Category Archives: Politics & Opinions

Bloggimia has MOVED.

Hello, dear readers! 

Bloggimia, Vanessa Libertad Garcia’s official blog, has moved to

HERE.

Please read & subscribe to my latest rants & contemplations by clicking the link above!

*If you’ve previously subscribed to Bloggimia at this address: https://bloggimia.wordpress.com

Please re-subscribe at the new link.

My apologies, but the new system wouldn’t transfer over the old subscriptions.

For reference, the new url home is: http://vanessalibertadgarcia.com/bloggimia/

Check out Today’s New Blog Post:
“Awful Movies = AMAZEEENG Time!”

See you there! ;p


Voting Booth After Dark: Animated Video Review, Interview & #Hashtag

On my book

The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive:

The Book’s Hashtag Reference for Twitter convos: #vbafterd

Find & Join conversations about books you love through Book#Hashtags.   Twitter it up, my freyngs!

BOOK REVIEWS & INTERVIEWS

  • The Lesfic Underbelly gives #vbafterd a hilarious and spot-on animated video review, which you can watch here:

  • Journalist Daniel Hernandez reviews #vbafterd for his renowned blog Intersections and interviews me on these topics:

[INTERVIEW EXCERPT: Answers edited down for space]

Q: How did the book come about?

A: I wrote The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive over a period of about 3 years. I didn’t know I was developing a book, however, until the end of the 3rd year. During that period (2005-2008), I bottomed out on nightclubs, Mickey’s Malt Liquor, and half-hearted affairs with bi-curious women in heterosexual relationships. They weren’t my proudest moments, but undeniably some of my most consuming. An intense period of trying out remedies that seemed to cure other people’s despair, but just deepened mine.

[… My friends and I] were driven go-getters with artistic aspirations working hard to forge our paths in the adult world, which required embracing thwarted expectations on a daily basis. We worked loathsome pay your dues jobs and took to the LA Eastside/Downtown/Chinatown nightclubs in desperate attempts to forget our unpredictable futures. George Bush Jr. was president at the time, Hollywood was making Mission Impossible 3 or 4, and oppressed Palestinians continued suffering merciless injustice. Feelings of utter powerlessness and hopelessness overwhelmed us, and we grew apathetic together.

[…] I spent late nights, usually in the sober moments before I cracked open a bottle of Carlo Rossi since I can’t write while boozed, jotting down our emotional dismemberment. I didn’t think many people would want to read them. I mean another poem about drunken misery? Honestly, I sort of hated myself for them.

[…] Everyone is affected by and affects politics whether they’re political or not. So in regards to the characters in my book, they continue to live the minor accounts of their daily lives in the backdrop of the 2008 presidential elections — meaning that they still form some part of the greater political puzzle.

Q: Where did you grow-up? Tell me more about your background.

A: I was born to a middle-class Cuban family in Los Angeles, CA. I’ve lived throughout the burbs’ & hoods of Los Angeles such as Glendale, Downey, South Gate, Bell, and Koreatown. I also lived in Miami & Ixtlan Del Rio, Mexico for several months. I moved around A LOT as a kid. Around 25 times, I think. I spent most of my childhood at the Maywood Baptist School and then transferred to a couple of public schools in Downey. Ultimately, my high school home-stay was the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) where I majored in Theatre Arts, and I graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2005 with a Bachelors in Film Production & minor in Theatre.

Q:Will you be voting for Obama next time around? 

A: NO. No I definitely will not be voting for Obama in 2012. As someone once said, “I was in love with the idea of Obama.”

You can read the review/interview in its entirety by clicking here.

For more fun excerpts, interviews, & articles on The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive click here!

Thanks for your support & I hope you enjoy the read!

Big Hug ~ V


Paraiso For Sale = AMAZEDAWGZ

Just got back from watching Paraiso for Sale at The LA Film Fest.  I’m so exhausted. My body aches from a week of non-stop overbooking.  No complaints.  I’m blessed to live in a city brimming with pulsating brilliance that channels itself through diverse art & artists, which I have the privilege to experience.

That being said, I need to continue to work on cultivating BALANCE in my daily life.  I have to stop saying YES to everyone I love & everything I want to do or my hair will finish its final crossover from 75% grey to a full 100%.  Although my brain is mush at the moment and all it yearns for is a good 8 – 10 hours of rest, I must blog about one of the week’s most moving 2 hours: Paraiso for Sale.

Paraiso (Paradise) for Sale was a profoundly piercing, educational and endearing documentary that still has my entire being vibrating from essence to bone.  In summary, it was RAD.

Film Trailer & Brief Summary:

PARADISE FOR SALE takes a look at the effects the fast-growing migration of American retirees and developers to Bocas del Toro, Panama is having on the local community.

What price would you pay for paradise? And who would you be willing to take it from? Panama is one of the most sought after real estate destinations in the world. The archipelago of Bocas del Toro, a gem hidden away in the Caribbean side of Panama, attracts retirees and developers from the US with its crystal clear waters and luscious trees.

