Thursday, September 28, 2006


Reading at Artlington Arts Center 9/28/06

JOIN US for the last installment of this year’s bilingual poetry program, sponsored by the Arlington Community Foundation.

In Two Tongues/En dos lenguas 7 pm at the Arlington Arts Center

Coordinated by the AAC in partnership with Professor Rei Berroa, En dos lenguas brings together published poets and emerging voices in a night of original and translated spoken word. Master poets tomorrow night include Gival Press founder Robert L. Giron and elvis is alive and well and living in harlem author Brian Gilmore. Emerging poets include Virginia writers Kiley Cogis and Christopher Martin and Pennsylvania poet Emilano Martin.
A Master Class workshop, also open to the public, will be held at 6 pm in the AAC conference room.

FREE. Reservations not required, but appreciated.
For more info: 703-248-6800.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


ArLiJo Currently Featuring Poet Mel Belin

ArLiJo, the Arlington Literary Journal online, currently is featuring Arlington, Virginia poet Mel Belin.

Belin who has published his work in various journals over the years also has been a frequent reader at local poetry venues.

Here below is a sample of his work.

Barco Negro
—from a Portuguese song

She lay beside him on the sand,
worried about when he'd awaken
and see her in the first
stirrings of day: would he find her
plain, or worse?

Later, he'd left in a dark boat with a cross . . .
But oh, how she'd been wrong,
had half-laughed, cried that way he looked
at her, flush in morning's sun.

Let the old hags gossip: it's what people do
who have nothing
left. When they say he won't return,
she thinks, they're crazy.
And though the years that pass leave her

stooped, frail . . . she's ready, lies
back one night, eyes closed,
for that space, precious,
when God-willing, after an in-breath,

the barco negro slips up to the pier
for her, pauses . . .
and, before any out-, moves off,
sails billowing: a spectral glide
to the horizon—like a dip into sleep, gone!

Copyright © 2006 by Mel Belin.
Barco Negro was previously published in The Legal Studies Forum 2005 (West Virginia University).

Please visit the ArLiJo link to see more of his work and others who have been featured.
Click here:
  • ArLiJoThe Arlington Literary Journal online

  • Washington, DC writer C. M. Mayo, who translated Agustin Cadena's short story Lady of the Seas for her collection entitled Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, will be featured next at ArLiJo.


    Mel Belin's first book of poetry, Flesh That Was Chrysalis, was published by The Word Works, Inc., in September 1999. He was a winner of Potomac Review's third annual poetry competition, and a runner-up in an Antietam Review competition. He has read from his work on the Theme & Variations Program distributed by National Public Radio. A graduate of Dartmouth College, and George Washington University Law School, he is a retired lawyer, who currently resides in Arlington, Virginia.

    Saturday, September 16, 2006


    Mexico's 196th Year of Independence

    Poster from the Casimiro E. Giron Collection at the University of Texas at El Paso Special Collections Department
    UTEP Special Collections Department

    As Mexico's 16th of September commemorates 196 years of independence from Spain, it's ironic that the country finds itself in a political quagmire, not unlike that of the USA's 2000 Gore vs. Bush Florida fiasco, which led to the Supreme Court ruling that George W. Bush was our elected president.

    Nonetheless, recently the Mexican election was declared valid and Felipe Calderon was named president-elect.

    At least Mexico has avoided a second revolution via the peaceful protests in Mexico City. Given that Mexico had a revolution in 1910, a hundred years after its independence, the recent uproar doesn't bode well for 2010. Having lived in El Paso across the river from Ciudad Juarez, I recall Mexican friends predicting a major turnover in Mexico in the 1970s, but that didn't materialize.

    As many Americans who have cultural or ethnic ties to other countries, via their grandparents or great-grandparents, I can't help but feel some affinity to the cultural pride some of my ancestors felt when they celebrated Mexico's Independence in Texas and Nebraska. What matters is not so much one's bloodline but a political sense of fair play and common decency.

