Happy impending summer to you and me and every thing living and dead in the Northern Hemisphere!

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So I recently had my first art show.

It’s still hanging at illuminoidal arts at 340 E. 3rd St. in Long Beach if you’d like to go heavily breathe on it.

I dedicate the show to my abuelita. She painted but never had a show and her summertime eccentricity taught me I could be a female artist, too. Summers, she would ride the BUS from Guadalajara to Santa Maria and I’m surprised she arrived with any teeth because that ride in a Mexican bus from her country to ours is enough to rattle your wisdom teeth to hell. Abuelita would bring clothes she’d made for us and her art supplies. While my parents worked, she babysit my brother and sister and me. She’d sit on the couch with a sketchpad in her lap, I’d sit next to her with a sketchpad in mine, and we’d draw whatever the eff we felt like. Often, we’d watch television starring Michael Landon. She really enjoyed Highway to Heaven or Little House on the Prairie. She made art to Michael Landon the way some people do their homework to the radio. I used to do my homework to classical music because I heard Mozart makes you smarter but not in P.E.

The only time Abuelita and I fought was when she ratted me out for eating cookies all day. She told my mom that I wasn’t cleaning my room and that I wasn’t eating well-rounded lunches and I felt betrayed. She had been teaching me to be a summertime eccentric and now she was turning me in for eccentric eating habits. I thought she was a bitch, but then I got over it and loved her again and went back to making art with her. Abuelita’s laundry was conceptual art. She wore gigantic calzones and refused to wash them by machine. She scrubbed out their crotch in the blue sink and then hung them to air dry in the backyard, along a clothesline she strung over our rosemary. The wind arrived and blew the chonis full and they became clouds that you could see yourself or Michael Jackson or whipped cream in. Conceptual mysteries. Abuelita’s calzones.

So, I’m super glad Abueltia made the ride to see us in the summers to share her artist’s lifestyle with my brother and sister and me. Because of her, I can confidently photoshop myself into Robert Mapplethorpe, call it art, and feel better about myself for becoming a dead gay man. Gracias, Abuelita que estas en el cielo.

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After John Waters learned Mike Kelley had kelled himself (that sounds artsier and better than killed himself and Kelley’s suicide was as multimedia as his art so, in a way, he did kell himself), H20s’ expressed this opinion: “Like everybody, I’m completely shocked. He was my favorite living artist. I really hate that I have to change that category now.”

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I really hate that I now have to change the category of favorite uncle living south of the border since my favorite weirdo occupying this role flew to heaven on Mexican mother’s day.

This is him, Alvaro, pointing at a picture of his mom, my abuelita, on the day she quit breathing. Notice the radishes. Those garnished pozole for the living.

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Here’s Alvaro sitting beside the grave that they lowered Abuelita and her coffin into. He got lowered into that same place today.

IMG_4546I’m bummed, bummed, bummed that I couldn’t go to help put Alvaro with his mom and dad and use my hand to cover him with dirt, I would’ve patted it with kindness he taught me and maybe whispered a joke to him. Instead, what I’m going to do is write a list of things about him that are crumbs and souvenirs.

Recuerdo de FRIENDS: Alvaro was into Courtney Cox. He explained to me that she seemed like a lady who took really good care of herself and that he wouldn’t have minded owning an autographed picture of her. Also, the way that he pronounced Courtney Cox created a new language that was horrible, beautiful, and avuncular. Imagine, in the voice of my uncle in your head, a Mexican male spinster birthing a new language through the destruction of the syllables that make up Courtney Cox.

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Recuerdo de La Cama: When Abuelito was dying, he and Alvaro slept in the same bed. He woke up one Mexican morning to find his dad dead beside him, but I think that sleeping beside somebody as they are dying is the nicest thing any son can do. To make a body feel less lonely in the weirdest of moments is the tenderest expression of tenderest expressions.

