This is to offer my heartfelt sympathies to anyone who missed this year's National Poetry Slam. Congratulations to Team Albuquerque who won the team category competition. Being present for this year's National Slam was like going back in time and attending the best rock concert I can remember. Performances were sophisticated, witty, beautiful, humorous, clever, amusing, thought provoking, imaginative and dramatic. Yet, they were delivered in today's language and they were about today's topics--the way rock was then. These events made me feel young again and hopeful.
Actually, it was more like going back before my time and being present for the birth of rock and roll. Back then, DJs ruled and chose quality music to play without dictation from what grew to be an overcommercialized music industry and the death of rock. If you've never been to a slam, go soon before performance poetry gets taken over. I predict that once the public at large catches on, performance poetry will rise to a golden age and then quickly be in danger of going the way of classic rock. Or maybe the National Slam will save it. Maybe, somehow, the level playing field, which existed in radio in the '50s and early '60s and which now exists in cyberspace and gives venue to the National Slam organization, will continue to dodge commercial control.
More Props for the Slam
Kudos to the Alibi for covering the 2005 National Poetry Slam that took place last week in Albuquerque. Throughout Downtown and elsewhere, I observed a rainbow of colors, classes, lifestyles and ages who gathered to share authentic poetry and performance. During these four days of "bouts," Albuquerque was a showcase for poets from over 60 cities in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
I applaud the efforts of the organizers and participants to make this event genuine. Neither the poetry nor the poets were glamorized, and to my knowledge, there was no censorship of content or sanitizing of language. Despite the number of sponsors and grantees, the venues remained fairly uncommercialized—a rarity in this day of product placement and branding of everything. More importantly, this event symbolizes the vision of a true democracy: participating in a greater community, sharing ideas and life stories, and encouraging tolerance. By offering the stage to such a diversity of people, this event allowed We the People access to those voices that are often silenced—or worse, co-opted—by the media's talking heads.
Better still, it provided us with the perspectives, experiences and values that we can heed when we are offered a consistently broad range of voices in our media. While they may not even know it, these poets are the true heroes who accept the challenge to speak their voice with integrity and honesty, without regard to rules established by a few.
Bigger Isn't Better
[RE: "APS Defines Insanity," Ortiz Y Pino, Aug. 4-10] For over 35 years I have done research, written many books and articles and internationally spoken about the effects of school facility environments on the learning and behavior of students. Your article about a proposed $100 million high school way out on the Westside corroborates well the research on large schools and the need for smaller schools, smaller classes and more optimal learning.
The isolation of students dependent on cars and busses is not good programming. I have worked with architects in California where we planned co-use of community facilities, schools, libraries and businesses. In one district we saved $40 million by not building a large school and instead used community resources including a large business that wanted to help build the school next to their factory.
Why not revitalize downtown Albuquerque with the next generation and reciprocally use the community as the real world learning environment that students are telling us they want. They are saying "Make our education real!" Isolation on the West Mesa in classrooms with textbooks is not the 21st century way to go. APS, where is the long range, community planning and input from us?
[RE: "Doin the Yahoo!," Newscity, July 21-27] I am on the GOP list. I get mail from them regularly, as I have for years. I am not actually a Republican. I just monitor them. I don't particularly like Marty. Not at all. I wouldn't vote for him, even if you offered me enough cash to relocate to a sane and honorable country and live my life out in peace. That said, I didn't get the mayor's e-mail on July 3. I did get the GOP letter "***Possible Unauthorized Use***" on the afternoon of the 3rd. I didn't notice any issues with my e-mail server which would indicate any outages of service on the 3rd (I'm a geek by trade and run my own mail server—so I am the "horse's mouth" in this case). In other words, I don't think Marty (or his minions) did what they are accused of. You can't believe how much it pains me to say this, but I think Marty was maligned. Please, please, malign him with the truth. There is plenty enough of that to go around. He crossed a union picket line that his wife refused to cross. He made a Taj Mahal Airport lounge which cost easily 1,000 percent of value and he took donations from improper sources. And please point out that the Republicans, if they are not outright liars, are at least playing off of the ignorance of the masses in order to manipulate them.
Quiet About Comcast
Do you remember about four years ago when King Marty Chavez puffed out his chest during a press conference and told the city what a good boy he was in negotiating the Comcast contract? Now that everybody is being taken advantage of ... a couple of weeks ago, he had the legal department answer the cries with we (the city) don't have the $10,000 to fight Comcast. Upset with Comcast? Then don't vote for the man responsible for Comcast's lucrative contract--our current mayor. No press conferences with his ego telling everybody how great he is, and how lucky we are to have him. Strangely quiet!
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