Friday, November 25, 2005

Getting a Democrat Elected President

Since Bush has been sinking in the polls these last few months, people have begun to talk about the possibility that the Democrat can win the 2008 presidential election, but the question is which Democrat. Also, Republicans have the presidency, House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, so how can Democrats revive their party?

I've been doing research about Upton Sinclair's run for governor of California in 1934; that time period showed a remarkable revival of the Democratic Party in California, so looking at that period might be helpful in understanding our current situation.

From 1900-1932 Republicans totally dominated California politics, but in 1932 presidential election Hoover had lost both his home state California but also his home county Santa California. In that election the Democratic candidate for Senator William G. McAdoo was elected as millions voted for Roosevelt and other Democrats. So by 1934 it looked like Democrats could for the first time in the 20th century elect a Democrat governor.

The problem was in the 1920s Democrats had been nomiating for governor obscure men who lost, so they had no candidates in 1934. In Northern California Democrats encouraged George Creel, the regional director of Roosevelt's National Recovery Act (NRA), to announced his candidacy for governor. In Southern California Democrats were building up Culbert L. Olson, a pro-New Deal Los Angeles attorney, but he ran for state senate. Upton Sinclair, the famous Socialist author of The Jungle, changed his party from Socialist to Democratic, ran for governor, and won in the primary.

Then Republicans ran a smear campaign, utilizing phony anti-Sinclair newsreels, so the Republican candidate, conservative Governor Merriam, was relected. But the pro-FDR tide was so strong that even Merriam while running said he was pro-New Deal. Merriam won, but that Los Angeles liberal Culbert L. Olsen also won a seat as state senator in the state legislature. Olsen immediately became a leader in the conservative senate, leading them to approve new laws that began a moderate state income tax, increased assistance to improverished seniors, and repealed sales tax on food (many in California were starving). In 1938 Culbert Olsen ran against Governor Merriam and he won. Finally, a state which had a large Democratic majority since 1932 elected a pro-New Deal Democrat as Governor.

So people should quit discussing 2008 presidential elections, which are a long way off. Instead people should concentrate on 2006 elections next year, ensuring that good candidates are elected to both House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Hopefully Democrats can take back either the House or the Senate as well as elect more governors. Among the crop of Demoratic victors in 2006, there should be a good candidate for president.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


My favorite pie is pumpkin pie. Native Americans, of course, first cultivated pumpkins as well as squashes, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, chocolate. So Native Americans really created much of the American diet: from clambakes to turkey banquets to salmon feasts to chocolate drinks to winter squashes to cornbread.

Two weeks ago I visited the Southwest Musuem, one of the greatest Native American musuems in the world. We walked up the steps on the hill past the Goldline (rapid train) which we had taken and then took an elevator up the hillside to the musuem that sits high on the hill. The first room we went to was the California Room on California Indians. What fascinated me was the wonderul exhibit that illlustrated how each group of Indians brilliantly adapted to its ecological niche in California getting food. Many of the exhibits on display how to do with making food.

The California coastal Indians like the Tongva of the Los Angeles region and the Chumash of Santa Barbara both fished in the sea and collected sea shells that were used as money. Examples of sea shells were in the display case. The Tongva also collected tar from the tar pits which they traded to other Indians. On display were Chumash's baskets that were particulary brilliant in design. Also both Tongva and Chumash made canoes and rowed out to the nearby Channel Islands 20 miles offshore where Natives also lived. Costal Indians hunted seals, sea lions and sea otters but not whales; if a whale did wash ashore, they would eat it. They collected clams, mussels, and crabs. The Pomo in the north would capture ducks and mud hens by the shore.

Throughout California Natives collected acorns from oak trees, leached out the acids, and made an acorn mush which was a staple. Throughout the exhibit there were great looking baskets used to gather acorns and other seeds, nuts, bulbs, and roots. Baskets were used as boiling pots. Baskets were also used to store food. The Indians often dried out meat or fish before storing it in baskets which were then put in a granery. Also the display cases had stone mortars on which Native women would pound the acorns done into a fine flour. Acorn were made into pudding, mush or soup. Native peoples used wooden spoons too cook and eat.

