Still Stand With Standing Rock

Why I Still Stand With Standing Rock. Why I will march in DTLA on December 10, 2016.

Summary: The pipeline poses an unnecessary risk of harm to water resources, the environment, and human health and safety. The routing of the Dakota Access Pipeline through tribal lands is an act of environmental racism and a desecration of burial grounds and other sacred cultural sites. The decision of the Secretary of the Army to not grant an easement for completion of the pipeline DOES NOT put a definitive stop to the pipeline. Think of the pipeline as a freight train on a track. The decision to not grant the easement at this time stops the train from moving forward on the track. It does not change the location of the track. It only requires the train to remain stopped while there is consideration of the possibility to move the track. That analysis may take a long time but after all the analysis is done, the train could be allowed to keep rolling – even if other locations for the track seem like better options – because freight trains have a lot of momentum and a lot of power and carry expensive cargo that will make certain people very rich. I know that’s a weak analogy. Bear with me.

1. Why I stood. I stood with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in their opposition to the routing of the Dakota Access oil pipeline under Lake Oahe, North Dakota. I stood with Standing Rock because pipelines fail and when they do, the results are catastrophic. Even a small leak of petroleum products can devastate water resources. While it’s not authoritative to cite wikipedia, the article page for “List of pipeline accidents in the United States in the 21st century” is informative. Given the risk posed of pipeline failure, the routing of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) half a mile upstream from a tribal community and directly through a waterway that the tribe relies on for drinking water, fishing, and irrigation is a textbook act of environmental racism. If you’re not familiar with the term “environmental racism”, it is when environmental impacts are disproportionately borne by communities that lack the economic and/or political clout to challenge the actions of the polluter. It is a devaluing of life based on economic and political considerations of efficiency and cost savings to the polluter. DAPL is environmental racism. When you also consider that construction of the pipeline threatens to destroy burial grounds and other lands sacred to the tribe, the routing of the pipeline is even more outrageous.

2. Why I stand.  On December 4th, 2016, Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil works issued a memorandum regarding the proposed crossing of Lake Oahe by the Dakota Access Pipeline. In this memorandum, she provides details of the administrative process and the applicable laws governing that process as it affects the rights of the applicant Dakota Access LLC (subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners) and the interested parties, in this case the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In her memorandum, Secretary Darcy explains that the construction of the pipeline across Lake Oahe requires two separate approvals. The first approval needed is a “Section 408” permit. This is a permit to “modify, alter, or occupy any existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-constructed public works project”. It is not clear to me what specific public works project DAPL will be altering at Lake Oahe, but Dakota Access LLC applied for that permit (including submission of the necessary environmental analysis) and the first permit was granted. The second approval needed is a 30 US section 185 approval for the right-of-way or easement to run a petroleum product pipeline across federal land:

“Rights-of-way through any Federal lands may be granted by the Secretary of the Interior or appropriate agency head for pipeline purposes for the transportation of oil, natural gas, synthetic liquid or gaseous fuels, or any refined product produced therefrom…”

Secretary Darcy’s memo states that the US Army Corps of Engineers will not approve the easement without further review: “…the Army will not grant an easement to cross Lake Oahe at the proposed location based on the current record.”

What are the key words here? FURTHER REVIEW and CURRENT RECORD. Secretary Darcy’s memorandum is not a rejection of the current route. The memorandum only states a demand for further environmental review. That review will take the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). An EIS does require consideration of project alternatives, in this case, alternate routes. An EIS also requires consideration of impacts on local communities and cultural resources in addition to environmental impacts. This means that Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will have a much stronger voice in the review process. However, an EIS does not require that the least harmful alternative be selected. An EIS is only informational in nature. The conclusions of the EIS carry no decisional authority. Upon completion of a full EIS, including all input from the Tribe, the Secretary may still approve the existing pipeline route.

Until a full EIS is performed (a process that can take months if not years) the project must wait to proceed. To move forward and begin drilling without an easement is flatly illegal and a trespass on federal lands. Accordingly, the most immediate consequence of Secretary Darcy’s memorandum is delay. Delay is important because it gives the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe more time to gather resources for the inevitable legal challenges that will be presented. Delay is also important because financing for the pipeline may be compromised if construction of the pipeline is not completed on schedule.

