The News and its Discontents
By Joseph S. Pete
As a city council reporter in a Midwestern suburb, I ended up covering the youngest city council member in the community's history.
He was a clean-cut Oxford shirt-wearing preppy type who often obfuscated, failed to reveal any substantial information, or claimed he wasn’t familiar with a subject and needed to research it more. If you pressed him for more detail, asked any follow-up questions, even softballs, he repeated the same vacuous platitude over and over again, enunciating it every time with a more contemptuous sneer to gloat that you weren’t getting anything else out of him. I was convinced he was going to become governor someday.
He was bespectacled and perhaps a trifle husky, but he was also tall and fit the general profile. It felt like he was going somewhere.
As a source, he was less than worthless. He would proffer nothing other than self-serving quotes that were heavy on political cliche and light on substance. He appeared to serve only his own political ambition and not the community at large or getting the truth out to people.
Often, at heated public hearings, he suggested newspaper reports were inaccurate or outright false. He would try to deflect public criticism by trying to claim the news was fake.
Eventually, I moved on to a larger media market and forgot about him.
It was with surprise and schadenfreude one day that it was revealed that the city council member was arrested and forced to step down after he was caught surreptitiously filming women changing and using the bathroom at his lakefront home. It turned out the righteous right-wing pol was a major pervert. The revelation reaffirmed my longtime belief that anyone who shied away from, hid from or maligned the media probably did so out of selfish self-interest because they were downright dishonest and hiding something.
This city council member definitely had a lot to hide. He ended up being convicted of voyeurism and sentenced to jail time.
That’s the crux of it. Politicians have every incentive to lie: to get reelected, to amass power, to conceal wrongdoing or just to save face. All journalists really have is the truth. No one becomes a newspaper reporter for money, wealth, fame, respectability, public adulation or even basic job security.
I’ve worked at multiple jobs, including journalist, soldier, janitor, and caretaker for the developmentally disabled. No profession I know has higher ethical standards than journalism. If a reporter gets it wrong, they get egg on their face and there’s a correction in the next day’s paper. A journalist who gets it seriously wrong or commits a cardinal sin like plagiarism or fabrication can get fired and blackballed from the industry for good.
Compare that with a politician who can lie routinely and get away with it indefinitely.
But that’s the rub. It’s easy and common to dismiss the media as having a liberal bias or being a corporate tool. It’s convenient to cry “fake news” if confronted with anything that even slightly challenges your ironclad worldview. But the legacy media in this country—especially at the local level—generally strives to be neutral, an objective purveyor of the facts whatever our personal beliefs.
It’s easy to become cocooned in the nests we build for ourselves in Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. It’s quite possible to never engage with anyone with a different worldview or any media outlet that does not cater expressly to our ingrained political biases. But we can’t collectively keep the torch of democracy burning unless we subscribe to a shared notion of truth.
Joseph S. Pete is an award-winning journalist, an Iraq War veteran, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer for a national magazine, a photographer, and a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio. He is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee who has read his work for the Fictitious series on the iO Theater stage, had a play staged at the Detroit Heritage Theatre Festival, showcased his photography at the Oddtropolis Art Show in San Francisco and was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His literary or photographic work has appeared in more than 100 journals, including The Tipton Poetry Journal, Chicago Literati, Dogzplot, Proximity Magazine, Stoneboat, The High Window, Synesthesia Literary Journal, Steep Street Journal, Beautiful Losers, New Pop Lit, The Grief Diaries, Gravel, The Offbeat, Oddball Magazine, The Perch Magazine, Bull Men's Fiction, Rising Phoenix Review, Thoughtful Dog, shufPoetry, The Roaring Muse, Prairie Winds, Blue Collar Review, The Rat's Ass Review, Euphemism, Jenny Magazine, Vending Machine Press and elsewhere. Like Bartleby, he would prefer not to.
The views and opinions expressed in this guest blog post reflect solely those of the author and
not necessarily those of TRiP Wire or The Raving Press.
The wall at the Mexico-USA border has always existed. It's nothing new. Even before any physical barriers went up (which they did long before this current push for a "wall"), it was already there.
As people of the border, we are used to this mentality about barriers between nations. That's not what is problematic about the WALL. What is difficult to accept is the narrative about what is happening at the border, which simply does not mesh with our reality. There is a simple reason for that: someone else is telling our story and they are doing it in a bad way. That is why The Raving Press has taken it upon ourselves to publish anthologies that push back on that negative narrative. That is part of the goal of these books. And we do it by involving everyone from the border and beyond to speak about the truths about border people, the truths about walls, and the dangers of toeing the line when the narrative is designed to dehumanize and vilify an otherwise virtuous group of people.
