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.



“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…?

Pussy Riot –

Philosophy student, Political activist, Punk rocker. This is Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot. The arrest and subsequent conviction of three members of Pussy Riot for hooliganism has made international headlines and  launched the girls to global fame as celebrities and NGOs around the world critique the conviction as emblematic of a retrograde state of human rights and freedom of expression under the Putin regime. The T-shirt that Tolokonnikova has been photographed in while in custody has also highlighted the syncretic blend of influences that feed into Pussy Riot’s music and political message. ¡No Pasaran! became a battle cry during the Spanish Civil War that was given new life in the 1980s by Carlos Mejia Godoy, a Nicaraguan musician who used “No Pasaran” to anchor his eponymous folk ballad that served as a de facto anthem for the Sandinistas. Just part of an interesting genealogy for the ladies of Pussy Riot.

Of course, as a punk rockers, the lion’s share of Pussy Riot’s lineage traces back to the American and British punk scene from the 80s and early 90s. According to John Harris, Pussy Riot takes many of its cues from bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile, two scions of the “riot grrrrrl” movement out of Olympia, Washington. The Guardian published an interesting article by Harris where he explores these connections and dissects how modes of cultural protest that have grown tired, cliché, or otherwise drained of their original urgency in the west are finding a new voice and new audience in the higher-stakes political arenas of the east:

“What does all this tell us? That the Anglo-American world still sleeps, having sent forth cultural archetypes that have exploded all over the world. That in some places, culture actually still matters. And that in the macho dystopia of Putin’s Russia, where everything cultural is political and vice versa, three remarkable women have gone to prison to prove it.”


Revista Trip – Banksy versão 2012


As we noted this morning, Banksy is on the move.  Which means every geek from Cal Arts to Art Center is gonna be walking with a semi-chubber for the next couple weeks. So be conservative with your personal space-cushion whilst riding public transit or waiting in line at a Pasadena coffee house. It could get awkward.

Our brothas from Brazilian mothas at Revista Trip posted some good Banksy grabs including #2 which demonstrates the tasteful grooming of a good humored pubic servant. Although call me old fashioned but I’m kinda digging the wildstyle bush in #1.

Link: Revista Trip – Banksy versão 2012.

The LA Riots

For as long as he doesn’t sue us to take down his photos, Ted Soqui (the lens master who’s Occupy LA photograph graces our homepage) will remain a special member of the HELA family. Of all the photos I’ve seen during this year of commemoration, Ted’s are the one’s that take me straight back to ’92. At that time, there were a handful of images that would remain indelible. The burnt and burning strip malls, Reginald Denny getting dragged from his truck and curb stomped on live TV, and soldiers guarding storefronts. And while I’d grown up with plenty of Korean-Americans, I’ll always remember the LA riots as a sort of coming out party for the K-Town locals.

When I first saw the photo below I thought, “These guys aren’t the cops, they’re not the National Guard, they’re not gangsters… they’re just shopkeepers protecting what’s theirs …and these hombres do NOT fuck around.” It reminded me that there are times in life when you gotta draw a line in the sand and the only person you can ultimately rely upon to hold that line is you, yourself, and maybe a couple of your closest brochachos.

There was also something jarring about seeing this group of people in a new light. It’s rare that we ever imagine immigrants for who they were, that is, for who they used to be. I mean, we take for granted the entirety of a life experience that brought someone across an ocean or a desert and through a Kafkaesque bureaucracy -with or without their family- to set up shop on this side of the border. Of course, not every cab driver was a surgeon in a past life, but this photo told me that the guys who stock the shelves and ring up your groceries had definitely gone through some serious shit before planting themselves in the ciudad, and they weren’t about to see their new life go up in flames.

Photo: Carlos Schiebeck

If I can shift from the journalistic lens to a little duder’s eyewitness account, there was another interesting phenomenon that became evident in the aftermath of the riots. While the ashes still burned, you could see that there were a lot of small and humble ways that people expressed their commitment for a return to normality. Despite the wanton recklessness and gratuitous destruction of property, it wasn’t ENTIRELY as our good man Bradley once stated “about comin’ up and stayin’ on top and screaming 1-8-7 on a motherfuckin’ cop.” A lot of people moved quick to clean things up and do their best to support their less fortunate neighbors. Because once a city’s collective outrage spills over into the streets, the havoc it wreaks becomes indiscriminate and the jackasses lighting everything on fire didn’t pause to think much about who would suffer most from the collateral damage.

