Self Help Graphics in East L.A. had their final Dia De Los Muertos celebration at their current location on November 2nd. The property that housed the event for the last thirty odd years was sold earlier this year. Self-Help Graphics not only held the longest running Dia De Los Muertos festival in Los Angeles, but many other events as well. Self Help provided a space for Chicano artists to work and display their artwork. It was also the location of The Vex, an all ages punk club that housed many classic early punk rock shows in the early 80’s. Many great artists have either performed or shown their artwork at Self Help Graphics, too many to list them all.
“There comes a time in the affairs of man when he has to take the bull by the tail and face the situation.” -W.C. Fields.
I once took a bottle of Rye up there to W.C. Fields’ grave site in Forest Lawn, right down the road from here in Glendale, to mark the 60th anniversary of his death. (And contrary to popular legend his grave stone doesn’t read “All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia,” it simply reads W. C. Fields 1880 -1946.) It was Christmas day and I thought somebody should have a snoot full with ol’ William Claude. But drinking in a cemetery, I discovered, is kind of frowned upon. I thought the Rye was a friendly gesture, but not according to the security guard, who seemed even more disheartened by my choice of liquor. I should have known, never argue with a man in a uniform. I was wrong. The guard was right, Rye is kind of nasty. So I promised the Security guard, I think his name was Donald, the next time I fill my flask I’ll pour in something with a bit more respect. Donald suggested an Islay variety single malt Scotch. The smoky and peaty overtones are a perfect compliment to a cold wintry day. After he returned my Rye, and put away his nightstick, we discussed the weather, W. C. Fields and oddly enough, politics. Over the course of our conversation I discovered we agreed on several fronts such as, Fields' best movie was The Bank Dick and that the last eight years have been like a long icy winter and you’re trapped in a snow cave, with only shoe leather to eat, while your soul dies from hypothermia. And we both agreed the last eight years was probably very good for the whiskey trade.
Lately though, L.A. has been hotter then hell. This October we had some ten days of ninety plus temperatures, registering the hottest October on record since the 1870’s. I’m not sure, but maybe that’s a good sign politically. Though, now that it’s November, genuine weather has made a return … clouds, rain, thunder, wind. I don’t know if that’s a bad sign or just weather in November. And I might be yanking at straws here again, but another possibly good sign -- at least for me and my life in a vacuum -- is that our next President is almost certainly guaranteed to be the candidate whose Halloween mask sold the most. For the last three decades this very unscientific, but incredibly accurate prognosticator seems to always predict the winner. This year’s top selling mask, in a landslide, was Barack Obama, out-selling John McCain masks by a 2 to 1 margin. But Republicans, don’t fret -- set your eyes to the horizon, un-furrow your brow, look north, look to the future, mark your calendars, thank god and bottle up those anxieties because you will be happy to know that the Sarah Palin mask came in second with strong mavericky sales.
Personally I’m just searching for political deliverance anywhere, everywhere. And I find signs in the oddest places. I’m reading newspapers and blogs and astrological charts and traffic patterns and weather reports and football scores and topographical maps and grocery receipts and paycheck stubs and my son’s first grade homework and I see signs! The signs are everywhere, but what the hell do they mean … if anything!? Now the Philadelphia Phillies winning the 2008 World Series seems significant -- I swear there’s something there! Especially since the Phillies also hold the distinction of being the team with the most losses in the history of Major League Baseball. And Philadelphia is where The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. Philadelphia is home to Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. Philly is home to the Liberty Bell. The City of Brotherly Love is the birthplace of the cheese steak sandwich, Betsy Ross, Grace Kelly, Margaret Mead, Robert Crumb, John, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore, Wilt Chamberlain, The Stylistics, The Dead Milkmen, The Delfonics, Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, Bob Saget, Jeremiah Wright, and W.C Fields. And last but not least, over 75% of the million plus voters registered in Philly are Democrats. Is that a Sign? All I can do is hope.
Media Home Entertainment M710
Diwali (or Deepavali, Tihar or Swanti) is a festival of lights primarily celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Newar Bhuddists but also, occasionally, fans of holidays, South Asian food or culture. As with all ancient holidays, the true origins are obscure but undoubtedly symbolize the triumph of good over evil. Probably due to its timing, it wouldn't be too unlikely that its roots were in an ancient harvest festival. As is also true of all ancient holidays, Diwali acquired additional significance over the millenia for different people. In the modern age it's marked with lots of lights, house cleanings, new outfits, decorations, flowers and snacking on sweets. This year Diwali fell on the 28th, but was celebrated in the Southland's Little India neighborhood yesterday, on the first.
Newar celebrating Tihar
Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, is honored on this day to ensure a good year will follow and, in northern India, the financial year begins on Diwali. In parts of India, the homecoming of King Rama of Ayodhya is observed with the lighting of rows (avali) of lamps (deepa) which were used to light his way after a 14 year exile. In western India it marks the day King Bali was sent to rule the underworld by Vishnu. Southern India marks it as the day Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.