The desert Indians of the Great Basin learned how to flourish in that harsh environment, eating inscets grasshopers, crickets and caterpillars. The peoples of the Central Valley and the Sierra foothills such as the Yosemite existed on the plentiful fish and game. They killed game birds like quail and grouse as well as rabbits, rats, mice, and chipmunks. They also killed larger game such as deer, elk, antelope, mountain sheep, and bear. Huge herds of elk, antelope, and deer lived in the grasslands of the Central Valley,

Native Americans of Northern California were river peoples: each Indian group centered its territory on a particular river or stream. The Northern Indians fished the salmon and trout in the rivers and creeks. Since my brother lives in Burney, California, in the northeast corner of the state, I was familiar with the Pit River Indians who fished the Pit River while the Hat Creek people lived by that trout stream coming north out of Mt. Lassen. The Northern Indians also used the abundant woods to make sturdy wooden houses. On display were photos of nets the Indians used to fish with.

California's Indians drank berry juices made out of elderberry and manzanita; ciders made out of wile apples or manzanita berries; wild grape juice; nut drinks from pounded nuts; and herbal teas. The got salt from seaweed on the seashore or from mineral deposits.

The Southwest Musuem had two other splendid rooms: one on the Plains Indians and the other on Southwest Indians--the Pueblo, Hopi, and Navajo. The beeding on the dresses and shirts of the Plains Indians was just beautiful. All in all, the Southwest Museum is a great museum.

Friday, November 18, 2005

LA wants more green power

A few days ago on this blog I suggested that Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (L.A.D.W.P.) have a goal of 25% renewable sources for the city's electricity by 2010; currently LA D.W.P has a goal of 20% renewable energy by 2017.

Well, November 17 The LA Times had an article where Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposes spending $240 million to build a transmission line for L.A. to tap into a geothermal fields in the Salton Sea area (geothermal projects generate electricity from tapping into the heat deep within the earth). The transmission line will take five years to build.

The Mayor wants the L.A. D.W.P. to meet the goal by 2010 of having 20% of its electricity from renewable sources. Well, 20% by 2010 is better than 20% by 2017, the current goal. The Mayor is certainly moving in the right direction, so we should support his proposal to build the transmission line to geothermal fields in the Salton Sea area. The mayor called his proposal "a major step forward in our efforts to shift away from outdated fossil fuels of the past and toward the renewable energy resources of the future." He's 100% right.

The transmission line would carry enough electricity for 1,500,000 homes, with L.A. getting 20% of the electricity or enough for 300,000 homes. The rest of the electricity would go to home in Imperial, Riverside, and San Diego counties—so the geothermal transmission line would help make much more use of renewable energy for electricity throughout Southern California.

Also November 16 LA Times announced the L.A. D.W.P. said it will buy a $262 million wind farm that generates electricity in Ken County: “The Pine Tree project, initially budgeted at $162 million, is erecting 80 wind turbines to provide 120 megawatts of power, enough to power up to 120,000 homes.” The L.A.D.W.P. board says it also wants to reach the goal by 2010 of 20% renewable energy sources.

So LA can get more of its electricity from alternative non-polluting energy sources. I think the mayor and the L.A.D.W.P. are moving in the right direction using more wind power and geothermal , but the city and its LA D.W.P. could do even more to acquire renewable energy:

Los Angeles would do much better by setting even higher goals for alternative energy to power the city. With putting solar panels on the rooftops the city should aim for 30% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2010!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Green Power

Global warming which is caused by burning coal and oil makes hurricanes worse, so what can we do about it? Get Green Power for our electricity.

I’m a Green Power customer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (L.A.D.W.P.).. About a year ago I signed up for the Green Power program. We Green Power customers get our energy from renewable sources: solar, geothermal; wind, biomass, and hydropower. It costs me an extra $3.26/month.