Mexicans are such people. I am a Mexican American. I'm proud of being part of this great country, the U.S.A. I am also proud of my Mexican roots, and am very familiar and knowledgeable in regards to Mexico and Mexicans, having been raised in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, right on the border. I got the unique privilege of experiencing both worlds simultaneously, the Mexican world and the U.S. world. And, guess what? They are both great.
Both have great, wonderful, hard-working people. People from both worlds seek the same things: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And people from these two worlds deserve to live and grow together in peace, harmony, and openness.
To say "Tear Down This Wall" is not exactly to say "OPEN BORDERS" (how spooky!). But it is to say, dial down the rhetoric, realize that we need each other (like it or not), and tear down the mental and emotional wall that exists in the hearts and minds of those who most vehemently promote this attitude of total closure between two neighbors. Ultimately, the future is going to require that we open up all borders. That is a FACT. No one will be able to advance without collaboration, resource sharing, free flow, and equal justice for all humanity.
THAT. IS. AN. UNDENIABLE. FACT!
We published this book, Poets Facing The Wall, last year (The Raving Press, 2018) in which are featured an array of highly accomplished poets from around the U.S. and the world tackling the issue of the WALL on our border. There are authors included here that have won literary prizes and acclaim in other projects. It is truly our most powerful collection yet.
But, being an independent publishing company, the funds weren't there to really promote it. So now we have finally put the book up on Kindle as an eBook as well, and in an effort to promote it further, we are giving it away for FREE for a limited time.
Help us get this book out to as many people as possible. People need to read this book. I'm serious. Not because it's poetry. Not because it's form The Raving Press. Not because of politics. But because of the truth. It speaks truth, and that is the one thing we all will need as we make our way into the future. If the truth dies today, there is no hope for tomorrow.
We are accepting submissions for novellas between 16,000 to 18,000 words max.
Must Be FICTION
Submission period is September 28, 2019 to November 3, 2019
In English or bilingual English and Spanish are accepted.
We are looking for fiction by a minority author or minority-centered pieces by authors of all backgrounds treating topics of immigration, border life, detention centers, Mexican American life and culture, Mexican folklore, Mexican American historical fiction.
Pieces must be complete and edited fully for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Only completed works will be considered. If your submission is accepted, we will contact you by email with further instructions.
We cannot contact everyone after the initial email acknowledging the fact that we have received your submission. If you are not contacted after that, then it means we did not select it for publication. The book will be a 5x8.
GIVE US SOMETHING TOTALLY NEW AND EXCITING!
Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions send them to us to the same email address.
SHARE THIS POST IN YOUR WRITERS GROUPS!
It's the 1994 La Joya Coyotes senior prom and I'm 18 years old. I got my fancy suit on, looking all GQ. On my arm, I got a pretty woman clinging to me like she's walking a tight rope. Perhaps it's the heels that can't come easy when you are wearing a tight, form-fitting dress and looking all glam yourself.
We bust through the quadruple doors of the entrance to my high school. Everybody is looking at me like, "Is that Gabriel walking in with that angel? Who is she?" They were all confused of course because my date was not one of them. She was an outsider. In fact, she was a bit older than me, so she wasn't even in high school at that point. So it's quite an impression I made coming in with what looked like my girl, since I was never seen promenading around with a girl in the hallways throughout my high school career. I never even had an "official," public girlfriend back then. I was never known for being a Casanova, in spite of the fact that most girls thought I was a player for some reason. I guess it was my quiet demeanor. My sleepy, love-me-tender eyelids. The fact that girls always found it easy to connect with me. That always raised suspicions.
"Tiene la musica por dentro," is the local saying. In other words, he's got a well-hidden bad boy side.
As we join the crowd in the cafeteria now converted into a dance hall, we see the band on stage. An unbelievable manifestation, like seeing ghosts. How was it possible that we had gotten this band of all bands to play at OUR PROM?!
And the band was?
None other than
Los Palominos were just one of many tent poles in the Tejano Music genre that swept the nation's Spanish-speaking communities throughout the 1980's and '90's. To me, they were my favorite band. It's hard to describe just what their music sounds like if you have never heard it, but it's a mix of Mexican cumbia and norteno music with a tinge of U.S. rock & roll oldies...at least in spirit.
Aside from them, those bands that seemed to be the ambassadors of a vibrant, unique, and proud (though very much humble in style and presentation) music tradition were powerhouses like el Grupo Mazz, La Mafia, Emilio Navaira, and the mega star, Selena Quintanilla. Of all of these, the three most influential in the Rio Grande Valley, as well as nationally and internationally were Mazz, Emilio, and Selena.