Filmmaker Anayansi Prado returns to her homeland to document the effects the fast-growing migration of American retirees and developers to Bocas del Toro is having on the local community.

Feliciano, a Ngobe Bugle indigenous leader, organizes his people in an effort to protect their land from the government and foreign developers. Local boatsman Dario runs for Mayor with the hopes of bringing change to development in Bocas del Toro. American retiree couple Karan and Willy spent their life savings on their dream home in paradise, only to pay the real price for it later.

PARAISO FOR SALE explores issues of modern day colonialism, residential tourism and global gentrification and reveals that migration between Latin America and the US is not just a one-way street.

2 Actions I HIGHLY recommend taking: 

1) Watching Paraiso For Sale at The LA Film Festival’s last two showings: Mon, Jun 20th OR  Wed, Jun 22nd.

2) Take a stand for GLOBAL INDIGENOUS RIGHTS by checking out Cultural Survival and “liking” its Facebook Page.

Mission Statement: “Cultural Survival” is a global leader in the fight to protect indigenous lands, languages, and cultures around the world. In partnership with indigenous peoples, we advocate for native communities whose rights, cultures, and dignity are under threat.

Thanks for reading & enjoy exercising your powerful voice in the world!

xo ~ V


On Being Latina & Lesbian in the U.S.A.

On Being Latina & Lesbian in the U.S.A.:

  • My published interview about “coming out” for the site New Latina.
  • My essay titled “Being Cuban, One Afternoon at a Time”, which encapsulates what being Cuban means to me — featured in the Tiki Tiki Blog.
  • My article “In Italics: Queer Latino Nuances in American Literature”, which discusses the psychology underlying the customary italicization of Queer Latino-American phrases in American literature.  A spotlight feature in Lambda Literary

1) My published interview about “coming out” for the site New Latina:

Tracy Lopez interviews Vanessa Libertad Garcia, a filmmaker and writer living in Los Angeles, California, about lesbianism and her story on “coming out” and dealing with her sexuality as a Latina.

When did you first realize you were gay?

I’d known since I was very little, about 4 years old, that the way I felt about certain girls or women was to be kept secret because it wasn’t “the norm”.  I didn’t know, however, what the label or categories were for those feelings.  I didn’t know they were “lesbian” in nature.  I just knew they were uncommon and could be used to ostracize me so I stuffed them down for years.

Have you “come out”?

I came out to myself and, immediately afterward, to all of my friends in the first year of college when I was 18 years old.

When you “came out” to your family, tell us what that was like. How did you feel? How did they respond?

Coming out to my family was a sort of gradual process.  I came out to my immediate family such as mom and close cousins around the same time I came out to my friends.  All my other family members learned about my lesbianism through the grapevine and that was that.  It hasn’t been made a big deal thus far.  It took my mom about a month after I first told her to get over the shock because she never expected me to come out, but even then she was sincerely supportive.

My whole family, thankfully, has been really accepting and loving. Especially my mom.  There’s been no fuss made about my being a lesbian.  Even my grandma, whom I recently told, took the news refreshingly well.  I mean, once in a blue moon, cliche questions will pop up in conversation like, “Maybe you just haven’t met the right boy yet?” or “Why don’t you just give a man a try to be sure?”  To which I always reply, “Well, maybe you just haven’t met the right girl yet?” or “Why don’t you just give a woman a try to be sure?” They usually empathize and we laugh it off.

I think it helps that my eldest aunt (on my mother’s side) came out of the closet 20 years before I did.  Sadly, she had to barrel through our Cuban family’s old world homophobic disdain and rejection, but I believe her painful process ultimately humanized “the gays” in our family and paved the way for the smooth acceptance I later experienced.  By the time I came out, being a lesbian in the family was old news.

I definitely felt nervous about telling my family that I was a lesbian. Nervous that they’d think I was creepy or strange… Honestly, I still don’t feel completely comfortable talking about my love life with them because, well, girls just didn’t talk about other girls like that in the Latin families I grew up around.  I am more aware now than ever, however, that my uncomfortableness is just internalized homophobia flaring up and that, in fact, I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.  Consequently, I’ll challenge myself to share with them about my lesbian lifestyle, more than I’d like to, as practice.  Discussing it helps me practice embracing the naturalness, normalcy, and beauty of my homosexuality.

What problems have you faced with your family as a result?

Nothing serious so far, thank goodness.

What problems have you faced in the Latino community as a result?

None so far either.  Gratefully, I’ve experienced warmth, acceptance, and support from the Latino communities I form part of — mainly film and literary.

What is your advice to other gay/bi Latinas out there who may feel alone – who maybe are younger or just haven’t come out yet?