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Recuerdo de Zapopan: Zapopan is where a little, miracle-working virgin carved out of tortillas lives in a basilica that is visited by popes and the pigeons who poop on them. It’s also where police arrested Laura Zúñiga, a former Miss Mexico, at a military checkpoint. The poe-lease caught her riding in a vehickle stuffed with assault rifles, hella bullets, hella handguns, hella swarthy male companions, and fifty three thousand dollars. When asked what she and her paisas were up to, the pretty lady explained that she was on her way to Colombia to do some shopping. The  yuletide season that this narca was nabbed, Alvaro and my parents and I, too, were hanging out in Zapopan, ready to get our shrimp cocktail on, but before making out with our mariscos, we wandered a tianguis and admired the nativity artesanias that vendors had set on blankets, cobblestones, and dirt. The thing with nativity sets is that they  grow. You might start with Jesus, Mary, Joseph, a scraggly fig tree, and an angel, but then, as your wealth grows, and you are able to shop more and more in Colombia, you add sheep, cacti, snakes, angels, hay, half a dozen burros, a hibiscus bush, a doe, a manger surrounded by an electric fence, more sheep, more cacti, a bonus magi, an AK 47, and a back up Jesus. My parents are major proponents of the enhanced and customized nativity set. I’ve watched my parents’ nativity set blossom into something that now rivals the AIDS quilt and they gave me their taste for hoarding knick knackery and at the tianguis, I spied a piece of cardboard painted blue and green and pink. Chemically globs of something mother earth probably hates made an awkward hill with waterfall. An artisan had glued cloth hibiscuses and plastic venison to it in a way that made the glue a crucial feature of the landscape. I squatted and examined this pathetic piece of art. Alvaro went to the dude selling it and got his wallet out of his mom jeans. Did I mention he had about half a cent in there? He would buy things for people when he could not afford to shop in Colombia. He could not afford to shop anywhere.

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Recuerdo de Palabras Que No Existen (there are probably supposed to be accents up in this recuerdo but I don’t have patience for accessories): Alvaro made up words and used them. I think its something in his family because my mom does the same thing. The last invention I remember him using was morible. In English, this made up word translates to dieable, as in, yes, you are now capable of dying. You may die and it’s okay because it’s your dying time. In his friend Susana’s living room, I watched Alvaro and his homegirl with Parkinson’s discuss who was morible and who was not, and they chuckled and debated as they put people into the category, or took them out, and since Alvaro died as old as my favorite living American uncle, he certainly was not morible.

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Recuerdo de Donas: Alvaro was a straight up lover. A lover of people whether they were news anchors or numerologists or failed poets or rotting women with dementia. He was a pioneer in finding ways to express his Alvarish love, even if it was telling you that you were a viejita bonita and hugging you or teasing you about being a gringa wearing blue Doc Martens or insisting on delivering leftover donuts to your house because you might want a glass of milk before going to bed and a glass of milk before bed is dumb without a donut.

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Recuerdo de Manos: Real men speak with their hands. Alvaro was the realest of men, speaking with his hands when necessary and when necessarier. Hands could always be introduced and hands could always make a better point and I remember him describing how his sister, Lulu, had helped give him injections when he began his cancer treatments. With his finger, he demonstrated her needle entering his pompis and screamed and Alvaro mimed how he told Lulu that it hurt and she protested, “It doesn’t hurt when I do it,” and then, with his hands, he compared the size of her pompis to his lack of pompis and the world was a better place for that.

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I mith Zzzzzzz. She’th currently walking acroth Thpain and tho my I mith her hashtag ith #bringbackourgirl.

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T-Pain in Thpain thtayth mainly on the where ith the Malaythian plane?

That’th thuch a bummer about thothe kidnapped Nigerian girlth.

But srsly, the threat (I gueth you can’t get away from it) of a misogynist militia busting into your classroom and snatching you and your friends and then selling you for five pesos or feeding you to mambas does make for what education wonks refer to as “high-stakes learning.”

I keep talking about the snatching with my students and mostly I ask them, “Where do you think the girls are?” but yesterday, I was asking these twins, “The ones they didn’t take, how come you think they didn’t get ‘em?” and I swear the alpha twin answered, “Because those were the cholas.”

And then my head got this whole fantasy of Nigerian cholas macheteing into the jungle to bring back our non-cholas.

(Widow’)speaking of cholas, I put on my unibrow to go the Frida fotography x-ibit at the Museum of Latin American Art which lies about a tamale’s throw my pad.

There are some gueys that I’m totally over Frida, like, how many times can you reFrida that same beans (?) but then who else do we have (?), what other Mexican art saint with downy facial hair can we worship? The collective needs a receptacle for its love and the only can of beans furry enough for that is Frida’s.

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So, my mother called me at seven forty something this morning and I called her back and my dad answered which means that somebody probably died and she’s too in it to answer or talk and yes, that was the case, my tio Alvaro died this morning, and so I can’t keep writing this blog which was going to the Frida K. exhibit or the Mike K. exhibit at the MOCA because my tio is dead and I keep remembering and remembering him at his mom’s wake weeping and singing LLORAR Y LLORAR with goofy mariachis who kept playing with their phones.