Let me get right down to the conspiracy theory here. In 2008, Emilio Navaira was in a terrifying bus crash that nearly took his life and survived only to be killed off by a massive heart attack eight years later. Joe Lopez, lead singer for Grupo Mazz was tried and convicted of raping his niece in 2007. He was given a 32 year sentence of which he served 10 and was released a mere ghost of his former self. And of course, Selena Quintanilla was murdered in cold blood by Yolanda Saldivar in 1995. Only a year after my prom.
Really, after the death of Selena, the Tejano Music industry took a dive. It was the beginning of the end. It is peculiar that all these (and others) Tejano singers met such negative fates. Their destinies are rivaled only by hard-core gangsta' rappers who occasionally get gunned down or o.d. Which begs the question, what's behind this very rapid death of an entire music genre? What are the forces behind it that brought about these results?
In the case of Joe Lopez of Grupo Mazz, there are still alternate versions of the rape accusation. It seems that certain evidence that could have proved his innocence was not admitted in his court case, and so he was convicted.
When it comes to Emilio, I'm always suspicious when someone of a young age, comparatively speaking, just up and croaks one regular day. He was only 53 years old! Did someone slip some poison in his Chivas Regal? He was at his home, for cryin' out loud. One of my uncles died the same way. He was found alone in his home, dead of an apparent massive heart attack. But questions remained of people that had access to him, and who might have had a motive to kill him. Did Emilio face such a danger as well? There had already been one brush with death. The media chalked it up to him driving his tour bus without a license and under the influence of alcohol. But you know what Trump says about the media, right? Hmmmm...
Selena Quintanilla, the queen of Mexican Americans, was not only at the top of her game in 1995. She was so far above all others in the genre, that she couldn't help but break the music industry into pieces, unwilling to conform to only one musical tradition. She was a true star in every way. The inspiration and hope she gave to all the millions across the U.S. and the world was really something noteworthy. Especially if it is your business to keep populations in check. After all, music has the undeniable power to move people, to create social awareness that bring about movements that lead to structural change. Someone had to do something about these bad hombres and nasty women of the Southern border.
For starters, you shoot to kill the biggest, most influential among them, because that's the way it's always done. Look at MLK, Bobby Kennedy, JFK, Lincoln. There's no other sure way but a bullet to cut down the towering figure. This was Selena's fate. Was Yolanda Saldivar a Manchurian candidate set upon the queen of Tejano to end her life? What might have been Yolanda's trigger? "Bidi bidi, bang bang?" like Howard Stern so succinctly, if disgustingly, phrased it?
And as happened to people around these powerful historical figures, those secondary influential people got dealt with in various ways. Poison, for instance, is very efficient. Some times undetectable (according to my research watching many episodes of Forensic Files, and when done correctly by professionals). It's the perfect way to quietly remove someone of prominence from the scene. Perhaps this might explain Emilio Navaira's fate?
But you can't rely on poison alone to dismantle the tent poles that keep a movement standing. That's where allegations come into play. Is Joe Lopez truly a child rapist? We know that a conviction isn't always definitive proof of guilt. Just ask the many people who have been exonerated and released from prison years or decades after being wrongfully convicted. It happens. I don't know all the facts about the Joe Lopez case, but if there are factors that were not analyzed, I think it is only fair to do due diligence because, after all, this is a person's life we are talking about.
So the question remains: who was behind the conspiracy to kill Tejano music? The US govt? The Hispanic U.S. media groups seeking to replace a strong Mexican American identity-driven music movement with a more neutral, and less potent music genre that is based on simplistic, repetitive beats that never change no matter the song, or the artist, or the passage of time?
Yes, I'm talking about you, Reggaeton. If there is such a thing as playing Mozart and Beethoven to your baby while in the womb to help her or him be born a genius, then playing Reggaeton at any stage in life has got to produce the polar opposite. (Some songs are aiight, tho ;p).
But to what end? What would those Hispanic media groups gain by killing Tejano Music? Well, it's no secret that Mexican Americans comprise the strongest (numerically speaking) category of Latinos in the U.S. Other Central and South Americans who come here represent a tiny fragment of the Latino populace, yet it may be in their interest to shape the body politic of Latinos in the U.S. by diminishing the Mexican influence and replacing it with a more universal Hispanic identity not rooted in any one Latin American nation. And the ultimate goal of such an effort, you ask? That is the million dollar question.
I tell you, this is a mystery just begging to be explored. And as the chief editor at The Raving Press, I will make a pledge to you here. If anyone out there is able to take this topic on and produce a manuscript of at least 18,000 words be it a fictional novella or non-fiction text, we will publish, promote it, and share the royalties 50/50 with you. So let's see what you got.
