Monday Blues (8.4.14)

Samuel Maghett, more famously known as “Magic Sam,” was born (1937) and raised in Mississippi. He moved to Chicago at the age of 19 and, even though his career was cut short by a heart attack at age 32, he is considered one of the master’s of the Chicago blues sound.

Here’s his “I Don’t Want No Woman” from his 1967 debut album, West Side Soul.

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Heeeeeere’s Johnny!


Twenty years ago today–on May 13, 1994–Johnny Carson appeared on television for the last time in his life.

Johnny Carson was the biggest star on all of television. In our era of hundreds of channels and on-demand viewing, it is doubtful there will ever be another like him. For thirty years he was late-night television. When he retired from The Tonight Show on May 22, 1992, more than 50 million American watched his last show.

It was no secret Johnny thought David Letterman (at the time, host of the Late Night show which started just after Carson) should be his replacement. On the day he announced his retirement at an affiliates meeting in New York, he appeared on Letterman to confirm the reports. Up until his death in 2005, Johnny had been writing and sending Letterman jokes for his opening monologue.

On May 13, 1994, less than two years after leaving The Tonight Show, Johnny was a walk on guest on The Late Show with David Letterman. It was the last show of a week of shows taped in LA. Johnny didn’t say a word.

It was the last time he ever appeared on television. He died on January 23, 2005.

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It’s time for Dodgers’ baseball!

Well, sort of.

Even though most teams don’t get going until a week from now, the Dodgers’ 2014 baseball season gets underway in just a few hours. The boys in blue go head-to-head against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a pair of games being played in Australia.

It’s an interesting change for the start of the season, despite the fact that “change” of any sort often seems a bit out of place in a game drowning in tradition. It shouldn’t be surprising to those who know me, but “tradition” is one of the things that keeps me close to the game. Or maybe it’s habit, I’m not sure. But I got used to inter-league play, so I’ll be fine with two games down under.

The more disturbing change for the season ahead is related to the way I and millions of other Dodgers’ fans will have to go without watching our team play much. The Dodgers sold their broadcast rights to Time Warner for billions of dollars and now Time Warner has created a dedicated Dodgers cable channel that more than 70% of the LA market does not have access to.

Steve Dilbeck broke it down well in his piece for the LA Times. I don’t really care about a 24/7 Dodgers channel. Frankly, I am pretty damn close to being done with cable altogether. Even though I love the team, and wish I had the station, I completely understand why all the other providers won’t pony up to pay the asking price for the channel.

Even with my love of the team, whether or not this channel is on my TV is not at the top of the list of factors that is determining how I pick a provider, or whether or not I actually have cable.


Baseball is a slow sport. A season is 162 games stretched out over half a year. It’s not really something that works as an “event” by today’s cultural standards. The best thing baseball had going for it–especially Dodgers’ baseball–was that you could always turn it on to make it part of your daily life.

The fact that we are about to go from having the most games on local broadcast (free) TV to having none is just sad. It means I won’t get to see Vin Scully in what might be his last season. It means I won’t get to follow the team as closely as a result. Coupled with the ticket prices (which aren’t too high but still make it a big financial commitment to take the family) it probably means I won’t get to see much of the Dodgers at all.

Of course, I’ll still be a fan. And I’ll still follow the team. I have a radio and I listen to games using the MLB app quite a bit. But what about my kids?

I think this TV mess is going to do long term damage to baseball in LA. While I can enjoy a radio broadcast almost as much as a televised one, for my kids–and the millions of other LA kids who are just learning to like the game–it’s all about the visuals. The majority of them will never step foot into the stadium. And now a majority of them won’t get to even see the Dodgers play with their own eyes.

There is a race/class dimension to all of this, of course. The ones who will really suffer are a generation of working-class, Latino kids growing up without the Dodgers on their TV.

However this resolves itself in the coming months (or years), the Dodgers aren’t losing anything with me. I’m here loving them no matter what, and they got their billions from the deal.

But even one season off the TV screen is going to do something to my kids. They’re just learning the game, largely, by learning to watch it. They’re just starting to develop their love of the sport and, by extension, the team. The inability to watch is going to affect the level of love my kids develop for the team. And that’s a problem for the Dodgers’ future.

Anyways…enough complaining. As the title of this post suggests, I’m going to go now and fire up the radio for some early morning baseball from the other side of the globe. The start of my new tradition.

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Latino SF @ USF (3-18-14)

I’ll be visiting the University of San Francisco this Tuesday to share a from my book, Latinos at the Golden Gate. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Latinos in the city, I hope to see you there!


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Latino SF @ SF State (3-19-14)

I’ll be giving a book talk at San Francisco State University this week! Details are on the below digital flier. If you want to learn more about the history of Latinos in San Francisco, then come on by!


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“Serving the DREAM”

Pomona College will be hosting an event on DACA (“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”) this Friday, March 7 @ 10AM. Two representatives from USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal department responsible for the program) will be discussing this program, meant to serve undocumented youth, including the new renewal process. It’s a great chance for local schools, churches, and other organizations to connect to reliable information so they can better serve our families.


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Boycott Response

I am proud to lend my name to this letter, a response to the response of our college’s president to the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli academic institutions. While I feel very passionate about academic freedom and the principles of intellectual exchange, I also feel as passionate about other freedoms, in this case, ones that rise to the level of fundamental human rights.

I share our letter here, with additions for clarity:

Dear Colleagues:

Many of you may have heard of the American Studies Association’s recent resolution in favor of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and the widespread reaction to that call.  David [Oxtoby, President of Pomona College] has joined with over a hundred other college and university presidents by issuing a statement opposing the boycott.  While we disagree with his position, we nonetheless appreciate the temperate nature of his statement about the issue when compared to some of the inflammatory charges about the boycott and the ASA made by others on this issue.  Nonetheless, we disagree that the boycott is, as David writes, “an affront to the principles of academic freedom.” Indeed, we believe the ASA boycott resolution actually will promote the academic freedom of Palestinian and dissident Israeli scholars.

The wording of the boycott resolution (the main section of which we quote below) makes clear that it is a boycott of institutions that in no way obstructs conversation and collaboration with Israeli intellectuals and professors; indeed some of us supported the resolution at the urging of our Israeli colleagues, family and friends, who are themselves legally constrained from participating in boycotts, what they see as an institutional limiting of their freedom of speech. We believe, further, that the misleading public conversation about freedom of academic expression works to conceal the other forms of freedom at stake: the freedom for Palestinian students and teachers to attend and participate in university life; freedom for critics of Israel to speak freely, a freedom we choose to exercise now; and finally, and more basically, freedom of movement, access to water, medical care, safe housing and play spaces for Palestinian women, men and children.

We urge our [Pomona College] colleagues to learn more about this controversy. To that end we thought that it would be helpful to share some of the more thoughtful interventions in this debate:

The ASA resolution itself: “It is resolved that the American Studies Association (ASA) endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. It is also resolved that the ASA supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.”

The ASA National Council and members responses

The Journal of Academic Freedom (published by AAUP) special issue on the topic

President David Oxtoby’s statement

Michael Roth (President of Wesleyan and former CGU Prof ) Op-Ed in the LA times

Robin DG Kelley, Professor at UCLA, response to Roth

Judith Butler, Professor at UC Berkeley, response to debate

Signed (in alphabetical order),

Ray Buriel
Phyllis Jackson
Sidney Lemelle
Pardis Mahdavi
April Mayes
Frances Pohl
Erin Runions
Victor Silverman
Darryl A. Smith
Tomás Summers Sandoval
Valorie Thomas
Miguel Tinker Salas
Kyla Wazana Tompkins

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