In Soqui’s photo essay for the LA Weekly, he juxtaposes “then and now” shots of various ground zero locations and you can see that some of these neighborhoods never totally recovered. Some businesses burnt to the ground and 20 years later the only thing to rise from the ashes is a couple weeds in an empty lot. But in the moment, there were little things that helped the city move forward. And while it may not seem like a big deal, one of those little things was high school sports.

Try to realize that even after things had cooled down a bit, a lot of parents didn’t want their kids being bussed into the ashes. Even if their neighborhood was already torched up, there was still a somewhat legitimate concern that when their kids stepped off the bus at a rival high school, they’d have to dodge bullets. A riot is anarchy and nobody was really sure what the unwritten rules would be moving forward. Times were tense and kind of weird. There was a lot of fear and lot of anxiety and yet somehow people intuitively figured it out. It was a moment when fear briefly surrendered to …I don’t know… faith? As freaked out and traumatized as the city was, there remained an undercurrent of confidence that the same assholes sniping at firefighters the week before would know better than to pull the trigger on kids playing baseball and running track.

Photo: Don Emmert

That meant me and my fellow brochachitos -kids who had watched history unfold from the relative safety of the South Bay- spent the month of May in a yellow school bus trucking through all the neighboring barrios that got lit up during the LA Spring. One thing I’ll never forget, something that was simultaneously eerie yet reaffirming, was that we played ball in places where everything in the neighborhood had been burnt, wrecked, or broken …except for the school — especially the parochial schools. Little islands in an ocean of chaos. Everybody so pissed and so destructive and yet even during a moment of complete disregard for boundaries, there was an awareness that some things remained sacred. The church and the classroom. Two sanctuaries in a time of crisis.

A look 20 years back at HELA’s barrio today. Christine Burrill’s photo collage from the Free Venice Beachhead


– by Jonesy (HELA Ambassador of Awesome)

It didn’t take too long on Tuesday morning for the shame to start to set in. Did it have to do with L.A. sports? Absolutely. The Lakers? Sort of. But not because of Kobe, Pau or Bynum. It had to do with the Dodgers, too. And they’ve got the best record in all of baseball. No, the real reason I was ashamed was because I’m part of a much larger group that, has, quite frankly, become an embarrassment to admit my membership in: I’m an L.A. sports fan.

And on Tuesday that meant reading about 3 men from that illustrious group who ganged up and kicked another in front of his pregnant wife (PREGANANT WIFE!) in the Dodger Stadium parking lot the night before, landing him in the hospital. The week before it meant hearing that Steve Blake had to block 500 (FIVE HUNDRED!)  people on Twitter who were not only threatening his life for missing a shot, but the lives of his wife and children.

It meant watching the news in horror on opening day of Dodger season last year as the reports came in that a Giants fan had been beaten within an inch of his life in the stands. Or watching as the streets of Downtown L.A. burn every year the Lakers win a championship. Notice I said win, not lose.

We’re not the only city that has thugs for fans. We’re not the only city that riots, although the ones that do can at least make the leap in logic to be happy when they win and angry when they lose. There’s a frightening glee that L.A. sports fans take in team-related violence that is very unique to our city, and no matter how many plain-clothes officers they put in the stands or people they block on Twitter, it’s showing no signs of stopping.

And those of us who go to the games have seen a lot more than what ends up on the news that night or the sports page the next day. A friend once told me of seeing a group of Dodger fans pour a beer on an opposing fan’s head in front of that fan’s little girl. His crime? Wearing the baseball hat of the opposing team. I had to leave a Dodgers/ Angels game early once after the combination of 1) a pack of teenagers screaming, “Angels Suck!” in the face of an elderly couple (ELDERLY COUPLE!) wearing Angels gear and 2) the family behind us teaching their 3 year old daughter (3 YEAR OLD!) how to repeat the same phrase became too much for the girl I had brought. The kicker? It was her first Dodgers game. I doubt she ever went back again.