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AQUI ESTA MI TIO, showing a wannabe Vincente Fernandez how its done

The thing about Alvaro is that he was love. He gave when he didn’t have anything and so he was magic. He’d create something to give and that inspired people around him, the ones who wanted to be good, to try to practice that magic, too. He inspired me to be less of an asshole. My hands down fave memory of Alvaro is from when I was fifteen and he and Abuelita greeted me at the Guadalajara airport, they were both standing behind sawhorses, and I thought to myself, “My god, that man looks like a sex criminal.” Alvaro was a unique Mexican spinster, he didn’t have a dollop of machismo, to him, and that day at the airport, he was wearing Brady Bunch trousers and a too tight t-shirt that read LIFE’S A BEACH across his unresponsive nipples. I loved him so much in that moment that I wanted to become one of his ribs.

Alvaro, thank you for inspiring me to emulate your kindness and be one less asshole. Tu Gloria Trevi…siempre.

Did you know that this is National Poetry Moth?

Its a lot funner if you leave out the n.

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I hate moths. They have dandruff. National Poetry Moth has dandruff that flakes off in crustaceous similes that figuratively litter the landscape litterally.

Its important to be in touch with the idea that poetry is lurking around every dirty corner. Its lurking around the corner of the wall my little brother smashed his forehead into on Friday the 13th when we were petite and prepubey. Its lurking around the corner of your refrigerator door handle and waiting for you in the crisper full of bacteria and parsley. Its lurking around the corner of your trashcans and in the little pathway that leads to your pseudobackyard where a questionable cat hangs out on patio furniture that needs to be wiped with Windex. This cat has a view into your bedroom and is waiting for you to take off your yoga pants.

Mostly, poetry lurks inside of a box of Cards AGainst Humanity. Cards Against Humanity is like magnetic poetry but better because its evil and proud of it. the other day, some homeslices of ours came over to eat Cornish game hens and play games and we concocted some verse to honor this month. Here’s my cuntribution:

Harry Potter erotica

flightless birds

being marginalized

Now go find that poetry that I know exists in your slippery ear canal and/or the crawl space in your head.

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So this was my grandma’s face.

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I inherited a version of it.

Looking at the pictures and stuff of Grandma flanking her casket in the little room at the ginormous mortuary  during the night of her visitation, I got kind of uncomfortable about showing up to her service wearing a face so much like hers. I was wondering if anyone found it creepy that I was a younger version of the person who couldn’t open their eyes, and this phenomenon is probably weirder for twins. Imagine looking into a coffin and seeing yourself. Its that fantasy of being able to go to your own funeral, sort of. Double the helix, double the fun.

In the viewing room next door to Grandma’s, the population of one of the Philippine Islands and all their cousins were taking turns shuffling in and out, paying their respects to some dude that probably had no trouble finding a date to his prom.

TJ and I had brought Uncle Henry to say goodbye to his mom.

When he saw her on the bier, he said, “Hi, Mom.”

He shuffled to the casket, bent over, kissed her closest cheek, and the casket tipped back enough to probably make some people who noticed worry.

Henry kept kissing his mom and reached, placing the backs of his hands against hers the way a mother place’s her hands on a child’s forehead.

“She’s cold,” he announced.

When Henry was done kissing and touching, we walked him to a gray chair. He turned to TJ and said, “At least she doesn’t have to worry about the atomic bomb anymore.”

That’s schizophrenia for you.

Crew of the B-29 "Enola Gay"

After like two hours, we left the visitation to go get spaghetti and driving along the 605, Henry said, “Where are my glasses?” He felt himself up and dug his hands in his shirt pockets looking for the reading and sun-glasses he’s inordinately attached to. “I can’t find them!”

At the spaghetti place, TJ whispered, “I know where his glasses are,” in my ear that has Dumbo lobes like Grandma’s.

“Where?”

“They fell in the coffin.”

All I could do was not say anything.

“He kept bending over her and kissing her and they were hanging from his shirt. Now they’re not.”

“They can’t be.”

TJ looked at me like They are. Henry’s glasses are going to spend eternity with your grandma.

The next morning, Henry, TJ and I drove to Rose Hills’ Rainbow Chapel and parked near a curb marked ORGANIST. I wondered if the spot was meant for a musician or a harvester.

In the chapel, Henry chose to sit in the second row. I sat next to him and TJ sat in the pew to our left, next to my mother. The casket was shut so we couldn’t see what Grandma had going on in there with her. A deacon who looked like a robust George Lopez stood beside the podium and told that story I’ve heard at other funerals about fraternal twin fetuses having a conversation about how they’re scared to be born. Aunt Vicky followed, telling a eulogy about how Grandma always looked classy and loved dogs, especially one’s that looked like they’d been eaten by a hungry garbage truck. Then Dad went up there and gave his eulogy, discussing his mom’s love of mitote and a certain Mexican beverage. One time that he and Mom took Grandma out to lunch, she couldn’t resist.

“Do you have horchata?” she asked the waiter.

“No ma’am,” he answered. “We don’t serve horchata at The Olive Garden but it is very delicious.”