A few months before I signed up for Green Power, my old refrigerator was falling apart, so I bought a new Energy Star refrigerator. Energy Star is a U.S. government program that has a website ( that lists appliances that save energy. It lists all sorts of appliances: clothes washers; dishwashers, refrigerators; room air conditioning; cordless phones; dvd players; home audio; televisions; VCRs; computers; fax machines; printers; scanners etc. These energy star appliances use less energy and thus save us money.

I found a SANYO refrigerator listed as energy star, and in the product locator I found a nearby store in Los Angeles that sells the SANYO, so I went there and bought the refrigerator. A year after I bought the refrigerator, I checked my energy bill. Refrigerators use more electricity than any other household appliance because they’re on all the time. Also, I replaced the old bulbs with florescent bulbs. My new refrigerator along with the low-energy light bulbs saves me about $20/month. The store hauled off my old refrigerator but the L.A.D.W.P. also a program where they will haul off old refrigerators and give you in return a six-pack of florescent bulbs. In two years I will have paid off the new refrigerator that cost $400 just in terms of savings from my electric bill.

So I wound up for the past year using less energy (I have an all-electric house) as well as having my energy only come from renewable sources. I’m not causing any global warming, so I feel good about that. Everyone could change their refrigerator to Energy Star as well as use florescent bulbs. Last month I also had to get a new computer printer, so I got an Energy Star Canon. Buying only Energy Star appliance will save us all money as well as energy.

A few weeks ago I got a letter for the LA DWP congratulating me for being a Green Power Customer, and saying “The City of Los Angeles is also extending its commitment to a clean environment by developing a Renewable Portfolio Standard to achieve 20% renewable energy by 2017." In contrast, the City of Santa Monica has committed to have 25% renewable energy within Santa Monica by 2010. If Santa Monica can commit to 25% renewable resources by 2010, why can’t Los Angeles? If you ask me, both cities should try to shoot higher than that.

Also, the letter said I could look at the 2004 Green Power program Annual report but when I checked, the report wasn’t up. Could the LA.D.W.P. please put up the report.

By the way, the City of Santa Monica a couple years ago signed up to get electricity for city offices only from green power sources, which has saved the city money. The city of Los Angeles should do the same: run its city offices only on green power electricity.

The more non-polluting energy we all use—both as individuals and as cities—the more we can begin to tackle global warming.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Schwarzenegger’s propositions terminated

I feel like celebrating that all of Governor Schwarzenegger’s propositions—74, 75, 76, and 77—were defeated in yesterday’s special elections. The people of California got smart and told the Governor that they thought his reforms were really bad ideas, which they were. Led by nurses, teachers, firefighters, and policepeople, California’s working people have had a victory!

His Proposition 76—capping the California state budget—would have taken millions away from the schools, which have been already starved for funds for over two decades. His Proposition 74—the proposal to extend tenure for teachers—would have had almost no impact improving California’s teachers and would have made it harder to attract good new teachers. Good that they were voted down!

So far Schwarzenegger has been a terrible governor for California. When the state has serious problems to be solved—millions of its citizens lack health care; the school system is getting worse; the transportation system and the flood control system around Sacramento needs improvements—Schwarzenegger succeeded in wasting over $50 million of the taxpers money on this special election November 8, 2005. The money could have been much better spent elsewhere.

In today’s LA Times Steve Lopez in the “California section” argues in a piece titled “Governor Took Low Road on Education” that Schwarzenegger has ignored his opportunity to improve California’s schools. Lopez says that instead Schwarzenegger “has cavalierly broken a promise on public school funding [to restore the $2 billion he took], embittered teachers, and offered next to nothing in the way of creative or sweeping solutions to the state’s most critical challenge.”

Indeed Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill to continue professional development for teachers. I teach at Santa Monica College, and we’ve been told there is zero money for professional development even though we’re required to put in hours for professional development. I’m going to two conferences, but it’s with my own money.

I would hope that Governor Schwarzenegger would make some serious changes in his policies, but I don’t see it. California’s infrastructure—schools, roads, and libraries—were built decades ago and need to be improved but that takes money. The Republican ideology of starving the public sector which Schwarzenegger believes in doesn’t allow for spending money in improvement of infrastructure. Too bad.