So what’s the excuse? That the stadiums are in a bad neighborhood? That may have worked back in the days of the Raiders and the Coliseum, where my 8 year-old self and a friend were once whisked out by his dad before a riot broke out against the Chiefs, but that doesn’t hold any $4 bottled water today. Sure, Boyle Heights is just down the street from Chavez Ravine, but so is Silverlake and Los Feliz. The Bronx isn’t exactly Park Avenue, but you never hear about anyone getting beaten to death in the stands, even when the Red Sox are in town. And Staples Center is not only so expensive to get into that you have to sell a kidney to get seats, but also happens to be surrounded by L.A. Live, which is basically the Las Vegas to Universal Citywalk’s Reno. Whiz Kalifa is playing across the street, not N.W.A.

So maybe it’s the rivalries? Steve Blake’s miss was against Oklahoma City, who didn’t even exist 6 years ago. Yes, Bryan Stowe was a Giants fan, but I doubt anyone responsible for almost murdering him knows that the storied rivalry started in New York before both teams moved, or better yet, who Mike Marshall or Will Clark even are.

The answer is much simpler: there is no excuse. So here’s a plea from someone who cares dearly about the Dodgers and Lakers (and the Kings, if it’s playoff time), but also acknowledges that sports matters about as much as what’s inside your girlfriend’s US Weekly: Stop acting like fans and start acting like human beings. You know, that thing you’re supposed to be when the game’s not on.

Argentina @ the Vanguard of Gender Rights

Sweeping Transgender Bill of Rights Approved in Argentina

As a younger dude, Argentina’s transgender community stood out to me because they would frequent the same clubs as the straight and gay …and not stand out. They might have tended to be a tad taller and a few years older than the coked up kids bouncing around the dance floor but there was no real substantive balkanization along gender lines. Buenos Aires nightlife was more or less democratized and the porteños -who can be so damn neurotic in so many other walks of life- seemed to form a kind of socially libertarian zeitgeist when it came to gender politics. That street level sense of equality has now percolated through the Argentine political apparatus and landed in the Casa Rosada. The pending legislation doesn’t just grant marriage rights to transgender citizens, it’s a comprehensive bill that includes medical coverage for procedures ranging from plastic surgery to hormone therapy. Images of the drug trade, cacerolazos, and Kristina’s [Pyrrhic] victory over Repsol make it easy to forget that economics aren’t the only benchmarks for progress and begs the question as to who’s really stuck in the third world. Right about now, shit’s looking pretty medieval on this side of the frontera.

Los Narco Boludos: Argentina Breaks Bad

A recent article in Foreign Policy outlines the rapid proliferation of drug trafficking in Argentina – a problem compounded by the geography of exposed borders, a strong European market, a strong domestic market, and the displacement of northern cartels from the continuation of militarized crackdowns in Mexico and Colombia. And as HELA discussed last month, the continued insistence of the US to stick to a painfully outdated and counterproductive drug policy that refuses to consider legalization has created breakdowns in cross-border cooperation between Argentine and US enforcement agencies.

Some highlights:

The new chorizo.

#1 in Customer Service: 95% of shipments reach their destination.

Busts over the past two years suggest that Spain is an especially popular entry point for drugs dispatched from Argentina. In April 2010, Spanish officials seized 800 kilograms of cocaine from a truck disguised as an official support vehicle for the Dakar Rally off-road race, later affirming that the drugs were loaded in Argentina. Last January, an executive jet piloted by two sons of Argentine dictatorship-era air force generals arrived in Barcelona from Argentina laden with 1,000 kilograms of cocaine, with the ties to the military piquing concern about institutional corruption. These busts suggest a clear transit route between the two countries and raise questions as to how such a high volume of drugs are exiting Argentina undetected. According to an official report compiled by Martin Verrier, a security advisor for Argentine congressman Francisco de Narvaez, 95 percent of the cocaine shipped from Argentina safely arrives at its destination. “In Argentina, the situation is such that narcotraffickers enter and exit without inconvenience,” laments Claudio Izaguirre, president of the Argentine Anti-Drugs Association, a Buenos Aires-based NGO.

Our prices can’t be beat! …and it’s great for tourism. Your study abroad stipend now covers a weekly six pack of Quilmes AND a daily dime bag of yayo. Sigue leyendo