Whether bi or gay, your sexuality is perfect.  There’s nothing wrong with you. You have nothing to be ashamed of, I promise.  You are not alone. There are millions like you. We are everywhere. The GLBTQ community is huge and powerful and loves you very much. We defend and stand by you. Come find us.  There are Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender centers and organizations all around the world. You don’t have to hide who you are ever again.  A distant Christian family member once told me, “But it’s just not natural, Vanessa.  Being gay is not natural.”  To which I replied, “Then why did it naturally happen to me?”  We’re all Nature’s children and equal in Her eyes.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Come out of the closet and go fall in love in with some gorgeous chicas, ya lezzies;)  Have a blast loving and being loved!

2) My essay titled “Being Cuban, One Afternoon at a Time”, which encapsulates what being Cuban means to me — featured in the Tiki Tiki Blog.

Being Cuban. Being Woman. Being Lesbian. These are all concrete identifiable experiences for me that melt into a puddle of vagueness whenever I try to grab them and hand them over to someone else for understanding.

But, I think the best way to explain the Being Cuban part to someone not Cuban entails describing one afternoon of my life.

I was born Cuban-American a.k.a. a Cuban in the United States. Therefore, I’ve always lived at the point where two distinct worlds briefly brush against each other while on a rush to separate destinations. This dot in the space-time continuum is an unusual locale where two opposing atmospheres converge to form a rare hybrid of people: Los Cubanos-Americanos. I like to think of this planetary meeting place as my grandmother’s house.

Every Thursday from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. for the last three years, I’ve hung out with my grandmother “Mamaita” at her home in a suburban outskirt of Los Angeles. She lives in a primarily middle-class/lower-middle class Mexican-American neighborhood. I live in a similar barrio five minutes away.

Her well-kept, peach-coated, wide 4-bedroom property faces a groomed yard adorned in pastel flowers, Aloe Vera plants, and heavy concrete ducks. During her 25 years there, she’s used the Aloe Vera to cure everyone’s everything — from derrieres wounded by poodle bites to minor burns to acne breakouts. If you really want to clear the acne for good, however, she highly recommends using Azufre three times daily.

As soon as you walk into her living room, you find yourself standing on a light-yellow shag carpet surrounded by shelves of books, family portraits, certificates of achievement, and aged trinkets from my childhood.

Her books are medical, psychological, and nutritional in nature and all in English. Although she mostly writes, speaks, and listens to the radio in Spanish, she prefers reading in English as a means of practicing the language. Her comprehension of the English language is impressively vast especially since she still struggles from time to time to wrap her mouth around the English translation of her Cuban phrases. Barack Obama becomes Arak Oama, in other words.

Our family portraits change weekly, but include us all – at one point or another – standing or sitting next to each other while looking pensively or forlornly off into the distance. Including the babies. Framed above us all, my great-grandmother, her mother, stands between two Alice In Wonderland Characters Tweedledee & Tweedledum at Disneyland, taken years back when she flew over from Cuba for a visit.

Mamaita’s certificates of achievement range from the University of Havana to college in Cali to an award she won for poetry in 1989, the Golden Poet award. A killer poet and bona fide book addict she can usually be found humming behind gold-rimmed glasses while writing with her left hand or holding a book she’s reading with her right.

When I arrive, the radio tends to blare ballads by Olga Guillot, Benny More, Celia Cruz, and Joan Baez from the “It’s a Cuban Chreeesmas” music mix I made her. Mamaita also enjoys ’60s American Folk songs and various genres of American music. One time I found her listening to Nirvana on the radio. She told me that hard stuff often helps her get the inner knots of AAH! out.

We then walk into the kitchen where she’s cooked the most delicious food I ever will eat. Hers are healthy versions of classic Cuban meals: platanitos fritos, ropa vieja, yucca, arroz prieto, y ensalada Cubana.  And from behind a plastic child-protective gate, my grandmother’s heart-melting mildly obese dog “Angelita,” resemblant of a chubby little lamb, barks for me to pet her.

After petting Angelita, my grandmother and I sit down at her round 1970s dinner table. Sitting relaxed on her walker seat across from me, she cups her glamorous 1940s crop, lifts her classic gold-rimmed glasses from the tip of her nose up to her eyes, and begins gently twirling her Sagittarius necklace with her right pointer finger. Instantly, her left fist opens up and begins expressing all the ideas, memories, and feelings she’s started telling me about.

We speak about poverty in 1930s Cuba and surviving El Barrio de Jesus Maria, the positive effects vitamins and good nutrition have on the body’s different organs, and how my aunt Mamadina prayed as a little girl for La Cigüeña to bring her a little sister, and then my mom was born.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a large Cuban coffee maker on the stove and know that after lunch we’ll drink her incomparable Cafésito Cubano con Leche de Cabra. After which she’ll recite a poem she wrote for me when I was very little and emphasize the line, “mi nietesita de ojos color caramelo.”

For me, Being Cuban means being Cuban-American one afternoon at a time.

3) My article “In Italics: Queer Latino Nuances in American Literature”, which discusses the psychology underlying the customary italicization of Queer Latino-American phrases in American literature.  A spotlight feature in Lambda Literary

Nuanced identities are amassed by an amalgam of experiences which include particular terminologies. Specific terms weave together the distinctive fabric of their unique existences.