Then it’s up to us citizens to elect a governor who will build up the infrastructure—the school, health system, libraries, and transportation system. We’ve just had one victory in California. We need to start planning for our next victory.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Paris Burns

For those puzzled about the French youth burning cars in Paris, I suggest people read Walter Mosely’s wonderful novel “Little Scarlet” about the Watts Rebellion in 1965. Watts in 1965 was very similar to the suburbs of Paris–very high unemployment for black youth, constant police harassment, lack of youth opportunities, poor schools, etc.

Mosely particularly shows how the hero Easy Rawlins, a 40 something employed black famly man with family who owns apartments, is constantly stopped by the police just as he walks down the street. I taught the book recently, and the students at LACC, mostly Asian and Latino immigrants, couldn’t understand two things at first: they couldn’t understand how bad the segregation was in Los Angeles and they couldn’t understand why the black male hero didn’t burn down anything but merely watches from his office. Easy Rawlins sympathizes with the grievances of youth in the street but doesn’t think burning helps really. Actually, Rawlins sympthizes with the pain of two white small storeowners whose shops have been destroyed by the riots. Yet Rawlins is positively affected, as when the cops need him to solve a murder, he demands to be treated with respect. Constantly through the novel he again and again demands to be treated decently by the cops.

I think the French youth in the streets (not immigrants as these youth are 2nd and 3rd generation French) also need to be treated with respect–respect is at the core of what they’re asking. The Minister of Interior Skorzy is so hated because he shows no respect–rather the opposite as he is insulting calling them "scum."

Friday, November 04, 2005

Los Angeles Environmentalist Revealed!

Los Angeles environmentalist might at first sound like a contradiction, but not if you look at the life of Lawrence Clark Powell. He was the Librarian at UCLA who had built up the university’s book collection and for whom Powell Library was named. Powell’s California Classics is made up of essays about 31 California writers who brilliantly discuss the land—mountain, deserts, valleys, and coasts—of California.

Of course, Powell writes a good essay on John Muir praising his book Mountains of California, but Powell also includes two even more fascinating essays about two mountain men/writers before Muir: William H. Brewer and Clarence King.

Brewer, a Yale-trained scientist, was field leader of the first California Geological Survey, led by Josiah Dwight Whitney. Brewer and the geological survey tramped from one end to the other of California from 1861 to1864 surveying, mountain climbing, and collecting specimens. Powell describes Brewer as having immense dedication, stamina, and vision.

Brewer also wrote letters to his brother in New York that became the basis of his book Up and Down California 1860-64. Powell tells how during his lifetime Brewer’s letters were never published but during the 1920s Francis Farquhar, a C.P.A. and leading California mountaineer, convinced Brewer’s sons to let him edit their father’s letters into a book which became the wonderful Up and Down California 1860-64. Powell says that the book wonderfully describes the the beauties of the state before cities and earth-moving machinery with Brewer’s “clear and sensuous vision.”

Clarence King, a young Eastern college student, became Brewer’s assistant, and quickly distinguished himself with brilliant climbs up Mount Lassen and Mount Shasta. After climbing many mountains in California with the Whitney survey from 1863-1866, King went on to direct the United States Geological Survey and then wrote Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada published in 1872. Powell comments, “King was the first to climb the Sierra Nevada, and the first to write of the range in sunlight and storm …” Powell describes King as poet of the mountains as well as audacious climber.

Powell includes essays in a charming style mixing literary history, biography of the writers, commentary on their books, and autobiography. Of course, he describes such famous writers and books as Bret Harte’s The Luck of Roaring Camp, Mark Twain’s Roughing It, Richard Henry Dana Jr’s Two Years Before the Mast, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Silverado Squatters, written when he camped with his wife near an abandoned gold mine in Napa County.