3. Why I will continue to stand. I will continue to Stand With Standing Rock and I will march in Downtown Los Angeles on December 10, 2016 because the project has not been stopped. There are multiple ways in which the project threatens to continue. First, DAPL will challenge the Secretary’s decision in court. They will argue that the two separate approvals for the same action are duplicative and that it was an abuse of discretion for the Secretary to apply a different level of scrutiny to the approval for the easement when in essence it is identical to the approval for the Section 408 permit. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will need expert legal representation to help defend either directly or through amicus briefs the decision of the Secretary to act differently on the easement application based on new information about impacts to the Tribe. It is important to note that the oil spill risk analysis prepared for the Section 408 permit was labeled “classified” for security purposes and not disclosed to Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Second, President-elect Trump may exert pressure on the Secretary to reverse course and grant the easement. This possibility raises a variety of complicated legal, administrative, and political scenarios all of which will require expert legal representation to navigate. Third, preparation of an EIS is a highly politicized and legally technical process. This is in addition to the scientific and other expertise needed to analyze and comment on the impacts to the environment, the community, and cultural resources. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will need funds to pay for their own consultants and representation in every stage of the proceedings. Fourth, as stated above, even after performance and consideration of a full environmental review pursuant to the EIS process, the Secretary could still approve the existing project. During that time, efforts will need to be made to encourage investors to abandon the project and render its completion meaningless. Fifth, Standing Rock / DAPL is just the beginning. There is the possibility that Keystone XL will be revived under a Trump administration. The mining project on Apache land at Oak Flats, Arizona is an abomination. There are a slew of projects that threaten water resources and are moving forward in large part because they depend on the systematic disenfranchisement of tribal communities. That shit can’t fly anymore. If that means the price of oil goes up, then it goes up. Pay the real price. I don’t want my oil cheap just because some dickhead corporation thinks it’s cool to step on the neck of tribal or any other communities.

As San Carlos Apache artist and sensei Douglas Miles says, “The Rez is watching”. Watching indeed. And a shit ton of people are following the Rez’s feed. So stay in it. Because this isn’t the flavor of the month. This is how it is. See you 12/10.


What finally broke the ‘no Chicanos’ rule at the reemergent Museum of Latin American Art – LA Times


Interesting. Never realized that MoLAA had been sticking to such a myopic policy in terms of what qualifies as “Latin American” …and apparently, according to the LA Times, any Latin American born north of the US/Mexican border is a “Chicano”. On the surface, the new exhibition at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach doesn’t seem unusual. A series of more than two dozen paintings and mixed-media works by Mexican American artists from around Southern California depict various guises of landscapes — from a tight city grid by José Ramirez to an expressionistic procession of figures painted by the late Carlos Almaraz.

Source: What finally broke the ‘no Chicanos’ rule at the reemergent Museum of Latin American Art – LA Times

Netflixeando: 10 Horror Films in Spanish You Should Stream on Netflix

What is it about horror films and Spain? 9 out of these 10 were made by Spaniards. Anyone out there theorizing on post-Franco fetishism of the genre? Even Mexico’s Guillermo del Toro went to Spain to film his most notable trilogy of fantasy/horror films: Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Orphanage. Or maybe Spanish distributors just have a better relationship with Netflix…? “Whether you love to be scared or just want to laugh at a ridiculously gory film, here are 10 horror movies in Spanish you can stream on Netflix.”

Source: Netflixeando: 10 Horror Films in Spanish You Should Stream on Netflix

These are the Latin American authors you should be reading this summer – Quartz



Labor day ya esta, y? How many of these have you read?

Source: These are the Latin American authors you should be reading this summer – Quartz

These Amazing Portraits Give an Intimate Glimpse of Luchadores in Their Homes


Historias del Sur-Real Pt. 2

Comparing Grobet’s photos of luchadores in their domestic lives with Rossell’s photos of Ricas y Famosas…cuál es más surrealista…?

Mexican photographer Lourdes Grobet captures a side of Lucha Libre we don’t often see: luchadores as quintessential father figures.

Source: These Amazing Portraits Give an Intimate Glimpse of Luchadores in Their Homes

Daniela Rossell on femininity – YouTube

There’s so much that can be read into Daniela Rossell’s documentation of Ricas y Famosas (see also, previous post). Interesting to hear her own take.

Daniela Rossell: Documenting the rich and famous Mexican youth (PHOTOS).

Historias del “Sur-Real”

The narrative of Mexico as our impoverished and drug cartel–ridden neighbor dominates most news coverage in America, but that’s only one part of a large and diverse country.

Source: Daniela Rossell: Documenting the rich and famous Mexican youth (PHOTOS).

O BloCão

In Brazil, there’s the big parades during carnival with all the pageantry and choreography that have made the lenten rite a global phenomenon. But across the nation, it’s the smaller street parades or “blocos” that everybody loves. They don’t have the same pedigree. Sometimes their origins are unkown. They’re cute, they’re adorable, and occasionally they’re so low budget and ugly that you have to hug them. They are the mutts of carnival. And now one of these mutts of carnival will be exclusively dedicated to….mutts.

Behold the BloCão

The word street parade = Bloco.

The word dog = Cão


(In portugueses via O Globo / Watercolor by Irina March).

Barra terá bloco exclusivo para cachorros durante o carnaval – Jornal O Globo.

BBC News – Argentina restricts online shopping as foreign reserves drop

35% tax on foreign credit card purchases and 50% tariff on any foreign purchase over $25. The real kick in the nards? Los Argentinos get to stand in line at a customs office for the privilege of paying these taxes. Curious to see how this plays out. Local businesses may benefit but black market will likely grow to fill void of foreign products.