    My paternal grandfather, for example, was quite involved with cultural celebrations as a result of being a musician and the conductor of his orchestra in San Angelo, Texas. Each year whether in San Angelo, San Antonio, and eventually in Scottsbluff, Nebraska where he moved to, after selling his San Angelo property to the first black family in the neighborhood as a means to point out the injustice Texans were carrying out against Texans of Mexican ancestry who did not have birth certificates (many were born in homes and did not speak English) and who were shipped to Mexico on trains during the Great Depression, there were musical events to commemorate the day that Mexico became independent from Spain.

    Poster from the Casimiro E. Giron Collection at the University of Texas at El Paso Special Collections Department

    UTEP Special Collections Department

    The irony for my grandfather was that he was American, being San Angelo-born, and Spanish, French, and Bavarian ethnically but with family roots going back before the Texas Republic, Mexico's Independence, and to New Spain, what mattered in 1910 (see the posters) was that politically Mexico was Independent and individuals with the cultural history and traditions carried that with them regardless of their nationality, for in truth, nationality is changeable.

    Then I think about my maternal side of my family, with Mexican roots via my maternal grandfather, though his family left Mexico before the 1910 revolution. I suppose my maternal great-grandmother, on the part of my mother's mother's side, might have had different feelings with regard to all of this. Being Comanche, she was born when her pregnant mother died during a Calvary raid near Comanche Springs near Fort Stockton, Texas, and though she eventually married a red-headed, blue-eyed Spaniard, she still continued some of the traditions she learned from the Comanche women who raised her near the Fort.

    The recent discovery of Olmec writing in Mexico bids us well to remember the lost history of the Olmecs, the Aztecs, and the Maya. People forget that the original Americans of the Americas are quite present in the American societies, North, Central, and South. Granted many may have intermarried, unlike the braver ones who escaped the horrendous atrocities of European invaders, but even the native tribes fought each other.

    But what one is called to remember on a day of Independence is the same reverence we Americans have for our Constitution on July 4th.

    In order to hold our countries together, be it the USA or Mexico, citizens are bound by our forefathers who fought so bravely for our independence and the constitutional rights we hold so dear in the USA.

    Neither time, political ambition nor political double talk must keep us from protecting these rights so that we, or Mexico, are not left without the basic freedoms the brave died for.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006


    A Taste of Liechtenstein

    Yesterday evening's lecture by Her Excellency Claudia Fritsche, Liechtenstein's Ambassador to the USA, at the Goethe Institut was truly an exceptional one.

    Having visited the Goethe Institute to see many a film with my partner Ken Schellenberg before, when the Liechtenstein lecture appeared on the list of activities, Ken was set on attending, for his family began their roots in the village of Schellenberg, Liechtenstein.

    Ambassador Fritsche gave us an interesting lecture on the history and the current affairs of her country and aftewards we were treated to some of the Court-Winery of the Prince of Liechtenstein in Wilfersdorf, Austria.

    Now I'm not just saying this because we met and spoke with Ambassador Fritsche but the wines we were privileged to taste last night were absolutely superb. Wine making has been a tradition in the Principality of Liechtenstein since 1436, though many of the vineyards are in Austria or the Czech Republican, where the Prince owns land.

    Were we informed that soon the wines we tasted will be available in the DC area.

    It's hard to focus on just one wine since we tasted five different wines, and I might add not your typical wine-tasting swallow but more like a dinner's glass of wine taste.

    These included the following:

    FL Classique Brut Premier, a vintage sparkling wine made from Riesling grapes.
    "Its characteristics feature a ripe, golden yellow color with a very fine, soft perfume with light hints of peach, a fine Mousseux with a ripe, full character, and a long finish."

    Gruner Veltliner DAC made from these grapes.
    With "characteristics of a light straw-yellow color with peppery, spicy bouquet, harmoniously-rounded and lasting on the palate."

    Clos Domaine Riesling made from Riesling grapes.
    "A noble wine with characteristics of light straw with a very open, sparkling flavor of fruit reminiscent of ripe peaches and honeydew melon, enhanced by a balanced play between body and acidity."

    Veramo Merlot/Zweigelt made with Zweigelt and Merlot grapes.
    "A medium ruby red color with a harmonious union of berry and ripe fruit flavors combined with a pleasant tannin structure resulting in a well-rounded taste on the palate."

