Photo courtesy Marguerite Casillas


FICTION

1."True Artists Only Have Impossible Loves," published in the Arroyo Literary Review, Hayward, California, winter 2012.

By the time Anaisneris arrived in El Castillo, we had seen Alberto go through enough deaths and resurrections (all of them over sentimental matters) to be keenly aware of a manic self-destructive/self-reinventing pattern that offered very little hope of ending in any other way but tragedy. There was nothing new, in this sense, about Alberto and Anaisneris’ orgasmic upward trajectory and dysfunctional fall from grace. Yet we did notice something ominously stubborn (in a new way) in how he clung to her when she no longer wanted him, something perhaps too overtly masochistic (suicidal if you wish) about his determination to bring upon himself the maximum amount of pain. We couldn’t blame him for that, though. Anaisneris had been crowned by all of us, after all, as “the queen of El Castillo, the Mission District and every alternative universe governed by a syncopated beat,” which was, by the way, a small part of Alberto’s exalted nightly introduction of her. Read the complete story here, download a PDF

2."Frida & Diego, or Among Musicians Only", published in ZYZZYVA, San Francisco, California, Winter 2011. Reading at Pegasus Bookstore, January, 2011.

'E, antes de ser uma história de espectros, é uma história escrita por um deles'
Sergio Sant’Anna, O Voo da Madrugada

I know we were notorious for our wicked cha-cha groove, but this is no funky cha-cha no more, I should warn everybody. Cha-chas, no matter how twisted, no matter how wicked, aren’t suited for this kind of darkness. This is a tango, un tango macabro. Carlos Gardel meets Edgar Allan Poe in a dirty and stinky alley in the Mission. This is when the bolero gets drunk, the blues turn upside down and the ballad collapses under the weight of its own pathos. This is a song too ghastly for words. That’s why I don’t have to worry about singing it (and secretly wish I didn’t have to write about it). This is a tune, at least in theory, ideally suited for Rosie in her Evita La Desaparecida mode, so she could blow her most noir trombone licks, although it would probably be Cuautemoc’s sax leading, as usual, making sure the lament is juicy, warm yet desolate.

Read the complete story here, download a PDF or watch the video here.


3."La Más Chingona", published in the New South Journal, Spring-Summer 2008, Georgia State University, Atlanta. It won the second prize in the New South Short-Fiction competition.
'Some are transformed just once
And live their whole lives after in that shape.
Others have a facility
For changing themselves as they please.'
Ovid (translated by Ted Hughes), Erysichton

You know how it is when you start to write a story and you realize that you need to do some research, learn how to play the piano or skydive in order to get a grip on your subject? Well, when I began to think about writing a book about Alberto, I knew I couldn’t even write the first word without meeting Laronda. I also knew that once I met her, I would have no more excuses and would have to put it down on paper --my fellow pescaítos fritos wouldn’t let me off the hook. So I kept procrastinating until one day I got on BART at 16th Street and got off at downtown Oakland, which might as well be a foreign country since I hardly ever get out of the Mission anymore. My plan was to visit Ruben at A Toda Madre, then see how I felt about walking two more blocks to The Pink Flamingo where Laronda worked as a bartender during happy hour.
It took me three visits to Ruben, three haircuts, really, because Ruben is unforgiving. If you want to talk to him at his barbershop, you have to let him give you “the A Toda Madre special.” I certainly didn’t need three haircuts in two weeks, but I couldn’t have done it without Ruben. Only he could prepare me to meet “la más, más, más chingona.”

Read the complete story here, download a PDF

4. "Mientras Elena en su lecho", published by the New South Center, University of Miami, 1996. It won the 1995 Letras de Oro First Prize. You can buy this book here.

meitras book
NON-FICTION

1. "Street Art San Francisco, Mission Muralismo", edited by Annice Jacoby for Precita Eyes Murals, Abrams Books, New York, 2009. You can buy the book here.

 

muralissimo book

2. "The Birth of Carnaval on the Streets of San Francisco," published by Found SF.org, May 2010.

The Origin of the Origin
On February 25th, 1979, a windy, cold and rainy Sunday in San Francisco, about three hundred drummers and dancers, dressed in multifarious colors and shapes, paraded around Precita Park in the Mission District. Perhaps for the uninformed passerby, it all seemed like a crazy, “hippie,” let’s-dance-half-naked-in-the-park event. For the revelers, however, it was the culmination of many months of planning and rehearsing carnival in a city that until then didn’t have one—and now can boast of hosting, if not the biggest, certainly the most diverse carnival parade in the entire country, if not the world.

Read the rest of the article here.


photo © Lou Dematteis

3." Havana Dreams Cuba notes:
sex, virtual reality, and the pope",
SF Bay Guardian, January 28,1998

Epicenter

Havana here I am. Havana where are you? It’s so dark outside. The waves calmly splash against the Malecón, the famous boardwalk. Dark and bleak buildings make the night even darker to our right.
Groups of young women stand proud and provocative along the Malecón, all beautifully dressed, waiting for something or someone. Are they waiting for the pope? My girlfriend looks at me. No. They can’t be whores. What are they, then?
Read the complete article or download PDF


4. "The Murals of Balmy Alley",
The Museum of California, Spring 1993
Volume 17, Number 2

Balmy alley

First there are the colors. Green from the avocados. Red from the tomatoes. Bell peppers, plantains, the indescribable color of mangoes. The street is an open market. Life is a parade of  colors and smells, all put together in a code that sounds like Spanish sprinkled with English words, or maybe it is the other way around.

 The street is full of people. A highly discriminating ear might be able to differentiate the accents. A distinctly Cuban voice comments about the old man dressed in shining green,  A ese le zumba el mango—that one is totally nuts. ¿Que le zumba qué? the dark woman at the cash register inquires in a perfect Salvadoran cadence.
Read the complete article or download PDF


5." The Worlds Within the Border",
The Museum of California, Fall 1992, Volume 16, Number 4

world
Border, edge, limit, margin, fringe, beginning or end, line that divides and bridges two worlds: the American Dream next to Latin America’s magical realism. It seems almost an imaginary projection of a linguistic difference that isn’t quite so: on the one side the winners, on the other the losers. There are then the ones trapped in the middle. And there is also the tragicomical belief that you can become what you aren’t just by crossing the line; or that you can remain the same even on the other side.
Read the complete article or download PDF

Other articles:nightmoves"Night Moves",
San Francisco Bay Guardian, July 1998


Lit"Love and Exile",
San Francisco Bay Guardian, November 1993

music"The Sweet Music of Exiles",
El Andar, Santa Cruz, California,
April 1996