Gabriel H. Sanchez,
The Raving Press
P.S. I love Reggaetoneros. Where are my Reggaetoneros?
Are you a writer, thinker, philosopher, person with thoughts and the ability to create a Word document containing a post of no less than 300 words and no more than 600 words in length? If you submit your post, we can publish it here on TRiP Wire.
*Blog post must be in English or Spanish
*Previous publication is NOT REQUIRED
*No less than 300 words and no more than 600
*Free of HATE SPEECH
*Can include foul language as long as it enhances the piece
*Include a picture or illustration about the topic chosen
*Include the author's picture or an avatar, along with name, pen-name, or anonymous (if anonymous, controversial topics may not be published)
Possible topics: border wall, solution to a possible nuclear holocaust, practical and philosophical views on space colonization, presidential election 2020, the feasibility of democracy in a post truth world, the merits of a monarchy in the United States, the abolition of the U.S. Congress, the practicality of the use of X for gender inclusion in Spanish language terms (like "LatinX"), the "Resistance," or any other topic you believe should be part of the discussion in our public discourse.
Chosen authors and their works at large will be promoted by TRiP Wire (The Raving Press) and its associated websites, social media platforms, and groups.
Send us your blog post to: email@example.com
Please share this call for guest blog posts with your fellow thinkers, writers, and people yearning to be heard.
Happy new year! Out with the old, in with the new! (It's gotta be a new year somewhere in the world on a different calendar than the Gregorian.)
Our blog is now officially "The Raving Press Information Wire". AKA "TRiP Wire". That's why in the graphic above, the words share the little i.
Before anyone out there, like The Wire in the U.K. gets all bent out of shape for us seemingly borrowing from their name, we didn't, okay? This idea is actually something we had come up with years ago. About a decade ago, actually. Although back then the idea was for the project to be a newsletter/zine/arts and entertainment thang, and it was actually going to be called "The TRiPpin' Wire".
Obviously, that title itself was a bit more complicated to pull off. As it turned out, the project itself was also a bit hard to pull off. It was a question of manpower, time, and mula. So the project was shelved indefinitely. But now we have partially resurrected the name at least, and it is good! Better, don't you think? Let us know what it conjures when you sound it off in your head. It is a play on words, of course. We think it's pretty clever, but do let us know your take.
The purpose for the change is to try to steer a little back into the original purpose of The Trippin' Wire, this blog, and The Raving Press itself as a whole. To try to talk a bit about the state of the Rio Grande Valley and the U.S.-Mexico Border from a literary, artistic, historical, and sometimes news-driven point of view.
This blog (and for now it will remain just a blog, but maybe at some point it will become something bigger) will only be getting much more opinionated, so don't take offence. The best response is to engage and hash it out. We're lovers not fighters. Let's talk it through. ;-p
Anyway, more to come about this change in direction. Here's a working tagline:
"TRiP Wire: more opinion, less news".
Hmmm....meh. Not sure yet. Need to think it through some more. But we welcome suggestions on improving this tagline. Send us your suggestions by commenting or sending a private message.
Get the Bad Hombres & Nasty Women anthology by The Raving Press for FREE for a very limited time. This is a collection of poetry, art, and short stories for the times we are living in. An important collection to own on Kindle or Paperback.
Please give us a review on Amazon and LIKE our page on Facebook.
Meet over 25 authors, artists, photographers, musicians, actors, and more.
I want to invite you to come to our yearly book festival and meet many authors, artists, photographers, musicians, actors, and artisans from the Rio Grande Valley, New York, California, New Mexico, South Carolina, Mexico, and beyond.
This is our 3rd year and we are holding our event at the Speer Memorial Library in Mission, Texas again. We want to thank the library staff and patrons, and in particular, Lulu Garcia, for all of her work and effort in helping us put this event together.
The event is on February 16, 2019, from 10 am to 4 pm. Our local Barnes & Noble store representative will be on site selling local books and other items. Authors will also be at their booths selling and autographing their books, artwork, music, and more. And for those not looking to buy books or other products, come out for our open mic segment from 1 pm to 4 pm MCd by yours truly.
So don't miss out on this event. There will be books for all ages and literary tastes. From children's books to YA novels, acting manuals, poetry books in English, Spanish, and bilingual, horror books, sci-fi titles, and historical fiction.
See you there!
Are you a published author with a book to sell, or an artist, photographer, musician, actor, or artisan who has items to sell? The Raving Press Events is hosting its 3rd annual book festival at the Speer Memorial Library in Mission, Texas on February 16, 2019 from 10 am to 4 pm. We are offering a FREE BOOTH primarily to authors, but also to artists and others. Limited booths available.
