American Journalist Covered Social Movements in Mexico

JOHN ROSS
1938-2011

by Mary Jo McConahay, Elizabeth Bell and Sandina Robbins

Journalist, investigative poet, and social activist John Ross died peacefully Jan. 17 at Lake Patzcuaro in Mexico, where he had lived on and off for the past 50 years. He was 72. The cause was liver cancer.

A young generation Beat poet and the national award-winning author of 10 books of fiction and nonfiction and nine chapbooks of poetry, Ross received the American Book Award (1995) for “Rebellion from the Roots: Zapatista Uprising in Chiapas,” and the coveted Upton Sinclair Award (2005) for “Murdered By Capitalism: 150 Years of Life and Death on the American Left.” read more

Sick and Struggling in Butte County

Sugar Spot

photo by Leslie Layton

by Leslie Layton

Kenyatta Aarif knew her high blood-pressure reading had startled two student nurses from Chico State. The nursing students were conducting a public-health outreach project in Oroville’s depressed Southside neighborhood, checking the blood pressure of the willing every Thursday during their fall semester.

She assured the students, stationed across the street from her small soul-food restaurant, that she’d refill her prescription for medication right away. “I scared those kids to death,” Aarif said of her first screening. read more

Guerrilla Network Forms, Delivering Health Care to Those in Need

photo by Leslie Layton

photo by Leslie Layton

by Leslie Layton

Thomas Lewry and Scott Marshall had stopped for a blood-pressure check on a November Thursday at the Fire House Certified Farmer’s Market in Oroville’s Southside.

A pair of Chico State nursing students wrapped the cuff first around one man’s arm, then the other’s, and started pumping. Marshall talked about his health problems, and as he did, the screening began to seem increasingly inconsequential.

Marshall, 61, has stage 4 bone cancer. He’s homeless. Some days, he says, his legs hurt so badly, “I get to where I can’t walk, straighten up.” UC Davis Medical Center has apparently offered him treatment, but he says that would confine him — at heart he is still a fisherman — to a hospital bed for whatever time he has left. He said he keeps on rolling, even when his body is wracked with pain, much like the song Ol’ Man River. read more

Indian Dice Poetry of Place

I rigged the stars
to defy
the rolls of men,
l i g h t p o l l u t i o n,
smoke
rolling with
fog
in the hills of los angeles.

so much is on the side of the solid blues:
freeways crisscrossing a landscape
that we cannot walk
an earth that will shake massively
any day now, we are told
roar at the millions of dead-
end carbon footprint trails
traversing its skin

now these solid blue men
look down at their scarred city
from the observatory in the hills
build skies
sculpt planets into airy
arching ums,
dome-shaped spaces of forgetting,
rooms of amnesia read more

Young Cajón Player Wins Hearts

ChicoSol contributing editor Lindajoy Fenley is traveling through Mexico, exploring influences on traditional music. She files this report from Mexico City after visiting with the well-known group Yolotecuani that plays the music of Tixtla, a small mountain town in central Guerrero state on the Pacific coast.


by Lindajoy Fenley

Years ago, 2-year-old Osvaldo Peñaloza captured my heart as he adeptly beat syncopated Tixtleco rhythms on a small wooden box — one open palm delivering solid sounds, while the other, gripping a wood block, created sharper accents. On this return trip to Mexico, I watched him play again. At 13, he’s an integral part of his parents’ band, Yolotecuani (Heart of the Tiger). read more

HopPo Fuses Andean Sounds

A modern vision of songs from a past that remains current.

Ruben Albarran, aka “Juan, the one that acts as if he is singing,” and sometimes known as “Sizu Yantra” — it all depends if he is singing in one of the CDs of Café Tacuba (one of the greatest rock mestizo groups from the United Mexican States), or if he is electrified in one of his soloist projects. He is somehow the brains behind this interesting project that combines Andean sounds with the musical restlessness of Ruben “Elfego Buendia” and his musical partners, Rodrigo “Chino” Aros and Juan Pablo Villanueva from Chile and Alejandro Flores from Mexico. read more