Applying this summation to our group, the Latino-American Queers of the United States, we note that expressions such as maricon and tortillera, among many others, have poignantly shaped the dynamics of our multidimensional lives, but they require italics in American literature because they haven’t yet been accepted by the dominant White-Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) culture as being intrinsically “American.”

Many would argue that our Latino-American terms haven’t been adopted because they only reflect a certain minority’s experience and don’t encompass or accurately relate the wide experiential scope of the US’s cultural melting pot; neither, however, do the intricacies that comprise British, Dutch, or German customs, yet American English has adopted much of their verbiage.

Their classifications don’t require italics because American literature assumes that if you’re “American,” you understand what they mean.

“Faggot” and “dyke,” among other derogatory terms for gays and lesbians, form customary part of the American vernacular, as opposed to maricon and tortillerabecause of the particular LGBT community they reference. Descendants of the more financially and politically powerful North American colonizers, the ruling ethnic class of “White People,” comprise the list of American authors who were traditionally published from the early 1600s onward.

Notable white LGBT writers, such as Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson, entered the American literary scene through cautious works in the nineteenth century and were followed by a long list of more direct and outspoken queers like Walt Whitman and Gertrude Stein, etc. Their books spoke to a readership that possessed the societal clout and monetary resources necessary to successfully mass-market, mass-produce, and mass-distribute them into bookstores, educational institutions, and curricula across the country.

White people dominated the society in which they lived and considered their positive and negative nuances intrinsic to “American” culture. “Faggot” and “dyke” emerged in early 20th century American literature and language as a response to LGBT members of this powerful and well-documented ethnic community.

Even though Spanish-speaking citizens, primarily Mexican-Americans, have existed on North American soil since the white colonizers arrived and extend from California to Texas, their nuances went either undocumented or inaccurately represented by Anglo-American writers for centuries.

Classic American literature treated the Spanglish & Spanish speaking Latino-American population like an afterthought. The unique terminologies and experiences of Latino-American Queers, like all Latino-Americans before the mid-20th Century, were customarily dismissed.

They were a people pummeled into silence by poverty, lack of education, and racism as they labored on the sidelines of the mainstream America they helped build. Lost in the rubble of their struggle were the unrecorded terminologies unique to their nuanced identities such as maricon and tortillera, which are now surfacing in Latino-American literature.

1960s America brought about massive positive change for expanding the exposure and accurate documentation of minorities in the US, through a string of successful Equality-Movements such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement, and the LGBT Rights movement.

Post-Stonewall US saw an influx of Spanish-speakers emigrate from various South-American and Caribbean countries, from Cuba to Colombia. Many of these immigrants and/or their children turned out to be the Queer Latino Writers, who along with the already present Mexican-Americansproactively document(ed) our once glossed-over tales. Over the last five decades, authors past and present such as John Rechy, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Carmelita Tropicana, and Nilo Cruz have written about the American experience on behalf of Queer Latino-Americans for all Americans.

Since the 60s, there’s been a notable rise in published Latino-American Queer literature; yet, terms like maricon and tortillera continue employing italics because, although we may consider them commonplace and essential to ourAmerican stories, they have yet to be embraced by the Anglo-American ruled literary world as representative of the “central American experience.”

That being said, I don’t think we Queer Latino-American authors, who were born in or immigrated to the US, should reject italicizing our own cultural terms, even while we dislike when Anglo-American writers do it.

We should reclaim the practice of italicization in American literature and change its direction from implying that our experiences are foreign/otherthan American,toward rarely documented American norms anyone can learn more about—we must consider that we’ve only been presenting the nuances of our American experiences and their accompanying terms for the last 50 years.

We haven’t always existed in American literature like we do now. As Latino-Americans increase in number, so do the queer members of our community and the publication of their voices. When we italicize a word or phrase, we’re referencing a part of us that is often uncharted territory and merits further investigation. Italicized words can direct readers, most of which never read about us through our own eyes, to investigate the multi-dimensionality of our American norms.

The US is a diverse country with immigrants from all over the world—a myriad of ethnicities color our American Identity landscape. We can facilitate learning, deepen understanding, and broaden acceptance about our particular brand of American identity by employing the proper use of italics. If practiced in moderation and abiding by a specific set of guidelines, italicization can serve to homogenize traditionally Queer Latino-American terms (many of them Spanglish and/or Spanish in origin) into American literature.

The guideline could go as follows:

Only italicize a word or phrase which pinpoints a unique factor that differentiates our American cultural experience from others and therefore warrants further investigation—as opposed to the traditional Anglo-American use of italicization, which serves to magnify the proof of our innate otherness a.k.a. separateness from “real” Americans.