But I found even more fascinating Powell’s writing about three early classic books about the deserts of California: William Manly’s Death Valley in ’49, Mary Austin’s The Land of Little Rain and George Wharton James’ The Wonders of the Colorado Desert. Powell has a fascinating essay on William Manly’s Death Valley in ’49. Manly’s autobiographical tale describes how he was a young ox driver leading a small wagon train through Death Valley when it bogged down, so Manly and another man went on ahead, finding their way to Los Angeles and returning with food, saving all lives. Powell says Manley book “a classic of the gold rush, a chronicle of death and disaster, survival and heroism, distinguished by narrative power, specific event, and precise observation.”

By the turn of the century the desert was no longer a death field so writers changed their views of that landscape. Mary Austin, who was a repressed but college educated Victorian young woman, came with her family to homestead in the high desert right just south of the Sierra Nevada. After she explored the desert, learning its plants and animals; then see listened and learned from the Basque sheepherders, the Native Americans, and old timers like General Edward Beale, owner of Rancho Tejon. At this point she wrote Land of Little Rain. Her book is the first ecofeminist classic. Austin was a woman who finds herself and her freedom at the same time she comes to know and understand the desert. Powell as right when he said, “She was one of the first writers to exalt the desert.” Austin was a mystic who found home and freedom there.

George Wharton James was a sickly Englishman who regained his health in the 1880s tramping through deserts of Nevada, New Mexico, and Southern California. A fervent booster, he published pre-automobile guidebooks to his beloved deserts. Powell says that his book The Wonders of the Colorado Desert is “composed of learning and love, and fashioned into the several levels of history, science, topography, and visionary idealism.” The desert he so loved was from Twentynine Palms to Yuma and from the San Bernardino-San Jacinto-Laguna Mountains to the Colorado River.

Powell also gives us those writers who brilliantly evoke the California coast: Robinson Jeffers, the poet of Big Sur; and John Steinbeck who writes about Monterey and the ranches in the nearby inland valley. But the most fascinating costal writer Powell discusses is J. Smeaton Chase, an Englishman who came to California in 1890 and who settled in northeast San Diego.

Chase’s third book California Costal Trails describes two long horseback rides he took: in 1910 from El Monte in Los Angeles County down the coast to San Diego; and in 1912 from El Monte to the coast at Malibu up to the Oregon border. Chase wonderfully describes the plants and flowers, the missions he visited, the many Mexicans he met and shared food with along the way, the hermit he met, and, of course, his two horses. Chase’s book sounds like a great California western about the last horseback ride along the coast.

Besides being an environmentalist, Powel is a committed bookman, telling in charming stories his autobiography through books: his childhood in Pasadena watching his father play tennis with Upton Sinclair; his search as a student for these California classics through bookstores in London, Paris, and Boston; his research as a graduate student in librarian studies in the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley; his working as a young man for famed book dealer Jake Zeitlin; and his researches on the authors at the Bancroft Library in Berkeley and the Huntington Library in San Marino. He makes the book search sound like one of the great works of life.

Powell is utterly charming writer whose work is permeated with love for the California land. Yes, he really was a Los Angeles environmentalist. Now, the Los Angeles Sierra Club is the largest chapter in the nation. Horseback riders still ride through the little patches of trails in Los Angeles County, with a major equestrian center in Burbank. Yes, Burbank! But before the current generation, Powell was there as well as the environmental writers he so brilliantly brings to life: the mountaineers William Brewer and Clarence King; the desert writers William Manly, Mary Austin, and George Wharton James; and the coastal horseback rider J. Smeaton Chase.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

November 8 Election

California’s special election

Get out and vote! For education, for health care, for a decent energy system, for demoratic rights

from California Federation of Teachers AFT AFL-CIO

No Proposition 73 Constitutionally defines life begins at conception.

No Proposition 74 Teachers can be fired without justification for five years, not two years as the law states now.

No. Proposition 75.
Silences nurses, teachers, firefighters—targets public employees by imposing spending restrictions that apply only to unions and not to corporations. This law is a terrible assault on democracy in California.

