Afromestizo Musical Tradition Falters

In her third in a series of reports from Mexico, Lindajoy Fenley explores the Afromestizo traditions of southern Mexico’s Costa Chica that includes parts of the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca.

               video by Lindajoy Fenley

by Lindajoy Fenley

Silvestre Tiburcio Noyola is one of the few remaining son de artesa musicians on the Costa Chica of southern Mexico. I recently sat with Tiburcio in his front yard in the dusty town of San Nicolas Tolontino near Cuajinicuilapa, Guerrero, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. “You don’t know my life story,” he said, and then, as if he could summarize it this way, he added, “In 2001, I won the Premio Nacional [the national award for science and the arts.]” read more

Fight for Records Access Scrutinized

by Leslie Layton

When Glenn County newspaper publisher Tim Crews gave a seminar in Chico on Saturday, he wore his standard fare — suspenders over a Sacramento Valley Mirror t-shirt. Had Crews worn a cautionary button on his lapel, it might have read: “Lie to me and I’ll ask for the goods.”

During the seminar at Cal Northern School of Law, “Getting Access to Public Records,” Crews mentioned that he hates being lied to. Incidentally, this is a man who can recite, by heart, sections of the California Public Records Act that gives citizens access to official documents. And he can recite the entire Ralph M. Brown Act, the state’s Open Meeting Law. read more

American Journalist Covered Social Movements in Mexico


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,
rolling with
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