Last night we had an event at the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library in Edinburg, Texas. (thanks to the staff there) where we had a signup sheet for the free booth at our next event. But since the book presentations were moved to another spot at the library, many people never found us. That is why we are extending this invitation to everyone who came looking for us and anyone else who might be interested in joining us in February.
We'll have the lobby area where the vendors will be greeting the crowds, and a conference room with a sound system where authors, musicians and filmmakers will be reading, performing, and or presenting their works. If you are a poet or writer who only wishes to read/ perform, feel free to come and join the open mic presenters.
If you have questions or for more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please share this with fellow authors, artists, vendors, and performers so they can sign up while there are still some booths (only 8 left of 28)!
Download the Bad Hombres & Nasty Women: Anthology. This is a book of poetry, short stories, photography, and art responding to our current president's most outlandish rhetoric from the start.
For the greatest effect, SHARE THIS LINK with friends and fellow creatives.
Limited time offer ends 11/29/2018.
Get Lost: Children of the River for FREE for a limited time from November 19, 2018 to November 23, 2018.
Just click the photo above or the link below to download your copy.
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This is not required for you to get the book entirely FREE, but it would help us greatly in alerting others about our publications and our press.
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The Raving Press would like to thank Democracy Chronicles for publishing a wonderful article titled: Poets Facing The Wall: New Anthology Of Sonnets Take On Trump’s Wall by Ana Maria Fores Tamayo, one of the contributors to our latest anthology by the same title Poets Facing The Wall (The Raving Press, 2018).
Click the image or CLICK HERE to read the entire article.
A podcast to remember
Ever wonder what's the story behind The Raving Press?
Listen to the REMEMBER THE SHOW Podcast Below to catch some of the chat I had with Enclave Magazine's Hector Luis Alamo on topics ranging from life in Reynosa, Mexico, the Rio Grande Valley, publishing in Texas, the origins of The Raving Press, and the question of being (identity matters). It was a great time talking to Hector. I hope we can do it again sometime. I promise to work on my time-fillers. :)
BTW, if you are thinking of getting our latest anthology, follow this LINK HERE to purchase a copy of Poets Facing The Wall at a 10% discount.
The Poets Facing The Wall anthology is officially LIVE!
"Does the GREAT BORDER WALL looming on the U.S. border with Mexico reinforce the American ideal which says that people are 'endowed by their creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...'? Or does THE WALL represent the death of the American experiment?
Poets from across America and the world come together in this anthology to address the meaning and the effects of building THE WALL. Perhaps the biggest, most impenetrable wall to be revealed is ultimately not the physical one between USA and Mexico, but the one inside us, preventing us from seeing our immigrant forefathers and mothers in the current immigrants and refugees on the southern border."
Get a COPY OF THIS BOOK which will break the walls of division like a wrecking ball. This is the most exciting, powerful, and highly sophisticated publication by our press so far.
It's been a journey from the moment the idea for this anthology was born to its completion. In that span of time, so much has happened to inspire or necessitate the publication of different anthologies addressing such things as family separation, child detention centers, #metoo, and so on. But quality requires time and thoroughness. The good thing is that this upcoming anthology, Poets Facing The Wall, does cover some peripheral territory related to what the wall represents. And, for that reason, you will see poetry that might seem to divert from the central topic.
Ultimately, it does not, for it is an anthology for, about, and by the unwanted "other," the disenfranchised voices of America, and the enlightened citizen refusing to allow this to be done in her or his name. We dedicate this publication to them and to posterity. For the American dream cannot and will not die. It will overrun oppressive forces and topple the barriers to freedom. Here the American people make a stand, joined by their fellow citizens of the world in recognition of the universal truth that might does not make right, and human rights and dignity trump political expediency.
Poets Facing The Wall will be officially released on November 6, 2018, a.k.a. VOTING DAY! Go fulfill your American duty as a citizen and vote regardless of your political leaning. Then head on to Amazon (linked on the picture below) and get your copy of the anthology as a gift to yourself for being such a great patriot!
And now, the official cover reveal...
Drum roll, please.
Poets Facing The Wall
(The Raving Press, 2018)
Thank you all for liking, sharing and helping us out in every way. We want to see what you think about the cover and the book itself, so please share your comments with us when you have gone through the book.
If you are so inclined, feel free to share this email with friends and family, and or, also on social media.
Here is the LINK to the Amazon product page.
Gabriel H. Sanchez is an author, poet, actor, editor, and publisher from the Rio Grande Valley.
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