Tag Archives: R.I.P.

In His Own Words: Carlos Fuentes (1928-2012)

By Arturo R. García

Courtesy: Associated Press

It was only fitting, in this modern age, that news of the death of Mexican author, diplomat, and social critic Carlos Fuentes, spread via Twitter. And it was just as befitting of his stature that the person who broke the news was the President of México himself, Felipe Calderón.

That kind of acknowledgement from the highest political circles might’ve amused Fuentes; as recently as the 1980s, his name and works were practically verboten in the public-school curriculum mandated by the country’s ruling party of seven decades, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Far from being a loyal party subject, Fuentes, the son of a diplomat, resigned from his post as Mexico’s ambassador to France in 1977 after the PRI named Gustavo Díaz Ordaz–the former president who sanctioned the 1968 massacre of student protestors at Tlatelolco Plaza in Mexico City–to be his colleague. The party also hovered over one of his more celebrated works, The Death of Artemio Cruz.

“There was no need to mention the PRI,” he once told The Associated Press. “It is present by its absence.”

In his absence, Fuentes’ presence will be remembered not just because of his sheer dedication–he published more than 50 works spanning literature, theater, and film,  beginning with La Región Más Transparente (Where The Air Is Clear) in 1957–but because of his influence on the other writers who would fuel the Latin American “Boom” movement. As University of California-Riverside Professor Raymond L. Williams told the AP, Fuentes was responsible for galvanizing other preeminent authors, like Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, and Mario Vargas Llosa into a collective.

“It took Fuentes’ vision to say if we unite forces and provide a common political and literary voice, we’ll have more impact,” Williams told the AP. “His home in Pedregal (an upscale Mexico City neighborhood) was the intellectual center what brought a lot of writers together.”

Fuentes was creative, almost literally, to the very end: not only is his latest book, Vlad, scheduled for release this July (“I loved the old Dracula movies,” he told Publishers Weekly)–but an essay he penned on the recent presidential elections in France was published in the Mexican newspaper Reforma the day he died, just 24 hours after his interview with the Spanish newspaper El Día was printed, in which he revealed that he had completed another book, and planned to start another.

So, it’s only fitting to let this consummate man of words speak for himself. Under the cut are selections and videos from several interviews Fuentes has given over the years. Today, we join readers, writers, and fans of the written word all over the world in celebrating Fuentes’ singular vision.
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Race + Comics: R.I.P. Tony DeZuniga

By Arturo R. García

Courtesy: Examiner.com

The comics world lost a pioneer last week with the passing of artist Tony DeZuniga, who died in the Philippines from complications from a stroke. DeZuniga is best known for being the co-creator of DC Comics characters Black Orchid and Jonah Hex.

DeZuniga’s association with Hex would span almost four decades: 38 years after introducing the character in All-Star Western in 1972, DeZuniga returned to draw Hex for a stand-alone graphic novel, Jonah Hex: No Way Back.

DeZuniga began working as an artist in his native Philippines as a teenager in the 1950s, during the country’s boom period for comics (or Komics, as they were called). In the early 1960s he moved to New York to study graphic design and advertising, a career he would pursue for a few years before returning to the U.S. toward the end of the decade and earning art assignments from DC editor Joe Orlando. DeZuniga became the first Filipino artist to break into the American comics market.

But more importantly, DeZuniga made sure he wasn’t the last to do so, as Comic Book Resources’ Kevin Melrose noted:

He used the opportunity to open the door for other Filipino creators, convincing Orlando and DC Editor-in-Chief Carmine Infantino to visit the Philippines in 1971 to recruit such artists as Alex Niño, Alfredo Alcala, Nestor Redondo, Fred Carrillo, Vicatan and Gerry Talaoc.

That same year DeZuniga collaborated with writer John Albano to create Jonah Hex, the disfigured Western antihero with whom the artist is so closely associated. “[John] asked me to draw the concept for the character, and one day I was at the doctor’s office and I saw this chart with a man, showing him half muscle and half skeleton,” DeZuniga recalled in a 2010 interview with Comic Book Resources. “I thought to myself, ‘This is neat,’ and I got the concept. When John Albano saw it, he was very happy.”

Under the cut you can find just a few examples of DeZuniga’s work with a variety of characters.
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Voices: R.I.P. Etta James (1938-2012)

Compiled by Arturo R. García

The live performance is brutal, a storm of laidback blues and thunderous notes, and as raw as if the song’s betrayal had happened just earlier that evening. James punishes that microphone until you pity it. At one point she begins to pounce on the word “baby,’’ booming its syllables like they’re meant to sound like gunfire.

Dr. John eventually saunters over from his piano, looking like a dog that’s just peed on the rug. He’s supposed to appease James for stepping out on her – “It wasn’t nothin’ serious / I guess I was just a little delirious’’ – but even he knows it’s in vain. Hell hath no fury like this particular woman scorned.

At the end of the performance, James embraces Dr. John, her head resting on his shoulder, and I like to imagine James is thinking what I’m thinking: Where the hell did that just come from?

In just six minutes, that, to me, is the essence of Etta James. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.
- James Reed, The Boston Globe

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Gordon Hirabayashi, 1918-2012

By Guest Contributor Phil Yu, cross-posted from Angry Asian Man

Received word through social media that civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, best known for being one of the few people to openly defy the government’s unconstitutional internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, has died. He was 93.

Hirabayashi was arrested, convicted and imprisoned, and eventually appealed his case to the Supreme Court (Hirabayashi vs. United States) — the first challenge to Executive Order 9066. The Court ruled against him, 9-0. However, his wartime convictions were successfully overturned forty years later.
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In Memoriam: Clarence Clemons (1942-2011)

He was the spirit of the E Street Band, and the oaken staff that Bruce Springsteen leaned on.

Clarence Clemons — the Big Man with the big horn — died yesterday of complications from a stroke he suffered last weekend. He was 69.

“Clarence lived a wonderful life,” Bruce Springsteen said in a statement [Saturday.] “He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage.”
- New Jersey Star-Ledger

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In His Own Words: Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

The catchphrase, what that was all about, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” that was about the fact that the first change that takes place is in your mind. You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move. So when we said that “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” we were saying that the thing that’s gonna change people is something that no one will ever be able to capture on film. It will just be something that you see, and all of a sudden you realize I’m on the wrong page, or I’m on the right page but I’m on the wrong note, and I’ve got to get in sync with everyone else to understand what’s happening in this country.

But I think that the Black Americans have been the only die-hard Americans here, because we’re the only ones who carried the process through the process that everyone else has to sort of skip stages. We’re the ones who march, we’re the ones who carry the Bible, we’re the ones who carry the flag, we’re the ones who have to go through the courts, and being born American didn’t seem to matter, because we were born American, but we still had to fight for what we were looking for, and we still had to go through those channels and those processes.
- Mediaburn, 1991

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In Memoriam: Professor Manning Marable (1950-2011)

By Arturo R. García

Professor Manning Marable lived long enough to finish his life’s work. Marable, a prolific author, activist and academic, died this past Friday of complications from pneumonia in New York City, just three days before the release of Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, a comprehensive revisiting of the life and times of the civil rights leaders he put together over the course of two decades.

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