One might also want to limit italicizing a particular word or phrase to the first three timesit’s mentioned in a book: the first italic carries a footnote, which explains the term’s definition, while the other two italics repeat to reaffirm that this term is vital to the plot of the novel. The rest of the time, the term is used in the book like it’s used in our lives, without any additional attention paid to it. We just accept it as a normal part of our book’s American life and so should the reader.

The idea that any American citizen should consider and reference their American experience and its language as other is a harmful separatist notion that has no basis in reality; my life as a Cuban-American lesbian in the US may not be a common American experience, but it is, nonetheless, fundamentally an American experience.

As a writer, I navigate through my multiple identities, Cuban-American and Lesbian, by employing the use of italics. Even though I regard my multiple identities as intrinsically American, I also embrace the reality that most Americans don’t yet relate to them that way.

The Latino-American experience isn’t just as the “Hispanic” term implies: a non-specific mosh-posh of indistinguishable brown-faced Spanish-speakers—Latino-Americans are a mix of complex cultures with differing Spanish dialects and traditions. Italicizations give American readers the permission not to know how to differentiate one American sub-culture from the other and the opportunity to learn how.

For example, maricon and tortillera are general derogatory Spanish terms used throughout Latin America, but the more culturally specific machua exists in Cuban, not Mexican, vocabulary. Through italics, we can honor the nuances within our Queer Latino-American experience.

Some might argue that by italicizing our generally Spanish terms, we prevent our nuances from infiltrating mainstream American literature because many Anglo-American writers have italicized our phrases to re-enforce our otherness. I believe, however, that by reclaiming italics and employing their appropriate use, we can blend the Queer Latino-American experience and the WASP definition of “American” into a harmonious homogeny.

The contemporary American landscape is one of minority empowerment; in the last 50 years, a different type of Queer American writer has emerged to serious acknowledgement and acclaim. Queer Latino authors are sprouting up around the US and telling American tales in their own words.

If we continue to regard Queer Latino-American Identities as intrinsically “American” in our writings, we won’t always have to italicize maricon andtortillera. Over time, they’ll grow to co-exist with the terms “faggot” and “dyke.” Just as it happened for the Irish, Jews, and African-Americans, eventually many of our culturally specific terms will become commonplace within the mainstream American vernacular.

Thanks for your support & hope you enjoyed the read!  

Big Hug!  🙂 V


Memorial Day: Remembering Our Sacrificed

Memorial Day 2011.  A day in which we Americans remember and honor our nation’s sacrificed children.  We remember the warriors — fathers, daughters, siblings –who have sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of seemingly “noble and necessary causes.”

Millions more are currently being trained for war, fighting abroad, and dying right now. What about those that survive?  The marred brothers & sisters who come home missing limbs and ravaged by debilitating psychological problems like PTSD?

Great articles written in answer to those questions:

(Courtesy of the amazing news curator Reader Supported News)

Honor the troops by bringing them homeThe Cap Times

“It is unfortunate but true that this Memorial Day — when we pause to honor those Americans who have fought the good fights against British colonialism, the sin of slavery and the menace of fascism — is marred by the painful reality that U.S. troops are currently bogged down in a lingering mess of George Bush’s creation in Iraq and a quagmire of George Bush’s creation in Afghanistan.

Appallingly, Barack Obama has maintained these undeclared wars of occupation. And he has now steered the United States into another fight with Libya.

The soldiers involved in these fights are good men and women. But these are not good fights. Nor are they necessary fights for the U.S. military.

There are arguments to be made, some of them sound, some of them not, that people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have reasons to be fighting. But the fights are their own — not America’s.

The cynicism of the previous administration, which was led by a president whose family pulled strings to keep him out of the Vietnam War and a vice president who dodged the draft five times during that conflict, was beyond contempt. But so too is the cynicism of many Democrats, who, despite their disdain for the failed foreign policies of George Bush and Dick Cheney, continue to echo the empty rhetoric of the administration when it comes to the debate about how best to end the war.

The best way to “support the troops” who have been placed in harm’s way in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya is to bring them home.

Congress considered the prospect last week and more than 200 members of the House voted for a proposal to begin taking steps to exit Afghanistan. Unfortunately, a few more members opposed that necessary step.

The growing opposition to the misguided mission in Afghanistan, as well as the clear opposition to any expansion of the Libya mission, is encouraging.

America is growing weary of endless war.

Wars of whim, fought without congressional authorization and without exit strategies, are not fights for democracy.

Fights for democracy can only be considered successful when American democracy is open and vibrant enough to allow for a realistic discussion of the nation’s circumstance. Those “my-country-right-or-wrong” politicians and pundits who would shut down dissent on Memorial Day, or any other day, make a mockery of the oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right to speak truth to power and to assemble for the purpose of petitioning for the redress of grievances.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Vietnam War-era counsel to Americans holds true this Memorial Day. Americans who love their country and its promise must move beyond “the prophesying of smooth patriotism” toward “a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history.”

No honest reading of the history of America’s founding, or of recent events, can lead to a conclusion that the current wars of whim are justified.