Horspitaliano.

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We filed out and hopped into our vehickles and put on our hazards and putted along the road to the gravesite. An SUV with a bumper sticker that read I LOVE NALGONAS almost cut me off, reminding me of the cirCULO of life.

At a grassy, steep enough hill, we parked and gathered and took turns placing flowers on Grandma’s coffin. I spoked to the funeral director, asking him about what famous people are buried at Rose Hills.

“Eazy-E,” he said. “You just um, look for the beer.”

“You mean follow the 40s?”

“Yes. Follow the 40s and you’ll find his grave. The yellow Power Ranger is here, too. There’s also someone else but I can’t remember. They must not be that famous.”

In Mexico you watch undertakers lower and bury the coffin but not in America so we left to go eat at Chili’s. Then we took Henry back to where he lives.

During the little stretch home, past 7-Elevens and nail salons, TJ said, “I talked to the funeral director while you were walking around, looking at tombstones with Henry. He said he’ll get out Henry’s glasses. We can swing by and pick them up next week.”

I had gotten used to this fantasy of Grandma wearing Henry’s shades, looking across the hill at the most high-pitched member of NWA, and now, I was going to have to get unused to it.

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I didn’t realize what made a house such a house. When I was a high schooler, I thought that if you walked into a house and it was humanely warm and felt like a blanket to be there it just happened to be that way. I didn’t know that houses get made that way by the people in them. Especially the people in charge of them. Especially the women in charge of them. The ovaries. Ovaries are the true huevos. The true albondigas.

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Weezie

Back in la high school, I spent a lot of time at my buddy Fish’s house and it was a blanket. I didn’t understand that it wasn’t actually the walls that made me feel safe. It was the magical humans there and one magical human in particular, her mother, Maria Luisa.

Maria Luisa was my abuelita’s tocaya or, as gringo’s say it, namesake. Maybe this connection contributed to the sense of comfort I got from being around her, her name was identical as the lady who hugged me with her tamale arms and taught her daughter, my mom, to swaddle me even though one time they did turn their backs on me after papoosing me and I rolled off the changing table like a meatball down a mountain of spaghetti all covered in cheese and got some head injury. They probably kissed my brain damage away.

Maria Luisa made a house where people like me (weirdos) and unlike me (not weirdos) and everybody in between and outside of that spectrum could come and be. I remember the smell of Mexican broths boiling and freshly chopped cilantro and I remember knowing that if I peeled back the tin foil on a pan resting on the kitchen counter, something that used to have four legs would be waiting for me and it would be delicious.

This nourishment and lovingness is the gift that Maria Luisa gave that everybody gets to keep. Those of us who knew her hospitality were built by her. We are better houses because of her. We can give Maria Luisa style hospitality because we’ve experienced it. Her memory warms my house.

 

Like a sleep-indulgent grizzly lusting after pink starfish, this blog…

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awakens.

I suppose that since I haven’t written anything since 2013, I ought to recap things that happened then.

Like most years, 2013 was a year of events, both important and mostly otherwise. We crowned a new pope who my dad calls the Barack Obama of popes: all talk, no serious floor action. Major meteorological events ravaged our planet’s face and decolletage. Detroit got Detroitier. Major assholes shut down the federal government, reminding us of Clark W. Griswold’s  pain.

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On another federal note, the Burrito Supreme Court struck down the heinous/hey-anus DOMA, elating conservative homos across our great land. In his opinion, Judge Kennedy wrote that the Defense of Mawwage Act “undermines both the pubic and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are caca.”

Given this windfall, I took the day off work to apply for a marriage license in delicious Norwalk, California, the setting of my father’s dysfunctional childhood.

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Four other couples, primarily of the Ugg, soul patch, and jegging variety, were applying for marriage licenses, too. As we waited our turn, TJ turned to me and whispered, “You know, three out of  four of these marriages won’t last.” The statistic thrilled me. Talk about a roulette. I don’t need to wager my life savings for an adrenaline spike. All I need is a California nuptial.

“Well, I can tell you right now,” I whispered back at TJ, “those lesbians,” I gestured at the lesbians to our left, “they’re definitely not gonna make it. They look too much alike.”

TJ looked at them.

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“I mean, they might as well be sisters.”

I could not tell if the same-sex same-face couple shared the same case of rosacea or spent too much time golfing below Palm Springs’ sun.

After filling out our license, supplying documents that proved to a courthouse official that we were we and not you, our official told us to raise our right hands and swear that the information that we had provided was the real thing.

With my right paw in the air, I proclaimed, “My hips don’t lie.”

TJ and I then took our hips across the street, sat them down at an IHOP booth, and poured sugar-free syrup all over our conjugal breakfasts.

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