Welcome to Maoist Orange Cake. Each week one of our Divas posts a thoughtful (but not necessarily serious) essay on whatever calls forth her Voice or strikes her Fancy. We invite you to join us wherever the discussion leads.
Motto of the MOC: Sincere, yes. Serious? Never!

"I would also like to add that ‘Maoist Orange Cake is possibly the best name for a blog ever. Just my twopence." -- The Sixth Carnival of Radical Feminists, 1 October 2007

The Twelfth Carnival of Radical Feminists is up at The Burning Times blog and mentions one of our posts, Helen 'Wheels' Keller, for recommendation. Orangeists spreading our zest!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Belated Día de los Muertos

Feminista of Maoist Orange Cake has requested a post about the Calexico/Mexicali Day of the Dead, a Border Wall art show recently reported on at the Portland (Oregon) Independent Media Center. Kim Alphandary has a lovely set of images up at her blog, along with excellent cultural explanations which begins with:

"Here on the border fence between Calexico and Mexicali, cities that emerge on both sides of the US-Mexican Border paintings were on display for the Day of the Dead Celebration Nov. 1 and 2, 2007.

Day of the Dead images usually consist of a skull or skeleton dressed as living beings, acting out various real life activities. Some of the more common images depicted are: Catrina, Mariachis, the Reaper, the revolutionary/outlaw Pancho Villa, and Jesus. Here in Mexicali, virtually all the paintings made depicted border stories. Death and rebirth, what the border gives us (them)."


(The Thinker)

(Christ and the Border)

(Climbing the Wall)

(Statue of Liberty/Death)

Para los
Muertos vivos
Para los muertos
que no se han
ido; y para los gone;
vivos que siguen
a los que en-
comiendan su
Muerte a la vida
y para los que
mueren Viviente
La Vida

For the
Living Dead
For the dead
that have not
gone; and for the
living that continue
living dead
to those who
entrust their
Death to Life
and for those who
die living


Ginjoint said...

Yeeeah, um, I've been thinking a lot about crossing borders lately, for obvious reasons (in case you don't know, I have cancer.) And I've been thinking a lot about hope, too. Both of which I bet The Border represents for those who cross.

Any time I find myself becoming angry at what illegal immigrants "cost" the U.S., when I find myself being sucked into the hateful hype - I think of the hope beating in the hearts of those crossing, and my spirit becomes gentler. This feels good, like a rinse of cool water. They're not out to rip anyone off, or to destroy any economy. Their goal is the same as mine - to live a decent life in a decent shelter in a decent neighborhood.

I'm afraid in a lot of ways right now, and I have to say this time of year doesn't help.

Ginjoint said...

And Jana, I'm sorry but I missed this, how did you get four broken ribs?! Ouch. I hope you're comfortably on the mend.

shadocat said...

We love you, Ginjoint! Believe it or not, I've been thinking about you and one of my other friends lately, and saying prayers. Sending good wishes out to you tonight.

Ginjoint said...

Thanks so much, Shado. I've missed reading and participating in these blogs. Anesthesia is powerful, powerful stuff - it fucks up one's ability to concentrate, to read, or just to think for days after a surgery (my surgery was 8 1/2 hours long - that's a lot of the juice.) My chemo is scheduled to start on Wednesday, and will end in April.

But hope is powerful, powerful stuff too. As I'm watching the earth "go to sleep" around me, I tell myself that this winter, my body and I too will need to snuggle, hibernate, and heal. That's what I told myself last night, anyway. I'm gettin' there.

silvio soprani said...


This time of year does amplify the effect of all matters regarding loved ones, their health, and their loss.

In addition to my hopes and fears about your health tugging at my feelings, I also discovered last week that one of my oldest and closest musician friends is dealing with throat cancer. This friend has produced so much music so full of love and humor over the years. (His web link is above and you can hear some of the lovely sounds he makes.)

As I experienced my fear of losing him or of the bounty of his contribution to my world ending, I thought about his dozen or so music CDs he has produced, all the friends he has connected and given a context in which to be creative and giving, and it made me seriously question whether I am making the most use of my own life.