Americans have fought and died in pursuit of noble and necessary causes. It is right to celebrate their memory. But it is right, as well, to recognize that not all wars are noble and necessary. And when a war is not justified, it is time to honor the troops by bringing them home.”

—-

How America Screws Its Soldiers – The Daily Beast

“… In the eyes of citizens, the American soldier has a dual identity: as hero but also as victim. As victims—Wounded Warriors —soldiers deserve the best care money can buy; hence, the emphasis being paid to issues like PTSD. As heroes, those who serve and sacrifice embody the virtues that underwrite American greatness. They therefore merit unstinting admiration.

Even if the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not especially popular or successful, no one blames the troops. Instead we cheer them, pray for them, and let them go to the front of the line when passing through airport security. And we take considerable satisfaction in doing so.

From the perspective of those who engineer America’s wars, the principal attribute of this relationship is that it obviates any need for accountability. For nearly a decade now, popular willingness to “support the troops” has provided unlimited drawing rights on the United States Treasury.

Since 9/11, in waging its various campaigns, overt and covert, the United States military has expended hundreds of billions of (mostly borrowed) dollars. By the time the last invoice gets paid, the total will be in the trillions. Is the money being well spent? Are we getting good value? Is it possible that some of the largesse showered on U.S. forces trying to pacify Kandahar could be better put to use in helping to rebuild Cleveland? Given the existing terms of the civil-military relationship, even to pose such questions is unseemly. For politicians sending soldiers into battle, generals presiding over long, drawn-out, inconclusive campaigns, and contractors reaping large profits as a consequence, this war-comes-first mentality is exceedingly agreeable.

One wonders how many of those serving in the ranks are taken in by this fraud. The relationship between American people and their military—we love you; do whatever you want—seems to work for everyone. Everyone, that is, except soldiers themselves. They face the prospect of war without foreseeable end.

Americans once believed war to be a great evil. Whenever possible, war was to be avoided. When circumstances made war unavoidable, Americans wanted peace swiftly restored.

Present-day Americans, few of them directly affected by events in Iraq or Afghanistan, find war tolerable. They accept it. Since 9/11, war has become normalcy. Peace has become an entirely theoretical construct. A report of G.I.s getting shot at, maimed, or killed is no longer something the average American gets exercised about. Rest assured that no such reports will interfere with plans for the long weekend that Memorial Day makes possible. …”

What the Soldiers themselves are saying about their predicament:

(The following is a statement from veterans and active-duty troops in the amazing Veteran Rights organization March Forward!)

Soldiers speak out on Memorial Day: “Remember Sgt. Kirkland! No more deaths from Wall Street’s wars!” 

SPC Joseph Chroniger
“My good friend Derrick Kirkland was deployed to Iraq and was going through more than just a difficult time. He was found in his room in Iraq with a shotgun in his mouth about to pull the trigger. Derrick was sent home, and attempted suicide on that day as well. Upon reaching Fort Lewis he was hospitalized, and almost immediately cleared for active duty. When he reported to rear detachment he was met with more hatred than malcontent. There where numerous people in the room when he was humiliated and basically beat down emotionally. Not three days later Derrick hung himself in the barracks room that he was given by himself. Let me repeat: my suicidal friend was given a room in the barracks to himself. There are many more instances of what I would call more that misconduct that I have witnessed while in the service of this Battalion, and want to speak out. I demand justice for Kirkland and his family.”

SSG Kevin Baker

“Our lives do not matter to the officers and politicians in charge. Those who mocked Kirkland, and the doctors who neglected him still go unpunished. They are going on with their lives while Kirkland’s family is without their loved one. But Kirkland’s case is not isolated. The abusive behavior that is thrown onto us is organic to the military; it is organic because this military fights for a lie. We in March Forward! will fight for justice for Kirkland and all other soldiers with PTSD, but we will also fight to make sure no more of us are traumatized in the first place by being sent to these wars based on lies. I demand justice for Kirkland and an immediate end to these wars for profit.”

SPC Andrew Bussy
“There is a serious problem with the US Army medical care system. The problem is not with financial coverage, as most any visit to the doctor is paid for, but with the quality of care and of the many stigmas which are attached to seeking treatment. Physicians prescribe medicines which only mask the symptoms, but if a condition is not immediately life-threatening it goes unaddressed until it worsens. Sadly, when a suicidal soldier’s situation “worsens,” he is dead; When a soldier with a spinal injury “worsens,” he is irrevocably paralyzed. These are the end results when our only goal for wounded soldiers is to get them back to work. I demand justice for Kirkland and all wounded soldiers.”

!Click here to sign the petition demanding justice for Sgt. Kirkland!

—–

God Bless America and The Rest of The World.  May we abandon these corrupt imperialist wars immediately and bring all of our troops home.  May we re-focus and re-invest on lifting our country from its crumbled ruins.

 “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother´s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ´Let me remove that splinter from your eye, while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother´s eye.” – Jesus Christ Superstar


$mOnEY$MONEY$money$: Huguette Clark died yesterday.