BBC News – Argentina restricts online shopping as foreign reserves drop.

Brazilian Eye for the Rad Side, Vol. 1

Revista Trip – Skate clássico.

The editors and contributors at Revista Trip have an uncanny knack for pinpointing the what is most awesome about… us. In this blog piece, Luiz Filipe Tavares compiles some epic YouTube footage from the golden days of skateboarding’s late 80’s renaissance – a time when Orange County and the South Bay still had some legitimate punk rock street cred. Middle class, no doubt. But with just enough edge to keep outsiders humble and just enough grit to keep living at the beach an affordable reality. Vision Skateboards and Epitaph records were the outlets for the last authentic screams of post-Reagan Era angst. When junkies and biker gangs were a far greater threat to suburban bliss than today’s steady stream of sloppy drunk frat dicks in Pier Plaza. Classic footage of Hosoi, Gonzo, and a ton of others. And big ups to Luiz for garnishing this collection with an older gem like 1978’s Skateboard Kings – a foundational film that includes absolutely brilliant faux-anthropological voice over work by Peter Malinker who manages to inject a little James Fennimore Cooper into the post pubescent porn-stache antics of a young Tony Alva and Co.

“You’re young male and live in the city. How do you prove yourself in the most materially comfortable country on earth? How do you show courage, daring, skill, strength? How do you prove you’re a man? If you’re a Massai tribesman in Africa you kill a lion. If you’re an aborigine boy you go on walkabout. If you live in Dogtown Los Angeles …you ride a skateboard!”

Juan Nagel on Tiaras and the Venezuelan Work Ethic

Another Casualty of Venezuela’s Revolution: Work Ethic | Transitions is a somewhat bizarre stream of consciousness piece by Juan Nagel for Foreign Policy Magazine. The argument is that Chavismo put a ceiling on the benefits that could be reaped from a strong work ethic by stifling competition through a series of government interventions into the economy. Nothing new. Really. Nothing at all. Except perhaps for the mental gymnastics and metaphorical pilates necessary to frame the Miss Venezuela pageant as the country’s last bastion of free market competition and merit based rewards. Interesting to note that Nagel is not calling his compatriots lazy – just saying they lack incentive or legitimate outlets for competition. Nagel suggests that the lack of opportunity in Venezuela has actually had the effect of re-channeling  any residual work ethic into criminal, corrupt, or grossly manipulative exploitation of the various black market opportunities that have emerged as a result of Venezuela’s socialist policies. There’s plenty of free-market enterprise, it’s just that most of it is criminal. There are certainly far more coherent critiques of Chavismo but leveraging the uncanny dominance of Venezuelans on the world beauty pageant circuit was a nice gimmick to boost web traffic (almost as shameless as me reblogging the link …with photo). While I generally agree that Chavismo is a highly unstable house of cards built more on empty rhetoric than effective policy, I find the most worthwhile part of Nagel’s blog post to be the revelation that the Miss Venezuela pageant is sponsored by none other than Diet Bimbo …er, “Bimbo Diet”.

Actually, if we’re gonna sell out, let’s go the distance and throw in another shot of  Irene Esser: a beacon of hope for neoliberal values in Venezuela.




“Creíamos que el socialismo del siglo XXI no había sido capaz de crear al hombre nuevo. Pero no es cierto. El hombre nuevo existe. Es una bestia de rapiña. Se venía formando desde antes. El chavismo lo doctoró”.
– Tulio Hernández
Venezuelan sociologist and columnist for El Nacional

The quote is taken from the end of an article in El País on perceptions of social and political crisis in Venezuela. Well, the article is pretty clear what perception is most accurate – the author sees Venezuela on the fast track to an Escape From New York style post-apocalyptic anarchy. So with angry mobs of drivers taking control of the streets and people lining up around the block for toilet paper, is president Maduro -when not busy accusing the US of plotting his assassination- merely overseeing the final death knells of Chavismo? Or has the demise of the neo-Bolivarian dream been greatly exaggerated…?




Foto del Dia: NYC, 1986 – Shots of Lady Liberty from the WTC

The World Trade Center was so simple in its design. An incredible feat of structural engineering but ultimately just two parallel sets of crisp clean lines stretching skyward. LA Times’ Bob Griever took this stunning shot of the WTC sprouting above its much older neighbors in July 1986. Bob used the WTC as his perch to photograph the Statue of Liberty during her rededication after renovations. See below for a link to the full photo essay on Liberty Weekend and Operation Sail.

Link: Statue of Liberty from World Trade Center – Framework – Photos and Video – Visual Storytelling from the Los Angeles Times.

Revista Trip – Surfland

Brazilian coverage of the NY surf scene. Montauk to Rockaway through the lens of Brooklynite Joni Sternbach. Interpretado por  From not so deep in the baú da Revista Trip. See below for a link to Revista Trip’s article on Sternbach’s photography.

From Joni Sternbach's Surfland

Link: Revista Trip – Surfland.