No. Proposition 76.
The Governor’s power grab over the budget. Overturns the funding guarantees the voters passed and gives the governor unprecedented power to cut the state budget unilaterally. The Governor’s already taken $2 billion from education he hasn’t paid back.

No. Proposition 77.
Gives 3 unelected and unaccountable judges power to redistrict
new legislative districts for 37 million Californians

No Proposition 78.
Stop phony prescription drug program. This law codifies the pharmaceutical industry’s phony program to “voluntarily” reduce prescription rates.

Yes. Proposition 79.
Consumer plan to provided affordable prescription drugs to
eight million Californians with state enforcement.

Yes. Proposition 80. Consumer plan to provide for energy for all Californians and to prevent fraud like Enron did in a deregulated energy system.

Governor Schwarzenegger has pushed this unnecessary special election. He has said when running for office since he’s wealthy he wouldn’t take money from special interests but he’s taken millions—more than any other elected official in California.

In this election Schwarzenegger is pushing the interests of the speical interests who gave him big contributions. Since many of his propositions are unpopular, he’s counting on a low turnout in the vote on Tuesday November 8 to pass them.

Get out and vote!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween Carnaeval/West Hollywood

Last night I attended the Halloween Street celebration in West Hollywood, the largest in California with over 350,000 on the streets. As my friend Erica and I walked down Santa Monica Boulevard, we saw people dressed in costumes walking along with us west--a skeleton bride in white face paint and a bridal dress walking next to two cops. When I lived in West Hollywood, I always walked from my house a mile to the celebration, but I've not been living in West Hollywood for four year. However, at a birthday party last spring of a West Hollywood senior activitst Ric Rickles I was introduced to West Hollywood's mayor Abby Land, so I decided this year I was going.

We got to La Cienega and Santa Monica Boulevard, crossed the street and left the sidewalk to walk with thousands of others in the middle of the crowd. A very diverse crowd it was: white, black, Asian, Latino; young and old, some parents with toddlers around their necks; gay, bisexual, and straight; people speaking Russian, Spanish, English and French.

As we walked forward west the crowd got thicker until we got to the first bandstand where people in costumes were strutting across the stage: a ninja Bunny who executed some karate moves; a Jack-of-the Box in half popping out of a box around his waist; four beautiful Venetian dancers in red and blue pointy colored hats and long flowing robes colored in danced on stage. As we stood in the crowd watching the people on stage a line of penguins--fifteen men in black with white pointy masks--marched in front of us. That was fantastic to see a March of the Penguins right before our eyes. Ten minutes later the fifteen penguin-men marched on stages and marched in a circle, circling the m.c. who yelled, "I'm pregnant!" I loved those penguins! Finally, the penguins marched right off stage!

A few minutes later two tall figures dressed as elegrant ladies in gowns marched on stage. The M.C. announced, "Lady Katrina and Lady Rita" as the two hurricanes dance around before dancing off. Good that people in West Hollywood help us laugh off disasters. Later as we were weaving in and around through the crowd which was getting thicker and thicker a man in black with two birds perched on his shouder approached me. A foot away he held one of his birds right in front of my face and said, "Bird flu." I ducked out of his way. Right after 9/13 I went to West Hollywood Halloween and a man and a woman were wearing two tall rectangular boxes that looked like skyscrapers: they were the Twin Towers.

We stopped by the fire truck as my friend Erica met an old friend Carol from high school she hadn't seen in twenty years, and they chatted what they had been doing these last twenty years, Then we marched on, seeing a man holding a sign "Jesus Loves Jews" which I liked and then a Jesus Freak holding up a sign condeming the crowd followed by an escort of about five cops. By this time the crowd was really thick and it was slow going. What is great is the peacefullness, the diversity, the creativity, and the imagination. Groups of gigantic men and women were decked out in gowns, towering blonde and red wigs, and high heels were posing for others holding cameras. Big girls! Very big girls! In West Hollwyood everyone can be Star for the Evening. All body sizes welcome! Big guys dressed up as gorillas and Vikings! Fat women looked great as divas and princesses in elegant gowns!