~ Cabaret ~

Money makes the world go around
The world go around
The world go around
Money makes the world go around
It makes the world go ’round.
A mark, a yen, a buck, or a pound
A buck or a pound
A buck or a pound
Is all that makes the world go around,
That clinking clanking sound
Can make the world go ’round.
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
Money money
If you happen To be rich,
And you feel like a
Night’s enetertainment
You can pay for a
Gay escapade.
If you happen To be rich,
And alone, and you
Need a companion
You can ring-ting-A-ling
for the maid.
If you happen To be rich
And you find you are
Left by your lover,
Though you moan and you groan
Quite a lot,
You can take it On the chin,
Call a cab, And begin
To recover
On your fourteen-Carat yacht.
Money makes the world go around,
The world go around,
The world go around,
Money makes the world go around,
Of that we can be sure.
(….) on being poor.
Money money money- money money money
Money money money- Money money money
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
If you haven’t any coal in the stove
And you freeze in the winter
And you curse on the wind
At your fate
When you haven’t any shoes
On your feet
And your coat’s thin as paper
And you look thirty pounds
Underweight.
When you go to get a word of advice
From the fat little pastor
He will tell you to love evermore.
But when hunger comes a rap,
Rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat at the window…
At the window…
Who’s there?
Hunger!
Ooh, hunger!
See how love flies out the door…For
Money makes The world…
…Go around
The world…
…Go around
The world…
…Go around
Money makes the
The world…
…Go around
That clinking
Clanking sound of
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
Get a little,
Money money
Get a little,
Money money
Money money
Money money
Money money
Money money
Mark, a yen, a buck
Get a little
Or a pound
Get a little
That clinking clanking
Get a little
Get a little
Clinking sound
Money money
Money money…
Is all that makes
The world go ’round
Money money
Money money
It makes the world go round!

—–

Why hello there, no it’s not Liza with a ZING!, it’s me, Vanessa Libertad.  Blogging about – well, money.

Huguette M. Clark died yesterday.  Know who she is?  Neither did I until I arrived at work this morning, turned on the computer, and Yahoo, MSNBC, and the NY Times bombarded my screen with her presence.  She was a Copper heiress who did absolutely nothing, but inherit billions of dollars from her brilliant businessman/entrepreneur father William J. Clark, lived a lengthy reclusive life, and died at 104-years old without clearly designating whom or what is to inherit her $500 million dollar fortune.

Working my office b-job in the lower-middle class Latino neighborhood of Huntington Park, California, I cannot stop thinking or reading about her.

Why such a fascination, a curiosity, a burgeoning obsession with this unreal specimen? Why do I now suddenly care so much about Huguette Marcelle Clark?

Huguette was born to mother (teenage maid turned second wife) & father (60-something year old billionaire widower) in 1906.  She collected dolls, was married once for 9 months in her 20’s (which was dissolved because he said she wouldn’t put out and she said he deserted her), and lived reclusively from 1930’s-ish through 1963 with her mother.  After her mother’s passing in 1963 up through 2011, she lived entirely alone (except for hired maids), secluded in either her ginormous NYC City apartment or in NY Hospital Wings (even while in good health).

According to caretakers, she liked to watch “The Flinstones” A LOT and once gave her only close friend $10 million to buy property.  She didn’t donate much to charity and seemed mostly to invest in the upkeep of mansions she never visited like her Santa Barbara property, which she hadn’t been to since the 1950’s.  Out of William Clark’s 7 children, she was the youngest.  At around 13-years old her elder sister (age 16) died of meningitis.  She later “excavate(d) a salt pond and created an artificial freshwater lake across from Bellosguardo,” which she named Andrée Clark Bird Refuge in honor of her sister.

When she was 19, her father died.  Between ages 26 – 33, 3 more of her siblings died.  The strange details of her sad, exquisite, and relatively invisible life — from infancy to death — are both heartbreaking and enviable.

I guess when you’re little you don’t think so much about money.  I didn’t anyway.  As I grew older, however, I slowly came to understand how necessary money was to the creation of experiences: art projects, vacations, working cars, kept homes, fine dinners, stable health, college educations.  Money always felt like a moody butterfly that fluttered in and out of existence at the will and demand of an invisible Oz.  I never minded it’s tempestuous enter and exit game, however, as I always felt blest to have or make the exact amount necessary for whatever experience I wished to create.  As a result, I learned to value the invaluable: art, books, love, food, family, conversations, witty friends, old shoes.  Designer this and nose job that not only seemed extravagant, but abhorrently wasteful.  I learned to stretch a dollar a long way.  This sort of whimsical relationship between me and money worked out pretty well up until about a year ago.