The other discovery I made last week was that a wonderful poet (who was my English Professor many years ago) had died in 2006 and I never knew it. Again, this is a person who has written and published so many poems full of love, philosophy, and appreciation of life. He has traveled, taught, and held gatherings at his home where people could celebrate their creativity.

These are people whose presence I miss, but their contributions I don't have to miss because they are knitted into my heart. (I have been knitting a pair of socks, so that metaphor was inevitable.)

The third thing that happened last week was an amazing thing. A local artist held an interactive event she calls her "knitting orchestra." She sets up a circle of chairs.
she has a suitcase containing many different colors of yarn on reels. They feed to the chairs. Each chair has a pair of knitting needles wired to a sound system.

participants are welcome to sit down and start knitting. It was so nice!
I met such nice people, and we all knitted together.There were no rules; you could not do it wrong. And the sound of all those clicking, whoosing, and whispering needles all was mixed together.

There were even some male knitters-some who never knitted before.(Favorite t-shirt seen: "I knit; therefore I rock.") Many of the people there were from the MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) Textiles program. (Lots of dredlocks and purple hair, but also different kinds of people.Knitting is the great uniter.)

Just thought I would share some of the bitter and sweet moments of the week.


kat said...

On Halloween, something happened that really rocked the Bay Area.
A 15 year old was murdered in a park in Alameda. Alameda is a small, quiet, working class community on the same island where the giant naval air station used to be.
She and her family had emigrated from Mongolia a couple of years before. When her mother was interviewed, she said that she and her husband had come here with the hope that their children would grow up safe, with access to education and opportunities.

It was really wrenching. That's the classic immigrant ideal, right? Safety, opportunity, hope.

What made it even weirder is that Alameda is so safe. There's not much serious crime, and this was the only murder in ages.

2 16-year-olds have been arrested and charged.

Jana C.H. said...

Ginjoint: The busted ribs are from a car accident in which I, alas, was to blame. The other guy had the right of way. This happened on the 25th; the major bruises and sprains on my left ankle, knee, and wrist are well on the way to being healed. In the meantime, there's nothing to do with broken ribs except take a sufficient number of pain meds, and wait.

That, and darn socks. I have darned socks whenever I have felt good enough to sit up. Socks and tea and nothing to think about except my poor car. Woe for the late Vicky Vole, my 88 Toyota Camry, gone to that big junkyard in the sky (actually in Arlington, Washington). At least I'll be able to replace her with a hatchback; I have long missed having one.

All this has cut back on all my posting to the Internet. I have not fixed up the illustrations for "Cat-Ra and the Eruption of Thera", And I have written not a word yet on my promised article on "Iphigenia in Tauris". I think the Webiverse will survive this terrible loss.

I trust someone will ask me why my car was named Vicky Vole, so we can go off on a tangent about naming cars. If it doesn't happen now, we'll just have to wait until I have to buy and name a new vehicle.

Jana C.H.
Saith Will Cuppy: Nero did not fiddle while Rome burned because the violin had not yet been invented. He played the lyre and sang of the Fall of Troy.

little gator said...

OK, why Vicky Vole?

Our current car is a VW Golf named Zorak, cause they both have green exoskeletons.

the chevy S10 was sold a year or two ago. We bought him on Midsummer night, so of course his name was Bottom.

kat said...

My first car was an 88 toyota camry as well. His name was Tommy. Short for Tomas Luis de Victoria, a very awesome 16th Century composer.

Only named car I've had, because he died so spectacular and prolonged a death that I was sure that naming him was a jinx.....

Ginjoint said...

Silvio, I visited your friend's website - he is indeed a beautiful guitar player, and has a very kind face too. (Plus, I'm partial to anyone who posts pictures of their pets at their website.) What a horrible double whammy for him to have cancer in his throat. I really, really hope for a full recovery for him...and I'm glad you participated in the knitting orchestra to lift your spirits.

Jana, enjoy the pain meds while they last.

