etc. to Aztlán Reads. Interested contributors can send in their work with short bio to Siempre Adelante.