Since then, it’s been dawning upon me that money isn’t the type of thing one should have a tooth-fairy relationship with.  It’s dawning upon me that in our present global village, the exchange of goods & services between human beings is now almost completely represented by an exchange of money … and that in fact, money makes the world go round.  Money separates billions of people into unnatural classifications and creates social hierarchies / caste systems.  It funds wars and mass murder.  However, money also funds after-school programs, pre-school teachers, medical research, film projects, natural preserves, architectural restorations, etc.  Money’s a powerful thing.

I’ve also realized money isn’t THE THING it buys.  It isn’t the candy bar or the hummer or the golden globe or the royal crown.  Money is energy and energy is the power to create anything you want — a bomb or a voting booth.  You give somebody money — the power to create — and you’ll see who they really are at the core.  Their values will reflect in what they choose to create.  Money isn’t the root of all evil.  It’s just the mirror held up to it … I’m coming to believe.

The relationship many people have to money, many of the people in Huntington Park for instance, is that money, like power, is reserved for the puppet strings of a select elite. For the white people or the hustlers or the corrupt politicians.  There’s a permeating belief that even if we’re smart enough to make money, we’ll always be making it for someone else because we’re not inherently powerful enough to keep it.  The Man (the government, the credit card companies, the banks, the politicians, etc) will find someway to cheat you out of your hard-earned money, to drain your energy, to steal your power …

I’m starting to recognize this poverty-mentality, this powerless frame of mind.  It assumes:

As if we, the little people the worker bees, aren’t worthy or capable of understanding, nourishing, and managing our money — our personal power.  As if only The Clarks, The Vanderbilts, The Rockerfellers, The Helmselys were chosen by Mother Nature to make money and distribute it amongst us.  As if we’re children waiting for a tooth to fall out so that the magical fairy will decide its worth and … if we’re lucky … leave us a buck under pillow while we sleep … maybe …

I feel that the reason Huguette Marcelle Clark has weighed on me all day is because I can’t fathom anyone with THAT much money — THAT much power — doing close to nothing with it.  She had such limitless potential to create art and help heal other people and preserve nature, etc.  Yet, she exerted NO energy — spent no money — on anything like that … just on keeping herself hidden away for almost an entire century.  The 20th Century: One of the most glorious and tumultuous periods in human history.

It’s sad, really.  I guess you can have all the money in the world, but if you haven’t any personal power — birth-given or decidedly cultivated over time — it’s as if you never had a dime.  Once you pass away, the vultures (lawyers & half-nephews/nieces) swarm above the great yet unused energies/power/money you’ve left behind, baking under the hot sun, for no one in particular.


This Movie ROCKED my socks off: “Schooling The World”!!!

Yesterday night I went to the opening night film of the Awareness Film Festival, which is taking place through May 8th.  I saw the documentary called Schooling The World: The White Man’s Last Burden.

I absolutely EFFING LOOOOOOVVVVED IT & found it truly AMAZEDAWGS!!!

The Film’s Summary (according to their website):

If you wanted to change/destroy an ancient culture in a generation, where would you start?

With the children.

How would you do it?

You would change the way it educates its children.

The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th century when it forced Native American children into government boarding schools. Today, volunteers build schools in traditional societies around the world, convinced that school is the only way to a ‘better’ life for indigenous children.

But is this true? What really happens when we replace a traditional culture’s way of learning and understanding the world with our own? SCHOOLING THE WORLD takes a challenging, sometimes funny, ultimately deeply disturbing look at the effects of modern education on the world’s last sustainable indigenous cultures.

Beautifully shot on location in the Buddhist culture of Ladakh in the northern Indian Himalayas, the film weaves the voices of Ladakhi people through a conversation between four carefully chosen original thinkers; anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence; Helena Norberg-Hodge and Vandana Shiva, both recipients of the Right Livelihood Award for their work with traditional peoples in India; and Manish Jain, a former architect of education programs with UNESCO, USAID, and the World Bank.

The film examines the hidden assumption of cultural superiority behind education aid projects, which overtly aim to help children “escape” to a “better life.” – despite mounting evidence of the environmental, social, and mental health costs of our own modern consumer lifestyles, from epidemic rates of childhood depression and substance abuse to pollution and climate change.

It looks at the failure of institutional education to deliver on its promise of a way out of poverty – here in the United States as well as in the so-called “developing” world.

And it questions our very definitions of wealth and poverty – and of knowledge and ignorance – as it uncovers the role of schools in the destruction of traditional sustainable agricultural and ecological knowledge, in the breakup of extended families and communities, and in the devaluation of elders and ancient spiritual traditions.

Finally, “Schooling the World” calls for a “deeper dialogue” between cultures, suggesting that we have at least as much to learn as we have to teach, and that these ancient sustainable societies may harbor knowledge which is vital for our own survival in the coming millennia.

I highly recommend watching this brazen, brilliant, and mind-broadening flick!  It’ll prove a priceless addition to your thought collection.

Please check out Schooling the World: The White Man’s Last Burden Main Website, “like” their Facebook Fan Page, and keep up to date with it on Twitter.

Enjoy!!!!

Big Hug ~ 🙂 V