Kat, being in Chicago, we've had many of those staggeringly senseless deaths to folks who came here to escape violence, only to have it catch up to them anyway. Or they came here for opportunity, as you say. Maybe the whole world should be on pain meds.

kat said...

mmm pain meds....some how I don't think our discussions would be so interesting and enlightening if we were all constantly in the happy haze of vicodin.
Besides, more than one of those things makes me hurl!

It's so interesting, Silvio, that if this murder had happened in Oakland or San Francisco, it probably wouldn't have been treated as the immense tragedy that it is. Oakland is used to murders, which is sick. Alameda, though, just 5 or 10 minutes away, is a totally different world. It's almost too good to be true: a diverse, working class area with a lot of immigrants, but also an area with almost no crime, (relatively) affordable homes, good schools....

ugh, the world sucks sometimes...

oh well, I must go to work. hopefully that won't suck.

Jana C.H. said...

I have never yet had a pain medication that gave me a high or any sort of pleasurable buzz. All I get is the dry mouth. Sometimes I get a little dopey, which is decidedly non-fun. I have recently learned that valium has the same effect on me as demerol: I immediately start doing household chores, often beginning with the litter box, then moving on the vacuuming.

Jana C.H.
Saith Will Rogers: If stupidity got us into this mess, why can’t it get us out?

silvio soprani said...

do you ever listen to country music? Martina McBride had a song a few years ago that said "Love's the only house big enough for all the pain in the world."
For some reason, I find that thought so comforting. No matter how awful things are, kindness from one person can transform the situation.

When I hear about a solitary murder, like the one you mentioned in Alameda, I think about countries that have dealt with war for decades, like Sri Lanka, Bosnia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine...and I wonder how people deal with one atrocity after another?

Perhaps being in a war zone ratchets up people's ability to care for each other...or maybe not. Maybe it makes them turn inward.

I need to go back to some of the writing from the Holocaust, where people talk about how they survived.

Sorry to get so heavy. It really means a lot to me to be able to turn to the Maoist Orange Cake and continue the conversation with all of you.

I am turning 56 on Friday. I am trying to emerge from my emotional solitude and try to connect more with people "on location." (Connecting online is a very good start!)

Thanks for the comments about my musician friend Jim Stricklan. He is a very kind soul and I am sure he is going to do just fine.



Maggie Jochild said...

I saw Thomas Cahill interviewed by Bill Moyers last night, an author I've not read but clearly should. He's written a new book about the history of cruelty in humanity, specifically focused on the death penalty, even more specifically focused on Texas's abysmal obsession with capital punishment.

It was not as depressing as it might sound -- I mean, any show with Moyers contains hope. Cahill talked about how Europe, after centuries or perhaps millenia of dire oppression, torture and genocide, has figured it out -- outlawed the death penalty and leads the way in trying to enlighten the rest of the world. It can be done. It's a maturing process, and also, inevitably, a spiritual stage we have to reach.

I found myself wondering about the possible connection between the de-Christianizing of Europe and the ability to come up with a morality that values human life in a way that actually addresses cruelty. And yet -- Italy and in particular Rome is ground zero for opposition to the death penalty, so (as usual) it's more complicated than I'd wish.

But what that means, to me, is that it will take the heart and mind of every one of us to make a sea change. Which is a good thing.

Pain meds do give me a kind of buzz, I guess you'd call it -- I just don't care so much about anything. Which is horrible for me. Not to mention the constipation. (Well, there I went and mentioned it...) I do anything I can to not take them, I like being here even when it's grim.

Which I think is also the answer: The antidote to misery, to loss and death and poverty, usually is life itself. It's all about point of view -- and I say that without judgment of those who cannot make the shift. We do the best we can.

Happy early birthday, Silvio. Happy border crossing, Ginjoint. There's a great song by Si Kahn, a Southern Jewish folksinger who collapses both Russian Jewish and Appalachian culture into one in his music, where he's talking about how his family fled pogroms and then had to deal with race and class in this country. The chorus says, in this wonderful uplift:
We are cro-o-o-ssing the border
Come go, come go, come go