    Clos Domaine Zweigelt made with only Zweigelt grapes.
    "A dense ruby red color and an intensive, open nose with hints of ripe berries and a pleasantly-rounded tannin structure resulting a smooth finish."

    For a country the size of Washington, DC with only 35,000 people, Liechtenstein is certainly doing many things well to advance its economy.

    I recall visiting the country in 1977 when I was traveling across Europe on my two-month journey, starting in Lisbon on my birthday with visits to 12 different countries with a final departure from London. Ah, the days of youth and less costly life styles. Those were the good old days and yesterday's event helped to bring many forgotten memories back to me, and certainly the wine facilitated the flow.

    Monday, September 11, 2006


    May Peace Descend Upon Us

    May the people who vanished on 9/11 rest in peace.

    May the families and friends of these victims find peace.

    May the world come together to stop further loss of life.

    May individuals who insist on taking lives out of hate or political reasons find the spirit of life which condemns such senseless destruction of life.

    May all individuals find the value of life and embrace it.

    Saturday, September 09, 2006


    Red Light Winter at The Studio Theatre Is a Shocker

    Adam Rapp's play Red Light Winter is quite a shocker both in terms of the superb performances by actors Jason Fleitz, William Peden, and Regina Aquino but also because of the lingering power of the play itself.

    This is not a play for your teenager or your parents if they are the least shocked at nudity or "red light" goings and comings.

    But if you are wanting a play that is not the typical stayed Death Trap or such, then I strongly recommend that you get yourself down to The Studio Theatre and see this play.

    Rapp's language is fresh and the twists in the action still linger even after I saw the play on Thursday night. While in the shower, it suddenly hit me how the main character, played by Jason Fleitz, might have gotten his strange ailment which plagued him for months. Fleitz, who gives an extremely strong performance, as Matt is enthralled by off beat writers such as Frederick Exley, who wrote A Fan's Notes and whose main character is rather disgusting. The fact that William Peden as Davis can make the audience like him in spite of his true character is truly a tour-de-force. In the end, we wonder if we might like Jason might be holding onto friends or family for the wrong reasons.

    I cannot leave this play without saying that Regina Aquino as Christina put her whole essence on the stage for the audience to take her in. Aquino wraps us around her finger, sort of speak, and we are taken by her beauty and tragedy at the same time.

    All three actors are stellar in this play which works on different levels. The dialog is not forced and the tightness of the script is so amazing that I want to see more of Rapp's plays.

    Finally, a stage is simply a platform without a director and Joy Zinoman who has won several Helen Hays Awards is able to charm the cobra such that the audience is not aware that they have been bitten until after they leave the theatre. That the actors in tandem with the director and playwright can work this magic is something to applaud.

    Click here to visit The Studio Theatre's website and to buy tickets:


    Hussein & Al Qeada Had No Relationship / ABC and Path to 9/11

    I find it rather odd, but perhaps not so strange living in such a political milieu as metropolitan Washington, DC, that a president would take something such as Saddam Hussein's government and link it to Al Qaeda in order to justify invading the country of Iraq.

    In today's The Washington Post (9/9/06) the headline read: "Iraq's Alleged Al-Qaeda Ties Were Disputed Before War: Links Were Cited to Justify U.S. Invasion, Report Says. The New York Times (9/9/06) headline read: "C.I.A. Said to Find No Hussein Link to Terror Chief."

    Imagine all the damage and loss of life not to mention the countless millions of dollars already spent and yet to be spent that the Bush Administration has caused as a result of Bush rallying up the troops to respond to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Bush repeatedly said that Hussein and Al Qaeda were linked and that is why we had to invade Iraq, yet now we know that even the CIA knew this was a lie. Could the real reason for the war as most said before the war be oil and Bush wanting to get back at Hussein for the threat made against his father?

    How Americans can allow Bush to get away with this and now use 9/11 as a political event to attack those who question his honesty if not his lapse of reason to justify going to war and stay at war in a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 is beyond comprehension.

    The media and Congress owe it to the American people and Democracy to make the Bush Administration tell us the truth and to stop abusing our Constitution.

    History is not going to be kind to those who have allowed our Democracy to be destroyed because they are afraid of Bush and gang and those who intimidate anyone who doesn't always agree with their position.