At another stage we saw a group cowboys/cowgirls in blue jeans, cowboy shirts and black hats were dancing to disco rap, doing turns and twirling their black hats. As we marched along we saw a man besides a female figure wearing an U.S flag/burka like the women of Afghanistan--I wished I had my camera! We saw Chinese aristrocrats in beautiful embroidered gowns; lots of drag queens in towering wigs, elegrant gowns, and platform shoes; a young man wearing around his neck a table set with plates and silverwear who was a movable feast. Lots of people dressed up in black-and-white stripped prison outfits as wells adults dressed up as babies.

What's great is this one day a year all of Los Angeles comes together to celebrating everybody's creativity--this city needs more festivities like this.

Day of the Dead/ Hollywood Forever Cemetery

I’ve been going to Day of the Dead/Halloween festivities in Los Angeles. First, October 29th I went to 6th Annual Day of the Dead at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a historical cemetery having a grave of blonde bombshell actress Jayne Mansfield, silent movie star Rudolf Valetino’s grave and a monument for the LA Times printers killed when the newspaper was bombed in 1911.

As I walked in this year, parking was harder to come by even in the afternoon and groups of people were walking in—thousands were coming this year. The event lasted from 3-11. Finally, I got in line, and gave them a $5 donation—new this year.

About 4:00 near the cemetery's entrance they had a group of men and women dressed in indigenous Mexican dress with—attractive long dresses with orange embroidery for the women and white shirts for the men—kneeling in a prayer for the opening ceremony. To one side was the Oaxaca band holding their instruments including a tuba; to the other side a large group of Aztec dancers with headdresses of gray and black plumages, white skull faces, and black costumes. The crowd of a couple hundred gathered around. After the prayer ceremony, the drummer with a 3 foot drum got in the center starting to beat his drum while forty Aztec dancers— swathed in white face paint, gray feather headdresses, black skeleton outfits, and bells around their ankles—danced and danced in the center of the circle.

Day of the Dead was originally a Mexican Indian holiday celebrating the dead that the Spanish Catholics appropriated and Catholicized. Here in Los Angeles Self-Help Graphics in East Los Angeles, a community-art center for Chicanos, started Day of the Dead celebrations over two decades ago where artists create alters, inspiring many other Dead of the Dead celebrations in Los Angeles and changing the culture of this city. Hollywood Forever Cemetary started their celebration six-years ago by asking artists of all ethnicities to make alters; in that first celebration only a few hundred showed up, but today thousands were coming.

Back at the opening ceremony the men in white shirts picked up a coffin, heading off into the ceremony in a processional while the band started playing as they marched behind the coffin; the other Mexican men and women followed, then the Aztec dancers, and then the rest of us who by now numbered hundreds got in line to parade into the cemetery. Lots of cameras went offTo the left was an alter covered in a United States flag for the soldiers dead of Iraq.

After we of few minutes of marching the line turned leftl. Next we passed an alter for Rosa Parks, the great black woman who started the Montgomery bus boycott; an alter for all those who have died from cigarettes; another alter covered in an U.S. flag for a soldier dead in Iraq; an alter for Jayne Mansfield who is buried in this graveyard, and another alter for rebel rocker Johnny Ramone, who is also buried here. Many of the alters had loaves of bread for the dead and photos of the dead. Many alters had tall, white skeleton sculptures bedecking the grades along with yellow flowers. The creators of the alters sat in folding chairs besides their creation. One alter had two young men and two men dressed in black with white face pain--all were dancing.

At the next intersection was a huge white cloth like a white sea covering the grave. The ashen-white faced dancers covered in white rags of the anti-war butoh dance group Corpus Delicti were dancing as if they were corpses dead from the war. Corpus Delicti has often danced at Los Angeles anti-war marches to show Americans the dead of our war. To our left down that row of graves was an alter for the murdered Women of Juarez and another with a mural of a knight on horseback for great Spanish author Miguel Cervantes who died four centuries ago in 1605. All in all a great Day of the Dead.