    Elected officials took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the media must not allow anyone regardless of position to dismantle the basic fundamental rights given to us by our forefathers.

    Not any Republican or Democrat who is too complacent or afraid to speak up and defend what they were elected to do must be permitted to be railroaded by the vary totalitarian tactics that Bush and gang have begun to mention in speeches.

    Fascism does not exist unless a consorted effort is made by a government of a nation to act like a totalitarian power. A group of terrorists does not make fascism unless it is consorted and supported by the complete state as with Hitler in Nazi Germany.

    When a political group tries to stop public debate and discussion within the confines of freedom of speech, then we must begin to wonder if we are heading toward a fascist state ourselves. Especially if the media is complacent and allows it to happen.

    Now we have ABC about to release a docudrama entitled Path to 9/11 which attempts to blame the Clinton Administration for the attacks when it was Bush himself who was on vacation in Texas and who chose to ignore the email about a possible threat--terrorists using airplanes as weapons.

    Supposedly, the film also suggests that Clinton is at fault for not killing Osama bin Laden; never mind that it was illegal to assassinate anyone under USA law and that at the time bin Laden had not yet attacked the USA.

    This begs the question: Where is Osama bin Laden now and why did the Bush Administration disband the CIA unit to try to locate him and bring him to justice?

    As someone who owns a few shares of Disney which owns ABC, I feel compelled to not only boycott Disney products but also to sell my Disney stock should ABC be permitted to use 9/11 in a political fashion in order to benefit the Republican agenda and further divide this country.

    The victims of 9/11 should not be used in a manner that allows anyone to gain politically from their death. The fact that Bush is and ABC is about to do this is not only disgusting but disrespectful to the national tragedy and the victims and their families. We must also remember that there were non-Americans killed in the attacks and so this is an international event not just an American event.

    It is sad if not disgraceful that the Bush Administration has been allowed to destroy the goodwill the world showed the USA after the attacks on 9/11 to a state today in which the USA is no longer trusted if not hated by many of our former allies. Yes, European leaders still deal with our government, but what option do they have when Americans seem to care less and continue to put Bush clone-types into office who continue to perpetuate the same policies that incite such hatred towards the USA.

    It is time for Americans to begin to ask themselves:
    What are we doing as a nation that is making the world hate us so much?

    Granted, we cannot expect the whole world to love or even like us but we can at least begin to change our ways if we are provoking others to hate us to the point that they want to destroy us.

    I remember George Santayana who stated "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

    In order to learn from history one needs to be objective to be able to ask the hard questions and also be able to accept the hard answers, even if they do not match one's expectations. And in order to be able to do this one must have an open, reflective society that allows individuals to express themselves freely without fear of retaliation.

    When Americans can no longer ask questions freely without being retaliated against, then we will no longer have a Democracy but a totalitarian or fascist society.

    God help us.

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006


    Gival Press Releases On the Tongue by Jeff Mann

    Gival Press has just released a rather provocative collection of poetry by Virginian Jeff Mann.

    Trebor Healey, author of Sweet Song of Pan described the collection in the following manner: "On the Tongue is a poetry of sensuality, elemental as stone, wood and wind, outside of time and yet totally rooted in place. Jeff Mann is undoubtedly a modern incarnation of Pan and the Appalachians are his Arcadia. He weaves a brilliantly pagan eroticism, at once tender, yet forceful and hard, like the hard-shelled seeds that spring from the fragilest of flowers. These poems are both and, in that breadth, nothing short of extraordinary.”

    For one who is out in Appalachia of all places, one can understand the following comments by author Ian Philips, “Jeff Mann is the Sappho of Appalachia. I can think of no higher or truer praise. Like the legendary Lesbian bard, Mann roots the exquisite, fragmentary psalms and prayers that make up On the Tongue with extremely specific details and locales that become, word by word and beat by beat, universal and unforgettable flowerings and all because of these two poets deceptively simple art of singing hauntingly of that forever universal theme: desire, as deferred and sated by both gods and mortals.” Ian Philips is the author of Satyriasis and See Dick Deconstruct.

    To buy a copy of On the Tongue at, please click below:
    On the Tongue

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